Misconception: The Vikings lived only in Scandinavia The Vikings did originate from the Scandinavian countries, but over time they started settlements in many places, reaching as far as North Africa, Russia, Constantinople, and even North America.
There are different theories about the motives driving the Viking expansion, the most common of which is that the Scandinavian population had outgrown the agricultural potential of their homeland.
The Vikings settled peacefully in many places such as Iceland and Greenland, and were international merchants of their time; they peacefully traded with almost every county of the then-known world.
Misconception: The Vikings wore helmets with horns This most be the biggest misconception about Vikings, but the fact remains, there are no records of such helmets having ever existed.
But the Vikings were great at absorbing people, and many people who had been kidnapped as slaves, became part of the Viking population in time.
So, in Viking groups, you would probably find Italians, Spaniards, Portuguese, French, and Russians — a very diverse group built around a core of Vikings from a particular region, say, southern Denmark or an Oslo fjord.
In return, the Vikings protected France against wilder Vikings.
The French King Charles the III – known as Charles the Simple – gave the Vikings the land they had already settled on in France (Normandy), and he even gave his daughter to the Viking chief Rollo.
Misconception: The Vikings were unusually bloodthirsty and barbarian The Viking raids were indeed very violent, but it was a violent age, and the question is whether non-viking armies were any less bloodthirsty and barbarian; for instance, Charlemagne, who was the Vikings’ contemporary, virtually exterminated the whole people of Avars.
At Verden, he ordered the beheading of 4,500 Saxons.
Misconception: The Vikings drank from skull cups The origin of this legend is Ole Worm’s “Reuner seu Danica literatura antiquissima” from 1636 in which he writes that Danish warriors drank from the “curved branches of skulls” – ie, horns (pictured above), which was probably mistranslated in Latin to mean human “skulls”.
The fact is, however, no skull cups have ever been found in excavations from the Viking Age.