Hot Baths and Battle Wounds among the Norse

A summary of ancient Norse practices on personal hygiene, bathing, treatment of disease, and battle wounds.

Both the saga literature and forensic studies of skeletal remains suggest that battle injuries could be horrific …. The femur (leg bone) shown to the right is from another man who died of battle injuries in the 11th century. The bone shows clear marks of the impact of ring mail against the bone, suggesting his upper leg was hit with a sword blow so powerful as to force the rings of his mail shirt through the muscles of his leg into contact with the bone. Astonishingly, this injury was not the cause of his death. His skeletal remains show other serious injuries received in that battle. However, it was a cut that partially severed his spine at the neck that killed him.

My own modest reading of the sagas suggest that when two men went at each other with battle axes, usually after no more than two swings of the ax someone had serious arterial bleeding.

But in Iceland they sure loved their natural hot tubs—and who wouldn’t?

(Via Making Light.)