Nordic Religions in the Viking Age

Paperback (Print)
Buy New
Buy New from
Used and New from Other Sellers
Used and New from Other Sellers
from $14.99
Usually ships in 1-2 business days
(Save 43%)
Other sellers (Paperback)
  • All (9) from $14.99   
  • New (5) from $21.88   
  • Used (4) from $14.99   


The popular image of the Viking as a horn-helmeted berserker plying the ocean in a dragon-headed long boat is firmly fixed in history. Imagining Viking "conquerors" as much more numerous, technologically superior, and somehow inherently more warlike than their neighbors has overshadowed the cooperation and cultural exchange which characterized much of the Viking Age. In actuality, the Norse explorers and traders were players in a complex exchange of technology, customs, and religious beliefs between the ancient pre-Christian societies of northern Europe and the Christian-dominated nations surrounding the Mediterranean.

DuBois examines Anglo-Saxon, Celtic, and Mediterranean traditions to locate significant Nordic parallels in conceptions of supernatural beings, cults of the dead, beliefs in ghosts, and magical practices. These beliefs were actively held alongside Christianity for many years, and were finally incorporated into the vernacular religious practice. The Icelandic sagas reflect this complex process in their inclusion of both Christian and pagan details.

This work differs from previous examinations in its inclusion of the Christian thirteenth century as part of the evolution of Nordic religions from localized pagan cults to adherents of a larger Roman faith.

Thomas DuBois unravels for the first time the history of the Nordic religions in the Viking Age and shows how these ancient beliefs and their oral traditions incorporated both a myriad of local beliefs and aspects of foreign religions, most notably Christianity.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"This is a sophisticated, well-written, and convincing reconception of the nature of religious change in the early medieval world."—Journal of Ecclesiastical History

"A seminal study of Nordic religions that future scholars will not be able to avoid."—Church History

From the Publisher

"This is a sophisticated, well-written, and convincing reconception of the nature of religious change in the early medieval world."—Journal of Ecclesiastical History

"A seminal study of Nordic religions that future scholars will not be able to avoid."—Church History

Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780812217148
  • Publisher: University of Pennsylvania Press, Inc.
  • Publication date: 8/28/1999
  • Series: The Middle Ages Series
  • Pages: 256
  • Sales rank: 647,563
  • Product dimensions: 6.08 (w) x 9.08 (h) x 0.06 (d)

Meet the Author

Thomas A. DuBois is Associate Professor in the Department of Scandinavian Studies and Comparative Literature at the University of Wisconsin. He is the author of Finnish Folk Poetry and the Kalevala.

Read More Show Less

Table of Contents

Introduction: Communities of Belief 1
Ch. 1 The Cultures and History of the Viking-Age North 9
Ch. 2 Religions in the Viking Age: Contexts and Concepts for Analysis 29
Ch. 3 Gods, Guides, and Guardians: Spiritual Aids 45
Ch. 4 Visitors from Beyond: Death, Afterlife, and the Problem of Ghosts 69
Ch. 5 Concepts of Health and Healing 93
Ch. 6 The Intercultural Dimensions of the Seior Ritual 121
Ch. 7 The Coming of the Cross: Religious and Artistic Effects 139
Ch. 8 Achieving Faith: Christian Themes and Pagan Functions 173
Epilogue 205
Glossary 207
Notes 211
Bibliography 233
Index 259
Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 2
( 1 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star


4 Star


3 Star


2 Star


1 Star


Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation


  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously
Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 11, 2003


    While the subject matter is facinating, and there is some useful information, the author is another that believes that all roads in religion lead to Christianity. While the Nordic people at the end of the Viking Age did convert, for the most part it was not for religious reasons as the author seems to think. His writing also betrays a bias that Christianity is the end all and be all of religion and that the Heathen people of Norden were incomplete until its coming. In my opinion this book is better borrowed from the library than purchased.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews

If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
Why is this product inappropriate?
Comments (optional)