Viking Facts
Viking Facts

37 Fierce Viking Facts

James Israelsen
By James Israelsen, Associate Writer
Published June 2, 2023
  • The typical Viking beverage was mead. They enjoyed wine as well, when they could plunder it from other Europeans.[10]
  • Viking chieftains were sometimes buried with an actual longboat, so that they could use it to sail to the afterlife.[10]
  • The English names for Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday come from references to three Viking gods: "Odin's Day," "Thor's Day," and "Frigga's Day."[4][5]
  • The halls built by the Vikings were the largest structures built in northern Europe during the Middle Ages.[1][7]
  • In Viking culture, Icelandic poets were considered the most gifted, outshining all others.[3][9]
  • Viking warriors referred to the defeat of an enemy as "feeding the raven."[10]
  • Vikings used the labor of female servants and slaves to make woolen sails for their ships. It took thousands of hours to weave the woolen sail for a single Viking ship.[10]
  • Viking warriors spent their winters building the ships they would use to attack other European settlements in the spring.[3]
  • Viking culture centered around the great halls built by their Nordic chieftains, which were used for the celebration of religious festivals and for the distribution of the loot obtained in successful raids.[7]
  • The size of a Viking chieftain's hall was meant to advertise his success in war and plunder, to attract new warriors, and to give him a place where he could display his wealth, exotic treasures, and generosity.[3][7]
  • Viking traders travelled all over Eurasia, bringing back wares from lands as far away as Russia and China.[1]
  • Viking Attacks
    This is a depiction of the 841 AD Viking landing at Dublin (James Ward)

  • Archaeologists have discovered the remnants of dozens of Viking halls throughout northern Europe, which attests to the existence of many different Viking rulers vying with each other for power in medieval times.[7]
  • It was standard for a Viking chieftain to give gifts, such as weapons or jewelry, to his warriors at Viking festivals or after a successful raid.[10]
  • Poets who recited verse at Viking gatherings were called "skalds."[9][10]
  • During feasts, Viking warriors were seated around their chieftain's throne on benches called "mead-benches."[3]
  • Five hundred years before Christopher Columbus, the Vikings sailed across the Atlantic Ocean to North America, making them the first Europeans to discover the New World.[1][7]
  • It was typical for an animal to be ritually sacrificed at Viking festivals.[10]
  • The horned helmets that many associate with Viking warriors were actually invented by the costume designers of a 19th-century opera about Viking mythology, who may have gotten their ideas from Viking ceremonial dress.[2][10]
  • Although Wagner's famous opera Das Rheingold (1869) was based on Viking mythology, Wagner changed a lot of the original myths to suit his own ideas.[5]
  • Odin Viking Facts
    Odin, here depicted as a wanderer in the world, was the god of many things, such as wisdom, healing, and death (Georg von Rosen)
  • According to Viking myths, our world was created by the god Odin and his two brothers, who committed a violent murder together, dismembered the body of their victim, and used it to form the earth and sky.[2][3]
  • Not all Vikings were pagans—some were converted to Christianity when it first spread to Scandinavia.[2]
  • Due to the great success of Viking raiders, archaeologists have found more Anglo-Saxon pennies at Viking sites than they have in the British settlements where the pennies were actually made to be used.[10]
  • There are many metal bands named for the Vikings.[8]
  • The speed of the longships developed by the Vikings explains much of their success as raiders and looters. Longships allowed them to launch surprise attacks that were not possible with slower boats or overland armies.[2]
  • Part of the reason for the Vikings' great wealth was the fact that their warriors were pagans who had no qualms about attacking Christian monasteries and churches, something other European armies normally didn't do.[2][10]
  • The word "Viking" rarely occurs in their own writings, indicating that this wasn't the name they used to refer to themselves.[3]
  • Icelandic, Faroese, and Norwegian all descend from Old Norse, the language spoken by the Vikings.[6]
  • The Viking Age lasted from approximately 750 to 1050 AD.[7]
  • During the 13th century, many northern European authors recorded the myths, legends, and sagas of Viking culture, the most famous of which include The Poetic of Edda, The Nïbelungenlied, and The Völsunga Saga. [2][5]
  • Viking Sea Battle
    Viking naval battles could be epic in scale, sometimes with hundreds of ships involved

  • "Viking metal" is a subgenre of heavy metal music that originated in Scandinavia in the 1990s and seeks to evoke various aspects of Viking culture and values.[8]
  • The Viking Age came to an end during the 11th century, due both to the gradual conversion of their population to Christianity and the eventual melding of their many chiefdoms into the three nations of Norway, Sweden, and Denmark.[1][7]
  • Viking scholars theorize that the word "Viking" originally meant "pirate" or "seafaring raider."[3][7]
  • The Vikings explored more of their world than any of their contemporaries, resulting in interactions—whether through trade or pillaging and plunder—with over 50 different Middle Age cultures.[3]
  • Viking writings only explain where men would go when they died. It is unknown what they believed happened to women who had passed on.[10]
  • Although it is the most well-known epic poem about the Vikings, there only exists one original copy of Beowulf from the time period.[3]
  • Due to belief in a relationship between violence and supernatural power, Viking religious practices included ritual rape and human sacrifice.[10]
  • Viking myths prophesied that time would end in an apocalyptic battle known as Ragnarök, when not only the entire world but even the gods would cease to exist.[2]
  • Amazing Viking Facts INFOGRAPHIC
    Viking Infographic Thumbnail

Suggested for you


Trending Now

Load More