Snorri Sturluson: Viking Mythographer and Historian

Snorri Sturluson, drawn by Christian Krohg (1899)

I shall first tell you briefly about Snorri’s background and his education and discuss his Edda, where he appears as mythographer, among other things, and then tell you about his career as a politician and discuss his Sagas of the Norwegian Kings.

Did People Ice Skate in the Middle Ages?

Medieval ice skates made of bone on display at the Museum of London. Photo by Steven G. Johnson, Wikipedia.

How did medieval people pass the time during the coldest part of the year? I came across several instances of medieval people strapping on skates and taking a twirl (or a tumble!) on the ice. Here is how it all began!

7 Things One Should Know When Dealing with Kings: The Icelander’s Version

Christian Krohg illustration in an 1890s edition of Heimskringl

Here is MaryAnn R. Adams’ winning advice on how to deal with Norse kings.

Skriðuklaustur monastery: Medical Centre of Medieval East Iceland?

Excavation site of Skiðuklaustur in Iceland from the fifteenth century.  Photo by Christian Bickel / Wikimedia Commons

Skriðuklaustur monastery was the youngest of nine cloisters operated in Iceland during the Catholic period of the Middle Ages.

‘Hann lá eigi kyrr’: Revenants and a Haunted Past in the Sagas of Icelanders

haunted iceland - Gunnuhver' - Reykjanes Peninsula, Iceland Photo by Kris Williams / Flikr

From Antiquity to the present day, the idea of the dead returning to interact with the living has greatly influenced human imagination, and this has been reflected in literature — the product of that imagination.

Dental Health in Viking Age Icelanders

Photo by Allan Foster / Flickr

The purpose of the study was to evaluate dental health in Iceland 1000 years ago.

30 Sagas in 30 Days on Twitter

30 Sagas in 30 Days on Twitter

This month, a scholar is using Twitter to tell the stories of thirty lesser known tales written by Icelanders.

Telling the Story of the Ivory Vikings

Lewis chessmen - photo by Sarah Ross, Flickr

One book leads to the next. It’s a truism among writers, and particularly apt for explaining how my latest book, Ivory Vikings: The Mystery of the Most Famous Chessmen in the World and the Woman Who Made Them, published by St Martin’s Press in September, came to be.

Ivory Vikings: The Mystery of the Most Famous Chessmen in the World and the Woman Who Made Them

Ivory Vikings

Read an excerpt from the latest book by Nancy Marie Brown

Last Laughs: Torture in Medieval Icelandic Literature

Hrafnkels saga

Medieval Icelandic literature is full of violence, calculated and reasoned violence, narrated in such a way as to focus largely on issues of personal honor and justice, less so on the spectacle of blood so common in the modem Hollywood action film.

Reconstructing the past in medieval Iceland

map of iceland

This paper examines the relationship between the Sagas of Icelanders, which are concerned with tenth- and eleventh-century events, and the contemporary sagas of the mid-thirteenth century.

A note on the regional distribution of pagan burials in Iceland

vertical photo from the early stages of this season's excavations of a pagan grave field at Litlunupar in Iceland.  Photo by Dave /Flickr

Comparison of the distribution of pagan burials in Iceland with medieval information about the number of farmers in different parts of the country allows a division of the country into three zones of low, medium and high frequency of pagan burials relative to the number of settlements.

Miracles from Medieval Iceland

saint thorlak - 15th century image of the saint, now found in the National Museum of Iceland - photo from Youtube

The first saint from Iceland was Thorlak Thorhallsson. The saga of his life reveals dozens of the miracles that were attributed to him after his death. Here are ten of these miracles, which reveal much about religion and daily life in medieval Iceland.

Irish and Scots may have been first to settle Iceland, researcher finds

Seljalandshellar cave in the Westman Islands  - Photo by Kristjan Ahronson

It has long been believed that the first people to inhabit Iceland were the Norse settlers who arrived around the year 874 AD. However, the discovery of Christian crosses carved into man-made caves in the southern part of the island is offering evidence that Celtic-speaking people from Scotland and Ireland had come to Iceland around the beginning the ninth century.

Ore, Fire, Hammer, Sickle: Iron Production in Viking Age and Early Medieval Iceland

iceland - photo by Eric Montfort / Flickr

Iron production may be used as a window through which to view, in part, the economic structure of Icelandic society during the Viking Age (c. AD 870-1000) and Early Medieval (AD 1000-1264) periods.

Local and Traditional on the Millennial Scale: Sustainable Waterfowl Management from Viking Age Iceland

Local and Traditional on the Millennial Scale: Sustainable Waterfowl Management from Viking Age Iceland

Inhabited by Vikings since approximately 600 AD, the islands hosts an abundant, but terribly fragile resource, puffins, flightless birds that nest on rocky exposed cliffs, in easy range of the islanders other prime food source, pigs.

The Role of the Dead in Medieval Iceland: A Case Study of Eyrbyggja Saga

northern lights iceland - photo by Alison Tomlin / Flickr

In this article I intend to discuss the role of the malevolent restless dead in medieval Iceland by making a case study of the so-called wonders of Fróðá, the Fróðárundr episode in Eyrbyggja saga.

A Hagiographical Reading of Egils saga

Egil

When the literary presentation of the character of Egill is examined carefully with an eye toward the hagiographical paradigm, one can see that it matches the presentation of a bishop’s life and character…

‘Iceland: Land of Fire, Ice and Vikings’ symposium takes place next month

Kirkjufell Iceland - photo from Flickr

Those interested in Iceland’s history and future will be gathering at California Lutheran University next month for the 16th Annual Nordic Spirit Symposium. The two-day conference’s theme is ‘Iceland: Land of Fire, Ice and Vikings’.

Trolls in the Middle Ages

THE HOBBIT: AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY

Where did trolls come from? What did medieval and early modern people think of trolls? How did the concept of the modern day troll evolve?

Winter, snow and cold in the life of the Westviking

winter iceland

The main purpose of this paper is to examine how the Westviking were influenced by winter, snow and cold in their day-to-day life as they were making progress in the West.

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