Was the Viking blood eagle a ritual or a myth?

A well-known topic of discussion is whether the Viking blood eagle is a ritual or a myth. It is a macabre practice which they confirm can be performed. The answer is obtained from a recent study that affirms that it is anatomically possible to perform it.

Sacrificial scene Blood eagle on the stones of Stora Hammars – Wikimedia Commons
what is the blood eagle?

The Viking blood eagle is a sacrifice that divides in two the specialists in studying the Viking world. There are only 9 written references to this method of torture. Was it really performed? Or is it just a myth?

According to the writings on the subject, there are two ways of doing it. In one, the torturer pulls out the ribs, separating them from the spine. With them he forms two wings and through the wounds he pulls the lungs out of the rib cage. Thus the victim agonizes until death. In the second version, the lungs are not removed.

Either way, both are very bloody. It is a complicated task that not just anyone can do. It requires the doer to know very well how to do it and also to have the right tools.

Study conducted that confirms that the blood eagle can be made

A new study conducted at the Medieval Academy of the United States, confirms that the method can be applied to a person. They published the results in the historical journal Speculum. It would be extremely painful and upon opening the rib cage the victim would die in a few seconds.

The few known data on this practice indicate that both the victim and the victimizer belonged to the upper echelons of society. Generally, they were executed to settle scores. The victim was captured in battle and an eagle was drawn on his back. In addition, they also know that some of the Viking weapons were suitable for this procedure.

Film and TV included the blood eagle in different productions such as the History Channel series “Vikings” and the Swedish film Midsommar. It is also included in some console video games. It is one more fact that is part of history. Maybe one day it will be confirmed that it really happened.

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