Thrud, a Battle Goddess and Daughter of Thor, the Norse God of Thunder
In ancient times, during the Viking Age, the goddess Thrud was considered a mighty deity. These days she is almost completely forgotten, despite being mentioned in several historical sources, both in poems and on rune stones.
Thrud is the daughter of Sif, the goddess of the abundance of the earth, and Thor, the god of thunder, lightning, winds, rains and fair weather. In Viking Age poetry her father Thor is referred to as ‘the tough father of Thrud’ or, as in the poem Thorsdrapa, ‘he who longs fiercely for Thrud’.
She is also attested in the poem Alvíssmál from the Poetic Edda. In the poem, Thor converses with an all-knowing elf who has come to ask for Thrud's hand in marriage. Thor had no intention to marry off his daughter to the elf but agrees, on the condition that the elf answers all Thor's questions. Thor continues to ask the elf questions until sunrise and, as soon as the light touches the elf he turns to stone.
There are also attestations of the goddess Thrud made by the Vikings themselves. The Karlevi rune stone is from the late 10th century, located on the Swedish island Öland and, considered to be one of the most remarkable rune stones in Sweden. It contains a runic poem carved in drottkvät – a very special verse form, meaning 'poem to a chieftain'.
One part of the poem, taiþir tulka þruþar, is often translated as ”the greatest chieftain”. But, the expression is an example of a so-called kenning, i.e. a figurative choice of words or figure of speech used instead of a noun. The Vikings were very gifted with regards to poetry and used kennings to play around with the language. They would, for example, call the sea “whale-road” and the wind “the breaker of trees”. So, the poem honors a dead chieftain for having “done the deeds of the battle goddess Thrud” (the Swedish translation is “stridernas Truds kämpe”) - which is the proper translation.
Despite having been a powerful goddess in her time, she is hardly ever mentioned in the literature today. The illustrations of her on my designs are some of the few times she has ever been depicted and I hope to be able to contribute to reviving her memory.
- Åsa Trulsson, designer, founder of Soldiser and Norse mythology enthusiast