Most of the things we "know" about the Vikings, we have learned from TV Shows and Video Games. We "know" that Vikings wore oversized helmets, huge horns, had relatively small brains underneath them, and were brute savages. However the reality is far from that. They were not as "savage" as we think.

They used to plan their voyages and expeditions as explorers and traders – NOT rapists and bandits! And they planned their voyages from the Scandinavian countries such as Norway, Denmark, Sweden and some parts of Russia (probably). And it is strange that their culture became a synonym for pillaging and terror, when they actually did some pretty great things like figuring out new ways to navigate on seas, finding America and Iceland, giving their women basic rights, and their helmets actually didn't have horns.

Fire-Starting Urine

They were using their urine to start fires! Yeah, you read this one right. It is widely known that some modern survivors used urine instead of water, but have you ever heard about someone starting fire with urine?
Well, allegedly, if you boil touchwood fungus in urine for several days, you turn it into a substance that can be used as a fire starter.

The Blood Eagle

This is a ritualized execution. You've might seen it in a TV Show "Vikings". It is really nasty. The person that is going to be executed (the victim) is spread out and the executioner actually digs into the rib area from the back, pulling out the entire lung area, thus creating something that resembles the "wings". And the executioner does that while the victim is still conscious.


It is widely known that Vikings liked tattoos. However, did you know that they also had their teeth tattooed? Their warriors would make horizontal grooves into their front teeth and paint them red.
And why did they make those grooves? No one knows for sure, but it is possible that they either wanted to look more menacing during battles, or those were the symbols of some sorts of achievements.

Harsh Climate

Vikings lived in really harsh climate. Freezing temperatures of the Nordic area of Europe made them what they were – well, cold-blooded. One of the examples of their nature was the way they treated their sick children. Ill and weak children were typically left alone in the wilderness to die… if that is not cold-blooded, I don't know what is.
And the kids that were really strong and survived the first five years in that cold environment were trained to fight or work in the field. They obviously didn't want to waste time.

Sun Protection

Vikings used to make their version of eyeliner. However, the purpose of that was not to look good or menacing, but to protect their eyes from the sunshine. The eyeliner was made of antimony, burned almonds, lead, oxidized copper and some other elements. And an Arab traveler that once visited a Viking's trading post noted that their eyeliner was all natural and that it was used by both, men and women.

They Painted Their Hair to Look Blonde

Vikings were mostly blonde, however lots of them were actually brunettes or redheads. That is why many of them painted their hair to look like they were blonde. To do that, they would use soap with lye that acts as modern bleach. Some of them even bleached their beards. Some sources claim they believed that bleach was good against lice.

The Berserkers

The word "Berserker" means literally the "Bear Coat". Well, that name was given to Viking warriors that refused to wear the traditional armor, and were fighting in battles covered only in "bear coat". They were fierce warriors that fought in "trance-like" fury.
Was any of these things surprising for you? Which one did you like the most?

Column Left