Half the remains of slain Vikings in England are female



The top half or bottom half?


Kind of old news, but yeah, the identification of remains were being made based on grave goods - box brooches at the shoulders indicating females and weapons indicating males. This is despite the sagas treating the existence of warrior women as commonplace… so what we’ve got here is archeological confirmation (by, you know, looking at the actual bones) of historical fact.


Yeah, reading this I was a little bit taken aback when it said remains had been assumed to be male because of the presence of weapons. It’s like they’d never heard of Vikings.


Not surprising to me at all. Where the New Testament shows clear evidence of women in leadership roles, helpful translators used to just masculinize the names.


No news there, I feel confident to say we scandinavians have always been quite progressive when it comes to gender equality.


Well, I would expect that of the New Testament. I don’t quite expect the fact that vikings had female warriors to be news in 2014. Has anyone ever heard of a Valkyrie?

I saw this on Twitter y’day, I think William Gibson RT’d a link to the Tor blog entry


I then found a reddit thread on it but most of it was pulled:

Not sure why - is it because Tor didn’t differentiate between settlers and warriors in their post?

Also not sure why this has come up again when the Jezebel/USAT post is from 3 years ago?

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of the remains with an identifiable gender

On the procedural show Bones, the main character is almost always able to identify the sex of the deceased within seconds. Are you saying TV lied to me again!?

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She needs food – badly!


But they were mythical creatures, no?


More germane, though is – were these women actually warriors? Because if I’ve learned anything from viking-themed videogames, they were probably just camp-followers.

Okay, I’ve never seen a viking-themed videogame. But y’all know what I’m talking about.

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This is a legitimately interesting story and rich topic, but the headlines that vary on “study proves that half of all Viking raiders were ladies” (including this one) assume quite a lot, and are likely a bit too pat.

The discussion on the tor.com version of this story get quite thoughtful and full of contributions from topical experts, starting here: http://www.tor.com/blogs/2014/09/female-viking-warriors-proof-swords#470354



That’s very interesting! (To me, who doesn’t know his scriptures). Can you give an example or two?

Elf shot the food


Do you even see what you did there?


The top half or bottom half?

Either way, sounds as if it has ritual significance.

And if I’ve learned anything from studying, it is that being buried with gravegoods indicates status, and being buried with swords, which are expensive weapons, probably indicates higher status among warriors than being buried with the usual saex, spear, or javelin.

And one more thing: is Viking clothing as visibly gendered [by the position of the metal fasteners] as some earlier Germanic clothing, and if so, were these womyn’s clothing similar to the feminine or the masculine norm?


There’s Junia, who Paul describes as an apostle. In majuscule Greek the name has ambiguous gender and could be transliterated as either Junia or Junias; some scribes and translators have chosen the latter. At the time of Paul the name Junia was extremely common; Junias by contrast is completely unattested until centuries later and even then it was rare so the modern consensus is that she was a she.