Were Vikings unkempt and dirty?

Viking Comb

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Despite depictions on television and film, Vikings were not filthy, muddy, shaggy-haired savages. They cared about their appearance. Reginsmál 25 informs us that:

'Kembður ok þveginn
skal kænna hverr'
'Combed and washed
should the wise man be'

The chronicle attributed to John of Wallingford shows that they had a reputation for looking after their appearance, when it states that they combed their hair every day, changed their clothes regularly, and washed every Saturday; Old Norse laugardagr 'Saturday' means 'bath day'.

Combs were an important part of personal grooming. Combing the hair would not only have been about looking good, but it would also have been done to help rid the hair of lice and nits. Finds from archaeological sites include a variety of tools for personal grooming, and are found in both male and female graves, showing that personal grooming was important to all Vikings. These finds include 'ear spoons' or 'ear scoops' for removing ear wax, tweezers, toothpicks and other items for making themselves look good.