Vikings will always be remembered for being fierce, ruthless raiders, but they weren’t always like this. They wouldn’t be able to establish the society they had if they’d spent all of their time sailing, looking for treasure, and fighting. Vikings actually spent the majority of their time farming and maintaining their settlements.
There was a famous Viking who went by the name of Ragnar Lothbrok, and he started out as a full-time farmer until he gained some power and became much more. This is how it started for most Vikings. If you were a farmer, you were very respected within the community.
Vikings Had a Strange Way of Starting Fires
This is a bit strange, but they would start the process by collecting torchwood fungus from tree bark. They would then boil it for a few days in human urine. After that, they would pound the soaked bark into a felt-like substance so that it was durable and easy to transport.
We aren’t sure how they did it, and we couldn't find enough sources to support this, but they had somehow figured out that the sodium nitrate found in urine would make the material smolder, not just burn. This would allow them to travel far distances and start new fires on the go.
Their Dead Were Buried in Boats
A big part of the Vikings' lives was spent in water. Whether they were seafaring, raiding, or fishing, they were limited when it came to burial options. They resorted to burying the dead on boats. Based on what Norse people believed, they thought great warriors would need some type of container to cross into the afterlife and continue living in Valhalla. That being said, well-respected Vikings and exceptional women had the honor of being buried in one of the traditional Viking ships.
In addition to the bodies, people would fill the ships with weapons, food, treasures, and anything that they thought someone would need in the afterlife.
Vikings Were Not So Unified as a Group
Did you know that most Vikings didn’t associate with one another? In fact, many of the people who lived in the area didn’t consider themselves to be Vikings at all. It was just a term that referred to all Scandinavians who took part in overseas expeditions, which is how they became grouped into one whole category in the first place.
During the Viking Age, Norway, Sweden, and Denmark were all regarded as one land. We know that even these days, many see that part of the world as one unity; however, they are not. This area had a collection of tribes, and they would often be fighting one another when they weren’t exploring.
Vikings Were Professional Skiers
Skiing is a popular sport that many people participate in today. However, in the beginning, it was not intended to be a sport. The oldest skis that have been found date back to 6,300 BC. Skiing was used as a means of transportation and traveling. During the Viking age, most of the land was covered by ice and snow, which made traveling by skis ideal.
At a later time, it was discovered that the Vikings might have used skis for recreational purposes. There is a god for everything, including skiing, and his name is Ullr. There is an assumption that skiing was used during times of war to get through parts of the wilderness that wouldn't have been possible otherwise.