Viking swords, photo by Viciarg
Okay, we have another little trivia trip through the depths of Norse mythology. The Norse loved their weapons and it shows in their sagas. Lots of weapons are mentioned, they are often described as the “best of swords” or the “best of spears,” many of them even have names. But there are times when you need that little something extra. When fighting giants or dragons, any old ordinary weapon won’t do. No, what you need is a magical weapon and here are some of the best.
We’ll start with Freyr’s sword which is unique on this list in that it did NOT have a name. If it’s nameless, why bother? Because it is a weapon “which is so good that it fights of itself.” Yes, we have the world’s first automated weapons system and it comes from Norse mythology. Freyr later traded it away to win the hand of Gerðr, a beautiful giantess. It is thought by some that the sword is now in the hands of Surter, the fire demon and he will be wielding this weapon at the battle of Ragnarok. At which time Freyr is going to be regretting that trade.
The spear Gungnir
This was Odin’s own spear. It was created by the Dwarven mastersmiths – the sons of Ivaldi. Its main ability, and this was a hugely popular ability among Norse magic weapons, was that it hit whatever you threw it at. It didn’t matter how strong or how skilled you were, whatever you threw Gungnir at, you hit.
The sword Gram
This weapon might remind you of the more widely known Excalibur since Odin drove the blade of the sword into the heart of a mighty oak tree and said that whoever could pull out the sword would be fated to win in battle. Sigmund was the hero who accomplished this feat and he went on to use the sword to great effect. Until the day that it shattered during a battle with a stranger wearing a wide-brimmed hat and a black, hooded cloak. (This would be a good place to mention that Odin frequently traveled the world and disguised himself by using a wide-brimmed hat and a black, hooded cloak. Just pointing that out.) The sword was in pieces but the dying Sigmund asked his pregnant wife to gather up the pieces and have them reforged so that his son could have the sword when he was old enough. The son was Sigurd (sometimes called Siegfried) Once he had the sword reforged it was sharp enough to cut an iron anvil in two. Later Sigurd would use the sword to slay Fafnir the dragon. So this was a pretty powerful weapon.
The sword Tyrfing
Svafrlami, a king and a grandson of Odin, managed to capture two Dwarves aboveground. He decided the best thing to do was to have them create a magic sword for him. The sword would have a hilt made of gold, it would never miss, it would never rust and it would be sharp enough to cut metal as easily as cloth. But the Dwarves weren’t happy about being forced to work like that. So they cursed the blade. They made it so that someone would die every time the sword was drawn and they said the sword would be the source of three great evils. Then, just to really prove their point, they cursed the blade so that it would cause the death of King Svafrlami. The sword cut a bloody path through several countries before the curse was finally broken.
The hammer Mjölnir
This was the magic hammer of Thor, the God of Thunder. The handle of this mighty weapon was a little bit shorter than planned, thanks to one of Loki’s tricks but that did nothing to reduce its power. What could this Dwarf-crafted masterpiece do? Its name means “crusher” and it could: “strike as firmly as he wanted, whatever his aim, and the hammer would never fail, and if he threw it at something, it would never miss and never fly so far from his hand that it would not find its way back, and when he wanted, it would be so small that it could be carried inside his tunic.” This was a hammer that would strike fear into the heart of giants and monsters alike. It also had accessories! Whenever Thor was getting ready to use his hammer he would put on his girdle of strength and his iron gloves. Then it was time to start crushing things.
Have I left out any weapons that you love? Tell us about them.
Edit: If you are a fan of Mjölnir, you might want to visit my Etsy shop. I have some vinyl decals on sale of my original knotwork design of Thor’s mighty hammer.
Or check out the other articles in my series:
Loki’s Five Biggest Tricks