View Full Version : Famous Viking Warrior Was a Woman, DNA Reveals

Wednesday, September 13th, 2017, 10:19 PM
Famous Viking Warrior Was a Woman, DNA Reveals

More than a millennium ago in what’s now southeastern Sweden, a wealthy Viking warrior was laid to rest, in a resplendent grave filled with swords, arrowheads, and two sacrificed horses. The site reflected the ideal of Viking male warrior life, or so many archaeologists had thought.

New DNA analyses of the bones, however, confirm a revelatory find: the grave belonged to a woman.

The study, published recently in the American Journal of Physical Anthropology, sends ripples of surprise through archaeologists’ understanding of the Vikings, medieval seafarers who traded and raided across Europe for centuries. (Explore how Vikings really lived in National Geographic magazine.)

"It was held up before as kind of the ‘ideal’ Viking male warrior grave,”
says Baylor University archaeologist Davide Zori, who wasn’t involved with the research. “[The new study] goes to the heart of archaeological interpretation: that we’ve always mapped on our idea of what gender roles were.”

Viking lore had long hinted that not all warriors were men. One early tenth-century Irish text tells of Inghen Ruaidh (“Red Girl”), a female warrior who led a Viking fleet to Ireland. And Zori notes that numerous Viking sagas, such as the 13th-century Saga of the Volsungs, tell of “shield-maidens” fighting alongside male warriors.

But some archaeologists had considered these female warriors to be merely mythological embellishments—a belief colored by modern expectations of gender roles.

Rest of article : http://news.nationalgeographic.com/2017/09/viking-warrior-woman-archaeology-spd/

Did the infamous " Shield Maidens" actually exist?

What are your thoughts

Thursday, September 14th, 2017, 03:11 AM
There is one expert (http://mobile.abc.net.au/news/2017-09-13/female-viking-warrior-might-not-be-female-after-all/8941196?pfmredir=sm) that raises doubts about that interpretation. By, among things pointing to lack of injuries on the bones. And of course that raises the question if it was the grave of a warior at all.

But even if it is, that would mean that only a very small percentage of the so called graves where for those who where women. Which is much lower then what was claimed by some feminists a few years ago.

North Vinlander
Thursday, September 14th, 2017, 04:41 AM
Coincidentally, Lauren Southern just did a video on this.


Thursday, September 14th, 2017, 05:32 AM
Coincidentally, Lauren Southern just did a video on this.


Varg also did a video on this to. ;)


Thursday, September 14th, 2017, 10:39 PM
The way the woman is laid down on her side in a curved posture, in a sleeping position, is curious.

I would expect a warrior to be buried stretched out and straight. Like in real life, erect and towering. In an imposing posture, resembling his being alive.

In a sleeping position is something unwarriorlike.

It seems the early interpretation that there was a warrior buried was most likely based on the sword and the axe.

That might also have been signs for ruling. The sword was used at the Thing as a sign of justice.

The sword had also spiritual meaning. It presented the spirit/mind cutting through all kinds of problems, separating the weak from the strong. As the sword had to be hammered numerous time, heated and cooled down until it is unbendable and can hit without breaking itrepresents the Warriors life. Tyr is connected to swords, his name was invocatec always twice when in connection to the sword.

The axe as a symbol is not known to me.

The game which was found with her is interpreted the way, that it was her who made strategic decisions. I think it is a bit far fetched. (Would be interesting what kind of game it was.

We know from the Viking ship burial described by an Arab, that the chief had a Kebsweib, a woman he slept with, which agreed to die to be with him. Also his horse had been slaughtered and was burned with the ship and Kebsweib.

To my knowledge 'shield maiden' had a more sexual and derogative undertone. Meaning most likely the women were lose women and not excactly in the business of fighting and war. Most likely there was no woman who could fight with an axe, as the enormous strength and ferocity of the warrior could most likely not have been matched by a woman.

My guess is that she was buried with her man, in a sleeping position as that is what she most likely did with her man, who for some reason isn't in the grave.

Thursday, September 14th, 2017, 11:00 PM
The way the woman is laid down on her side in a curved posture, in a sleeping position, is curious.

I would expect a warrior to be buried stretched out and straight. Like in real life, erect and towering. In an imposing posture, resembling his being alive.

In a sleeping position is something unwarriorlike.

Most Pagan burials they buried on their sides in a sleeping position for men as well as women. It is a Cristian thing to lay the body on its back.

Thursday, September 14th, 2017, 11:18 PM
Might be true for non warriors.

Here an image of a Viking burial in Ireland


The sword on the right side. right like in Recht (law) righteous= gerecht, gericht (court)etc.

Thursday, September 14th, 2017, 11:27 PM
Here a Saxon warrior


Thursday, September 14th, 2017, 11:35 PM
Here the instructions Brunhilde gave for Sigurds funeral

Ţví at hánum fylgja
fimm ambáttir,
átta ţjónar,
eđlum góđir,
fóstrman mitt
ok fađerni,
ţat er Buđli gaf
barni sínu.[16]

Bond-women five
shall follow him,
And eight of my thralls,
well-born are they,
Children with me,
and mine they were
As gifts that Budhli
his daughter gave.[17]

Wolf Guard
Friday, September 15th, 2017, 04:51 AM
If it is a female, then it's not as if this causes the entire existence of the Viking male to be called into question, which is what it sounds like NG is gunning for.

Friday, September 15th, 2017, 11:07 AM
Might be true for non warriors.

Here an image of a Viking burial in Ireland


The sword on the right side. right like in Recht (law) righteous= gerecht, gericht (court)etc.

What is the time frame of this grave, keep in mind that by the end of the Viking age most Norse were Christian.

Despite all this there are more than just this one grave of a female warrior type. Do I think it was common....no, but I do believe they existed.

Throughout history there have many cases of women playing warrior roles from different cultures in different time periods. Even during the US war between the States it is well documented that there were a few cases of women soldiers that dressed like men and fought in battle. Still again it was most likely rare but it did happen.

Saturday, September 16th, 2017, 11:05 AM
She might be a woman, but if she is, so what? Are some men scientist really that threatened if they found evidence of a woman warrior? Not like it means that the whole Viking army was made of women, does it? Really, some folks should relax and stop being dramatic each time they find evidence for atypical women's roles.

Even without this evidence, we've still got women warriors & rulers throughout history, so it's possible. Folks shouldn't be tryin to deny history just cause it doesn't fit their ideology, or whatever. ;)

Saturday, September 16th, 2017, 03:53 PM
Well, Scythian women had to kill a male enemy before they were allowed to marry and have children. These women were most likely the source of the Amazon women warrior.

How much truth these stories hold I do not know.

Even in these days women killers are rare and they mostly use non-violent methods.

In a fight a woman has no chance against a warrior. Simply body strength makes her an inferior fighter, male testorerone are most likely lacking too.

Simply imagine a UFC fight from a woman against a man. It won't work.

I believe it is the idea of 'equalness' projected on the past.

Women warriors, if they ever existed, don't threaten me. Do you think my knees are shaking now just by the idea thereof?

To SpearBrave:

Those are pre-Christian graves.

Saturday, September 16th, 2017, 04:10 PM
This article is also very skeptical of the claim of a woman warrior


As the grave was uncovered in the 1880s and the bones stored in a bag the identification of the bones in recent times for DNA analyzes is dubious.

The article as well gives a reason for the modern fascination of women warriors and also claims that it is highly unlikely that there ever was one.

So, it is far from clear that this was a woman warrior nor is it suitable as evidence that there ever was one.

It is an unproven claim based on the wishful thinking of modern ideology.

Monday, September 18th, 2017, 12:33 AM
The Sagas even mention the odd fighting Viking woman, and true, in harsh conditions it mightn't have been all that uncommon to happen. I just don't think that it was as widespread or commonplace as let's say the show Vikings would have us believe. And it's more likely that a woman of some societal standing would have the option to do so rather than a regular farmer's wife. :P

I ask this: What difference would it make to us to learn that sometimes, women of our folk, in the past were found on the battlefield? None. It would neither take away the value of the male warrior who is both more suited to a fighting lifestyle and has generally been responsible for defence. Nor would it magically mean women were generally accepted as warriors or leaders. Even with the Celts, Boudicca was accepted to lead an army due to her standing, but she led virtually exclusively men into battle.

Both the attempt to wishfully create a vision of the shield-maiden as a regular life-choice in pre-Christian Norse society and the attempt to refute at all costs that this might have possibly been a fighting woman of some standing are ridiculous if they're grounded chiefly not on what's actually there but on what we or others want to see, whether that's a cementation of traditional roles or a departure therefrom Neither is proven or disproven by a solitary skeleton. ;)

Fighting women in our societies have happened and do happen, but they have never been nor will ever be a rule rather than an exception. :)

Monday, September 18th, 2017, 09:07 PM
What proof is there for female warrior beside literary notes?

This grave was supposed to be the first proof but it is dubious as well.

As it was styled as the first proof, it implicates there is none.

So all we have are opinions, either pro or contra.

Nowadays there are women in combat situations and what I hear from Iraq is that they are more a ballast than a benefit.

Monday, September 18th, 2017, 10:55 PM
What proof is there for female warrior beside literary notes?

Most of the Sagas show us at least a semi-correct portrayal of the history post-settlement. Literary notes are a good pointer for something to have existed at all. They're not good to judge how commonplace something was, because they have a tendency to exaggerate the extraordinary, but for mere existence of a phenomenon it may do. :)

Nowadays there are women in combat situations and what I hear from Iraq is that they are more a ballast than a benefit.

It is undoubted that a woman is ill-suited for at least modern-day infantry combat for a variety of reasons, whether it's attracting wild animals during that time of the month, breeding false heroism if in danger into male comrades, or being physically ill-equipped to carry a wounded full-laden comrade out of combat zone.

This doesn't compare with earlier battle-scenes. Warbands in Northern Europe in the high medieval oft weren't much greater than platoons, evident physical disadvantages might have been lesser in a smaller type skirmish. In swordfighting, a skilled woman might have countered the smaller frame through greater agility, similar to how it's often really hard to brawl a midget. ;)

Tuesday, September 19th, 2017, 01:29 AM
Neither do you nor I know whether it was true.

You rely on stories of the past I do on the physical inferiority of women.

Weapons in medieval time and before needed strength, speed, tactic, courage and ferocity. I see women lacking in the most important features to fight a medieval fight.

For a gun you just need to bend your index finger to unleash deadly power. That is why women soldiers are possible in modern time.

It also seems that there were spiritual aspects of male warriordom like Bersekr training. They gained remarkable strength and ferocity. It is typically male based on masculinity.

I assume that the strength of a warrior was enhanced by spiritual exercises based on a male spirit. I doubt a woman could ever have equal success with it.

If women were daring enough to dabble into male warfare, they most likely were short lived.

From another point of view:

We do not know whether the old sagas were to be taken literally (for ex. like dragons) or symbolically. Whether dragons existed in the physical world (somehow their image must come from somewhere) or they are symbolically is a big question.

Women in general stand for (refined) emotion, men in general stand for mind.

Refined emotions can certainly beat thoughts from the mind, esp. If they are crude. In that sense 'women' warriors are certainly possible.

We know from the bible that women/men are symbols. J. Made Maria Magdalena male because St. Peter complained about her presence. So the meaning is that refined emotions where transformed into noble thoughts.

But I understand that most take the Sagas literally and then face problems of clearly non-physical creature and have to explain them without changing their 'literal' mode. Which is a double wammer for the literal take of medieval texts. (Christians bounce around with it per convenience as they most likely take Maria Magdalena's transformation spiritual but Jesus' death on the cross as literal. Compare that to Odins hanging on the Tree: literal or symbolical? And compare it to women warriors)

Or otherwise one should have a clear method to distinguish what is meant literal and what is symbolical.

Tuesday, September 19th, 2017, 02:15 AM
You rely on stories of the past I do on the physical inferiority of women.

I rely in the assumption that neither a Christian monk nor a literate medieval farmer might have had any particular cause to write fighting women into these Sagas merely to satisfy their own secret sexual fantasy. This is the 12th century, not the 21st century. :P

Weapons in medieval time and before needed strength, speed, tactic, courage and ferocity. I see women lacking in the most important features to fight a medieval fight.

A six-foot-tall butch-lesbian-type woman who lifts weights at the gym four times a week might be stronger and more ferocious than some five-foot-five wuss whose closest suitability for combat is that of a paper shield. ;)

If warrior women existed, then they probably weren't what we imagine today when we hear of the concept: They won't have run around in fantasy-type female armour bedecking little more than an ample bosom. In nine of ten cases, they'll have been more of the tomboy type, if not the butch type. :P

That's not to say there isn't proof: During the first Tyrolean rebellions against the French in 1797 Katharina Lanz, a farmer girl, is reported to have ferociously fought at front-line for instance. Giuseppina Negrelli, the proven historical elder sister to Alois Negrelli (engineer of the Suez canal) did likewise during the 1809/10 uprising, and was quite central in it. :)

But I understand that most take the Sagas literally [...] And compare it to women warriors)

Again, does it really matter? I think we're both in agreement that trench warfare isn't a woman's place to be. This is not moved by the question of whether women warriors existed in the past, because it's impertinent to the moral judgment for today. :)

Likewise, no self-respecting Greek army-man would advertise homosexuality, even less so with adolescent boys, as anything desirable or even acceptable, yet it is an established historical practice which was a central part of the Spartan warrior upbringing. :shrug:

Or otherwise one should have a clear method to distinguish what is meant literal and what is symbolical.

Little of which is meant symbolical doesn't have at least some grounding in reality, and if it is metaphorical. :thumbup

Thursday, September 21st, 2017, 02:59 AM
What cause did your medieval monk or farmer have to write about non-existing Dragons?

...and I doubt that a five foot wuss would be a warrior.....

....and do you have any grounding into the reality of a dragon? (I mean a real one not a Hausdrachen)

.....and do you have any grounding for trolls? (The historic ones, not the Internet ones)

........and do you have grounding for Giants? (I mean physical one, not metaphoric ones, as you assume they are based on reality)

......and do you have grounding for Odins shape shifting into a snake?

From what I can take out of your post, you also do not have a system of what is symbol/metaphoric and what is real.

You simply use the modern worldview that these things don't exist, therefore they are symbolical/metaphorical.

This systems is a way of interpreting the old text with modern understanding, you won't be able to reliably interprete texts like this and claim what is meant real and what not.

In contrast to take all texts as describing a reality you can interprete all texts as symbolical. (Your problem then is that your modern understanding will give symbols to certain keys which might be modern symbolic interpretation but may or may not have been meant by the original writer.)

Then there is the possibility that the original writer describes reality but uses it to point to a symbolical meaning, enriching it with some fantastic elements

Which then comes to the point where one has to have a system to distinguish what the original author considered real and what is part of his fantasy.

To get back to the women warrior, we have no physical evidence that they were part of reality, nor do we have evidence that they are purely symbols and non-existent in (medieval) reality. (Your examples are likewise literal evidence which is from a different time period. If taken as real and seen in your mind as women who literally fought physical fights it only proofs it was possible around the year 1800 AD and we still don't know how much is fantasy and what is real)

What is lacking is a method to distinguish both the real and the symbolical for medieval texts.

....and as I said, you don't seem to have a reliable system either.

After all the Edda was about poetry, not reality.
The sagas are as the word says 'sagas'. They claim to have a kernel in reality but obviously also big parts of fantasy, symbols, metaphoric elements.

So, to look for evidence of women warriors, one can't really take the Edda as support, nor sagas.

Only real physical evidence would do and that doesn't exist.

A good argument is to test it against possible reality and that isn't much supportive to women warriors.

Evidence from old writings isn't a good argument, as you can't proof that it isn't metaphorical or symbolical.

Thursday, September 21st, 2017, 07:22 AM
This grave is not proof of a female warrior, there has been many click-bait articles. That she was buried with valuable items like weapons is not something rare. There might have been a few female warriors, but this grave is not a proof of it. Shield-maidens are an image of romanticism.

Thursday, September 21st, 2017, 08:39 PM
While I don't doubt in principle, that there were a few female warriors, there are very good reasons to doubt it in this case.

The "evidence" that the bones they tested and the grave goods are even connected, are flimsical at best and in any case entirely unscientific.

It's funny, that the study this was taken from (http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/ajpa.23308/full) says:

Hence, the individual in Bj 581 was considered a male based on the assemblage of grave goods (Arbman, 1941; Gräslund, 1980), and the sex was only questioned after a full osteological and contextual analysis (Kjellström, 2016) that showed that the individual was a woman (S2 and S3).
A first osteological analysis done in the 1970ies identified the skeleton as a female, but this could not generate further discussion as the skeleton could not securely be associated to a context.

I don't understand why we should now, almost further 50 years later, be able to associate it with a material context when we're starting with the same evidence as then. That is, basically none.

But even the study it's referring to (https://www.researchgate.net/publication/312474924_People_in_Transition_Life_in_t he_Malaren_Valley_from_an_Osteological_P erspective) actually says this:

The problem at Birka arises from the management of the material; the contexts of some of the finds have become mixed up.
Around eleven hundred graves have been excavated at Birka (or the island of Björkö); approximately half of these were inhumations, including both rich chamber graves as well as modest coffin burials (Gräslund 1980, 4-5). Most of the graves were excavated in the 19th century by Hjalmar Stolpe (Arbman 1943).

During the present analysis, it became clear that the osseous material and the contextual information given on the box or bag did not always match the data published by Arbman (Kjellström 2012); there are bags of bones tagged with grave numbers that do not exist elsewhere. In other cases, there are unburnt bones in bags from graves documented and registered according to Arbman as “cremations” and bags which include the bones of several individuals while being documented as the grave of one person.

Another interesting (and possibly controversial) find was a grave where the preserved bones do fit the original nineteenth century drawings and descriptions. This is a chamber grave furnished with fine armour and sacrificed horses. Nevertheless, three different osteological examinations all found that the individual was a woman. Whether these are not the correct bones for this grave or whether it opens up reinterpretations of weapon graves in Birka, it is too early to say.

So basically the bones were "identified" with the grave goods 110 years after excavation, based on this late 19th century drawing of the grave:


From an artistic point of view, that's a rather good drawing but to use it as "proof" to identify some bones with the grave goods, is ridiculous.

The author of the other study(a co-author of the present study even) actually cautioned against prematurely being too sure of ascribing the bones to this grave. So this proves literally nothing.

Besides the fact that, if the bones would actually belong to the grave, it would make this person basically "transgender" because of the lack of any female grave goods. That this existed/was accepted back then, is even more unbelievable.

The whole Discussion passage of that study makes it clear, that it's merely a feminist interpretation/wishful thinking:

Grave Bj 581 is one of three known examples where the individual has been treated in accordance with prevailing warrior ideals lacking all associations with the female gender (Jesch, 2009) (S1, S2, and S3). Furthermore, the exclusive grave goods and two horses are worthy of an individual with responsibilities concerning strategy and battle tactics.

Our results caution against sweeping interpretations based on archaeological contexts and preconceptions. They provide a new understanding of the Viking society, the social constructions and also norms in the Viking Age. The genetic and strontium data also show that the female warrior was mobile, a pattern that is implied in the historical sources, especially when it comes to the extended households of the elite (cf. Steinsland, Sigurđsson, Rekdal, & Beuermann, 2011).
The female Viking warrior was part of a society that dominated 8th to 10th century northern Europe. Our results—that the high-status grave Bj 581 on Birka was the burial of a high ranking female Viking warrior—suggest that women, indeed, were able to be full members of male dominated spheres. Questions of biological sex, gender and social roles are complex and were so also in the Viking Age.

This study shows how the combination of ancient genomics, isotope analyses and archaeology can contribute to the rewriting of our understanding of social organization concerning gender, mobility and occupation patterns in past societies.
All history has to be "rewritten" until it fits our confused modern mindset.

Thursday, November 9th, 2017, 06:27 PM
Interesting article, that names, unknown to me at the time, the same reasons against the existence of female Vikings as I did above and some others reasons besides:

NO VIKING WOMEN WARRIORS (https://www.hellulandnews.com/science/2017/9/16/no-viking-women-warriors)

In a research paper titled “A female Viking warrior confirmed by genomics”, and published in American Journal of Physical Anthropology, Uppsala University archaeologist Charlotte Hedenstierna-Jonson claims to have proven that there were women warriors among Vikings.

Hedenstierna-Jonson’s very research is fundamentally flawed from a technical, historical, and cultural aspect, and her conclusions simply have no scientific or factual basis.


The entire study is based on the assumption that bones recently identified as those of a woman were found in a grave believed to be of a warrior. The grave, however, was excavated in Birka between 1871 and 1895, and no proper chain of evidence was maintained over the course of at least 122 years. As a matter of fact, the only element that connects these bones and the grave are identification materials on the storage bag that fit "the original 19th-century drawings and descriptions”.
Without actual evidence that these bones were actually from a warrior grave, there shouldn’t even have been any speculation with respect to the background of what could very well be a random skeleton, let alone conclusions that the bones were those of a woman Viking warrior.


Of particular interest is also Hedenstierna-Jonson’s own disclosure that “no pathological or traumatic injuries were observed” on the bones, effectively unequivocally ruling out the possibility that the bones actually belonged to a warrior.
Outside of brief and clearly mythical allusions to shield maidens and other woman warriors, in line with the myth of Loki turning himself into a mare to be impregnated by the stallion Svađilfari and to later give birth to Sleipnir, Óđinn’s 8-legged horse, there is simply no reference to actual woman warriors in Old Norse literature.

As Judith Jesch, Professor of Viking studies at the University of Nottingham puts it:

Women warriors and/or Valkyries and/or shield maidens (they are all often mixed up) are not just 'mythological phenomena' as stated by the authors, but relate to a whole complex of ideas that pervade literature, mythology and ideology, without necessarily providing any direct evidence for women warriors in 'real life.

Skaldic poetry in its various forms, drápa, flokkr, vísur, drćplingr, lausavísa and mansöngr, typically details the deeds of Norse warriors, yet, makes no reference to actual women warriors.

Even the mythical Valkyries, often associated with war, are depicted as actually fulfilling the needs of slain male warriors rather than engaging in combat. Eiríksmol from Fagrskinna refers to “valkyrjur vín bera sem vísi komi” in norrśnt (Old Norse), which invokes Valkyries giving wines to the warriors who have arrived in Valhöll, and therefore sticking to typical domestic duties.


Without rigorous scientific method, without language knowledge, without historical and cultural context, or essentially without facts or evidence, it is simply ludicrous to even remotely suggest that findings associated with the Birka grave relate to a woman Viking warrior, let alone prove the existence of woman Viking warriors.

Even assuming the remains were that of a woman, which has not been scientifically and reasonably established, burial with weapons does not imply warrior status, let alone prominent warrior status. As a matter of fact, it could be the contrary, as it was customary during the Viking age to bury slaves with weapons, so they could bring them to their dead owner in the afterlife.

Archaeologist Sřren Sindbćk of Aarhus University asked Science News: "Have we found the Mulan of Sweden or a woman buried with the rank-symbols of a husband who died abroad?”. We very well may have. Or as archaeologist Davide Zori of Baylor University points out, "it's possible, albeit unlikely, that the woman's relatives buried her with a warrior's equipment without that having been her role in life."

Ultimately, finding bones buried with weapons simply does not even suggest, and even less so proves, the existence of women Viking warriors.

Judith Jesch further wrote on this matter: "I have always thought (and to some extent still do) that the fascination with women warriors, both in popular culture and in academic discourse, is heavily, probably too heavily, influenced by 20th- and 21st-century desires.”

In other words, the modern reference to women warriors in an otherwise hypermasculine Viking society is yet another revisionist attempt at rewriting history to accommodate the inclusive ideology of the day. It has no basis in reality whatsoever.