WHY IT WAS THE VIKINGS WHO INVENTED THE BARREL. I posted here about Wayne Curtis’s argument that the barrel is one of the outstanding inventions of mankind. If a barrel falls, all the staves absorb the shock. And even a barrel weighing hundreds of pounds can be maneuvered by one stevedore.
This review in The Spectator by Andrew McKie of WOOD, WHISKEY, AND WINE: A History of Barrels by Henry H. Work gives Work’s explanation of why it was the Vikings who invented the barrel. McKie says: “Many civilisations came up with buckets, probably first by hollowing out logs and then by binding slats of wood together, but barrels tapered at both ends seem only to have been devised by Northern European Celts.”
There is no written evidence relating to the invention of the barrel, but the three reasons that McKie (and Work) advance for the Viking invention are convincing. The first two are that Northern Europe had iron tools and lots of wood in their forests. The third is the most convincing; the enthusiasm of Celts for beer and wine.