I read here that they tested the genes of Icelandic women and found that 60% of Icelandic Women are of Scottish descent, not Scandinavian.

Of course the big question is why?

I was guilty of setting up about half of the marriages of Iceland Viking men to Scottish women.

Didn't the Viking women marry Viking men?

At least 90% of the Viking women had children within marriages to Viking husbands and that is probably a greater percentage of children born in wedlock than in today's society. However that 10% of the men that were married to other than Icelandic women happened every generation for awhile and it accumulated over a thousand years until 60% of Icelanders have Scottish ancestors. Often the mixed families had children that married another Scot so there is a lot more Scottish genes in Iceland than people realize.

There was always a shortage of Viking women wives for several reasons. Viking women often did not marry and yet had children. Being a single mother was completely accepted and it was considered almost as normal as marriage was.

Also many of the Icelandic women simply wanted to go where there were more people and so quite a few left Iceland for the mainland. There were even some that simply did not marry and did not have children. I think there were unmarried women all through the Sagas and some even became warriors.

So there were quite a few single Viking men. There was such a shortage of Viking women while I was Leif that about 40% of the wives of men in my crew were women that had been brought in from Scotland and the Hebrides due to the influx of many single men from Scandanavia.

As a captain of a Viking ship I can give you the details from memory as it was my 'sales pitch.' for Scottish women and to join our crew that traded in the Hebrides (which was peopled with Scots) *

Since many of the men on my crew were unmarried and wanted to marry I guess I became an expert about the women in most nations that we traded in. My learning about different women was of course just so I could counsel men with the proper wisdom.

This is a version of the speech which I was known for.

The most prized wives were the Danes and the Scottish girls in that order.

The Danes (and the Belgians) were the most prized and the parents knew it so they were very protective and kept their girls inside. You could end up dead if you messed with those girls. They would never let them out when the Vikings were around or we would seduce them faster than you could blink an eye. So there were not many Danes that ended up in Iceland as Viking wives.

However about every five years half the Scottish people were starving to death or died of a plague and the girls wanted to live and to escape and that is when us Vikings took the daughters off...with the daughters and their parents blessings.

In between those years we just seduced the daughters away and about half the time it was without the parents blessings.

The Scottish women had four main qualities that were very important to Vikings. At the top of the list was that they could cook so good that it would bring a Viking home from a 1000 miles away.

We obviously chose the most beautiful of the Scottish women. Hence the legendary beauty of the Icelandic women. Also we made a concerted effort to get Scottish lasses that were about two inches taller than the average. (They needed to be extra large to stand the rigors of Iceland and to provide tall sons.) Hence it would not surprise me if Icelanders were still a half an inch or an inch taller than the average Scot or Scandanavian. We also tried to chose the smarter girls but that was accomplished with varying degrees of success.

The other three qualities but not necessarily in this order were- they were very passionate, they were overly caring about children and they got 'excited' more than once.

Their passionate nature was nearly as strong as their cooking and it did not cool off.

Scots are really caring to all children so the independent Viking women loved them for that aspect almost as much as the Scots loved the children of the Viking women.

They acted as free babysitters and were very protective toward all the children in the community. They became part of the group really fast since it was as if they carried a 'free baby sitting' sign.

So it was a consideration for the Viking women and the entire community if Viking men brought home Scottish wives.

It was up to me as a captain to make this next point exceedingly clear to each man. They would never come home to find any trouble if they chose a Scottish wife.

The Viking women say the same thing about the Scottish but word it differently. They considered them as being steady in work as well as everything else.

Instead of trying to carry five buckets at one time like the Viking women would in order to bring enough fresh water for the day they would carry two buckets but make five trips and have enough water for two days.

If someone was sick they would also stop by and ask if they could bring water for them too. English women would get two buckets of water and then wait until they needed more and that meant at night but they would go out and get it though they would end up stumbling around half the night to get the water. Then the next night they would do the same thing all over again but they never complained about it either.**

Scots were not aggressive like Irish women who could get into trouble or make trouble at the drop of a helmet. The problem was that the helmet that got dropped was likely to not be your helmet.

Scots were also not as emotionally labile (switching emotions on and off) like many of the Scandinavian Viking women were capable of.

The French women were too small and delicate for the weather so they were almost never wife candidates.

Viking men never had to worry about things missing with Scots as a Scottish wife would guard his possessions with their knife and have been known to use it without a seconds thought.

Since they got 'excited' several times they created strong bonds which the men needed so they would always feel a connection to their home no matter how far away they sailed, traded, fished or hunted.

A Scottish wife could have ten children, still look fit, the children would all have the fathers hair color and 95% of those children would survive.

*This paper took about ten minutes to recall as it was a speech I knew by heart. Writing it was done in my spare time and that part took about 45 minutes spread out over two days. (I have corrected it since I wrote it and added about five sentences. Three are in the next footnote.)

**The English women were used to possessive men, including fathers, who did not even want their daughters to have female friends. This became a habit and it was why they would escape briefly and of course being at night they would get lost (that is when they visited their friends). It took a few months for English wives to accept the fact that no Viking husband cared if they had friends as it was not their business as long as they slept only in their bed at night.

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2003, 20 John Pinil