For a long time, the Vikings believed in many gods and goddesses. They were called Norse gods and many stories were told about them. Their stories are known as Norse mythology.
Viking gods looked like ordinary people except they had magical powers. They could get angry and jealous just like people. They lived very long lives but were not immortal (living forever).
The Vikings believed that their gods lived in a place called Asgard. Their gods were split into two main clans or families: the Æsir and the Vanir.
See if you recognise any of these Viking gods:
Odin (king of the Æsir): the most important god of all. Odin only had one eye and was the god of war and death. He rode an 8-legged horse called Sleipnir. He had two ravens, Hugin and Munin (thought and memory) which told him all the things that were happening in the world. In old English, Odin was called Woden. Wednesday is named after him.
Thor (the eldest son of Odin): he was the god of thunder and protector of mankind. He fought with a giant hammer. He was a guardian of Asgard. Thursday is named after him.
Freyja and Frey (Vanir gods): Freyja was the goddess of love, beauty and fertility. She rode a chariot pulled by two cats and cried golden tears when she was sad. Her twin brother, Frey, was in charge of dwarfs and elves. He had a sword that could fight on its own.
By the 11th century, most Viking lands had converted to Christianity and people forgot about the old gods. We still have days of the week to remember them though!
Did you know?
- When warriors died in battle, half of them were believed to be taken to Viking heaven 'Valhalla' by warrior women called 'Valkyries'.
- Midgard or Middle Earth was a place inhabited by giants, dwarfs, elves, goblins, monsters and humans. Vikings believed most of the monsters were invisible to humans but they weren’t invisible to the Norse gods.
- Friday was named after Frigg, Odin’s wife. She was a beautiful goddess who could see into the future.