Source: Dorothy Hardy (1909)
The Viking Age was a period of considerable religious change in Scandinavia. Pagan and Christian beliefs existed side by side and religion was an integral part of everyday life. Read through these resources below to learn more about the religious practices and beliefs of the Vikings.
This is a description of how Vikings viewed their world as put into writing by the Viking Snorri Sturluson.
This website looks at the pagan beliefs of the Vikings, and how they began to convert to Christianity.
The Vikings worshipped their gods by sacrificing animals to them. This website describes some of the main sacrifices throughout the year, and the places where Vikings would worship.
Like the Greeks and the Romans before them the Vikings worshipped many gods. This article lists three of the main ones worshipped.
There are nine realms in Norse Mythology, they are called Niflheim, Muspelheim, Asgard, Midgard, Jotunheim, Vanaheim, Alfheim, Svartalfheim, Helheim. The nine worlds in Norse mythology are held in the branches and roots of the world tree Yggdrasil. These realms are the home of different kinds of beings, such as Asgard the home of the Gods and Goddesses, or Jotumheim the home of the giants. This article describes each of the realms; you might recognise a few of them from the Marvel movies!
The Norse gods were organised into two different categories, and this article describes these two categories, and lists some of the major gods and goddesses.
This article describes how Vikings thought the world was created, including the creation of the first humans.
Valhalla (Old Norse: Valhǫll) is the hall of the fallen warriors in Norse mythology. Valhǫll is two compound words, Valr meaning “dead body on a battlefield”, and hǫll meaning hall. This article describes what Valhalla looked like, and how fallen Vikings were chosen to go there in death.
This website has a list of articles that describe various creatures and beliefs in Norse mythology, including giants, elves, and giant wolves.
A Völva was a woman in the Viking age who practiced magic, known as Seidr (in old Norse seiðr), the word Seidr literally means ”to bind”. A Völva often had a very special role within the society and would often have close ties with the leaders of her clan. You could call a Völva/Vǫlva a spiritual leader or healer in the Nordic society. A man could also practice Seidr, and he would be known as a Seer, but that was very rare.
Among the Germanic and Viking peoples, sacred space consisted of natural, powerful features of the wild landscape, as well as being created using physical markers to delineate the space, to create a frið-garðr, a zone of peace. This type of sacred space was used in religious worship, but also in law courts, and surprisingly enough to create boundaries for duels as well. This article investigates the nature and uses of sacred space in the Viking world.
The Vikings’ belief in the Norse gods was of significance to almost all activities – in everyday life or for warriors in battle. They therefore sacrificed to the gods to obtain their goodwill. In recent decades dramatic finds have shown that large religious sacrifices in honour of the gods were held at magnates’ residences. Christianity was a potent force throughout the Viking period and by the 800s part of the population was already Christian. The first churches also appeared at this time. Kings and magnates erected the first buildings in honour of the new god. But why was the old Nordic religion replaced by Christianity? In addition, why did some Vikings never completely abandon Odin, Thor and the other old gods in favour of Christ?