Picture stone from Tjängvide, Gotland, Sweden

(c) Berig, CC-BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Images of Valkyries

A number of images on guldgubber and artefacts have been identified as valkyries, but those identifications are not certain. This image of the Tjängvide picture stone (G 110) from near Ljugarn in Gotland is one of the few where we can be fairly sure that a valkyrie is being depicted. The presence of a rider on the eight-legged horse Sleipnir, the hall in the background and the battle scene at the top all strongly indicate that the scene takes place in Asgard, although the woman in the picture could be a goddess rather than a valkyrie.

Galgebakken Fibula

(c) John Lee, CC-BY-SA

Valkyrie ornaments

A small number of fibulae and figurines have been found that depict women with shields and swords. These are usually interpreted as Valkyries, although they could also be interpreted as shieldmaidens. One such figurine, a Valkyrie from Tjørnehøj in Denmark is particularly revealing because it also clearly shows the woman's dress, and thus provides good evidence to support the interpretation of remains of clothes recovered from graves.

Marvel: Valkyrie

(c) Marvel Comics

Valkyries in comic books

Valkyries are represented in popular culture as in Marvel's use of the Valkyrie Brunnhilde. The Valkyrie figure is somewhat popular and has featured in a number of other comics, such as Sparkling Generation Valkyrie Yuuki, an adult-themed magical girl manga. Valkyrie was a villain in a comic published by Hillman Periodicals in the mid-20th century. She made her debut in 1943 but the comics arm of the company folded in 1953. This 'femme fatale aviatrix' was resurrected for a three-issue mini-series by Chuck Dixon and Paul Gulacy in 1987.

Review: Berserker: Hell's Warrior

(c) Peakviewing Transatlantic PLC

Valkyries in the movies

The Valkyries in Berserker: Hell's Warrior are vampiric. Their bite turns men into berserkers. Valkyries feature in other movies in a variety of guises. Max Payne, a video game and movie, features the drug Valkyr, although the choosers of the slain in both are male, contrary to Norse mythology. A spectral Valkyrie is seen at one point in the Vikings TV series, taking the dead to Odin. These depictions are all related to death and dying, taking the dead warriors to Valhalla, which is not always the case in popular culture depictions of Valkyries.

Video Game: Gauntlet

(c) Atari Games

Valkyries in video games

Gauntlet was one of the first video games to feature a playable female character: Thyla the Valkyrie. Thor the Warrior was a slow heavy-hitter, while Thyla was quicker but did slightly less damage. This is typical of video game depictions, where women are presented as quick and nimble versus lumbering, heavy men. Kid Fenris has gathered together a list of Valkyrie-related video games into a blog post. The list is not complete, but, as it notes, cataloguing all instances of Valkyries in games would be a massive task. One characteristic feature of all the examples noted is that Valkyries almost invariably have winged helmets, reminding very much of Amalie Materna as Brünnhilde in the first Bayreuth production of Wagner's Ring Cycle, and more recently Kirsten Flagstad.