Teaching Students About The Berserkers

The berserkers were legendary Norse warriors known for their fearless and ferocious battle tactics. These warriors were known for unleashing their inner animal in battle, often wearing animal hides and howling like wolves. Teaching students about the berserkers can be an exciting and engaging way to introduce them to Viking history and mythology. In this article, we’ll explore the history of the berserkers and provide some tips on how to teach about them in the classroom.

The History of the Berserkers

The word ‘berserker’ comes from the Old Norse word “berserkr” which means “bear-shirt” and refers to the animal hides that the warriors wore into battle. Though we don’t know exactly when the berserkers first emerged, they are mentioned in Old Norse sagas that date back to the 9th and 10th centuries.

According to Norse mythology, the berserkers were warriors who were under the patronage of Odin, the god of war. They were known for their wild and unpredictable behavior in battle, often going into a trance-like state and becoming immune to pain. Some accounts even describe them as being able to shape-shift into animals, including bears and wolves.

Teaching About the Berserkers in the Classroom

Teaching students about the berserkers can be a fun and engaging way to introduce them to Viking history and mythology. Here are some tips for incorporating the berserkers into your classroom curriculum:

1. Start with the History: Before getting into the mythology and legends surrounding the berserkers, provide students with a context for Viking history. Introduce them to Viking society, their beliefs, and their warrior culture. This will help them understand the role that the berserkers played in Viking society.

2. Share Primary Sources: Use primary sources, such as Norse sagas and historical accounts, to provide students with an authentic look at how the berserkers were perceived at the time. Encourage critical thinking by asking students to analyze how these sources may be biased or incomplete.

3. Explore the Myths and Legends: Once students have a firm understanding of the history of the berserkers, introduce them to the mythology and legends surrounding these warriors. Share stories of their wild behavior in battle, their ability to shape-shift, and their connection to Odin.

4. Connect to Modern Culture: Discuss how the berserkers have been represented in popular cultures, such as in movies or video games. Ask students to evaluate how accurate these representations are and how they compare with historical and mythological accounts.

5. Allow for Creativity: Encourage students to create their own depictions of the berserkers in art, literature, or drama. This can help them develop a deeper understanding of the subject while also fostering creativity and artistic expression.


Teaching students about the berserkers can be a fun and engaging way to introduce them to Viking history and mythology. By providing a context for Viking society, sharing primary sources, exploring myths and legends, connecting to modern culture, and encouraging creativity, students can gain a deeper understanding and appreciation for these legendary warriors.

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