Viking Wiki

All of the Arabian peninsula, northern Egypt and northern African coastal area, Iraq, Iran and southern Turkey 750–1258 and 1261–1517.

711-1492 the Islamic state covering the Iberian peninsula (present day Spain and Portugal).

The homes of the Light elfs (Alfheim) and the Dark elfs/dwarfs (Svartalfheim).

Annals of Saint Bertin. Practical annual reports of raids carried out by various Viking groups from Scandinavia in the Frankish areas,  plundering Carolingian monasteries and episcopal cities 830-882. 

The moderne Scandinavian word for the Norse religion (forn siðr).

See “Neo-Paganism”.

Old English epic poem consisting of 3,182 alliterative lines. It is one of the most important and most often translated works of Old English literature. The only certain dating is for the manuscript, which was produced between 975 and 1025. 

The story is set in pagan Scandinavia in the 6th century. 

Beowulf, a hero of the Gautar, comes to the aid of Hrothgar, the king of the Danes, whose mead hall in Heorot has been under attack by the monster Grendel. After Beowulf slays him, Grendel’s mother attacks the hall and is then defeated. Victorious, Beowulf goes home to Gautarland and becomes king of the Gautar (see that). 

Fifty years later, Beowulf defeats a dragon, but is mortally wounded in the battle. 

After his death, his attendants cremate his body and erect a barrow on a headland in his memory.

Bifrost is the invisible bridge that connects the nine worlds. It will be visible when the rain is followed by sunshine, as the rainbow.

Important Viking city, close to present day Stockholm.

According to some stories it is the execution method of cutting through the skin and the flesh along the spine with a knife, separating the ribs from the spine with an axe, draw the ribcage apart, and spread out the lungs to resemble eagle wings, while the person is still alive. This is disputed, as other sources claim that blood eagle simply means leaving the dead face down on the battlefield, and let the scavenger birds eat through the back. 

Sacrifice, prayer or worship.

See Völve

The farm and trading station built by Eiríkur “Rauði” Þorvaldsson (Erik the Red) in Greenland.

Also referred to as the Eastern Roman Empire, the continuation of the Roman Empire primarily in its eastern provinces during Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, when its capital city was Constantinople. 

It survived the fall of the Western Roman Empire in the 5th century AD and continued to exist until the fall of Constantinople to the Ottoman Empire in 1453. During most of its existence, the empire remained the most powerful economic, cultural, and military force in the Mediterranean world. Its citizens continued to refer to their empire as the Roman Empire and to themselves as Romans.

At its height it consisted of present day southern Italy, Bulgaria, Croatia, North Macedonia, Greece, Turkey, Israel, Palestine, and northern Egypt. Vikings never conquered the capital Miklagård (old Norse name for Constantinople), but managed to besiege it so successfully that favourable trade agreements were made, and the emperor later formed the famous Varangian Guard (see that). 

Kievan Rus (see that) exported fur, amber, steel and especially slaves in large quantities to the Byzantine Empire.


“Protection money”, paying Danes to go away, in order not to be subject to a massacre. 

The Danelaw, also known as the Danelagh.

The part of England in which the laws of the Danes held sway; about 80% of present day England and a small part of Scotland.

Confederacy under the Kingdom of Denmark from the invasion of the Great Heathen Army into England in the year 865 until 1002 – the St. Brice’s Day massacre of the Danes (see that).

See Danelagen.

The people in Denmark, Norway and southern Sweden.

Fimbulvintr is the harsh winter that precedes the end of the world – Ragnarok – and ends all life on Earth.
In 536 AD two major volcanic eruptions created a global period of cooling, often referred to as “three years without summer”. The global death toll was enormous, and the event is now thought to be the origin of the myth of Fimbulvintr.

“Old Ways”. A description of Norse paganism, that didn’t have a name.

Also see “Neo-Paganism”.

“Old story metre”. The Norse poets tended to break up their verses into stanzas of from two to eight lines (or more).

The Norse poets tended to make each line a complete syntactic unit.

Old Norse name for Kievan Rus (see that).

A large North Germanic tribe who inhabited Götaland (“land of the Gautars”) in present day southern Sweden from antiquity until the late Middle Ages.

Much like the Christian and Muslim heaven, Gimle is the world where all good humans and Gods will be welcomed after Ragnarok. 

It’s a place of peace and tranquillity. 

A North Germanic tribe inhabiting the island of Gotland.

Farm, Estate or even Land.

Important Viking city in southern Denmark. 

Raided and burned in 1049 by Haraldr “Harðráði” Sigurðarson (Harald Hårderåde).

Viking age board game, sometimes referred to as “Viking Chess”.

Island in an urban environment. Known from e.g. Stockholm. Most islands in Scandinavian cities are named Holm-something.
Manhattan is actually a Holm, just like Hong Kong Island…

A duel in a confined space (see “Holm”). At least in theory, anyone offended could challenge the other party to holmganga regardless of their differences in social status. This could be a matter of honor, ownership or property, demand of restitution of debt or legal disagreement.

Novgorod (now Velikij Novgorod) in present day Russia. The first major city in the Rus empire (see Kievan Rus).

“The new way” – Christianity.

York. Most important city in Danelagen (see that).

In English sometimes spelled “Yule”. Heathen celebration of the winter solstice, originally with very fluctuating dates, guided by the moon calendar. 

When the Vikings became (somewhat) Christian the date was fixed on December 24th, as it merged with the Christian Christmas celebration (date aligned with the Roman Saturnalia). 

The word – and many traditions – are still used in Scandinavia.

A group of giant monsters in the Norse religion, today used in Swedish as “much”, “large” or “a lot”.

The Rus empire in parts of present day Estonia, Russia, Ukraine, Belarus and Balkan. 


Also known as Kiev or Kijev. 

The capital city of the Kievan Rus empire. 

Presently the capital of Ukraine.

Old Norse alternative name for Kyiv (see that).

Old Norse name for Constantinople (or Byzans), present day Istanbul.

Þórr’s magic hammer that will never miss a target, and will return to his hand after being thrown.
In the Iron Age used by many pagans in necklaces, in much the same way as Christians used the cross; for protection and identification.
Today used by many for traditional reasons.

In Scandinavia Neo-Paganism is the updated continuation of the forn siðr (“the old ways”). It is practiced in many different ways, but emphasis is often on conservation of history and traditions, healthy diet, respect for animals and nature, respects for the elders, focus on family, focus on women’s rights (as opposed to Christianity, Islam and Hinduism), and hospitality. Often it can be seen as a mix of ancient world views with modern spirituality and respect for human rights and nature conservation.

Read more at asa-community.se and fornsidr.dk.

Villain or “without honor”. Often outlaw (Skóggangr or útlagi).

A Nisse (Danish) or Tomte (Swedish) is a supernatural being that lives on every farm. They can be helpful or annoying, depending on how you treat them. 

They are small, often described as about 40 cm, and the usual descriptions of their appearance has inspired the garden gnome.

They hide as best as they can, and hate to be spotted by humans.

Northern / Scandinavian. Not to be confused with Norwegian.

The Norse myths, legends and sagas, mainly about Æsir and Vanir.

The North Sea Empire, also known as the Anglo-Scandinavian Empire, was the personal union of the kingdoms of England, Denmark and Norway for most of the period between 1013 and 1042.

The first king to unite all three kingdoms was Sveinn “tjúguskegg” Haraldsson (Sweyn Forkbeard), king of Denmark since 986 and of Norway since 1000, when he conquered England in 1013. 

He died in the following year, and his realm was divided. 

His son Knútr “Ínn ríki” Sveinsson (Cnut the Great) acquired England in 1016, Denmark in 1018 and Norway in 1028.


Óðinn (“Odin”, “Oden” or ”Woden”) is the main Æsir, according to most traditions. 
He is somehow the originator of all the other Æsir, and therefore sometimes referred to as the “Allfather”. 
Other nicknames are “The Tall One” and “The One Eyed”.

The old Norse word for snake or serpent, both real and mythological. Mythologically it has in modern times been translated to dragon, not to be confused with winged fire spewing dragons in other mythologies. Mainly known from the “Miðgarðsormr” or”Jǫrmungandr” (the Midgård snake).

A large group of tribes living around the Dnieper and Volga rivers, north of the Black Sea. Some of these tribes became part of the Kievan Rus empire, while others remained a thread to the empire.

Poetry collection depicting religious myths and fables. Written between 800 and 1000 in Norway and Iceland.

Also known as “Snorri’s Edda”, one of the primary sources to knowledge about the Norse religion and myths, though written 200 years after the end of the (English) Viking Age, and in a Christian context.

The end of the world, where good will fight evil, and everybody dies – Æsir, Vanir and humans. 
After Ragnarok the Gimle will appear. (see that)

City in Denmark, situated in the bottom of a fjord, west of present day Copenhagen.

A number of Viking Ships were sunk in the Fjord to prevent attack. These ships are now in museum. 

A group of Svea (see that) occupying parts of present day Estonia, Russia, Ukraine and Balkan. 

Sweden is today known as “Ruotsi” in Finnish, and “Rootsi” in Estonian.

A Persianate Sunni Muslim empire in present day Persia (Iran) and Central Asia, from 819 to 999.

The traditionally Sámi-speaking people inhabiting the region of Sápmi, which today encompasses large northern parts of Norway, Sweden, Finland, and of the Kola Peninsula in Russia. 

The region of Sápmi was formerly known as Lapland, and the Sámi have historically been known as Lapps or Laplanders, but these terms are regarded as offensive by the Sámi. 

Petroglyphs and archaeological findings related to the Sámi people, dating from about 10,000 BC can be found in the Scandinavian peninsula, close to and above the polar circle.

In Norway, Sweden and Finland Sámis today have limited independency on their areas, mainly north of the polar circle. Many still lives as semi-nomadic reindeer herders. 

Magic and fortune-telling; the practice of seiðr is believed to be a form of magic which is related to both the telling and the shaping of the future. Practitioners are known to have been carrying a magical walking stick (which over time may have inspired to magic wands, as in Harry Potter), drums, and small engraved figures or dice.

An old Norse name for the Islamic world.

Female Viking warrior.

Poet and/or storyteller, in some cases even singer. Also see Fornyrðislag. 

“Weaklings”/”Cowards”; the Viking’s name for the indigenous people in Vinland (in present day Canada).
Presumably Haudenosaunee (Iroquois).

The ethnic groups in present day eastern Europe who have involuntarily given name to slave/slavery.

The St. Brice’s Day massacre, that occurred 13th November 1002, was the mass killing of all Danes in England, ordered by King Æthelred the Unready in response to a perceived threat to his life.

A North Germanic tribe who inhabited Svealand, around Lake Mäleren (“land of the Swedes”), in central Sweden and one of the progenitor groups of modern Swedes, along with Gautar and Gotar. They had their tribal centre in Gamla Uppsala. (Also see Rus and Varangian).

Þórr (“Thor” or “Tor”) is the Æsir for humans, and a son of Óðinn. 
Þórr’s most priced possession is no doubt his magical war hammer, Mjölnír (see that).

Þórr is the new kid on the block in Norse mythology, as there are no signs of him in archeological digs from the bronze age.

  1. The name for several round castles build in Denmark and southern Sweden during the reign of Haraldr “Blótan” Gormsson.
  2. A city in southern Sweden (that has a well known Trelleborg, obviously). 


Tróls are a kind of jätter that are exiled from Jotunheim, and live in Miðgarðr. They seek solitude and can be dangerous if disturbed. 

Thralls, Slaves.

When Danes say something is “træls” it means it’s slavelike; hard work or unpleasant.

A group of deities in forn siðr.

In modern popular culture it’s common to hear Vikings longing to go to Valhal, almost like the ultimate paradise. 

That is a misunderstanding. 

The best and most courageous warriors will be hand-picked by Freyja for Folkvang. 
The rest of them will go to Valhal. 
Those who lived and died insignificant will oftenly go to Hel, a dark and dull place where nothing happens (not to be confused with Hell, where one is punished and burned. That’s a different religion.)
Some sagas even tell of Niflheim, that might be an extension to Hel, where everything is frozen.

Viking Guard, an army of Rus (see that) Viking mercenaries in the service of the Byzantine Emperor.

Old Norse: Væringjar. Svea (see that)/Rus (see that) Viking conquerors, traders and settlers, mostly from present day Sweden. 

The Varangians settled in the territories of modern day Belarus, Russia and Ukraine, and in the 9th century, they founded the medieval state of Kievan Rus (see that). 

They also formed the Byzantine Varangian Guard (see that).

The Vegvisir (The Guide) is a magical symbol intended to help the bearer find their way home. The symbol is attested in the Huld Manuscript, collected in Iceland by Geir Vigfusson in 1860, and does not have any earlier attestations.
It’s very popular as a tattoo motif among modern Vikings, though.


Old Norse word for expedition participant (or raider). 

Old Norse word for expedition (or raid). 

L’Anse aux Meadows in present day Canada. Maybe all of Gulf of Saint Lawrence.

The Viking’s name for Jesus Christ (“Hvítakristr”). Probably because new converts were obligated to wear white clothes a week after being baptised, but we don’t know for sure.

English translation of Vinland (see that). 

Female shaman. Many years after the introduction of Christianity people would still consult a Völve, and when the church got sick and tired of the competition the witch-hunts in Scandinavia began (c. 1530).

Also read “Seiðr”.

Danish Minister of Church and Culture Ane Halsboe-Jørgensen as Völve.

The world tree.

In pre-modern times, before the light pollution, you could see the canopy in the sky at night (as the Milky Way).


See “Jul”.

A group of deities in forn siðr.

Get the complete Viking Encyclopedia in the book “Vikingology”.