Introduction - Viking NamesMany of the ancient Norse people, also known as the Vikings, had very interesting names. This is true for men and women. The name given to a baby boy or girl usually held some type of important meaning or significance to the parents. On this page of Viking Source we will provide information and facts on how Vikings chose names and the meanings of these names. You will also find lists of common Viking male names, common Viking female names, and famous Viking names.
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How Vikings Selected Names
Viking names usually had two parts (elements). One part was almost always derived from a deceased relative. This was in a way viewed as a sort of reincarnation of the relative in the new born child. An example of this is Thorvald Eiriksson who was named after his grandfather Thorvald Asvaldsson. The child was not necessarily given the exact name of the relative but often a variation of it. The child was often given a name that begins with the same sound that the relatives name began with (called alliteration). For example you may see the following names in a Norse family tree Hallbiorn, Halldor, Hallfreor, Hallgeirr, and Hallgrimr. This method of selecting a variation of the relatives name was not always limited to the beginning of the name. For example a series of names such as Abiorn, Finnbiorn, Gunnbiorn, Hallbiorn, and Ketilbiorn.
In some cases the child was named in such a way to indicate who the father was (patronymics) and some cases the mother matronymics). It was very rare for boy's names to indicate who the mother was; it was much more common that they indicated who the father was. For example Skallagrim's son was named Skallagrimson (son of Skallagrim), and Hakons daughter was named Hakonardottir (daughter of Hakon).
The second part (element) of Vikings name was often the name of a Norse god, an animal, a desirable attribute, or just an everyday noun. Examples of animals used in names include Bjorn (bear), Ulf (wolf), Refr (fox), and Orm (snake). Many childrens names contained "Thor", who was the most popular of all the Viking gods. An example of desirable attribute in a name is Olaf Kyrre (the Quiet). Examples of names containing everyday nouns are Drifa (snowdrift), Auor (treasure), and Steinn (rock).
Famous Viking Names
- Leif Eriksson - He discovered America centuries before Christopher Columbus. He also set up a short lived settlement in North America.
- Erik the Red - Eric Thorvaldsson was called Eric the Red (or Erik the Red) due to his red hair. He was a famous Viking explorer and the founder of the first Norse settlement in Greenland. He perhaps is best known as being the father of the most famous Viking ever, Leif Eriksson.
- Gardar (Garthar) Svavarsson - It is believed that this Swedish Viking was the first person to circumnavigate Iceland. Many historians also believe he is the first person to settle on Iceland.
- Sigrid the Haughty - This famous female Viking stood up to the king of Norway and refused to convert to Christianity.
- Thorfinn Karlsefni - Nicknamed Thorfinn the Valiant. He was one of the first Viking settlers of North America. Landing in North America around 1004 AD he expanded the settlement Leif Ericsson had created. He and his fellow settlers eventually returned to Greenland to escape fighting with the native North Americans.
- Ragnar Lodbrok - Captured Paris
- Ingolfur Arnarson - Colonized Iceland
- Oleg of Kiev - He conquered Kiev and attacked Constantinople
- Guthrum - Colonized England
Common Viking Women Names
Common Viking Men Names