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Iceland Mag

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Vikings had a dark sense of humour, reveals Irish academic

By Staff

  • Modern Vikings According to Dr Tom Birkett the Vikings had a dark sense of humour and did not wear horned helmets. Photo/Sara

According to the Irish Sun, the University College Cork aims to create the largest online collection about Vikings. The project, funded by the Irish Research Council, has been named the World-Tree Project and is the first ever attempt at international crowdsourcing of the Viking past.

Read more: Did the Vikings get an unfair reputation? A Yale historian believes the Nordic people weren't quite as bad as we all think

In the Irish Sun‘s article principle investigator Dr Tom Birkett revealed some interesting facts one might not have known about Vikings.  

One such fact is that Vikings loved nicknames. “One ruler in Norway was called Eystein Fart, and there was also the bizarrely-named Þóra Moss-Neck”.

pagan, viking, ásatrú

Members of the pagan Ásatrúarfélag in Iceland. 

Another myth debunked is that the Vikings were dirty and wore horned helmets. “Archaeologists have found grooming kits with nicely-decorated combs for both sexes. The Norse word for Saturday, ‘Laugardagur’, means ‘bath day’, so we can presume they washed once a week“.

Read more: Iceland was likely settled decades before the first Vikings arrived, claims professor Kristján Ahronson

Genetic studies show that more than half of women in Iceland around the time of its settlement were of Celtic origin. It is likely that they came from Ireland and areas of Britain already settled by the Vikings, including Dublin, a city founded by the Vikings.

Also, Viking women were often in charge of running large “estates and had inheritance rights enshrined in Icelandic law. A wife could also divorce her husband if things weren’t going well in the bedroom“.

Lastly, Dr Tom Birkett reveals that the Vikings had a dark sense of humour. “In the Saga of Burnt Njál (Brennu-Njáls Saga), a character called Þorgrímur goes to investigate whether a fugitive Gunnar is at home, and gets a spear in the stomach for his trouble. “Is Gunnar at home?” his pals ask. “I don’t know,” replies Þorgrímur “but his spear certainly is!”

Read more: The Vikings left their mark on the European map: Here is our guide to help you find them

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