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There is not a lot of archaeological evidence concerning children in many societies. Most contemporary sources are used to detect the life styles of children during the Viking Age. There may be clear distinctions between social classes in regards to how children in the Viking Age were raised.

Surviving Birth

A child born in the Viking Age first had to survive the dangers of being born and living through infancy. This was a time of very high child mortality. After surviving birth, a physically healthy child was favored over a physically sick or deformed child. If a child was born sick or disabled, then it was thrown outside and left to die.
Children also suffered greatly from diseases, which there was no treatment. Sometimes, parents would make charms resembling their gods to protect them from sickness. However, many children died because of no remedies to save them. A lot of these practices are a result of their Pagan Beliefs. Records show that one in five children died before their fifth birthday.[1]

Education and Daily Life

We know, using modern sources, that children received very little formal education. Rather, they would often pair up with their parents to learn the skills necessary for life.
Little evidence has been found to imply Viking children played with toys. Instead, it is suggested that they imitated the acts or routines of their parents.
When children reached a certain age, they started to help around their parents around the house and on the farm. Sex had a great deal on determining the responsibilities of the child. Girls tended to help their mothers and boys helped their fathers.[2]

Viking Boys

Boys were responsible for the up keep of the farm. As they got older, they were taught how to build ships and weapons. They learned hand-to-hand combat and practiced being a good warrior. Since they spent a lot of time away from home, as an adult, they learned how to navigate their ships using the stars and landmarks. When they were not out viking, their occupations were as Artisans and Farmers. In some cases,
boys learned how to read and write Runes to record history.[3]

Viking Girls

Girls learned how to run and manage the household. They would often take on the responsibilities of both their work and the men’s work. Since men spent a great deal away from home, the women had to supervise the farm also well as feed and clothe themselves and any other small children. This say a great deal about Women and their status in the Viking Age.[4]

Becoming Adults

Children acquired battle skills from playing with toy weapons. Youths went into battle very early. Law Codes from that time indicate that childhood was over from ages 10 to 12. From that point on, children were thought of as adults.
The Rage of Skallagrim and Egil display how even at young ages, youth were training to become warriors through various forms of play: ball-games, wrestling, and competition.[5] Boys would go into battle and girls would start to be married off by their fathers. [6]


  1. ^ Cornish, Jim. "Viking Children." Celtic Attic.
    (accessed November 26, 2012).
  2. ^ "Vikings: Family Life." BBC Primary History. (accessed
    November 26, 2012).
  3. ^ Viking Children!.
    (accessed ), (Myke Barlett, Viking Children!, comment posted February 21, 2007)
  4. ^ Barlett, 1
  5. ^ "The Viking Age: A Reader." The Rage of Skallagrim and Egil, Edited by Angus Somerville and R. Andrew McDonald, 163-165. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2010.
  6. ^ Cornish, 1