Life during the Viking Age

May 08, 2019 2 min read

Majority of the Vikings used to work as farmers for their living. They were used to growing crops like oats, barley and rye and reared goats, cattle, pigs, chickens, sheep and horses. In many areas of Scandinavia, most of the people resided in timber houses. However, some built their own with stone or turf in areas where wood was limited. Some of the Vikings even worked as fishermen. They used to catch sea fish, freshwater fish and even hunted whales. Salt was an essential product and was mostly bought from travelling traders. They used to preserve meat and fish to eat during times of limited food supplies and the long winters.

Viking Women and Children:

In the Viking society, depending on their social standing, women had little power because it was a male-dominated society. It was their women who took care of all the men’s jobs and their own too whenever their men were away for fishing, raiding, exploring or if they would be on some trading mission. Because of the amount of value a woman held, it was considered to be shameful for any man to hurt a woman.

Role of Women:

The Viking Women had a very domestic role.  They used to look after their families, do the laundry, prepare food, milk the animals, make cheese and butter, preserve the food for harsh seasons, cleaning, gardening, and the task that took most of their time was to make their family’s clothes. They would spend as many as 35 hours in spinning, weaving, carding, cutting and sewing the clothes.

Viking women used to get married at young ages of about the age of 12 which were usually arranged by the parents of them both. Their marriages were more like deals between the two families. A bride price was paid to the bride’s family by the groom’s family once the couple was engaged. At the time of marriage, the bride’s father paid with a dowry.

Viking Children:

The Viking children were not enrolled to schools. Instead, the boys were educated by their fathers, brothers and uncles about all of men’s work. Girls used to work with their aunts and mothers and learned cooking, gardening, taking care of domestic animals and making clothes.

However, there usually were exceptions to such social rules of behavior. For instance, when men went to settle in Iceland, Vinland and Greenland, the women used to go with them. Vikings used to settle in Ireland, England and France as families. But, only men went for trading and attacking when women stayed at home and took care of the farm.

At that time, as compared to the other European women, the Viking women used to have more power. They had the power to divorce husbands, own property and even sell their handicrafts. Some women even became wealthy landowners or even participated in trade.

Bottom-line:

 The Age of the Vikings ended as soon as the attacks stopped. The best marker for the end of their era is the year 1066. It was the Battle of Stamford Bridge where the Norwegian king called Haraldr harðráði was revolted and killed since he tried to regain a part of England.