By WW Buchanan
Journal of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh, Vol.33 (2003)
Excerpt: Egil’s Saga provides a perspective of the Viking world in the ninth and tenth centuries. The saga tells the story of a demonic Viking hero, one Egil Skallagrimsson (ie, son of bald Grim). Egil is described as a huge, dark, bald man of enormous strength and towering temper. He was a fearless fighter who committed his first murder at the age of six while playing a ball game, killinghis playmate with an axe. His father, Skallagrim, was displeased with son’s behavior, but his mother, Bera, considered that ‘Egil had the makings of a real Viking, and it was obvious that as soon as he was old enough he ought to be given fighting ships.’ In a duel over property with one Atli ‘the Short’, Egil aptly demonstrated his ferocity as a fighter:
Egil saw that things couldn’t go on like this. His own shield was useless by this time so he threw away both his shield and sword, made a rush at Atli and grappled with him. He was the stronger and Atli fell backwards. The Egil leaned over and but right through his throat, and that was how Atli died.