In the Viking world, army was not confined to men, women too held higher ranks at the battlefield, scientists have confimed in a study that raises questions about gender roles in the ancient society.
DNA tests conducted on the remains of a warrior buried in the Viking town of Birka during the mid-10th century, revealed a warrior surrounded by weapons, including a sword, armour-piercing arrows, and two horses.
There were also a full set of gaming pieces and a gaming board.
“What we have studied was not a Valkyrie from the sagas but a real life military leader, that happens to be a woman,” said lead author Charlotte Hedenstierna-Jonson from the Uppsala University in Sweden.
“The gaming set indicates that she was an officer, someone who worked with tactics and strategy and could lead troops in battle.”
The study, published in the American Journal of Physical Anthropology, confirmed that the remains had the presence of X chromosomes but lacked a Y chromosome.
Further, it also confirmed an itinerant life style, well in tune with the martial society that dominated 8th to 10th century northern Europe.
The identification of a female Viking warrior provides a unique insight into the Viking society, social constructions, and exceptions to the norm in the Viking time-period.
The results call for caution against generalizations regarding social orders in past societies, the researchers added.