VIKING raiders were high on hallucinogenic herbal tea when they went raping and pillaging according to new discoveries.
The legendary raids conducted by the vicious Vikings play a huge part in European and British history as they looted and pillaged in their famous longboats.
The fiercest of them all were elite bare-chested warriors called berserkers.
Beserkers were mountainous men who would get into a furious rage, grab a weapon and not a lot else and storm recklessly into battle, literally tearing apart anyone unlucky enough to stand in their way.
Their energy, power and invulnerability to pain made them some of the most feared and infamous units in Medieval Europe, defining the warrior classes of their age.
One beserker’s last stand, the Lone Viking, changed the course of British and Viking history at the Battle of Stamford Bridge. He held off the 15,000 strong English army that tried to storm York, allegedly taking out 40 soldiers alone.
But when the fighting was done, beserkers would seem to run out of puff, stop and return to camp as weakened men and remain exhausted for days.
Now scientists believe the secret behind their fearless fighting was actually drugs.
Vikings had found a way to turn an otherwise poisonous plant called Stinking Henbane (also known as Hyoscyamus Niger) into a battle-booster.
The plant contains two hallucinogens: hyoscyamine and the far more potent scopolamine, or Devil’s Breath.
Ethnobotanist Karsten Fatur told The Times that the Vikings could have made tea from the potent herb or drunk it with alcohol, or rubbed it into their skin with goose fat.
He said: “It would have reduced their sensation of pain and made them wild, unpredictable and highly aggressive.”
Symptoms of Stinking Henbane tea include a desire to strip, increased aggression, unpredictability, a flushed face, hyperactivity.
He added that its “disassociative effects” made them “wild” and “might have allowed them to kill indiscriminately without moral qualms.”
WHAT A SIGHT TO SEA
World’s ‘ONLY pink manta ray’ caught on camera in Great Barrier Reef
Neanderthal skeleton from ‘ancient cemetery’ may prove species was ‘sophisticated’
Hidden tomb in lost Roman temple may be ‘resting place of city founder Romulus’
Stunning ice volcanoes spotted ‘erupting’ in frozen Lake Michigan in rare clip
Sea level ‘doomsday’ simulator reveals whether YOUR home would be wiped out
Symptoms of the drug also explain the comedown effect that frustrates other theories that beserkers were just really hammered, insane or a type of magic mushroom.
Devil’s Breath, a cousin of Stinking Henbane, is still used by gangs and criminals to spike people who are then made to carry out extremely violent sexual assaults, attacks and robberies.
Its effects only last for four hours and modern victims report amnesia, hallucinations, and a lack of free will or inhibition, turning them into zombies.
The plant’s history in Northern Europe when it was introduced by the invading Romans.
It is believed to have played a part in everything from Greek priestess ceremonies to “flying ointments” made by medieval witches.
Mr Fatur said: “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.”
However, there were serious side effects that lead it to being banned as an ingredient in ale as far back as 1507.
Fatur added: “Repeated use was also known to cause insanity, but this did not impact its popularity as it likely presented a form of intoxicant available even to the poorest people who could not afford more costly pleasures.”
Other armies across history have been known to use drugs in battle.
During World War II The Nazi’s infamously gave their troops an early form of crystal meth to make them braver and stay awake for longer. British pilots were given a similar drug, Benzedrine, too.
Tiny doses of hyoscyamine and scopolamine are used in modern medicine to treat bad stomachs, dodgy bladders, travel sickness and to reduce saliva production during surgery.
We pay for your stories! Do you have a story for The Sun Online news team? Email us at [email protected] or call 0207 782 4368 . You can WhatsApp us on 07810 791 502. We pay for videos too. Click here to upload yours.