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Thor's Hammer Pendant

Thor's Hammer Pendant


Thor’s Hammer: Mighty Symbol in Viking Jewelry

Thor is, without a doubt, one of Marvel’s main men, both in comic books and on the big screen, as is evident in movie-going audiences flocking to theaters to see the hammer-wielding character in action. According to boxofficemojo.com, gross ticket sales from the three Thor films combined top nearly $2 billion. Leading the way is the 2017 release of Thor: Ragnarok, bringing in more than $844 million.

Promotional poster for the film Thor: Ragnarok, produced by Marvel Studios, and distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures. The film, released in October of 2017, is the sequel to the 2011 film Thor and Thor: The Dark World, released in 2013. This scaled-down low-resolution image of the poster qualifies for fair use under the copyright law of the United States.

The popularity of these films, as well as Marvel’s Avengers, and History Channel’s Vikings series, certainly plays a part in the growing interest in Norse history and lore. Yet, Thor’s revered status as a symbol of strength, protection and provision dates back centuries. That fact is evident in the presence and popularity of the Thor’s Hammer amulet in Viking jewelry.

To help us understand Thor and his ever-present hammer a bit better, we turned to fine art specialist Sydelle Rubin-Dienstfrey, PhD Art History, who is manager of the research and writing department at Artemis Gallery.

“The Thor’s Hammer is perhaps the best-known symbol of Norse mythology,” Rubin-Dienstfrey said. “Thor was the powerful god tasked with guarding Asgard, home of the Aesir tribe of deities. Thor tirelessly defended the Aesir from the giants, and the hammer was his trusty weapon. Interestingly, the name Thor literally means ‘Thunder,’ and Thor seemed to personify the spirit of a storm whose thunder was experienced as the resounding boom of his hammer as it decimated his adversaries.”

This solid silver Viking Thor’s Hammer pendant, dating to between 800 and 1100 AD, weighing 11 grams, has been cast as one piece with a long handle that ends in a loop for suspension. The surface of the pendant has been stamped with a unique decoration of the period – a triangle with three small raised pellets inside the triangle. The pendant sold for $1,100 in Artemis Gallery’s Dec. 2017 auction. Image courtesy LiveAuctioneers and Artemis Gallery

While this image of Thor is what comes to mind when you hear his name, it is one element of a more complex role within the world of the mythology, Rubin-Dienstfrey explained.

“In addition to serving as a weapon, the Thor’s Hammer played a major role in sacred rituals related to birth, marriage, and death. Some historians also believe that rituals involving people beating hammers were intended to protect communities from evil spirits. So, the Thor’s Hammer was not only a weapon possessing the might and power of a storm but also an instrument of protection against ill will.”

With the Hammer of Thor bearing such meaning, it is easy to understand why the symbol is represented in various forms of Viking artifacts, most specifically as amulets/pendants.

In 2014, a Viking artifact reportedly from the 10th century in the shape of the Hammer of Thor was discovered on the Danish island of Lolland, and it bore an inscription. According to an article posted on www.ancient-origins.net, the text was translated to “this is a hammer,” and it was one of the more than 1,000 similar items discovered throughout northern Europe, referred to as the Mjöllnir amulets, to include such an inscription. The inscribed Mjöllnir amulet currently resides in the National Museum of Denmark.

The only Mjöllnir amulet of more than 1,000 discovered in northern Europe, to bear an inscription. Circa 10th century AD. National Museum of Denmark image

Museums and historical programs provide an ideal opportunity to gain a better understanding of Norse people, their traditions and beliefs. One such example is the traveling museum exhibition “Vikings: Beyond the Legend,” said Rubin-Dienstfrey, who attended the exhibition with her fellow staff members from Artemis Gallery.

“I think that one of the greatest things about it was that the organizers did their best to bust generally accepted myths about the Vikings that Hollywood sometimes perpetuates,” she said. “For instance, there is this misconception that the Vikings were filthy brutes. However, some of the most commonly excavated artifacts of Viking Era include tweezers, combs, razors and ear spoons. This suggests that they were fairly focused on cleanliness and grooming. What’s more, many scholars estimate that only a small percentage of Vikings were warriors. Most were artisans, farmers, and traders.”

This rare bronze Thor’s hammer amulet with stylized raven heads, circa 900 AD, sold for $190 in Jasper52’s Oct. 29, 2017 auction. Jasper52 and LiveAuctioneers image.

The discovery of ancient Viking jewelry in a myriad of designs, created using a variety of metals and materials (bronze, silver, and stone), is another example of a culture that is more than one-dimensional.

“When one examines examples of Norse visual culture, it becomes apparent that their immense artistry defies common stereotypes of Vikings as horned helmet-wearing barbarians who went around raping and pillaging whomever and whatever crossed their paths,” said Rubin-Dienstfrey. “In addition to some stunning Thor’s Hammer pendants, we have had the privilege of handling incredible bracteate [beaten] pendants that display extremely sophisticated filigree and granulation techniques, as well. To create these works of wearable art clearly required advanced techniques and a keen sensibility.”

This coin, reportedly from that of King Regnald I of York and the Bossail Hoard, dates to 919-921 AD and bears an image of Thor’s hammer on the obverse with three pellets positioned above the hammer, a symbol not known to have been included on any other die It sold for £3,000 ($9,479) during a February 2016 auction at TimeLine Auctions Ltd. Image courtesy LiveAuctioneers and TimeLine Auctions Ltd.

Although ownership of artifacts does not necessarily require one to possess an understanding of the culture surrounding it, as many will attest, the value in acquiring that knowledge is immeasurable.

“I think that collectors love the Thor’s Hammer because of its many layers of symbolism. The hammer is associated with the Norse god of thunder, lightning, storms and strength – who protected so many – so by extension, the amulet is believed to protect its wearer,” Rubin-Dienstfrey added. “Finally, the fine workmanship and immense artistry exemplified by these beautiful works make them incredibly desirable.”

Gilt bronze raised heart-shape pendant enclosing an abstract face, possibly that of Thor, substantially symmetrical, in the shape of a heart, which stood for bravery, fortitude, loyalty, and integrity. Image courtesy LiveAuctioneers and Jasper 52

In case of Thor’s Hammer, there is so much more to it than meets the eye, as is the case with so many relics of centuries ago.


Attributes and Symbolism

Mjolnir, which means grinder or crusher in Old Norse, was powerful enough to destroy mountains, and acted like a kind of boomerang, always returning to the hand of Thor.

Mjolnir also had the power to channel lightning, and it was thought that the sound of thunder was caused when Thor crashed his hammer down on his foes.

To help him wield the mighty weapon, Norse mythology claims that Thor also possessed a belt, named Megingdjord, which doubled his already prestigious strength. He also had a set of iron gloves called Jarngreipr.

But as well as being a weapon, the Vikings considered Thor’s hammer to be a ritual tool for hallowing places, things and events for their intended purpose, for example wedding and birth. In this way, the hammer integrated these social changes into the established order, dispelling the possible chaos that could be caused by the change.

The story from Norse mythology of Thor and Thrym symbolises the dual purpose of Mjolnir. Thrym was a giant king in Jotunheim, the land of the giants, who stole Thor’s hammer.

Thrym was in love with the goddess Freya, so Thor disguised himself as the beautiful goddess and agreed to marry Thrym in order to gain access to the giant king’s hall. When the hammer was called forth to hallow the wedding, Thor was able to seize it, and then kill all of the giants in the hall. However, the fact that Thrym could steal the hammer dispels the myth spread by Marvel that only Thor, or the worthy, could wield Mjolnir.

Thus, Mjolnir was a weapon of protection, against violent chaotic forces, such as the giants, but also more subtle chaotic elements, such as social disruption.


Thor's Hammers

Thor's Hammer pendants were very common during the Viking Age. Thor was one of the most popular of the gods. Many stories tell of one giant or another trying to bring down the gods and Thor ultimately stops him. This makes Thor the protector of the gods and mortals alike. His most prized possession was his mighty hammer Mjolnir. When thrown at a target Mjolnir would magically return to him. It is Thor's powerful hammer that becomes the symbol of Thor and is worn as a symbol of protection.

Historical Note:

There have been many Thor&rsquos Hammer pendant finds throughout Scandinavia. Above you can see replicas of many of the beautiful designs. It is believed by many that these amulets were a response to the Christian cross pendant. Some pendants like our wolf hammer found in Iceland are a combination of hammer and cross. There is also a famous soapstone mold found in Denmark that appears to have been used to make hammers and crosses.

Most original hammers were made from silver, bronze, or iron. Some are incredibly detailed and others very plain. The material and detail of the pendant probably told much about the status of the owner.

A great symbol of the heathen Vikings.

Mjolnir in Norse mythology:

Mjolnir (also spelled Mjollnir) is the main weapon of Thor and became a symbol of his worship. When thrown at an enemy it would always return to his hand. It was created by the dwarven brothers Brokkr and Sindri as part of a bet with Loki. Trying to win the bet Loki harassed the dwarves while they worked causing the weapon to have an abnormally short handle. It was still the greatest of weapons used many times to slay giants and other foes of the gods.


Thor's Hammer Pendant - History

The item was broadcast on “The World,” a nightly show hosted by Marco Werman. It was ostensibly a news item on the addition of Thor’s hammer to the official list of “available emblems of belief for placement on government headstones and markers” by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs – an event that was widely reported by the pagan media back in May, but completely ignored by mainstream news media and religion reporters.

The new government-approved Thor's hammer grave marker

The only source for the radio feature was an article that had appeared in an online magazine that covers “business + innovation + design.” The magazine article is a confusing mish-mash of Wicca and comic books that makes it seem like Ásatrúar are witches that worship a superhero. The only source for the author of the design magazine article was our friend Jason Pitzl-Waters, who writes the wonderful blog The Wild Hunt. Jason has been covering this story for a while, and he does great work. However, he’s not Ásatrú and wasn’t involved in the campaign to get Thor’s hammer accepted. His own story was largely based on press releases written by various heathen organizations in response to the decision by the Department of Veterans Affairs. So, the connection between PRI and actual sources looks like this:

PRI ➵ design mag ➵ blog ➵ press releases ➵ actual involved heathens

Clearly, the producers at PRI (Public Radio International) googled “thor’s hammer va decision” and contacted the author of the first result. I discussed this issue with Jason. He said, “I agree that it's problematic when you get too many degrees of journalistic separation between the story and its source. I would never hold myself up as the sole source on a story like this – only for additional context or background. I was uncomfortable with being the only source and would have gladly handed over my role to a heathen directly involved in the process.”

“The World” website post about the story was even worse. It featured a photo of an overweight fanboy dressed in a Thor costume based on the Marvel Comics movie. The write-up on the website clearly stated that the side of Thor’s hammer is inscribed with the words, “Whosoever holds this hammer, if he be worthy, shall possess the power of… THOR.” Unfortunately, this is a quote from the 1962 first appearance of Marvel’s superhero version of Thor in the comics created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, not from the actual mythology or religion. Epic fail. Seriously.

Memo to PRI: Marvel Comics ≠ Religious Texts

On Monday of this week, I started a letter-writing campaign via my Norse Mythology Online sites on Facebook, Google+, Pinterest and Twitter. I called upon heathens and the heathen-friendly to “send a polite letter [to Public Radio International] expressing your great disappointment in their complete and utter disrespect for minority religions.” I asked why PRI had not contacted Josh Heath, an army veteran who was at the center of the quest to have Thor’s hammer approved as a grave marker. I spoke at length to Josh and his wife Cat about their work in my three-part feature on “Heathens in the Military” for The Norse Mythology Blog earlier this year. Their efforts on behalf of Ásatrú military via their Open Halls Project should have been at the core of PRI’s piece, but were not even mentioned.

The response was amazing. PRI’s Marco Werman said “we heard from many, many heathens.” On Tuesday, producer Nina Porzucki (who wrote the article for the show’s website) called me and apologized for the disrespectful story. She asked me about Ásatrú for over 90 minutes. I went into great detail about the ancient roots of Norse religion in northern Europe (all the way back to 2000 BCE), the development of the religion through the Viking Age, the era of Christian conversion, Sveinbjörn Beinteinsson's founding of the Ásatrúarfélagið (Iceland’s “Æsir Faith Fellowship”), the subsequent worldwide revival/reconstruction and much more.

Sveinbjörn Beinteinsson's 1992 autobiography
On Wednesday, Porzucki recorded a twenty-minute interview with me on the nature of Ásatrú and the meaning of Thor’s hammer. She also interviewed Josh Heath. As with me, she first had a very long background conversation with him, then recorded an interview for broadcast. I put her in contact with Hilmar Örn Hilmarsson and Jóhanna G. Harðardóttir – leaders of the Ásatrúarfélagið – but she never spoke to them.

On Thursday, “The World” aired a short follow-up story. Between the two of us, Josh and I had spent nearly three hours on the phone with Porzucki. In multiple emails, we had sent her background information, contacts, sources and images. The final piece was two-and-a-half minutes, with a few seconds from each of us. There was no apology given on-air or on the website. The online story has been “updated,” but still features the chubby guy in the movie costume – and no apology for the disrespectful original story.

Porzucki specifically asked me to talk on the recording about the symbolism of Thor’s hammer, which was the crux of what the original PRI item purported to be about. I didn’t expect that there would be an extended feature on “The World” about this, but she only used one sentence of a twenty-minute discussion. She didn’t use any of the images or source material that she asked me to send her for the website.

Marco Werman: No Apologies

I’m not surprised by any of this. I’ve written before about public radio’s poor coverage of minority religions (as part of an article on “Obama and Ostara”). What did surprise me was the amazing response to my call for a letter-writing campaign. There are a lot more HOPI (heathens of positive intent) out there than even I thought, and they are ready to call out the media when their religion is misrepresented. This is a wonderful thing.

What follows is the complete text of my answer to PRI about the meaning of Thor’s hammer. I understand that the media edits interviews down to fit time and space constraints, but I also feel that this case was bit extreme – especially given the questionable nature of the original piece and the massive criticism it received. I hope that readers will find my summary of symbolism interesting, and I offer it as a thank you to everyone who stood up for Ásatrú and wrote a heartfelt letter to public radio.

In the myths, Thor’s hammer is the most valued treasure of the gods because Thor uses it to defend both gods and humans from the giants, who represent the destructive forces of nature. This protective function is reflected in religious objects, like an eleventh-century Swedish amulet that says “may the lightning hold all evil away” and “may Thor protect him with that hammer.” Written in ancient runes, the text from the small copper pendant calls upon Thor to protect Bofi, the wearer, as he travels over sea.

11th-century runic inscription to Thor
from Runic Amulets and Magic Objects
by Mindy MacLeod & Bernard Mees

There is a fish inscribed on the amulet, and the reference to the gods being “under him and over him" suggests Bofi is on the water. The line about Thor’s hammer coming “from out of the sea” refers to the famous myth of Thor’s fishing trip, when the god struggles to pull the destructive World Serpent up from the sea's bottom and throws his hammer into the water after the monster. This is clear example showing that the hammer is a representation of Thor’s sacred function – a symbol of his protective role.

The protecting function shades into a blessing function. One of Thor’s many secondary names has been interpreted as “Blessing-Thor.” In the Icelandic sagas, there is record of people making the sign of the hammer over food as a symbol of blessing. In the myths, Thor uses his hammer to bless both a marriage and a funeral pyre.

Back in the Bronze Age, we can see reverse echoes of what later developed into what we think of as “Norse religion.” There are carvings from this early period of godlike figures with axes or hammers that suggest a blessing role, and there are actual axe heads that seem to have been votive offerings. There’s also a famous Bronze Age carving of a large figure raising an axe or hammer over a man and woman in a gesture of blessing.

Swedish Bronze Age carving of godlike figure
blessing couple with large axe or hammer

The blessing ritual seems to have been a practice that lasted in some form for over 2,000 years, from the Bronze Age through the Viking Age. The later literary sources suggest that the hammer was used to bless the bride, probably as a fertility symbol – a practice that is clearly related to the practice of blessing newborns with the hammer to welcome them into the community.

There is a lot of evidence for the funeral function. Even around 1300 BCE, there are images of axe heads in northern European funeral sites, so there is already an association between the axe or hammer and the grave. Although the hammer is the most common image in later representations, the axe still shows up as a parallel sacred symbol in much later archeological and literary sources.

Swedish memorial rune stone with Thor's hammer

Images of the Thor’s hammer appear on Viking Age memorial stones in Sweden and Denmark, many with direct written appeals to Thor to bless the monument and burial site. The texts generally follow a formula and say “May Thor hallow these runes,” “May Thor hallow this memorial” or simply “May Thor hallow,” but one Norwegian inscription actually says “take to yourself the body lying beneath this stone.” Many Thor’s hammer amulets have been found in burials over a wide range of time and place, and their inclusion again suggests a protective function. In one myth, Thor brings his dead goats back to life with his hammer, with suggests a connection to resurrection or welcoming into an afterlife that may be related to the funeral imagery.

Taken together, the historical evidence suggests that the hammer blessed major life events – birth, marriage, death – but it was also used in feasting, claiming land and marking boundaries. In other words, it blessed all the ways that members of a community relate to each other. So, wearing the sign of the hammer is an expression of belonging to a community – in both life and death.

THOR’S HAMMER PENDANTS

Small hammer amulets worn as necklace pendants existed centuries before the Viking Era, but they had a surge in popularity when Christianity came to northern Europe. Converts to Christianity (the “New Way”) wore small crucifixes to mark their new faith. Those who chose not to abandon the religion of Odin, Thor and Freya (the “Old Way”) wore hammer amulets to express loyalty to the faith of their forefathers. Again, the hammer is used as a symbol of Thor’s protection – in this case, protecting his followers from the invasion of the new religion. In addition, it is again a symbol of community.

10th-century Swedish Thor's hammer pendants

HEATHENS TODAY

Today, heathens who wear Thor’s hammer amulets or place it on their grave markers are consciously continuing the ancient usage. The symbolic thread that runs strongest through all eras and places and people is a sense of community. By wearing Thor’s hammer, you are declaring that you are part of a specific community.

Community might mean just your family. It might mean a small group in your area that meets up. It might mean a regional network or national organization. It might mean an expanded group of people around the world who share your worldview. By wearing the hammer today, you are also connecting yourself to the community that wore it over a thousand years ago – a community across time and space.


Rare Thor’s Hammer Found in Central Norway

Recently, Magne Øksnes found something quite unique with metal detector on the Flekstad farm in Steinkjer, Central Norway: A beautiful Thor’s hammer Viking Age pendant of silver in excellent condition.

The silver hammer is dated to about 800-950 AD, is 34 millimeters (1.34 in) long, 24 millimeters (0.95 in) wide and weighs 5.6 grams (0.2 oz).

Previously there is only made 13 known findings of Thor’s hammers in Norway, only half made of silver. Magne Øksnes’ unique discovery is the first known in Central Norway.

In comparison, there are found approximately 3,500 Viking Age swords, which puts the hammer into perspective.

Magne Øksnes found Thor’s Hammer on the Flekstad farm. (Photo: Nord-Trøndelag County Authority)

Extremely Rare

Archaeologist Lars Forseth at Nord-Trøndelag County Authority confirms that the discovery is exceptional.

– This is the first time I am documenting the discovery of a Thor’s hammer, says Forseth.

Metal Detecting Norway (Norges Metallsøkerforening) also writes that the hammer is very rare, and describes it as beautiful:

The hammer, with the name Mjölnir, is the historically most famous image of the Iron Age’s Old Norse belief. Mjölnir was forged by the dwarfs Sindri and Brokk, and was a gift to Thor from Loki. Thor was the God of Thunder and his most powerful weapon against the jötnar giants was Mjölnir (…).

The hammer is decorated with different rings, half rings and small squares stamped into the silver. The decor could at first sight appear random, but study it and then you see that it is beautiful and thoughtful. The shape of the hammer is also beautiful (…).

After the Vikings came in close contact with Christianity, Thor’s hammers often were used as a statement that the carrier still followed Thor and the Old Norse Religion, Ásatrú, and that he repudiated the “new belief”.


Thor History

Thor can trace its roots back to 1910 when The Birmingham Belting Co Ltd was founded in Snow Hill, Birmingham, by the Stephens family.

Birmingham Belting manufactured flexible drive belts for the Cotton Mills and other industrial applications that were thriving around this time.

They also however had a small section within the company manufacturing Rawhide Hammers and Mallets.

Some 13 years later due to growth it was decided set up a separate company and Thor Hammer Company Limited was incorporated specifically for the production of hammers and mallets.

The company was named after the ancient Norse God of Thunder who owned the most miraculous of hammers, Mjӧlnir, a throwing hammer, which always sped directly to its mark, slew the giant then rebounded straight back to Thor’s hand.

Thor in its present form was fully established in 1935 when one of the Stephens family, Walter R Stephens decided to move the hammer and mallet manufacturing to separate premises in Salop Street, Birmingham.

The separation from Stephens Belting meant that Walter could concentrate all his efforts on further developing the company and within a year new products were being designed and launched.

One of the most popular items launched around this time was a Copper Hide hammer which had an Iron head fitted with a Copper Face at one end and Hide Face at the other.

A local car manufacturer was so impressed with the product that they supplied a Copper Hide hammer in the toolkit with each car they made.

The hammer was used to tighten and loosen the central wheel nuts or ‘Spinners’ used to secure the wire spoke wheels fitted to most cars at this time.

The car company was S S Cars now known as Jaguar and this type of hammer remains our biggest selling range to this very day.

During the war years there was a huge demand from the British government for Thor’s product which was used in particular for constructing temporary bridges (Bailey bridges) and for repairing Tanks and other military equipment on or around the battlefield.

Due to the design of the hammers engineers could construct bridges and carry out repairs quickly, safely and most importantly in almost total silence.

Engineers from all four corners of the World began to appreciate the benefits of Thor hammers and consequently continued to use our product after the war.

The late 1940’s saw the introduction of new materials including plastics and it wasn’t long before Thor designed and developed a plastic hammer with faces that once worn, could be replaced by hand.

Around this time Thor exhibited at the British Industries Fair, Castle Bromwich, Birmingham.

The exhibition attracted visitors from all around the world and export orders for Thor product soon followed.

During 1957 the company moved to its present location in Highlands Road, Shirley on the outskirts of Birmingham.

The move gave Thor the potential to continue to expand its manufacturing facilities and since then several new manufacturing bays have been added.

The Thor product range continued to grow at a rapid rate and during the 60’s Thorex Nylon range of hammers was introduced.

During the same period Thor began exhibiting at the International Hardware Exhibition in Cologne Germany.

Export orders continued to grow and now accounted for 12.1/2% of turnover.

In 1966 Walter became chairman of the company and his son Michael Stephens was made Managing Director.

The development of the Thor range continued with the introduction of the Thorace Dead Blow range.

Split Head Hammers, Super Plastic Mallets, Solid Copper Mallets and Solid Brass mallets are also introduced.

Thor now sell to 50+ countries worldwide with export accounting for 40% of turnover.

Awarded BS 5750 Quality Assurance accreditation, known today as ISO9001:2008

Thor remains a family owned and run business.

We now export to over 80 countries and we continue to exhibit at the Cologne Hardware exhibition in Germany.

We still manufacture some of the original hammers and mallets the company started making back in the early 1900’s.

Whilst most are produced using modern machinery and modern manufacturing techniques some products, in particular hide mallets and faces, are basically produced from the same raw material in the same way using the same techniques the original workers used when the company was founded back in the early 1900’s.


Amulet of Thor’s hammer, Mjölnir discovered in Denmark by amateur archaeologist

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It is one of the most well-known mythological weapons we have heard of, Thor’s hammer, the protector weapon of Asgard, which helped prevent the destruction of the celestial city of Asgard by giants.

The discovery was made in Denmark, on the island of Lolland, where archaeologists have successfully unearthed a 10th century “torshammere”, ending a long debate between archaeologists and historians on how the legend of Thor’s hammer influenced Viking mythology and their jewelry. “This is a hammer,” says the inscription carved on a metal amulet 2.5 cm making it the only one with an actual inscription. (see video below)

The identification label, written in runic alphabet -used by the great Vikings- makes this discovery a unique piece among a thousand of similar works that have been found in Scandinavia, the British Isles, Russia, and the Baltic countries, according to archaeologists, it is believed to represent the weapon of the god of thunder, Thor called Mjolnir.

The discovery of this unique piece was made by Torben Christjansen, an amateur archaeologist, using a metal detector. In Denmark, the use of metal detectors to search for antiques is legal, although each artifact found should be handed over to the National Museum, which determines its origin, authenticity and eventually awards it to the discoverer. “There is a very close collaboration between museums and amateur archaeologists. We benefit from their work, “says Henrik Schilling, public relations officer of the museum, where the discovered piece is being analyzed, becoming a part of the museum’s collection afterward.

Researcher Lisbeth Imer from the National Museum of Denmark was in charge of translating the inscription “Hmar x is.” In a statement from the institution, the specialist describes the discovery as unique and says she has no doubts over the words which are meant to say “hammer,” but points towards the fact that the inscription was misspelled. The author of the inscription missed the first vowel of the word hammer,” she said, arguing that this omission could be for reasons of space. Nevertheless, everyone is grateful to the mysterious author of the inscription as it made it possible to finally clarify doubts that researchers had in the past regarding Thor’s hammer.

Everyone at the National Museum of Denmark is quite happy with the discovery scholars argue that these hammer-shaped amulets were not just ornamental piece as many believed them to be, but this discovery actually points towards evidence as the representation of the mythical hammer of Thor.

In Norse mythology, Mjölnir (pronounced roughly ‘miol-neer’) is described as being one of the most powerful weapons ever made, capable of great deeds, destroying and building. It’s only owner was Thor, the mythical God of Thunder and protector of Asgard.

According to a report in Past Horizons, this historical object is cast in bronze but has traces of silver and gold plating.

Ever since researchers have been doing excavations in the Viking nations, thousands of objects have been unearthed, but none of them had the importance as this discovery.

See more about this and other amazing archaeological finds from Interesting Facts below:


Thor’s Hammer: A Norse Viking Symbol

Mjöllnir or Thor’s hammer is the weapon of the Viking god of thunder. Initially, Thor’s hammer was thought of as made of stone, but in the Eddaic tradition it is an iron weapon forged by Svartálfar (black elves, correlated with the dvergar, dwarves) named Sindri and Brokkr. In the Norse myths Thor’s hammer is often understood as an axe, which, being thrown, comes back like a boomerang. It is also capable of becoming so small as to be carried under the clothes. Mjöllnir is Thor’s characteristic weapon, like Gungnir, Odin’s magical spear, or Týr’s sword.

Thor’s hammer is feared by jötnar, giants of Norse mythology (singular jötunn) who endeavor to steal it or decoy the god of thunder into their lands without his hammer and Megingjörð, Thor’s belt of power. Miniature pendant replicas of Thor’s hammer were very popular in the Viking Age Scandinavia. The variant specific for Iceland was cross-shaped , while Thor’s hammers from Sweden and Norway tended to be arrow or T-shaped. According to some researchers, the swastika shape found in East Anglia and Kent before Christianization, may be a variant of the same symbol. In the original Old Norse manuscripts the name of Thor’s hammer is spelled either mjǫlnir or mjǫllnir. It is thought to be etymologically related to the English word mill and to mean ‘crusher’. Another version states it is related to the Russian word молния and the Welsh mellt, both meaning ‘lightning’.

Many modern Thor’s hammer pendants try to feature the word Mjollnir in the Elder Futhark runes, simply replacing each letter with a corresponding rune. The procedure is incorrect. Mjolnir is an Old Norse word. Old Norse developed in the 8th century. Due to its difference as compared to its earlier form, Proto-Norse, Vikings were to reform their runic writing system. As a result, they adopted the Younger Futhark. By the end of the 8th century the Elder Futhark was not in use any more. If we were to write the name of Thor’s hammer in the Elder Futhark runes, we would have to reconstruct it in Proto-Norse. Indogermanisches Etymologisches Wörterbuch reconstructs it as *melð[u]nii̯az (one should keep in mind that any such reconstruction remains a theory). To my knowledge, there are no runic inscriptions that mention Thor’s hammer (though its image is present on the runestone at Stenkvista in Södermanland, Sweden). However, if a viking would carve the word mjölnir in Younger Futhark runes, he would probably do it like this (it is a mere assumption):

Note that the last rune is ýr not reið. It is because the final -r in mjǫlnir developed from Proto-Germaic -z. The symmetry of this word written in Younger Futhark runes is remarkable.

Thor’s hammer as a Norse symbol widely used by the vikings points to Norse heathen beliefs. It is not a hate symbol. More on Germanic heathen symbols in my earlier article.

Photo: Thor’s hammer pendant from the collection of the British Museum, dated to the 9th or 10th century, courtesy Thorskegga, all rights reserved. Used by permission.

I had purchased Thor pendants for my children. I have been trying to verify that the runes on it does stand for protection. All I’ve can find is that the Elder Futhark is of religious significance. I’m having trouble translating it, but I have been able to brake down the runes to words. They are Mannaz Wunjo Othala Laguz Laguz Gebo Isa Raido. Can you help me any further with this. Thank you for your time

Michelle-
I don’t know how long ago this was posted but it sounds like these runes are intended to spell ‘Mjollnir’. Perhaps what you are calling Gebo, which looks like a big ‘X’ may be the N-rune Nauthiz which is a line with a small crossbar across the middle at an angle.
None of these runes are interpreted as runes of protection. This concept is usually associated with Thurisaz, Berkano, and Elhaz in the Elder Futhark.

The word mjǫlnir is Old Norse. The idea to write it with the Elder Futhark runes seems strange to me. Elder Futhark was not normally used for the Old Norse language.

Sorry for the bad spelling I´m from Denmark.

I am a jewellry designer and I´m making a pendant for a customer (Thors hammer) with runes on it. The runes have to have a symbolic meaning. The symbols have to stand for Strength Love Family. How can I translate the words so the meaning is correct.

Sincerely Tina Hviid Nielsen

Hello Tina. Runes are basically an alphabet. They normally do not stand for whole concepts.

Not to contradict anyone, but UR is for Strength, WYNN is for Love, and OTHEL is Family. This is what I have read.

I have seen many pendants with only 3 runes carved on them. What are those? First is like a tilted “A” to the left, second like an “F” but upside down and the last one some sort of fork pointing down. Any ideas?

It is probably an attempt to write the word Thor in runes.

Very interesting. I am searching for places that are home to these relics now. I hope to document a map in Europe where they can all be found for people visiting those areas.

Share the map with us if you manage to make it, Christa.

Very nice article and I agree with Dain above that your runic interpretation ended up looking good, as well as being more accurate than the usual ones we see.
Good point about the hammer being made out of metal, not stone. Another detail that artists often forget is that the handle should be shorter than normal since the legends tell us Loki kept interrupting the smith while he was making it and this resulted in the handle not coming out properly.

And another saga states the handle was broken by the dwarven smiths sindri & brokkr, whilst arguing…

Why does everyone always try to blame me?

You did sting the dwarf in the eye

Your article about Thor’s Hammer is very interesting. The use of the Hammer may be more than two-fold. It seems that this is a directional type of compass for celestial navigation to ascertain position of the Polar star and constellations that indicated annual seasons and time for harvest of land and sea. The Hammer therefore has survived as a useful tool indeed for these life giving events. The letters that you give for its old name would indicate that it is a compass. The shape of the Hammer informs us with the letter ‘T’, and the pointer is a ‘V’, both shapes are used as a universal celestial measuring device. I think the triangles would be ‘maps’ to align with various stars.
Cheers from Australia.

Hello Christian. Interesting theory.

Thank you for the excellent article.
I was curious if you had Younger Futhark for Odin’s spear Gungnir? Also, was Tyr’s sword named?

Hello. The name of the Tyr’s sword is not mentioned in the sources.

Awfully sorry to correct your well-written article on Thor’s Hammer but it’s not a godless symbol, quite the opposite in fact as it celebrates Thor as their God, wouldn’t that make it a Pagan symbol?

If you’re talking about the word “heathen”, it doesn’t mean “atheist.”

I like the bronze looking thor’s hammer in the pic titled Thor’s Hammer – A Norse Viking Symbol – does anyone know where I can purchase it?

Have you heard about the Corded Ware culture, alternatively characterized as the Battle Axe culture or Single Grave culture of continental northern Europe?
A particular feature was the rounded, or boat-shaped battle-axes found in burials, that to me, are very reminiscent of Thor’s Hammers.

I like your mjölnir in Younger Futhark. It’s very aesthetically pleasing.

Hello Dain. I don’t think there is a connection between Corded Ware culture battle axes and Thor’s hammer.


Thor's Hammers

Thor's Hammer pendants were very common during the Viking Age. Thor was one of the most popular of the gods. Many stories tell of one giant or another trying to bring down the gods and Thor ultimately stops him. This makes Thor the protector of the gods and mortals alike. His most prized possession was his mighty hammer Mjolnir. When thrown at a target Mjolnir would magically return to him. It is Thor's powerful hammer that becomes the symbol of Thor and is worn as a symbol of protection.

Historical Note:

There have been many Thor&rsquos Hammer pendant finds throughout Scandinavia. Above you can see replicas of many of the beautiful designs. It is believed by many that these amulets were a response to the Christian cross pendant. Some pendants like our wolf hammer found in Iceland are a combination of hammer and cross. There is also a famous soapstone mold found in Denmark that appears to have been used to make hammers and crosses.

Most original hammers were made from silver, bronze, or iron. Some are incredibly detailed and others very plain. The material and detail of the pendant probably told much about the status of the owner.

A great symbol of the heathen Vikings.

Mjolnir in Norse mythology:

Mjolnir (also spelled Mjollnir) is the main weapon of Thor and became a symbol of his worship. When thrown at an enemy it would always return to his hand. It was created by the dwarven brothers Brokkr and Sindri as part of a bet with Loki. Trying to win the bet Loki harassed the dwarves while they worked causing the weapon to have an abnormally short handle. It was still the greatest of weapons used many times to slay giants and other foes of the gods.

List of site sources >>>


Watch the video: Proč byl Kapitán Amerika hoden unést Thorovo kladivo Mjolnir? (January 2022).