This year I spent a lot of time experimenting with fermentation in the hopes of learning more about what the Vikings had to eat.  The new project for the upcoming year is going to be wild foods and foraging.  There are several species that appear commonly in the Viking age archeological record (including stinging nettles and lamb’s quarters [Chenopodium album]) that also grow wild here in the Pacific Northwest, and I aim to track them down and eat them. Smile 

We are also going to do some foraging for local species that aren’t Viking appropriate, just ‘cause it sounds like fun and they are tasty.  We’re planning a clamming and crabbing trip this winter, and maybe some fishing and mushroom hunting for later in the year.  Interestingly, there are very few shell middens in Viking age Scandinavia, although they do appear in earlier and later eras.  I think there are some in Viking age Ireland and England, but I’d have to double check that.  Did the Scandinavia Vikings have some religious injunction against shellfish?  Were they just not fashionable?  Interesting.  We do know that the Vikings, particularly those in Iceland, gathered seaweed, so I’ll give that a go too.

Next Fall I’m hoping to gather and process some acorns.  At some point I came across an article on acorn eating in a Viking context, I’m pretty sure, although I haven’t been able to re-find the reference. 

In any case, I think this will provide new opportunities for understanding what Viking’s really  had to eat.  Wild foods have traditionally been part of everyone’s diet, from spring greens to mushrooms to fish and animal species.  Whether those were actively sought out or just eaten opportunistically probably depends on where/when, and how much cultivated food was available. 

More reports to follow as events warrant…