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"The diet of the Vikings." Top 5 Page for this destination Iceland Local Custom Tip by Regina1965

Iceland Local Customs: 183 reviews and 248 photos

  Vikings in Reykjavík.
by Regina1965
  • Vikings in Reykjavík. - Iceland
      Vikings in Reykjavík.
    by Regina1965
  • Vikings in Reykjavík. - Iceland
      Vikings in Reykjavík.
    by Regina1965
  • Vikings in Reykjavík. - Iceland
      Vikings in Reykjavík.
    by Regina1965
  • - Iceland
  • - Iceland

There is a new research (winter of 2010) which shows that the diet of the Vikings seemed to have been both healthy and slimming. They apparently lived on fish, especially salmon and trout from the rivers and herring. They ate reindeer meat and wild-berries and they grew cabbage.

Now this new research doesn´t seem to fit what the Vikings ate here in Iceland. Here there were no reindeers until they were imported in the 20th century. And in the Sagas there are tales about the farm-animals which the Vikings brought with them to Iceland. The Vikings brought with them sheep, so there have been free-roaming sheep here since the Settlement. And they brought goats with them as well and cattle and eating beef was very common back then. And they brought horses with them and horsemeat was eaten. And they brought with them wild boar as well.

For sure they had salmon and trout, but living on an island at least the people living close to the coast also had cod, haddock and halibut plus many more species of fish from the ocean. Yes, and whale and seals.

They also brought with them colourful chicken, which we now call "Landnámshænur" or Settlement chicken. And they ate ptarmigan and puffin as well and bird eggs. Goose bones have been found in old Viking graves. And the Sagas tell about them eating all kinds of birds apart from birds of prey and the raven (which is a passerine). The raven is a very common bird here in Iceland.

They Vikings ate wild-berries, which are in abundance here in Iceland and they grew some kinds of vegetables and ate Iceland moss, angelica and dulse. And of course they had milk and dairy products from the cows.

And there was grain-farming in the first centuries of the Settlement. The climate was milder back then so it was possible to get a decent harvest back then. Maybe the climate back then was similar to the new climate (caused by global warming) here in Iceland, where we experience warmer summers. It wasn't until 1980 that it was possible to grow grain here again.

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  • Updated Oct 23, 2013
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Comments (2)

  • GentleSpirit's Profile Photo
    Oct 24, 2013 at 5:16 PM

    has the diet changed significantly since it started getting noticably warmer? Do you notice more wildlife as well?

    • Regina1965's Profile Photo
      Oct 24, 2013 at 5:52 PM

      Not that I have noticed, we are experiencing less snow here in the south than when I was younger though.

    • GentleSpirit's Profile Photo
      Oct 24, 2013 at 5:54 PM

      with us it has changed quite a lot. we used to have real winters with snow, now its just cold and lots more ice, but often much warmer in winter too

  • Durfun's Profile Photo
    Oct 24, 2013 at 2:07 AM

    Ate ravens? OK, I should warn the Beefeaters at the Tower of London to ban the Vikings ;-)

    • Regina1965's Profile Photo
      Oct 24, 2013 at 5:24 PM

      Haha - we don´t eat ravens and neither did the Vikings - I am excluding birds of prey and the raven :)

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