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Historical Tidbit Thursdays - Vikings - Houses - #TidbitThursday

Howdy! This week join me as we explore Viking houses.

Viking families settled in villages and established farms. Women and children usually tended the farms while the men were away on raids or trade voyages.

We'll talk about villages another time, but I did want to note that not all villages during this period were identical. Some were large and consisted of many separate farm houses while others were smaller and consisted of several communal longhouses.

Norse houses, rectangular in shape, were made of local timber or branches with thatched or turf roofs. Longhouses had timber frames with walls of wattle (woven sticks) and daub (a mud-clay mixture). Some longhouses had curved walls made of split tree trunks with angled posts to help support the roof. Stave houses were built of verticle planks (or staves).

Here you can see the woven wattle that make up the walls of these structures. The daub/mud would be pressed against these frames to seal the cracks (kind of like mortar).


In locations where wood was scarce, stone would have been used for the walls.

Longhouses were typically 39 to 49 feet long but some more communal ones measured up to 164 feet long and all seemed to be less than 16 feet wide.

The earlier homes would shelter both goods and animals as well as the extended families. Eventually, Vikings made use of outer buildings to shelter livestock or to store crops. Around 200 BC, fences were being used to contain their animals as well as mark their property.

Homes lacked many windows or had none at all and the family members relied on a central hearth for light as well as heat and cooking. Above the fire a smokehole was cut out to allow smoke to escape outside. During the day, the door would be left open to allow in additional light.

Furnishings were sparse as well. Long benches lined the walls for sitting or sleeping. Actual beds were rare and usually reserved for the wealthy. There may have been a special chair for the man of the house. Tables were uncommon but trestle-like tables that could fold up for storage may have been used. Wooden chests doubled as seats. Living areas may have been separated by skins rather than walls. Weapons, shields, or even cloth were hung on the walls.

Picture References:
Wattle and Daub - Wikipedia
Wattle Building - Fotevikens Museum
Curved longhouse - National Museum of Denmark
Stave House - Fotevikens Museum

National Museum of Denmark
Forbes Magazine - Retracing Ragnar: Scandinavia's Top Viking Sites
Visit Denmark
Visit Norway
Fotevikens Museum
Wikipedia - Wattle and Daub
"Everyday Life in Viking Times" by Michael Gibson, ISBN#0-7500-1472-5
The Vikings: Voyagers of Discovery and Plunder (General Military) The Vikings (Journey into civilization)
Vikings, a Dark History Vikings: Warriors, Raiders, and Masters of the Sea (Oxford People)
The Vikings