Viking Age ritual practices and practitioners.

This study uses historical, literary and archaeological evidence to compare gender roles in religious practice across Viking Age society prior to widespread Christianisation, by considering the types of ritual practices that male and females participated in, and what similarities and differences occurred. Overall, ritual practices were quite similar for both men and women. At the uppermost level of society, royal men and women both played their part in using ritual to ensure prosperity for their people.

The lower tiers of society were no exception, with religious practices playing an important part for both men and women at the domestic level. Across the different tiers of society, specialist religious leaders performed specific rituals for a variety of purposes, but this was usually only a part of their usual role in society, albeit an important one, and this occurred for both genders. Craft had an integral link with ritual.

The mysterious practice of seiðr was slightly different in its roles, and while both men and women were able to perform seiðr as part of ritual, for men it was considered a source of shame, with the solution being that they transformed themselves, exhibiting characteristics that were simultaneously male and female. Norse laws give much information of how pagan ritual practices by both males and females were viewed in society.