Were Vikings Fat

Were Vikings fat? Exploring the truth about fat Vikings

Were Vikings fat, muscular, or just like everyday people? Questions like these have become more commonplace as modern-day academics try to envision what Vikings really looked like. Tales of Vikings shared in reports discovered throughout the centuries paint an interesting picture. 

Many groups who encountered the Vikings when they were pillaging and fighting around Europe and Scandinavia considered them to be “larger than life” individuals. Vikings were often described as “tall as a tree”, and even “monstrous figures”, with long beards and tattoos. 

However, archeologists have discovered Vikings may not have been as huge as we originally believed. On average, a Viking man was likely to be around 5 foot 9, while a Viking woman was only around 5 foot 2. 

While this might have been large for the time, it presents us with a very different idea of what Vikings were really like. 

So, if Vikings were shorter than we originally thought, were they also slimmer than most people think too? The answer is probably “yes”. 

Here’s what you need to know about “fat Vikings”… 

Were Vikings fat? What do we know about Viking weight?

The information we have on Vikings is limited. Because Vikings didn’t keep their own records, or have photographic evidence like we do today, we’re restricted in what we can learn. 

Most of the assumptions we have about the Viking age today come from reports and letters shared by people who interacted with Vikings over the decades, as well as wooden and metal carvings or sculptures. 

We can also gain some insights into Viking appearance by studying skeletal remains left in Viking burial sites. However, bones don’t provide us with much insight into exactly how “fat” Vikings may have been during Medieval times. 

We do know the Viking age was unlikely to be a time when people were particularly concerned about the fat content of food. Today, our relationship with food is very different, thanks to the wide availability of food and commercial produce. 

We can choose the meals we feel are best suited to managing our weight or appearance. 

Vikings didn’t have the same luxury. The focus of any Viking scavenging, hunting, or rearing cattle for food, was to create meals that would keep them healthy and strong. 

Vikings may have even sought out fatty meals, to provide them with extra warmth and energy during the harsh winter months in the Scandinavian region. 

Were Vikings Fat

Viking eating habits: Did Vikings eat fatty foods?

Vikings were likely to eat plenty of food in large portions to preserve their energy for long hours of labor and fighting. 

Many experts believe Vikings had a relatively varied diet, consisting of large amounts of animal protein from goat, beef, pork, mutton, chicken, and lamb. Some Vikings even ate horse meat and duck. 

Sweet foods came in the form of fruit, berries, and honey. 

For most Vikings, dietary choices revolved around the seasons, and what they could grow or rear on their own farms. However, when exploring new regions, Vikings were often described as “gluttonous”. 

Reports from the English suggest invading Vikings often ate and drank too much. 

While Vikings may well have eaten more than their European counterparts, this doesn’t necessarily mean they were fat. 

It’s worth noting that Vikings lived in harsh environments, and spent a significant amount of time working on the land, which means they needed significantly more energy to maintain their weight and strength than we do today. 

Additionally, just because Vikings were more gluttonous in regions where food was readily available, doesn’t mean they ate the same way at home. Vikings may have been more cautious with how they preserved and portioned the food they created themselves. 

Were fat Vikings common in ancient times?

Based on what we know from archeological findings, carvings, and depictions of Vikings throughout the centuries, these people were often relatively large. Though smaller than Scandinavians today, Vikings were often taller than the average person in medieval times. 

They were also meticulously well trained. Many Viking children started learning to become warriors from the age of 12. 

Vikings appear to have had a full diet packed with protein, fat, and carbohydrates. However, their active lifestyles probably meant most of this food was converted into muscle, rather than excess weight. 

There’s a good chance Vikings did appear “huge” to the people who met with them, however. 

One archeological display from the Viking Museum of Oslo shows some large Norsemen who were believed to weigh around 130 to 140kg. Additionally, scientific, and historical reports of Vikings have also suggested they may have weighed significantly more than their European counterparts. 

Vikings were hard working and battle-worn individuals, who devoted a significant amount of their time to training, and labor. This, combined with their rich diet likely produced a much stronger selection of men and women than you might find in Medieval England, or other regions. 

Were Vikings Fat

Did Vikings have more muscle than fat?

Based on what we know about the history and lifestyle of Vikings, as well as the depictions of these individuals in carvings, Vikings were extremely muscular individuals. 

This could mean when they were described as “large” by some communities, this was in reference to their muscles, rather than an excess amount of fat, or a large gut. 

Discoveries of weapons wielded by Vikings seem to support this idea. Many Viking era blades were as long as 100 cm long and 4-6cm wide, with a large and ornate hilt and pommel. Plus, many Vikings also wielded axes and hammers in battles, which required a lot of physical strength. 

A 10th century Viking bow discovered by archaeologists had a pull weight of around 100 pounds. The average 160-pound man would probably use a bow with a 40-pound pull weight today. 

While there was likely a lot of training and skill involved in ensuring Vikings could use the large and complex weapons they wielded, they probably had plenty of muscles too. 

Based on the accessories and weapons discovered through the years, most scientists believed Vikings prioritized building their strength on a regular basis. They may have been similar in stature to the gym go-ers and body builders we know today. 

What was the average weight of a Viking?

Lack of sufficient evidence and research into Vikings means its difficult to say for certain how much the average Viking weighed. While there are some museum displays which showcase Vikings weighing up to 140kg, there’s no guarantee every Viking was so large. 

Scientists do believe most Vikings did weigh a decent amount more than some of the other medieval communities at the time, however. These individuals were often described as being much stronger than their counterparts, and extra muscle does mean extra weight too. 

Fortunately, Vikings were unlikely to have been particularly concerned about keeping trim or managing their weight. Indeed, Vikings probably regarded a hefty weight as a good sign of health, as it meant a person was well-fed, and usually well-trained. 

Were Vikings really fat?

So, were Vikings fat? It’s difficult to know for certain. While the tales of “fat Vikings” have continued to appear over the centuries, we don’t have a lot of clear evidence telling us how much a Viking would have actually weighed. 

The chances are Vikings were a lot leaner than many people today, thanks to their protein-rich diet, and their commitment to hard labor. However, it’s likely that the comparative ‘largeness’ of Vikings was down to their muscular bodies and strength, rather than simply being “fat”. 

Vikings may have eaten a lot more than other people (particularly in Medieval England), but they put the energy they consumed to good use at home, and on the field of battle. 

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