Norse Tattoos For Men

Top 101 Best Norse Tattoos Ideas – [2020 Inspiration Guide]

For guys with Viking roots, nothing will top a Nordic tattoo. A noble heritage can be brought to the forefront of your personality with one of these inked wonders!

Get in touch with your Viking ancestry by getting a noble Norse tattoo. There are countless ways to show off your European roots, and all of them are dashingly powerful.

To prove your connections to these godly brutes, you can get their magnificent helmets inked upon your skin.. You might even be able to find your own family shield.

Maps and cartography are also phenomenal selections for those who want Nordic tattoos. This is because they were nomadic forces that conquered large sections of land. They may seem mythical now, but they were very real. Their ancestors walk among us, and now they can show off their legacy through ink!

Still, the most devilishly handsome Norse tattoos are equipped with their old-school patterns. Complex circular symmetry is usually emphasized, so they are excellent for joints like the knees, shoulders and elbows. Take a peak at these princely Norse tattoos to see what the hubbub is all about!

Credits: 2, 8, 14, 17, 47, 72, 78, 82, 89, 104 – Peter Madsen at Meatshop tattoo.

1. Nordic Tattoos with Knotwork Designs 

You may associate knotwork with Celtic history. You wouldn’t be wrong! The Celts – people of early Scotland and Ireland – had a very distinct art form consisting of knot patterns. When Vikings began to invade and colonize these lands – between 600 and 1200 AD – they adopted some of these popular patterns. 

While Celtic knotwork features a never-ending line bent into a circular or other design, the Norse took a slightly different take. They used the look of Celtic knotwork but put their own spin on it. Nordic knotwork does not have to use one continuous line, and often makes a person, animal or object the star of the design instead of the knotwork itself. Precise linework and, in many cases, shading is crucial for this type of Nordic tattoo. 

Since many people are only passingly familiar – if at all – with different types of Northern artwork, don’t be surprised if passers-by assume your Norse tattoo to be Celtic in origin. Have a quick explanation ready – you’ll teach them something new and show off just how much thought you put into your artwork. 

2. Nordic Compass Tattoos 

The Viking compass is a bit of a mystery. Only mentioned in one Icelandic manuscript, it supposedly keeps the wearer (or bearer) safe in all types of horrific weather and keeps them from getting lost. In addition, it can help get travelers where they’re going, even if they don’t know where that might be. Although mysterious, it sounds like a great tool to keep handy! 

Nordic compass tattoos often incorporate runes at the end of each line. These can be used to spell out the name of a place you’re headed, the place you call home, or the name of a loved one. You can choose to get one or several Viking compasses, and they look great on virtually any part of the body. The chest and back are popular spots, with only the boldest choosing a compass on their hand.  Remember that precise linework and blackwork are essential for a bold Viking compass. Each rune should be crisp and readable. 

3. Nordic Tattoos Featuring Animals 

The importance of animals to the Viking and other Nordic cultures can’t be understated. Whether they were raised as livestock or revered as friends of the gods, animals played a huge role in everyday Viking life. Fish were a massive part of the Viking diet, as were sheep, cows and pigs. Dogs and cats were kept as pets, just as they are today, alongside now-uncommon pets like bears and raptors.  Spiritually, the raven, wolf, bear, raptor, horse and dragon were most significant. 

Your Nordic tattoos can reflect several different things. If you identify with or revere Odin, for example, you may desire a wolf or raven. If you want to pay homage to your ancestors as simple farmers instead of bloodthirsty beserkers, a Viking-style barnyard would be a fun and fascinating piece of skin art. These animals look amazing in virtually any style, from the world of blackwork to full color dotwork, and everything in between. 

4. Nordic Tattoos Featuring Color 

While we tend to think of the Viking lifestyle as being filled with endless grays, blacks and cold, misty landscapes, this is untrue. Sure, there was a lot of snow and fog – but the Vikings had summer too! Get colorful with your Norse tattoo ideas. There’s no reason to exclude color, and there are a million ways to use it for maximum impact. A vivid splash of red is a great way to suggest bloody battles, while virtually any color can be used to make a design pop or to personalize it. 

5. Blackwork Nordic Tattoos 

The world of blackwork encompasses many specific components, from artistic styles to techniques like dotwork. Quality linework and shading make up many of the best Viking tattoos, while weak lines and blotchy fades tend to create Norse tattoos to avoid. This is true across virtually every genre of tattoo. 

Since much Viking and Nordic artwork and lettering consisted of wooden carvings, knotwork and runes, keeping things crisp and sharp is essential for truly paying homage to this proud and fierce part of your ancestry. 

6. Nordic Tattoos Featuring Runes 

At once everyday and mysterious, runes comprised the Viking alphabet. These symbols – very few of which survive today – were an ancient method of communication. It’s easy to see why they’re frequently incorporated into Nordic tattoos! There are a few things to consider when designing a runes tattoo. First, remember that runes are primarily linework. Select a tattooist skilled in this area. 

Next, be absolutely sure of what you want to say. You’ve probably giggled at botched, misspelled tattoos in English. Imagine how much more common that might be when tattooing in a foreign – or dead – language. Work closely with your tattoo artist to ensure your finished art spells things out perfectly. Lastly, understand that are three major and several more minor sets of runes. Northern Europeans, Brits and Scandinavians all had their own different sets of runes, so be sure to use a set or image depicting the Norse runes. 

7. Nordic Tattoos Featuring Wooden Carvings 

Since many gorgeous and intricate Norse carvings have survived to this day, it’s easy to see why subtle, wooden texture, is a common theme in Norse tattoos. Honoring this historic and beautiful form of artwork is a matter of linework, careful shading and the creation of depth to accurately mimic the Nordic carvings we see in museums. 

Your historical Viking tattoos will broadcast your heritage loud and clear with a wood theme, calling attention to the patient, artistic side of a people best known for raiding and pillaging. While warriors are a truly badass branch of your family tree, it’s easy to forget that the Vikings and Nordic races in general were civilizations just like any other. Using their artwork to showcase this is a great way to highlight varying aspects of Nordic life.   

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