Valknut Meaning in Norse Mythology

The valknut symbol is made of three interlocking triangles overlapping each other. Its roots are from Germanic tribes, and its original meaning could be from the words valr and knut, which imply slain warrior and knot. Valknut means knot of slain warriors

Norse mythology is brimming with myths, legends, and tales. It has also introduced people to numerous symbols, characters, and gods. Among them, the most mysterious and controversial symbol is Valknut. 

There have been varying meanings and symbolism of Valknut, and it played a significant role as it was present in all the artifacts from the Viking age.  

The Design Of The Valknut Symbol

Historians have several theories about the origin of the Valknut symbol. There are numerous configurations of the symbol, but two major styles are found. The first is unicursal, where one single line creates three triangles that are interconnected. 

The second version is tricursal, which includes three separate triangles that interlock each other, and each has its shape. 

In either configuration, the symbol looks identical. There are six 60-degree angles, two point down to the left and two down to the right, while the remaining two point upward. 

The major difference in a tricursal design is that it has three more angles right in the center that either show behind the interlocked sides of the triangles or hides behind them. There are no inner angles in the case of a unicursal one since the line goes from one triangle to the other. 

The Valknut Symbol

History Of Valknut Symbol

The history of the symbol Valknut has archeological connections with the cult of the dead. It was present on the runestones on a Swedish island called Gotland. These stones had runic inscriptions and were placed next to a grave. 

Valknut was also found on the wooden bed from the Oseberg ship burial in Norway. Given the preservation quality of the Norwegian ship and grave goods, the Oseberg Ship is one of the most crucial archeological discoveries from the Viking era. 

The symbol also appeared in the eighth century on an Anglo-Saxon ring, which is now preserved in the British Museum. Anglo-Saxon cremation urns also had symbols similar to Valknut.  

Does The Valknut Symbol Have Any Association With Odin?

Some believe that the symbol connects with Odin, the powerful and revered god of Norse mythology. The name Odin translates to Master of Ecstacy. He was a powerful magician often associated with war, death, poetry, magic, shamanism, and wisdom. 

Odin could bind and unbind things using magic, which he used to control people’s minds. Valknut is the symbol of this power of binding and unbinding magic. 

According to Norse mythology, Odin also ferried spirits of the dead people to the underworld and back to the living world. Norse god Odin was also the leader of the warriors of Wild Hunt and Valhalla, the hosts of the dead. 

An image of the Norse god, Oden.

Hrungnir’s Heart And The Origin of Valknut 

Another well-known theory surrounding the symbol’s origin is that Valknut is Hrungnir’s Heart. The Icelandic poet Snorri Sturluson wrote the prose Edda, and Hrungir was the brawler. 

He was the warrior who battled Thor but was killed by the hammer Mjolnir. The heart of Hrungnir is described as pointed with three corners and made up of hard stone resembling the Valknut symbol. 

However, the description of the heart in the poem doesn’t clarify that it is triangular, which implies that it is unlikely that Valknut originated from here. 

According to the archaeological record, the Viking symbol relates to Odin and his magical ability to bind and then unbind. Besides, people believe that Valknut symbolizes death and the transition between life and death. 

Modern Use Of Valknut

Valknut is a famous symbol today, even though its meaning is unclear. The captivating design is strong and powerful, and people still use it. The Valknut symbol can represent strength, fearlessness, power, and warriors. 

Many people add the symbol to their everyday life through t-shirts or jewelry. Some companies are also incorporating the symbol in their brand logos. The German Football Association’s logo also includes the Valknut. Moreover, people also get tattoos of the Valknut symbol. 

The symbol is often linked to Germanic paganism and the modern industry of Germany. Some white supremacist groups also appropriated the Norse symbol, although it is not considered offensive by them. 

Valknut is an enigmatic symbol used by the Vikings. It is associated with death, burial, the transition from life to death, war, and the Nordic god Odin. People continue to use it as it symbolizes a warrior’s death and represents bravery, courage, strength, and fearlessness. 

Interested in learning more about symbols in Norse mythology? Check out this article on Viking runes and their meanings.


Vanessa's liberal arts background has prepared her well for Symbol Scholar. A self-proclaimed theology nerd, Vanessa has interests in world religions, Reformation theology, history, and more. When she's not working, Vanessa enjoys spending time with her family, reading, exercising, and watching professional basketball.

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