Detailed description of arms and armour.
In Byzantium the members of the Varangian Guard were famous as men with red hair and beards, “as tall as date palms”; they were also said to drink too much. But the main symbol of the Varangians was the longhafted Danish axe with its crescent-shaped edge. This guardsman wears ringmail, a mail coif and splint limb armour, and apart from his axe is armed with a sword and a knife.
Usually people think of vikngs as having long hair, which depending on your definition of “viking” is at least true for a time period.
Anglo-Saxon and Viking people wore their hair long and were often bearded. The Norman fashion, adopted to some extent in England, was to shave the face and back of the neck and head and to wear the remaining hair of the head short. This was the style of 1066, but fifty years later the Normans had taken to the styles of their former adversaries.
Vikings of this time often wore their hair in this manner too.
There is no one “Viking man’s hairstyle”. The Viking Age peoples had a wide variety of hairstyles, just as we do today. Some may have been most common in a particular region, or profession may have dictated hairstyle.
Usually only thralls (slaves) wore very short hair. Probably the average man wore his hair about collar or shoulder length, and his beard as long as was comfortable for him. A professional warrior might make other choices for hairstyle to minimize the hazard of having hair or beard grabbed in combat.
The Arabic observer Ibn Fadlan noted that men of the Rus bleached their beards to a saffron yellow. Some scholars therefore believe that it is likely that they bleached their hair as well. This bleaching was accomplished using a soft, strongly basic soap, where the excess lye in the mixture provided the bleaching action. Pliny the Elder noted this practice among the Germanic tribes, and states that men were more likely to bleach their hair than women:
Prodest et sapo, Galliarum hoc inventum rutilandis capillis. Fit ex sebo et cinere, optimus fagino et caprino, duobus modis, spissus ac liquidus, uterque apud Germanos maiore in usu viris quam feminis.
Soap is the invention of the Gauls and this is used to redden the hair. It is made from fat and ashes — the best is beech wood ash and goat fat, the two combined, thick and clear. Many among the Germans use it, the men more than the women.
(Pliny the Elder Historia Naturalis)
Carved head from Oseberg Ship Burial, ca. late 9th cent.This carving depicts a man wearing chainmail and a close-fitting helm or coif. His neatly-trimmed beard and mustache are finely detailed.
Gunnar in the Snakepit. Carving on Sledge from the Oseberg Ship Burial, ca. late 9th cent.This carving depicts a man with close-cropped hair almost in a “Norman” or bowl cut. There are also hints of a finely-trimmed beard and mustache, perhaps worn goatee-style.
Carved Head on .Here is another man wearing a conical Viking helm. The detail in the back may indicate collar-length hair. This Viking’s beard is also well-groomed, and his moustaches seem to be waxed to points in an upward curve.
Carved Head on Sledge, Oseberg Ship Burial, late 9th cent.Here This is perhaps the most naturalistic of the heads from the Oseberg ship find. This carving could almost be a death-mask. It is not possible to get a sense of the length of this figure’s hair, although it is clear that he is wearing bangs. His chin is clean-shaven and he wears a moustache. Helmet Plate from Torslunda, Öland, ca. 6th cent. AD.Bronze Oðinn FigureThis statuette depicts the god Oðinn wearing a conical helm with nasal. He wears a beard groomed to a point or perhaps a goatee, and his moustaches are full and appear to be waxed to an upwards curve at the ends.
The Vendel-era man shown in this helmet plate appears to have curly hair cut just above the earlobes and the eyebrows. He wears a full moustache, and his chin is clean-shaven.
Bone Gamepiece from Lund, Sweden
Ithyphallic Freyr Figure from Rallinge, Södermanland, SwedenThis small bone carving depicts a figure grasping his long, plaited or twisted beard.This bronze figureine depicts the god Freyr wearing a conical helm. He has a long beard shaped to a point, and very full moustaches that are either waxed into an upward curve, or else are combined with sideburns continuing up to just under the ear.
Bronze Þórr Figure from Akureyri, Iceland, ca. 1000 AD
Face-On View of Bronze Þórr FigureThis bronze figure depicts the god Þórr wearing a conical helmet and an elaborate beard and moustache. The moustache appears to be divided into two sections, one which curls up, the other which lies in the normal area for a moustache. Either the moustache is truly divided into two portions on each side, with the upper part being waxed and curled upward, or perhaps this represents a moustache and “mutton-chop” side-burns.This is a different view of the same statuette. Here the beard may be clearly seen to be forked into two points (O.N. Tjúguskeggwas used as a nick-name meaning “fork-beard”). In this view, the upper portion of the “moustache” seems definitely to be “mutton-chop” side-burns.
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