Shield Maidens such as Lagertha are a possible reality:
Thanks to many archaeologists who assumed Viking bones buried with weaponry were male, the idea of shield maidens was shelved to the ‘myths and legends’ section of history. But not now! Thanks to new research conducted by Shane McLeod of the Centre for Medieval and Early Modern Studies at the University of Western Australia, it seems some of the assumed bodies buried with swords and knives are actually women. Thanks to some burials of Norse immigrants starting to turn up in Eastern England, McLeod suggested:
There is some archaeological evidence for early Norse female settlement, most obviously oval brooches, but this evidence is minimal. The more difficult to date evidence of place names, personal names, and DNA samples derived from the modern population suggests that Norse women did migrate to England at some stage, but probably in far fewer numbers than Norse men.
As a result of this, the burials were investigated using DNA evidence rather than the assumption that corpses buried with weapons were only male. This study concluded with the following results:
These results, six female Norse migrants and seven male, should caution against assuming that the great majority of Norse migrants were male, despite the other forms of evidence suggesting the contrary. This result of almost a fifty-fifty ratio of Norse female migrants to Norse males is particularly significant when some of the problems with osteological sexing of skeletons are taken into account,
While many people were quick to assume this means women were also raiding along with their male counterparts, this has not actually yet been confirmed – although we are indeed one step closer! In reality, this study shows that there was an even split of male and female Viking settlers in England after they initially invaded around the time of 800-900 A.D. What is exciting to note though the fact that the Vikings buried their women with weapons, which suggests that, in life, these women were considered heroic or competent with these items.
What do you think? Is Lagertha fact or fiction? Let us know by commenting below!
Source: USA Today – Invasion of the Viking women unearthed
(Photo Credit: History Channel, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc.)