Viking Foods 2 – Grains and Bread by Rob Shackleford
Check out these other Viking Blogs:
|Vikings at Home|
Unlike today, The Viking Age was not a time in which to worry about the fat content of food. The Vikings needed all the energy that they could get in the form of fat – especially in winter. Meat, fish, vegetables, cereals and milk products were all an important part of their diet. Sweet food was rare and consumed in the form of berries, fruit and honey. In England the Vikings were often described as gluttonous. They ate and drank too much – according to the English.
Today our food culture is influenced by globalisation and products from all over the world that can be bought all year round. In the Viking period, however, the housekeeping needed to be planned and adapted to the different seasons. The typical Viking was self-sufficient; a farmer with domestic animals and crops in the field. There were also people who did not produce all their food and needed to buy as well. The blacksmith or fisherman could satisfy his food requirements by buying or exchanging products at the local market.
In the poem about Hárbard and Thor, a typical Viking meal is described. Thor tries to persuade the ferryman Hárbard – Odin in disguise – to take him over a sound: “Ferry me over the sound, then I will feed you tomorrow! I have a basket on my back, never was the food better. I ate in peace before I left home, herrings and oatmeal, so I am still full.”
In my novel, Traveller Inceptio, my research suggested that Anglo-Saxon and Viking breads were often stuffed with peas and soaked grains, to be baked in a solid chunk that had to be broken off in chunks and soaked in soup or stew to be eaten.
So, getting back to our Viking Farmers in England …
The children of the household will spend the day helping their parents. Fortified with a breakfast of bread and buttermilk (similar to skimmed milk), Tostig will help his father in the fields. The remainder of the harvest has to be gathered in and a lamb needs to be slaughtered. Sven uses an iron sickle to cut the corn, meaning wheat or barley, whilst Tostig uses a wooden rake to gather the cut grains into sheaths. Later these will be threshed to release the grains of wheat, rye and barley.
Thora will help her mother grind the grains into flour. The grains are dropped onto the millstones whilst the women take it in turns to tirelessly grind the mill first one way then the other. The flour is gathered and mixed with water to make bread. The dough is kneaded in small wooden trugs then placed on a flat iron in the embers to make a flat cake of bread.
A few wild chickens and some geese roam the farmyard, Thora will collect their eggs for the evening meal.
The agricultural revolution
During the Viking period the primitive plough, the ard, was replaced by the mouldboard plough. This was a big step for agriculture, as it resulted in a greater yield and less work for the farmers. In contrast to the ard, which was restricted to cutting one furrow in the soil, the mouldboard plough could also turn the soil in preparation for sowing.
Here are more Viking Recipes to try:
Find out more
Viking Life by John Guy and Richard Hall (Ticktock, 1998)
Encyclopaedia of the Viking Age by John Haywood (Thames &Hudson, 2000)
Cultural Atlas of the Viking Age edited by Graham-Campbell et al (Andromeda, 1994)
Penguin Historical Atlas of the Vikings by John Haywood (Penguin, 1996). Detailed maps of Viking settlements in Scotland, Ireland, England, Iceland and Normandy.
About the author:
Hi, I’m Rob Shackleford. I am author of a number of novels, though so far only Traveller Inceptio and Traveller Probo have been officially published. As Traveller Inceptio looks at the fates of modern historical researchers sent to the early 11th Century Saxon world, Vikings do feature.
Below are the Amazon links for the two novels so far.
In reading my novels, I ask if you wouldn’t mind posting a review and, perhaps, a picture of yourself with my book – either paperback or on kindle. Link to me on Social Media. I most welcome your comments and images.
I hope you enjoy.
Check out my web site at
In my vain attempt to attract attention and promote my books – please check out my brief skit video:
I have other Blogs about:
|Short Stories||Travelling New Zealand||Travelling the UK||India by Royal Enfield|
Please check me out on Social Media.