So I do Viking studies at Nottingham. It wasn’t my first choice at university, or even actually my second, but it’s been the best thing I’ve done academically.
Vikings never wore horned helmets. We have no evidence for horned helmets from the Viking age – be that archaeological, pictoral, factual or fictional written remains. It came from many different sources, popularised in the Romantic period Vikings were sexy sexy beasts, but often mixed up with Celts and other Germanic tribes. Sorry if I ruined your day with that one, but Vikings NEVER EVER in a month of Sundays wore horned helmets. Apart from anything else they’d be really impractical in battle!
Vikings weren’t just big, blond, beardy men – sounds a lot like Hairy though! “Viking” was a term that could apply to anyone who wanted to pitch in a bit of money to buy a ship and go raiding. Vikings could have included people from all over Europe – they certainly traded all over the continent, and there is some evidence that they got to North America.
Honestly, Vikings weren’t the primitive barbarians that they’ve been painted as. Anglo-Saxon women preferred Vikings because they actually washed, whereas Anglo-Saxon men just got rained on. Women could get divorced with sufficient grounds, even if that was just that he was not good enough in bed!
That said, Vikings weren’t all that lovely either. They lived in a brutal world, where everyone was as mean as the next person. We know most of what we know from the people that Vikings attacked, so always take it with a pinch of salt because they were mostly likely rather hacked off at being raided.
Even more complicated: should “Viking” be used as an ethnic label to cover people from three different countries? Does that mean you are still viking when you settle in a different country?
I’m trying to find the women in the Viking raids, so wish me luck lovely people.