Turns out they didn't much resemble Thor or Ragnar Lothbrok. It turns out most Vikings weren't as fair-haired and blue-eyed as legend and pop culture have led people to believe. According to a new study on the DNA of over 400 Viking remains, most Vikings had dark hair and dark eyes.
And experts say surnames can give you an indication of a possible Viking heritage in your family, with anything ending in 'son' or 'sen' likely to be a sign. Other surnames which could signal a Viking family history include 'Roger/s' and 'Rogerson' and 'Rendall'.
- Viking identity was not limited to people with Scandinavian genetic ancestry. The study shows the genetic history of Scandinavia was influenced by foreign genes from Asia and Southern Europe before the Viking Age. - Early Viking Age raiding parties were an activity for locals and included close family members.
The faces of men and women in the Viking Age were more alike than they are today. The women's faces were more masculine than women's today, with prominent brow ridges. On the other hand, the Viking man's appearance was more feminine than that of men today, with a less prominent jaw and brow ridges.
Scandinavian Vikings were similar in appearance to modern Scandinavians; "their skin was fair and the hair color varied between blond, dark and reddish". Genetic studies suggest that people were mostly blond in what is now eastern Sweden, while red hair was mostly found in western Scandinavia.
The Vikings had various eye colors, although the predominant eye color was blue or gray. However, Irish Vikings had predominantly brown or hazel eyes, and some Viking settlements were much more diverse than others.
“From picture sources we know that the Vikings had well-groomed beards and hair. The men had long fringes and short hair on the back of the head," she says, adding that the beard could be short or long, but it was always well-groomed. Further down on the neck, the skin was shaved.
"The examination of skeletons from different localities in Scandinavia reveals that the average height of the Vikings was a little less than that of today: men were about 5 ft 7-3/4 in. tall and women 5 ft 2-1/2 in.
"We find Vikings that are half southern European, half Scandinavian, half Sami, which are the indigenous peoples to the north of Scandinavia, and half European Scandinavians.
Were there Black Vikings? Although Vikings hailed from Sweden, Norway, and Denmark – and these were essentially White areas – it has been noted that there were, indeed, a very small number of Black Vikings.
According to Origins of English Surnames and A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames: With Special American Instances, English surnames that have their source in the language of the Norse invaders include: Algar,Hobson,Collings,Copsey,Dowsing,Drabble,Eetelbum,Gamble,Goodman,Grave,Grime,Gunn,Hacon,Harold,Hemming, ...
1. Norway. As one of the countries where Vikings originated, there's tons of Viking heritage in Norway. Take the Lofoten Islands.
“In general, Irish Viking genomes harbour high levels of Norwegian-like ancestry. This is a real contrast to what we see in England during the same period, where there is stronger Danish influence.” The study also revealed that Viking identities were taken up by local people in Britain and Ireland.
If we are speaking ethnically, the closest people to a Viking in modern-day terms would be the Danish, Norwegians, Swedish, and Icelandic people. Interestingly though, it was common for their male Viking ancestors to intermarry with other nationalities, and so there is a lot of mixed heritage.
Genetic analysis of Viking remains has shown that while Norsemen from the northern reaches of Scandinavia (modern-day Stockholm, Sweden) were predominantly blond, Vikings from the western parts of Scandinavia, most notably the area that is now Denmark, were more often than not, red-haired.
When we're talking about Scandinavia from a genetic viewpoint, rather than a geographic or political one, the region includes: Norway. Sweden. Denmark (for the most part) Iceland.
A genetic study of Viking-age human remains has not only confirmed that Vikings from different parts of Scandinavia set sail for different parts of the world, but has revealed that dark hair was more common among Vikings than Danes today.
No, to the extent that there are no longer routine groups of people who set sail to explore, trade, pillage, and plunder. However, the people who did those things long ago have descendants today who live all over Scandinavia and Europe.
Experts in the element of surprise
One of the reasons for this was the Vikings' superior mobility. Their longships – with a characteristic shallow-draft hull – made it possible to cross the North Sea and to navigate Europe's many rivers and appear out of nowhere, or bypass hostile land forces.
The Nilotic peoples of Sudan such as the Shilluk and Dinka have been described as some of the tallest in the world. Dinka Ruweng males investigated by Roberts in 1953–54 were on average 181.3 centimetres (5 ft 11+1⁄2 in) tall, and Shilluk males averaged 182.6 centimetres (6 ft 0 in).
Despite their ferocious tales of battle and lifestyle, you may be surprised to know that the average height of Viking men was 5 ft 9 in (176 cm), and the average height of Viking women was 5 ft 1 in (158 cm). The height of an average Viking was shorter than the height of today's Englishmen by almost 3-4 in (8-10 cm)!
Not all Vikings were blonde, as some were red-haired or dark-haired. Even though blonde hair was dominant in northern Scandinavia, the Vikings in the western part of the region had different hair colors. Many Vikings considered blonde hair particularly attractive and bleached their hair using lye.