Norse mythology, Sjódreygil and the Norns Faroese stamps 2006
The Norns spin the threads of fate at the foot of Yggdrasil, the tree of the world. Beneath them is the well Urðarbrunnr with the two swans that have engendered all the swans in the world.
The Norns (1889) by Johannes Gehrts.

The Norns (Old Norse: norn, plural: nornir) in Norse mythology[1] are female beings who rule the destiny of gods and men. They roughly correspond to other controllers of humans' destiny, such as the Fates, elsewhere in European mythology.

In Snorri Sturluson's interpretation of the Völuspá, Urðr (Wyrd), Verðandi and Skuld, the three most important of the Norns, come out from a hall standing at the Well of Urðr or Well of Fate. They draw water from the well and take sand that lies around it, which they pour over Yggdrasill so that its branches will not rot.[2] These three Norns are described as powerful maiden giantesses (Jotuns) whose arrival from Jötunheimr ended the golden age of the gods.[2] They may be the same as the maidens of Mögþrasir who are described in Vafþrúðnismál (see below).[2]

Beside these three famous Norns, there are many others who appear at a person's birth in order to determine his or her future.[2] In the pre-Christian Norse societies, Norns were thought to have visited newborn children.[3] There were both malevolent and benevolent Norns: the former caused all the malevolent and tragic events in the world while the latter were kind and protective goddesses.[2]


The origin of the name norn is uncertain, it may derive from a word meaning "to twine" and which would refer to their twining the thread of fate.[2] Bek-Pedersen suggests that the word norn has relation to the Swedish dialect word norna (nyrna), a verb that means "secretly communicate". This relates to the perception of norns as shadowy, background figures who only really ever reveal their fateful secrets to men as their fates come to pass.[4]

The name Urðr (Old English Wyrd, Weird) means "fate". It should be noted that wyrd and urðr are etymological cognates, which does not guarantee that wyrd and urðr share the same semantic quality of "fate" over time.[5] Both Urðr and Verðandi are derived from the Old Norse verb verða, "to be".[6] It is commonly asserted that while Urðr derives from the past tense ("that which became or happened"), Verðandi derives from the present tense of verða ("that which is happening"). Skuld is derived from the Old Norse verb skulu, "need/ought to be/shall be";[2][7] its meaning is "that which should become, or that needs to occur".[6] Due to this, it has often been inferred that the three norns are in some way connected with the past, present and future respectively, but it has been disputed that their names really imply a temporal distinction[2] and it has been emphasised that the words do not in themselves denote chronological periods in Old Norse.[8]

Other Languages
bosanski: Norne
čeština: Norny
dansk: Norne
Deutsch: Nornen
eesti: Nornid
Ελληνικά: Νορν
español: Nornas
Esperanto: Nornoj
فارسی: نورن
français: Nornes
galego: Norns
한국어: 노른
hrvatski: Norne
Bahasa Indonesia: Norn
íslenska: Norn
italiano: Norne
עברית: נורנות
latviešu: Nornas
lietuvių: Nornos
magyar: Nornák
日本語: ノルン
norsk: Norne
norsk nynorsk: Norner
polski: Norny
português: Nornas
русский: Норны
Simple English: Norns
slovenčina: Norny
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Norne
suomi: Nornat
svenska: Nornor
Türkçe: Norn
українська: Норни
Tiếng Việt: Norn