Famous Vikings

Statue of Leif Ericsson
Leif Ericsson Statue

Introduction - Famous Vikings

The period of medieval history known as the Viking age produced many famous Vikings. Below we list several of these famous Norse explorers, warriors, and kings. We have included Swedish Vikings, Norwegian Vikings, and female Vikings. Some of the names listed are widely known and others are less familiar to the general public.

Click here for a great selection of books about Leif Erikson.

Perhaps the most famous Viking of all is Leif Ericsson. For information on this great explorer click on his name in the list below to go to our page dedicated to him. You can also click on Eric the Red's name for information about Leif's well know father.

Just how much of what we know about these famous Vikings is the truth as opposed to fiction is debatable. Often the sources of our knowledge are the Norse Sagas which may exaggerate the truth or plain make up some parts of the stories.

List of Famous Vikings

Famous Vikings - Descriptions

Gardar (Garthar) Svavarsson

This Swedish Viking is widely believed to be the first person ever to circumnavigate Iceland. He is also believed to be the first person to live on Iceland. On a voyage to the Hebrides, a group of islands off the northwestern coast of Scotland, he sailed into a storm which pushed him north, to the eastern coast of Iceland. He went ashore at Skjalfandi, in northern Iceland, where he built a house and stayed for one winter.

Ingvar the Far-Travelled

This famous Viking warrior led an unsuccessful Viking attack against Persia from 1036 AD through 1042 AD. There are some twenty six Runestones that mention Ingvar and the Swedish Viking warriors who accompanied him on his expeditions.

Ragnar Lodbrok (Ragnar Hairy-Breeks)

Ragnar is a legendary Norse hero and was very popular amongst the ancient Norse people. For a short period of time he was king of Denmark and a large part of Sweden. He raided France several times, traveling up narrow rivers with his fleet of long ships. He was an intelligent warrior avoiding battles where he was outmatched and using unpredictability to his advantage. He is famed for his raid of Paris in 845 AD. After being caught in a storm and shipwrecked on the English shore he was captured and put to death supposedly by being thrown into a pit of vipers.

Sigrid "the Haughty"

One of the most famous female Vikings is Sigrid "the Haughty". She is famed for standing up to King Olaf of Norway and refusing to convert to Christianity. King Olaf converted to Christianity and demanded that all his people do the same, or face possible death. Many people were defiant and refused to give up their pagan beliefs. Among these people was a woman named Sigrid, who was the daughter of the Swedish king. In 998 AD it was proposed that she should marry King Olaf. To the kings face she said "I will not part from the faith which my forefathers have kept before me." This enraged the king and he hit her. Sigrid was able to avoid the proposed marriage and eventually help form an alliance among the kings enemies that would bring about his downfall.

Thorfinn Karlsefni

Thorfinn Karlsefni also known as Thorfinn the Valiant was one of the first Vikings to sail to and settle in North America. He and approximately one hundred and sixty other Norse settlers landed in the new world sometime between the years 1004 AD and 1010 AD. He found and expanded the settlement Leif Ericsson had left behind several years earlier. Like all other Norse settlements of North America this settlement did not last long. Fighting with the native North Americans eventually forced them back to Greenland.