Vikings love to ski… amongst other things

The Viking Age (800-1050 AD) is a fascinating period of human history. Over the past few years shows like Vikings and The Last Kingdom have blasted our screens with images from fictional Viking worlds in full technicolour!

With a reputation for raiding, violence and pillaging (which admittedly historical records show they were rather good at), Vikings also had a more cultured and refined side. They operated as explorers and traders as well as being adept in the literary fields of poetry/prose and capable of amazing artistic expression through carving and jewellery.

Vikings hailed from the Scandinavian regions of what are now Denmark, Norway and Sweden. Their sturdy longboats took them adventuring to many new lands including; Ireland, Scotland, Britain, France, Russia, Iceland, Greenland, North America and the Middle East.

10 Fascinating Viking Facts

  • The word Viking actually means "Pirate raid" in Old Norse language.
  • They did not wear helmets with horns – this idea comes from costumes worn in an 1876 production of Der Ring des Nibelungen by Wagner.
  • Some of the days of the week are named after gods who the Vikings worshipped. Thursday is from Thor.
  • A sword was the most valuable thing a Viking could own and not everyone could afford one as the exquisite craftsmanship put into making them made them very expensive.
  • Vikings loved to ski for fun and had a god of skiing called Ullr.
  • Vikings who were not born blonde (a cultural beauty ideal for Vikings) used to bleach their hair and sometimes beards.
  • They used a product made from a type of fungus and human urine to use as a fire-starter. Slightly disgusting but very resourceful!
  • Despite how they are portrayed today, Vikings had a high standard of hygiene – bathing once a week, using tweezers, razors, combs and ear cleaners. They loved a soak in natural hot springs too.
  • Vikings beat Columbus in discovering America!
  • Most Viking men were peaceful farmers, not raiding warriors.

So maybe everything "learned" about Vikings from screens should be taken with a pinch of salt, even if it is addictive and leads to binge watching!

First time downloading from the eLibrary?

Introducing the eLibrary Helpdesk Service! If you are looking for something to read, watch or listen to, Libraries have a huge range of online books, music, movies and magazines just for you. Contact libraries to get immediate and expert help with accessing and using the eLibrary on your device. eLibrary Helpdesk staff will help connect you to your favourite authors, the music you love, great movies to entertain the whole family and a range of magazines. The eLibrary Helpdesk operates between 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday. Get reading, watching and listening online and access the eLibrary now.

Viking travel

Dreaming of an exciting and distinctly Viking flavoured holiday escape? Check out this Viking Road Trip Itinerary for Norway. Maybe you love to dress up and yield a sword? What about timing your future holiday adventure with one of these Viking Festivals?

Take a look at these travel eBooks to get all the facts:

  • Lonely Planet Scandinavia
  • Lonely Planet Norway
  • Lonely Planet Denmark
  • Lonely Planet Sweden
  • Sweden Travel Guide
  • Lonely Planet Iceland

Take these simple eBook steps to access more eBooks.

Borrow up to 30 eBooks on your device. To get started download the ePlatform by Wheelers, RBDigital and Libby apps. Select Sunshine Coast Libraries and enter your member number and passwords.

Viking Fiction

Fancy some Viking fiction? Try out these authors who love to tell Viking tales:

  • Bernard Cornwell (The Last Kingdom series is based on his books)
  • Giles Kristian
  • Timothy Severin
  • Colin Taber
  • James L. Nelson
  • Octavia Randolph
  • Colin Falconer
  • Theodore Brum
  • Snorri Kristjansson
  • Asa Maria Bradley
  • Sarah Maine
  • Robert Low

Viking viewing

Get the facts with these historical Viking documentaries from Kanopy.

  • The Viking Invasions
  • The second Viking conquest
  • York – Vikings and merchants

Set up a Kanopy account to access more films for free. First time customer: select "Add Library Card" and enter your member number and password. Create a Kanopy account, then verify your email address. Repeat customer: login to Kanopy using your email and Kanopy password.

Viking learning

Investigate online with Britannica Library. Sign in your member number. Read and watch Viking history with maps, text, images, and videos.

  • Overview of the Vikings
  • Vikings roamed far from their homes in northern Europe

Viking blood

Do you have Viking blood running through your veins? Find out and trace your heritage with the help of

Right now you can access from the comfort of your lounge room for free just by becoming a member of the State Library of Queensland and signing in. Search thousands online records including military, immigration and Census records.

Maybe your name really is Thor after all!

Viking listening

Vikings for your ears. Listen to these intriguing Viking Podcasts.