Viking women were part of a culture whose traces have reached our days. So much so that we can see it with the successful series “Vikings”. A group of Nordic communities that began to emerge from approximately 800 to 1050 (A.D.) and that continue to fascinate us today.
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Viking women were warriors, free, courageous
Viking women were warriors, free, brave and with other admirable qualities that define their interesting role within the collective. Join us on this journey to find out.
Much has been speculated about Viking women. Partly thanks to some texts of the XII or XIII centuries that have reached our days. As the collections of Hervararar and Gesta Danorum.
But also thanks to archaeology and its discoveries. And, of course, by the series and myths that the big screen transmits us about them. Although, given that the Vikings did not usually write down their exploits and customs, what is the truth in all this?
The richest and most disparate writings about them were signed by the Romans, who suffered their attacks on numerous occasions. And they do tell us stories that attest to their fear and heavy losses at the hands of these barbarians.
However, after gathering all this information, do we still believe that image of fierce warriors?
Viking women’s names
As we mentioned, it has been archaeology that has added details to the information we already had. For example, the numerous graves of women buried with weapons.
Something that could lead us to think that in fact they used them or knew how to use them, but it did not have to be like that. And the truth is that there have not been enough findings to generalize.
What we have been able to collect is a series of names commonly used by Viking women and their divinities. As Freya, which translates as “lady”, was the goddess of fertility, love and beauty.
Frigg, meaning “beloved,” was the goddess of knowledge. She was also Odin’s wife. Skade was the deity of the mountains and also of winter. And Sif (“relationship” in the sense of union or connection) was of the earth.
Idunn, or “forever young”, was in charge of keeping the rest of the gods young. This indicates that she was given a very literal name, consistent with her duties.
You will also be familiar with others like Astrid, which translates as “unusual beauty and strength” and Helga or “saint”.
Real Viking women
In Viking society women had a very active role on a par with their male counterparts. They made all the decisions when they were left alone at home or if they were widowed. They could also inherit.
What is not clear is if they really accompanied the men in their plundering or commercial relations. Although there seems to be some specific indications, such as the records of a certain Birka, a legendary warrior.
Birka was a woman whose remains were at first mistaken for those of a man. They were found in a tomb of high rank and with various weapons and horses.
It also attracted attention that there were some pieces next to the bones similar to those of chess. Something that was interpreted as a sign of their expertise in combat strategy.
It is possible that some Vikings traveled with their wives and children, but perhaps only to provide support. It is something that is also reflected in the famous series Vikings. There many of them were in charge of caring for the wounded or cooking during the battles.
The books we were talking about at the beginning of this article do mention the role of the Viking shieldmaidens. Women who participated in the battles and who were trained in weapons. Anyway, they were valuable people.
Viking women characters
Surely the famous series about the life of Ragnar Lothbrok and the women in it have already come to your mind. Among them Aslaug and Lagertha. The latter appears as a historical character in the Danorum novels.
Aslaug’s character is controversial, especially because of the gift she seems to have for predicting certain things. That is why she is called völva or witch. And despite being the daughter of a famous squire and a dragon slayer, she is not very skilled in swordplay.
Soon after, it is her particular way of raising her fourth son, Ivar, in addition to her love affairs, which disturbs her character. That little by little seems to lose the public’s favor.
Favor that, contrary to what happens with her, does not stop growing in favor of Lagertha. This famous squire who went from being a farmer to a queen, stopping at every step in between.
Lagertha has seen her power and influence grow with every step and decision. Focusing on her skills as a fierce warrior, there are still many of us who wonder what is true about these characters.
Viking women’s clothing and hairstyles
The clothes they wore can be recreated quite well because we do have several remains. Fabrics found in some tombs correspond to tunics, mostly with long sleeves and skirts down to the ankles.
They were usually made of linen and were sometimes fastened or adorned with brooches on the shoulders. Although there were also other golden details on the hems of the skirt. Especially if they were upper class Vikings.
Customs and curiosities of the Viking girls
Among the Viking customs of which we have evidence, there are some rather curious things. For example, they did not wear horns on their helmets, although we insist on putting them on, never!
They were very neat and clean in general, besides taking care of their appearance, their body or their hair. And to them we owe the expression “honeymoon”.
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