I rate woodworking as the third most important Viking skill. Why? Because if you lived in northern Europe about 1000 years ago, you needed your woodworking skills to survive. You needed to be able to shape wood for almost every tool you used, you needed it to keep warm and to build houses for yourself, your family and your animals, and you needed it to build your ship, so that you could travel. I think woodworking was so important that “the wood age” is a far better name than “the iron age”.
Woodworking skills are still important in many people’s lives, especially in northern climates. We still build most houses out of wood here, and most men and some women take pride in developing their knowledge of woodworking. Personally, and this shouldn’t be a surprise, I like to make longbows:
Our ancestors here in Scandinavia lived close to nature and probably had a connection that most people today have lost. The forest was not just a place for hunting and gathering food for them. In fact, it is not unreasonable to think that they saw trees as much more than pieces of wood to be cut down as man pleased. We know that some trees were seen as sacred, and there is also the image of the world tree Yggdrasil, connecting the nine worlds. Some of the most beautiful wood carvings the worlds has ever seen, were carved in Scandinavia about 1000 years ago.
Personally, I could not live in a home if it was all steel, glass and plastic. I wouldn’t feel alive. I believe that it is not good for a human to live in a city and far from the wilderness. I know, sometimes people have no choice, but it still seems artificial to me. I think our ancestors knew very well that we need to be connected to nature if we are to be happy. So if you want to be a Viking, start with walking into the nearest forest!
-Bjørn Andreas Bull-Hansen
Read more: Viking skills #4