Medieval Scandinvia

The Viking Era is generally held to have lasted from about 793 to 1066 AD. The period lasted longer in Ireland where it did not end until about 1170. The Viking world stretched from Scandinavia to the Mediterranean. Although known for their quick raids, the Vikings also built fortresses and bridges, established big trade centers such as Hedeby, Birka, and Dublin, and explored and colonized the Faroes, Iceland, and Greenland. They reached America around 1000 AD. Many Vikings settled and farmed the areas they had conquered and they gradually became integrated with the surrounding peoples. In 911 AD the French king gave the Viking chief Rollo the lands around the mouth of the Seine. Eventually this region became known as Normandy. Other Scandinavians served as imperial guards in Byzantium. (2)

Women enjoyed a relatively high status in Viking society. The women were often left in charge while the men were off exploring or raiding. Women's graves were as grand as those of the men although men were buried with "male" implements and women with "female" grave goods. Women could not be merchants or craftspeople but they could raise their own rune stones. One woman, Gunborga, was a rune carver and a poet. (2)

The Vikings were often named after animals or after the god, Thor. The name Bjorn meant "bear", Orm meant "snake", and Ulf meant "wolf". These names are also found in compounds such as Gorm, Gunulf, Styrbjorn, and Ulfbjorn. The name element "Thor" appears in numerous names. (2)

In addition to a personal name, the Vikings also had a byname. Bynames reflected family relationships, locations, or attributes. Many bynames reflected the name of the individual's father, such as with Olaf Haraldsson and Olaf Tryggvasson, Thorgils Leifsson, Thorvald Asvaldsson and his grandson, Thorvald Eiriksson. Individuals could also be named after their mother. Examples of attributes include Aud the Deep Minded, Erik Bloodaxe, Erik the Red, Jorunn Skaldmaer ("poetry-maid"), Leif the Lucky, Olaf Kyrre ("the Quiet"), Svein Forkbeard, and Ulf Crow. (1, 2)

Note: * indicates the name was held by someone who was not Scandinavian.

Female Names

Arnora - Daughter of Einar of Laugarbrekka (1)
Ase - A common name (2)
Astrid - Norwegian woman mentioned in a rune stone (2)
Aud - One of the first settlers of Iceland (1)
Estrid - Daughter of Svein Forkbeard (2)
Fastvi - A woman mentioned on a rune stone in Sweden (2)
Freydis - Daughter of Eirik the Red (1)
Grimhild - Wife of Thorstein of Lysufjord (1)
Groa - Daughter of Thorstein the Red (1)
Gudrid - One of the Vikings who went to Greenland and Vinland (1)
Gudrun - A common name (2)
Gunborga - A female rune carver and poet (scald) from Sweden (2)
Gunhild - A common name (2)
Halldis - Lived in Greenland (1)
Hallfrid - Daughter of Snorri Karlsefnisson (1)
Hallveig - Mother of Gudrid (1)
*Hekja - A Scottish bondwoman who is taken along to Vinland (1)
Ingrid - A common name (2)
Jorunn - Jorunn Skaldmaer was a poet in Norway (2)
Kolfinna - A name found 6 times in the Landnámabók (3)
Kolgrima - A name found in the Landnámabók (3)
Odindisa - A Swedish woman mentioned in a rune stone (2)
Ragnhild - A common name. One Ragnhild was mentioned on a rune stone in Denmark (2)
Rjupa - A name found in the Landnámabók (3)
Sigrid - A common name. One Sigrid, also called Grimhild, was the wife of Thorstein of Lysufjord (1, 2)
Thjodhild - Wife of Eirik the Red (1)
Thora - A common name (2)
Thorbjorg - Prophet in Greenland (1)
Thorgerd - Mother of Bjarni Herjolfsson (1)
Thorgunna - A Hebridean woman who has a son by Leif (1)
Thorunn - Mother of Bishop Bjorn (1)
Thurid - Daughter of Eyvind the Easterner, also the daughter of Snorri (1, 2)
Thyre - Wife of King Gorm of Denmark (2)
Tola - A woman who raised a rune stone in Gripsholm (2)
Tove - A common name (2)
Viborg - A woman mentioned on a rune stone (2)
Yngvild - Descendant of Thorfinn Karlsefni and mother of Bishop Brand (1)

Male Names

Ake - A Danish name (2)
Anwend - A Viking king (2)
Asbjorn - The name of a man mentioned on a rune stone (2)
Aslak - A common name (2)
Asgot - A common name (2)
Asser - A man in Jutland (Denmark) (2)
Asvald - Asvald Ulfsson was the grandfather of Erik (1)
Asved - A name found in eastern Scandinavia (2)
Bjarni - A Viking explorer (2)
Bjorn - The name of several people, including a king of Sweden and Bjorn Jarnsida (2)
Brand - Brand Saemundarson was the Bishop of Holar and a descendant of Karlsefni (1)
Brandr - A name found 20 times in the Landnámabók (3)
Cnut - A popular name held by many Danish kings. See also Knud (2)
Einar - The name of several people, including one of the first settlers in Greenland and a Norwegian earl of Orkney (1, 2)
Ejulf - A western Norse name (2)
Erik/Eirik - A name held by Erik the Red, Erik Bloodaxe the King of Norway and York, and others (1, 2)
Eyjolf - The name of several individuals in Eirik's Saga (1)
Finnbogi - An Icelandic merchant (1)
Floki - One of the first to settle in Iceland (2)
*Fridrek - A German Bishop and missionary to Iceland (1)
Frobjorn - A man in Jutland (Denmark) (2)
Frodi - The name of two individuals in the Landnámabók (3)
Gamli - This name was found two times in the Landnámabók (3)
Gardi - An overseer (1)
Geirstein - The man who outlaws Erik the Red from Haukadale (1)
Grim - A pan-Scandinavian name (2)
Gudmund - A man in Jutland (Denmark) (2)
Gunnbjorn - Greenland explorer (1)
Gunnvor - A man mentioned on a rune stone in Denmark (2)
Hafgrim - One of the first settlers of Greeland 1)
Hakon - A common name (2)
Halfdan - The son of a king of Norway (2)
Hallad - A Norwegian earl of Orkney (2)
Harald - Popular with the kings of Denmark and Norway (2)
Helgi - Helgi Thorbrandsson was one of the first settlers of Greenland (1)
Herjolf - Father of Bjarni, one of the first settlers of Greenland (1, 2)
Hove - A man in Jutland (Denmark) (2)
Hrafn - One of the first settlers of Greenland (1)
Hrolf - An ancient king (2)
Hrollaug - A Norwegian man in Iceland (2)
Illugi - Supports Thorgest against Erik the Red (1)
Ingjald - A king (1)
Ingolf - A Norwegian who settled in Reykjavik, Iceland (2)
Isleif - An early Icelandic bishop (2)
Ivar - A common name (2)
Jarlabanke - A landowner in Sweden (2)
Ketil - The name of a Norwegian man in Denmark. Also one of the first settlers of Greenland (1, 2)
Kjallakr - The name is found 8 times in the Landnámabók (3)
Kjeld - A common name (2)
Knud - A common name (2)
Kolbjorn - A common name (2)
Leif - Leif Eiriksson was the noted Viking explorer of Vinland (1, 2)
Manne - An eastern Norse name (2)
Njal, Njall - A name that may be related to the Celtic Neil (2, 3)
Odd - Odd of Jorvi outlawed Eirik from Haukadale (1)
Oddketil - A name found in western Scandinavia (2)
Olaf - A common name. This name was popular with Norwegian kings, including Olaf Tryggvason and Olaf Haraldsson. See also Olav (2)
Olav - A common name (2)
Orm - A farmer in Iceland (1)
Pallig - The brother-in-law of Svein Forkbeard (2)
Ragnar - A common name (2)
Rognvald - An earl in western Norway who ruled Orkney and Shetland (2)
Rolf - A common name (2)
Runolf - Father of Bishop Thorlak (1)
Sakse - The name of a man mentioned on a rune stone in Skane, Sweden (2)
Samr - This name is found two times in the Landnámabók (3)
Sigurd - An earl of Orkney (1)
Snorri - Snorri Karlsefnisson was born in Vinland (1)
Solvi - One of the first settlers of Greenland (1)
Styr - A supporter of Erik the Red (1)
Svein - A popular name held by Svein Forkbeard and many Danish kings (2)
Svend - A common name (2)
Thorbjorn - A supporter of Erik the Red (1)
Thorbrand - His sons supported Erik the Red (1)
Thord - His sons opposed Erik the Red (1)
Thorfinn - Thorfinn Karlsefni was an Icelandic merchant who went to Vinland. Another Thorfinn was an earl of Orkney (1, 2)
Thorgeir - The name of several people in the Graenlendinga Saga and Eirik's Saga (1)
Thorgils - Illegitimate son of Leif Erikson, went to Iceland and Greenland (1)
Thorgisl - A man in Jutland who freed a slave (2)
Thorhall - The name of two people who went to Vinland (1)
Thorir - A Norwegian merchant (1)
Thorkel - Thorkel the Tall ruled East Anglia around 1000 AD (2)
Thorlak - A bishop of Skalhot (1)
Thormod - A court poet (2)
Thorstein - A pan-Scandinavian name (2)
Thorvald - Father of Erik the Red, originally from Norway. Also the son of Erik the Red (1)
Thorvard - A farmer in Greenland (1)
Toke - An eastern Norse name (2)
Toste - A Swedish chieftain (2)
*Tyrkir - Tyrkir the Southerner was a German who went to Vinland and found wild grapes (1)
Ulf - A pan-Scandinavian name (2)
Valthjof - His farm was destroyed by Erik's slaves (1)
Vifil - A war captive freed by Aud the Deep-Minded (1)
Wulfstan - A Viking merchant (2)

Place Names

Sudreyjar - The "South Islands"; the Hebrides (2)


(1) The Vinland Sagas: The Norse Discovery of America (Graenlendinga Saga and Eirik's Saga, translated by Magnus Magnusson and Hermann Palsson, New York: Penguin Books, 1965.

(2) The Vikings, Else Roesdahl, New York: Penguin Books, 1998.

(3) Viking Names found in the Landnámabók by by Aryanhwy merch Catmael (Sara L. Friedemann), 1993.

For many other fine names, see Medieval Names Archive: Scandinavian Names.

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Created before June 2004 Last Updated November 30, 2009