Vikings have been incredibly popular in modern culture for many years, and whether we’re looking at cartoon characters or legendary warriors from movies or stories, there are numerous myths about the Vikings that people simply take for granted. Let’s check out some of the most prominent of these myths about the Vikings and look further into them to see whether or not they were really true.
1. The Infamous Horned Helmets
One of the most well-known myths about the Vikings still circulating today is that they used to wear horned helmets. However, not many people know the fact that these helmets were only depicted in the 19th century, hundreds of years after the age of the Vikings. The only historic references to the helmets come from some unverified representations of Viking rituals – the only time when they allegedly wore those types of helmets.
2. Were the Vikings Filthy Conquerors?
The Vikings were certainly not dirty or unkempt. In fact, several sources from the 1200s present them as “well-groomed heartbreakers,” bathing regularly and even using tools such as combs, nail cleaners and tweezers – later confirmed by archeologists as well.
3. The Artistic Side of Vikings
One of the myths about the Vikings that many modern film and cartoon producers seem to cling to is that they were brutes that lacked any kind of refinement. On the contrary, Vikings had great taste and were very good with decorative arts. They used to craft beautiful jewelry and adornments and embellish weapons and other objects quite majestically, many of their motifs even being adopted by medieval scribes in later centuries.
4. Vikings Wearing Braids
Viking hairstyles are often pictured with braids by modern culture; however, this type of fashion seemed to have originated in Normandy and had nothing to do with the Viking culture. Experts have actually said there’s no historical evidence of Vikings wearing braids.
5. Warrior Lifestyle
A common myth about the Vikings is that they were ruthless warriors who raped and pillaged wherever they went. This isn’t entirely true - only a small percentage of them were actual warriors. Most of them were farmers, metal tradesmen or craftsmen.
6. Vikings Weren't a Nation
Many believe that Vikings originated on the Scandinavian Peninsula, forming a single nation. This is simply a myth, as Vikings actually come from various tribes from within Scandinavia that have also expanded to other places like Russia and even North America. The cold weather and vast northern landscape made connections between different tribes too difficult to establish a single nation. And the most interesting part: the term Viking is not something that you are, but what you do. This was actually a verb, as in the tribes' adventurers went "viking" – which means raiding to earn their living.
7. Spears Vs. Axes
There is also the myth associated with their weapon of choice. This is believed by many today as being a large, double-ended axe designed to scare off the enemy before the fight even starts. History tells us that Vikings were much more fond of spears and light, single-ended axes that were more manageable and easy to use than the large ones depicted by popular culture.
While some myths may have a bit of truth in them, it turns out Vikings were quite different from the “horned devils” everyone imagines them to be. Have you heard of any other interesting discoveries about the Vikings?