Medieval Naming Guides: Scandinavian

Scandinavian Names

A Very Brief History of the Scandinavian Languages, by Talan Gwynek
Many of the languages of modern Scandinavia developed from a common ancestor. This article gives a timeline and a guide for choosing the language appropriate to a particular time and place.

Old Norse Names

A Simple Guide to Creating Old Norse Names, by Aryanhwy merch Catmael
An overview of Viking names, based primarily on Geirr Bassi Haraldsson, The Old Norse Name

Viking Names found in the Landnámabók, by Aryanhwy merch Catmael
Viking Bynames found in the Landnámabók, by Aryanhwy merch Catmael
Two indices of names taken from Geirr Bassi Haraldsson, The Old Norse Name, re-sorted by frequency. The first contains lists of masculine and feminine given names, the second lists of descriptive epithets.

Place-Names in Landnámabók, by Talan Gwynek
An incomplete list of place names from the 1948 edition of Landnámabók. The article includes a discussion of how to form locative bynames based on these place names.

Names of Scandinavians in the Byzantine Varangian Guard and in Russia, by Gunnvôr silfrahárr
Several dozen men's names from Norse and Russian records.

Scandinavian names from the Birch Bark Letters of Novgorod the Great, and Staraja Russa, by Rebecca Lucas (ffride wlffsdotter)
Names of Scandinavian people recorded in Russian documents. Includes the Russian and a normalized Old Norse form of each name.

The Bynames of the Viking Age Runic Inscriptions, by Lindorm Eriksson
A discussion of non-patronymic bynames: various types of descriptive bynames, locative bynames, etc.

Nordiskt runnamnslexikon (The Dictionary of Norse Runic Names), by Lena Peterson
A database of names found in Norse runic inscriptions, published by a highly respected academic group. The presentation is very technical and in Swedish, so we recommend it primarily for determined researchers. The dictionaries of given names and place names (PDF files) are usable even if you don't read Swedish. If you want to beyond that, here are some notes that may help you. There is an unauthorized translation by Gunnvöra Silfrahárr, available as a zipped PDF. It contains some errors, but is basically safe to use.

A huge database of runic inscriptions, in Swedish, containing many names in their original spellings. Rundata is a DOS program that you can download and run. It is also available as Mac files that you can search manually. There is also a Mac version in English, readable with Filemaker Pro 3.x.

Documentation is available as a PDF file (in Swedish), readable with Adobe Acrobat Reader. Gunnvôr silfrahárr has added some notes on the sources.

Runic inscriptions from Bryggen in Bergen, by Anne Haavaldsen and Espen S. Ore
A study of runic inscriptions in Bergen, Norway. It includes a list of personal names.

Irmínsul Ættír Nafnasafnið, by Haukur Þorgeirsson.
A list of Icelandic names that were used in heathen times. This article must be used with care: Some aspects are quite good, others are not. The author includes name elements, but it would be a mistake to infer that they can be randomly re-combined to create new names. For the best re-creation, stick to the full names that were actually used. Check in the more scholarly compilations above to see if a particular combination was actually used.

A couple specific warnings: Some of the names are foreign-origin names that were later borrowed into Icelandic or Norwegian use; if you particularly want a Viking-period name, check other sources to make sure that a particular name was actually used in the early period. The spellings are roughly appropriate for the late saga-writing period; again, if you want an early name, you'll need to check other sources. The author gives meanings for name elements. These appear to be correct, but keep in mind that they are really the meanings of the etymological roots of name elements, based on words that often had dropped out of the language centuries before. As a general rule, the etymology of a name was rarely relevent to its use in medieval cultures.

Swedish Names

Swedish Feminine Names from c.1300, by Lindorm Eriksson

Sveriges Medeltida Personnamn (Swedish Medieval Names)
SMP is a dictionary of all known spelling variants of Swedish personal names in medieval sources, published by a department of the University of Uppsala. It is the reference on Swedish medieval names. The data has been published in print through the name Holmger. The dictionary is in Swedish and is fairly accessible to the careful non-expert. Citations of each name are listed chronologically, with dates, sorted bygrammatical form. Most of the time, you will want to begin with the search page.

Swedish Feminine Given Names from SMP, by Aryanhwy merch Catmael
An index compiled from the printed version of Sveriges Medeltida Personnamn, through most of the H's. This article, which also contains some notes on women's bynames, is also a work in progress.

Academy of Saint Gabriel report 2296
Contains lists of masculine and feminine names recorded in late 16th century Sweden, plus information on the construction of feminine names in this period. Most of this information is included in Aryanhwy's Swedish Feminine Given Names from SMP, but not the list of common masculine names.

New Sweden Settlers, 1638-1664, by Dr. Peter Stebbins Craig
A bit later than our period, but otherwise excellent. The list of several hundred names includes men and women, Swedes and Finns.

Russian Merchants at River Ports of the Bay of Bothnia, 1548, by Rebecca Lucas (ffride wlffsdotter)
Names of Russian people recorded in Swedish documents.

Norwegian Names

Middle Norwegian Names from Diplomatarium Norvegicum Diplom 217 (July 25, 1335), by Þóra Sumarliðadóttir
A small collection of names from a 14th C diplom (document or letter with a set form). There are 10 men and 1 woman named.

Academy of Saint Gabriel Report 2896
This report contains a list of a couple dozen Norwegian masculine names recorded around 1500.

Finnish Names

Names of Finns from the Birch Bark Letters of Novgorod the Great, Pskov, and Staraja Russa, by Rebecca Lucas (ffride wlffsdotter)
Names of Finnish people recorded in Old Slavic documents, from the twelfth to the fifteenth century.

Vanhat nimityyppimme (Finnish Names), by Kerttu Katariinantytär Roisko
A discussion of the Finnish language and naming practices, with examples mostly from the 14th-16th centuries. The article appears to be incomplete.

Family Names in the Old Rautalampi Administrative Parish in 1564, 1586 and 1621 and
Finnish Family Names for Inhabitants Assessed for Taxes in Savonlinna Province in 1571
Two lists of Finnish family names, the dates when they were recorded, and the villages in which they were used. The source is given at the bottom of each page.

New Sweden Settlers, 1638-1664, by Dr. Peter Stebbins Craig
A bit later than our period, but otherwise excellent. The list of several hundred names includes men and women, Swedes and Finns.

The Medieval Names Archive is published by the Academy of Saint Gabriel and Sara L. Uckelman. It was historically published by Joshua Mittleman.
© 1997-2013. Copyright on individual articles belongs to their authors.