If you search for anything ‘Viking’ related online, I guarantee that you will come across this symbol which is known as a stave. However contrary to popular belief this stave has no relation to Vikings or even the Viking Age.
The word Vegvísir translates to ‘signpost’ and it’s designed to prevent the user or wearer from getting lost.
Vegvísir is an Icelandic Stave which was first seen in the Huld Manuscript in 1860.
Icelandic staves were (and still are) used in Icelandic folk magic. The Huld Manuscript is just one of a handful of magic books that survived witch trials and court cases in medieval Iceland.
If you search for anything ‘Viking’ related online, I guarantee that you will come across this stave. Often, it is referred to as a ‘Viking Compass‘ … despite the fact it has no relation to Vikings or the Viking Age.
This stave was created almost 800 years after the Viking Age ended and there is no evidence that the Norse people used staves.
The earliest evidence we have of staves come from the AM434 A 12MO manuscript which has been dated to the 1500’s. This makes Icelandic staves a relatively modern creation.
Certainly, by comparison to runes they are quite young!
Runes were first seen in 160 C.E. in the Elder Futhark language and the decline of runes began in the 1200’s… and staves were first seen in the 1500’s…
Which begs the question…
Why (if they were never used together) are staves often drawn alongside Elder Futhark runes in modern art?
I have two theories about this.
ONE – THE RUMOUR MILL
If we see or say something frequently enough online, all facts go out the window and misinformation becomes common knowledge.
TWO – DESIGN CHOICE
Ehm…. they look cool together??
I’ve LOVE to hear your theories on why Vegvísir and runes appear alongside one another so often – despite the two never coexisting.
So… if it’s not Viking – does that make Vegvísir bad?
No, absolutely not! Inherently there is absolutely nothing wrong with Vegvísir or any Icelandic stave.
They are still used in folk magic and are powerful symbols when used correctly.
It’s just worth noting that the narrative about Vegvísir being a ‘Viking Compass’ or ‘Viking symbol’… is baloney 😜
Artwork created by: Vanaheim by JeromeComentale on DeviantArt