In the 1880s, a fascinating grave was discovered in the Swedish town of Birka. Chock full of weapons, gaming equipment, and two horses, the 10th century AD burial was assumed to be that of a powerful male Viking warrior. But the skeleton had some traits that suggested the person was female. A new study has revealed through DNA analysis that this powerful warrior was indeed a Viking woman.
The idea of a female Viking warrior is not new. Historical records from the early Middle Ages mention women fighting alongside men and artistic works depict this as well. But for the most part, these ideas have been dismissed as mythological, not based in reality. With thousands of known Viking warrior graves around Europe, though, it is now possible to test this idea through the study of skeletons.