It’s no lie that many people rely on fiction to escape the unbearable aspects of reality. But there are times when fiction just seems so far-fetched from reality that our mind simply cannot accept the information and immediately rejects it, unable to connect to the familiarity of it. Imagine reading a romance novel about a Victorian youth slowly falling in love with a young lady only for the book to reveal that she has nipple piercings. If you thought that is just unrealistic and historically-inaccurate, well, we’ve got news for you. Sometimes reality is simply much more bizarre than any fiction and Tumblr users bonded together to discuss some historic examples.

Some Tumblr users joined together to discuss how sometimes reality, especially history, seems much stranger than fiction

Turns out, nipple piercings were all the rage in the Victorian era (albeit for a very brief period). Surviving records show women show the trend surfacing in 1890. At the end of the 19th century, one London socialite’s report in Vogue says:

“For a long time I could not understand why I should consent to such a painful operation without sufficient reason. I soon, however came to the conclusion that many ladies are ready to bear the passing pain for the sake of love. I found that the breasts of those who wore rings were incomparably rounder and fuller developed than those who did not. My doubts were now at an end…so I had my nipples pierced, and when the wounds were healed, I had rings inserted…with regard to the experience of wearing these rings, I can only say that they are not in the least uncomfortable or painful. On the contrary, the slight rubbing and slipping of the rings causes in me an extremely titillating feeling, and all my colleagues I have spoken to on this subject have confirmed my opinion.”

And if you thought that the majority of peasants living in the 13th century were illiterate and only monks and nobles being able to read and write, then you might be shocked by the architectural finds in Russia that are being excavated since 1951. Scientists dug up more than 1100 pieces of birch bark with writing on it in Novgorod and some of the most notable belonged to a young boy named Onfim. The writings showcase Onfim learning to write in Old Novgorodian as well as contains drawings of battle scenes and even a self-portrait. Quite incredible, isn’t it?

If you thought that the idea of vikings engaging in rap battles sounds ridiculous and unrealistic, then you might need to rethink your understanding of the world. Back in the day vikings practiced what is called flyting, a contest consisting of the exchange of insults between two parties, often conducted in verse. It was practiced mainly between the 5th and 16th centuries and often included accusations of cowardice or sexual perversion. There’s even a surviving poem of the Poetic Edda in which the ferryman Harbard (often believed to be Odin in disguise) competes in a flyting or verbal contest with the god Thor. So next time you try to imagine a scene with vikings in your head, you might as well put them in a rap battle against one another!

While Persians definitely had an ice cream-like dessert back in 400 BCE, some of the “facts” presented by these internauts should be taken with a grain of salt. But hey, it’s quite an interesting read and a perfect opening for some research of your own, isn’t it? So scroll down, dive deep and see for yourself if the historical circumstances presented here seem inaccurate and far away from what we perceive as reality.