Old Norse Ásbjǫrn (m.)

Ásbjǫrn was a common name in Norway from the time of the settlement of Iceland (c. 870-930) onwards, and is common in Swedish and Danish runic inscriptions. Forms in Æs- are very common in Denmark and a few runic forms likely represent these spellings. Additionally there are numerous instances of the form Osbern found in Normandy which are possibly loans from England.

It is a Old Norse compound name with the first element,  Ás-, from Old Norse ás, óss ‘a god’, combined with bjǫrn, ‘bear’.  It was common for Viking Age Scandinavian personal names to use animals as name-forming elements.

Several place-names in Lincolnshire and Yorkshire may include the Low German male personal name Osbern, although the name is more likely to be an anglicised form of Old Norse Ásbjǫrn, as in Osbournby in Lincolnshire, and the name is also recorded in medieval documents from both Lincolnshire and Yorkshire.

Old Norse Name


Anglicised Name




Features in Saga

Borgfirðinga sǫgur. ed. Sigurður Nordal and Guðni Jónsson. Íslenzk fornrit III. Reykjavík: Hið íslenzka fornritafélag, 1938, ch. 3.

Eyfirðinga sǫgur. ed. Jónas Kristjánsson. Íslenzk fornrit IX. Reykjavík: Hið íslenzka fornritafélag, 1956, ch. 16.

Eyrbyggja saga. ed. Einar Ól. Sveinsson and Matthías Þórðarson. Íslenzk fornrit IV. Reykjavík: Hið íslenzka fornritafélag, 1935, ch. 17. 

Laxdœla saga. ed. Einar Ól. Sveinsson. Íslenzk fornrit V. Reykjavík: Hið íslenzka fornritafélag, 1934, ch. 1,6.


Ascribed Culture


Viking Names


Lincolnshire, male_name, personal-name, Yorkshire

Further information


Lena PetersonNordiskt runnamnslexikon: Femte, reviderade utgåvanUppsala: Institutet för språk och folkminnen (2007), pp. 28-29.

Gillian Fellows Jensen, Scandinavian Personal Names in Lincolnshire and Yorkshire. Copenhagen: Akademisk Forlag (1968), pp. 18-19, 342.

E.H. Lind, Norsk-isländska dopnamn ock fingerade namn från medeltiden. Uppsala: A.B. Lundequistska Bokhandel (1915), cols 63-65.