Research: Real Vikings weren’t like Thor and Ragnar Lothbrok

Sorry, Chris Hemsworth and Travis Fimmel, the University of Copenhagen have published the results of their Viking DNA study. And it turns out that most Vikings were not blond and blue-eyed, as legend and pop culture claim. Dark hair and dark eyes were more common.

The study covered the remains of 442 Vikings buried between 2400 BC and 1600 AD. And showed greater genetic diversity than previously thought. Not only were fair-haired and blue-eyed minorities, but a comparison of genes proved that the Vikings were not a separate ethnic group, but a mixture of groups “descended from hunter-gatherers, farmers and the population of the Eurasian steppes.” The most genetically diverse areas – one in Denmark and one each on the Swedish islands of Gotland and Öland – were most likely large trade centers.

Science magazine, citing archaeologist Kat Jarman, reports that being a Viking at the time meant more of a lifestyle or work, rather than belonging to a particular ethnic group:

The two Viking skeletons buried in the northern islands of Scotland are pure Scots or Irish genetically, without any Scandinavian influence. Several people in Norway were buried as Vikings, but their genes identified them as Sami, an ethnic group closer to Asians than Europeans.