Warriors need bad-ass weapons. The Vikings were bad-ass warriors. So, it stands to reason that the Vikings and the heroes and gods in their tales had some pretty sick weapons. But what were they? And what did they do?
Don't worry-- we're ready to break it down for you. Here are nine of our favorite Norse mythological weapons.
Gungnir, also called The Swaying One, is the great spear that belonged to Odin himself. Loki acquires the spear from the dwarves, and it was eventually used by Odinto begin the Aesir-Vanir War.
(Mr. Wednesday kisses Gungnir in American Gods)
The best-known quality of Gungnir is the runes that are carved on its tip, which grant it and the one bearing it great accuracy and strength. But the spear itself is also perfectly balanced, and it can strike the target of the bearer, no matter their personal strength or even their skill.
Sigurd is the Hercules of the Norse, and Gram is his sword (not his grandmother). Sigurd used Gram to killed the great dragon, Fafnir. But the sword was also found in other myths and legends as well. We don't have a lot of good description of Gram, other than the fact that it was 'all decked with gold and gleaming bright.' Some scholars think that a dragon may be pictured on the blade.
(Sigurd bearing Gram)
Odin himself gifted another Norse hero, Sigmund, with Gram originally, in a tale somewhat similar to the sword in the stone Arthurian legend. Sigurd was granted Gram's power in his noble quest to slay Fafnir. A single, mighty thrust to the left shoulder was all it took to say the beast.
Dainsleif also belonged to a great Norse hero, King Hogni. This sword is pivotal in Snorri Snurlson's text, Hjaðningavíg, which discusses the never-ending battle between the king and his rival, Heoinn.
Heoinn, a prince of another tribe, abducted Hogni's daughter, Hildr. The story bears a lot of similarities to The Iliad, which tells of the great Greek-Trojan war.
Dainsleif gives its victims wounds that never heal, and once it has been loosed from its scabbard, it must kill a man.
The Danish king, Hrólf Kraki, carried Skofnung. This blade held a supernatural sharpness and hardness, but what made it most powerful was what was on the inside. You see, Hrólf Kraki had once had twelve faithful berserkers as his bodyguards-- and their very souls were bound to the blade.
This sword was so widely reputed, it inspired another tale where an Icelander named Skeggi of Midfirth, plundered it from Hrólf Kraki's grave. Skofung is so powerful that it can never be drawn in the presence of women, and it must never have the sunshine upon its hilt. Like Danislief, Skofnung causes wounds that will never heal, although there is one antidote for Skofnung's wounds: there is a stone that is matched with Skofnung and rubbing it on the wound will heal it automatically.
Perhaps the most famous Norse mythological weapon, Mjolniris everywhere right now, thanks to the Thor movies. But the hammer is also a widely-recognizable symbol for those who practice the Asatru religion, those who dig metal music, and those who are just straight up fashionable.
(A replica of the short-handled Mjolnir)
Mjolnir was given to the god, Thor, as recompense for stealing Thor's wife's, Sif's, hair. One very notable aspect of this famous hammer? It always has a very short handle, much shorter than your common warhammer from the time. Loki was fucking around with Mjolnir's creators, and thus, it was made a little imperfectly.
Coming back to the blades of the gods, Hǫfuð was wielded by Heimdallr, the guardian of the Bifrost and the herald of Ragnarok. Not a lot is known about Hǫfuð, other than the fact that its name means, 'Man-head.' Heimdallr's head has a lot of mythical associations, so it could be that there was once a lot about there about Hǫfuð that is simply lost to time.
(Heimdall's sword from the Thor series)
Laevateinn is another interesting weapon that we don't know a lot about. Allow me to explain: the name Laevatienn comes from a kenning, or Norse poetic phrase, 'damage-twig.'
(Laevateinn plays a role in the anime, Evil)
Laevateinn is said to be housed in Hel, the Norse underworld, per the poem Fjölsvinnsmál:
Tell me, Fiölsvith! etc.
whether there be any weapon,
before which Vidofnir may
fall to Hel´s abode?
Hævatein the twig is named,
and Lopt plucked it,
down by the gate of Death.
In an iron chest it lies
and is with nine strong locks secured
Now, from this small verse, we can somewhat guess that Laevateinn is no sword or axe, but actually a magic wand. Like in tarot decks of modern times, Norse magic wands are more Gandalf's walking stick and less Harry Potter's damage twig. But we can also guess because of its relationship with Loki (or Lopt), that this particular one might be made from the same mistletoe that murdered Baldr. The late scholar Henry Adams Bellows was the first to posit this.
This is something of an honorable mention because some scholars think that Laevateinn and Freyr's unnamed sword are one and the same. But they don't exactly sound alike. If you're uncertain, Freyr is the brother of Freya, and the Norse god of sunshine, summer, and fair weather.
(Freyr with his sword and his boar)
But the cool thing about his sword is that it is able to literally fight on its own. Unfortunately for Freyr, he kind of bargained this blade away to Skinir. While this didn't exactly destroy Freyr's martial capabilities (he was able to fight the giant Beli off with an antler), it will have drastic consequences come Ragnarok.
Freyr is fated to die at the hands of Sutr, the fire giant. You might remember him from the film, Thor: Ragnarok. Anyway, the blade that Sutr will wield in this final fight is often called, 'the sword of the gods.' Which sounds cool. But it's also kind of the name of Freyr's blade, leading scholars to think that Freyr will be slain by the magnificent sword he once bargained away. Oops.
Which of these magical weapons was your favorite? If you could wield a magic weapon, what would it look like or what would it be able to do? Let us know in the comments below, or on social media.
And while we don't currently offer weapons engraved with magic runes that make them fight on their own, we DO sell these pretty sick Handmade Horn Handle Straight Razors, which are guaranteed to give you the closest shave you could ever imagine. And don't worry-- if you nick yourself with one of these, you will heal just fine.
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