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Old Norse Names

Dear Viking Answer Lady:

How did the People of the North choose names for their children? Could you perhaps list some first names and then, perhaps, an explaination of surnames?

(signed) Viking Lady Without A Name

The PowerPoint notes for my 2004 class on Viking names and name construction is now available online in PDF form: ONNamesClass.pdf. Right click and choose "Save As" to save a copy locally to your computer.

Gentle Readers:

In general, parents named their children after a deceased relative or hero. In some way the child was believed to inherit with the name the gifts or personality of their namesake: this belief almost seems to have been one of reincarnation of the named relative in the new child once the name was bestowed.

It was very common to give children the names of honored relatives, for the Northmen believed that children would partake of the virtues of the ones whose names they bore. Relatives recently dead, in particular, were thus remembered by their kindred, a custom resulting from a half belief that the spirit of the beloved dead lived again in the little child. Present day Scandinavians still "call up" deceased members of their families in this manner. (Social Scandinavia p. 61).
The religious basis of the practice was that a departed ancestor is reborn and again rejoins the living members of the family if his/her name is given to the new-born child. Only the departed ancestor was, therefore, renamed so long as the belief was a living force.... Originally the naming of the first two sons must have been very varied; it could have been after the father only in a small proportion of cases, or after an uncle in perhaps a somewhat larger proportion of cases; or again the child might be named after some other relative of the parents, as a cousin. Undoubtedly, however, it was a grandparent in a relatively large number of cases. If one or more of the grandparents were dead the old belief would practically decree it and filial love would perpetuate the practice after the belief no longer existed in its old form. As long as the old belief continued the cases of renamings of the child's great grandparent would undoubtedly dominate, but as soon as it ceased to be believed that reincarnation of the departed in the child took place with the bestowal of the name of the deceased, the possibilities for new forms of the practice were at once at hand. (Flom, p. 249, 251).

Several scholars have commented on this, seeing it as a belief in transmigration of the soul among the Old Norse:

According to the pagan view the name was a part of the personality, or rather the name in some mysterious way represented the spiritual and intellectual element of the individual for whom it stood. After death the soul went with the name and the individual was restored to new life with the name. But the soul and consequently the name signified not only renewed life in a new body, but a continuation of the whole siritual personality of the departed in the new body. The new-born child so named would with the name become endowed with the character and the personal qualities of the departed. (Flom, p. 252).

There seem to have been definitite patterns in selecting which deceased relative's name would be used for a newborn. Scholars have analyzed historical records to determine these patterns, and in fact the practice has continued, though not as strictly, through the present day. The hierarchy of choosing a name was as follows:

Man opkalder altid afdøde Slægtninge, helst direkte Forfædre, men ogsaa Faders eller Moders eller Farfaders eller Morfaders broder of Söstre: Naar en nær Slægtning dör kort för et Barns Födsel, helst under Svangerskabet, faar Barnet altid den Afdödes Navn; En Sön födt efter Faderen dör faar altid Faderens Navn; Naar den Opkaldte har et almindeligt Navn opkaldes Barnet med Tilnavnet.

A child was always named after a dead family member, ideally a direct forefather, but also paternal or maternal aunts or uncles, great-aunts, or great-uncles. When a close relative dies shortly before the birth of a child, particularly while the child is in utero, the child is always given the name of the deceased. A son born after the father dies is always given the name of the father. When the person-being-named-after has a common name, the child is given the person-being-named-after's nickname (byname) [as well as the personal name]. (Ström, quoted by Flom, pp. 248-249. Special thanks to Mistress Brynhildr jarla Kormáksdóttir for assistance with the translation.)

Other Considerations in Name-Giving

Aside from the practice of naming children after deceased relatives, the two major principles of Germanic name-giving also influenced how children were named.

Alliteration: The first principle was alliteration, in which the same sound at the beginning of one name is repeated in another, for example:

Sometimes the names went from generation to generation in an alliterating series (Agni, Alrek, Yngvi, Iǫrund, Aun, Egil, Óttar, Adils, Eystein, Yngvar, Ǫnund, Ingiald, Olaf were successive kings of the Uppsala dynasty, all with names beginning with a vowel) (Viking Achievement p. 115).

Variation: The second principle was variation, the practice of forming a new name so that it differs from that of others in the family by changing one element in the name:

sometimes names were chosen on the so-called "variation" principle -- a ninth-century Norwegian Végeirr had sons Vébiǫrn, Vésteinn, Véþormr, Vémundr, Végestr and more children with names of the same kind. (Viking Achievement p. 115).

When variation was used, the childrens' names often contained one of the same name-elements found in the parents' names (Sørensen, "Personal Names", p. 499). Variation was not limited to keeping the first syllable unchanged: family names might use variation by changing the first name element in the various names while keeping the second name element the same, for example: Abiǫrn, Finnbiǫrn, Gunnbiǫrn, Hallbiǫrn, Ketilbiǫrn.

The use of variation and alliteration appear to be the oldest Germanic practice. The custom of naming a newborn after a deceased relative displaced the older custom sometime during the 9th and 10th centuries.

Single-Element Names vs. Compound Names

The basic Old Norse name was usually composed of two name elements, although some names had only one element. Some good examples of single-element names might include:

    Male
  • Egill
  • Biǫrn
  • Fálki
  • Úlfr
    Female
  • Auðr
  • Bera
  • Drífa
  • Finna

Two-element names are combinations of single-elements. These single elements may sometimes be found standing alone as a single-element name, but the majority are found only in compound names. For instance:

    Male
  • Þórbrandr (Þórr+brandr)
  • Biǫrnólfr (Biǫrn+Úlfr)
  • Guðmundr (Guðr+mundr)
    Female
  • Ragnhildr (Reginn+Hildr)
  • Álfdís (Alf+Dís)
  • Halldóra (Halla+Þórr)

It is crucial to understand that one cannot simply "mix-and-match" with random name-elements. Some name elements are only found in the first position and never in the second, while others occur only in the second element and never the first. And in some cases certain name elements were used only with a limited set of other name elements in compound names. As Geirr Bassi notes:

Not all simple names occur in compounds; some may be used only as the first or the second element while some occur in both positions. If it were not for this problem of limited constructability, it would suffice to supply a list of 'name elements' from which compound names could be constructed at will. But a great number of potential compounds constructable from popular elements do not show up anywhere in the extensive documentation. To cite an example, the simple name Hallr (feminine: Halla) is documented as the first element of many compounds: (masculine) Hallbiǫrn, Halldór, Hallfreðr, Hallgeirr, Hallgrímr, Hallkell, Hallormr, Hallsteinn, Hallvarðr, (feminine) Hallbera, Hallbjǫrg, Halldís, Halldóra, Hallfríðr, Hallgerðr, Hallkatla, Hallveig, Hallvǫr, but it is not attested in compounds with the popular second components (masculine) -brandr, -fiðr, -finnr, -gautr, -gestr, - móðr, -oddr, -ólfr, -valdr, or (feminine) -finna, -gríma, -hildr, -ný, -unn, etc., although all such compounds are certainly theoretically possible. (The Old Norse Name, p. 5)

There are also some elements which are only found in male names, while others are found exclusively in female names. In the first case, it may be that we are just missing women's names containing elements that are well-documented in men's names, since we have many fewer women's names surviving from this period than men's names. Some examples of name elements which are exclusive to women's names are: -dís, -veig, -ný.

Names and Luck

In Hauksbók it is mentioned that it was the practice to name children after the gods (Goð-, "god"; Þór-, "Thórr"; Frey-, "Freyr"; Regin-, "power, the gods"; Ás-, "god") and that:

...menn hǫfdu mjǫk þá tvau nǫfn, þótti þat likast til langlifis ok heilla, þótt nokkurir fyrirmælti þeim við goðin, þá mundi þat ekki saka, eí þeir ætti eitt nafn...

Thus it was thought that a compound name composed of two name-elements gave luck and long life, especially those compounded with the names of gods, and that people who had such compound names would have langlifis ok heilla, "long life and health", and it was also thought that if someone cursed a person by calling on the Old Norse gods that it would not hurt the person who was a namesake of the god invoked in the curse (Cleasby-Vigfusson, pp. 207-208 s.v. goð).

Name Meanings

Even a brief look through a list of Old Norse names reveals that the majority contain one or more name-elements which are identical to ordinary nouns and adjectives in Old Norse. While certainly people were aware of the meanings of these words which continued being used in the everyday language, some name-elements are derived from archaic words which were present in the most ancient Germanic roots of Old Norse, but which were no longer commonly in use. Modern philologists make a study of these names and attempt to reconstruct the ancient forms based on well-known rules which describe the way human languages change over time.

Even in cases where name meanings were clearly understood in a contemporary sense, the meaning of the name was not important in choosing a name for a child. As has already been discussed, the use of a family name belonging to an ancestor was the most important factor for the Viking Age practice of naming.

In the lists of names available through the links above. I have provided etymological information wherever possible, for several reasons. While the meanings of the names would not have influenced which name a Viking Age child was given, modern parents write and ask about names to give to their children today, medieval recreationists using these names for their Viking Age personas care about the meanings of names, and so forth. Just recall that a Viking hearing someone introduced as Biǫrn probably didn't immediately think of a bear, any more than a modern person being introduced to a man named Forrest thinks of trees, or hearing of a person named Christie assumes that they are Christian. With a little thought certainly these meanings become apparent, and even today become the grist for puns, joke, nicknames or compliments -- but what we hear first when we hear a name is a "name word" and not the meaning underlying it.

However, while name meanings would not have been the consideration in naming a child, still they had their place, even in the Viking Age. As Mistress Brynhildr jarla Kormáksdóttir notes:

... a very good portion of Old Norse names are [everyday nouns in the everyday language of the Vikings]: Unnr (wave), Auðr (treasure), Refr (fox), Biǫrn (bear), Drífa (snowdrift), Mǫrd (weasel), Úlfr (wolf), Geirr (spear), Steinn (rock), Hrafn (raven), Óspakr (Not Wise), Ófeigr (Not Cowardly), Ljótr (Ugly) -- you know the list. Compounds take a bit more thinking ("Þórólfr" = Thor + wolf; "Vigdís" = battle + goddess), but you can't tell me they weren't thinking... The Celtic names (Niál, Kormák, Dufthak, Kiallak, Melkof &c.) are the only batch I can think of where the meaning wouldn't have been absolutely patent.

Okay, I guess you can argue that one can know the meaning of a name and still not think about it: witness all the Junes and Aprils and Dawns and Autumns and Summers not born at the designated time, or the Noels and Natalies not born at Christmas... but I have a hard time believing Icelanders didn't twig to the connection most of the time. Why else would they call Cat Stevens "Hǫgni Stefánsson" (besides to be funny)? The character Ref in Gísla saga, almost certainly not a historical personage, is definitely sly as a fox... coincidence? I think not. (Personal correspondence dated 20 March 2001)

Surnames: Patronymics and Matronymics

The Vikings did not use surnames as we understand them. They followed the system of using patronymics (or rarely matronymics) and this system is still in use in Iceland today. A patronymic is simply a name that means Son-of-{father's name} or Daughter-of-{father's name}. In Old Norse, we see names such as Skallagrimson (son of Skallagrim), Hakonardottir (daughter of Hakon).

Patronymics (or matronymics) must follow the ordinary rules of Old Norse grammar. In modern English, when we want to indicate a possessive (sometimes also known as the genitive case of the noun) we do so by adding an ending (the possessive of John is John's) or else we use a phrase that indicates the possessive (of John). So in modern English, when we want to indicate a son belonging to John, we say John's son or the son of John

In Old Norse, the possessive is indicated by a change in the ending of the word. Without teaching an entire course on Old Norse here, I will provide below some basic rules controlling the formation of Old Norse possessives for use in patronymics and matronymics, from Geirr bassi Haraldsson's The Old Norse Name:

If the name ends in The ending will change to Sample name in nominative case Genitive+Son Genitive+daughter
-i -a Snorri Snorrason Snorradóttir
-a -u Sturla Sturluson Sturladóttir
-nn -ns Sveinn Sveinsson Sveinsdóttir
-ll -ls Ketill Ketilsson Ketilsdóttir
-rr -rs Geirr Geirson Geirssdóttir

Most other men's names end in terminal -R, which normally forms the genitive by adding -s:

If the name ends in The ending will change to Sample name in nominative case Genitive+Son Genitive+daughter
-r -s Grímr Grímsson Grímsdóttir
-ir -is Grettir Grettisson Grettisdóttir

Certain men's names form their genitive in -ar. Most of these are names ending in -dr, but others are included:

-dan
-endr
-fredr
-frøðr
-gautr
-mundr
-røðr
-undr
-unn
-urðr
-varðr
-viðr
-vindr
-þórðr
-þrándr

If the name ends in The ending will change to Sample name in nominative case Genitive+Son Genitive+daughter
  -ar Hálfdan Hálfdanarson Hálfdanardóttir
  -ar Auðunn Auðunarson Auðunardóttir
-r -ar Sigurðr Sigurðarson Sigurðardóttir

Mens' names that end in -biǫrn ("bear") or -ǫrn ("eagle") change form slightly in the genitive, becoming -biarnar and -arnar.

Names ending in -maðr have the genitive form -manns.

Names ending in -ss do not change in the genitive, but in the compound patronymic, one of the "s" is dropped, thus Vigfúss, Vigfússon.

Matronymics: While people did occasionally bear matronymics ({Mother's-name}'s-son) it was extremely uncommon. I can document only a handful of men with matronymics. There were a total of only 34 women in Iceland whose sons are shown by the historical records to have borne their mother's name as a matronymic, and most of these women lived in the northern and western districts of Iceland (Barði Guðmundsson. The Origin of the Icelanders. trans. Lee M. Hollander. Lincoln: Univ of Nebraska Press. 1967. Library of Congress Catalog Card #66-19265. pp. 26-31). Some of these men with matronymics were court skalds:

  • Eilif Guðrunarson
  • Hrafn Guðrunarson
  • Stein Herdísarson
  • Bersi Skald-Tórfuson
  • Kormak Dolluson
  • Ofeig Iarngerðsson of Skarð

Some of the mothers whose names were used in matronymics were:

  • Dalla
  • Droplaug
  • Fjorleif
  • Guðrun
  • Herdís
  • Iarngerð
  • Mardoll
  • Tórfa

Nicknames and Short-form Names

In addition, people were sometimes called by heiti, uppnefi, or viðrnefni (bynames or nicknames). These nicknames were rarely, if ever, used by the person themselves, and almost never used to the person's face. You were tagged by your friends (or enemies) with a byname. This becomes painfully obvious when you look at the historical bynames we have recorded. they are invariably descriptive, and mostly derogatory in some way, though a few denote desireable traits the person was known for.

Bynames can be divided roughly into eight categories: (1) physical characteristics, (2) habits, (3) temperament, (4) occupation, (5) place of origin, (6) biographical, (7) inherited bynames, and (8) other. Studies of the bynames of modern Icelanders seem to indicate that the first two types of byname are the most prevalent.

Perhaps eventually I will compile a list of Norse bynames to accompany this article, however at the present time I am concentrating on further enriching the personal name information. In the meantime, perhaps the best collection of nick-names in Old Norse is to be found in Geirr Bassi Haraldsson's The Old Norse Name. Another source is in the glossaries and appendices of Viking Age literature such as the sagas.

In addition to bynames people also used short forms of longer names, just as we use Bobby for Robert or Liz for Elizabeth today. Several of these short forms are reported in the lists of names available through the links above.

Sometimes adults were given a nickname in a formal ceremony, for example if the new name was the result of some special event or feat of skill or prowess. In such a case, the newly-nick-named person would be given gifts, just as newborns were gifted when they received their name after birth.

Ceremonies Involved in Name-Giving

Naming is an important rite of incorporation in many cultures, and certainly was so among the Norse. Not all children were raised: children with defects or which the family could not afford to rear were exposed. The fate of a new-born generally was the responsibility of the father, or the male head of household if the father was not available. If it was decided to rear the child, then the baby was washed, dressed, and formally named. The ceremony of naming was certainly a rite of incorporation, for once the child had been named exposing it thereafter counted in the laws as murder. The giving of the name conferred upon the child the status of a member of the family and any rights of inheritance. In antiquity, it is assumed that placing the child at the breast to suckle would have been the act which signified the child was to be reared, not the naming. However, by the Viking Age, the ceremony of naming took the place of this older ceremony.

Naming was done by a practice called ausa vatni, "to pour water over". The ceremony began with the lifting of the child from the floor (where, presumably, it had been laid for the father's inspection and evaluation of its fitness to be raised) and placed in the father's arms (borit ar foður sinum). This rite was not the same as Christian baptism, which is usually termed skirn or "purification" in Old Norse after the advent of Christianity in the North. Once in the father's arms, a sign recalling the Hammer of the god Þórr was made over the child, probably invoking the protection of the god who was considered Mankind's Warder as well as hallowing the child and the ceremony. Another vital element in the name-giving ceremony was the giving of a gift to the child: children received a name-gift from friends and relatives of the family, and also another gift called a "tooth-gift" when the baby cut its first tooth.


A romantic depiction of name-giving.
"I own this baby for my son. He shall be called Harald".
(adapted from: Jennie Hall. Viking Tales. Chicago: Rand McNally. 1902)

The sagas include several mentions of this naming ceremony. For example in Egils saga Skallagrímssonar:

Skalla-Grímr og þau Bera áttu bǫrn mjǫg mǫrg, og var það fyrst, að ǫll ǫnduðust; þá gátu þau son, og var vatni ausinn og hét Þórólfr.

Skallagrím and Bera had many children but all the older ones died in infancy. Then they had a son. They sprinkled him with water and called him Þórólfr. (Egils saga Skallagrímssonar, chapter 31)

Another example can be seen in Eyrbyggja saga:

Þórsteinn þorskabítur átti son er kallaður var Bǫrkr digri. En sumar það er Þórsteinn var hálfþrítugur fæddi Þóra sveinbarn og var Grímur nefndur er vatni var ausinn. Þann svein gaf Þórsteinn Þór og kvað vera skyldu hofgoða og kallar hann Þórgrím.

Þórsteinn Cod-Biter had a son called Bǫrkr the Stout. Then in the summer when Þórsteinn was twenty-five years old, Þóra gave birth to another son, who was sprinkled with water and given the name Grímr. Þórsteinn dedicated this boy to Þórr, calling him Þórgrímr, and said he should become a temple priest. (Eyrbyggja saga, chapter 11)

This rite was also used for girl-children:

Þóra ól barn um sumarið, og var það mær; var hún vatni ausin og nafn gefið og hét Ásgerðr.

In the summer Þóra gave birth to a girl, who was sprinkled with water and given the name Ásgerðr. (Egils saga Skallagrímssonar, chapter 35)
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Bibliography

Viking Name-Giving

  • Cleasby, Richard and Guðbrandr Vigfusson. An Icelandic-English Dictionary. 2nd. ed. Oxford: Clarendon. 1957.

  • Ellis-Davidson, Hilda R. Gods and Myths of Northern Europe. Harmondsworth: Penguin. 1964.
    Buy this book from Amazon.com today! Buy this book today!

  • Ellis-Davidson, Hilda R. "Thor's Hammer." Patterns of Folklore. Totowa NJ: D.S. Brewer. 1978. pp. 113-127.

  • Flom, George T. "Modern Name-Giving in Sogn, Norway and the Pagan Belief in Soul-Transmigration." Scandinavian Studies 2:4 (March 1916) pp. 235-254.

  • Pentikainen, Juha. The Nordic Dead-Child Tradition and Nordic Dead-Child Beings: A Study in Comparative Religion. Helsinki: Academia Scientiarum Fennica. 1968.

  • Sørensen, John Kousgård. "Personal Names" in: Medieval Scandinavia: An Encyclopedia. Phillip Pulsiano et al., eds. Garland Reference Library of the Humanities 934. New York: Garland. 1993. pp. 498-500.
    Buy this book from Amazon.com today! Buy this book today!

  • Stefánsson, Jón. "The Oldest Known List of Scandinavian Names." Saga-Book of the Viking Society 4:2 (1906) pp. 296-311.

  • Ström, Gustav. "Vore Forfædres Tro paa Sjælevandring og deres Opkaldelsessystem" [Our Fore-fathers' Belief in Soul Transmigration and Their Naming Methods], Arkiv för Nordisk Filologi 1893. pp. 199-222.

  • Whitelock, Dorothy. "Scandinavian Personal Names in the Liber Vitae of Thorney Abbey." Saga-Book of the Viking Society 12:3 (1941) pp. 127-53.

  • Woolf, Henry Bosley. The Old Germanic Principles of Name-Giving. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press. 1939.
    [Woolf has compiled an impressive set of genealogies and king-lists from throughout the Germanic world. However, he has normalized the names, meaning that he's cleaned up the spelling to better conform to the norms of modern English, and he doesn't tell you which names are historical vs. which are mythological - a problem in the genealogies and king-lists, since most tend to try to trace their ancestry back to notables such as the god Óðinn or Wotan, or else to famous Classical figures such as Æneas or Priam of Troy, or even to Biblical characters such as Adam, Noah, Abraham, etc. His examples of the way names were selected to contain similar or identical name elements within a family is very useful, however.]

Old Norse Personal Names

  • Aryanhwy merch Catmael's A Simple Guide to Creating Old Norse Names
    [An overview of Viking names, based primarily on Geirr Bassi Haraldsson's The Old Norse Name. It's good to note that Geirr Bassi (and the sources here derived from Geirr Bassi) don't give dates, and do in fact include names that are post-Viking Age. The only way to get dates for most of these is to go to a print-only source such as E.H. Lind.]

  • Aryanhwy merch Catmael's Viking Names found in the Landnámabók [Based on Geirr Bassi Haraldsson's "The Old Norse Name".]

  • Geirr Bassi Haraldsson. The Old Norse Name. Studia Marklandica I. Olney, MD: Markland Medieval Militia. 1977.
    [The best inexpensive source of information on Old Norse names for SCA folk, since the SCA College of Heralds relies upon it extensively. This is one of the few name sources that the CoH does not require photocopies of the documentation for, just the page number that the name is located upon. It's available from Black Sheep Books, 9850-3 San Jose Blvd, Jacksonville FL 32257, 904-880-1895. The cost per copy is $6.00, shipping is $2.50 for 1-3 copies.]

  • Lind, E.H. Norsk-Isländska Dopnamn ock Fingerade Namn från Medeltiden. (Uppsala & Leipzig: 1905-1915, sup. Oslo, Uppsala and Kobenhavn: 1931).
    [An extremely useful and thorough source on the names of Iceland and Norway. Lind gives medieval spellings, the source each variant comes from, and best of all, dates. The text is in Norwegian, but isn't too hard to use even if you do not read Norwegian.]

  • Peterson, Lena. Nordiskt runnamnslexikon (In Swedish)
    [A dictionary of Old Norse names from runic inscriptions. Most of these names come from eastern Scandinavia and are therefore most appropriate for people with personas from Sweden or Denmark, but there are some west Scandinavian names from Norway, the British Isles, etc. as well, also some placenames.]

  • Nordiskt runnamnslexikon (rough English translation)
    [A huge zipped PDF. You will need a utility to unzip the file -- for example, the shareware tool WinZip -- and you will need a copy of the free Adobe Acrobat Reader.]

Old Norse Bynames (Nicknames)

  • Aryanhwy merch Catmael's Viking Bynames found in the Landnámabók
    [By-names or nick-names can be an element in reconstructing an Old Norse name. Based on Geirr Bassi Haraldsson's The Old Norse Name.]

  • Hale, Christopher J. "Modern Icelandic Personal Bynames." Scandinavian Studies 53 (1981): 397-404.
    [This is a useful study on how nick-names are used in Iceland. Hale points out that most nick-names are in fact derogatory, and would never be used by a person of themself, and almost never by others to the person's face. Looking at period Old Norse nick-names (such as the list with meanings given in Geirr Bassi, above), it soon becomes apparent that this is nothing new in Iceland.]

  • Lind, E.H. Norsk-Isländska Personbinamn från Medeltiden.
    [Contains information dealing with bynames in Iceland and Norway.]

  • Lindorm Eriksson's The Bynames of the Viking Age Runic Inscriptions
    [By-names or nick-names can be an element in reconstructing an Old Norse name.]

  • Smith, A. H. "Early Northern Nicknames and Surnames. Saga-Book of the Viking Society 11:1 (1934) pp. 30-60.

Pronunciation

Placenames

  • Rygh, Oluf. Norske Gaardnavne (Norwegian Farm Names)
    [The search page is in English, and farm names are good both as a model for household names and also in forming locative bynames. It does require some understanding of ON locatives to form one, but this is where you'd start to get the base forms (locatives combine a preposition such as <á> or <í> with a placename in the dative case).]

  • Landnámabók (Sturlubók). (WWW: Netútgáfan, 1998)
    [Survives in five redactions, the earliest two being Sturlubók, composed by Sturla Þorðarson (d. 1284) and Hauksbók, written by Haukr Erlendsson in 1306-1308. An account of the discovery and settlement of Iceland, deals with roughly 430 settlers, their families and their descendants, preserving over 3,500 personal names and almost 1,500 farm names. Many sagas rely upon Landnámabók as a source for genealogical and biographical information. Note that this version is modern Icelandic, which is very close to Old Norse but has some minor spelling differences. This will get you very close to the right spelling, and you can usually clean that up to a pure Old Norse form using the Cleasby-Vigfusson dictionary (see above)]

  • Landnámabók (very out-of-date English translation)
    [The "Index and Glossary of Placenames" is the place to look for Icelandic placenames. The spellings and meanings given in this translation for the placenames are very often just completely wrong, but it can give a person at least an idea and get you started. From here, it's easy to go to the Netútgáfan website Icelandic text of Landnámabók and find a better spelling - though note that even that may need some minor tinkering.]

Anglo-Scandinavian Names (Viking Names from the Danelaw)

  • Fellows-Jensen, Gillian. Scandinavian Personal Names in Lincolnshire and Yorkshire. Copenhagen. Akademisk Forlag. 1968.
    [You have to use this source with caution, as Fellows-Jensen is working backwards from place-names and personal names in medieval sources and using linguistic principals to figure out what original Old Norse name these may have been derived from. This doesn't mean the book is not useful - in a bunch of cases he includes information documenting a name in Scandinavia, with dates. He also includes etymological information (name meanings), which would not have mattered to the Vikings, but modern folk like to know what a name may have meant.]

  • Fellows Jensen, Gillian. "Some Observations on the Scandinavian Personal Names in English Place-Names." Saga-Book of the Viking Society 16:1 (1962) pp. 67-71.

Norwegian Names

  • Diplomatarium Norvegicum
    [A searchable collection of the texts of approximately 20,000 charters and other offical documents connected to Norway in the period 1050 to 1590.]

  • Sørheim, Helge. "Rað Rett Rúnar. Runeinnskrifter fra Møre og Romsdal." Tidsskrift for Sunnmøre Historielag 1996. pp 9-31.
    [A survey and a discussion on runic inscriptions and names found in these inscriptions, dated from the Roman Iron Age to the Middle Ages, found in Møre and Romsdal.]

Danish Names

  • Lis Jacobsen and Erik Moltke, with Anders Baeksted and Karl Martin Nielsen, eds. Danmarks Runeindskrifter. Copenhagen. 1941-1942.

  • Danmarks Gamle Personnavne, I Fornavne, II Tilnavne. eds. Gunnar Knudsen, Marius Kristensen and Rikard Hornby. Copenhagen. 1936-1964.
    [Additionally, volume 12 contains medieval Danish bynames.]

  • Danmarks Stednavne I ff. Copenhagen: Stednavneudvalget (Institut for Navneforskning). 1922.

Swedish Names

  • Aeskil M. Lundgren and E. Brate. Svenska Personnamn Fran Medeltiden. Uppsala 1892-1915.

Manx Names

  • Gelling, Margaret. "Norse and Gaelic in Medieval Man: the Place Name Evidence." The Vikings: Proceedings of the Symposium of the Faculty of Arts of Uppsala University, June 6-9, 1977. eds. Thorsten Andersson and Karl Sandred. Stockholm: Almqvist and Wiskell. 1978. ISBN 91-554-0706-4. pp. 107-118.

  • Kneen, J.J. The Personal Names of the Isle of Man. London: Oxford University Press, 1937.

  • Megaw, Basil and Eleanor. "The Norse Heritage in the Isle of Man." The Early Cultures of North-West Europe. H.M. Chadwick Memorial Studies. eds. Sir Cyril Fox and Bruce Dickins. Cambridge. 1950. pp. 143-170.

  • Olsen, Magnus. "Runic Inscriptions in Great Britain, Ireland, and the Isle of Man," Viking Antiquities in Great Britain and Ireland. Part 6. ed. Haakon Shetelig. Oslo: 1954. pp. 151-233.

  • Vigfusson, Gudbrand, "Northerners in the Isle of Man." English Historical Review 3 (1888): pp. 498-501.

  • Wilson, David M. "Manx Memorial Stones of the Viking Period." Saga Book of the Viking Society for Northern Research 18 (1970-1971) pp. 1-18.

  • Wilson, David M. The Viking Age in the Isle of Man - the Archaeological Evidence. C.C. Rafn Lecture No. 3. Odense. 1974.

Rus and Varangian Names

Early Norman Names

  • Jean Adigard des Gautries. Les Noms de Personnes Scandinaves en Normandie de 911 a 1066. Lund. 1954.
    [This book makes a very thorough listing of names in early Normandy. All of these names come from Latin documents and hence are in a Latinized form, but the Scandinavian antecedents of many names is still very easy to see. An excellent source for early Norman names.]

  • F.M. Stenton. The Scandinavian Colonies in England and Normandy. Transactions of the Royal Historical Society, 4th series. Vol 27. 1945.

  • R.E. Zachrisson. A Contribution of the Study of Anglo-Norman Influence on English Placenames. Lunds UniversitetsArsskrift. 1909.

  • R.E. Zachrisson. The French Element: Introduction to the Survey of English Place-Names. EPNS Vol. 1 part 1. 1924.

  • Jules Lair, ed. Dudonis Sancti Quentini. De moribus sue actis primorum Normanniae ducum. Memoires de la Societe des Antiquaires de Normandie. 23. Caen: Le Blanc-Hardel. 1865.

  • Raymonde Forevill, ed. Guillaume de Poitiers. Historie de Guillaume le Conquerant. Paris: Les Belles Lettres. 1952.

  • L. Musset. "Scandinavian Influence in Norman Literature." Anglo-Norman Studies: Proceedings of the Battle Conference 6. 1983. ed. R. Allen Brown. Woodbridge: Boydell and Brewer. 1984 pp. 107-121.

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