Some thatch is topped with sod, turf and the resulting grass. Put your goat to work.
The sunken floor adds warmth.
See them on Viking Village reconstructions, particularly structures at Trelleborg on Zealand (see also Ladbyskibet, where the outline of a buried Viking ship is found under the mound, near Kerteminde, Funen - see://www.travelpod.com/travel-blog-entries/sarahindenmark/denmark/1189800060/tpod.html).
The advantage: ready materials; and a good hiding place, just tuck your necklace up there, except for the disadvantage. The disadvantage: Fire, that spreads fast; and bugs and creepies in residence up there, and falling down. s paltry as they are.
We wished for more explanations for the whimsical carvings. Are these from originals? Whimsy looks part of the cultural landscape even then.
In some (many) burial sites, the buried ships hold women, and there is other evidence of their holding positions of status, holding substantial purse-strings and managing the community.
Viking theology. Does this help explain the female figure the same size, if not bigger, than the male. Or is it?
Culture. The pre-Christian religious structure suggests that there were three basic areas for the deities to manage: Odin, in charge of warfare, inspiration for poets, courage for battle, and wind-thunder-storm, and a concept of "the hanged man" that appears still in Tarot; to whom the more well-to-do responded; Thor, for farmers and the common person; and Freyja for sorcery, incantation, bringing things about, and female sexual power. Her brother, Frey, stood for male potency but not on the same power scale as the other 3, Odin, Thor and Freya. This is rough, but go to The Vikings, A History by Robert Ferguson, Penguin Group 2009, at pages around 23.
Look up the Oseberg ship from Norway at the Ferguson book at about 12.
Reviews of Mr. Ferguson's book highlight scholarly disagreements with his conclusions, see for example, ://www.openlettersmonthly.com/ranvaik-owns-this-box/ . Our concern is different, and so far not picked up. Why are pre-Christian people (say, women) who are effective community leaders, able to get things done, heal, "know" how to do things, get dismissed as sorcerers, while the boys are out knocking heads and proud of it.
Next reviewer: analyze Mr. Ferguson's bias toward the "Christian" fear of women's abilities that reflect in his very characterization of them in that culture -- otherwise unsupported -- in referring to skills that many men simply do not have, or understand.
Is it sorcery, or a way of knowing? Who ran the show at home anyway, while the guys were off, like the Crusaders or the Vikings. The women, stupid. Is that so? Or is this just late at night and we are fed up with surface dismissals by label of one culture smacked on another, like the Church does? Rather routinely?