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Viking Myths: Those Dirty Savages

Christian accounts portray Vikings as unclean savages, but this is a biased depiction against the infamous pagans. European Christians needed to vilify Vikings in their accounts, because in medieval thought Vikings were bound to the devil. In actuality, Vikings took pride in their appearance and hygiene. Archaeology counters historical accounts and proves that, in actuality, Vikings took pride in their appearance and hygiene.

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Excavated evidence throughout Europe yields combs, tweezers, and even ear cleaners. Combs are amongst the most common archaeological finds. From these discoveries, historians and archaeologists have pieced together Viking hygiene.

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A Viking’s cleaning ritual included:

1. Washing on Saturdays. In Scandinavian, Saturday translated to “Washing Day.”

2. Change clothes often. So, Vikings went a few days wearing the same articles of clothing. Disgusting on today’s standards, but back several centuries ago this was considered tidy.

3. Vikings loved their hair and beards. Vikings combed everyday, kept their beards(styled both long and short) groomed, and cut their hair. Some Viking men even dyed their hair blonde to achieve the ideal masculine beauty!

So, this is one Viking myth dispelled. Vikings were actually very clean—for the Middle ages. Compared to the Franks or the Anglo-Saxons, Viking men had to be very desirable. Maybe this is why Viking history has spawned so many Viking romance novels.

Then again, maybe this is…

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