Did the Vikings Sacrifice Human?

Posted by Ms Elly on

Did the Vikings Sacrifice Human?

Whether the Vikings conducted Human Sacrifice or not is quite a sensational topic to discuss. There are some materials that claim the Vikings sacrificed human life in their time indeed. Carry on reading this article to find out:


The most famous textual evidence of Viking human sacrifice came from the historical records of Ibn Fadlan an Arabian who faced a Swedish Viking tribe. Ibn Fadlan vividly described the sacrifice of a girl slave. She volunteered to sacrifice her life to serve her master in his afterlife. Words of Ibn Fadlan were among the earliest witness by a non-Viking to the practice of Viking human sacrifice. 

There were many other materials mentioning the Viking human sacrifice. Much they were not clear and vivid enough to become the historical sources. Snorri Sturluson, for example, just touched the topic of human sacrifice and the death ritual only. 

Image of Viking Human Sacrifice

Viking Human Sacrifice in Depiction

Literal materials about Viking human sacrifice were mostly rejected to become historical attesting. However, the accounts of Ibn Fadlan should be taken into consideration carefully. It could stand the test of time because it could be the objective viewpoint and written by a person who had nothing to do with the Viking traditions of human sacrifice. Nonetheless, literal evidence couldn't be satisfying enough so we should take a look at the archaeological evidence. 


Five wells dating back to around 10th century in Denmark have been discovered. Around the wells, archaeologists found out remains of many sacrifices ranging from horses, dogs to humans. What made this finding more attention-grabbing was that among those humans, there were kids around 4 - 7 years old. 

Image of Viking Human Sacrifice

The well where skeletons found

Image of Viking Human Sacrifice

The Skeleton of a child found

Several graveyards found contained unusual things that are believed to be the human sacrifice. For example, archaeologists found a pair of male skeletons with different characteristics in Lejre, Denmark. The first skeleton was decorated with armor, weapons, and jewelry, and gently lay. The second one had been beheaded and was chained from hands to feet. It is thought that the beheaded skeleton was a thrall sacrificed with his lord. 

A site called Dråby in Denmark was also a burial of two skeletons in different positions. The first was a woman who was buried with jewelry and lavish goods. The second skeleton belonging to a man whose head was cut. The male skeleton was presumed to be the thrall sacrificed to follow his mistress to the afterlife. 


Viking human sacrifice, as mentioned above, is a very sensational and attention-grabbing topic. Thereby, the conclusion upon this Viking human sacrifice should be cautious. What we can say by looking at both textual and archaeological materials is that Viking human sacrifice was a part of Viking tradition. However, whether this practice a common practice remains to be seen. Until there are enough evidences to attest this as the common practice, nothing can be sure. So Did the Vikings Sacrifice Human? Answer: YES. 

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