Should you come across one of these names in your family, you might have some Viking blood in you...! 

These names, rich in history and myth, open a window into the diverse world of the Vikings - from the powerful gods and goddesses in their pantheons to the valiant explorers, rulers, and formidable women who played significant roles in their sagas.

The enduring popularity of the name Astrid is exemplified by historical figures such as Astrid Njalsdotter, who was instrumental in the formation of Sweden's Stenkil Dynasty. Illustration: The Viking Herald


Modern-day linguists have speculated that this name, which is still a popular girl's name well into the 21st century, derives from two elements. The first is "As," which refers to one of the two pantheons of the Norse gods, the Æsir. Yes, that's right. Unlike other mythologies, people in Viking societies believed there were two pantheons for their gods who were sometimes at war with one another and sometimes not. Aside from the As, the second element of this name is "fridr," which means "beautiful." One of the most famous bearers of this name was Astrid Njalsdotter, who helped establish the Stenkil Dynasty that ruled over Sweden from 1060 – 1120 at the end of the Viking Age. 

Bjorn Ironside, a prominent Viking leader, bore a name synonymous with strength and valor. His legendary feats included founding Sweden's first royal dynasty and orchestrating ambitious Viking raids across the Mediterranean. Illustration: The Viking Herald


This name, which is Old Norse for "bear," has been popular in Scandinavia for over a millennium. Representing strength and bravery, the most obvious Viking to bear this name was Björn Ironside. According to the sagas, Björn was a Viking Chieftain who founded the first Swedish royal dynasty, the House of Munso, in the mid-9th century. He was also said to have led a huge Viking raid into the Mediterranean that included attacks in southern Spain and North Africa. 

Eirik the Red, a quintessential figure in Norse sagas, lends historical and adventurous significance to the name Eirik, symbolizing the daring and exploratory spirit of the Vikings. Illustration: The Viking Herald


Another eternally popular Scandinavian name, meaning something akin to "eternal ruler." The most famous Eirik was known not so much for his ruling skills as for the color of his hair. Eirik the Red is credited, at least in the Norse sagas, with founding the first Norse settlement on Greenland. In fact, his description of this new land, to entice fellow Norse to journey and settle there, was one of the greatest pieces of medieval real estate marketing ever. Exploring was something of a family trait because his son, Leif, was said to have been the first European to "discover" North America

Freyja, a name deeply rooted in Norse mythology as the goddess of love, beauty, and fertility, has transcended time, even influencing modern culture, such as Norway's most beloved chocolate brand. Illustration: The Viking Herald


If you ask a Norwegian how to spell chocolate, they will tell you it is "FREYJA." Norway's most beloved chocolate brand took direct inspiration from the Norse goddess of love, beauty, and fertility. However, Freyja is not all innocence and love because she is also associated with war. She has, without any doubt, one of the most impressive godly modes of transport – a chariot pulled by two vicious cats. 

Harald, an Old Norse name meaning Commander of the Army, is synonymous with the most effective and brutal Viking ruler of the early medieval period, Harald Hardrada. Illustration: The Viking Herald


A great name for anyone entering military service, Old Norse for "Commander of the Army." It should be no surprise, then, that this was the name of who academics have argued was the most effective and brutal Viking ruler of the entire early medieval period, Harald Hardrada. Fighting at the Battle of Stiklestad as a teenager and barely escaping with his life, he fled to the Kievan Rus and later to the Byzantine Empire, becoming a captain of the Varangian Guard. He is credited with fighting all over the Mediterranean before returning to seize the Norwegian throne. Though he ultimately failed to capture the English one, dying on a battlefield at Stamford Bridge in 1066, just before an even more famous invader landed in England, his legend lives well on. A name fit for a true Viking, in practice or spirit. The current monarch of Norway is the fifth Harald to have sat on the Norwegian throne. 

While the historical accuracy of Ragnar Lothbrok remains debated among scholars, the name Ragnar has cemented its place in popular culture, partly due to its portrayal in the hit series Vikings. Illustration: The Viking Herald


Is Ragnar one of the most beloved characters in the rich tapestry of Norse mythology? Whether there was a historical Ragnar Lothbrok or he is a portmanteau of several real-life characters, we may never know. However, his popularity stems from some of the exploits he was said to have led, including leading a particularly vicious Viking raid on Paris in 845. He is also the star of an entire saga and, in recent times, a hit series, Vikings, which has helped fuel the modern obsession with all things Viking. 

The most famous Sigrid was a Scandinavian queen known as Sigrid the Haughty. While it is unclear whether she was a real historical figure, the sagas present her as a strong-willed Scandinavian queen who challenged Olaf Trygvasson. Illustration: The Viking Herald


Unlike the Vikings themselves, their names appear to be timeless. Sigrid is another excellent example of a popular contemporary Scandinavian name that has its origins in the Viking past. This name combines the Old Norse words for "beautiful" and "victory," meaning it was an auspicious and well-used name during the early medieval period in Scandinavia. The most famous Sigrid was a Scandinavian queen who was also dubbed "the haughty." According to legend, she was said to have threatened to kill Olaf Trygvasson when he proposed marriage and a conversion to Christianity. A great name for a child with... a strong personality! 

In Norse mythology, Sigrun's name, meaning "victory rune," is intertwined with a bittersweet love story that concludes tragically, yet she finds redemption as a powerful Valkyrie. Illustration: The Viking Herald


There is much academic speculation about whether there were female Vikings or warriors who fought alongside their male counterparts. Whilst the archaeological evidence is limited, there is plenty of evidence of female fighters in the sagas. Sigrun – whose name means "victory rune" – is a sad character in a twisted love story that ends badly, but she is reborn as a mighty Valkyrie. The Valkyries were female warriors who rode in after a battle and selected only the bravest warriors to join Odin in Valhalla for an eternity of feasting and fighting. 

The name Thor, which was not commonly used during the Viking Age, saw a resurgence in popularity in the 19th century as Scandinavians looked back to their Viking heritage, honoring the god of thunder and fertility. Illustration: The Viking Herald


You don't have to look like Hollywood actor Chris Hemsworth to resemble Thor, but thanks to the recent Marvel movie adaptations, this is how everyone pictures the Norse God of Thunder. What is interesting is that this was not such a common name during the Viking Age when Thor was worshipped as the god of thunder, lightning, and fertility. However, with the 19th-century surge of nationalism throughout Scandinavia, many looked back to their societies' proud Viking past for inspiration. Poor old Thor went from being a god to a great name thanks, in part, to the Christianization of Scandinavia

Thyra's name holds ties to the protective attributes of Thor in Norse mythology, and Queen Thyra's historical significance is etched in Denmark's Jelling runestones. Illustration: The Viking Herald


A popular female counterpart to the name "Thor" is Thyra, which means something akin to "Thor's Goddess." Due to the association with the Norse God of Thunder, the name is also associated with Thor's role as a protector of we mere mortals. The most famous runestones ever carved are located in Jelling, Denmark. They speak of Queen Thyra, who was said to be the wife of the founder of the Danish monarchy, Gorm the Old. Recent scientific analysis of the runestones has seen a new thinking about the power and legitimacy of Thyra, said to eclipse that of her more famous and well-known husband. 

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