Sorry, Ladies, Vikings May Not Have Been Brute Savages [Study]

A new study on vikings is undermining the entire romance novel industry, suggesting tales of brutal savagery and sexy plunder and pillaging may be more lore than we’ve been bodice-rippingly led to believe.

Vikings are often viewed as the sort of bros of history, a man’s man culture of brawny, take no prisoners blondes who sexily sauntered around the world snatching up what they wanted before having the most awesome funerals of all badassery.

Viking legends have been analyzed and detailed for a new study, published in the European Physical Journal by researchers Pádraig Mac Carron and Ralph Kenna of the University’s Applied Mathematics Research Centre.

Ancient Icelandic manuscripts were examined and several factors involving nodes (or points of connection) were analyzed, with the aim of painting a more detailed picture of Viking society based on the texts.

More than 1,500 characters across 18 Viking texts and sagas were studied in the body of research, and Kenna says that the analysis and the results were quite different from previous thinking:

“This quantitative investigation is very different to traditional approaches to comparative studies of ancient texts, which focus on qualitative aspects. Rather than individuals and events, the new approach looks at interactions and reveals new insights – that the Icelandic sagas have similar properties to those of real-world social networks.”

He adds:

“On a wider level, the new approach shows that even after two centuries of scholarly examination, these sagas offer new knowledge if new techniques are applied and new questions asked… This research demonstrates the importance of what interdisciplinary research between science and humanities can achieve.”

The new research into Vikings and their social networks used the Sagas of Icelanders, a text which is believed to at least in part be somewhat exaggerated. However, the study also lends credence to at least some established thinking on the details and specifics of Viking society.