3 – They Were Large
Vikings are sometimes depicted as large and heavily muscled people who struck fear into rivals due to their size. While these warriors were undoubtedly intimidating foes, it wasn’t because they were giants. Archaeological excavations have revealed that the average Viking male was approximately 171cm tall; the average female was 158cm.
Aside from being a couple of inches shorter, Viking anatomy was similar to that of modern day people. They were relatively muscular due to the extremely hard work they had to put in as peasants. Their living conditions in Scandinavia were also harsh so it is hardly a surprise that a large number of them elected to settle in places they discovered on their travels. There was a scarcity of resources at home which is another reason why they sailed to foreign lands.
Even though they ultimately had access to wide variety of foods due to their sailing exploits, their nutrition was poor in comparison to today. Their children also experienced slower growth than modern-day children and common medical complaints included osteoarthritis and dental problems.
Vikings are traditionally said to be blond and while a high percentage of those who lived in Northern Scandinavia were blond, those in the west tended to be redheads. In other words, Swedish Vikings may have been predominantly blond but the Danish usually had red hair. It’s also important to note that there was a mixture because other cultures also came to Denmark during that age.
Interestingly, Viking women had ‘masculine’ faces with pronounced jawbones and cheekbones. One archaeologist from the University of Copenhagen admits that it is difficult to determine the gender of skeletons from the Viking Age because men’s faces were often more feminine than those of modern males.