Were the pagan English gods the same as the Viking gods?

The old gods of England are often said to have been identical to, or at least very similar to, the deities of Scandinavia...

Were the pagan English gods the same as the Viking gods? © Getty Images

Certainly they came from a similar cultural background and the names were similar. The English Woden is linked to the Viking Odin, Thunor to Thor and Tiw to Tyr.

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However, the Christian missionaries who converted the pagan English despised the pagan deities they supplanted. There is very little written evidence for what the English believed about the gods and goddesses that they worshipped.

Archaeology is beginning to provide evidence for temples, rituals and sacrifice, but only in scanty form. While it is likely that some English deities were similar to their Viking counterparts, there were undoubtedly differences as well, but the lack of written evidence means we will be forever in the dark.

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This content first appeared in the May 2014 issue of History Revealed