7 Hilarious Viking Names and Their Origins

Posted by Ms Elly on

7 Hilarious Viking Names and Their Origins

If you are new to the Viking culture, the Vikings had two ways to differentiate people by their names. First, they would call by father's names such as Eriksson, Haraldsson, etc. Second, they would call by nicknames which were coined based on that person's physical appearance or a story related to them. 

This blog post is to give you a brief summary of meanings and origins of some hilarious Viking Names back in the time. 

1. Ragnar Lothbrok

This name must not be a strange one to the Viking enthusiasts. In case you are new, Ragnar was the great Viking leader in his time. He gained much popularity when his character was pushed into the Vikings TV Series. 

But his nickname belonged to the Viking legendary story. Lothbrok is "Loðbrókar". Legend had it that Ragnar once wore a hairy breech to fight against a dragon. He killed the dragon and got his nickname coined from that moment. 

Ragnar later became the King of Norway, Sweden, and Denmark. He was like Odin, fathering many great sons such as Ivar the Boneless or Bjorn Ironside. 

Viking Ragnar Lothbrok
Ragnar Lothbrok from "Vikings" TV Series

2. Óttarr vendilkráka

Ottar "Vendelkraka" Egilsson was the King of Uppsala around the 6th century. I personally thought that Ottar's nickname was quite awesome and a little bit intimidating. It also sounded a little bit mysterious because Kraka means "Crow" and back in the times, God Odin was associated with crows. 

But when I dig deep down into the origins of his nickname, it was not that scary. Actually, this nickname was coined by his enemies. When Ottar fell in battle in Vendel, his corpse was picked by the ravens in Vendel. Because of this, his enemies called him Vendilkraka. 

3. Gaange Hrólfr

This name might sound a little bit strange but actually he was Rollo - the infamous character in Vikings TV Series. He was the first king of Normandy. One of his famous descendants was William the Conqueror. 

Forget about what you might see on the TV series, not really six packs and good shape. His nickname means "Walking Rolf". This nickname was because he was too fat to get on horse. 

4. Hallgerðr langbrók 

Hallgedr was the wife of Gunnar Hamundarson who was a Viking chieftain back in the 10th century. Hallgerd was among the most famous Viking women because her life was completely contrast to others. She got married twice before she got married to Gunnar. 

She was also rumored to have killed her two former husbands. But actually, she only killed the first one. 

Her nickname meant "Long breeches". This referred to her tall appearance. And probably because she was too tall and she needed long breeches. 

5. Magnús Berfœttr

King Magnus Olafsson was nicknamed as "Barefoot" or "Berfœttr". He ruled parts of South-Eastern Norway in the end of 11th century. According to the legends, Magnus was more brutal than any Viking kings. 

He and some of his men spent time in British Isles. There, they adopted some British culture. They came back to the Viking territory with kilts. Because of this, people started called him bare foot or bare legs. 

Another theory was that Magnus once had to flee from an ambush without wearing shoes. This made people call him barefoot. If Magnus could find out who coined this nickname for him, He would prefer his grandchild's nickname which was Harald Hardrada ("Harald the Ruthless")

Viking Magnus Barefoot

6. Hafr-Bjǫrn 

Hafr-Bjǫrn (Billy-goat Bjorn) was a Viking who dreamed that a cliff-giant offered him partnership. Soon after this a strange billy-goat joined his herd, and they began to multiply rapidly which made him extremely wealthy. Perhaps this was a silly nickname given to him by friends who were a little jealous of his new-found wealth and were looking for a way to tease him.

7. Thorbjorg Knarrarbringa

Thorbjorg "knarrarbringa" Gilsdóttir was born in Iceland around 875AD. She was most famously the mother-in-law of well-known Viking Eric the Red. Thorbjorg’s nickname Knarrarbringa, which means “ship breast”, alludes to her large breasts. 

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