Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Mustari, Louis Frank, 1930-

Degree Name

M.A. (Master of Arts)

Legacy Department

Department of Art


Goddesses--Norway; Mythology; Norse; Gods in art


The original goal of this thesis was to identify female depictions in Norse art as specific goddesses, and to discover why the depictions of females are outnumbered by those of males. Several subsequent discoveries changed the course of research. Not only is there virtually nothing written, especially so in English, on the depictions of goddesses, but information concerning goddesses in Norse mythology is not abundant, and is often confusing, with some goddesses sharing names or characteristics. In addition, most, if not all the goddesses are described as wearing a long robe, with long golden hair. Depictions of females add to the confusion, showing figures which have been simplified and stylized, making it difficult to distinguish one goddess from another. One exception is the depiction of Valkyries, who are identifiable through the horn of mead they offer to warriors, the horses they ride, or the spears they carry. Because of this, the thesis turned more toward correcting the past belief that most female depictions are of Valkyries. The study of Norse mythology revealed the varying roles and characteristics of the Norse goddesses, and how prominently they figured in the religion of the Vikings. Moreover, it was discovered that most scholars seem to avoid discussing the goddesses in terms of depictions and identification, attempting, instead, to satisfy the reader by identifying most female figures as Valkyries. It is an easy label to apply, for Valkyries, as many if not most goddesses described in Norse literature, have long robes and long golden hair, but it is not logical to assume that the Norse craftsman depicted only Valkyries. Positive identification of all the goddesses has not been achieved, although several plausible possibilities have been discerned. It is hoped that not only will this thesis awaken others to the fact that there are depictions of Norse goddesses which are waiting to be identified, but that this thesis will serve as a springboard guide in such future identification.


Bibliography: pages 47-49.


vi, 65 pages




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