The first proto-Norse culture appeared in Northern Europe around 1700 BCE, growing out of the hunter-gatherer Pitted Wares culture of southern Scandinavia, and the Indo-European-derived Battle Axe culture of the Scandinavian peninsula. This merge kicked off the Nordic Bronze Age. This new culture practiced animal husbandry, agriculture, and facilitated trade with Mycenaean Greece.

Developments in Bronze Age Heathenry

What’s known about the mythology of this time remains very fragmented, but archeological finds suggest a strong presence of sun-worship. The proto-Norse also seem to have made a mythological connection between the sun and horses, with the motif a horse pulling the sun like a chariot. This motif survives in Norse mythology in the form of Skinfaxi and Hrímfaxi, the horses who pull the sun and moon.

Beyond that, it’s impossible to say for sure if the proto-Norse venerated any gods similar to those found in the contemporary Norse pantheon.

Image Gallery

Boat-shaped burial mound in Gotland, Sweden.

Ceremonial helmets from Veksø, Denmark.

Sun and boat petroglyph from Bornholm, Denmark

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The Trundholm sun chariot was found in a peat bog in Odsherred, Denmark in 1902. The wheels on this piece might have been used as a calendar.

Last revised on January 1, 2022.