The Earliest Representations of
Old Norse Gods
Mythological and Religious
Art 

 
 
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For additional Prehistoric Art see:
The Kivik King's Grave
and Stone Age Rock Carvings

What Gods are These
NORTHERN EUROPEAN IDOLS
of the Bronze and Iron Ages
  
While such objects cannot be positively identifed, scholars have made tenative identifications. 
My thanks to those who have contributed.
 
Thor
Eyrarland, Iceland
Discovered 1815 
 
Freyr
Rällinge, Sweden
Discovered 1904


Freyja Amulet
Aska in Hagebyhöga parish
Östergötland, Sweden
     

  

Odin on Hlidskjalf
Lerje, Denmark


   

Freyja
Tissø, Denmark
Iron Age

Valkyrie conducting a fallen warrior
Tissø, Denmark
Iron Age



Freyja Amulet
Danish National Museum
    

Thor's Goats
Tissø, Denmark
Iron Age

Human figure on wheel
Bronze bed Support
Hochdorf, Germany
6th century BC

 Man with horned helmet
and woman with cord skirt

Grevensvænge, Zealand, Denmark
Bronze Age
 
Female figure
Kalleby, Timmele parish,
Västergötland, Sweden
Bronze Age
 
Female figurine wearing cord skirt
Fårdal near Viborg, Jutland, Denmark
 Bronze Age


Odin and Ravens
9th-10th century AD
Hammond, B. British Artefacts vol.2
Middle Saxon & Viking

The Alcis or Twins Horse Collar
Fogdarp in Scania, Sweden, 

Late Bronze Age

Man with Drinking horn
800 AD

Frigg or Valkyrie
 Tuna, Alsike, Uppland, Sweden
 
Woman with Drinking Horn
Öland, Köping, Sweden
   
 
Bronze Figure
Western Norway
 
Freya amulet
Revninge, Denmark 
 
Valkyrie
Suffolk, England
   
 
 
Thumb-sized 3-D Valkyrie Figurine
Hårby, Denmark

 
Völund the Smith wearing his feather guise 
Uppåkra, Skåne, Sweden
 
7th to 10th century
 
 
Dagenheim Idol
England, 2459 - 2110 BC

 
Odin
Loshult, Skåne, Sweden
 
Odin
 Lindby, Skåne, Sweden



 
Odin Figure
Uppåkra, Skåne, Sweden

 Odin Figure
Levide, Gotland, Sweden
  

Odin Figure
Staraya Ladoga, Russia

 
Thor
Bronze idol from

Chernaya Mogila, Ukraine 
Thor, Amber Figure
Probably a Chessman
Feddet, Zealand, Denmark
   
Thor the Wind-Raiser
Whalebone idol from
Lund, Skåne, Sweden
 

 
Male Figure
Gamla Uppsala
660-750 AD

 
6th c. wooden idol  (2 views)
from Rude Eskildstrup, Sjællund, Denmark
found in 1880
6th century gold idol
Slipshavn skog,
Nyborg, Denmark
Discovered 1981
  Vendel Bronze Figure  Kungsängen, Uppland  Iron Age

   

Three male figurines
Lunda, Sörmland, Sweden.
Iron Age

Female figurines
Skåne, Blekinge and Västergötland, Sweden
Bronze age

Vikso Helmets, Veksoe-bog, Denmark
Late Bronze Age (800-400 BC)
 

6th C. Helmet matrix
Bjornhouda, Torslunda parish, Oland
 

Nerthus
Foerlev Nymølle, Denmark
Wooden figure over 9' tall found lying under a bed of flax  atop a heap of stones, together with bones from an ox, goat, sheep, dog, horse and hare, and a damaged human scapula. Her gender is emphasised by carved rounding of the hips and an incision where the fork begans.  

Freyja
Rebild Skovhuse, Denmark
Discovered 1946
wrapped in cloth




Freyr Wooden Idol
Broddenbjerg, Jutland (535-520 BC)
Discovered 1880


 

Freyr and Freyja Wooden Idols
Oberdorla, Thuringia, Germany

     
Freyr and Freyja
5th century pairs of male and female wooden idols
Wittemoor Timber Trackway
, Berne, Lower Saxony
 
Female Figure
wearing cord skirt

Sacrifical Knife Handle
Itzehoe in Holstein
 Braak Bog Figures
Schleswig-Holstein,
Germany (2nd-3rd Century BC)
Discovered 1947 
Ballachulish Goddess
Oak Female figure
with quartz pebble eyes
Argyll, Scotland (730-520 AD)
Discovered 1880
   
Male Figure
Odense, Funen, Denmark  
Iron Age
 Rögubben, "Red Chap"
1st recorded in the 14th century Östgoterland
 
Stone Phallus
Tylön, Halmstad, Halland  

MYTHS IN METAL
WOOD, STONE, CLOTH and BONE


 Trundholm Sun-Chariot, Denmark 
1800-1600 BC
Discovered 1902
 

The Sky-Disc of Nebra
Nebra, Saxony-Anhalt, Germany
c. 1600 BC
Discovered 1999
 

Odin
Ribe, Jylland, Denmark
It has been deliberately damaged in one eye



Odin
Sutton Hoo Purse Lid
One eye has been removed

Tjängvide image stone
Odin on Sleipnir
at Valhalla on a Memorial Stone
    

Vendel Royal Helmet Plate (900 AD)
Odin and his ravens

Fenrir swallowing Odin with Raven
(Top Right)
Thorwald's Cross,

Andreas, Isle of Man  
 
 
Gosforth Cross
Various Mythological Scenes
(See vignettes in surrounding images)

 
Gosforth Cross
Vidar battling Fenrir

Loki and Sigyn
The Gosforth Cross
  


Loki in Chains
Kirkby Stephen in Westmoreland

 

Loki with his lips sewn shut
On a hearthstone called the Snaptun Stone,
Recovered in Denmark and on display at the Moesgard Museum


Odin (in eagle guise), Gunnlöd and Suttung
Götlands Bildsteine

Runestone G 81, Sweden
A Religious Scene: The three figures at the top have been identified as Thor, Odin and Freyr. 




Reproductions of the Gallehus Horns found in Denmark
The Horns may depict mythic scenes, note the three-headed figure in the 2nd panel down on the left
and figures with animal heads or bodies in the 3rd panel down on the right.
 
   

 Evidence for Thor's fishing expedition on four Viking Age pictorial stones:


Andre VIII stone (8th century)
 


Hørdum stone (8th - 11th century)

Gosforth Cross (10th century)

Altuna stone (early 11th century)

  The Oseberg Tapestry
Found aboard a ship burial containing
a high-ranking woman and ceremonial wagon
Dated no later than 834 AD, when the ship was buried in Vestfold, Norway
 
  The Oseberg tapestry shows a religious procession and a scene of apparent human sacrifice – where human bodies hang from a tree. The tapestry provides archaeological support to Adam of Bremen's account of the Uppsala Temple where nine men are said to have been hung in a sacred grove along with various types of animals. A piece of the actual tapestry is pictured above, and an artist's illustration of the same scene is depicted below.  
 

The scene below appears to represent a religious procession of three horse-drawn wagons accompanied by a people on foot. The two figures riding in the wagon (lower left) may represent an idol and his or her priest(ess). A ceremonial wagon was found with the tapestry in a ship grave. Notice the horned figure in the upper left, leading the procession and followed by a man carrying a four-leafed symbol. 

 
     

A Modern Reconstruction of Portions of the Tapesty

 
The following drawings by Sophie Kraft date from the time the tapestry was discovered

The following drawings from the Oseberg Tapestry
 appear to depict women in ceremonial attire and/or activities

The Bird-woman

The Boar Headed Shield-maiden


The Dancing Women



One of two unidentified figures found
On a bucket in the Oseberg Ship find


The Franks' Casket
(10th century)

Scenes from the Legend of Völund the Smith and his brother Egil the archer


Men attack Egil's house as he defends a woman (his wife?) inside.
The name "Egil" is written in runes above the archer.



Skog Church Tapesty 12th Century
Figures identified as Thor (center, with hammer), Odin and Freyr




The Lewis Chessmen
12th Century
Discovered 1831 on the Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides, Scotland
   
   
   
Odin
Hegge Stav Church Pillar
13th Century


For a List of Surviving Stave Churches
see VisitNorway

Heddel Stave Church
Telemark, Norway
Early 13th century
   

Borgund Stave Church
 
 
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