Did the Vikings smoke marijuana? - Cannabis through history
Posted on April 12 2016
I'm going to take you on an adventure through history over the next few weeks. We’re going to travel through the great cultures of history and discover what connection, if any, they had to cannabis.
Today, we’re looking at the Vikings. These great warrior peoples descend from Scandinavia and ruled Northern Europe from around the 8th century AD to the middle of the 11th century AD.
They were a seafaring people, well known for turning up on distant shores and terrifying the locals, before raping and pillaging and stealing all the gold that the local churches had to offer.
That’s not what’s important today though, the important question is - Did the Vikings smoke marijuana?
To start with, it’s a commonly known fact that the Vikings used to use the urine of reindeer after they had eaten hallucinogenic Amanita Muscaria mushrooms to get themselves into a frenzy before an attack, so the Vikings were not strangers to mind altering drugs.
And it would seem there is definitely evidence that their civilisation had come across marijuana before.
‘The Sosteli farmsted, in Norway’s southermmost Vest-Agder County, offers strong evidence that Vikings farmers actively cultivated cannabis, a recent analysis shows. The cannabis remains from the farmsted date from 650 AD to 800 AD. This is not the first sign of hemp cultivation in Norway this far back in time, but the find is much more extensive than previous discoveries.
“The other instances were just individual finds of pollen grains. Much more has been found here,” says Frans-Arne Stylegar, an archaeologist and the county’s curator.
“We don’t know if hemp could have been used as a drug. Most of it was probably used in textile production,” says archaeologist Marianne Vedeler at the Museum of Cultural History in Oslo.’
Now, this doesn’t give us much insight into whether they would have smoked marijuana or used it as a drug, but it’s definitely a possibility, and knowing human ingenuity, I’m sure at least one lone Viking tried to smoke it.
Other finds have included a leather much full of cannabis found on a young woman who was in a shipwreck. Again, we can’t infer much about the use of this, but the plant material was there, which, knowing the limits of archeology, might be all we ever know.
So, the Vikings definitely had cannabis, and there’s a good chance they may have smoked it at some point, but it wasn’t widespread.