We thought we knew everything about the Vikings. But some new research suggests that we may be misunderstood.
In its largest study, published in the Wednesday issue of Nature, researchers found that many Vikings actually have brown hair. They are not from Scandinavia.
In a six-year study, archaeologists and academics analyzed more than 400 Viking skeletons from sites in Scandinavia, Greenland and the United Kingdom using DNA technology.
They discovered that the Vikings were not from Scandinavia – genes from Asia and Southern Europe were also in their bloodstream.
A study by academics at the University of Cambridge in the UK and the University of Copenhagen in Denmark found that local people may have picked up “Viking signs” in Viking graves in Scotland.
The researchers say their findings shatter many of the prerequisites surrounding the Vikings.
“The results change the perception of who a Viking really is. History books need to be updated,” said SK Willerslave, a fellow at St. John’s College in Cambridge.
“Until now we don’t know genetically what they really were,” Willerslave added.
New research “removes” the traditional image of the yellow Viking, because “many people with brown hair and genetic influences from outside Scandinavia.”
The study also revealed genetic differences among the various Viking populations in Scandinavia, suggesting that different groups were isolated than previously thought.
Research has also shown that the Viking identity is not unique to the Vikings.
Two skeletons found in Orkney off the northeast coast of Scotland contained DNA similar to that of modern Irish and Scottish people buried in Viking style tombs. Analysts say this may have taken away Viking identities.
The researchers explained that the word “Viking” came from the Scandinavian word “Viking”, meaning “pirate”, and that the Viking age was between 800 and 1050.
The Vikings are known to have traveled by sea throughout Europe and beyond. During these voyages many monasteries were raided, but the Vikings also traded goods such as fur, dusk and seal fat.
The researchers found that all of these male rating parties were made up of friends, family members and neighbors.
The collected data will also be useful in the study of natural selection in the past, said Fernando Racimo, lead author and assistant professor at the University of Copenhagen.
With the ability to “begin to speculate on the physical appearance of the ancient Vikings and compare them with the Scandinavians today,” he said, “the data allow us to determine how the choice came to be before and after the Viking movements throughout Europe.”
Viking’s genetic heritage still exists today, with researchers saying that 6% of people in the UK and 10% in Sweden carry Viking DNA in their genes.