Viking Homes and Houses: Facts About Viking Longhouses

Here are some interesting facts about Viking longhouses.

  • The Vikings built longhouses all over Scandinavia. The typical Viking longhouse was 6 metres wide and up to 75 metres long, with a wooden frame, and walls of wooden planks or clay.

  • The Viking longhouse was usually divided into several different rooms. Several families lived in the same house, and the more important families lived closer to the fire.
  • Fires were built in a central passageway to provide light and heat, and a means of cooking food. The fire was kept burning almost constantly, especially in colder areas.
  • Stone lamps using fish liver oil or whale oil  were sometimes used in longhouses, providing a strong enough light to work by.
  • The length of the Viking longhouse often depended on how rich the owner was. Wealthy people also decorated their houses with rugs, tapestries and sometimes shields.
  • In very cold areas, Viking longhouses were built with stone and turf for extra warmth. They even stuffed straw, wool and moss in between two walls as a form of insulation.
  • Porridge and stew were eaten almost every day in Viking homes, along with bread, cheese, honey, birds and the meat from small animals. People in cold regions would even eat polar bears or seals and preserve the meat in salt. Clink here to learn more about Viking food.
  • A typical Viking longhouse had very little furniture, other than wooden benches around the walls. Pillows and cushions were filled with duck or chicken feathers for extra comfort, and personal items were stored in wooden chests.
  • Sheep, goats and cows often lived in the same house as people.
  • In addition to looking after the animals, important household tasks included getting water, farming, making clothes and chopping wood.
  • One of the largest Viking longhouses was excavated on the Lofoten Islands in Norway. Today, the site is a museum, offering visitors the chance to sample Viking daily life.

What next? Find out more facts about the Vikings.