Q. What did the Vikings do with the wounded following battles?
answered by Lawrence Caga (Amateur historian)
There are a good few amount of accounts that indicate that they did what most medieval people did following a battle. Generally tending to their wounded.
In the Ólafs saga Helga, a part of Snorri Sturluson’s Heimskringla, we have a pretty detailed account of how wound treatment was generally done. The phrases of interest are highlighted in bold.
[Thormod went out, and entered into a chamber apart, in which there were many wounded men, and with them a woman binding their wounds. There was fire upon the floor, at which she warmed water to wash and clean their wounds. Thormod sat himself down beside the door, and one came in, and another went out, of those who were busy about the wounded men. One of them turned to Thormod, looked at him, and said, “Why art thou so dead-pale? Art thou wounded? Why dost thou not call for the help of the wound- healers?” Thormod then sang these verses: —
“Not ruddy am I: and red cheeks,
ring-dight slender woman,
has your husband. No one heeds
my grievous wounds, though.
Pale I am with pangs of
gold, from deep wounds deadly
Danish arrows gave me.”
Then Thormod stood up and went in towards the fire, and stood there awhile. The young woman said to him, “Go out, man, and bring in some of the split firewood which lies close beside the door.” He went out and brought in an armful of wood, which he threw down upon the floor. Then the nurse-girl looked him in the face, and said, “Dreadfully pale is this man — why art thou so?” Then Thormod sang:
“Wonders the woman why so
wan the tree-of-combat
Few from wounds grow fair-hued:
found me the flight of arrows.
The ice-cold iron,
flew through my middle.
Hard by my heart, think I,
hit me, the baleful weapon.”
The girl said, “Let me see thy wound, and I will bind it.” Thereupon Thormod sat down, cast off his clothes, and the girl saw his wounds, and examined that which was in his side, and felt that a piece of iron was in it, but could not find where the iron had gone in. In a stone pot she had stirred together leeks and other herbs, and boiled them, and gave the wounded men of it to eat, by which she discovered if the wounds had penetrated into the belly; for if the wound had gone so deep, it would smell of leek. She brought some of this now to Thormod, and told him to eat of it. He replied, “Take it away, I have no appetite for my broth.” Then she took a large pair of tongs, and tried to pull out the iron; but it sat too fast, and would in no way come, and as the wound was swelled, little of it stood out to lay hold of. Now said Thormod, “Cut so deep in that thou canst get at the iron with the tongs, and give me the tongs and let me pull.” She did as he said. Then Thormod took a gold ring from his hand, gave it to the nurse-woman, and told her to do with it what she liked. “It is a good man’s gift,” said he: “King Olaf gave me the ring this morning.” Then Thormod took the tongs, and pulled the iron out; but on the iron there was a hook, at which there hung some morsels of flesh from the heart, — some white, some red. When he saw that, he said, “The king has fed us well. I am fat, even at the heart-roots;” and so saying he leant back, and was dead. And with this ends what we have to say about Thormod.]
So we can see general care and some medicinal practice that indicated how Norse healers generally gauged how deep a wound was and how to generally treat it. A lot of similar accounts showed that people did this after a battle or even sometimes on the battlefield where they would try and bind the wound, even removing any shards or particles that may have been lodged (by a medical professional rather than those like poor Thormod doing it himself and dying).
source : Quora