Viking Ribe. A horse sacrifice

Viking Sacrifice of horse to Norse Gods at Ribe VikingeCenter, Denmark

The Vikings in Ribe in Denmark have sacrificed a horse
The Vikings in Ribe have sacrificed a horse  . Denmark

A sacrificed horse and lamb was the shocking sight that met one of Danhostel Ribe’s visiting groups at Ribe VikingeCenter. The völva, the wise woman of the Vikings, had slaughtered the horse, skinned it and placed the hide on a long pole, so that everybody could see her big sacrifice. The blood she sprinkled on a sacred stone filled with other gifts to the gods.
Why did the völva slaughter and sacrifice the horse, and should the hostel’s guests be afraid of being the next in line?
Listen to the völva’s own explanation in this video.

Blot – a pagan rite in the Viking Era

The völva  was in the Norse Mythology supposed to have a special connection with the old gods and goddesses, the Aesir. Therefore it was also often her who carried out the pagan rites like the offerings to the gods. The “Blot” was a main rite celebrated in Heathenry. In this video the blot is a ritual sacrifice of a horse to honour the gods, followed afterwards of a feast at which the meat was eaten by the participants.

Horse sacrifice at Ribe VikingeCenter in Denmark
The völva has sacrificed a horse at Ribe VikingeCenter in Denmark

Horse and human sacrifices

To sacrifice a horse to the gods demonstrated you had great wealth, but also slaves were sacrificed, as you can see in the exhibition “The Christian Vikings” at Ribe Viking Museum  (2014 and 2015)

Master with beheaded slave. Ribe Viking Museum
Master with his beheaded and sacrificed slave. Ribe Viking Museum

Real Viking Era Horse sacrifices in Ribe

A pit with a horse sacrifice is found in the middle of a graveyard from the 700s in Ribe (next to the railroad). This indicates that this burial place was founded with a sacrifice to the Norse gods (see  link number 10).
In the summer 2014 an archaeological excavation in Ribe revealed a fully equipped warhorse from around 700 .  The archaeologists can’t say if this is a horse sacrifice, but it is unique  to find a grave with a war horse  from the Early Medieval Era  in Denmark. In the article “Viking Ribe in Viking Denmark“, you can hear the archaeologists tell about the find in the video “The discovery of a dark age horse burial in Ribe, Denmark” .

The Viling völva reading the runes at Ribe VikingeCenter in Denmark
The Viking wise woman, the völva, reads the runes at Ribe VikingeCenter in Denmark

The völva could also tell you your fortune

The völva was also a seer and a fortune-teller.  At Ribe Viking  Centre she might throw and read the runes for you, and tell you her prophecy. That was what  she did for the hostel’s photographer, listen to the völva’s prophecy for the photographer in the video in this article: The Viking wise woman was the late Middle Ages witch

Viking Places in Ribe

  • Ribe Viking Museum (Museet Ribes Vikinger).  Here you can see many of the archaeological findings from Ribe town and different special exhibitions, The Viking Museum is 0,5 km. (0,3 American miles) away from Danhostel Ribe
  • Ribe Viking Centre (Ribe VikingeCenter)  is a ‘living village’ reconstructed according to archaeological findings in Ribe town and with lots of hands-on experiences. Ribe Viking Centre is 3,2 km (2 American miles) away from the hostel
  • Ribe Viking Market takes place at Ribe VikingeCenter one week around 1st of May. See photos
  • Book a guide for a Viking Walk at the Viking Museum or walk the hostel’s self guided walking tour in Ribe
Facts about the horsehide
Facts about the horsehide
Find Danhostel Ribe på facebook
Danhostel Ribe’s facebook

Photos and video: Gudrun Rishede, Danhostel Ribe

5 thoughts on “Viking Sacrifice of horse to Norse Gods at Ribe VikingeCenter, Denmark”

  1. Was actually sacrificing a horse necessary in this day and age?
    All be it,maybe the horse selected may have had to be put down or was eaten for its meat.
    I would like to know the circumstances and justification
    for this all too graphic display to play-act Viking. I am an 18thc.
    reenactor in the US and we do not go to this extent!
    I am also a horse owner and it really hurts me to see this poor
    creature displayed in such a way, especially due to the fact that
    they are so willing to please us and work for us as well. Too many good horses are sent to slaughter year after year and suffer great pain and torture at the hands of the meat packing industry, on the way to the plants and at the time of slaughter. Some are not even dead and they start butchering them!!!!
    We get the picture when we read or are told about the practice you felt some need to demonstrate (that is extremely disturbing) ….no reason to become a BARBARIAN once again. Shame on you Dans…I am Norwegian and Swedish decent and over the years my family has shown sympathy rescued many animals including an ex-race horse who was a loyal friend to my daughter and myself. He always carried us safely and with much bravery when he was retrained to become an Eventing horse and trail horse.
    Please stop this senseless display in future reenactments, it is not good for our children to see and may encourages cruelty and desensitizing towards animals and humans. Note the recent terrorist shootings all over the world.
    Ingrid Svaasand

  2. This horse has not been sacrificed in real life – this is “theater” – in Denmark the existing legislation is very strict. If you read “Facts” at the bottom of the blog it says: “Facts about the hide: It was delivered from a horse butcher according to Danish veterinary legislation” Horses are of course very appreciated and loved animals and as far as we know, they are not send to the butcher before they are very old or suffers because of injuring. At the butcher they will be put to sleep in the most professional way.

  3. Hej, jag heter Inger Lood och arbetar på Veterinärmuseet i Skara, Sverige. Just nu arbetar vi med en ny utställning “TILL VÄGS ÄNDE en utställning om DJUREN OCH DÖDEN”. Jag hittade en bild på nätet, tagen av fotograf Gudrun Rishede, och undrar om det är ok att vi använder denna bild i vår kommande utställning? /MVH Inger Lood, Veterinärmusseet i Skara

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