Were the Vikings Actually Tall?

Were the Vikings Actually Tall?

Have you ever been told you likely have Viking blood in you because of your height? Or maybe you have made this claim yourself. Perhaps we get the idea of the towering Vikings from writings of the time. In 921, Ibn Fadlan who was a traveling Arab came upon a people called the Rus who were a group of Swedish origin and this is how he described them:

“I have see the Rus as they came on their merchant journeys and encamped by the Volga. I have never seen more perfect physical specimens, tall as date palms, blonde and ruddy…”

The Vikings weren’t an actual nation, but different groups of warriors, merchants or explorers all led by different chieftains. They lived in Scandinavia which today is Denmark, Norway and Sweden. Examinations of skeletons from different locations throughout Scandinavia have shows that the average height of a Viking male was about 5’7’’ and for women about 5’2’’. Even in the Viking age, these heights weren’t considered particularly tall.

So, in short, no the Vikings weren’t particularly tall. Perhaps the rumor of their strength and fighting spirit made others believe they were towering giants. It is said that the Vikings’ reputation caused people to flee their cities when they saw a Viking ship coming near instead of defending themselves.

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