Top 5 Viking Facts

Script written by Ashley Bowman Thank Odin it's here. Welcome to WatchMojo's Top 5 Facts. In this instalment we're counting down the five most interesting facts about Vikings, those Scandinavian trailblazers that raised havoc over a good part of the world back in their day. So Grab your battle axe, because things are about to get valhallic. Special thanks to our users Christo or submitting the idea using our interactive suggestion tool at WatchMojo.comsuggest
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Script written by Ashley Bowman



Top 5 Facts About Vikings




Thank Odin it’s here. Welcome to WatchMojo’s Top 5 Facts. In this instalment we're counting down the five most interesting facts about Vikings, those Scandinavian trailblazers that raised havoc over a good part of the world back in their day. Grab your battle axe, because things are about to get valhallic.

#5: Vikings Had A Hand In The Slave Trade



It might not be a surprise for you to learn that Vikings were up to all kinds of nasty business - or even slavery for that matter. During their conquest of Anglo-Saxon, Celtic and Slavic territories, Vikings would often take the survivors and sell them as slaves, or “thralls” as they called them. The captured would be sold at major slavery markets across the globe. Slaves were treated particularly harsh, having little-to-no rights in the eyes of their Viking owners, often being forced to live as cattle and subject to sexual exploitation. Some scholars go so far as to suggest that capturing new slaves was a major motivation in the raids that vikings are so famous for.

#4: Vikings Were Very Cleanly



Though we might have led you astray with that previous entry, vikings weren’t the savages that many portray them as. Vikings were actually quite concerned with their appearances. Vikings had a weekly event dedicated to taking baths in the hot springs: a little something we now call “Saturday.” Because of this practice, the words for Saturday in Scandinavian languages roughly equate to “Washing day.” What’s more, common hygiene tools such as razors, combs and even tweezers were found in viking excavation sites. But what may be most surprising of all is that some viking males were so concerned with attaining beauty that they used intense soaps to dye their hair blond.


#3: Vikings Went Berserk… for Some Reason



You’ve probably heard of viking berserkers– frenzied warriors who wore wolf pelts and were unstoppably fierce on the battlefield. These warriors were likened to savage beasts and let out primal screams when charging into battle. While there are many accounts of them in historical sources, none reveal just how they became so rabidly bloodthirsty. The most widely held belief is the most logical, namely that they worked themselves up into a frenzy before battle, as a football team might hype themselves up before taking the field. Another, more difficult to prove theory has it that they ingested the psychoactive mushroom Amanita muscaria, putting them in a dissociative state, devoid of fear and compassion. Yet another theory is that the berserkers were actually veteran warriors who channeled their post traumatic stress disorders into a blood rage.

#2: Vikings Did Not Wear Horned Helmets



Leave any of those viking stereotypes at the door. Or on the hat rack by the door. Though many depictions of vikings show them clad in tough leathers with a horned helmet, this was quite simply not the case. The helmets they did wear were far less goofy and impractical– hence why you never see them in History’s Vikings series. It’s believed that the only similar item would have been used during religious ceremonies, rather than in the heat of battle. It’s believed that the iconic horned helmets actually come from 19th century Swedish artist, Gustav Malmstrom, whose paintings presented them donning the headgear. The trend was set by other artists of that period and by the time Wagner’s opera, “Der Ring des Nibelungen” incorporated the design, it was common place.

#1: Vikings Really Got Around



We all know that vikings covered a lot of ground during their travels, but you might be surprised to hear the scale. Archaeologists have proven that Vikings actually reached the Americas way before Christopher Columbus. Over 500 years before, in fact. It was proven when remnants of a viking settlement were found in Newfoundland, Canada. They also travelled afield in the opposite direction. For centuries vikings regularly emigrated to Constantinople to serve as the personal bodyguards for the Byzantine Emperor, a trip that would have brought them over 2000 miles overland. Excavations at European burial sites have proved that they they had access to trade networks that reached even farther: artifacts, including silk and gold thread, have been discovered that came as far as the Arabian Peninsula and possibly even China.


So how do you think Beserkers went berserk? What do you find most interesting about vikings? Until next time, for more horned Top 10s and washed weekly Top 5s, be sure to subscribe to WatchMojo.com!

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