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If your name is on this list, you’re probably an actual Viking

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Gary Ogden
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Vikings are big, hard men aren’t they? Big hard bozos with hairy chins and big axes, who stomped around claiming whatever it was they bloody well wanted. They probably weren’t that nice, either, but that’s not stopped pop culture making them look like badasses. 

But are you one? Are you a viking?

Well, there’s a very easy way to determine whether or not there’s any Viking blood coursing through your veins: take a closer look at your surname.

Experts have said that any surname ending in ‘sen’ or ‘son’ is likely to be of Viking descent (big news for Emma Watson, Emma Thompson, Robert Pattinson and co) – and surnames such as Roger/s, Rogerson, and Rendall also hint that there’s a touch of the marauder to you.

And they aren’t the only surnames that wannabe Vikings should watch out for…

Here’s a little list to help you discover your roots:

  • Names ending in ‘sen’ or ‘son’
  • Roger/s, Rogerson, Rendall
  • Names which contain a nod to personal characteristics, such as ‘Love’, ‘Short’, ‘Tall’, ‘Wise’, ‘Long’, ‘Good’ (e.g. Goodman).
  • Scottish surnames (e.g. McLeod, McIvor, McAvoy, McAulay)
  • Irish surnames (e.g. Doyle, McDowell, MacAuliffe)
  • Scandinavian surnames (e.g. Flett, Scarth, Linklater, Heddle, Halcro)

The intriguing data was uncovered when TV channel HISTORY teamed up with Alexandra Sanmark from the Centre of Nordic Studies, University of the Highlands and Islands.

Sanmark explained: “The people of the Viking Age did not have family names, but instead used the system of patronymics, where the children were named after their father, or occasionally their mother.

“So, for example the son of Ivar would be given their own first name and then in addition ‘Ivar’s son’. A daughter would be Ivar’s daughter.

“A famous example from a 13th-century Icelandic saga, describing the Viking Age, is Egil Skallagrimsson, who was the son of a man named Skalla-Grim.

“This naming pattern still remains in use in Iceland today but has been abandoned in Scandinavia in favour of family names.”

She added: “People of the Viking Age would often have a descriptive nickname, for example two of the Earls of Orkney who were known as Sigurd the Stout and Thorfill Skullsplitter.”

A spokesman for HISTORY added that, after surveying 2,000 people, they discovered that a whopping 56% of those polled really, really wanted to discover that they had Viking heritage.

“The Viking age is a fascinating period, and a time of which there are many stereotypes and preconceptions,” they said. “It’s really interesting to see just how much awareness there is of the influence the Vikings have had on our world today.”

Referring to their own television show about the Vikings, they added: “Vikings is an incredible fictional drama in its own right, but is also heavily rooted in historical fact, which we think is one of the reasons why it’s proven so popular and continues to be going strong into its fourth season.”

So, are you a viking? If you are, erm, I don’t really know what you’re entitled to. You can’t even wear one of those silly horned hats, because that’s all nonsense isn’t it? Guess it means you had better put “flaming sea boat to be sailed towards Valhalla” instead of “local burial at village church” in your will.

(Images: Rex Features)

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Gary Ogden

Shortlist writer and "the least woke person in the office", Gary Ogden, likes horror movies, Cheestrings, tapping his leg under the desk, "having a drink", PDAs, not having eczema anymore, hiding from responsibility, screaming into the mirror whenever he is alone, and assorted other things. Mainly the eczema thing though. @garyblogden

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