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The Viking Home - The Longhouse

The house was the center of life in the Vikings Age. We often call a Viking house a Viking Longhouse. Not only was the home the place where people found warmth, food and shelter. It was also where they came to relax with board games and music. It was also the place to come and listen to the poets tell stories of the gods and the heroes from the past.

Life in the home was based around a long central hearth which would have rarely been put out. If the fire was put out it would have been relit by striking flint against steel. There would have been multiple families living in these Viking Longhouses. The closer your family was to the central hearth, the higher your rank was in the household.

Vikings in Scandinavia built primarily of wood, although stone and peat was used in some areas, especially in Norway. The Viking homes on Iceland, Greenland and the Faeroe Islands were made primarily of stone and peat.

Nothing is preserved of the wooden longhouses in Scandinavia. However, archaeological evidence from certain sites has given us a very good idea about how these homes would have looked, and also what items would be inside a Viking house. For example: Traces of postholes in the soil allow archaeologists to estimate the length and arrangement of timber framed buildings.

From this it is known that the basic shape of Viking homes was the same over Scandinavia. They were rectangular, sometimes with long curved walls, and they had varying lengths. Some buildings which were excavated near Sædding, Denmark were nearly 50 m long. While one near Lofoten, Norway had a length of no less than 83 meters. Oddly enough the width of Viking homes was rarely more than 5 m. It is very clear why they are called, ‘Viking Longhouses’.

There weren’t any beds in an average Viking Longhouse. People would sleep wrapped in furs on benches which were attached to the walls of the dwelling. These benches would be used for seating during the daytime. During the day these benches would often be used as a workstation for pottery, carving, food preparation etc.