Viking Family Life

Upper Class – (Jarls)

Farmers/Free Vikings – (Karls)

Vikings lived in large family groups. Often children, parents and grand parents would all live together.

When the eldest son took over the running of the farm, he would become responsible for the whole family.

Viking’s lived in a house made of wood and clay with a roof made of turf, thatch or sometimes tiles. Unless the Viking was wealthy, these houses would often only consist of one large room. The cooking cauldron would take centre stage as it provided the warmth in the house. Above the cauldron, the steam from cooking would escape through holes in the roof.


The men were often away fighting or trading. On these missions, they could be away months at a time.

When at home they managed the farm.

For a man to be successful he needed a trade. Some of these trades were blacksmith, cooper, tanner, saddler or shoemaker.

Men enjoyed activities such as swimming, wrestling and horse racing to keep themselves fit.


As the men were often away fighting or trading, the Viking women would run the farm in their absence. This would be in addition to all their general activities. They were also responsible for the family finances.

Daily tasks for a woman would be:

  • Daily Food Preparation
  • Preserving and Smoking of food for winter
  • Laundry and Housekeeping
  • Childcare
  • Milking
  • Spinning, weaving and making clothes

The women were also responsible for making medicines and looking after the sick and wounded.

Women in Viking times were therefore well thought of, had rights in society (not in government) and held high status.

Women could divorce easily in Viking times, therefore men treated their women fairly or the threat of divorce was always hanging over them.


Children were not given a formal education, but were taught at home. This would be in Viking history and religion.

Children had daily duties and would help with the cooking, weaving, spinning and general household tasks. They also worked in the fields.

They did however have time to play and would enjoy swimming and ball games in the summer, skating and playing in the snow in the winter. They had home made toys such as wooden dolls, model boats and whistles that were made from bones of pigs or geese.


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