Take our crash course on all things Norse with these 10 facts.
Photographed by Jonathan Hession / A&E Networks
1) The age of the Vikings (i.e., when they were really excelling at the whole raping/pillaging thing) was from the 8th to 11th centuries. The Nordic word viking (which means “to go on an expedition”) wasn’t used until the 1800s to describe any seafaring marauder of Scandinavian descent.
2) Before they were Christianized, Viking women wore what amounted to metallic pasties over their gowns, so as to draw attention to their buxom Nordic racks. Unfortunately, it’s not as hot as you’d think.
3) Skiing was not just a method of transport, but a popular sport among the Vikings - as was ice skating, competitive swimming, and the PETA-unfriendly activity that is “horse fighting.” (We so prefer horseplay!)
4) Vikings were fond of playing the lyre. Amazingly, nobody made fun of them for this.
5) In spite of what film, literature, and an NFL franchise would have you believe: Vikings did not wear horned helmets.
6) Vikings were fond of drinking (beer, mead) AND drugging (hallucinogenic mushrooms). History’s original party animals would often indulge before battle, which aided their attempts to freak out their opponents with spastic body movements.
7) The hammer-wielding, thunder-clapping Thor was one of the many Norse Gods that Vikings worshipped. Happily, the Marvel Comics version decided to ditch the belt.
8) Vikings bathed at least once a week (which made them far more hygienic than their European contemporaries), and regularly tweezed. Bonus metrosexual points for the fact that the men often dyed their hair and beards blonde.
9) In keeping with their nautical lifestyle, Vikings buried their dead in boats.
10) It is now generally regarded as fact that Norse explorer Leif Ericson discovered North America some 500 years before Columbus. Although, does it really count if he landed in Canada?
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