Exploring the Legacy of Thor in Norway – In the Footsteps of Vikings

When looking for Thor in Norway, it’s important to remember that the legends of Norse Gods were shared orally for many years before being transcribed. It was the Vikings who carved these stories into wood and stone and forged talismans of Thor’s hammer into metal. And while time has taken the Viking people from us, their footprint is still very much here. In the light of the upcoming Thor: Ragnarok film, I thought it would be fun to discuss some of the places where you can take your fandom to the next level.

 

Follow my adventure next week as I hit the red carpet for the Thor: Ragnarok LA Premiere! #ThorRagnarokEvent

 

Thor in Norway

 

I’ve always been captivated by Viking Age people, mostly due to their primitive worship of ancient deities. Namely, Norse Gods. Much like the other ancient myths of the world, the pagan belief system of Nordic Gods, along with its legends, were converted by Christians into Norse Mythology. Centuries later, these stories and characters are just as fantastic. So fantastic that tales of Thor, Odin, and the Valkyries continue to thrive in pop culture today as we’ve seen with MARVEL Comics’ telling of The Mighty Thor and its film franchise within the MARVEL Cinematic Universe, Thor. And as Thor debuts its latest of three films, Thor: Ragnarok, I can’t help but revisit my travels to the spectacular places where these legends remain.

 

Thor: Ragnarok hits theaters November 3

 

Thor: Ragnarok

©Marvel Studios 2017

 

Exploring Norway in the Footsteps of Vikings Where Legends of Thor and the Ancient Gods Were Told

A Little History Nibble About Vikings and Norse Mythology

 

  • The Iron Age in Norway 500 BC – 800 AD – ish Viking Age 793-1066 AD
  • Vikings were farmers, artists, craftsmen and amazing storytellers
  • They whittled wood into wondrous creations often depicting the Gods
  • They built incredibly fast ships
  • Both men and women trained intensely for battle (women were called Shield Maidens)
  • We know little about the actual ‘Pagan Religion’ which Vikings followed as it was handed down by ancestors of the Iron Age
  • We know far more about the ‘myths’ -stories that survived the transition to Christianity as they were made into tales and myths much like those in Ireland hence, Norse Mythology
  • Their storytelling of these myths were so profound they made it into Old Norse Prose called Eddas (wonderful literary works which represent the old pagan beliefs as folk tales) in Iceland some 200 years after their conversion to Christianity
  • These legends are still so mystical and intriguing, they have stood to influence some of the greatest stories of all time
  • J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings Trilogy and The Hobbit, C.S. Lewis’ The Chronicles of Narnia, H.C. Andersen and Marvel Comics all use references of Norse Mythology

 

For more information on Viking and Norse Mythology go here

First I want to bring to your attention the legacy of Thor’s Hammer, Mjölnir. It’s depicted in Norse mythology as one of the most fearsome and powerful weapons in existence, capable of leveling mountains. Today, it can be found in ancient carvings known as runestones found in Sweden and Denmark.

 

This 11th-century runestone is in Altuna, Sweden. By Foto Olof Ekström 2005. User OlofE on sv.wikipedia [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)], via Wikimedia Commons

A 11th-century runestone in Stankvista, Sweden. By Berig (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY-SA 4.0-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

This 10th-century runestone is found in Öland, Sweden. Photo by Berig [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)], via Wikimedia Commons

This is one of 2 ancient runestones in Bjärby synod, Sweden. CCL

This is the second of 2 ancient runestones in Bjärby synod, Sweden. CCL

 

This 9th-century runestone is in Læborg, Denmark. By alexanderdrachmann (http://flickr.com/photos/drachmann/327056492/) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

But, beyond the runestones in Sweden and Denmark, Norway is home to sacred and archaeological locations where the Viking people are remembered. The same Vikings who worshipped Thor and lived by the legends of the Gods. I was fortunate enough to explore Norway and it’s incredible Viking sites.

 

Here are Some Places in Norway Where You Can Find the Memory of Thor Today

 

Avaldsnes Haugesund 17, Thor in Norway

The Norwegian History Center sits among beautiful untouched landscapes of Avaldsnes. Its round entrance was built to symbolize Mímir’s Well, the source of all knowledge and wisdom in Norse mythology. A set of stairs (there’s a lift too) winds you into the earth landing you in a well-appointed history center which takes you through 3,000 years across the ages and even touches a bit on Norse Mythology.

Avaldsnes – Home of the Viking Kings and Legends of Odin and Thor

 

Avaldsnes, the oldest Viking throne of Norway and home to Viking King Harald Fairhair. This was home to not only Vikings but many of their Iron Age ancestors. It’s here where legends of Gods and heroes come together, and you can feel every bit of that magic as soon as you arrive at this special place. While here my son and I opted to explore the Norwegian History Center. Inside there are loads of Viking artifacts. You can also learn how to write in Rune and learn all about Thor, Odin, Frigg and the Valkyries.

 

Here we are playing an old Viking game. It’s very interactive for kids with games, a classroom, and a fun audio tour with movies. I would love this to be my living space… what a view!

 

The Little Fairytale Traveler Avaldsnes Haugesund 13

It’s very interactive for kids with games, a classroom, and a fun audio tour with movies. Here The Little is checking out Viking Age artifacts.

 

The unification of Norway is something of a love story. It begins with a marriage proposal that resulted in rejection and scorn from Gyda, the daughter of Eirik, king of Hordaland. She said she refused to marry Harald "before he was king over all of Norway". Harald was therefore induced to take a vow not to cut nor comb his hair until he was sole king of Norway, and when he was justified in trimming it ten years later, he exchanged the epithet "Shockhead" or "Tanglehair" for the one by which he is usually known.

Vikings believed the soul raised from the body after one’s passing. This is represented in this display.

 

Viking artifacts

Viking artifacts. The rings were worn on the neck as a sign of power and great wealth. Usually by a King.

 

avaldsnes 1, Thor in Norway

It’s been told by Snorre (Icelandic historian, poet, and politician) the God Odin came to Avaldsnes in 998 AD to tell King Olav Tryggvason great and wondrous stories about the past. It was also told that Thor waded in these waters.

 

Oslo – Home of the Viking Ship Museum

 

Viking Ship Museum Oslo

Viking Ship Museum’s Oseberg Ship.

 

Oslo is perhaps one of the most important locations for those looking to trace the legends of Thor as it’s home to the largest Viking burial excavation ever. There are few things in this world that trump an adorable, frizzy-haired troll. One of them is a 1,000-year-old Viking ship. The Viking Ship Museum is home to three ships; The Oseberg, the Gokstad, and Tune ships.

 

Replica of a Viking age design

 

The Oseberg Viking Ship, discovered in 1903, was found in the world’s largest Viking grave on the Oseberg Farm just a short distance south of Oslo. The Oseberg Ship was the burial ship for two important women. Along with the Oseberg Viking Ship, an extensive collection of burial gifts and ship equipment was discovered. The ship’s findings are in the Viking Ship Museum. And where there are Vikings, there are carvings. Carvings which depict the many legends of Norse Gods, including those of Thor and his hammer.

 

Gokstad Ship Viking Ship Museum Oslo

Gokstad Ship Viking Ship Museum Oslo

 

the Gokstad and Tune ships were used as burial ships for powerful men. They could have been brave and loyal warriors or maybe the sons of kings. All we know is they were a big deal.

 

Viking Ship museum Oslo

A Viking Cart in detail

 

The Oslo City Hall – Carvings of Norse Myths

 

A special find while in Oslo is the Oslo City Hall carvings of Norse Mythology. A quick walk around the building will tell the story of important Norse Gods.

 

Oslo City Hall Norse Carvings

Norse Mythology carvings in the courtyard of Oslo City Hall

Oslo City Hall

Oslo City Hall has an Astro clock, Norse Myth carvings, and Viking depictions.

 

There are many places in Norway I have yet to explore but it’s on my list. It’s important to keep in mind that the legends of Norse Gods are all around us. They have inspired great stories, characters, and films. And they will continue to do so as they are among the greatest stories ever told by man. And, let’s be honest, it’s really hard to ignore a rainbow bridge.

 

 

Special thanks to Visit Norway USA for helping me explore these places. For more information on planning your trip to explore Thor in Norway go to visitnorwayusa.com.


About Christa Thompson

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Christa Thompson is the Founder and Senior Editor of The Fairytale Traveler. Christa has been traveling the world since 2003 when she attended a summer abroad study at the University of Cambridge in England. Since then, her wanderlust has been fierce. Her three passions in life are her son, traveling, and being creative. The Fairytale Traveler brand gives Christa the opportunity to do all of these things and to live intentionally every day. "It's never too late to believe in what you love and to pursue your dreams." -Christa Thompson

5 Comments on this post

  1. Thank you for the look see into the museum. I’d love to visit Norway, Denmark etc but one I’m a picky eater (if I went over there I’d likely lose weight which would be great, but I am not good at making those sort of plans) I’m a little disappointed in the Runestone image from Læborg, Denmark as it seems you did not use a backlight setting (if you do not have one.. use the flash) I do wonder above from Öland, Sweden. with the runes on their sides being written going down. There are also some I do not recognize

    First off, in Norse ‘myth’ its Valkyries not one of the name Valkyrie, the character was made up by Marvel. not to mention the character for the movie looks NOTHING like a Valkyrie which used to be those who’d go to the battlefields and decide what warriors/soldiers would be taken to Valhalla.

    Of the Valkyries One’s name was brunhild I believe Lagerda was another I have yet to add this information to my bog page https://zodiacimmortal.wordpress.com/noble-norse-norns/ on Norse Culture and Mythology but I may be transferring information from a different page I have to the blog Here’s the other page. (right now they are 2 sparate entities) https://hubpages.com/education/noble-norse-norns.

    zodiacimmortal / Reply
  2. I think You may have made a little typo. Its not MIME’s well.. it is Mímir’s well. I double checked No where else does it say mime’s (in my books, on wiki, Norse blog, nor other sites)

    ‘Pagan’ religion I’ve come to find is (sadly) usually used as a term for any and all religions NOT Christian as I’ve seen it used for Egyptian, Roman and Greek and many others.

    From what I’ve read The Norse/Vikings rarely wrote. usually Runes were used mostly to carve weapons (spells or named battle gear) or to honor the dead and so on.(like the rune-stones But the common Norse would not have known. I read somewhere it was usually the priests, Black smiths and those that were ‘mystics’

    zodiacimmortal / Reply
    • Thank you for the typo catch. You’re right about the writing. They carved runes into stones but used pictures to tell stories. The stories were put into the Eddas after the Vikings. I’ve been stalling my trip to Iceland, waiting for the Prose Edda to be back on display. It’s where the Norse stories were written by Snorre. That is a major bucket list item for me.

  3. […] the world of comics. And, of all the superheroes, Thor is the only one who was a God and can be traced back to ancient rock carvings in places like Denmark, Sweden, and […]

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