Daily life in the Viking age
Daily life in the Viking age
We have rummaged through the battle agendas which the Vikings have followed for dozens of generations, from the 8th, all the way through the 11th century, over and beyond. They haven't got so powerful out of the blue, people who were developing pretty quick as a society were just primarily focused to, first of all, pillage and loot far coasts, then after gaining enough of firmness, settling was a great way to create a mold where diversified Vikings would be crafted from. Of course, that depended on the region they occupied, implying the prevalence of resources found on that area, as well as prior folks who lived there before getting painstakingly stormed and converted by the Norse aggressors.
Once I already squeezed through a couple of facts regarding how the Vikings lived and how they died and been buried. Now, it's time to take an in-depth tour of the lifestyle of an average Norse or Scandinavian living in these vague times.
Society depending on Agriculture
To preface, the Vikings were mostly farmers, since the topography and ecology of Scandinavia enabled them to surround on barley, oat, rye, wheat, grain as one of the oldest ingredients of a healthy and uncomplicated strategist meal. Crops are most likely to survive in 90% of soil through the entire planet, all that mattered was that the soil wasn't sandy, dry or intoxicated. Besides crops, pigs, sheep, chicken and goat farms were second to crop-plowing as their main occupation. They also had stables with horses, being their number two transport vehicle next to super slim and swift boats they built by that time.
In Scandinavian districts, wooden (timber) homes were their easiest and quickest way of manufacturing shelter from the sharp seasons. However, particular Scandinavian areas were lacking wood, so since it was scarce, as a replacement material they used turf (grass/ground dirt) and stone. Obviously, since Scandinavia is stationed on the Northern surfaces of Europe, exiting on the Baltic and the North Sea to the south, the Norwegian Sea to the west and Barents sea to the north, fishing was also a lucrative thing with a purpose of keeping strongmen's stomachs full.
Whaling back then existed as well. That's why whales are nowadays an endangered species! Because of the freshwater fish short-term freshness, merchants who traveled across the Scandinavian peninsula during the stay of the blood-seeking Vikings, those who carried salt as a trading asset were ultimately appreciated. Salt was highly regarded because it was used to preserve meat, mostly fish after a bountiful catch every time they pull out the net. Usually, it was used during bitter and frosty winters when it was impossible to go hunting without a high risk of getting buried by snow and freezing to death.
Men/Women through the view of the Society
Gender diversification or segregation or whatever social justice warriors of today call it was a subject from the past, believe it or not. However, during the cruel days those-days societies have faced, nobody was actually offended by inequality. For instance, women were in charge of everything concentrated between the bounds of the house threshold. Every inch of room in the house had to be on sight of a woman's caring eye. Other things outside the house, all the chores and possibilities - that is a subject matter which was discussed between men of the household and it was their striking duty.
Women's mortal tasks were the production of clothing and fabric lines, and of course, food preparation. Back in the day, there wasn't Armani nor McDonalds, it was all down to one woman to make the world go around! She baked and cooked, brewed and crafted drinks with alcohol, and of course, if able, relying on the farm, she made dairy products, milk, cheese, butter, etc. Now comes the contradiction: weren't animal farms actually outside the bounds of the house? Well, during the summer, exactly that, but as you may know Scandinavian winters were longer, so animals stayed in barns, longhouse farms. Shepherds on summer periods could be both, either man or woman, as long as the cattle stay safe and sound, and happily grazing.
Houses and business shops were made from wood as I told earlier. Rarely they've made it from stone or other material, usually relying on thatch and reeds when it comes to roofing. The houses were rectangular geometry and long, and mostly that was the middle class. Poorer dwellers only had one room with a hearth in the center as a heating agent and instead of chimneys, there were only openings were the smoke lifted. No silicon has been used there as a gradient, which means no windows and interiors were dark and dull. Besides the hearth, being one of the components of illumination, there were lamps based on oil and candles as well.
Rural chores, groundwork
Men had to hatch plans on how to develop the technology of agriculture, since they worked tirelessly involving plowing, fertilizing, sowing and harvesting land. However, if the household doesn't own sufficient manly labor, everybody helped the man in charge with the earthly endeavor, because soil and land required plenty of force to keep it on a composed level of productiveness.
Plowing was the first step of the process, the soil is done by a primitive plow, which could separate and break up the soil to thin and break it up, however, it left it unturned. The spikes were almost vertical, they didn't have a curvy shape which is a more convenient architecture. In order to make the soil more loosely, they plowed once more to turn the soil better, so the second line of soil was plowed once more, vertically placed relatively to the initial plowed line, creating an intersection. From the beginning of time, plowing hasn't been done by the landowner, animals and slaves were assigned to it instead. Due to the fragileness and wearing of wooden plows, they had to replace this certain tool every other day.
Fertilization was a very important thing to note down because every other year soil had to revitalize after a successful and fruitful harvest. The soil fields had been recovering spontaneously from the prior derivation, but the Norse typically left animal and human feces to fertilize it rich. After the fruitage comes out, men were those who carried scythes to collect goods, accompanied by women who raked grain. The same grain was minced by hand, but only a few of families and tribes of the Vikings had enough to afford a water mill to ease out the process entirely.
The most difficult chores and demanding physical work were done by slaves, such as manuring soil, plowing and building houses. The demand for ironwork wasn't too necessary due to its scarcity. However, there were urban areas of a bunch of households who crafted iron but to the extent of their needs. Nothing beyond housework wasn't made from iron to do the simplest of tasks. Smiths existed as well, and in the beginning, they were wealthy craftsmen, trading their items in exchange for plenty of food.
The Vikings' everyday life isn't quite compelling
The lifestyle seemingly isn't that versatile, and it wasn't. Everyday chores fulfilled residents' days from Monday to Sunday, and nobody complained. Rural labor is the hardest, it takes too much input of workforce and tools capital. Hunger was a frequent phenomenon cursing the everyday Norse when it's a dry spell in the Scandinavian peninsula, then there were natural disasters and constant threats from hostile units.
Based and judged by archeological research, the bones and skeletons found from the Viking age, the main cause of death was hunger (malnutrition), trending diseases (uncurable), and hacking injury. 40% of the population hasn't reached adulthood. Official archeologist say that scaling and measuring their skeletons, Vikings were vicious, strong and their bodies were packing since the bones were under heavier load.
The gear which women made was mostly made out of linen cloth or from wool. During the harsh seasons, animal skin kept the Vikings warm from breezes and cutting cold. Men wore trousers as leggings and on tops, they had shirts or tunics, long-sleeved mostly to shield them from any weather conditions. Women knitted long dresses for themselves and had aprons in order to keep their dresses clean from housework. Winters had both men and women wear cloaks which were pulled tight by a clip.
Town Patterns and Plans
The demographic structure of people from the 8th century and up to the 11th century let's say wasn't ever confirmed, but plagues and diseases kept bouncing back like boomerangs. That's why most Viking towns have consisted of 15-40 farmsteads. Farmstead basically means farm with residential housings aside. Those were the most common towns, but there were more structures in Scandinavia. For instance, trading-towns held more residents, merchants, and craftspeople due to the importance of crossing and trading goods and services in these key points of territory. Smaller settlements, considered as hamlets which regard to literally smaller villages consisted of 2-4 farmsteads. And on the lowest point of the hierarchy were the stranded farmsteads which were isolated and solo, usually, near to waters or fjords, these lone wolves were pretty much left alone and ex-communicated from the rest of the society and it was a pretty common avenue to dwell.
Once a family or household member passes away, their body is buried in a cemetery generally within the boundaries of the farmstead, if not then a proper place was found in the town. The gravestone was a representation of a claimed land, meaning that for the living inheritors to have proof that their ancestors lived and worked on the same land. Most likely serving as a certificate of ownership.
The most vital place was the harbor itself. Goods and merchandise and animals were loaded and unloaded throughout the trading routes on the harbors, and marketplaces were on the river quay just in the vicinity of a harbor due to convenience. Ship-building houses, carpenters, leatherworkers were further from the markets, but still close range.
Horses, as I mentioned earlier, were the most used animal for transport, if not the only one. The best way to commute overland was the horse, however, if there was some kind of a heavy carriage or something robust, wagons and carts would be the best for carrying purposes. On the other hand, parts of Viking-settled areas where winters were deep and glacier-cold, skies did the trick, horses also pulled them with cords made out of wood (but it was too tense so quickly it was replaced with a resilient material). Horses were shoed by special spike footwear which enabled them to tread on frozen waters.
The ordinary folks would sometimes write down what they feel, express, remember poetry? That also was practiced, but I don't know for sure whether the stones on which they wrote (pieces of rock so to say) were used in everyday terms, like chores list or maybe some written law or provision/regulation. So-called runes were written on these surfaces, and that basically translated means "secret knowledge and wisdom". Since stone could persist more than wood or calcium-based plates, the gratification, glorification and praising of a certain ancestor's who was jeweled by his heroic attributes was written down by name and his feats were represented on the stone. Literal history wasn't actually written, Viking history is based on oral transmission, passing the stories to subsequent generations by mouth, and these stories are called sagas.
The alphabet which the Vikings used is runic, arguably one of the languages with the shortest span of different letters, containing only 16 symbols or letters, depending on how you put it. Today it's known as the Futhark, and just like the alphabet, it's named on the first 6 letters of the concerned language. Fun fact is that there were no E or O as vowels, neither for D, P or G, even though if another person from a different culture would've heard them, they had it in their spoken language when as they spoke it that way.
Food and Drinks
As a matter of their nutrition, as relayed earlier, animal farms produced meat, that means beef, pork, chicken, then there was herrings, fish, seals, whales, and during the winter times, they salted the remainings of the animals they hunted down so it stays edible and preserves it from rotting over the months.
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As for beverages, they drank mead which was made from water yeast and honey over the top. Beer was also one of the alcoholic beverages which the women brewed in farmsteads, and of course wine, for those who were wealthier than the rest. The drank from bowls and dishes made out of wood and spoon made from horn or iron. Just like the legend goes sometimes they drank from horns. Out of curiosity, did you know that they didn't use spoons, they picked their food with knives! They're brutal each way you perceive them! Even during their off-battle days.
General social stratification
Vikings also could be divided into classes. Those with more loot and a bigger pile of asset stash were called Jarls. One nuance below, farmers and craftsmen are Karls. The bottom feed from the heap is a class named thralls - slaves and captives. They were sold on the market just like any other animal or good. They didn't have rights, and they paid their freedom to their owner, referring only to him.
Slaves were gathered from raids, whether women or children, Vikings didn't pick them out, everybody founds its use in the Norse society.
Miscellaneous – Norse Freetime
For fun, later Vikings would enjoy sports. That included mostly winter sports, such as ice-skating, skiing, and apart from those, there was swimming and wrestling. I'm not quite sure whether there were competitions regarding sports, but only fun for the audience. Horse-fighting was also a thing, archery, hunting as recreation and falconry.
When the weather conditions curbed them to stay at home, they'd turn to dice games, chess, board games of that time in general. They told stories along with the hearth to their offsprings and the members of the household in general. Not sure if that included the slaves, frankly.
The Upper-Class Vikings indulged in feasts. They had their personal poets who sang and recited for them, singing religious ritualistic poems glorifying their paganic lord's deeds, deity, and miracles. They also possessed musical instruments, such as horns, wooden pipes, and harps. But those are really the people from the gated community, not the average Joe of the Viking era.
The Vikings generally were a decent nation. They also had regular people who didn't intend any harm to anyone outside the lands of Scandinavia at first. It's true that most boys were converted into warriors, but women were loyal and could fend for themselves, caring about their children and husbands. I haven't found anywhere whether the Vikings were monogamous or polygamous, but that's not what matters now. This article's main purpose is to simply show how the old Norse were just normal populaces of the planet and lived just like any other nation, not just only like seafarers and raiders, being considered as the scum of the Earth, terrorizing everybody who got in their way. Every nation and tribe had their good and bad sides, and obviously, the Vikings are remembered for the bad they brought, leaving us blinded by their cruel acts.