Ullr | Norse Mythology

ullr

Ullr is a deity in Germanic-Scandinavian mythology, associated with archery. Ullr is hardly mentioned in Icelandic sources, but the name is widely represented in the historical localities of Norway and Sweden.

In Snorri Sturluson's "Younger Edda" Ullr is mentioned only twice - once as the son of Sif and stepson of the god Thor, a prodigious archer and ski runner; and again in the discussion of kennings - as the god of archery, skiing, hunting and shields; it is also said that the shield can be allegorically called "the ship of Ullr".

The Elder Edda also has only isolated mentions of Ullr; a list of the dwellings of the Aesir states that Ullr lives in a place called Idalir ("valley of the yew"). This name may also be connected with archery, since yew provided the best wood for making these weapons.

In Norway and Sweden-but not in Denmark or Iceland-there are many geographical places named after Ullr, like Ullevi in Gothenburg and Ullr in Oslo, so perhaps he was important to the common people.

Georges Dumezil notes that the place names associated with this god are represented by "very dense groups in Norway and Central Sweden", while pointing to his relationship with the god Thor, who appears "in a sufficient number of place names in Denmark" (with Ull being almost absent "in the Danish landscape") but hardly ever found "in Norway and Central Sweden", and to Ull's "mithraic features". Perhaps he was simply replaced over time by other gods.

In Northern Europe numerous temples were erected in honor of Ullr . On his altars was a sacred ring over which vows were made. It was said that this ring had the property of shrinking, breaking the finger of the one who made a false oath.

At Lilla Ullevi in Sweden, archaeologists discovered the ancient Ullevi sanctuary. During excavations 65 rings were found in its vicinity. Saxon Grammaticus in the "Acts of the Danes" mentions Ollerus, who allegedly reigned in Byzantium after Odin had been banished from there.

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