Farms and Villages

The Vikings farmed, fished and raided

Whilst some Viking farms were geographically isolated, others formed small farming villages. Most farms had a large element of self-sufficiency, cultivating crops and livestock to sustain the population.

A poor harvest or a bad summer could have serious consequences. In the spring, crops such as barley, ryes and oats were planted and animals driven to pastures further away from the valuable arable lands. Dairy animals were kept close at hand as they needed to be milked daily, while horses stayed close to the farm for agricultural work.

Grass cured for hay, produced later in the summer and used as feed, was also significant throughout the Viking world where domestic animals were kept under cover through the worst of the winter weather. Harvested crops would need to be stored carefully and in appropriate conditions to ensure they did not spoil.

Fishing and raiding expeditions were predominantly undertaken by men. When they were away, women were in charge of the farm, assisted by children and slaves, and consequently held power.