Thyra Dane

Author of Romance. Blogs about Scandinavia, Vikings and books.

Mama_Lovis gave me an interesting article where five myths about Vikings are discussed. I`ll come back to the other four myths but will deal with the one about what Vikings looked like first.

Tall, muscular and blond or redheads

I`m sure it`s no surprise that Vikings were tall (though not entirely as tall as the Scandinavians of today), muscular due to their physical everyday life and that they had blond and/or red hair. At least most of them. Apparently the hair color was different from area to area. In the north of Scandinavia they were more blond and in Denmark, which is to the south of Scandinavia, they had more red hair. Since the Vikings traveled quite a bit and brought people home with them (slaves, wives, husbands etc) there were also quite a few Vikings with darker hair. On Iceland they`ve found that at least one woman of Native-American origin had children in the Viking age.

The Vikings ate well even if they didn`t have as different kinds of foods as we do today and because of their good diet they grew taller than people a couple of hundred years later. But they worked hard and many of them had osteoarthritis.

Feminine men and masculine women?

The most surprising part is probably how difficult it is to determine if it`s a male or a female grave archaeologists have found. The male and female sculls were much more alike back then than what they are today. The sculls from Viking women had more pronounced jaws and eyebrows than what they have today and the sculls from men had less pronounced jaws and eyebrows. I`m sure it`s a surprise to many that Viking men may have looked more feminine than what men do today but the fact that men and women looked more alike in the Viking age may explain how shieldmaidens did well on the battle field.

The article about what Vikings looked like (in Danish)

3 thoughts on “Vikings: Masculine women and feminine men?

  1. Alison Griffiths says:

    Loving the cartoon, especially the man in the background with the axe and the one celebrating his fire. Very interesting article too!

    1. thyra10 says:

      I thought it was interesting. I always find it fascinating the way we`ve changed physically throughout the years. People being so very much shorter just a couple of hundred years ago because of malnutrition, for instance. Or how women just 200 years ago didn`t have their first period until they were 17 whereas now they are 13.

      And yes, Wumo (the cartoonists) are always good for a laugh even if they cross the line more times than not 🙂

  2. Very interesting. I wish I was at least bi-lingual in Danish so I could read the last article mentioned. Logically, Viking women were taller and more robust than European women, more equal physically to the men. Since raids seemed common, maybe everyone was trained to fight and the best women fighters were chosen to continue to warrior status. Pragmatism would require the best defense.

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