In Old Norse skjaldmær, Shieldmaidens were the female Viking warriors who had chosen to fight alongside the men and are mentioned often in the sagas of Norse folklore and mythology. Through the mythologies they have become associated with the Valkyries, valkyrja, Odin’s warriors who choose those who will die in battle and take the fallen warriors to their place in Valhalla.
Warrior women inspired by the Shieldmaidens tend to find a place in popular culture fiction, especially in the fantasy genre. From Tolkien’s Éowyn who slew the Witch-King of Angmar in Lord of the Rings to DreamWorks’ How to Train Your Dragon with Astrid Hofferson and her trusty battleaxe (even though, much to my chagrin, she seems to have fallen out of that role in the new film and ends up being mostly emotional support for the protagonist…), female warriors provide balance in previously male dominated genre of action adventure and especially the parts that involve wading into battle with swords drawn.
Now, when one googles Shieldmaiden the second article to come up is on Lagertha, a historical figure who has been featured as a protagonist in History Channel’s Vikings. The show, though not perfect it its historical accuracy, brings to popular attention not only an amazing and inspiring historical figure, who’s list of accomplishments isn’t limited to becoming an Earl in her own right and the head of her own army, but also a firm affirmation that anyone, regardless of gender, can be a powerful warrior.
For more about the show, which I highly suggest that everyone at least have a look at even if historical drama is not your typical thing, you can find it here: