Viking index
In the Netherlands
Rorik's headquarters Famous vikings
Viking settlements
Viking mythology
Female vikings
Viking tressure


Female vikings

Could women be Vikings?
Strictly speaking, they could not. The Old Norse word víkingar is exclusively applied to men, usually those who sailed from Scandinavia in groups to engage in the activities of raiding and trading in Britain, Europe and the East. But some Vikings stayed behind in these regions, and Scandinavian colonies were also established in the North Atlantic (Faroe, Iceland, Greenland).
Women could and did play a part in this process of settlement. Iceland, for instance, was uninhabited, and a permanent population could only be established if women also made the journey there. In regions with an established indigenous population, Viking settlers may have married local women, while some far-roving Vikings picked up female companions en route, but there is evidence that Scandinavian women reached most parts of the Viking world, from Russia in the east to Newfoundland in the west.

Most journeys from Scandinavia involved sea-crossings in small, open ships with no protection from the elements. Families heading for the North Atlantic colonies would also have to take all the livestock they would need to establish a new farm, and the journey cannot have been pleasant.
The Viking colonists settled down to the farming life in their new home, or established themselves as traders and became town-dwellers. Both farming and trading were family businesses, and women were often left in charge when their husbands were away or dead.
There is also evidence that women could make a living in commerce in the Viking Age. Merchants' scales and weights found in female graves in Scandinavia suggest an association between women and trade, while an account of a ninth-century Christian mission to Birka, a Swedish trading centre, relates the conversion of a rich widow Frideburg and her daughter Catla, who travelled to the Frisian port of Dorestad.

More Female Vikings