Norse clans

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The Scandinavian clan or ætt (pronounced [ˈæːtː] in Old Norse) was a social group based on common descent or on the formal acceptance into the group at a þing.


In the absence of a police force, the clan was the primary force of security in Norse society as the clansmen were obliged by honour to avenge one another. The Norse clan was not tied to a certain territory in the same way as a Scottish clan, where the chief owned the territory. The land of the Scandinavian clan was owned by the individuals who had close neighbours from other clans. The name of the clan was derived from that of its ancestor, often with the addition of an -ung or -ing ending.

As central government gradually was established in Scandinavia, the ætt lost its relevance for commoners. For royalty and nobility, however, it remained in use as the name for line and dynasty.

Examples of clans:


In runology, an ætt is one of the three groups of eight runes of the Elder Futhark, viz., "Freyr's ætt" is fuþarkgw, "Heimdall's ætt" is hnijïpzs, and "Tyr's ætt" is tbemlŋdo. Additionally, it applies to one of the three groups of six runes of the Armanen Futharkh.[1]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Gorsleben, Rudolf John, Hoch-Zeit der Menschheit, 1930].

This page uses content from the English language Wikipedia. The original content was at Norse clans. The list of authors can be seen in the page history. As with this Familypedia wiki, the content of Wikipedia is available under the Creative Commons License.

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