Real meaning of London bridge is falling down in Vikings: Valhalla

Darcy Rafter March 2, 2022
Real meaning of London bridge is falling down in Vikings: Valhalla

In Season 1 of Vikings: Valhalla, the English fought the Vikings in London and commenced the operation for ‘London Bridge is falling down.’ Let’s discover the real meaning behind the term.

Leif Eriksson (Sam Corlett) has unearthed that London Bridge had a flawed design which gave them a real chance to invade. The Vikings had weakened the bridge causing it to fall down hence the term ‘London Bridge is falling down’ as referenced in Vikings: Valhalla.

Fans want to know whether The Vikings really did cause London Bridge to fall down. So let’s look at if the episode has truth to it and anything to do with the popular children’s nursery rhyme.

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Photo by Jo Hale/Getty Images

Vikings: Valhalla London bridge attack explored

In Episode 4 of Vikings: Valhalla, London Bridge falls down. Leif Eriksson and his Greenlanders are the force behind the crumbling bridge. The episode also gives some historic background information to the popular nursery rhyme. Jeb Stuart, the creator of the show explains how the show drew on the origin of the rhyme. Yet he also remarked that there is a multitude of different versions; “It depends on who you listen to. I mean, there are, like, four or five different versions of that song.”  

The version that Vikings: Valhalla references can be found in a collection of sagas by 12th-century Icelandic historian Snorri Sturluson, titled Heimskringla. Stuart also notes that the lack of real evidence in these sagas is actually envigorating for the creative process.

Therefore he merged historic and realistic elements during the creation of Vikings: Valhalla. For example, we know that King Canute approached the bridge from the south and the Vikings went across. We also know where London Bridge is geographically located, all the other in-betweens were fictionally created.

Real Viking story behind London bridge falling down

One interpretation of the traditional English nursery rhyme, ‘London Bridge is falling down’ suggests that the Vikings actually did make London Bridge collapse. Although, there is also a narrative in Olav’s saga that could have been used in Vikings: Valhalla. St. Olav aka Olaf Haraldsson is played by Johannes Haukur Johannesson in the series.

According to Heimskringla, King Olav sailed up the river until they were underneath the bridge on the River Thames. He then attached ropes and sailed away with such strength that the bridge collapsed. Therefore this could likely be what the ‘London Bridge is falling down’ narrative is based on in Vikings: Valhalla.

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Vikings: Valhalla | Official Trailer | Netflix

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Vikings: Valhalla | Official Trailer | Netflix
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Darcy is an experienced journalist working on GRV Media’s audience team across The Focus, Reality Titbit, and HITC. Darcy studied Media and Communications at Goldsmiths University and whilst there she completed a work internship with GRV Media. After gaining a first-class BA (Hons) degree, Darcy joined the team full-time. Since then she has become a social media specialist and her expertise lies in tracking trends. With five years of experience in media, she is particularly passionate about celebrity culture and entertainment. When she’s not writing about The Kardashians, she’s binge-watching it!