The cult of Thor had gained in popularity through the Viking Age, so that by the tenth century, he was venerated above all other gods in most parts of Scandinavia. Unlike the grim and aristocratic Odinn, Thor was a god of the people, and a friend of landowner and peasant alike.
Thor was patron of justice, his oath-ring could seal any contract, the Althing assembly of Iceland was opened on Thor’s day (Thursday). Thor was seen as a protector, defending the old order of the heathen landowners and petty nobles from the predations of the land-grabbing, power-hungry and zealously Christian Kings of Norway.
Wearing the sign of the hammer, then, was not just a symbol of one’s trust in Thor, it was also an instrument of his protection.