Shieldmaidens have been a source of intrigue since the Viking age, and have proven to be an endlessly fascinating topic. In this post, you can get to know the 5 most famous shieldmaidens.


Shieldmaidens were female warriors in Norse culture and history. Being a shieldmaiden was not a prestigious title or position reserved for noble women from the elite. Any Norse woman had the potential to become a fierce warrior – all it took was ambition, skill, and fearlessness in battle. In the Scandinavian clans, it was even expected for a woman to be trained in defending her home against invaders while her husband or father’s counterpart was away. This made them highly respected within society as they embraced the ability to be individuals capable of defending their families and lands in the same way as their husbands and fathers. Their skills were not confined to their homes. They also fought in raids and battles.


Many historians have debated the true existence of shieldmaidens, female Vikings equipped with weaponry and armor who fought on the battlefield. While evidence of artifacts found in burial sites around Scandinavia appears to support the idea that some form of shieldmaidens did exist in history, a definitive answer remains uncertain due to the lack of reliable evidence and accounts from the time period itself.

Additionally, it’s possible that stories about heroic female warriors were passed down for generations, and thus many contemporary accounts could be inspired by fiction instead of fact. In any case, more research is needed to understand if shieldmaidens were real historical figures or characters from old Norse folklore. Until then all we can do is to let ourselves fascinate by the thrilling stories of shieldmaidens in the sagas.



In 1878, a burial chamber was discovered by archaeologists during an excavation at the ancient Viking town of Birka in Sweden. An exquisite 10th-century tomb was unearthed, believed to be the burial site of a great warrior. The reason for that was the vast amount of weapons found in the tomb. When the tomb was uncovered nobody questioned that it belonged to a male warrior, because of the content of the grave. For this reason, no analysis was made to determine gender. It wasn’t until 2017 a DNA study concluded that the bones found in the tomb belonged to a female. The remains from the tomb don’t tell any story stories about the female warrior, but despite that, she is still one of the most famous shieldmaidens.


Lagertha is probably the most famous shieldmaiden. Not because of her actual life, but because of the massive mainstream attention she gained, from being portrayed on Vikings by actress Katheryn Winnick. In real life, Lagertha is known from the 13th-century work Gesta Danorum (Deeds of the Danes) by Saxo Grammaticus. In Gesta Danorum she is mentioned and described as the first wife of the legendary Viking Ragnar Lothbrok.

Saxo tells the story of how Ragnar and Lagertha’s fateful meeting occurred. After a devastating battle, the Swedish King Frø had killed Siward, Ragnar’s beloved grandfather – then compounded his aggression by publicly degrading female family members by sending them to work in an infamous brothel. This of course doesn’t sit well with Ragnar who is enraged and travels to Norway with the purpose of getting vengeance.

Lagertha is described by Saxo as being: “…a skilled amazon, who, though a maiden, had the courage of a man, and fought in front among the bravest with her hair loose over her shoulders. All marveled at her matchless deeds, for her locks flying down her back betrayed that she was a woman”. Both Grammaticus’s description and Ragnar’s affection for Lagertha testify to both her beauty and her skills as a force to be reckoned with.




Freydis Eiríksdóttir, the daughter of Erik the Red and half-sister of Leif Eriksson, is a polarizing figure from the Viking age. Some view her as a brave female pioneer and a fearless shieldmaiden, others see her as an evil and ruthless villain whose name should be forgotten. There are also doubts as to if she was even a real person as she has only been mentioned in two Icelandic sagas. Nevertheless, Freydís is one of the most famous shieldmaidens both because of her portrayal in the “Saga of Erik the Red” and “Saga of the Greenlanders” but also her recent appearance in the Netflix series: “Vikings: Valhalla”. Despite how she is viewed by people there is no questioning, that she has a legitimate place on a list of famous shieldmaidens. 


In the “Saga of Hervor and Heidrek” you can read about Hervor who had an impressive lineage of fierce Viking warriors behind her. Her father was the infamous Angantyr, bearer of the equally infamous sword “Tyrfing”. Feeling constricted and seeking adventure, Hervor embraced the life of a raider. She sailed across the seas in pursuit of loot and glory, filling her need for thrill-seeking and excitement. Hervor was haunted by the thought of retrieving her father’s legendary sword Tyrfing. Eventually, she manages to persuade the ghost of her father, who was impressed by her willpower, to give her the sword. With the aid of Tyrfing, Hervor became an even more powerful raider and thereby secured, her place in this blog post.


Olga of Kyiv was a legendary female ruler in Kievan Rus during the 10th century. She was known for her cunning and intelligence, and she is also remembered for her brutal revenge for a personal tragedy. Olga’s husband, Igor of Kyiv, was killed by Drevlians who were planning to seize control of the kingdom after his death. In response to this brutal act, Olga devised a highly notorious plan to avenge her husband’s murder. She pretended to accept their offer of marriage and demanded an excessive dowry. When the Drevlians arrived with supplies, she ordered that they be burned alive in their own bathhouses. Afterward, Olga continued to seek revenge on those involved with Igor’s death until all of the perpetrators had been killed.