We’re glad to have Bjørn Andreas Bull-Hansen join us as a guest blogger! He is a Norwegian novelist, screenwriter and blogger, as well as a skilled craftsman and wilderness survivalist. Here is another blog post exclusively written for Grimfrost and there will be more exclusive content to come.
There are people who think being a Viking means walking around a festival area dressed in a tunic while waving a shiny sword about. This blog post is not for those people. This blog post is for those of you who are interested in exploring the great outdoors and the Viking way of surviving and thriving in the wild. And that should be interesting to anyone who aspires to learn about the Vikings.
But before I tell you why I think so, let me just tidy up some of the terminology here. The word Viking is of course misleading, as most people from the Viking homelands were not Vikings. I much prefer the word Norseman or –woman, but we tend to use the name Vikings whenever we talk about the people who lived in, and came from, Scandinavia during what is normally known as The Viking Age.
For a Viking, or Norseman if you will, spending time in the great outdoors was not optional. That was your world and there was no electrically heated living room and no lights to switch on during the long Scandinavian winter nights. To survive, you had to be a skilled woodsman, an archer, a trapper and a fisherman. Before you would even dare mention your desire to go Viking, you needed to learn how to tend your family's farm.
Obviously, some of those ancient skills are hard to practice in our modern world. For instance, most of us do not have access to a farm, and most farms are run differently from the way they did it back then. But everyone can get out in the wild and practice primitive survival skills. Through my Youtube channel, I have gotten to know primitive survivalists and bushcrafters in almost every part of the world. So, even though the Vikings were northern forest / coastal environment experts, you can practice what I like to call Viking Woodsman Skills anywhere in the world. My top three favorite skills are:
- Flint and steel fire – learn to make fire with flint, fire striker and some tinder fungus like the chaga or a piece of charcloth (the charcloth is not strictly Viking Age, but it's very practical to have if you often light your fire this way.)
- Woodcraft – learn to use your knife and axe to shape items out of wood (bowls, cups, arrows, etc.)
- Bow making – learn to carve a bow. There is no better way to understand Viking archery than to make your own bow. (You'll learn that this issue is much less dogmatic than some want you to believe.)
So, there you have it. Three skills that will take you further into the Viking Age than any book can. There are more to learn, of course. The list is endless. But most important is that we get out there, out into the wild. The way I see it, that is where the real world is.
Be on the lookout for more blog posts by Bjørn Andreas here on Grimfrost. More blog posts can also be found on his website: www.bull-hansen.com