Fact 1: Vikings Were Farmers
Most Vikings were farmers. In fact, the reason they came to England was to find farming land.
The grew crops such as:
A Viking farm was called a Vikinger and they were often quite small. In fact, a farming village contained a number of farms.
The women would look after the crops, and when the men went to war, the women were left in charge of the farm.
Interestingly, Viking farms never stayed in one place. They would often move to find better soil so that their crops would grow better, but this only happened every 20 years or so.
Fact 2: Viking Communities were called Byagalet
A Viking village community was called a Byagalet.
You may notice a lot of towns in England that end in -by. For example, Whitby, Grimsby, Wetherby, etc. When you find a name that ends in -by, you know that the Vikings used to live there!
This is because By means town!
There weren’t a lot of Viking towns because Vikings lived in small farming communities. But when you did find a Viking town, there were often on the coast. This meant there was a harbour for boats. Vikings liked to trade, so harbours would be very busy with longboats unloading precious items, fish and food.
Viking towns would also have boat-builders.
Fact 3: Viking Children Didn’t Go To School
Can you imagine not going to school?
If you were a Viking kid, you wouldn’t go to school, because school hadn’t been invented yet!
But before you celebrate and wish that you were a Viking… wait! Children had to work quite a lot, and here’s some of the things they had to do:
- Gather wood
- Clean the house
- Look after the animals
- Look after the crops
- Gathering fruit in the woods
So it wasn’t all fun! However, Viking children did have lots of toys. Excavators have found wooden spinning tops and lots of other wooden toys for children.
Fact 4: Winter was very hard for Vikings
As you can imagine, winter was very cold in Scandinavia, and this meant that it was very hard to grow vegetables for much of the year.
It was also very difficult to keep livestock. Cows would have to be kept indoors during the long, cold Scandinavian winter. That meant that sometimes, you might have to live with your cow!
A lot of Viking winters were spent preparing for summer. Viking men would repair ships and prepare their armour.
However, winter could often be fun! Vikings would create games and pastimes so that they could endure the long winter nights. Parents and children alike went ice skating, and children would make ‘snow forts’ where they could hide in between snowball fights.
Ice skating was really popular. Sometimes, the ice skates would be made from deer bone strapped to the foot. Imagine slipping on that!