Viking berserkers were a wild bunch. Image Credit: CC BY-SA 4.0 Wolfmann
Scientists have determined what it was that made the fiercest Viking warriors so fearless and ferocious.
Famed for their advanced seafaring skills as well as their penchant for carrying out brutal raids on coastal settlements across Northern Europe, the Vikings were a force to be reckoned with.
Perhaps the most feared among them were the berserkers - warriors who employed an unparalleled level of brutality and a frenetic fighting style that made them unrivaled on the battlefield.
Now in a new study, scientists have shed new light on what was behind the berserkers' fearlessness - a potent herbal tea made from henbane which is a plant containing two types of hallucinogen.
Under the influence of this hellish brew, the berserker warriors would have experienced a reduced sensation of pain, a major increase in aggressiveness and a reduction in ethical constraints.
"It would have reduced their sensation of pain and made them wild, unpredictable and highly aggressive," said ethnobotanist Karsten Fatur from the University of Ljubljana.
"There may also have been dissociative effects, such as losing touch with reality. This might have allowed them to kill indiscriminately without moral qualms."
The use of this drug may also explain why these warriors became extremely tired and needed a large amount of recovery time after combat.
"This plant has been used as an intoxicant in many European cultures, so it isn't unreasonable to assume that the Vikings also knew of what it could do and found ways to employ it," said Fatur.
Source: Sputnik International | Comments (11)