I'd been about to put a photograph on of a Viking longhouse but something went wrong and it wouldn't come on this page...
As I have several Vikings in my family tree...they are remote family remember...but family nevertheless...and I know very little about them apart from the fact they rushed about wearing helmets with horns on and did a fair bit of raping and pillaging...so I began some research into their lives today...
They were great travellers...sailing to remote islands and founding villages, especially in the Faroes, and it's thought by eminent historians they sailed as far as the Americas long before Christopher Columbus...then a news article caught my eye about recent evidence that Irish monks may have made their way to the Faroes even before the Vikings...the monks would have been very early Christians...settling on the islands around 400-500 ce.
It is thought they would have probably been hermit monks who may have built 'beehive huts' for shelter. There are some original 'beehive huts' in County Kerry...stones so placed that no mortar was needed and shaped with a curved roof...also stone...which looks something like an old-fashioned beehive...hence the name. Remember Christianity wasn't exactly popular at the time, and some men may have felt the only way they could spend their days in prayer with a degree of peace to do so, was to travel far afield.
Whether the monks died from solitude or were murdered by the incoming Vikings isn't clear...but there are the clear remains of Viking Longhouses in the same sheltered inlet and coves as where the monks also made their homes.
Then I became engrossed in the Sagas...I suppose much like the stories told here in Ireland about the Faerie and the Cauldron which never emptied and the Hags weaving magical webs across the entrances to the Caves of Kesh...the old Sagas of the exploits of the Viking people were no doubt based on some factual event which became embroidered through history and the repeated telling.
Christina, the Swedish archaeologist, who lives for much of the time in our nearest village...once told me when she and her friends were teenagers they would retell the Sagas to each other on long train journeys...
You'll probably have heard of Harald Bluetooth...one of those kings who probably existed in reality but has almost superhuman feats accredited to him...his 'blue tooth' by which he was given his name, is now thought to have not been the result of dental decay...but a deliberate incision made in his front teeth into which a blue dye was inserted.
Not in the least odd when you think 'pop' stars have diamonds glued into their tooth enamel.
Now I've gone so far back with the tree that I'm finding myself being terribly dismissive over anyone who lived in the 1100 and 1200 hundreds...huh...they are far too recent to be of any interest at all!
The dates...once you cross the line from 1000 into three numbers are simply estimates for the most part...some of the history was carefully written down and notes were taken of significant battles and the death dates of the more obvious participants...but most of people who are recorded married several times...they had vast numbers of living children, either actually, or were accredited to being their parent...many married cousins and other close family members...and then their children did the same so it all becomes a terrible muddle...though I don't think it much matters...William the Noisy isn't going to grumble if I announce he was born in the year 700 ce and married Countess Joane...there really is a William the Noisy...it might have meant something quite different then of course.
But studying the history of the Vikings would be a lengthy undertaking...so I'll confine myself to the usual interesting snippets...like the fact it was written down at the time of the Viking invasions that 'the Anglo-Saxon women were taken with the Viking men because their clothes were freshly laundered and their hair and beards clean and free from grease and lice...and they are known to bathe regularly'
Another quote is from an older story about a Viking who'd fallen asleep in a Longhouse and his bedclothes came off in the night leaving his naked body exposed for all to see...the women thought this hilarious and gathered round to make lewd comments about his genitals...one girl said 'I'll not be sleeping with him 'cos what he has between his legs would never satisfy me'...she probably said that in Viking speak mind you...