The above small bronze statue (about 2.5 in, 6.4 cm), probably made about A.D. 1000, was found on a farm at Akureyri in Iceland. It portrays the bearded god Thor with his hammer.
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Image reproduced by courtesy of the National Museum of Iceland, Reykjavik.


In Norse mythology, Thor was the god of thunder. He produces thunder with his hammer, called Mjolnir, which means "The Destroyer". This hammer was made by dwarfs, and would magically return to Thor's hand whenever he needed it. Thor was a tall, muscular man with red hair and a beard. His magic belt could double his strength. His greatest enemy was the World Serpent, which lived in the ocean surrounding Midgard, the Earth.

There were many stories written about this strong god, but many were lost. One, however, tells of a time when Thor tried to kill the World Serpent. Pretending to be a fisherman, Thor used the head of an ox as bait to catch the beast. When he had the serpent on the line, he swung his hammer and missed. The giant, Hymir, was so afraid that he cut the line before Thor could kill the serpent.

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