Viking Warrior Tattoo History and Ideas

Did Viking warrior tattoos adorn the body of these Scandinavian warriors during the 7th and 10th centuries? One historical piece of information says yes, especially the Swedish Vikings that traded and raided throughout Russia. Many tattoo ideas derive from old traditional Viking mythology and have been adaptable into more eccentric body art over the years.

We are forced to rely on the outside accounts because the Vikings themselves wrote few literary works. The Arab statements mainly recorded the actions of Norsemen in the ninth and 10th centuries because they carried cultural and trade exchanges with the Vikings.

A scholar of Baghdad and Arab traveler, Ahmad Ibn Fadlan, was sent on diplomatic missions to Bulgars in the Middle Volga region of Russia by Abbasid Caliph. Meeting the Vikings as they sailed their longships down the Volga river and looking to trade with the Arab world. The Norse warriors traveled across Russia’s vast steppes with Ahmad Ibn Fadlan in tow.

Following the collapse of the Roman Empire, the wealthiest civilization in Western Eurasia struggled to consolidate in centuries. Ahamd met the Rus, Swedish Viking traders who sold enslaved people at the local markets.

viking warrior tattoo

Historical Description of Viking Tattoos

In his travel chronicles, Ibn Fadlan describes the Rus. Now commonly known as the Vikings, he used to call them the Rusiyyah.

Their bodies were reddish, fair, and as tall as palm trees. He said that he had never seen bodies nearly as perfect as theirs. These individuals were neither kaftans nor tunics. Every man covers half of his body with a cloak he wears with only one arm uncovered. That is one of the identifying factors of the classic Viking in movies or on TV series.

They always carry daggers, swords, and axes to have them at hand. The Vikings mainly use Frankish swords that have broad ridge blades. During his encounter with the Norsemen, Abhad mentioned that all the men were tattooed from the tips of their fingers to their necks, and the tattoos were symbols and dark green figures of trees.

However, it’s most likely that the tattoo was made from wood ash that dyed the skin a dark blue color. While Ibn Fadlan saw only trees, he may have mistaken some of the tattoos as trees instead of other knotwork patterns and gripping beasts that the Vikings were so like so much. The culture is heavily in-tuned with nature and their tattoos are symbols of this.

Furthermore, the descriptions of tattooed males have been more a rhetorical device used by Arabs to depict the Norsemen’s savagery rather than being an official eyewitness account. Some of the words to describe the Vikings were some of “God’s filthiest creatures”, which we don’t think accurately represent the culture.

Norse mythology was often etched into traditional Viking tattoos, and the people believed it gave them power and strength. These Nordic tattoos can feature a Viking compass that points to the nine worlds that provide the wearer with guidance on their journey.

Viking gods played an integral role in Viking culture, which is evident in how deep its religion is and its practices go. Norse gods are often depicted in Nordic tradition and make great Nordic symbols plus epic tattoo designs.

Some Viking runes were also tattooed on the warriors and resemble the geometric patterns often found on mosques. What is strange about Viking mythology or literacy is that there is no mention of tattoos, but they describe many other physical characteristics, such as hair color and scars.

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Exhumed Viking Tattoos

Unfortunately, human skin does not survive very well after being buried for centuries. However, a Scythian chieftain had been buried circa 500BC and found in Serbia during the 18th century. The Chieftain had been buried underneath the permafrost, so his tattoos and skin survived.

Vikings could have met the successors of the Scythians while on trading missions in Russia and received education regarding the tattooing art from them. During the same time, this find predates Viking traders in Russia 1300 years ago.

Of course, Scythian art styles were the main feature of Scythian warrior tattoos. They would likely use Norse designs and symbols found in their artwork on jewelry and bone carvings if Vikings did have tattoos.

If you are looking for a more modern example, one is known as Ukok Princess. She was found 2,500 meters up in the Altai Mountains close to Mongolia, Russia, Kazakhstan, and China. In 1993 the remains of a perfectly preserved princess were found in the Serbian permafrost. Scientist Natalie Polosmak estimated that she must have only been 25 years old when she died. Her colorful artwork is seen as the most elaborate and well-preserved accounted for tattoos anywhere in the world.

A fantastical mythological animal, a deer with a griffon’s head, is shown on its back is adorned upon the left shoulder of the princess. The same griffon is shown on the back of the animal, and the antlers are decorated with griffon heads.

Its long tail is seen at the legs of a sheep, and the mouth is of a spotted panther. On her wrist and forearm is a deer’s head with big antlers. The thumb on her left hand contains a drawing of an animal’s body.

Just like a passport, a tattoo can be used as means of personal identification if you like. The Pazyryke also believed tattoos would help in the afterlife, making it more straightforward for the people of the same culture and family to find each other after they had passed. A language of animal images that represented the thought of the Pazyryks is also repeated in their various art forms.

There are tons of places online that contain the Viking tattoo design that tattoo artists have created. One of the most famous Viking tattoos is the Vegvisir, a Viking compass tattoo that represents guidance. However, it’s good to note that this symbol is not from the Viking Age but instead comes from an Icelandic book on magic that dates back to the 17th century. The Helm of Awe or aegishjalmur is another popular Viking tattoo design, and this gives the wearer the ability to strike his enemies with confusion and fear.

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What Viking Symbols Should You Add to Your Viking Tattoo

There are many symbols in Norse mythology, and all of them make great independent tattoos whether or not the Vikings wore tattoos. If you are considering making a Viking tattoo sleeve, it may be a good idea to combine many designs and symbols to get the final result.

This section discusses how to get better results by combining different tattoo designs in unique ways. Usually, fans of Viking warriors will ask the tattoo artist to piece together various Norse runes and other Nordic symbols to create eye-catching masterpieces.

Below, we discuss some of the most famous Viking tattoo designs and provide you with insight into their meaning. These significant symbols made their way into Nordic history, and rightfully so. It’s worth listing these items below because of their strong connotations in the Viking culture.


When it comes to the Viking, Vegvisir is undoubtedly one of the most famous Viking tattoos. The Viking compass is a symbolic item filled with Nordic runes that have to assist Vikings in finding the correct way. In Icelandic, Vegvisir means “that which shows the way.”

The Nordic culture may have likely brought the symbol to Icelandic ground when exploring it in the 17th century as its origin is not entirely Viking. More importantly, among sailors and people who travel, Vegvisir is a symbol of protection and guarding. People who have gone through different struggles are also granted protection through the Vegvisir.


In Norse mythology, Yggdrasil is sacred and represents the tree of life. Additionally, it is one of the most prominent tattoos requested. It is located at the center of everything and is a tall ash three first mentioned in the 13th century. The Viking culture believes its branches could reach the heavens and were firmly anchored in the ground.

When it comes to Viking symbol tattoos, the Yggdrasil represents existence, balance, empathy, stability, and life. You should choose the Yggdrasil if you are looking for a tattoo that has deep and symbolic meaning.

Valknut Tattoo

A valknut tattoo may be the right choice if you want a tattoo sleeve with a humble and straightforward design. This tattoo design incorporates a triple knot and is used to commemorate slain warriors who have died at war and are ready to cross over to join the Gods and Odin in Valhalla.

Adding a valknut to your design could be magnificent if you want your tattoo not to stand out too much and be more discrete. Valknut represents acceptance, fearlessness, courage, and honor concerning meaning. If you combine it with other symbols from Norse mythology, the valknut tattoo can be used to honor someone who has passed.

Thor’s Hammer

In Norse mythology, Thor’s hammer is one of the most important weapons. When Thor, the son of Odin, the God of thunder and war, became unstoppable because of the hammer. It was believed that Thor’s hammer was responsible for various natural disasters, including earthquakes, thunderstorms, restless seas, and more.

Furthermore, in tattoo representations, thor’s hammer means courage, power, strength, increased willpower, and much more. If you want to add some meaningful Nordic symbols, add Thor’s hammer to your Viking tattoos.

Helm of Awe

It’s essential to know the difference between the Viking symbol of Vegvisir and the Helm of Awe when talking about it. While the latter was the symbol of explorations, traveling, sailing, this one symbolizes fearlessness and courage.

Additionally, it was believed that the Viking warriors wore the Helm of Awe as courage and protection empowerment in guidance and battles. One of the primary beliefs was that it could also scare enemies. With that said, this tattoo is an excellent choice if you need protection from bad luck or the evil eye.

How to Choose a Tattoo Like the Viking Warriors

Choosing a Viking warrior tattoo like the Viking raven tattoo or the Viking skull tattoo is a great way to show you understand the meaning of the culture. Viking symbols combined with traditional Viking tattoos can make you look like a Norse warrior straight out of Viking mythology.

If you want to get tattooed on your arm, you can consider choosing a Viking sleeve tattoo. Viking sleeve tattoos can come in a vast amount of remarkable shapes and sizes. The best thing to do would be to speak to a tattoo artist about the Viking warrior tattoo you want to create. They will be able to bring your Viking-inspired tattoo to life, whether it be incorporating a rune tattoo, Norse tattoo, horned helmet, or axe tattoo.

Viking tattoos have gained popularity over the last few years, even more so now that series like “Viking” has been released and watched thousands of times by viewers. A Viking warrior tattoo depicting a Viking god is one the best ways to show power in any Viking style tattoo.

It takes a good artist to piece together a Viking warrior tattoo, but once you find the correct one to do the job, you will be happy you found them. Some Viking tattoos symbolize the Viking warrior’s unique connection with his family and the earth. Bringing this emotion and style to life needs to be done professionally if you want a tattoo that lasts you for years.

Lastly, if you want a Viking tattoo that lasts, you will have to take care of it. That means using moisturizers and creams that are recommended for freshly tattoo skin.

Questions and Answers

How do I Care for my fresh Viking Tattoo?

The best way to care for your Viking tattoo is by using quality cream and moisturizer to protect the colors of the Viking symbols. It would help if you remembered that some Viking symbol tattoos contain colors that could fade and be worn out by the sun over time. That is why it is vital to protect your Viking sleeve tattoo or piece with the correct moisture for its longevity.

What Viking God Should I Get Tattooed?

That is entirely up to you, and you will find one that suits your taste and meaning depiction. A Viking ship tattoo with a Viking god behind it can give a double meaning in symbolism. Viking tattoos symbolize the connections and guidance the culture received for its deities.

Sleeves tattoos are a great canvas to place an axe tattoo combined with a god or ancient Viking runes for added effects.

What Do the Three Interlocking Triangles Mean?

The Valknut tattoos, as mentioned previously in this piece, show the connections between Hell, Heaven, and Earth. It shows that you are interconnected within the triangle and is associated with the Nine worlds of Norse mythology.

Connecting this to the world tree or a horn triskelion can make a dramatically effective tattoo. Seidr magic has also been associated with the symbol of which Odin was in control.

What If I’m Not Happy with My Viking Warrior Tattoo?

In order to get a tattoo that you are going to be happy with for life, you must find the right person to do the job. Decide if you want a Viking warrior, Viking ship tattoo, rune tattoo, or Norse tattoo. When you put a huge piece of a fallen warrior on your back, you want to make sure that the body art and tattoo designs are impeccable.

What Does Vikings Means?

In Old Norse, the term Vikings mean ” a pirate raid.” A massive subculture was born from Viking folklore because of the Norseman’s pillaging of Europe and consistent sea trade. Celtic, Norse, and Viking tattoos are closely related and rich in powerful animal motifs, warriors gods, superstition, and symbolism.

The Body Art That Suits You

Finding something that suits you will be easy because there are so many options available to choose from. Whether it’s a tattoo symbol or a Viking skull tattoo, there is something for everyone to find meaning and relation.

Get a Viking Warrior Tattoo

Getting a Viking tattoo can be a daunting and challenging experience, but it doesn’t have to be. Start by choosing the Viking symbols that represent you most and decide where to place the body art. If you want a Viking tattoo that draws attention, the best thing to do would be to combine a few styles of Viking folklore.

People who prefer sleeve tattoos may want to include body art that is more adaptable and proportionate to that area. If you want something more like Odin’s ravens, that piece would be better suited for the chest area.

Another place you can get some good ideas for next your next Viking tattoo is the History channel. It is filled with informative documentaries that teach you about the tattoos of the Vikings and about their misinterpreted culture.


No matter what Viking tattoo you get, whether it be a sleeve tattoo or a troll cross, you can be sure you will be happy with the work if you choose a good tattoo artist. Make sure to look into Old Norse mythology if you want to get some ideas for your tattoo design. Things like the ravens’ huginn are great tattoo ideas for someone who likes intricately designed artwork that will wow their friends.

It’s time to get the Viking tattoos you have always dreamed of and choose the symbols that represent your life and lifestyle. Whether it be Loki, Thor, or a Viking ship you want to add to your Viking warrior tattoo, it is an excellent idea to consultant your tattoo artist first.

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