Nordic Knotwork and Viking Style Tattoos

In recent years, shows like ‘Vikings’ on HBO has caused an explosion of interest around Nordic culture and the history around the real Vikings which the show is based on. This in turn has seen a surge of demand for tattoos which relate to the Viking era, as people right here in Sydney pay homage to these real-life warriors of yesteryear by having knotwork tattoos and other Nordic designs inked on their skin.

Who were the Vikings?

So, who exactly were the real-life Vikings? They are referred to in the history books as Norse seafarers who came from the Scandinavian countries we know today as Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Iceland. They were a widely-feared group of people, often labelled ‘pirates’, who raided and traded their way through Europe from the late 8th century to the late 11th century AD. When they weren’t plundering their way through neighbouring countries, they farmed the land in their homelands and often had large families.

History of Viking Tattoos

Much of the knowledge we have of the Vikings and the tattoos which adorned their bodies comes from travelling Arab traders. These traders described the Vikings as extremely tall, powerful men with tattoos running from the tips of their fingers all the way up to their necks. Reports state the Vikings’ tattoo designs depicted knotwork, trees, animals and other Nordic symbols.

Viking Tattoo Artists in Sydney

While many tattoo studios in Sydney offer Viking style designs, it’s important to do your research on their artists’ experience in this very specific style. “Viking Tribal” tattoos are extremely intricate, especially the knotwork designs, so it’s recommended you find a tattoo artist here in Sydney who not only has a lot of experience in these designs, but also understands the meaning behind these timeless Nordic symbols. Here at Valhalla Tattoo in the heart of Bondi Junction, we are so ingrained in the Viking culture that even our business name is derived from the era! Valhalla is the name given to the sacred place Vikings went to when they died in battle.

Popular Styles of Viking Tattoos

At our Bondi Junction Tattoo Studio, we’re often asked for a diverse range of Viking Tattoos, however there are a few designs in this style which are especially popular.

  • The symbol we know today as the compass is a popular Nordic tattoo. This symbol was called a ‘Vegvisir’ (Pathfinder), not in the Viking age specifically but from an Icelandic book on magic from the more recent 17th century.                            
  • Another popular Viking Tattoo design is ‘The Helm of Awe’. It was considered a symbol which denoted superior power and protection and is commonly tattooed as part of a full-arm or half-arm sleeve. The symbol was said to give the wearer courage and it promoted fear amongst his enemies.
  • One of the most striking Viking tattoo designs is a portrait of Odin. Odin was a rugged, bearded Norse God and his face represents healing, death, knowledge and royalty. He is deemed to have been a noble man of principle, hence his popularity amongst people who value these traits.

Here at Valhalla Tattoo Studio in Bondi Junction we have artists specially trained in Viking and Nordic Tattoos along with many other styles. We also have a resident body piercer if that’s what you’re after! Give us a call, send through an email or better yet, drop by our tattoo studio on Oxford Street for a free, friendly consultation today!