A Viking Shrine.
We are very fortunate to have an account written by Ahmad ibn Fadlan, a 10th-century Arab traveler who
met Norse travellers on the Volga and gives us an interesting account of a shrine in one location.
He wrote: “When the ships come to this mooring place, everybody goes ashore with bread, meat, onions, milk and intoxicating drink and betakes himself to a long upright piece of wood that has a face like a man's and is surrounded by little figures, behind which are long stakes in the ground.
The Rus prostrates himself before the big carving and says, "O my Lord, I have come from a far land and have with me such and such a number of girls and such and such a number of sables", and he proceeds to enumerate all his other wares. Then he says, "I have brought you these gifts," and lays down what he has brought with him, and continues, "I wish that you would send me a merchant with many dinars and dirhems, who will buy from me
whatever I wish and will not dispute anything I say." Then he goes away.
If he has difficulty selling his wares and his stay is prolonged, he will return with a gift a second or third time. If he has still further difficulty, he will bring a gift to all the little idols and ask their intercession, saying, "These are the wives of our Lord and his daughters and sons." And he addresses each idol in turn, asking
intercession and praying humbly. Often the selling goes more easily and after selling out he says, "My Lord has satisfied my desires; I must repay him," and he takes a certain number of sheep or cattle and slaughters them, gives part of the meat as alms, brings the rest and deposits it before the great idol and the little idols around it, and suspends the heads of the cattle or sheep on the stakes. In the night, dogs come and eat all, but the one
who has made the offering says, "Truly, my Lord is content with me and has consumed the present I brought him."
The picture above is a reconstruction based upon this description but also includes elements from other religious sites known from Northern Europe and Scandinavia.