The Viking Berserkers

Posted by Ms Elly on

The Viking Berserkers

In English, we have the word "berserk" meaning very angry in an uncontrolled or violent way. But actually, this "berserk" word was derived from the word Viking berserkers who actually the Norse warriors appearing in Icelandic sagas. They were famous for fighting in a violent and furious way. This reasoned the meaning of today English word "berserk". 

There has been no certain and consensual interpretation of the word "berserker" by far. A group of scholars believed that "berserker" came from an Old Norse words meaning bear shirt. Others claimed that the first element "ber" meant "bare" and the whole word was to point the man who joined the battles without armor or with a bare chest. But this theory was mainly refused. Most of the time, the first element referred to the bear. 

Image of Viking berserkers

Viking berserkers

The berserkers were the gang of fierce warriors who worshipped Odin the Allfather, the Asgard chief god, and sometimes they were commissioned by the royal and the noble as their bodyguards. It was believed that the berserkers would strike fear into those who encountered them. Besides, berserkers would wear the bear or wolf skin to intimidate their enemies. Maybe this gave them the name Berserker which probably meant bear coat in Old Norse. 

Viking Berserkers would start their fight by teeth chattering and chills. Their blood coursed through their veins and they culminated in an uncontrollable rage followed by howls and grunts. They were thought to bite their shields and gnaw at their skin before they started their battles where they would damage and kill anything that popped up in their path. 

It was believed that nothing could ever break the Viking berserkers. They were invincible and immune to fire and sword. If they were injured, they would continue fighting. They were as strong as wild oxen or bears. They were as fierce as dogs and wolves. They would kill anyone. However, any accounts telling the stories about Berserkers were partially true. 

Image of Viking Berserkers

Viking Berserker fighting

There were many reasons put forward about the fighting status of the Viking berserkers. Many assumed that berserkers consumed some kind of ancient drugs or alcohol before they joined the battles. Others believed that the behavior of the berserkers was because of the sorcery. Another theory was that those warriors digested some Scandinavian plan that served in brewing alcoholic beverages. A superstitious reason was that the Viking berserkers learned the magic to allow the animal spirit to come into their soul. This was known as the spirit possession. According to some theorists, the Viking berserkers got to know how to let other spirits to control their behavior. Many were said to drink the blood of the animal that they wanted its spirit to take over theirs. 


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