Anglo-Saxon and Viking Individual Star Names and Traditions: The Dim View Looking Through a Window into the Distant Past

During the past decade, the ability to have one’s personal DNA tested has become readily available. The results usually come back with surprises. My own experience and evaluation has revealed that I am, indeed, descended from German ethnicity and ancestry but, strictly speaking, not from the perceived ‘modem’ German roots. On my father’s side, my DNA has revealed strongly Anglo-Saxon roots and, on my mother’s side, just as strongly Scandinavian, Norse or Viking roots. Intrigued by these revelations, together with having a life-long interest in Norse mythology and observational astronomy, I felt compelled to research another interest, the individual Anglo-Saxon and Viking stars and names that are known or recorded. Unfortuntely, only a relative handful of Anglo-Saxon and Viking star names are known. In fact, despite the advantage of written languages, few Anglo-Saxon and Viking star names survived over the past millennia. The greatest threat to the survival of proper star names from Anglo-Saxon and Norse/Viking tradition was Christianity, the missionaries doing all in their power to purge any and all of the ancient beliefs deemed ‘pagan’. However, despite the effects of the purges and paucity of information from original sources, it is a fascinating study providing a view through a window into the past of what is oft times a dimly lit world. The goal of this article, therefore, is an attempt to shed some light on the darkness from the medieval times. This endeavour will begin with a brief review of the Anglo-Saxon and Norse/Viking language core, their cultures, beliefs and similar mythological base from which the individual stars took their name.