Well, the analysis of remains from various locations in Scandinavia shows that the average height of the Vikings was slightly lower than that of the present: men were around 5 ft. 7-3/4 in. tall and women were 5 ft. 2-1/2 in tall.
Factors In Vikings’ Height
Given the geographical dispersion of Viking Age Scandinavians and the time interval between the earliest and last of them, it is difficult to tell with certainty what an average population’s height was.
Scandinavian men and women during the Viking Age were, on average, shorter than the current population. A few factors somewhat influenced this height disparity.
Genetics will affect height by almost 60-80 percent while environmental factors by 20 to 40 percent. Europeans became shorter as they turned to farm, as genes connected to reduced height were passed down through the generations.
Scandinavians over time imported lots of people from abroad, some as slaves in Middle Ages and some as immigrants which made them shorter overall.
Vikings owe a lot to food and nutrition for their physical growth. The Vikings had their own primary diet of meats (fish, beef, hog, and poultry), fruit (primarily berries), and vegetables, and the Scandinavian countries had excellent weather.
The majority of Vikings developed their tall stature due to their fondness for foods high in protein. The Vikings preferred meat and fish over veggies. Before the battle, they would catch a lot of herring and cod and afterward preserve them with salt.
Taking care of one’s health was also a valid factor for height increase in the Viking age. Evidence from both literary sources and archaeological sources shows that cleanliness, good hygiene, and regular grooming were a part of that age.
People who took care of their health in the Viking age were often taller than the average person due to having a better lifestyle.
Environmental factors like shelter and the surroundings also matter. In nations with better environmental conditions, more people are taller. A study found that throughout the Middle Ages, northern Europe’s climate was warmer than usual.
Consequently, as temperatures warmed, heights rose. Vikings are shielded from the elements as well. When the weather in Northern Europe turned bad, they constructed houses to help them survive.
The main factor contributing to the Vikings’ general good health was safety. The Vikings did not have to travel far to find food because they had a large harvest.
Traveling for food did, however, expose people to more warfare, and illnesses and injuries can shorten someone’s stature. The Vikings’ population was dispersed due to their wandering lifestyle, which impacted their height balance.
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Increase And Decrease In The Height Of European Men
- Englishmen’s average height increased from 167 cm to 170 cm during the Roman colonization of Britain (200–410 AD) (or 5 feet 5 inches). The researchers hypothesize that the Romans’ improved water supply, sanitary facilities, and more diverse diet at this time contributed to this increase in average height.
- Populations leaving the towns and cities the Romans built, abandoning their cleaner water sources and waste disposal systems, may have resulted in a decline in health. Infectious diseases have become more prevalent, and archaeological evidence also suggests that diets were inadequate. Plague and pestilence also grew common
- The Viking era and the Middle Ages are when heights tend to rise. As mentioned above, a variety of reasons contributed to the height rise of the Vikings. Height began to decline once more at the conclusion of the Viking era. The lack of productive farmland compared to former times and overpopulation were further factors.
- The height of European males did not rise again until the western world experienced the industrial revolution. The average height of men in ancient Europe was 5’5″ or 5’6 because of the Vikings.
Poor Nutrition Affects Height
Poor nutrition causes a person to become stunted. This was the case with the Vikings too. People who had access to more or better food in the Viking age were often taller than the average person due to having a better lifestyle.
Nowadays also, recent research has suggested Poor nutrition during a child’s school years may account for a 20cm height gap across nations.
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Calcium and vitamin D deficiencies, for instance, will affect bone density; deficiencies in the minerals and nutrients that make up cartilage, connective tissues (ligaments, tendons, and fascia), and synovial fluid will affect how well the skeleton moves and how much muscle tension holds the skeleton in place, all of which affect the compaction or extension of the vertebral column and, consequently, height.
The Decline In Height After The Middle Ages
As we told earlier, there was a massive decline in height after the middle ages.
That was because of the following reasons:
- After the year 1200, heights began to fall, and archaeological data reveals that at this time, rural populations were declining, farmland had deteriorated, and grain seeds were in low supply. It also mentions that other studies have indicated that temperatures dropped throughout the course of the century and that the weather became much more unpredictable until the early 1300s.
- The Great Famine (1315–1317), which began in the early 1300s, may have accentuated the drop in average heights, but the research claims that males had begun to shorten many decades earlier.
- The early 1600s were “unusually robust,” but from 1650, heights began to decrease, reaching a low of about 169 cm in the late 1600s and continuing until the early 1800s. Increased social inequality may also be related to the reduction in heights.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Who defeated the Vikings?
After many hardships (including the well-known tale of the cakes being burned!), King Alfred, who ruled from 871 to 899, beat the Vikings at the Battle of Edington in 878.
2. How long did the Vikings exist?
From the 9th to the 10th centuries, the Vikings were raiders, pirates, traders, explorers, and colonizers. A large number of Scandinavians departed their native countries in search of better opportunities abroad in the 11th century.
3. When did the Vikings begin and end?
Vikings begin around 736 AD and undertook large-scale raiding, colonizing, conquest, and trading throughout Europe till 1066 AD, when they ended.
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