The women of Scandinavia during the Viking period played a crucial and vital role in Viking history. For everything to operate as the Vikings planned, there was much that had to be done by the women.
Can you imagine spending an ice-cold winter inside of a wooden Viking house with a hole in the roof without socks? Something that is not spoken of much, is the special sowing technique Viking women used called Nalbinding (needle-binding). Nalbinding was a form of sowing that allowed the women to make socks and other warm clothes that played a vital part during winter seasons.
Not only did the women assist in households, but many of the Viking women were also trained and very capable of defending themselves.
Compared to various other cultures, the Viking women of Scandinavia enjoyed many freedoms that included the ability to request a divorce & own property.
While the men were out raiding, hunting, and farming, the women typically took care of the household and raised children. Most of the burial sites discovered by archeologists reflected traditional gender roles, men were buried with weapons & tools, women were buried with jewelry & household items.
It was very common for women to get married between ages 12-15 and those marriages were arranged by families, although the woman had a very strong say in the arrangement.
If a woman’s husband died, she would immediately adopt his full role of running the farm full time and managing his trading business. It is things like this that make the women of the Viking age so uniquely strong. Not only did they manage the household, but they were prepared to take over everything for their family at the drop of a dime. When Viking women were buried with rings of keys on them, it displayed and spoke to their role as a powerful manager of the household.
Were there female Viking warriors? Although it was not very common, there are actual findings and evidence showing women that fought alongside men. The 12th-century Danish historian Saxo Grammaticus had written that there were communities of “shieldmaidens” dressed like men who had devoted themselves to understanding battle and other skills of war, and that some 300 of these shieldmaidens held the field in the Battle of Brávellir during the mid-eighth century. In his work Gesta Danorum, Saxo wrote that there was a shieldmaiden with the name Lagertha, who fought alongside the very famous Viking Ragnar Lothbrok in a battle against the Swedes. Ragnar was so impressed that he sought and won her hand in marriage.
As we sit back and think of the role the Viking women played in history, it goes to show the strength that has been passed down generations to the modern-day women of Scandinavia. In our experiences meeting women of Scandinavia, we have seen strength, resilience, toughness, beauty, and some things you just can’t explain with words.
We appreciate all of our Shield-maidens and toast a skål!