New research indicates that Vikings from Norway, Sweden and Denmark paid more attention to their appearance and were better groomed than their rumours may have implied.
Long hair, a long beard and a frightening countenance have formed the image of invading Vikings. “They are the dirtiest of God’s creations,” wrote Arab author Ibn Fadlan after traveling in Russia at the beginning of the 10th century. Fadlan is best known for chronicling his account of a ship burial during a meeting with Volga Vikings.
Now historians aren’t so sure. “I can’t find a single image from Viking times of a Danish, Swedish or Norwegian Viking who isn’t very well-groomed,” research Jens Molter Ulriksen of the Museum Sydøstdanmark told website Videnskab.dk. “All indications are that they were among the best of their times in keeping themselves clean and their hair trimmed.”
Ulriksen also points to the large numbers of combs found from Viking times, both for hair and beards, some of which are on display at the Viking Ships Museum in Oslo.