tattoos on a man’s chest

Viking Tattoos: What Makes Them Authentic?

When you decide to get one of our awesome range of Viking tattoos, you want to be pretty sure it’s the real thing.

It’s nearly 1,000 years since the end of the Viking age, but the legacy and reputation of the Northmen as fearsome raiders lives on still.

We’re very proud to be able to offer you a choice of top-class temporary Viking tattoos – and a large amount of research has gone on behind the scenes to make sure the designs we sell are authentic.

Viking tattoos are particularly important to us because TattooedNow! is proud to be the exclusive official distributor of the designs used in the popular historical drama Vikings.

The tattoos that were such a feature of this fabulous show were the work of make-up designer Tom McInerney.

As well as the Viking tattoos that adorned so many characters in the hit series, we have created our own designs that reflect the tone and style of what we believe are authentic Viking tattoos.

How, though, can we be sure that the tattoos are authentic, and that by wearing one you will look exactly like a Norse raider from a millennium ago. 

Tom McInerney researched this subject extensively when he was creating the designs for Vikings. He found, as we have, that there is plenty of compelling evidence to say that Vikings wore tattoos – and we can be pretty certain what sort of designs they wore.

For a start, we know the Vikings were creative people. They left behind them artwork on bone carvings, weapons and jewellery. They were fond of adorning items with runic designs too.

They were surrounded by, fought with and intermingled with, people of several races who we know for sure were fond of decorating their skin with artistic designs.

We also have one piece of persuasive written evidence from a man called Ahmad Ibn Fadlan, a Persian scholar who met a group of Vikings in the early 10th century.

His detailed description of the striking people he met includes the line: “From fingertips to their neck, each of them has a collection of trees, figures and the like.”

So by the early 900s Vikings were fond of covering their arms and more with designs taken from nature – which matches the tone of images on their jewellery and carvings.

Our research has told us that we’re on solid ground here. We know that decorating your own skin was widespread in Europe at the time of the Vikings, and we know the sorts of designs they would have employed.

That tells us that when we come up with a new Viking tattoo, we’re sure that it carries authentic echoes of the symbols the original Vikings wore.

And whether you want a Vegvisir, a Helm of Awe or a set of runic symbols, you can go ahead and make your purchase with the confidence that you’re getting the real thing from us.

Back to blog