Why Did the Vikings Make Offerings in Lakes?

Posted by Ms Elly on

Why Did the Vikings Make Offerings in Lakes?

Like many other people in the medieval times, the Viking always made offerings to their gods and to the deceased. Although we are currently unearthing many Viking artifacts from the grave, the Vikings once made many offerings to the ocean and lakes. But why did they have to make sacrifices in the water though?

The Vikings' life was so entangled with water

If the Vikings had never sailed, they would not have had such a reputation. Their life, wealth, and fortune were so heavily tied with the ocean. That's why they wanted to make some sacrifice to the water. 

To illustrate how their life was so entangled with water, they even buried the deceased with a ship. With those who could not afford a ship, they would be buried in a normal way and the living would put the stones around the grave to imitate the shape of the ship. It was known as the Viking Stone Ship. The Vikings even made house for their ship. That's say their life was so associated with ship and ocean that they wanted to make offerings to the lakes. 

Viking stone ship

A graveyard of Viking stone ships

Some Viking gods were gods of water

One of the most powerful Norse figures associated with water was Ran the giantess. She was not a god actually. She came from the tribe of giant but she and her husband got along very well with gods. 

While his husband, Aegir, was quite nice to the seafarers, Ran would kill whoever dared to make her angry. Might the belief of the Vikings in these high powers ocean be so deeply ingrained, they made offerings to wish for protection when travelling across the ocean.

The Vikings wanted to prevent grave robbers

The Vikings had a custom of burying the deceased with weapons so that when they entered their afterlife, they could defend themselves. But when they buried these weapons with the deceased, they had to accept that some bad and greedy folks could rob the grave goods. This was an insult to the deceased and to prevent this, the Vikings made sacrifices to the ocean. 

There are two Viking excavations from the ocean that got me fascinated. The first one was when the Tisso lake excavation. This lake, according to the scholars, was a tribute to Tyr God of Justice. The second excavation was the excavation of the Skuldelev ships in Denmark. This excavation revealed five Viking ships in the waterline. 

Viking weapons recovered from the Tisso lake

Viking weapons recovered from the Tisso lake

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