Top 10 Viking Symbols And Meanings
Updated: May 26
Vikings used a number of ancient symbols based on Norse mythology. Symbols played a vital role in the Viking society and were used to represent their gods, beliefs and myths. Some Viking symbols remain mysterious and their meaning is still unknown, but there are also many ancient symbols that have clear messages.
In this top list we examine some of the most powerful and significant Viking symbols and take a look at the meaning behind them.
1. Thor’s Hammer - Mjölnir
Mjölnir means lightning, and Thor’s hammer indicates the god’s power over thunder and lightning. Thor, ancient god of war is one of the most prominent figures in Norse mythology. Thor who was the storm-weather god of sky and thunder and also a fertility god, was the son of Odin and Fyorgyn, the earth goddess.
Thor’s hammer, Mjölnir is depicted in Norse mythology as one of the most fearsome weapons, capable of leveling mountains.
Mjölnir, was a magical weapon that always came back to Thor when he threw it. Wearing Thor’s hammer as an amulet of protection was quite common as this was probably the most popular of all the pagan Viking symbols. Even during Christian times, from A.D. 1000 on, Vikings wore Thor’s Mjölnir as well as a cross on a chain or thong around their necks.
2. Yggdrasil - Norse Tree Of Life
In Norse mythology, the Yggdrasil is a giant mythological tree that holds together the Nine Worlds or realms of existence.
At the very top of Yggdrasil, an eagle lived and at the bottom of the tree lived a dragon named Nidhug. Both hated each other and were bitter enemies. The Nine Worlds are guarded by the serpent Jormungandr. Yggdrasil is one of many variations of the Cosmic Axis or Universal World Tree known to all human cultures and home to many fascinating creatures.
The image of Yggdrasil appears on the famous Överhogdal Tapestry, which dates to the year 1066 and depicts the events of Ragnarok, the doom of the Gods and apocalyptic record of the coming comet.
3. Valknut – Viking Symbol For Death In A Battle
The Valknut, also known as Hrungnir’s heart, heart of the slain, Heart of Vala, and borromean triangles is a mysterious Norse symbol. its true meaning is still debated, but it is often associated with a warrior’s death in a battle.
The symbol has been found on old Norse stone carvings and funerary steles. It is sometimes called “Hrungnir’s heart,” after the legendary giant of the Eddas. It's also possible to find a depiction of the Valknut on stone carvings as a funerary motif, where it probably signified the afterlife. In art, the Valknut is a representation of God Odin, and it demonstrates gods’ power over death. A Valknut is also believed to offer protection against spirits which is the reason why it is often carried as a talisman.
A Valknut is made of three parts, and the number three is a very common magic symbol in many cultures. In this case, the symbolism in Norse mythology showing three multiplied by three might designate the nine worlds, which are united by the Yggdrasil tree. In modern times Valknut, like Triquetra and Horn Triskelion, is often interpreted as a symbol pointing to heathen convictions.
4. The Helm Of Awe - Viking Symbol For Protection
The Helm of Awe is one of the most powerful protective Viking symbols used not only for the purpose of protection from disease, but even to encourage all people who might suffer from depression or anxiety.
In Norse myths it is said that the Helm of Awe symbol was worn between the eyes to cause fear in your enemies, and to protect against the abuse of power. The Norse word for this very important symbol (Ægishjálmr or Aegishjalmur) is translated in English "helm of awe" or "helm of terror." The meaning of the name awe is to strike with fear and reverence; to influence by fear, terror or respect; as, his majesty awed them into silence.