Posted in Unit 13 (Final Major Project)

Unit 13 – Secondary Research – Viking Lifestyle

I need to find out how the Vikings may of lived; from their habits, to their food diets, housing structures and their jobs in their community/clan. The best website I found was Jorvik which has evidence to how the Vikings lived. When the Vikings were in York, they created single-storey structures, at least 7m and long by around 4.5m. These building were more towards Anglo-Saxon and not Scandinavian due to the change in policy. Upright posts were set into the ground to support the thatched roof. But when 960/970 hit, the wattle buildings began to lose popularity, being replaced by cellared structures, in-which contained a basement – typically used for storage.

Coppergate was a central place of trade as people set out shops in front of their houses. There have been evidence of the Vikings craftmanship in this town: shoemakers and repairers made/repaired boots by using belts, straps, pouches, thongs and decorated sheaths and scabbards. They used needles and balls of beeswax, which was used to lubricate the needle as it passes through the leather. Carvers of bone and antler created combs and other items such as pins to fasten clothing as well as needles, and spindle whorls used in textile making. What these carvers would do sometimes was carve the smaller bone into rings, gaming pieces or amulets, while the larger pieces were molded into handle of knives and other tools.

Clothing during the Viking era shown the social standing and wealth of their wearer – similar to how clothing is worn today. Only the finest clothes were worn by high status Vikings – detailed and intricate mantles that were reserved for Kings or nobles like the Jarls as this website states. The mantle was a very expensive and finely crafted cloak, finished with fur trimming and highly detailed embroidery on all the edges the website goes on to say. But I need more information on what the wealthier Vikings wore and also what the lower class Vikings wore.

Danishnet goes into more detail about the clothing the Vikings had and the appearance the women and male Vikings typically went for. From the way the clothing was cut to the quality of the fabric – you can tell which social class someone belonged too. Clothes pins were a great indication to show the owner’s wealth and status within their community. We know from various depictions of Vikings or artefacts and documents that long hair was favoured by both Viking women and men. However, some men preferred to have their head shaved or have their long locks tied into a bun. The Norse women would have their hair decorated in a flurry of intricate knots on the crown of their head.

The shoes the Vikings wore did not shown social class nor gender; they simply followed a set purpose. These shoes were created with large pieces of leather, secured with a leather strap. Wealthier Vikings wore wool socks to protect their feet from the cold and the leather whilst ones who could not afford such luxury would stuff their shoes with moss and dried grass.

Researching what the Vikings ate during the times they were alive is very important as I want to include a feast within my story – an offering to the Gods. This source gives a very detailed account of what the Vikings ate, along with how long these feast offerings were. The research also talks about the different reasons feasts may occur – from weddings, harvest festivals or just to honor their Gods.

Some feasts happened during a year-turning or religious observation, various animals being sacrificed in honor of their gods, their blood sprinkled on the alter while their meat would be later eaten at the feast. An animal which the Vikings highly valued their horses; sacrificing one of their trusted horses would show deep allegiance to the Gods.

Some feasts depended on the hosts wealth as they could afford a mass amount of food for their guests, but most Vikings had a bountiful feast. During these feasts, they had a range of different food that was of higher quality of that they have in their daily lives. They had; roasted and boiled meats, rich stews, platters of buttered root vegetables, fruits and nuts. Having all this food would make a rich feast and a successful celebration.

As these feasts would contain a range of different foods – a lot of food for that matter – families, communities and people from other towns would gather to celebrate, setting out long trestle tables with benches to accommodate guests. Different kind of meats from oxen to fish was served on large platters – to drink down either ale, mead, beer and wine. They drank in the honor of the Gods, jarls, kings, successful raiders and newlyweds. While people were enjoying their food, they would get entertainment of singers, skalds and poets, who would recite sagas and poems of their people’s history. Everyone wore their finest clothes, mostly to show off their status but also to commemorate such a wonderful feast. Warriors and young boys would wrestle and play balls games, keeping them active for the duration of the feast.

That source was just talking about the feasts and how they celebrate, now this website talks about what a typical Viking would eat in their daily lives – it was nothing compared to what they ate at their feasts.

Viking rituals were very important to the Vikings, using every opportunity to sacrifice an animal, or human (depending the situation) to the Gods. What the Vikings would do was place an chosen sacrifice on top of a pillar and they would bleed the sacrifice, collecting the blood into a bowl. Then what would happen was the priest would recite songs and poetry about the Gods, passing the bowl around the flame three times while chanting words of magic. What they would do with the meat, however, is the priest will sprinkle the blood onto his face and to those attending then poured the rest of the blood onto the alter.

Learning about this type of ritual gave me an idea of how I could include it into my story. As one of my characters in a priest he could be the one to do this act, chanting words of magic which pouring blood onto himself and others. I could use this ritual at the time when they are about to attack France, Elmer wanting to make sure the battle went successful by sacrificing one of their horses to the Gods.

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