On Warrior Women and Viking Funerals


Remember that story that made the rounds on social media last week, that had everyone so excited because there was a new study out that found that half of Viking warriors were women?

Well, as it turns out, there’s a few problems with it.

First of all, the study isn’t new.  It’s from 2011.  Second, the study was done on a burial site for Viking settlers – not necessarily warriors, though I’m sure they were all hardy folk – that held a total of thirteen people.

Finally, the article – though probably not the study – failed to take a few things into account.  Namely, that people might be buried with a sword for reasons other than the fact that they used one in life.  Weapons are powerful ritual items, and infants have been found buried with them.  But then, by the same token, there’s also no reason to assume that a warrior would always be buried with her sword.  She might have left it to her daughter.

Still, the good news here is that the assumption that a person who was buried with weapons had to be a man is dying in the archaeological world.  Apparently, this belief was so prevalent once upon a time that they would ignore the evidence of the bones.  It didn’t matter if a skeleton had a pelvis that had clearly given birth, if it was found with weapons, it had to be a man.  It was bad science, and it has bitten them on the ass before.




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