When viewers are watching a film or TV show, they really shouldn’t take for granted the “reality” presented in its plot. Actually, you would have to be really naive to do so. However, there are times when you really don’t know if you should believe what you’re seeing or not, especially if the channel you’re watching is has "History" in its name. One such case is the History Channel’s Vikings, a historical drama that is supposed to be loosely based on facts and Norse sagas.
Despite the undeniably awesome action, the great acting, and the success of the show, there are some hilarious inaccuracies that any history buff can easily spot. Does this mean that the show isn’t good? Hell no! The show is truly good, and if it hasn’t gotten your attention yet, be advised that you should start watching it immediately. Just make sure you don’t take everything you see in the series literally because, as the following list shows, there are issues with the historical authenticity of the plot at times. Don't forget to also check out our list of shows like Vikings.
Sorry to disappoint you guys and gals, but the whole concept of the “shieldmaiden” is based on Scandinavian folklore and myth, since there’s not even a single credible source that proves the existence of a group of Viking women who had chosen to fight as warriors. Sure, there’s archeological evidence that proves a number of women took part in some raids and battles, but this was a rare occurrence, and most historians speculate that their role in battle was limited.
So they could never have compared to Lagertha in terms of fighting skill. In reality, Lagertha is likely pulled more from Scandinavian myth as a representation of an idealized female figure in Viking culture.
It’s an undeniable fact that the Vikings left very few images and written descriptions of their clothing and general fashion. What makes things even worse for people trying to recreate their clothes for TV is that archeological evidence is extremely limited as well. Thus, historians and researchers examining the evidence usually come to different conclusions. However, they would all agree that the Vikings didn’t dress with the kind of leather biker outfits that the show often depicts.
Instead, they probably constructed their clothes from wool, using surprisingly complicated patterns with many pieces that needed to be cut out of the fabric and sewn back together. Also, they definitely didn’t limit their choice of color to black, brown, and gray as the show presents, but they instead loved vivid colors like blue, red, and yellow.
Fans of the series probably remember Ragnar and his crew raiding a monastery on Lindisfarne, a tidal island off the northeast coast of what is today England during the first season, a real raid that took place in 793 CE. For the record, this is seen by many contemporary historians as the beginning of the Viking Age.
Then, in Season 3, Ragnar and his crew haven’t aged a tiny bit and attack Paris, a historical event that took place in 911 CE, nearly 120 years after the sack of Lindisfarne’s monastery. In other words, Ragnar and his fellow Vikings were either vampires, or they had invented a time travel machine that the history books don’t tell us about.
Many significant things took place in the fourth episode of Season 2, including Athelstan’s crucifixion, which, no matter how you look at it, is WRONG. Thankfully, Athelstan didn’t die because King Ecbert ultimately saved his life, but it's likely the case that - because of that wildly inaccurate scene - the show lost many religious fans. See, no matter how hard you might try, you won’t find a single recorded incident of the early Church in Britain using crucifixion as a tool of punishment for apostates.
And if you think about it, why would you place a heathen in the same position as the person you worship? Especially during a period when Christians were trying to peacefully proselytize the pagans all around them. If history's any indication, you wouldn't.