VIKINGS
WOMEN OF REAL INFLUENCE

ingeborg-vvPainter: Peter Nicolai Arbo  – Title: Ingeborg

At the moment it seems like everything that has to do with the Vikings is very popular, probably thanks to several new television series such as the Irish-Canadian television series “Vikings” where the second season recently was launched.

Like many Norwegians I do have an ambivalent relationship to my violent ancestors and great ship builders the Vikings (793 – 1066 AD). However I do find their wives, the powerful and independent Viking women really fascinating both the way they lived and how they ran their homes.  We are speaking of year 800-1000 after Christ and about women of real influence. When their husbands went viking, trading or hunting, they were in charge of supervising the big household with parents, grandparents, children, servants, slaves, crops and properties. They made cheese and butter, provided for dried and smoked meat and fish for storage, and they were responsible for the food to last during the long, dark winter. In addition they were expected to know about herbs for making medicine and care for the sick and wounded. A visible sign of a woman’s authority were her keys that she wore prominently displayed at her waist showing her status as head of the household. The men valued their wives and often let them make the decisions on behalf of the family. There was a high degree of gender equality.

Although the Viking women probably were loaded with work, it seems to me that they were ahead of their time when it came to independence. Could it be because they believed in and were influenced by the powerful goddesses like Freya and Frigg from the Norse mythology? Freya was the goddess of beauty, fertility, love and magic and Frigg was the goddess of wisdom, sky and fertility.

According to the Norwegian archaeologist Ellen Marie Næss, these women also dearly loved their jewelry and were very well dressed in colorful tailor-made design. Looking at this picture I do believe her. However  if you want to read more about the viking women, read this article !

If you live in Oslo, Norway or are planning a trip there,  pay a visit The Viking Ship Museum and watch real Viking ships.

By the way the series Vikings is shown at History Channel in USA.

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