Nordic index

Notes for teachers

These web pages are designed with young children in mind. They could be used in the History National Curriculum for Primary School, either in studying Vikings, or Saxons.

Most of those stories come from Snorri Sturluson, a gifted Icelandic scholar, writing in the thirteenth century. He was a Christian, and he was writing right at the end of the time, or even after, when people actually worshipped Odin and Thor. Iceland was settled by Vikings, and so his stories and the names he used would be Viking ones.

The Saxons were converted to Christianity much earlier. Their names for these gods were different, but as far as we can see, they were the same gods. We don't actually know if Snorri's stories were known by the Saxons, but their characters might have been the same.

I have written a page about the days of the week in my Roman gods website, and linked to it from the Nordic gods website. The English days of the week are called after the Saxon gods, and the French ones are called after the Roman gods, yet the gods seem similar. The Romans thought that there was a group of gods, which different people called by different names. So they thought that Jupiter was the same god as Thor. Mythologists today like to play the same game, but comparative mythology is perhaps a little heavy for under 12's!

However, the days of the week does throw up one problem. The Saxon gods sometimes had different names from the Viking ones, and, indeed, there seem to be variant spellings of names anyway. I have chosed Woden rather than Wotan, and Tiu rather than Tiw, as these are closer to the day name. However, there seems to be a disagreement about the goddess of Friday. One book said that the goddess was Freyja (who was a Swedish goddess), and another said Frigga (who was German). This would seem another case like Odin/Woden and Tyr/Tiu except that Snorri (who only talks about Odin and Tyr) says there are two goddesses, Freyja, of the necklace, and Frig, wife of Odin. Some authorities think that these are really both names of the same goddess. Since Frig has rather an unfortunate name, I have quietly ignored her, and only mentioned Freyja.

Here are some links that I have found useful.
Encyclopedia Mythica
Germanic Myths, Legends, and Sagas
Vikings from BBC - Primary History
Regia Anglorum - Anglo-Saxons, Vikings and Normans

In Association with In Association with
I recommend
Background information: Gods and Myths of Northern Europe by H.R. Ellis Davidson - buy UK or USA
Modern fantasy using Nordic mythical characters: The Weirdstone of Brisingamen by Alan Garner - buy UK or USA
Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling - buy UK or USA
The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien - buy UK or USA
Stories using runes: The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien - buy UK or USA
Just So Stories by Rudyard Kipling - buy UK or USA
Beowulf: Beowulf: A New Translation by by Seamus Heaney (Translator) - buy UK or USA

My name is Jo Edkins. If you have any comments, criticisms, corrections or questions, please e-mail me (see index page).