Despite the limited sources of ancient materials, we surely know the roles of Viking men and women in their times were very distinct. Viking society was male dominated but they did respected their women. Each gender had their set of behaviors that they should and shouldn’t do. Of course Viking men would not weave cloth and Viking women would not go on raiding. They were not allowed to cut their hair short, wear men’s clothes, or carry weapons. Viking women were responsible for domestic tasks. Sometimes they would participate in voyages but not for raiding.
Viking Women from Childhood to Marriage
Before becoming a true woman, Viking girls had to learn many skills. While Viking boys would go out and learn cultivating or fishing skills, Viking girls would follow their mothers and learn household work. Viking girls had to learn cooking skills, cleaning, brewing mead (Viking favorite beverage), milking cows, etc. Generally, domestic skills that would help manage their future houses.
As soon as turning into 12 years old, most of the Viking women would get married. Well, it sounds a little bit weird to people in this day and age. Because children at 12 these days are still at schools. But such comparison is quite unfair because Viking kids didn’t go to schools and their lifespan was not as long as us today. The majority of the Vikings did not make it to 50 years old. A 12-year-old Viking child was considered to be an adult in their times.
Most of the Viking marriages were arranged by their parents. This type of ancient marriage was somewhat like a contract marriage: the groom’s family had to pay an amount of money to the bride’s before marriage. During the Viking weddings, fathers of the bride would pay the groom’s family a dowry. This was a financial investment in the new couple. Well, these ancient weddings were much for the sake of the families rather than that of the newly-wed couple.
Viking Society Respected Viking Women
In fact, Viking women had more power than the majority of European women of their times. If marriage chained them, they could divorce. They were allowed to own property and sell things such as their handicrafts. Some Viking women even became very wealthy and gained a strong social status. Cool thing was that Viking women could sue any men that approached and sexually harassed them. Such men were not likely to get rid of their deeds without a severe punishment.
Excavators found some Viking graves of the women. Due to Viking tradition, what buried with the dead presented their life, for example Viking warriors would be buried with their weapons. In Viking women graves, our excavators found weapons, too. This opened a question as to whether the Viking women took part in battles or not. But no matter what, this strengthened the theories of Viking Shieldmaiden (Viking female warriors).