Sigurd Fafnirsbane – Legendary Dragon Slaying Warrior And His Magical Sword

Many Norse legends passed down from generations are devoted to Sigurd (also known as Siegfried), the famous and legendary slaying warrior of supernatural stature.

His story is particularly well-known from the Ramsund carving (c. 1000) and the Gök Runestone dated to 11th century, both located in Sweden.

Sigurd is among the greatest of the Norse heroes. In the 13th century Icelandic “Volsunga Saga”, he is not a god or a demi-god but an ordinary, brave young man, the son of Sigmund and Hjordis.

Sigmund is killed by Odin, who fought him in disguise of an old beggar. The best way to kill Sigmund is to destroy his sword in pieces making Sigmund weak and helpless against his enemy. Before his death, Sigmund asks his pregnant wife to gather all the pieces of his shattered sword and to give it to their son when he grows up.

Legendary warrior Sigurd blows his horn. Drawing by Arthur Rackham, 1911

After Sigmund’s death, Hjordis marries the King’s son Alf, and Regin, the son of the dwarf king Hreidmar, is appointed to the boy’s teacher. He teaches him languages, runic secrets, chess and other necessary skills for the high-born. One day, Sigurd enters the woods and meets an old man with a long beard (yet another Odin’s disguise) and offers a horse.
“Raise this horse carefully, for it is descended from Sleipnir,” says the man.
Sigurd listens to the old man and chooses Grani, the grey horse.
Now, he possesses his favorite horse and some precious fragments of his father Sigmund’s magical sword. At his side, he has also Regin (in some tales known as Mimir, the smith) a deceitful man who involves Sigurd in his family’s dramatic affairs. Regin tells Sigurd that he has a brother responsible for killing their father and stealing all of the gold, denying Regin his rightful share.

But the gold is cursed, and after the theft, Fafnir transforms into a hideous, venomous dragon, jealously guarding his treasure.

Illustration by Hermann Hendrich 1906

Many years have already passed but Regin patiently waits and hope that someday he finds a hero strong enough to punish Fafnir for his wrong doings and avenge the death of his father. Sigurd agrees to help Regin and swears to slay the dragon.

Sigurd Kills Fafnir, The Dragon

Sigurd is famous for his brave deeds but the greatest one is killing of the dwarf Fafnir. Transformed into a dragon, Fafnir is the most courageous, powerful and aggressive of the three sons of king Hreidmar, according to the “Volsunga Saga”.

To slay the dragon, the fragments of the magical sword are used to create a formidable weapon equal to that his father Sigmund once possessed.

After finding Fafnir in his dwelling place, Glittering Heath, Sigurd begins digging a ditch to hide in and then attack the dragon.

Description of the drawing: Stabbing of the dragon

Description of the drawing: Stabbing of the dragon – at the bottom right of the carving, while to the left, lies  the dead Regin, Sigurd’s betrayer with his smith’s tools. Besides him, Sigurd sits, roasting the dead dragon’s heart over the fire. He is holding his burnt thumb to his mouth. Birds are also seen, and when he tasted the blood from the dragon’s heart, he knew the language of the birds, perching  in the tree behind, to which his favorite horse Grani was roped.

Once again, the young hero’s divine ancestor, Odin, disguised as an old, hooded, gray-beard man, appears and warns that he must dig more than one ditch so the blood from the beast diverts from him in the main ditch. Then, Odin vanishes and Sigurd waits in his hiding place.  Soon the earth begins to tremble and the beast approaches. While crawling over the ditch, it is stabbed through its heart.

Sigurd Fafnirsbane - Legendary Dragon Slaying Warrior And His Magical Sword

s Fafnir is dying, he asks Sigurd about his true identity, thus allowing the dragon to pass the powerful curse of the gold on him. Regin arrives shortly and according to tradition, Sigurd cuts out the dragon’s heart and Regin drinks of his blood. While making a meal of the heart, Sigurd licks his finger and suddenly in contact with the dragon’s blood, he begins to understand the speech of birds and learns about Regin’s true nature and his plans to kill him.

He kills Regin, eats some of the heart, takes as much treasure as he can carry and rides off on Grani to experience new adventures.