Shit You Didn’t Know About Vikings

ARE YOU CHECKING OUT the History Channel’s new Vikings show like right the fuck now? There’s some good reasons to, like the trippy Odin themes, the faux-hawks, the shield maidens with faux-hawks… Game of Thrones fans might wish there were more dragons going on, but we think Vikings is some pretty kickass dragonless fare, SO FAR. (TV shows can go south any time, so don’t air quote us with your hands too hard, bud-day.) Plus there’s no such thing as dragons. FYI.


The show’s not entirely accurate, however. How do the History Channel’s Vikings not know about England? Why are the dudes all smeared up with eye makeup? Why don’t they all have the same accent? Okay, whatever, Coleridge. We’re suspending our disbelief like you said for the show’s sake, because of the shield maidens and the big boats and the axes, which are cool.

But here’s some tried and true, no jokes Viking info.

1. Vikings weren’t the disgusting dirty slobs you think they were

Nope, in fact, a little known pop culture tidbit is that Carly Simon actually wrote “You’re So Vain” about Vikings.

Okay that’s not true. But it could be true, sort of, since some of the most prominent relics from the Viking era include combs, tweezers, razors and, uh… “ear spoons”(?). These same excavations have also shown that the Vikings made their own soap. I know, right, and this is even before Etsy!

Plus, Vikings were famous for using soap with lye in it to bleach their hair even blonder. Dudes even bleached their beards.

Really, is it any surprise that the Scandinavians were the first metrosexuals?

Vikings even had a reputation for being way TOO clean in England, because of their custom of bathing once a week — on Saturdays.

2. There’s no such thing as Vikingland

Back in ye olde Viking age, Scandinavia wasn’t divvied up into Denmark, Norway and Sweden the way it is now-a-days. IN FACT, the word Viking doesn’t refer to any location, per se, but it’s the Old Norse word for a someone who goes out on sea expeditions.

3. Vikings didn’t wear horned helmets

Probably this is the wrongest wrong people get stuck in their Viking brains.

Guess how many records of horned helmets having ever existed there are? That would be a total of ZERO, chump. Srsly. All depictions of Viking helmets dating to the Viking age show headgear with zero horns. But why do we picture Vikings with horned helmets then, if that’s so wrong?

Some people think the Vikings horns myth was how Christians made Vikings look even more barbarian and pagan — like how Satan has horns? Like that. Plus, the Norse god Thor wore a helmet with wings on it, so that might be part of the imagery confusion.

4. Vikings Made Fire from Their Own Piss

So, okay, maybe Vikings were olden days OCD about their grooming, what with the weekly baths and all, but that said, Vikings had no problem handling their own piss. Vikings collected a fungus called touchwood from tree bark and boiled it for a few days in urine before pounding it into something like felt. The sodium nitrate in their piss helped the material smolder instead of burn, and that way Vikings could take fire with them on the go, as they traipsed and pillaged their way around the planet.

Related on The Smoking Jacket:
TSJ Interviews Musician Jarle Bernhoft 
10 Famous Monarchs with Badass Names