Photo: Frode Tufte
Fjord Tours Articles / 13 May 2022

Connecting to Viking Culture in the Modern Day

Scandinavia’s strong Viking history has had a lasting impact around the world. In fact, Viking culture is alive and well in many parts of the world today, and not just in Scandinavia. Popular shows such as Vikings have contributed to the strong interest in Viking culture and traditions, which are currently experiencing a revival in the modern day.

A lot of people in Norway and abroad are fascinated by Viking history and interested in learning more about Viking symbols and runes – so let’s have a look at what these really mean! 

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Photo: Soer Troms Museum / Www.Nordnorge.Com

What are Viking symbols?

Viking symbols are ancient symbols based on Norse mythology which held special meaning for the Vikings. These symbols played an important role in Viking society and tradition, as they represented Norse gods, beliefs and myths that were vital to Viking culture. 

For Vikings, Norse symbols were a way to connect with gods, destiny and spirituality. Norsemen believed that these symbols held power and significance, and they featured heavily in Viking society as talismans for protection or strength. Norse symbols feature in some form or another on most Viking jewellery, and they were also painted on shields ahead of battles, carved onto Viking longships and stitched onto clothing. The Vikings believed these symbols would help ensure that the gods and destiny were on their side – and fans of Viking culture in the modern day still ascribe meaning and power to these ancient Norse symbols. 

Photo: Fjord Norway/Nordlandblog

What do Viking symbols mean?

During the Viking Age, the ancient Norse mythology symbols were believed to hold immense power. Some Viking symbols remain shrouded in mystery as their meaning has been lost in the passage of time, but historians have deciphered the meaning of many of these ancient symbols used by the Vikings. 

The most famous Norse Viking symbols include the Helm of Awe (Ægihjálmr in Old Norse) which symbolised victory and protection, the Viking Compass (Vegvísir) which is a symbol of guidance and protection for travellers, the Troll Cross which protects against trolls, elves and dark forces and Mjölnir, which represents Thor’s Hammer and the dominion of the Gods over natural powers like lightning. 

Photo: Dienstagsmädchen /

What are runes? 

Runes were used by Vikings in the Nordics to convey meaning. These are similar to letters, but the runes also hold individual meanings much like the glyphs of other ancient civilisations and cultures. The word ‘rune’ comes from the Old Norse word runir, which means “a mystery or secret”. 

During the Viking Age, Vikings believed runes held magical powers. They would often engrave runes on clothes, shields, jewellery and more. Vikings thought these symbols would provide protection and victory in battle and during dangerous expeditions. 

We know that Vikings travelled extensively, and we can see the importance of runes by the fact that they often took the time to inscribe runes on their travels. In fact, there are runic inscriptions by Vikings from the Nordic countries in several parts of England, They’ve also been found further away, such as in Greece, Turkey, Greenland and even Russia.

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Photo: Anders Botnmark/Lofotr Vikingmuseum Museum Nord / Destination Lofoten

Viking culture in the modern day 

Though the Vikings lived long ago, their culture and traditions are alive and well in modern-day Norway and beyond. For anyone interested in Viking customs and symbols, there are plenty of opportunities for exploring this fascinating culture on your next trip to Norway. Across the country, you’ll find a range of Viking attractions such as museums, exhibitions and Viking villages that will help you connect to your inner Viking! 

People who are interested in Viking culture have always placed a high importance on symbols from Norse mythology, much like the Vikings themselves did. Viking symbols have long been a feature on clothing, accessories and body art for fans of Viking history and culture. These days, more and more people are getting tattoos of traditional Viking symbols. This interesting phenomenon of bringing ancient Norse symbols to the present day in the form of tattoos is a growing trend, and finding out the true meaning behind these symbols is recommended to make sure you know what you’re getting inked on your body! 

If you’d like to connect with proud Viking traditions in the modern day, there are plenty of chances to do just that in Norway. You can experience and enjoy Viking culture by visiting a Viking Village, joining the historical hike on the Sverrestigen Viking trail, or checking out one of the other Viking attractions the country has to offer. 

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