What Did Female Vikings Look Like?

Female Vikings

Viking women have always been a topic of intrigue and fascination. As the daughters, wives, and mothers of fierce warriors and skilled traders, they played a crucial role in Viking society. But what did they look like? Were they fair-haired and fair-skinned like their male counterparts? Did they dress differently, wear intricate jewelry, or style their hair in unique ways? In this article, we’ll explore the appearance of female Vikings and what historical evidence and modern interpretations can tell us.

Key Takeaways

  • Female Vikings played a vital role in Viking society as daughters, wives, and mothers of warriors and traders.
  • The physical appearance of Viking women can be gleaned from historical accounts and archaeological findings, but these sources have limitations and must be interpreted carefully.
  • Viking women’s clothing, accessories, and hairstyles were distinct and varied, reflecting social status, regional differences, and cultural influences.
  • Physical characteristics commonly associated with Viking women include fair hair and skin, sturdy build, and prominent cheekbones, but beauty standards varied and evolved over time.
  • Some Viking women were warriors who fought alongside men, and their appearance on the battlefield was influenced by their armor and weapons.
  • Viking women’s appearance was influenced by cultural interactions and trade, as well as geographic and environmental factors.
  • Representations of Viking women in art and literature can be biased and interpretive, and modern reenactments and experimental archaeology offer new insights into their appearance.

Historical Accounts of Viking Women

The appearance of Viking women has long been a subject of curiosity and fascination. While written records and archaeological findings provide some insight into their physical attributes, there are limitations to these accounts that require careful interpretation.

According to historical accounts, Viking women were typically fair-skinned and light-haired, with a preference for braids and other elaborate hairstyles. Proportions of their body were enhanced with clothing. Viking women dressed in long, woolen dresses and cloaks, with some evidence suggesting that they may have worn pants as well. Jewelry was also an essential part of their attire, often featuring intricate designs and precious metals like gold and silver.

However, it’s essential to note that these accounts are not necessarily representative of all Viking women. Different regions and social classes likely had unique fashion and beauty standards, and many Viking communities may have interacted with other cultures, leading to an exchange of customs and aesthetics.

Archaeological findings have also provided some clues about Viking women’s appearance. Skeletons of women buried with jewelry or other ornaments suggest that these items were believed to have significance in the afterlife. Additionally, some Viking artifacts depict women wearing armor or holding weapons, which highlights the important role of warrior women in Viking society.

In terms of beauty standards, Viking women seem to have valued clear skin, well-groomed hair, and a symmetrical face. However, it’s difficult to determine how much these physical attributes were linked to status or desirability, as historical accounts are often biased and may reflect the views of only a particular demographic.

Despite these limitations, historical accounts and archaeological findings provide a valuable window into the appearance of Viking women. With careful analysis and consideration of different perspectives, it’s possible to gain a more nuanced understanding of their physical attributes, fashion, and beauty standards.

Viking Women’s Clothing and Accessories

Viking women’s clothing and accessories were often colorful, detailed, and functional. They were made from materials such as wool, linen, and animal hides. Viking women were skilled in textile production, and would spin their own yarn and weave their own fabric.

The clothing of Viking women typically consisted of a long, woolen dress with an apron and shoulder straps. They also wore a variety of accessories, including brooches, necklaces, and bracelets made of gold, silver, or bronze.

Hairstyles were an important aspect of Viking women’s appearance. Women often wore their hair in braids or plaits, sometimes adorned with beads or other decorations. Headwear was also common, with women wearing caps or headscarves made of linen or wool.

Garment Material Function
Dress Wool Main garment
Apron Linen or wool Worn over the dress for added warmth and protection
Brooch Gold, silver, or bronze Used to fasten clothing, often highly decorated
Necklace Gold, silver, or bronze Worn for decoration, sometimes with intricate designs
Bracelet Gold, silver, or bronze Worn for decoration, sometimes with inscriptions or symbols
Headscarf Linen or wool Worn to protect hair from dirt and wind

Viking women’s clothing and accessories were not just decorative; they also served practical purposes. For example, brooches were used to fasten garments, while headwear protected against the elements.

Overall, Viking women were skilled at producing and wearing clothing that was both aesthetically pleasing and functional.

Physical Characteristics and Beauty Standards

Viking women were known for their physical strength, with some historical accounts describing them as even taller and stronger than their male counterparts. However, beauty standards during the Viking Age were also highly prized, and certain physical characteristics were considered attractive.

Blonde hair was highly valued, with some historical accounts suggesting that women who did not have blonde hair would try to lighten it using soap made from lye. Fair skin was also considered desirable, and women would use a concoction of crushed chalk and lead to achieve a pale complexion.

While modern beauty standards may differ, it’s important to keep in mind the cultural context of the Viking Age when considering the physical characteristics of Viking women. Additionally, it’s worth noting that beauty standards varied across different Viking settlements and regions, and there was likely a diverse range of appearances among Viking women.

Warrior Women and their Appearance

While it is difficult to ascertain the exact appearance of Viking women, historical accounts suggest that some were warriors who fought alongside men on the battlefield. These women were known as shieldmaidens and were often depicted as tall and strong, with long hair and fierce expressions. It is believed that they wore similar armor and weapons as their male counterparts, such as helmets, chainmail, and swords.

Archaeological evidence supports the existence of warrior women, with graves found containing weapons and other military equipment. However, it is important to note that these women were likely in the minority, as most Viking women were primarily involved in domestic tasks such as cooking and weaving.

Despite the prevalence of male warriors in Viking culture, the idea of a female warrior was not completely foreign. In fact, Viking mythology includes several prominent female warriors, such as the goddess Freyja who is said to have taught Odin the art of war.

Cultural Influences on Appearance

The physical appearance of Viking women may have been influenced by a range of cultural factors, including geographic location and interactions with other cultures. For example, those living in coastal regions may have had greater exposure to other peoples and their physical traits. Additionally, Viking raids and trade expeditions brought them into contact with diverse populations, which may have influenced their own appearance.

It is also important to consider the impact of cultural beliefs and values on the appearance of Viking women. For instance, certain physical features may have been prized or stigmatized based on cultural norms. The Viking Age was a time of great change and cultural exchange, and it is likely that such factors played a role in shaping the appearance of Viking women.

Representations in Art and Literature

Viking women have been portrayed in various forms of art and literature throughout history. From sagas to sculptures, these representations offer a glimpse into the appearance and role of female Vikings in society.

The sagas, which were written in the 12th and 13th centuries, depict Viking women as strong-willed individuals who often defied societal norms. These accounts also describe their physical attributes, such as fair skin and blonde hair, which were considered desirable during that time.

Artistic depictions of Viking women range from intricately designed brooches to sculptures of powerful shieldmaidens. These works of art often showcase the fine jewelry and clothing worn by these women, highlighting their status and wealth. However, it is important to note that many of these representations were created long after the Viking Age, and may not accurately reflect the appearance or experience of female Vikings.

“The sagas, which were written in the 12th and 13th centuries, depict Viking women as strong-willed individuals who often defied societal norms.”

Recent archaeological discoveries have also shed light on the appearance of Viking women. For example, a burial site in Birka, Sweden, contained the remains of a woman buried with a full set of weapons. This finding challenges the notion that only men were warriors in Viking society, and suggests that some women may have also worn armor and fought in battles.

Despite these varied representations, it is important to consider the cultural biases and artistic interpretations that may have influenced these depictions of Viking women. Historians and archaeologists must carefully analyze multiple sources and perspectives to reconstruct a more accurate portrayal of their appearance and experiences.

Modern Interpretations and Reenactments

While historical accounts and archaeological findings offer some insights into the appearance of Viking women, modern interpretations and reenactments have become an increasingly popular way to explore this topic. Through experiments with traditional clothing, jewelry, hairstyles, and makeup, researchers and enthusiasts seek to bring Viking women’s appearance to life.

One notable example is the Viking Clothing Project, which involved recreating authentic Viking garments and accessories using traditional techniques and materials. The project yielded valuable insights into the design, construction, and function of Viking clothing, as well as the cultural influences that shaped it.

In addition to clothing, reenactors also experiment with Viking hairstyles and makeup, using historical sources and artistic representations as a guide. Some researchers suggest that Viking women may have used various plant-based dyes and powders to color their hair, such as henna and indigo.

Experimental archaeology is another tool used to explore Viking women’s appearance. Through recreating everyday objects and tools, as well as weapons and armor used by Viking warriors, researchers can gain a better understanding of how these items were used and what they looked like.

While modern interpretations and reenactments offer new insights into the appearance of Viking women, it is essential to approach them with a critical eye. As with historical accounts, modern interpretations may be subject to interpretation and bias. However, they provide a valuable opportunity to explore the material culture of Viking women and gain a deeper appreciation for their place in history.


After examining historical accounts, cultural influences, and artistic representations, it’s clear that the appearance of female Vikings was diverse and multifaceted. While some physical characteristics and beauty standards were prevalent, Viking women also displayed individuality and variation in their attire and accessories.

It’s important to remember the limitations of the available evidence and the potential biases in historical records and artistic representations. Modern interpretations and reenactments can provide useful insights, but must be approached with caution.

In conclusion, the appearance of female Vikings remains a fascinating topic of study and speculation. Despite the challenges of reconstructing their physical attributes, continued research and exploration can shed further light on the lives and contributions of Viking women.


Q: What did female Vikings look like?

A: The appearance of female Vikings has been a topic of curiosity due to their historical significance and role in society.

Q: Are there any historical accounts of Viking women?

A: Yes, written records and archaeological findings provide insights into the physical appearance of female Vikings, although interpretations may vary.

Q: What did Viking women wear?

A: Viking women’s clothing and accessories included various styles, jewelry, and hairstyles, with different materials and symbolic significance.

Q: What were the physical characteristics and beauty standards for Viking women?

A: Viking women were commonly associated with certain physical features such as hair color, complexion, and body type, influenced by prevailing beauty standards of the time.

Q: Were there warrior women among the Vikings?

A: Yes, there were warrior women among the Vikings who had a unique appearance on the battlefield, using specialized armor and weapons.

Q: How were Viking women’s appearances influenced by culture?

A: Factors like geographic location and cultural interactions played a role in shaping the appearance of Viking women, influenced by Viking exploration and trade.

Q: How have Viking women been represented in art and literature?

A: Viking women have been depicted in various art forms and literary works, although these representations may contain biases and artistic interpretations.

Q: Are there modern interpretations and reenactments of Viking women’s appearance?

A: Yes, modern efforts include reenactments, historical reconstructions, and experimental archaeology to recreate the appearance of Viking women, but challenges and benefits exist in these interpretations.

Q: What are the key findings about the appearance of female Vikings?

A: The appearance of Viking women should be considered by examining multiple sources and perspectives, and the enduring fascination with their appearance is of great interest.