House Burning: Why The Vikings Burned Their House When Dead

The custom of burning people who passed away was something that not only the Vikings did. It was also something that other people from other regions did. But when it came to the Vikings, they also burnt the deceased person’s longhouse along with their body in some cases. In this blog post, we’ll talk about this custom.                    

A Vikings’ Langhús or Longhouse              

Longhouse or Langhús was the term of the place or the location where the Vikings commonly lived back in the day. It was usually around 16 to 23 feet (5 to 7 meters wide). A Viking on the wealthier side could own a bigger house  which could range between 15 to 75 meters. Their houses also had rooms inside which were typically divided with sets of stones or walls.       

The atmosphere inside their homes were said to be “dull” and “dark” because they didn’t have the kind of technology and lights that we have nowadays. They just normally lit a candle to light up their house. At the end of their longhouse, they stored slaves and livestock or domestic animals.            

Home Burning         

Scholars and archaeologists have been studying this because it has traditional and ritual importance. Based on their studies, the burial mounds of the Vikings were somewhat similar to where they live. And after this place was burned down, a few burial mounds were erected on the remains of the house. The human bodies were said to be placed under the longhouse’s threshold. There were cases when burial mounds entrance were placed over the door of the house.        

The Viking Belief    

The Vikings believed that the house and soul were connected. In their language, a lot of house-related Norse words were connected with the human body. For instance, the word "window" (compound word) combined the eye and wind. The openings in the walls is where the wind would come inside. Another example was the top of the house or "gable" which referred to the skull. From these examples, we can tell that the Vikings saw a connection between their house and body. Also, the Vikings believed that burning the body was a way to free the soul.     


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