Shieldmaidens aren’t exactly a special case of cross-dressing, but they are a special circumstance of pagan culture that allows certain women to wear armor like men and be treated as full warriors as if they were men themselves. Shieldmaidens are young women devoted to Odin (unusual, since Odin is usually seen as a distant god). They swear an oath of chastity, and, as long as they keep it, are treated as men for the purposes of war. Shieldmaidens are rare but highly respected among pagans (they have no standing at all in Christendom). They serve as mercenaries or as house soldiers for powerful nobles. Shieldmaidens who break their oath or marry lose their special rights, and revert to ordinary women. Those who die in battle ascend to Valhalla to join the ranks of the valkyries.