Viking Human Sacrifices: Did It Happen?

There were some written materials that claimed that the Vikings conducted human sacrifice. There were also archaeological discoveries that further proved that they sacrificed humans back in the day. So, if you want to learn more about this topic then keep reading this article.                                              

Textual Proof of Viking Human Sacrifice              

The most popular written evidence that the Vikings performed human sacrifice was from the historical documents of a 10th-century Arab Muslim traveler named Ibn Fadlan. During one of his travels, he came across a Swedish Viking tribe. From this encounter, he vividly described how a girl slave had volunteered and sacrificed her life just to serve her master in his afterlife. And this made him one of the earliest non-Viking travelers to have witnessed the practice of human sacrifice in the Norse community.        

Aside from that, there were also other materials that revealed horrifying accounts about human sacrifice during the Viking age. One of them was written by Thietmar of Merseburg (German Bishop). According to him, the Vikings offered 99 people to their gods every 9 years, particularly in the month of January. In this revelation he also said that they offered many dogs, hens or hawks and even horses during the sacrifice in Lejre.            

A similar account in 1072 was written by Adam of Bremen (German monk) where he talked about  sacrificial tradition at Gammel Uppsala in Sweden. And just like the sacrifice that took place in the town of Lejre, the Vikings that were involved here also met and conducted their sacrifices every 9 years. But instead of 99 people and lots of animals, they only sacrificed 9 males of all kinds and living creatures in a holy grove nearby by hanging them from trees.           

Archaeological Proof of Viking Human Sacrifice     

According to reports, there were 10th century wells that have been discovered in Trelleborg with remains of five Viking sacrifices. During their discovery, they found out that the remains of 4 out of 5 human sacrifices were Viking children (around 4-7 years old). Besides human remains, they were able to discover some remains of dogs and horses as well.            

Apart from wells, there were also several graveyards with unusual stuff that archaeologists believed to be part of the human sacrifice rituals. For instance, they saw unique skeletal remains of two Viking men in Lejre. In this discovery, one of them was said to have been beheaded and chained (both feet and hands), while the other one was decorated with jewelry, armor and weapons. 

Another archaeological proof of Viking human sacrifice in Denmark was found in a site called Dråby. The remains here also came from a burial, but the two skeletons in this location were in different positions. One of the skeletons was from a beheaded male Viking slave who sacrificed his life to follow his mistress to the afterlife, while the other one was from a female Viking who was buried with splendid goods and jewelry.                 


Different sacrifices were done in different places and cultures since time immemorial. In this regard, there’s no denying that this topic is still a little bit taboo even though there was evidence that this was a part of the Viking tradition. But even though it wasn’t clear if this was a common practice way back then or only happened on certain occasions, we can conclude from this article that sacrifices were done as a way to maintain good will to the gods. And that Viking slaves were so loyal to their masters that they’re willing to be buried with them in order to serve them in the afterlife.                         



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