The Viking longhouse was the center of Viking life. Generations of the family lived there together, along with animals in winter. Vikings recognized that the design was perfect for celebrations, and they had many of them! Travelers could expect to find shelter and hospitality, even as strangers to the family that lived therein.
Look of the House
The Viking longhouse was between 15 and 25 feet wide in the middle and 50 to 250 feet long. Their tapered style gave them the look of Viking longships. The size of the house reflected the social status of its owner. Larger longhouses accommodated more successful families because they could support more residents, guests, and livestock.
Two rows of wooden beams ran down each side of the house to support the roof and divide the building into three sections. Many longhouses had a central firepit with benches where people could sleep. There were no windows, so the fire and torches placed along the central corridor of the house provided light. Smoke would escape through vents, the thatch of the roof, and a hole in the roof over the fire pit.
Lofts at each end of the building served as storage areas. Individuals could also store items beneath their bed-benches.
Viking Longhouse Construction Materials
Because Vikings explored and settled areas from North America to Russia, they had to build their homes from materials that were available. Where forests were plentiful, they built using wood. In places where wood was not readily available, Vikings built turf houses. Vikings made walls from planks, wattle and daub, or clay. Roofs could be made of thatch, turf, or wood.
Asgard Alaska’s Longhouse
At Asgard Alaska, we will construct our longhouse as closely to an original longhouse as possible, while still following modern building codes and adding in some modern amenities. We envision that it will be a great place for groups to have a unique event – Yule parties, birthdays, and reunions are a few of the possible events we could host.
If you are interested in building a longhouse, contact us for a great volunteer opportunity. We are planning to build one, too, in the near future, and we would love to compare notes or make it a team project.