RF - FYI Viking Food

Lorraine and/or Kief deer_kief at hotmail.com
Sun Jun 11 19:29:57 PDT 2000

Heilsa all my Good and True friends and neighbors...!

Here is a Viking Foods listing gathered from archaeological sites:

Archaeological Finds of Ninth- and Tenth-Century Viking Foodstuffs


Copyright © 1994, 1998, 1999 Carolyn Priest-Dorman.


Jorvík [York], Danelaw [England]
Meat -- red deer, beef, mutton/lamb, goat, pork
Poultry -- chicken, geese, duck, golden plover, grey plover, black grouse, 
wood pigeon, lapwing
Freshwater fish -- pike, roach, rudd, bream, perch
Saltwater fish -- herring, cod, haddock, flat-fish, ling, horse mackerel, 
Estuarine fish -- oysters, cockles, mussels, winkles, smelt, eels, salmon
Dairy products -- butter, milk, eggs
Grains -- Oats (Avena sativa L.), wheat, rye, barley
Legumes -- fava (Vicia faba L.)
Vegetables -- carrots, parsnips, turnips (?), celery, spinach, brassicas 
Fruits -- sloes, plums, apples, bilberries, blackberries, raspberries, 
elderberries (Sambuca nigra)
Nuts -- hazelnuts, walnuts
Herbs/spices/medicinals -- dill, coriander, hops, henbane, agrimony
Cooking aids -- linseed oil, hempseed oil, honey
Beverages -- Rhine wine

Birka, Sweden
Ingredients found in breads -- rye, wheat, spelt, oats, barley, emmer wheat; 
linseed; sprouted pea [?=Erbsenkeimblatt], unidentified Vicia legume (mix of 
barley plus one of the wheats seems to have been most common)
Fruits -- sloe (Prunus spinosa); hawthorn (Crataegus calycina), plum (Prunus 
Nuts -- hazelnut

Hedeby, Denmark
Meat -- pork, beef, mutton/goat
Poultry -- chicken, duck, goose
Fish -- herring
Fruits -- plum (Prunus domestica L. ssp institia C.K. Schneider), sloe 
(Prunus spinosa L.), cherries, elderberries, blackberries, raspberries, 

Oseberg, Norway
Meat -- beef
Grains -- oats, wheat
Fruit -- crabapple
Nuts -- hazelnuts, walnuts
Herbs -- watercress, cumin, mustard, horseradish

Jarlshof, Shetland Islands
Meat -- beef, lamb/mutton, pork, possibly venison and whale
Fish -- ling, saithe, cod

Dublin, Ireland
Meat -- pork, beef, mutton/lamb, hare
Poultry -- chicken, wild goose
Saltwater fish -- cod, ling
Estuarine fish -- cockles, mussels, oysters, scallops
Grains -- wheat, oats, barley, rye, Chenopodium album, Polygonum spp.
Legumes -- fava (Vicia faba L.), peas
Vegetables -- wild celery, wild carrot (Daucus carota), cabbage, turnips, 
Fruits -- cherries, sloes, blackberries, hawthorn, apples, rose hips, 
elderberries, rowanberries, strawberries, Vaccinium myrtillus
Nuts -- hazelnuts
Herbs/spices/medicinals -- poppyseeds, black mustard, fennel
Cooking aids -- rapeseed oil (Brassica campestris)

Some Suggestions
Vikings did not rely on the same set of dried fruits and nuts as did later 
Europeans. One really basic way to re-adjust a feast (or a camp kitchen) 
toward a Viking food aesthetic is to replace your other dried fruits with 
prunes and cherries, your almonds with hazelnuts and walnuts. Plums and 
prunes especially seem to have been very popular; both domestic and imported 
varieties are found at Viking sites, suggesting that domestic supply was 
insufficient to sate the appetite for these goodies. But be careful: 
developing a Viking palate can transform your daily habits. Before long you 
may be insisting that all your peanut butter sandwiches be eaten with 
imported plum preserves!

Viking Age cooking gear included large pots for boiling, hooks and spits for 
roasting, and ovens for baking. Frying pans and warming griddles were also 
known. Eating utensils were the knife and spoon. Some Viking Age spoons had 
fairly flat bowls, making them more shovel-like than modern soupspoons; 
presumably these were used to eat foods with a texture somewhere between 
roasted flesh (to be eaten with the help of a knife) and the broth resulting 
from seething flesh (to be drunk or eaten with a soupspoon).

Although there are no extant "Viking recipes," there are a few books that 
might be helpful. One is Mark Grant's translation of Anthimus' De 
observatione ciborum, which is a West Roman's-eye view of sixth-century 
Frankish cuisine. It makes recommendations for preparation methods involving 
most of the basic foodstuffs that Vikings were likely to have cooked. 
Another helpful set of books is Ann Hagen's pair on Anglo-Saxon food and 
drink, although there are no recipes.

For some more information, you can consult the books listed in the Sources 
and/or visit these links:

Viking Barley Bagels, an attempt to develop an unleavened barley-wheat 
Hearths in the Viking World, a compilation of archaeological finds of 

[Anthimus.] De obseruatione ciborum: On the Observance of Foods, trans. and 
ed. Mark Grant. Totnes, Devon: Prospect Books, 1996. ISBN 0907325-750.

Translation of a letter from Anthimus, a west Roman who styles himself 
"Count and Legate to his Excellency Theuderic, King of the Franks," 
concerning diet. Includes specific (although terse) instructions for 
preparing many kinds of meats, fish, poultry, vegetables, and legumes, plus 
information on dairy products, eggs, and fruits. Even mentions beer! The 
information conveyed is clearly post-Roman in many respects, and the methods 
of preparation are much simpler than, say, Apicius.
Arbman, Holger. Die Gräber. Birka: Untersuchungen und Studien, vol. 1. 
Stockholm: Kungl. Vitterhets Historie och Antikvitets Akadamien, 1943.

The granddaddy of Viking archaeological write-ups. Appears in two books, one 
all descriptions of graves with their finds and the other all plates of 
finds grouped together by types. Plate 282 shows several finds of bread from 
cremation graves plus some from a woman's inhumantion. They look rather like 
well-risen cookies, and some have holes through the centers.
Arwidsson, Greta. "Haselnüsse und Kerne." Birka II:1, Systematische Analysen 
der Gräberfunde, ed. Greta Arwidsson, pp. 273-274. Stockholm: Almquist & 
Wiksell, 1986.

Information on nuts and grains from Birka.
Graham-Campbell, James. The Viking World. New York: Ticknor & Fields, 1980.

Hagen, Ann. A Handbook of Anglo-Saxon Food: Processing and Consumption. 
Pinner, Middlesex: Anglo-Saxon Books, 1992. ISBN 0-9516209-8-3.

Based on a great number of literary and archaeological sources, this book 
provides an excellent overview of food, nutrition and health, and the social 
backdrop in which food was consumed. Carefully footnoted.
..... A Second Handbook of Anglo-Saxon Food & Drink: Production & 
Distribution. Hockwold cum Wilton, Norfolk: Anglo-Saxon Books, 1995. ISBN 

A consideration by type of the many foodstuffs used in Anglo-Saxon England 
and Wales. Again, based on a great many sources and carefully footnoted.
Hall, Richard. The Viking Dig: The Excavations at York. London: The Bodley 
Head, 1984.

Hamilton, J.R.C. Excavations at Jarlshof, Shetland. Ministry of Works 
Archaeological Reports 1. Edinburgh: HMSO, 1956.

Hjelmqvist, Hakon. "Botanische Analyse einiger Brote." Birka II:1, 
Systematische Analysen der Gräberfunde, ed. Greta Arwidsson, pp. 263-272. 
Stockholm: Almquist & Wiksell, 1986.

Information on the types and blends of grains found in breads at Birka.
Kenward, H.K., et al. "The Environment of Anglo-Scandinavian York." Viking 
Age York and the North, ed. R.A. Hall, pp. 58-70. Council for British 
Archaeology, Research Report 27. London: The Council for British 
Archaeology, 1978.

Mitchell, G.F. Archaeology & Environment in Early Dublin. Medieval Dublin 
Excavations 1962-81, Series C, Volume 1. Dublin: Royal Irish Academy and the 
National Museum of Ireland, 1987.

National Museum of Ireland. Viking and Medieval Dublin: Catalogue of 
Exhibition. National Museum Excavations, 1962-1973. Dublin: Ard-Mhúsaem na 
h-Éireann, 1973.

Radley, Jeffrey. "Economic Aspects of Anglo-Danish York." Medieval 
Archaeology, 15 (1971), pp. 37-57.

Roesdahl, Else, and David M. Wilson. From Viking to Crusader: The 
Scandinavians and Europe 800-1200. New York: Rizzoli, 1992.


Hope this is of interest to those cooking for Defender of the Fort A.S. XXXV

Waes Thu Hael kinfolk
Kief av Kiersted and Lorraine Deerslayer....

Get Your Private, Free E-mail from MSN Hotmail at http://www.hotmail.com

More information about the Ravensfort mailing list