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YOUR VIKING HANDS

Posted by Grimfrost Crew on

We’re glad to have Bjørn Andreas Bull-Hansen join us as a guest blogger! He is a Norwegian novelist, screenwriter and blogger, as well as a skilled craftsman and wilderness survivalist. Here is another blog post exclusively written for Grimfrost and there will be more exclusive content to come. 


Do you have Viking hands? No, I'm not talking about how they look. I'm talking about your skillset, and what your hands can do. The Vikings, or more correctly the Norsemen, were skilled craftsmen. Any man or woman knew several crafts, and many specialized in some. Any decent sized Viking community would have a woodworker, a blacksmith, a cooper, a sail maker, etc. Those specialists would spend their lives perfecting one particular craft. But both the specialists and everybody else would have been expected to have a wide set of skills essential to survival in northern climates. Any man, and I believe many women, would have been skilled at making bows and arrows and setting snares. As a Norseman- or woman, you would have to be able to light a fire using only flint or quartz and a fire steel. You would be an excellent tracker, you would know which plants in the forest are edible, and you would know how to grow your own food. Some of these skills were gender specific, obviously, but everyone, both men and women, freemen and thralls, had to have a basic understanding of survival in northern climates.

So when I ask if you have Viking hands, I am asking if you have such survival skills and also, if you are specializing in one particular craft. I, myself, am a writer. That's my craft and my art form. Yes, I know most people don't think about writing as a craft, but to the Norsemen, it was. I am also a bowyer and I try to broaden my knowledge of the natural world, and I always say that to understand the Norse way of life, you have to get out in nature and out at sea. You will not fully understand the companionship of your clan until you've made a fire for them using only flint and steel and breathed life into a tiny spark. You will not be able to fully understand our ancestors' connection to nature until you've walked silently through the forest on the first day of snowfall, holding your self made bow and arrows. Understanding the Vikings is a matter of using your hands. Reading can only bring your understanding to a certain level. If you truly want to be a Viking, you need to have Viking hands.

So how can you get those Viking hands? If you live in a big city, it takes a bit more effort, I get that. But most crafts which don't require an open fire can be done inside a flat, and to practice those survival skills, you only need to travel to your nearest wilderness area. Even big cities are surrounded by wilderness. Wilderness is the natural state of the world and I'm sure that by using some form of modern transportation you can get out there within a day or less. If you haven't already, spend a night out in the wild, under the stars. Stay out there for a couple of days, start learning some skills and listen to the true sound of the world. It will probably change your perspective on many things. And it will certainly deepen your understanding of life in the Viking Age.

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Be on the lookout for more blog posts by Bjørn Andreas here on Grimfrost. More blog posts can also be found on his website:  www.bull-hansen.com

 


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12 comments


  • That was insightful and well said. My hands are incredibly sore from the work that i do, reading this made that soreness into something that I appreciate today. By the way, I am a metal worker (forging & welding) and a woodworker. I combine those things to create sculpture and furniture. I also teach, as well as growing, foraging and hunting as much of my families food as possible.

    Michael Chaddock on

  • Nice video and blog!! I am lucky enough to be close to wilderness areas & can practice my skills. Absolutely have Viking hands!!!!

    Carol Schmidt on

  • I am a wood worker

    Christopher on

  • Interesting blog. .thankyou.I only recently became extremely interested in everything Norse and discovered I have Scandinavian dna,which Im thrilled about….After reading your blogs it answers questions Ive wondered for years about myself.When I was younger I spent a lot of time in the widerness camping and exploring ,and also staying on uninhabited islands of the Great Barrier Reef .I always felt a connection with the land and sea and loved best of all being surrounded by nature..its so healing and good for my soul.I am an artist…Improud of my paintings so I now feel pleased I have Viking hands and Im good at various other crafts too.my only regret is that Ive discovered all this about myself later in life and I wish I had this self awareness years ago.However I make the most of it now and am enjoying life and my unquenchable thirst for knowlege,particularly about Scandinavian life,both present and ancient.

    lynn deres on

  • An excellent post by my friend Bjorn, being in touch with the ‘real world’ with your ‘viking hands’ truly does change your perspective. For myself it happened when I changed my skill set from factory engineer to a gardener.

    john wooldridge on


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