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The Vikings were Germanic people who raided, traded, explored, and settled in wide areas of Europe, Asia, and the North Atlantic islands from the late 8th to the mid-11th centuries.


Ships The Vikings built fast ships for raiding and war. These ships were 'dragon-ships' or 'longships'.They built small boats for fishing or short trips.Viking longships could sail in shallow water. So they could travel up rivers as well as across the sea.


Childrens A boy usually took his father's name too Girls often took the same name as their mother or grandmother. Viking children didn't go to school. They helped their parents at work, and learned Viking history, religion and law from spoken stories and songs, not from books. By 15 or 16 they were adult. It was common for a girl's father to choose her husband.


Women Women baked bread. They did spinning and weaving to turn sheep wool into cloth. They looked after the children, made the family's clothes and cooked the two meals a day most families ate. On the farm, women milked the cows and made cheese.


Men Most Viking men were all-round handymen, but some had special skills. There were boat-builders, for example:potters, leatherworkers and smiths. Most Viking men knew how to handle a boat. And most could fight if they had to, to protect the family or to support their chieftain.


Food and drinks Most Vikings were farmers. They kept: horses, cattle, sheep and goats for meat and milk.They also grew fruit and fished in rivers and lakes.They cooked meat in a big stew-pot over the fire. At a feast, guests drank ale and mead (a strong drink made from honey). People drank out of wooden cups or drinking horns (made from cow-horns).


Clothes

Viking women wore a long linen dress.It could be either plain or pleated.Over the dress they wore a long woolen tunic, a little like an apron. Viking men first put on a long woolen shirt and long cloth trousers which were held up by a sash or a drawstring. On top of this was worn a sleeved jerkin or a three-quarter coat with a belt.


Weapons Viking weapons were mostly of three sorts, spears, swords. They used a helmet with two horns to protect the head.


houses

Viking houses were built of wood, stone or blocks of turf. The walls were made of wattle (woven sticks, covered with mud to keep out the wind and rain).The floor of a Viking house was often dug below ground-level; perhaps this helped keep out draughts. Rich people's farmhouses might have a small entrance hall, a large main room, a kitchen, a bedroom and a store room.


Vikings