So You Want to be a Viking – 5 Tips for Success as an Explorer and Warrior

Plan A: Go to Medical School

Plan B: Become a Viking

I originally didn’t have a Plan B, but after a visit to a historic Viking-Age trading post, located on the island of Birka, with my visiting host mom Lena and her daughter Erika, I do now. So if medical school doesn’t work out, I’m all for becoming a Viking. If you would like to join my crew as we seek plunder, adventure, and battle you’ll have to learn a few tips before stepping on my ship. Here’s 5 to help fire up your warrior spirit:

Tip 1: Take those horns off, you look ridiculous. 


How are we supposed to look scary with goofy horns on our heads?

Contrary to popular belief, Vikings did not have horns on their helmets. Yep, during my visit to Birka I was shocked to learn that TV and Movies were lying to me each time they portrayed a Viking wearing a helmet with horns. So, when dressing for battle with my Viking crew, leave the horns at home.


Tip 2: Drop that flaming arrow and pick up a shovel.

Viking burial mounds like this can be found all over Scandinavia

When one of our crew falls in battle, we’re going to honor them properly by burying them in a burial mound – and not by shooting the boat carrying their body with a flaming arrow as it’s cast off to sea. TV and Movies got it wrong again (what a surprise). On the island of Birka, when a Viking warrior or resident of the island passed away, they were buried in the ground with some of their possessions, such as weapons, clothes, money, etc. Large burial mounds containing bodies and items are scattered all over the island. While it may be cool to fire a flaming arrow at a boat and light it up as it carries our dead Viking brother away, let’s pick up some shovels and keep it real.

Tip 3: Teamwork makes the Dream work

The Avengers could learn a thing or two about teamwork from these guys

I demand strict discipline of my Viking crew. I will not tolerate any rogues. You know why? Because only by working together can we grab the greatest booty. On Birka I learned that Vikings were quite tactical with the way they conducted battle. Going berserk and smashing away at enemies wildly is only rarely successful; Vikings knew that by working together they had a much better chance of achieving victory. One way this can be seen is in the line formation Vikings held in battle. By standing side by side and covering each other with their large shields, Vikings were able to create an unbreakable barrier. Enemies that charged into this line would be blunted by the shields – and then smashed with an ax when they got too close. Pay close attention here as we’re going to practice this strategy a lot when we prepare for battle.

Tip 4: Make money, not war

These coins with Arabic letters written on them were brought back from Vikings who traded in the Middle East.

Fighting and exploring are easily two of the most memorable activities Vikings engaged in. But not only were they explorers and warriors – they were also traders. As they traveled to new and distant lands, Vikings exchanged goods with the locals. They brought back spices, wine, weapons, fur, and more. They traded all over Europe and even went as far as the Middle East for goods. With that, you’re going to need to know how to bargain as well as you fight when you’re on my Viking ship. It’ll help you follow our motto: if there’s no cash, then we smash.



Tip 5: Have Fun!

Whether it’s setting a village on fire, smashing your enemies with axes and swords, or bringing back hard-earned treasure, it’s important to always have fun and not take your job too seriously. Remember to smile every once in a while as you lay siege to an enemy town. If you’re not telling jokes in between axe swings then you’re not being the best Viking you can be.  When you’re part of my crew, I’ll make sure you enjoy your time as a Viking.

If you’re having fun, then you’re already half way to being a successful Viking! 

If you follow these tips then you’re well on your way to being a top tier seafaring warrior. Learn these quickly because my ship casts off at dawn. See you on deck!

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