Glossary


This glossary contains anglicized versions of Old Norse, Old English, and Old Slavic words from my books. If you don’t find a word here, or if something is incorrect, please contact me.

One of the main tribes of deities venerated by the pre-Christian Norse. Old Norse: Æsir.

Old Norse for maternal or paternal grandfather.

The Old Norse name for a trading post located where the Volkhov River flows into Lake Ladoga. Old East Slavic: Staraya Ladoga.

One of the Aesir gods. He is often associated with love, peace, justice, purity, and poetry. Old Norse: Baldr.

November. The name refers to the slaughtering of animals prior to the winter.

The Old Norse name for Bulgaria.

Free men (farmers, craftsmen, etc.) who enjoyed rights such as the use of weapons and the right to attend law-things. They constituted the middle class. Old Norse: baendr.

The Old Norse word for fort or stronghold.

An island settlement at the mouth of the Dnieper-Boh estuary. Today, it is known as Berezan island.

A member of the aristocracy in old Russia, next in rank to a prince. They served the prince as his aides and counselors but retained the right to leave his service and enter that of another prince without losing their estates.

A ritual drinking cup or drinking horn upon which men swear oaths and promises. Also known as the promise cup or chieftain’s cup.

Old English for a fortified settlement.

A (usually short-sleeved) chain mail shirt that hung to the upper thigh. Old Norse: brynja.

A defensive earthen work “wall” that stretched across the southern neck of Jutland. It is believed to have been built in three phases between 737 and 968 AD to protect the Danes from the Franks. Old Norse: Danavirki.

A silver coin used in the Byzantine and Iranian empires, and used in the land of the Rus as currency.

A larger class of Viking warship. Old Norse: dreki or pl. drekar.

Northmen from Dublin.

Believed to be Old Norse for the Danube River.

The Baltic Sea.

A former measure of length equivalent to roughly forty-five inches.

One of the Norse names for what is today Estonia. Other names for the area include Eistland and Esthland.

Old Norse for the island of Saaremaa.

A non-barbed arrow with a four-edged head that, when it pierces the skin, creates a wound like a cross.

Brother to the goddess Freya. He is often associated with virility and prosperity, with sunshine and fair weather. Old Norse: Freyr.

Sister to god Frey. She is often associated with love, sex, beauty, fertility, gold, magic, war, and death. Old Norse: Freyja.

She is the highest-ranking of the Aesir goddesses. She’s the wife of Odin, the leader of the gods, and the mother of the god Baldur. She is often confused with Freya. Old Norse: Frigg.

She is the highest-ranking of the Aesir goddesses. She’s the wife of Odin, the leader of Old Norse for “folkland,” which has come to mean “county” in modern use.

An Old English army made up of citizens of a shire that was mobilized for short periods of time, e.g. to defend against a particular threat.

The area that formed the land of the Rus. The name means “the realm of towns.” Old Norse: Garðaríki.

A form of Viking wrestling, which can also be used as self-defense. It is still practiced in Scandinavia today. Old Norse: glíma.

A heathen priest or chieftain. Old Norse: goði.

The place most people go when they die. It The place most people go when they die. It is also known as Helheim. Hel is also the name of the ruler of Helheim.

A personal retinue of armed companions who formed the nucleus of a household guard. Hird means “household.” Old Norse hirð.

A personal retinue of armed companions who formed the nucleus of a household guard. Hird means “household.” Old Norse hirð.

The blood of sacrificed animals.

An ancient Norse board game.

The original Rus stronghold situated near the point where Lake Ilmen flows into the Volkhov River. It is often referenced as “Novgorod,” though the town of Novgorod and the stronghold are in two separate places. Old Norse: Holmgarðr.

The feast preceding the Yule, which has come to be associated with the last day of the year.

The monk or nun attending the sick in a monastery.

Ireland.

Old Norse for “earl.”

The area of land ruled by a jarl.

An island off the coast of Vingulmark.

A snake or dragon who lives in the ocean that surrounds Midgard, the visible world. Old Norse: Jörmungandr.

The sea between the North lands and the Danish lands.

Old Norse for “marketplace.” It is also the name of the main market town in Norway that existed around AD 800–950.

A type of merchant ship. Old Norse: knǫrr.

The word for prince in Old East Slavic.

Kyiv or Kiev. Old Norse: Kønugarðr.

One of the nine worlds of Norse cosmology and the only world inhabited by and visible to mankind. Old Norse: Miðgarðr.

The Great City, or Constantinople. Old Norse: Miklagarðr.

Believed to be Old Norse for the Dnieper River.

The serpent that gnaws at the root of the world tree, Yggdrasil. Old Norse: Níðhöggr.

The Night Mare is an evil spirit that rides on people’s chests while they sleep, bringing bad dreams. Old Norse: Mara.

Public servants responsible for cleaning a medieval town’s public cesspits.

A god associated with sea, seafaring, wind, fishing, wealth, and crop fertility. Old Norse: Njörðr.

The three female divine beings who influence the course of a man’s destiny. Their names are Urd (Old Norse Urðr, “What Once Was”), Verdandi (Old Norse Verðandi, “What Is Coming into Being”) and Skuld (Old Norse Skuld, “What Shall Be”).

The Old Norse name for Novgorod, which means “new town.” Old Norse: Nýgarðr.

The ownership rights of inheritable land held by a family or kinsmen.

Husband to Frigga. The god associated with healing, death, royalty, knowledge, battle, and sorcery. He oversees Valhall, the Hall of the Slain. Old Norse: Óðinn.

The Orkney Islands.

A district in the kingdom of the Swedes, located in the east of the land and south of present-day Stockholm. Old Norse: Östergötland.

A Rus stronghold that acted as the administrative center within the Slavic regions that were subject to Rus rule. The strongholds were there to keep the peace and collect tribute.

The Rus process of collecting tribute from the Slavic tribes.

A historical region in Europe, stretching from Gdansk Bay to the end of the Curonian Spit on the southeastern coast of the Baltic Sea, and extending inland as far as Masuria. Around AD 800 to 900, the tribes were named Old Prussians.

A historical region in Europe, stretching from Gdansk Bay to the end of the Curonian Spit on the southeastern coast of the Baltic Sea, and extending inland as far as Masuria. Around AD 800 to 900, the tribes were named Old Prussians.

According to the Russian Primary Chronicle (ca. AD 1040-1118), the Rus were a group of “Varangians,” likely of Swedish origin. Rus appears to be derived from the Finnish word for Sweden, Rotsi (later Ruotsi), which in turn comes from Old Swedish rother, a word associated with rowing or ships. Russia derives its name from “Rus.”

A knife or short sword. Also known as scramaseax, or wounding knife.

A summer cottage typically found on a seter.

A simple wooden cottage in the mountains with a barn where farmers (bonders) bring their livestock herds (cattle, goats, and sheep) to be milked after a day of grazing in the mountain pastures.

Magic. Old Norse: seiðr.

A shield wall was a “wall of shields” formed by warriors standing in formation shoulder to shoulder, holding their shields so that they abut or overlap. Old Norse: skjaldborg.

A thin tail of hair sprouting from the side of the head that is worn as a sign of Rus nobility.

A ritual drinking feast held seven days after a death to celebrate the life of a fallen warrior and to officially pass that person’s inheritance on to his or her next of kin.

A poet. Old Norse: skald or skáld.

This word refers to a midsize class of Viking warship.

A toast to others when drinking. Old Norse: skál.

Skyr is a fresh sour milk-cheese, but consumed like a yogurt.

A rudder affixed to the right stern of a ship. The origin of the word “starboard.” Old A rudder affixed to the right stern of a ship. The origin of the word “starboard.” Old Norse: stýri (rudder) and borð (side of the ship).

Believed to be the Old Norse name for the Black Sea.

Lake Malaren. During the Viking Age, it was known as Lǫgrinn, which means “The Lake.”

A service forming part of the Divine Office of the Western Christian Church, traditionally held at the third hour of the day (i.e., 9 a.m.).

A word used to describe a class of military retainer or warrior. Old Norse: þegn.

The governing assembly of a Viking society or region, made up of the free people of the community and presided over by lawspeakers. Old Norse: þing.

A hammer-wielding god associated with thunder, lightning, storms, oak trees, strength, the protection of mankind. Old Norse: Þórr.

A slave.

A dwelling place usually consisting of a group of structures.

The hall of the slain presided over by Odin. It is where brave warriors chosen by valkyries go when they die. Old Norse: Valhöll.

A female helping spirit of Odin that transports his favorite among those slain in battle to Valhall, where they will fight by his side during the battle at the end of time, Ragnarok. Old Norse: valkyrja, plural valkyrjur.

A name used for the regions east of Lübeck by the Scandinavian peoples since at least before the turn of the tenth century.

A little-known Norse god sometimes associated with revenge. During Ragnarok, the god Odin is devoured by the wolf Fenrir. Vidar, a son of Odin by the giantess Grí›r, immediately kills the wolf to avenge his father’s death. Old Norse: Vídarr.

A district on the northeastern side of the waterway the Vikings called the Vik.

Also known as “man price,” it was the value placed on every being and piece of property.

Modern-day Västerås, which is one of the oldest cities in Sweden. The name originates from Västra Aros (West Aros). The area has been populated since the Viking Age.

An assembly of royal councilors in England.

A shirt or vest made of course wool.

Refers to the Fairhair dynasty, which descended from the kings of Uplands, Norway.

A pagan midwinter festival lasting roughly twelve days. It later became associated with Christmas. Old Norse: Jōl

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