This week Real Vikings takes a look at the role women played in Norse society, with Vikings stars Katheryn Winnick and Alyssa Sutherland joining the investigation.
Viking women could become self-sufficient, something that only really only happened in the last 50 years for many women in the USA and UK. Indeed it took two world wars and decades of struggle for women to get anything like equal status in our own societies.
It seems the Norse were more open-minded, though perhaps it was also the nature of the way their society was organised with men going away for long periods.
Sutherland, who plays Princess Aslaug in Vikings, visits a burial site where a women of some obvious renown was placed with great honor, she is keen to find out more and says she’d love to know what the lady of hall’s role was when the men were away.
Winnick’s character is the feisty shieldmaiden Lagertha and the actress is interested in finding out what evidence there is for their existence.
The Norse were not great writers of books so much of their history was passed down orally and much of what we know about them is from other sources, usually pretty biased.
Historians and archeologist argue over the role women played in Norse armies, there is mention of them fighting in some historical accounts and sagas but the archeological evidence can be interpreted in different ways.
Whether legendary or not, the stories have certainly inspired many women and indeed many men. Writers like J.R.R. Tolkien included characters like Eowyn, the slender but steel-strong warrior who rode to battle with her king to great renown.
Fascinating stuff and great to see the actors so keen to find out more about the reality behind their characters, their presence really makes these documentaries something a bit different.
Watching real Vikings – Viking Women at 10 PM on History, right after Vikings.