Born for Valhalla: How Viking Children Learned the Art of War

Born for Valhalla: How Viking Children Learned the Art of War

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By ThorNews

We know from the sagas that Viking boys were trained in the art of war. The Viking’s success in killing and oppressing everyone who stood in their way was no accident: The warrior mentality followed a Viking from birth until he proudly stepped into Valhalla.

Even little boys knew that they could only become real men through warfare. According to the Eddic poem Rigstula, children learned a variety of skills and combat techniques. The poem tells about the boy Jarl who “tamed horses, made arrows, shaped shields and brandished spears.”

The name Jarl (English: Earl) indicates that the boy comes from a chief’s family, but children from farming families were probably also playing war games.

Historians believe that even three-year-old boys played with wooden swords and threw spears covered by a piece of leather so that they should not hurt themselves or others.

When the children grew older, they could be lucky and get real weapons of iron forged in a child’s size. Norwegian archaeologists have found several such weapons, including a small sword and an ax in a child’s grave.

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Viking longswords (not child-sized). (CC BY-SA 3.0 )

Wrestling and Snowball Fights

Besides playing with weapons, wrestling was one of the most popular games and something boys were doing throughout the year. Through wrestling matches they practiced speed and agility, and the training was a good preparation for future close combat situations.

Through wrestling the children also learned game rules and discipline. The Vikings had to promise that they would not hurt each other intentionally during play. These rules were taken very seriously and strictly enforced. Those who broke the rules committed níð and were often called níðingr – one of the worst epithets in the Viking Age.

When it was snowing, children built ramparts and fortresses that they used as battle arenas. Snowball fighting was not only entertaining but also effective training in siege techniques and different throwing skills.

A Matter of Honor

The most important of all was that the young Viking learned about the warrior society’s code of honor. The Norsemen were convinced that a number of Norns (goddesses) spun the threads of life and that every human life was predestined.

No man could change his destiny and only the brave warrior would come to Valhalla. A Viking therefore had to fight like a man and die like a man if the gods had decided it.

Time Travel: It is uncertain whether young girls got training in the use of weapons, but it is not unlikely. (Image: NRK Super)

In every battle, one of two things will happen: either you will fall, or you will survive. Therefore, be brave because everything is predetermined. Nothing can kill a man if his time has not come, and no one can save the one who is destined to die. So a farmer exhorts his son in Sverris saga while they are walking together down to the longship waiting at the coast.

In the same way, to die in battle was the most honorable a thing a Viking could achieve. The ability to plunder was also highly respected – unlike ordinary thefts which were considered cowardly actions.

Early Debut

Viking boys had to prove that they had the courage and skills before they were considered as grownups. If they belonged to a powerful family, they could prove themselves worthy by participating in a battle or go on Viking.

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Young Vikings practiced wrestling and close combat. ( CC BY-ND 2.0 )

The sagas mention that Olaf Tryggvason (c. 963-1000 AD) killed his first man when he was nine years old.

Olaf Haraldsson (995 – 29 July 1030 AD), who later became Olaf the Holy, went on Viking when he was twelve years old.

Although the saga writers are exaggerating in their eagerness to glorify the heroes, they provide an image of how the children already at an early stage had to live up to the expectations the Viking society demanded.

The sagas say nothing about whether young girls were trained in the art of war. This may be because they were written down after Christianity was introduced in Scandinavia and that “warrior women” were not tolerated.

Top image: These Norwegian children have traveled back to the Viking Age and practice archery. (Source: NRK Super)

The article, first published under the title ‘ Viking Children Learned the Art of War ’ originally appeared on ThorNews and has been republished with permission.

By ThorNews

Return to Durrow and meet with Ciara inside the king’s hall. Ciara informs you that they need support from Meath’s kings. To do this, you’ll need to visit a pigeon coop. Accept and complete the three Royal Demands from the Kings of Mead (Kings’ Pleas don’t affect this).

Once you’ve completed three Royal Demands, you’ll complete the War Efforts quest. Head to the next page of this guide, Gathering Strength, to continue with the Wrath of the Druids Walkthrough.

Born for Valhalla: How Viking Children Learned the Art of War - History

The Vikings were people who lived in Northern Europe during the Middle Ages. They originally settled the Scandinavian lands that are today the countries of Denmark, Sweden, and Norway. The Vikings played a major role in Northern Europe during the Middle Ages, especially during the Viking Age which was from 800 CE to 1066 CE.

The word Viking actually means "to raid" in Old Norse. The Vikings would board their long ships and head across the waters to raid villages on the northern coast of Europe, including islands such as Great Britain. They first showed up in England to raid villages in 787 CE. The Vikings were known to attack defenseless monasteries when they raided. This got them a bad reputation as barbarians, but to the Vikings, monasteries were wealthy and undefended easy targets.

The Viking Age and Expansion into Europe

Eventually the Vikings began to settle in lands outside of Scandinavia. In the 9th century they settled portions of Great Britain, Germany, and Iceland. In the 10th century they moved into northeastern Europe including Russia. They also settled along the coast of northern France, where they established Normandy, which means "northmen".

By the start of the 11th century the Vikings were at the peak of their expansion. One Viking, Leif Eriksson, son of Erik the Red, actually made it to North America. He started a brief settlement in present day Canada. This was many hundreds of years before Columbus.

Defeat in Great Britain and the End of the Viking Age

In 1066, the Vikings, led by King Harald Hardrada of Norway were defeated by the English and King Harold Godwinson. The loss of this battle is sometimes used to symbolize the end of the Viking Age. At this point the Vikings stopped expanding their territory and raiding became less frequent.

A major reason for the end of the Viking age was the coming of Christianity. With Scandinavia being converted to Christianity and becoming part of Christian Europe, the Vikings became more and more a part of mainland Europe. The identity and boundaries of the three countries Sweden, Denmark, and Norway began to form as well.

Perhaps the Vikings were most famous for their ships. The Vikings made longships for exploration and raiding. Longships were long, narrow boats designed for speed. They were generally propelled using oars, but later had a sail to help out in windy conditions. Longships had a shallow draft, meaning they could float in shallow water, making them good for landing on beaches.

The Vikings also made cargo ships called knarr for trading. The knarr was wider and deeper than the longship so it could carry more cargo.

At the Viking Ship Museum in Roskilde, Denmark you can see five recovered Viking ships. You can also see how the Vikings built their ships. The Vikings used a ship building method called clinker building. They used long planks of wood that overlapped along the edges.

Finding The Seed

Begin the quest by speaking to Sichfrith at the King's Hall in Dublin. The Seed cannot be revealed unless you’ve obtained the Note Found on The Deer. That note requires finding and killing The Deer, another Child of Danu. If you’ve already killed The Deer, skip to the section Note Found in Movilla Abbey.

Note Found on The Deer

You can kill The Deer without finding all the clues that reveal his location. The Deer stays on the northern shore of Ulster Lake in the port of Inch Lough Neagh. He’ll likely be inside the enemy camp that contains the Celtic Cloak. If you’d like to collect the clue that reveals The Deer’s identity, you’ll find it at Ardmel, a trading post in eastern Ulster. The clue can is near the dock just outside the walls of the trading post. Check out our The Children of Danu - Locations and Guide for more details. It contains the locations of all the Children of Danu as well as where to find the clues that reveal each one!

Note Found in Movilla Abbey

Once you have the Note Found on The Deer, you’ll need one final clue to reveal The Seed’s identity and location. It's only found in Movilla Abbey during this quest. Even if you raided Movilla Abbey and looted it completely prior to The Wages of War quest, you still need to return now to find the clue. Movilla Abbey is located on the eastern coast of Ulster. The Note Found in Movilla Abbey is sitting on a pew inside the largest church.

While you’re at Movilla Abbey, you might as well raid to collect the four Irish Cargo. There is also a chest containing the Druidic Helmet inside the largest church. To get the Druidic Helmet, walk along the outside of the church until you find the metal bars that allow you to see inside the room containing the chest. Use Odin’s Sight, and your bow to shoot an arrow through the gaps of the metal bars to unlock the door on the far end. Then, simply walk into the church and enter the room on the left.

Thor’s Hammer, Mjolnir

Mjolnir means lightning, and Thor’s hammer indicates the god’s power over thunder and lightning. Mjolnir, a magic weapon, always came back to Thor when he threw it. Wearing Thor’s hammer as an amulet of protection was quite common as this was probably the most popular of all the pagan Viking symbols. Even during Christian times, from A.D. 1000 on, Vikings wore Thor’s Mjolnir as well as a cross on a chain or thong around their necks.

This article is part of our larger selection of posts about Vikings history. To learn more, click here for our comprehensive guide to Vikings history

Kill the bandits

Head to the nearby camp and eliminate all the bandits. Take the letter from one of the bodies - it is an order to kill Flann. One of the bandits was to disguise himself as a priest and attack the Arch King of Ireland during the ceremony.

Viking history and culture

The Viking period began in the year of 793 with the attack on the Lindisfarne monastery in England, which is the first known Viking raid. The occasion that marks the end of their glory days is the killing of king Harald Hardrada at the Battle of Stamford Bridge in 1066.

A Viking was a tradesman, farmer, or sea warrior from the Nordic countries during the Viking era, which lasted from approximately year 800 to 1050. They participated in expeditions and raids in Western and Eastern Europe to trade with other people, settle in new countries, plunder, and bring goods back home.

Experience the Viking culture

Viking warriors

The Vikings come alive

The Vikings are back &ndash through new, awesome technology. Participate in a rousing Viking show at The Viking Planet in Oslo and experience the dramatic Battle of Hafrsfjord at Viking House in Stavanger.

Peaceful tradesmen and mead drinkers

The Vikings are mostly known for their relentless robbing, and rightly so. At the same time, many of them lived peacefully as traders and farmers, and many expeditions were based on barter deals. Those who stayed away from seafaring robbery to work from home supported their families by simple farming activities. Their daily life might have been tough and demanding, but it was not without joy. The most well-known Viking drink is mead (&ldquomjød&rdquo in Norwegian), an alcoholic beer-like brew sweetened by honey.

The end of the Viking age

The explorers brought their cultural identity to continental Europe, but they also imported foreign cultures, languages and knowledge. By the 1100s, the Vikings were weakened due to domestic disputes and resistance from other European countries, which had painfully learnt to defend themselves against attacks by building fortified targets.

Essay: Vikings

One of the most interesting and misconceived groups of all time were the Vikings. The Vikings were the most feared of all the barbaric invaders. The people who originated from Scandinavia, which in today’s world are the countries of Norway, Denmark, and Sweden were called Norsemen. The Norsemen who took part in raids along the coast of Europe were called Vikings. These men were some of the great sea traders and warriors of all time.

The word Viking originated from the Norse language. Vik in Norse means “harbor” or “bay”. These Vikings became powerful at about 740 AD and lasted till about 1050 AD. One major reason they stayed in power was there ability to travel using the Seas and Oceans in Europe. The Vikings biggest reason for being skillful seamen was their Longships. Long, narrow ships packed with warriors helped a few ships conquer coastal cities. The Longship was made of wood and was approximately thirty meters long. The boats could hold at least 120 people because there were about 30 rowing benches on each side of the boat.

Early Viking voyages consisted of raiding Christian churches and monasteries and robing and burning harmless villages. The Vikings usually had superior weapons and were well trained. Hence, they usually got what they wanted from these powerless villages. After the raid they would return to their ships and sail home. As time went on, trading with other European countries grew. Scandinavian countries sent salt, herring, and slaves they acquire from Russia to Constantinople, modern day Istanbul. In return they received silk and spices. During their time old trade routes between east and west through the Mediterranean were closed or too dangerous to sail. The Vikings kept the trade route between Byzantium and the west open. They did this by using Kiev and Russia.

Home life in Viking culture was different than other barbaric groups at the time. Because of their trading, the Vikings incorporated different ideas from the countries they traded with. The native dress of the Vikings was similar for both sexes. Both men and women wore fur or woolen hats and cloaks. The Vikings had few meals that are still made today. Some of these Viking foods are shortbread, porridge, and meat soup.

Education was not a major emphasis on life. Since, there were no public schools, children were taught at home by their mother or nurse. Girls learned how to spin, weave, dye clothes, and to cook and clean just to name a few things. Boys played games such as wrestling and fencing. Once a boy turned 15 or 16 he was encouraged to join a ship and try their luck at battle. After two or three successful voyages most Viking males had enough money and a high enough noble rank to retire and give their sons the opportunity to go into battle.

The Vikings had a very advanced government for a barbaric group of people. They basically had a Medieval democracy, with an assembly that acted as court and legislative body. There was also a king of each tribal group, which was how the Vikings lived. In 930 the oldest recorded Assembly occurred in Iceland. This assembly was called the Althing.

Religion also had a great influence on the Viking culture. Vikings had a polytheist belief, which consisted of many warrior gods. One of the major gods in the Viking culture was Odin, the chief god, who proceeded over Valhalwhla, which is the warrior’s heaven. Only through death in battle could a warrior enter Valhalla. Thus warriors fought unafraid and with pride. When a Viking died he was buried with many things that he might need in his journey to the Valhalla. Hence, Viking graves often contain Arab silver, Byzantine silks, Frankish weapons, Rhenish glass, and other products of an extensive trade. Just before 1000 AD King Olaf of Norway converted to Christianity and was baptized. He then made a public law that any Viking that did not convert to Christianity was put to death so most Vikings became Christians.

In conclusion, I have shown that the Vikings were a very interesting culture. They had an advanced way of attacking enemies and raiding communities using their incredible ships and warrior skills. They were a group of people who changed the way people did things for many generations after their reign.


The Vikings. The Viking Network. 16 October 1996


“Vikings.” Compton’s Encyclopedia Online. Vers. 2.0. 1997.
America Online. 11 November 1998. Keyword: Compton’s.

Spoon, Andrew. Vikings. 12 November 1996

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3 Ubbe

Of all of Ragnar and Aslaug's children, Ubbe is the most well-rounded, and, possibly, the most like Ragnar. He's willing to incorporate new cultures, he's impulsive and thoughtful to a fault, and he's an amazing warrior. However, he trusts a little too easily which lead to his brothers betraying him (really sounds familiar now, doesn't it?).

While Ubbe isn't the most successful of Ragnar's sons, he is a generally good man and a reliable leader. Even though Ivar led a kingdom, and Hvitserk led armies, Ubbe has always known when to follow orders and when to make orders of his own. He's the most measured son of Ragnar and he deserves credit for that.

I didn't have my glasses on….

scottish children gave their goldfish a viking funeral

most people could only be so lucky as to receive the kind of funeral that two goldfish in the scottish isle of orkney were given by some children who were learning about vikings.

the pair of classroom mascots, bubbles and freddy, belonged to the 3rd and 4th grade classes of the papdale school in the town of kirkwall, according to the BBC. the fish had been with the students for a few months, but died about a week before the kids were due to learn about the vikings, so it was decided that they would send the pets to valhalla with a viking funeral.
the students created a small fleet of miniature coffin boats to send off the deceased, fashioned out of cereal boxes and egg crates. they also wrote and recited their favorite memories about bubbles and freddy. finally, they led a funeral procession to a nearby stream where the boats were put in the water, and the lead vessel was set on fire.

may bubbles and freddy forever swim in the halls of their warrior heaven, valhalla.

“to live in the hearts we leave behind is to live forever.”

Watch the video: The Saga Of Biorn


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