Sunday, August 30, 2009
We heard about this replica of a Viking Longhouse from Hilde Stoltz. Hilde is working on a Masters Degree in Norwegian Studies and the Vikings are her forte. We just had to see how the Vikings lived 1000 or more years ago. The replica of a Chieftain’s Longhouse, built on the same spot where a longhouse originally stood, is impressive. The details of daily life are clearly shown and the guided tour can be listened to in English. The men’s meeting section reminded me of a drinking hall. The kitchen shows how limited their food sources were then. The weaving was primitive, yet the clothing made from the fabric woven was well done. Iron hand tools were used in woodworking; a primitive but effective lathe was made and used similar to a spinning wheel. Animals were kept in pens outside and the hog I saw was huge and well fed, I don’t think the original Vikings would have waited that long to eat this beast. Sheep were kept and of course a cow for milk, etc. Yes, it was an agrarian society but it was not only that. Hunting was part of their life as was gathering, since they collected mushrooms and berries. It sure was not an easy way to survive the harsh winters.
There is hardly a flat piece of ground in Norway. Any flat area is treasured and used as farmland. Most of the campgrounds, even, do not have enough flat space for a good tent spot. So farming, the traditional way, with plow and oxen was not possible years ago. Besides, the growing season was short and what little land there is is full of rocks. Is it any wonder the Vikings looked for loot someplace else? Or better farm land in Iceland? Or even Sweden? I believe the Vikings were just trying to survive any way they could.
The Lofoten Longhouse gives you a good glimpse into how it used to be.