Women with Power

Within the male-dominated Viking society, women had a certain amount of personal power, depending on their social status. They had more power than most other European women of the time: they could divorce their husbands, own property and sell their own handicrafts. Some became wealthy landowners; others participated in trade – scales for weighing silver used in trading have been found in women’s graves. Even weapons have been found in female burials, suggesting that some women fought alongside their men.

Role within Family

Most women in Viking society, however, lived and worked in the domestic realm of the household. They cared for the family, prepared food, milked animals, preserved food for winter and, the most time-consuming task of all, made the family’s clothes. Spinning, carding and weaving took a long time.

When men were away from home – raiding, fishing, exploring or on trading missions – women took over all the men’s work as well as doing their own. Women were valuable members of Viking society and it was shameful for a man to harm a woman.

Viking women married as young as 12 years old. By the age of 20, virtually all men and women were married. Life expectancy was about 50 years, but most died long before that age and only a few lived to 60 years.