The Viking Gods You've (Probably) Never Heard Of - Ideal for KS2, for both Students and Teachers
Updated: Mar 5
Thanks to the Marvel Cinematic Universe; Thor, Loki and Odin are more famous today than they have ever been. More people know and love Thor, thanks to the charismatic acting chops, rugged chin, and massive muscles of Chris Hemsworth, then ever did back when the God of Thunder was actually worshiped.
What's extra nice is that the Norse Gods portrayal in the MCU is mostly accurate. Thor, as depicted in the Viking myths, was strong and brave, armed with a magical hammer called Mjölnir. Loki, meanwhile, was tricksy and filled to the brim with lies. Sometimes Loki can be good, the others very very bad. Just like in the MCU as in the original myths, Loki flip flops between the two. Then there's Odin, wise, one eyed and very beardy - Anthony Hopkins was certainly all those things.
So, if you're looking to research the Norse gods for a school project as either a teacher or a student, you could certainly do a lot worse than watching through the Marvel back catalogue of films. But what about the Viking gods that haven't cropped up in the MCU, how are you meant to research them?
We're glad you asked, as that's exactly what this blog post is for. Join us as we take a look at the Viking Gods You've (Probably) Never Heard Of.
The Viking God Of Skiing
Yes, you read that right, there was a Viking God of Skiing. And his name was Ullr (pronounced Ull-er).
Fun fact, Vikings LOVED skiing. Archaeologists have compelling evidence that skiing was invented in Scandinavia 6000 years ago. By the time of the Vikings, skiing was both a fun hobby and a speedy form of transportation.
Historians don't know too much about Ullr, but in every image we have he was shown clutching a bow with skis strapped to his feet. Ullr is the stepson of Thor the thunder god. And he doesn't just rock skis, Ullr was also a proficient hunter, warrior and skater. He was also terrifically handsome.
He was also a leader. Over on Norse-Mythology.org there are details of how Saxo Grammaticus, a medieval Danish historian, believes that Ullr took over leadership of the Norse gods when Odin was exiled. Clearly, this demonstrates just how important hunting, skiing, skating and being handsome were to the Vikings, otherwise Ullr wouldn't be so very awesome.
The Second Strongest God
Thor was the strongest Viking God. Part of that was down to natural buffness, though a lot of his power came from a magical belt he wore, which doubled his strength.
The second strongest god? That would be Vidar. Again, historians don't know too much about Vidar. What they do know is that he was the strong and silent type, referred to by the Vikings as being 'the silent god'.
How do we know he was so strong though? That's because of what Vidar does during Ragnarok. Oh, what's Ragnarok? That would be the Viking apocalypse. It's an epic battle that see's the Gods go up against the forces of the Giants. At the end of that battle most end up very dead. Odin, all-father of the gods, is killed by Fenrir - an enormous mountain-sized wolf. Fenrir gobbles up Odin and lets out a mighty belch of satisfaction.
That's the moment when Vidar, like your favourite action hero, gets to work. Vidar kicks his magical shoe (just one apparently, why he didn't have a pair of magical shoes is beyond me) into Fenrir's lower jaw, wedging the great beast's mouth wide open. Then Vidar hulks up and hacks, chops and wallops the inside of Fenrir's yapper until the giant wolf is dead. Thank goodness he didn't use the wrong foot and try to wedge open Fenrir's maw with his non-magical shoe ay?
One of my favourite characters from Marvel's spin on Norse Mythology is Sif, a female warrior who teams up with Thor and the Warriors Three regularly for a spot of baddie bashing. She's tough, brave and all-round awesome.
Sif is also in Viking Mythology, though sadly we know very little about her. She was probably the wife of Thor and was also the mother of Ullr.
Other than that, we also know that, unlike in the MCU, Sif had blonde hair. Until Loki decided, being the mischievous trickster he is, to shave her hair off one night, thus leaving her bald as a bowling ball. Thor threatened to pull of Loki's arms and hit him repeatedly with the soggy ends if he didn't find Sif some new hair. Loki valued his arms and so, of course, went on a quest to track down some new hair to cover up Sif's bare baldy bonce.
It's a brilliant tale, one of the best in Viking mythology. If you're part of a school and would like to hear it, why not look into booking our 'How to be a Viking God' workshop. We'll come into your class and tell you an interactive version of the tale in person!
Baldur was the son of Odin and Frigg. Everybody loved Baldur, he was noble, bold and cheerful. He was also, according to some sources, a war god who liked to go in all swords spinning in order to solve a problem.
Frigg, Baldur's mother, loved her son so much that she wanted to protect him no matter what. So, when Baldur, started to have visions of his own death Frigg took it upon herself to gather oaths from every creature, every plant, every object and well, basically everything ever that they would not hurt her son. Every creature, every plant, every object and everything ever agreed to these terms as they all loved Baldur dearly.
As a result, Baldur could not be hurt. The Gods would literally have parties where they would all gather to lob weapons at Baldur. Spears, axes, arrows and ninja throwing stars (I made the last one up) would all bounce off Baldur to no effect, to the cause of much hilarity from the gods and Baldur himself. Now, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that these shenanigans would soon go very, very wrong.
Loki, envious of Baldur, discovered that there was one thing that Frigg had forgotten to obtain an oath from; mistletoe. Loki, acting quickly on this info, made a spear out of mistletoe. Which, if you stop and think about it, must have looked very weird indeed. A green spear covered with berries, what's that about?
Anyway, Loki, using his sneaky whiles, was able to convince the blind god Hodr to lob the mistletoe spear at Baldur. He didn't tell Hodr it would kill Baldur, obviously, Hodr just wanted to join in with the merriment of the rest of the gods; as they lobbed grenades, gophers, bricks and car radios at Baldur to no effect.
Hodr pulled back his arm with the spear resting in the palm of his hand and lobbed it as hard as he could. Poor Baldur was impaled and died instantly. Clearly, that would have been a very awkward end to the party. I can't imagine that any of the gods would invite poor unsuspecting Hodr to a social gathering again.
Are you a teacher? Yes? Then you'll definitely want Imagining History to bring their 'How to be a Viking God' Interactive workshop to your school.
Our Award-Winning sessions combine role-play, storytelling, demonstrations and drama and performance to bring history to life for your students.
Our How to be a Viking God workshop will take your students on a fun and informative journey through the Nine Worlds in this unique introduction to the ancient myths and legends of the Vikings. Your students will:
Identify the key Norse Gods by becoming the Gods themselves.
Forge weapons with the dwarves to outsmart Loki.
Discover the different realms and afterlives and what they can teach us about the values and beliefs of the Vikings.
Defeat the Frost Giants with Thor (and find out why he wore a fetching wedding dress).
Transform your school hall into a battlefield to help Freyja take the worthy to Valhalla.