Vikings Wiki
Vikings Wiki

Ravens are an iconic and magical creature in the Viking world. It is a powerful symbol of war and is believed to be the eyes and ears of the chief Viking god, Odin.


Odin is sometimes referred to as the Raven God because of his two ravens Huginn (Old Norse: "thought") and Muninn (Old Norse: "memory" or "mind"). This pair of ravens fly all over the world and bring information to Odin. Huginn and Muninn are in the Poetic Edda. The two birds are frequently pictured perching on Odin's shoulders.

Ravens also feature in the stories of the Valkyrie. In the 9th century poem Hrafnsmál, a meeting is described between one of the Valkyrie and a raven where they discuss the life and exploits of Harald Fairhair, first king of Norway.[1]

Ravens were also used by the Vikings to aid them in navigation on long voyages. They would release them, and if they did not return, it meant that land was near. In the Icelandic saga Landnámabók (the Book of Settlement) abut the first people of Iceland, Flóki-Vilgerðarsson took three ravens to help him find his way on the final leg of the voyage to Iceland. The first raven flew back to the Faroe Islands, the second bird flew around before coming back to the ship, but the third raven proved to be a great way-finder. It flew ahead of Flóki's ship, guiding it through the wild waves all the way to Iceland.[2]

Images of ravens are a common feature of Viking objects. They can be found on armor, helmets, shields, banners, and carvings. Norse mythology and the sagas usually show ravens as a wise, all-knowing messenger, and often a bird of prophecy, protection, and help.