The Surprising Truth About Viking Hair Styles and Beards

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Did The Vikings Have Dreadlocks?

Although the Vikings had many different hairstyles, experts have yet to find a picture of a Viking with dreadlocks. This is probably because there are no contemporary depictions of Vikings with dreadlocks or any other form of non-shaven hair shown.

Today we will look at whether the fabled dreadlocked hairdo of our beloved bearded, horned helmets could have been a thing among the people of Norway in the Viking age.

After thorough research into the popular archetypes surrounding dreadlocks and sea voyages we can conclusively say that although there is no actual evidence for it, it is almost certain that the Vikings had dreadlocks.

The actual archeological evidence for this is that there is no direct evidence.

The first reference to dreadlocks in the Viking age comes from skaldic poetry of the 9th-century skaepiggjoð (lit. “warped-pig tongue”) which generally describes someone with a broad face and broad/shiny forehead.

The scald claims that the person described has his hair twisted into locks that “hang loose” and are “round”. This is probably a reference to dreadlocks, but like most skaldic poems, there is no way of knowing for sure.

There are depictions of Vikings with some form of long, matted hair, both in illustrations and actual remains. The problem with these depictions is that there are either artistic interpretations or archeological evidence of decomposed hair.

You would think that the Vikings who could travel to America (or Greenland) would have ended up with dreadlocks after their journey but this is probably not true. Archeologists in Greenland found the remains of a Viking settlement and concluded that they were not “les dreadlocks” as they put it.

As far as we know there is no actual archeological evidence pointing to the fact that Vikings had dreadlocks or even long hair for that matter. The only references we have are from poetry and illuminations.

 

Why Vikings Wouldn’t Have Dreadlocks

This is because it becomes more or less impossible to see behind you without turning your entire body around practically every two seconds, which of course would make you an easy target. It also makes wearing helmets very uncomfortable if not totally painful.

This is why Vikings are never depicted with these types of hairstyles, despite popular belief to the contrary.

Vikings did not have dreadlocks or long hair, Vikings had short hair with perhaps some matted parts. In some cases, the hair may have been braided, but dreadlocks or long hair were never a part of Viking society.

Viking hairstyles were very practical and often used hairstyles that were supposed to provide some kind of advantage in combat. Long hair or dreadlocks would only get in the way of the Vikings’ fighting ability, so it is probably safe to assume they did not have them.

 

What Was The Typical Haircut For Vikings?

The haircut that was preferred by Vikings is not known with certainty. What we do know is that Vikings had short hair and they probably kept it at a length where they could tie it up when the occasion called for it, but leave it loose throughout most of their daily lives.

It was practical and simple. It did not draw attention to itself and it was easy to maintain while out in the wild or while brawling.

A typical Viking hairstyle would perhaps consist of a mixture of short hair all around with some parts braided or tied up in a bun. The hair would never be longer than shoulder length, with some exceptions.

Some warriors would perhaps keep their hair longer, but only in the back or on the sides, with it being noticeably shorter everywhere else. It was however never allowed to be untied during combat or battles of any kind.

Whatever hairstyle you had it is very likely that you kept it short enough for this not to be an issue.

 

Did Vikings Braid Their Hair?

Yes, we know that Vikings braided their hair and it is clearly depicted in several pieces of art made during the time. We also know however that this was not a common hairstyle and only limited numbers of people actually wore them.

In other words, most people just kept their hair short as described above – practical and simple to maintain.

There are several depictions of Vikings wearing braids, but this was probably done by warriors or perhaps individuals who were associated with the chieftain in some way.

The braid is believed to have been used as a symbol of manhood and it might be that only men who had proved themselves brave enough could wear them throughout their lives. Others would probably have to be content with wearing them only on special occasions, such as weddings for instance.

On the other hand, it is also been suggested that Vikings may have used braids as a way of displaying social status, but this theory has yet to be proven or supported by evidence from the time.

In any case, braids were no doubt an important part of Viking culture and they served a practical purpose, but long hair was not allowed except for special occasions.

 

Did Vikings Have Beards?

Yes, it is believed that most or perhaps even all men had beards or at least short stubble on their faces throughout the year. There are several reasons to believe this and one of them is the fact that men, in general, were required to wear a mustache in order to join the army.

Some soldiers would probably only wear the mustache on special occasions during peacetime, but this was still a tradition very characteristic of Viking culture.

Another reason to believe that beards were considered normal is the fact that they are mentioned in several sagas or legends in Norwegian culture who wore a particularly long beard during his time.

It was not common for people back then to shave on created at the time. Most of these stories involve chieftains who grow beards during periods of stress or tension and they are often described to have been very long.

Probably the most famous Viking beard from history is that worn by jarl Galmr or Galmr’s hair – an important figure in Norwegian history.

To conclude, there is no doubt that Vikings grew their beards and it was a very natural thing to do – not something worn for show or as part of a hairstyle. It was simply practical and common back then to keep your face covered with hair.

Beard styles were probably the same as those mentioned above and people probably would use whatever was practical to keep their faces warm in the cold climates or avoid catching a cold.

 

Did Vikings Braid Their Beards?

Yes, it is believed that the braids worn by Vikings were probably used as a way of displaying their status or just to have some fun with hairstyles.

As mentioned above, braiding was associated specifically with men and only those who had proven themselves worthy could braid their hair. The rest would have to be content with simple hairstyles, which were probably all fairly similar in appearance.

It is also believed that Vikings braided their beards when they wanted to give the impression of increased size. This may have been used as a way to intimidate or frighten their enemies, but it could also serve the purpose of pure decoration.

There are several examples in Norwegian culture where a person with a braided beard is described as a particularly fearsome warrior.

In any case, braids were probably not used for the purpose of making your beard look better. They were simply practical and served their own special purpose according to Viking culture.

As such it was not common for people to grow their beards very long, except for the chieftains who were expected to grow them as a sign of their status.

 

How Did Vikings Braid Their Hair?

The exact details on how Vikings braid their hair are lost to time, but some discoveries have allowed historians, archaeologists, and anthropologists to hypothesize what forms of braids were used.

For example, one discovery of a comb in Lejre seems to indicate the use of many different types of plaits with beads at the end. This has led many to believe that there would be many different forms of braids and styles, just like any other culture in the world around them.

An example of this can be seen in several depictions of Viking warriors such as those on Oseberg tapestries. The long plaits are indicative of status, while the plain knots and ponytails indicate that the individual may be a commoner.

The Oseberg Tapestry also displays long hair in men, which is indicative of status in society. This shows that there were varying degrees of styles within Norse culture, but most likely for practicality rather than anything else.

Many scholars seem to agree that most Norse braids were likely to have been very straight and dense, with maybe some slight waviness. This is due to the lack of knowledge on how Vikings would style their hair outside of this time period.

The main thing that can be agreed on is that Vikings wore plaits in order to keep long hair out of the way. This would have been important for Vikings who were raiding, sailing, or fighting.

 

Final Words

The Vikings did not wear dreadlocks, but they did braid their beards. This was done either for status or to indicate that the individual had/was about to go into battle. FIghting and honor was a way of life for the Vikings and anything that impeded that would have been tossed aside.

 

Source – http://www.historyofyork.org.uk/themes/viking/viking-male-grooming

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