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Buried in A Viking Boat

The Viking burial boat at Oseberg
The Viking burial boat at Oseberg. See the University of Oslo's Museum of the Viking Age for more details. And even a virtual (yes, 3D) look at the Oseberg boat and many more exhibits.

 Burial Far From the Sea


It wasn't just kings and warriors who were awarded the honor of being buried in a Viking longboat. The most beautiful Viking ship ever found was uncovered in Oseberg in 1904.


Who was buried in this serpent-headed boat? Two women, one about 75, the other about 50.


Who were they? Wealthy, respected ... and that's about all anyone really knows.

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Where did the word 'Wednesday' come from?

From Odin himself. Woden is a variation of the god's name, and it is from that, that Wednesday is derived.

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Who were the Celts?

The Celts started out in the central Alps and spread to just about everywhere – from Ireland to Turkey. And then came the Romans about 225 BCE and gave this scattered people its first defeat. And, over the centuries, they were fairly beaten down, except for Ireland, Scotland and other areas, which were hard to reach and maintain.

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Thunder Out of Asgard

In Norse mythology, the sound of thunder meant one god was busy.


Thor's hammer was the thunder god's chief weapon to keep the always-aggressive giants at bay and out of Asgard. Thunder was the sound of Thor's hammer crashing into his enemies.


Mjöllnir, the name of the hammer, is thought by experts to mean "Lightning."

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Shape-Shifting Imp

Irish mythology features a sly shape-shifter.


The Puca (Pooka) is mischievous, rather than truly evil, and can change into any shape it pleases.


It's fond of hanging around pubs late at night and waiting for drunks to come out. The Puca shifts into a horse shape and takes the drunk for a hair-raising ride around the countryside.

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The Irish Vampire

Who was the blood-sucking Abhartach?


In Irish lore, this creature was a revenant who rises from the dead to suck blood. He is killed several times and buried standing up.


But a Druid tells the hero how to make him stay dead: Kill him with a sword of yew, bury him upside down, ring the grave with thorns and put a great stone on top of it.

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The Cursed Swans

Children changed into nearly immortal birds?


In Irish mythology, Lir was the ruler of the Irish Sea and had four children with his first wife. After she died, he married her sister, who grew increasingly jealous of the children.


She changed them into swans and cursed them to be birds for 900 years.

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The Salmon of Wisdom

In Irish mythology, the salmon holds the key to wisdom.


Druids said that the Salmon of Knowledge was created when the fish ate nuts from a magical hazel tree. It digested the nuts, and the knowledge of the world was given to it.


They also believed that whoever ate the salmon would be the wisest person in the world.

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The Goddess of Skiing

Who was the Norse goddess Skadi and why is she on skis?


Skadi is a goddess associated with skiing, bowhunting, winter and the mountains. Her first husband was a consolation prize from the gods because they'd killed her father.


Alas, that union didn't last.


Who was her second husband? Odin himself, and they had several children together.


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The A-Lister Norse World

In Norse mythology, one of the nine worlds is Alfheim, where the beautiful people live.


Alfheim – This is the home of the elves, demigods who are described as luminous and beautiful. Not much is known about this world or its elf denizens; it is only mentioned twice in the old texts.

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The Beings of Svartalfheim

Who lives in Svartalfheim, one of the nine Norse Worlds?


Svartalfheim is the land of the dwarves and is also called Nidavellir (pronounced "NID-uh-vell-ir"), which can mean "dark fields."


The dwarves live underground and are master smiths and craftsmen. Some experts think this homeland was a labyrinth of mines and forges.

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Vanaheim - Go West!

Who lives in Vanaheim, one of the nine Norse Worlds?


Vanaheim is associated with fertility and nature.


Not much is known of this home of the Vanir tribe, except that its name ending in "-heim" rather than "-gard" indicates it's wilder than the law-abiding and orderly societies "within the fence."


Nobody knows exactly where it is, but some experts say it lies to the west of Asgard.

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Hel: Not a Bad Place at All

Helheim (realm of Hel) or simply Hel, which means "hidden."

This is the land of the dead presided over by the goddess Hel. Some say a dog guards the entrance. Some say it is underground or in the cold and dark North.


Unlike the Christian Hell, the Norse Hel isn't for those who are being punished or those of morally outrageous conduct. The Norse Hel is a place where the dead live on, pretty much doing what they were doing in their alive states.

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Utgard: Beyond the Fence

What is Jotunheim or Utgard, one of the Nine Worlds in Norse mythology?


Jotunheim or Utgard is the land of the giants and carries a meaning of being "beyond the fence." In other words, beyond the orderliness of civilization and law.


It is a place of deep, dark forests, and mountain peaks with an everlasting winter.

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The Visible Realm

What is Midgard, one of the Nine Worlds in Norse mythology?


Midgard is primarily linked to humanity and is the only one of the Nine Worlds mostly located in the visible realm. In the beginning, the gods built a fence around Midgard out of first being's Ymir's eyebrows.


The fence was to protect Midgard from the giants.

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Asgard Inside the Fence

Asgard is one of the Nine Worlds in Norse mythology.


Asgard is, of course, home to all the Marvel panoply of gods, but, interestingly, its name carries the meaning of having a wall or fence of civilization.


That which is behind the fence is law-abiding and orderly. That which is outside is chaotic and wild. It's linked to the human world by the Bifrost rainbow bridge.


By the way, it's pronounced BIFF-roast.

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The Second World of Fire

What is Muspelheim, the second of the Nine Worlds in Norse mythology?


Muspelheim is the home to the fire giants. Fire from here meets with ice from Niflheim for form the first being, the giant Ymir.

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The World of Niflheim

What is Niflheim, one of the Nine Worlds?


Niflheim is the place of primordial darkness, cold, mist and ice. Ice from this area combined with fire to make the first being, the giant Ymir.

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The Nine Worlds of the Norse

In Norse mythology, there are nine worlds.


Níu Heimar means Nine Worlds in old texts, and the world tree Yggdrasil holds them in its branches and roots. Their names are Niflheim, Muspelheim, Asgard, Midgard, Jotunheim, Vanaheim, Alfheim, Svartalfheim and Helheim.


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The Meaning of 'Druid'

What did the word "druid" mean in Old Irish?


"Druid" or "druí" meant "Sorcerer." Some sources also say the root word is "druwid," which means "oak-knower."

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The Irish Iliad

The Battle Raid of Cooley or The Taín is called The Iliad of the Irish.


This early epic tells of a war between the king and queen of Connacht against Ulster over possession of a prize bull. Curses and a teen demigod are tangled in the story.

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Druids and the First Mention

Who was the first man to write about the Druids?


Julius Caesar, a tireless self-promoter, wrote Commentarii de Bello Gallico in 50 BCE. For those not fluent in dead languages, this means "Commentaries on the Gallic War." He said they were one of the two most important groups in the area.

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The Pyre's Wolf-Riding Giantess

Who pushed Baldur's funeral ship into the sea?


When Odin and Frigg's beloved son died, his ship was to be his pyre. It got stuck, however, and stayed so until a giantess named Hyrrokkin ("Withered by Fire") came in riding a wolf and using poisonous snakes for reins. She gave it a massive push and freed it from the sand.

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Baldur's Death and the Beginning of the End

Why was the death of Odin's beloved son, Baldur, so ominous?


Baldur was generous, joyful and beloved, but he foresaw his own death. Odin went to the underworld to stop it, but saw that the halls were decked out in splendor, a feast awaiting the coming of Baldur.


Odin and his wife, Frigg, forbid anything to hurt Baldur, but reckoned not with sly Loki, who tricked a blind god into killing the beloved son. This marked the beginning of the Twilight of the Gods.

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Twilight of the Gods

What will be the signal for end of days in Norse legend?


Ragnarok, end of days or twilight of the gods (and other names), will be soon when a great winter comes with blowing snow, biting winds and the sun's disappearance.


The unprecedented cold with last three winters and no summers.

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The Bearded Dagda

Who was The Dagda?


The Dagda is an important god to the ancient Irish. He often appears as a bearded giant in a hooded cloak who has, among other magical objects, a harp that can control the emotions and change the seasons.

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Hangout of the Norns

The Norns hang out by Yggdrasil, the tree at the center of the Norse universe.


The Norns were in change of ruling the destiny of gods and humans. The three most important Norns were Urðr, Verðandi and Skuld, which translate roughly as "Past," "Present" and "Future."

One of their other duties: They get water from the Well of Fate and pour it over Yggdrasil, so it flourishes.

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How Odin Made the Universe

Odin and his brothers killed someone to create the universe.


In the beginning, the first cow, Audhumla, licked a salt block that became Búri, one of the foundation gods of Norse mythology. Búri had a son named Bor. Bor had three sons: Odin, Vili and Vé. So, untangling the family tree, Odin is the cow's great-grandson. Or, Odin is Búri's grandson.

In any event, the three brothers got together and killed Ymir, the first being. They used his body to create the universe.

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Lands of Fire and Ice

In the beginning in Norse mythology, there were two realms of ice and fire.


Niflheim was a realm of mist and ice, and Muspelheim was the realm of fire. Like an existential Oreo, a void was between them and that was called Ginnungagap.


Wherever the two realms met, there was steam and eventually created Ymir, the first being and a giant created from the drops of water, and Audhumla, the first cow.

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The Irish Stone of Destiny

What was the The Lia Fáil?


This is the Stone of Destiny whose cry confirmed the rightful king of the land. When it didn't confirm Cuchullain, an Irish warrior demi-god, he had the stone broken.


Half of it went to Scotland where it ended up in the throne of the British monarchy.

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