I have been obsessed with the Viking Age since childhood. Running around in the woods as a little kid, I used to imagine I was a Viking, and in my naive mind, that meant having a sword and fighting a lot. When I became a novelist and started to look more closely into life in the iron age, I discovered that it was not at all about fighting. For instance, your skillset as a successful man-of-the-fjord, also known as Viking, consisted of a whole lot of things, but fighting was not top of the list. Don’t get me wrong, most men – and women – in those times probably knew how to use their trusty axe or flatbow if they had to defend themselves, but daily life was not about fighting. It was about surviving. And the most important survival skill, at least in a northern climate, is to make fire.
I know, making fire might seem a bit boring compared to wielding a broadsword. But a warrior who hasn’t slept for days because of the cold, or who is sick because he hasn’t been able to boil his drinking water, is no good to any army. The fire is what brings your clan together, and in the cold winter nights it is the center of your universe. As a Viking, the fire would have been one of the first things your baby eyes would be able to focus on, and if you did not die in battle, the warmth from the fireplace might very well have been the last thing you felt in this world.
Because of this, I rate making fire as Viking skill #1.
-Bjørn Andreas Bull-Hansen
Read more: Viking Skills #2