Tyrfing And Gram: Two Magical Swords And Hervor’s Death In Norse Mythology

Ellen Lloyd - AncientPages.com - Norse mythology contains wonderful stories about powerful gods and goddesses, creative dwarves, ugly and funny trolls, mysterious places, and strange magical objects.

Swords played a significant role in Norse Sagas and the lives of the Vikings. To give a sword a name was nothing unusual considering that they were expensive, time-consuming to produce, and associated with a distinguished warrior.  One of the most famous swords is the Ulfberht sword.

The mysterious Ulfberht sword was a very advanced weapon thousands of years of its time. Read more

The mysterious Ulfberht sword was a very advanced weapon for thousands of years of its time. Read more

Researchers have so far identified about 100 named swords in Norse mythology. In this article, Ancient Pages will examine two magical and extraordinary swords.

Hervor And Her Magical Sword Tyrfing

In The Saga of Hervör and Heidrek,  a legendary Norse saga from the 13th century containing traditions of wars between Goths and Huns from the 4th century and used as a source for Swedish medieval history, we come across the tale of shieldmaiden Hervor, a young woman who always participated in battles.

Hervor possessed a magical sword named Tyrfing. It was an extraordinary weapon invincible to any warrior who fought with it. Tyrfing was always shining brightly, just like the Sun, and every time its edge was uncovered, someone got killed. No living creature could survive even the slightest wound made by the sword.

It was commonly believed that Tyrfing was forged and cursed by the dwarves Dvalinn and Durin for King Svafrlami, one of Odin’s sons. Dwarves were well-known for their outstanding ability to produce remarkable weapons.

Svafrlami secures the sword Tyrfing. Rydberg, Viktor. 1906 Svafrlami secures the sword Tyrfing. Image credit: Author: Lorenz Frølich  (1820–1908). Source - Rydberg, Viktor. 1906. Teutonic Mythology Vol. III.Rydberg, Viktor. 1906

The sword never missed its target and ensured its bearer victory, naturally making it a desirable weapon.

The first owner of Tyrfing was most likely King Svafrlami. One day, he was hunting on his horse and discovered two dwarves near a large stone. He bound them by swinging his sword above them so they could not disappear. The dwarves, named Dvalinn and Durin, asked if they could buy themselves free and undertook to make a magic sword. The sword would neither break nor rust, cut through iron and stone as easily as through cloth, and always give victory.

When Svafrlami acquired the sword, he saw that it was an exquisite and beautiful weapon, and it was named Tyrfing. However, before disappearing into the rock, the dwarves cursed the weapon so that it would never be unsheathed without killing a man, would be the undoing of Svafrlami, and cause three evil deeds.

Hervor's death Peter Nicolai Arbo Hervor's death Peter Nicolai Arbo.  Hervör was a shieldmaiden in the cycle of the magic sword Tyrfing, presented in̪ the Hervarar saga, of which parts are found in the Poetic Edda. Greatly outnumbered, she died leading the army against the first assault of the Huns in an inheritance conflict between her brothers (Hlöd and Angantýr). The men in this image may represent her foster-father (Ormar) and brother (Angantýr); but as they mourn her in Árheimar (where Ormar flees to Angantýr with a report of the invasion and defeat) exactly this scene does not occur in the saga.

Apparently, Hervor took the Tyrfing from the grave of Angantyr, her father. Angantyr had inherited the sword from his father, the berserker Arngrim.

What happened to the sword when Hervor died remains a mystery.

Gram – The Magical Sword That Killed The Dragon

In the Edda, there is also a tale of another magical sword named Gram which means “enemy.”

The Gram sword is depicted on an old runestone standing on a hill just outside the Swedish city of Eskilstuna.

Old runestone In Sweden depicts the battle and death of the dragon. Old runestone In Sweden depicts the battle and death of the dragon.
According to a Norse legend, a dwarf named Fafner killed his father so he could steal a huge, valuable gold treasure. Fafner was later changed into a dragon. His brother Regin was furious and sought revenge.

Together with a young boy named Sigurd, he located the hiding place of the stolen treasure. Regin forged a strong sword to kill the dragon and reclaim the treasure. He named the sword Gram and killed the dragon with it.

The legend is well-known in Scandinavia, and the event is depicted on a thousand-year-old runestone in Sweden.

Updated on March 17, 2023

Written by - Ellen Lloyd – AncientPages.com 

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