Mental Floss

Common Misconceptions About Vikings

Ellen Gutoskey
He may look fierce, but his name is probably "Ragnar the Snoring Softie" or something.
He may look fierce, but his name is probably "Ragnar the Snoring Softie" or something. / Fotokvadrat/Shutterstock

Unless you’ve studied the history of Vikings, there’s a good chance your understanding of them mostly comes from Hägar the Horrible comics, the TV show Vikings, the How to Train Your Dragon movies, and/or whatever you remember about Leif Erikson from elementary school.

Though you’re probably savvy enough to disbelieve some of the more fantastical factoids, you might be surprised to learn that certain quintessential features of Viking culture were not considered quintessential by actual Vikings (if said features existed at all).

On this episode of Misconceptions, Mental Floss host Justin Dodd dispels common myths about Vikings and explains how they may have entered the discourse in the first place. Turns out that horned helmets and fiery ship burials were not, we’re sorry to report, all the rage among Vikings. Neither were scary nicknames, though nicknames in general were common. In fact, some of them were downright hilarious—like Halfdán the Generous and the Stingy With Food, Ragnar Hairy Breeches, and Skagi the Ruler of Sh**.

Press play below to hear more Viking nicknames and learn other illuminating information about these fierce Scandinavian seafarers.

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