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Couple’s COVID Project: A Historically-Accurate Viking Hut!


This is a post just to show that tiny living really isn’t anything new! This Canadian couple who helps set up a Viking Village attraction most summers, decided to build their very own historically-accurate Viking hut in their backyard when the festival was cancelled due to COVID-19.

The tiny structure has mud walls and a thatch roof, and while they used modern nails, Pedro (who built the structure) is actually a blacksmith who could have forged authentic ones had he wanted to take the time to do so.

Pedro and his wife have spent a few nights in the hut, although they (understandably), don’t live in it full-time. Read more of their story here.

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Check Out This Medieval-Era Viking Hut They Built!

The couple over the summer, cooking outside their hut.

A look at the A-frame style roof.

The interior is decked-out with historically-accurate decor.

Highlights:

  • Built without any modern tools (except nails)
  • Authentically decorated
  • Thatch roof
  • Mud walls
  • They’ve stayed a few nights in it

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Natalie C. McKee

Natalie C. McKee

Natalie C. McKee is a contributor for Tiny House Talk and the Tiny House Newsletter. She's a wife and mama of two little kids. She and her family just purchased a small fixer-upper and are starting a self-sufficient homestead on their happy little acre.
{ 16 comments… add one }
  • Avatar Paul Larsen
    January 4, 2021, 12:34 pm

    I really like this! Its amazing what can be done with natural materials from the Earth. Is this on the East coast of Canada? Where Vikings may have landed originally. Also what instrument is Pedro playing in one of the pictures? I confess to being a big fan of Medieval music.

  • Avatar BrownLuster
    January 4, 2021, 1:31 pm

    Ummm… no.
    However, they seem to enjoy it & that is what matters!

    Natalie,
    Thanks for showing us this tiny living option. I didn’t quite know what to expect. It’s always good to see ALL tiny/small living options. For me tho, it’s a NO. 😐

    • Avatar P
      January 4, 2021, 1:41 pm

      I would love to give it a try, preferable in the summer. but then again I have Viking ancestry .

      • Avatar Paul Larsen
        January 6, 2021, 2:08 pm

        I think the internet ate most of my name , but still this is great . What can be done with basic materials, and the original article did state this is a hut , a structure that could easily be put up. Not to be confused with a Viking House.

    • Natalie C. McKee Natalie C. McKee
      January 5, 2021, 8:16 am

      Haha it’s a no for me, too! But I was impressed that they did it all sans modern tools!

  • Avatar sheila plourde
    January 4, 2021, 5:00 pm

    This is real cool, however no. I admire how happy they look and this is cool.

  • Avatar Steve in Micco
    January 5, 2021, 4:47 am

    While obviously more suited for reenactment purposes, it is still pretty cool! When you stop to think how hardy of stock our collective ancestors had to be to survive winters in structures like this, it does give you a whole new appreciation for conveniences of modern society.
    That this couple could do this without a Home Depot or Lowes, does show the resilience and resourcefulness of what is possible.

    • Natalie C. McKee Natalie C. McKee
      January 5, 2021, 8:13 am

      Totally agree! I can’t even imagine sleeping in below-freezing weather in these things!

  • Avatar Marsha Cowan
    January 5, 2021, 8:27 am

    This is amazing! Kind of like the “wiggie-ups” made by the Native Americans in this country as more of a portable house. They could be gathered it up in a bundle still tied together at the top and pull it behind a horse, then set it up again for a few days when a good hunting and living spot was found. This viking hut seems more permanent with mud walls and all. I imagine that the thick thatch when closed at the top for winter (though there is probably a hole for a pole to guide smoke from a small indoor fire through the ceiling in the winter) would keep you pretty warm, especially once the snows layed on top as insulation. It’s a pretty nifty building design actually. The historic furnishings are wonderful! It looks like fun to reinact that lifestyle. Thanks for sharing this unique experience with us.

  • Avatar jerry dycus
    January 5, 2021, 8:57 am

    Maybe this might be a temporary summer hunting hut but would never do in winter letting all the heat escape.
    And there would have been a floor covering for insulation as no one sleeps, sits on frozen ground.
    Real Viking homes are much larger, stronger, longer, not as tall long houses for winter.

    • Avatar James D.
      January 5, 2021, 1:45 pm

      Well, to be fair to the couple, viking long houses, etc. typically had floors of pounded earth… So no floor covering was common… Lack of windows is also why there would be gaps in the roof to let the smoke out. While a reality check on most historic structures is they weren’t air tight and having an indoor fire place meant a constant draft as cold air was sucked in and heated air sent out… So insulation wasn’t that effective except for thermal mass and the periods of time when the fire dies but still gives out heat but conversely this helped the structures in the summer to keep cooler and is when the insulation was more effective but it sometimes was necessary to keep the cooking done in a separate building or outdoors…

      It was wealthier vikings that had furniture, flooring, etc as that was a luxury, but basic platforms could be found for sitting, eating, and sleeping with whatever materials was common to the area that they could craft it from. While each home was usually housed by an extended family, sometimes up to several multi-generational families with the largest ones housing up to 60 people, all crammed together, during the winters and one end would usually also have animals and everyone would wear additional layers of clothing… While stones, etc. would be used to add thermal mass, which the hut walls also have, and they would reconfigure the roof for summer and winter seasons…

      This couple has been part of historical reenactments at the Festival du Voyageur, for the past 30 years or so. Normally spending much of their summer helping to set up the Viking Village at Gimli’s annual Icelandic Festival. Trained in blacksmithing, etc… So, it’s probably safe to assume they know what they’re doing and what is accurate. Along with knowing what other structures the viking used besides long houses…

      That said, it probably is not viable for just the 2 of them for winter use, as they lack animals, extended family, it’s a pretty small hut, etc. but they’re doing it for the experience (especially, as the lockdowns prevent them from having the festival this year) and can still add layers, keep a good fire going, possibly cheat a little with modern sleeping bags, and the small insulation value of the structure, should at least make it as bearable as many of those primitive Bushcraft huts used for winter camping… Mind, real vikings were accustomed to a much tougher life and some of them tougher than others. So not to be judged by our modern standards…

      While, if they have to go another year without being able to go to the festival then they can always add to it and make it a larger and more capable hut… Just like the early pioneers who built their own homes, they started basic to get through the first winter, dirt floors, etc, and then over the following years built out the home, section by section, until they had a nice and comfortable family home… The hut, as it is now, is just what the two of them could build over just this one summer but doesn’t mean it has to stay as it is or that they’re finished with it…

  • Avatar BrownLuster
    January 5, 2021, 8:57 am

    @P…
    Viking ancestry aside, the mud walls and dirt floor with no heat source in that hut is a definite no-go. I would even try a covered Wagon or Shepard’s Hut but a cold (or hot) mud walls & dirt floor…in Canada?!? Um…No.

  • Avatar David Pedersen
    January 5, 2021, 12:32 pm

    Being a Dane, I can confirm that this has nothing to do with a Viking house/hut. The above is a shelter. And I hope they do not educate people about Viking houses/huts, if they think this is an authentic house/hut. Viking huts had tightly thatched, wooden or sod roofs. And they were often dug two feet into the ground. It was common for them to live in communal long houses, where several generations or families lived under the same roof. They were excellent craftsmen. Here is a video on how the Vikings lived. Sorry it is in Danish.

    https://youtu.be/S4o0ZRgDFuc

    • Avatar James D.
      January 10, 2021, 8:13 pm

      Yup, your comment was not deleted…

  • Avatar David Pedersen
    January 6, 2021, 4:32 am

    I can see tinyhousetalk engage in censorship. My comment has been removed even though there was nothing offensive about it. I merely stated that it is not a Viking house or hut. It is a shelter. And I hoped they did not try to educate people on how a Viking house looked like. I even supplied a link to a YouTube video on historical accurate Viking houses found in Denmark. Is has been made by scientists to educate people on the matter. People should know that the above house is merely for enactment and not a true representation of a Viking house/hut.

    • Avatar James D.
      January 6, 2021, 1:30 pm

      No, some comments just get automatically flagged, especially anything with a link, and need to be approved. I’ve had comments that took up to a few days before they got approved. So just because you don’t see your comment right away doesn’t mean it was deleted. You’ll just see the comment immediately after you posted but it won’t be publicly viewable and thus will appear to disappear when you come back to the page.

      Besides, I’m pretty sure you’re mistaken…

      First, I believe I’m familiar with the video you are referring, as few were made, and if you look at the description for the video you would clearly see it states that’s a representation of a royal estate and not how the common people would have lived. While long houses were common, smaller buildings would have been used for workshops or living quarters for lower-status crew or slaves.

      Second, vikings expanded to many distant lands and they adapted to those lands. So there would be many other structures used in the same time period, of the Viking era, besides just what you are familiar with…
      An example of this can be seen at Qassiarsuk in the southern parts of Greenland, where you can see a reconstruction of a Viking longhouse, that looks a little different then what you are used to seeing in Scandinavia as they had to use turf instead of wood because there were no trees in Greenland, and they had to use what the environment could offer them. Another example is Iceland, where the structures looked more like Hobbit houses from J. R. R. Tolkien’s universe and may have even been the inspiration for Tolkien. Similarly, colonies in other parts of the world had to adapt to what the local conditions and materials they could gather allowed… Additionally, there were temporary encampments as well that would have been used for only a short period of time, such as to build ships, etc. before moving on to another location that would have had more basic construction.

      Third, there was a colony of vikings in Canada around a thousand years ago. So, as a Canadian couple doing local re-enactments, their re-enactments would be more representative of what was accurate to their local history, which would be very different from the same era on another part of the planet…

      Fourth, there’s also a reality check of what structures would have been built by a village of people vs just 2 living by themselves… Yes, it’s just a shelter but that is what was practical usually, which had to take precedence over what was ideal in everyday life back then when resources were limited…

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