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Viking Names

Viking Names

The Viking age lasted from the 8th century AD until the 11th century AD with the primary language amongst the Norsemen being 'Old Norse'. Many of the names from this period are still common today throughout Scandinavia and even further afield. 

In the Viking age it was common for name to have some kind of meaning, often describing a desirable characteristic such as 'beauty' or 'peace'. There are also many references to people being named after Norse Gods, such as Thor, Odin and even Loki.

Animal names were also common amongst the Vikings with many being named after prominent characters in the sagas and sometimes enemies of the Gods such as Fenrir and Jormungandr

Origins of Viking Names

Much of the evidence which we have of Viking names comes from inscriptions on historical artefacts from the Viking age such as rune stones,  place names and historical sources written about the Vikings, sometimes known as 'sagas'. There are also foreign sources from the Viking age, such as English and Frankish historians who tell stories of the Viking exploits and often mention them by name. 

Names with Viking origins are also common in the British Isles and the parts of Europe, however these tend to be more common for men than for women, since it was the men who went on expeditions more often. 

Male Viking Names

Thor/Tor

 It was common for Viking men to be named after the strong, noble and hammer wielding God of Thunder in Norse Mythology. The Norwegian spelling 'Tor' is still quite common in Scandinavia.

There are also derivations of other names which come from Thor such as; Tora (of the god Thor), Thorsten (Thor and stone) and Thurid (Thor and beautiful). 

Bjørn

Made popular in other countries by the TV show 'Vikings' this name has been a staple in Scandinavia since the Viking age. The direct translation into English means 'Bear' and it is sometimes written as 'Bjorn' in the English alphabet. 

Harold/Harald

 The name of many Scandinavian kings throughout history, including the current king of Norway, King Harold V, and famous Vikings such as Harald Bluetooth and Harald Fairhair. 

Leif

This has been a common name in many parts of the globe, especially north America, due to the exploits of the famous Viking explorer Leif Erikson who was the first European to set foot on the North American continent. 

Magnus

The direct translation into English means 'great', this was another staple amongst both viking age and modern Scandinavians.

Odin

The most important of all the Aesir gods, often referred to as the 'Allfather' it is not surprising that people would name their children after Odin. The name hasn't remained as popular as some of the other Viking names however it is still possible to find the occasional Odin in Scandinavia. 

Ulf

Another popular animal name 'Ulf' translates to 'Wolf' in modern English. It is thought that this name was inspired by the infamous dire wolf Fenrir from Norse Mythology. 

Gunnar

The translation of this name means 'he who stands alone' and was another common name in Viking age Scandinavia. There are many examples of famous viking warriors such as Gunnar Hamundarson who proudly held the name. 

Female Viking Names

Freya

Freya or 'Freyja' in old norse was one of the most prominent gods in Norse Mythology. Originally a Vanir goddess she lived amongst the Aesir as part of their peace treaty. The literal translation of this name means 'lady' with the goddess often being associated with beauty, love and fertility.

Ingrid

This name has been popular in Scandinavia and throughout other parts of the world for centuries. It means 'beautiful goddess' and was the name of numerous queens throughout the centuries. 

Frigg

The wife of Odin and goddess of earth, air and fertility Frigg was one of the primary Aesir gods. Although the popularity of this name has declined significantly over the centuries it was still an important one during the Viking age. 

Sigrid/Sigfrid

The name Sigrid was common amongst viking women and has remained popular in modern times with a famous Norwegian singer. The translation from old Norse is slightly unclear, however 'victory', 'wisdom' and 'beauty' are all possible translations.

Sif/Siv

In Norse Mythology Sif was the wife of Thor and was said to have had beautiful blonde hair. The name is thought to translate to 'bride' in modern English. 

 Gunhild

This name comes from the old norse words for 'shield' and 'battle', and is still found in many parts of Scandinavia. There are numerous variations including 'Gunnhildr', 'Gundhild', and 'Gunhilda'. 

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