An imposing estate
In 980 AD, an imposing Viking manor is set some two hours' hike to the south-west of Ribe, right out where the fields smell of seaweed and the salty wind from the sea scratches the girls' cheeks like rough, bristly kisses. Besides the longhouse, the estate consists of stables and a smithy, barns, workshops and pit-houses on the more than 20,000 m² of land staked out by plaited willow hedges and neat wooden fences.
This estate was excavated during the period between 1986 and 1994 in Gammel Hviding, and it was later reconstructed in Ribe VikingeCenter. On the site are traces of buildings from about 400 BC to approximately 1150 AD, and it is often difficult to work out which buildings existed at the same time. Ribe VikingeCenter's reconstruction is, however, the best estimate archaeologists can offer for the time being. Find out more about the buildings.
The daily chores
Life on the farm was a challenge for some and more comfortable for others. The Vikings on the farm are busy with the daily chores involved in managing the large household. The animals need looking after, and there's work to be done in the field and in the herb garden. Chopping wood, cooking, spinning and weaving are just some of the other tasks that need to be done.
Inside by the fireplace, you can breathe in the atmosphere and the typical smells flowing through the fairly dark hall: sausages hanging above the fireplace, dried herbs, damp woollen blankets, perhaps some old seaweed in a trap hanging on the wall, not to mention smoke!
Step inside the magnificent Longhouse and sit down for a while. As your eyes become used to the dark, surprising details will appear. In the company of the Vikings, you can let your imagination take you back to the world of 1000 years ago.
The animals on the farm
You will encounter several old-breed animals around the estate which all were of importance to Viking farming. The cattle provides the family with milk and butter, as well as meat, leather, drinking horns, bones for spoons etc. The milk of the sheep can also be used and the Vikings are happy to eat their meat, but the most important thing is their wool, which is used in fabrication of cloth. Bullocks are used as draught animals in the fields, whereas horses are primarily kept for riding. The Vikings are very fond of pork and gladly keep the practically omnivorous pigs. Geese are noisy and sometimes 'nippy', but the Vikings are still fond of them as they provide down for pillows and guiding feathers for the hunter's arrows. The hens walk around freely and uncaged and their little chicks, like the kittens, are almost impossible to resist.
Common to all animals in Ribe VikingeCenter is that their genetic forebears reach all the way back to the Viking Age. Find out more about the Vikings' animals.
The crop fields
The daily life of the Viking family - day in and day out, year after year - involved providing for their everyday needs: making sure everyone had a roof over their head and clothes to wear, providing warmth and food. In some seasons it was easy to find food, but you also had to think about the future and prepare for the long winter. People grew various types of vegetable, just as they gathered roots, nuts an berries from the wild. Everything had to be dried, pickled, brewed or in some way preserved.
In the Viking Age, good advice about working ones fields (and many other things) was passed on orally to the next generation. The following is from the poem Havamál:
Trust not an acre early sown, Nor praise a son too soon: Weather rules the acre, wit the son. Both are exposed to peril.