(Cont) The sword's status came from the fact that it told people only someone skilled and veteran enough to survive multiple raids could be rich enough to afford a quality sword from a respected smith. The Norsemen where pioneers of pragmatism, to them words meant nothing if you couldn't back it up.
@Beastwolf Are you thinking about swords? That was the wealth/status symbol.
Chainmail and leather armor over thick woolen gambesons were the norm not just for the Norse but for other Germanic groups as well, such as the Anglo-Saxon.
Jo, as a Scandinavian I feel I should explain that only an elite minority of the Norse population went viking or exploring, with the majority being farmers, traders, craftsmen and the like. Viking isn't an ethnicity, it's a job description. :p