A day in the life of a Viking

When we go to the shops today we find a wealth of fruit and vegetables from which to choose. For people in the eighth, ninth and tenth century, life was not quite so easy. There were no potatoes, tomatoes, bananas, oranges or lemons. They had only what they could find in the wild or grow in the fields and gardens.

We spent the day at Houlgate Viking village near York to experience what life would be like as a Viking family.

We began the day in the great hall where we were kitted out in traditional Viking clothing. Each family consisted of Mother, Father and children. Unfortunately for the teachers and helpers their job for the day was to be slaves, much to everyone’s amusement. Although everyone was under strict instruction this ended at 3 o’clock before the journey home.

We have included some of our best and worst memories of the day to share with you.

Viking homes were made from woven branches coated in mud. This process was known as wattle and daub. They had turf or thatched roofs.

A typical Viking family by their house.

Grinding the wheat to make flour.

I liked making bread because I was the mother and I was in charge. We had to turn two stones. There was a stick we had to turn. By Sian.

The fire located in the centre of the room was the main source of light and heat. The smoke was vented through a hole in the roof. If they needed extra light they might use a cresset oil lamp.These types of lamps used animal fat to help them burn.

We all made our own oil lamp.

Making a cresset oil lamp was fun because learnt a lot. I didn’t like it in the long house because of the fire and smoke. By Luke.

My favourite part was making a cresset oil lamp out of clay and putting patterns on it.
By Connor.

The most interesting bit to me was looking in the Viking houses and cleaning the house. I learnt that the Vikings went to the toilet outside in the cold and had no privacy anywhere.
By Katie.

Each home had a weaving loom and the women were extremely skilled in making clothing. Wool would be collected from the sheep, soaked in natural dyes and then spun and woven to make tunics, trousers, dresses etc.

I enjoyed the visit it was the best I have ever been on. Now I have been I feel lucky I have got electricity because I can play on my PS2 and watch TV the Vikings did not have electric. The jobs we did were good. My favourite part was when I was collecting firewood.
By Oliver.

My best job was being a Viking guard and feeding the goats. I liked being a guard because we got to chase an Anglo Saxon away it was cool. I also liked making oil lamps because it was messy.
By Jack.

A typical day's work would involve collecting hay for the animals and watering the crops.

It was also the duty of every villager to know how to defend the village in troubled times. We all took turns on guard duty. My Lord taught us all how to hold our weapons and how to charge if an enemy dared try an attack.

My best bit was being a guard because we got to chase people away. The clothes stung and 'my lord' was like my Headteacher.
By Leanne

I learnt a lot of things about the Vikings. The best bits were being a guard and when we made oil lamps. I didn’t have a worst bit. The thing I found most interesting was that the Vikings did not all wear helmets.
By Joshua.

My favourite bit was guarding because our group was the only group to save the settlement. My favourite adult was the Lord. I wanted to stay in the longhouse all night. I learnt what every day jobs Viking children did. I would not like to be a Viking because I would miss my privacy.
By Natasha.

Wrestling, swimming and fighting, writing was considered a special skill among the Vikings. Their ancient Scandinavian ancestors invented the alphabet they used.

According to legend Odin, chief of the Norse gods speared himself to a tree in an attempt to receive knowledge and learn the mysteries of the runes. He then passed this knowledge to his people. Since the Vikings believed they were a gift from the mighty Odin they treated them with respect and believed they possessed divine, magical powers.Viking runes weren’t written with pen and ink instead they were carved with a knife or chisel into stone or wood. To make carving easier only straight lines were used. Runes weren’t used to write stories they were put to practical uses by ordinary Vikings. They were used to label household belongings and Viking warriors decorated their swords and spears with runic letters. They believed them to be magical and would make the weapon stronger in battle. The Vikings also used runes to inscribe memorial stones. Some of the tributes were to fallen heroes and loved ones.

What We Learnt:

I learnt that archaeologists have only ever found one complete helmet. The Vikings had one day called bath day because they only had a bath one day a week.

I learnt how the Vikings lived and what they did. The Vikings were very poor. We learnt what vegetables they grew and how to say hello in Viking words, it was Gudar (I think that is how you spell it). 

At Houlgate I learnt that you had to sit outside if you wanted to go to the toilet if you were a Viking and they only ate meat, bread and vegetables.

I learnt that Vikings ate cabbage a lot and they ate lots of fruit and vegetables. The Vikings didn’t go round the village in shining armour they were mostly farmers and fishermen.

I learnt a lot about the Vikings like how to guard a settlement and that they weren’t all fancy like you see in books with swords and big shields. They were poor and not wealthy, they lived a hard life. But I would pay a lot of money to go back.