The Norse Dragon Tradition

Dragons are common in Norse lore; we associate viking raiders with dragon headed ships. However this is slightly misleading because Norse lore made no distinction between dragons per se and serpents. A serpent was simply a dragon without wings.

Dragons in Norse lore are usually a negative symbol, being evil bringers of destruction. Clearly this makes them excellent figureheads for Viking raiders!

Famous Norse Dragons

One of the most important Norse dragons is Nithhogr. This creature lives at the base of the world tree Yggdrasil and gnaws at the roots, attempting to destroy it. Nithhogr also devours the corpses of the dead.

The world serpent Jormungandr would also be classed as a dragon in Norse lore. Jormungandr - the Midgard serpent - lives in the waters curled in a circle round the world and biting his own tail.

Another well-known Norse dragon tale is that of Fafnir, who was turned into a dragon by his greed and who was slain by Siegfried.


The hero Scandanavian hero Beowulf also fought dragons amongst other enemies. Some have classed his most famous opponent Grendel - along with Grendel's mother - as dragons, however they are more usually considered to be some form of troll or related creature.