In thirteenth-century Europe, the draw to root around and loot foreign lands was kind of a big deal. (Read: Ever-present.) The seafaring North Germanics, aka our friends the Vikings, were particularly on-board with the cruising around and stealing stuff plan. Over the course of nearly 300 years, the Vikings traded, raided and settled all over Europe. Equipped with crushing boats, heavy armor and gruesome weaponry, the Vikings were a serious force to be reckoned with. (Read: Total badasses.)
While Vikings often conjure images of murder and extortion, the ancient Norse were an extremely resourceful race and we have a lot to thank them for today…
The trusty comb has been every stylist’s number one tool for creating luscious locks for centuries.
You may not believe it, but it was the Vikings who first came up with the concept of this kind of comb-like device. It makes sense too.
Consider the contemporary stereotype of a male Viking, with long unkempt hair; a clear candidate for a Nordic girlfriend grooming makeover. Vikings often manufactured their combs from the antlers of red deer that were frequently hunted for food.
If antlers were in short supply, common bones (hopefully not human, but who knows) were used because of their strength and durability.
THE MAGNETIC COMPASS
The Ancient Greeks take all the credit for ingeniously discovering magnetite, the raw material required to create magnets, the Vikings used natural magnetite deposits in their homeland to make the world’s first magnetic compass.
Perhaps this nifty invention is responsible for the Vikings’ success in crossing the oceans to conquer foreign lands.
Through vicious storms and blinding fog, the magnetic compass kept the Vikings one step ahead of rivals for a significant amount of time.
Magnetic versions can still be found on the deck of most contemporary sea vessels.
Nothing like a fire-side tall tale to keep folks entertained back in ye olde days, right? Vikings invented that: They’re responsible for the creation of the saga.
Sagas, apart from being highly entertaining, helped to preserve their culture’s history of conquests as well as adventurous tales and pass down lessons from generation to generation.
But maybe one of the most intriguing things about this race of warriors is that they were all essentially illiterate. Consequently, there are no existing literary records illustrating their movements. Foreign lands which witnessed the might and power of the Vikings have however written about their cruel and devastating invasions. Most of our contemporary knowledge of the Vikings has now been founded by European scripture and artistic interpretations of the many Viking assaults. Long after the Viking curtain call, Norse poetry and glamorized short stories (sagas) have consequently shed a little light on the legend.
Bring Home Vikings Season One today on Blu-ray and DVD!