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Oldest Reference to Norse God Odin Discovered

Archaeologists made a "huge discovery" while examining a gold pendant from the 400s AD when they decoded the words “He is Odin’s man” - making the object the oldest ever found to bear the name of the Norse deity.

Oldest known reference to Odin discovered on this gold coin
Credit: Arnold Mikkelsen | Danish National Museum

Odin, also known as Wotan or Woden - the king of the gods and god of kings. He sat at the pinnacle of the Northern European pantheon worshiped by Anglo-Saxons, Germanic tribes, Celts, and most famously, the Vikings.

The pendant, officially called a bracteate, was found in a treasure hoard near the village of Vindelev on Denmark’s Jutland Peninsula in 2020. The newly translated inscription of Odin’s name is 150 years older than the previous earliest reference found, reports Live Science. The inscription is written in runes, the alphabet from Iron Age Scandinavia and Germania.

“It’s absolutely amazing,” said Lisbeth Imer, runologist, and writing expert at the National Museum of Denmark. “This means that Norse mythology can now be dated all the way back to the early fifth century."

The museum’s linguist, Krister Vasshus, described it as a “huge discovery” and a moment of “pure ecstasy.”

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