Viking Sacrifice in Rivers and Lakes: To Gods and the Dead Kinsmen

Posted by Ms Elly on

Viking Sacrifice in Rivers and Lakes: To Gods and the Dead Kinsmen

2009 witnessed the claim that the Vikings sacrificed valuable things in the rivers, lakes, and bridges. This was not only for the gods but also the dead kinsmen of the Vikings. Because they believed that the bridges were the border between them and their ancestors. 

This claim offers a deeper insight into the Viking traditional culture of sacrifice and the cult of their Norse pantheon. This ritual existed around the Migration Period and once fell into oblivion until the Viking Age.

Viking Bridges: Perfect places for sacrifice

In the Viking belief, their bridges were the perfect places connecting the living and the dead. Many of the Viking burial sites and settlements have been excavated next to the water and bridges. 

Archaeologists examined the artifacts they found under many rivers like Thames and Shannon. These places came under the control of the Viking during their glory. And it showed that many rituals or ceremonies must have taken place in the bridges or next to the rivers. 

The Vikings called their sacrificial sites with the names of their gods. For example, Tissø in Denmark was the river that the Vikings named after god Tyr - Norse god of justice and honour. 

Viking lake Tissø in Denmark Reconstruction of the Viking age

The animated animation of the Viking lake, Tissø, in Denmark

Artifacts found in the rivers

The Vikings never hesitated a moment to sacrifice their valuable things to the gods. The belief in their gods deeply ingrained in their mindset. They would find their way to pay their respect. Accordingly, many of the valuable items were found as the archaeological evidence for the Viking sacrifice to gods and the deceased. 

Some of the items they sacrificed also belonged to their deceased kinsmen. 

Though archaeologists haven't found out the clear reason why the Vikings sacrificed for their deceased kinsmen in the rivers. The most widely accepted answer is that they sacrificed for the ones who might have been drowned at sea and their bodies would never be found. 

The Eggja Runic Flagstone is also an archaeological evidence. It was the runestone in memory of the kinsmen who drowned at seas. 

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