Video games and movies have portrayed Vikings as these ruthless savages with oversized helmets and small brains. But in reality, their culture and intellect went way beyond that. In fact, they weren’t ruthless savages that killed everything and anything.
Actually, the majority of Viking expeditions consisted of going off to the sea and discovering new land and trade. Not destroying villages and taking advantage of women. They came from the Scandinavian countries of Norway, Denmark and Sweden and perhaps Russia.
Vikings were smart traders, daring explorers, and tactical warriors. Vikings did a lot of incredible things that a lot of us don’t know about. Here are some of the unbelievable things that they actually did.
They Used Urine To Start Fires
That’s right. Vikings managed to figure out how to turn their urine into a survival tool. How? By boiling touchwood fungus in urine for several days, turning it into a smoothed substance that can be used to start fires. Smart.
Blood Eagle Ritual
Vikings had a ritualized method of execution called Blood Eagle. The process is pretty gruesome. The victim was spread by tying up their limbs. Digging into the rib area from the back, they would pull the lungs through an opening to create “wings”
They Painted Their Teeth
Vikings were known to be seriously tatted up, but their teeth were the main attraction. Warriors would file horizontal grooves on their front teeth and paint them with red resin. No one really knows what the purpose of the grooves is, but archaeologists suspect that it might have had something to do with looking fiercer to their opponents or to show status. Other theories suggest that the dental modifications symbolize some kind of achievement or were seen as a mark of social identification.
Ill Children Were Left To Die
Norse people lived in really harsh conditions in the Nordic area of Europe, where weather conditions were harsh and violence was just a part of the game. Children who were ill were seen as weak and typically were left alone in the wilderness to die or thrown into the sea. The kids who were strong enough to survive the first five years were trained to fight or work on the farm or in the home. Generally, children were trained to contribute to the family.
They Used Eyeliner
Vikings used their own version of kohl as eyeliner to protect their eyeballs from the harshness of the sun. It was made of antimony, burned almonds, lead, oxidized copper and more. An Arab traveler who visited Viking trading in 950 AD noted that the eyeliner that was used was all natural and it made both the men and the women look more attractive.
They Bleached Their Hair
Vikings are known to be blondes, but a lot of them were actually either brunettes or redheads. As a result, many of them had to paint their hair into a lighter, blonder color, mostly men. They would use a soap with high levels of lye that would bleach their hair. In some places, they would even bleach their beards. People also believed the bleach helped prevent lice.
Lastly, there’s the Berserkers. The word itself means “bear-coat” and it was a special group of Vikings who went into battle without any traditional armor. Instead, they looked fashionable wearing animal pelts made from bears or wolves. They believed they acquired their power through ritualistic practice, which meant spending periods of time isolated.