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Combat in Saga Literature: Traces of martial arts in medieval Iceland

On a first glance, the Íslendingasögur can seem like a never-ending chain of feud killings, and many of the best known and most noteworthy saga scenes are scenes of combat.

A Case of an Odd Saga: Structure in Bjarnar saga Hítdælakappa

The discussion of ‘Bjarnar saga Hítdælakappa’ structure has resulted in it being described either as a clumsily made saga or as an odd, non-mainstream saga. However, a scholastic attempt to find the narrative strategy behind the veil of clumsiness has shown that the seemingly loosely constructed narrative of the “Icelandic” part appears to be planned in a rather sophisticated and artistic way.

Communities of Death in Medieval Iceland

In Iceland, the introduction of Christianity around 1000 AD was associated with fundamental chnges in burial customs.

Old Norse White Walkers?

Fear of the undead is by no means a new sensation to humankind; the Icelanders, for instance, knew it centuries ago.

The character of commercial fishing in Icelandic waters in the fifteenth century

The character of commercial fishing in Icelandic waters in the fifteenth century By Mark Gardiner Cod and Herring: The Archaeology and History of Medieval Sea Fishing, eds. J. Barrett and D. Orton (Oxbow Books, 2016) Abstract: From the early fifteenth century English vessels began fishing in Icelandic waters. They adopted a mixed approach of fishing and trading to […]

New Medieval Books: Iceland

Five new books for those interested in the sagas and society of Iceland during the Middle Ages.

Shapeshifting in Old Norse-Icelandic Literature

This article aims to cast a light upon the colorful yet largely unknown shapechanging motifs found in Old Norse-Icelandic literature as well as in related literary works conceived from Classical times until the middle of the 16th century

Popular Culture and Royal Propaganda in Norway and Iceland in the 13th century

Do the kings presented in Strengleikar appear as the European Christian rex justus kings, which was the dominant medieval royal model, or do they convey another image – an image that may be interpreted to explain both the intended function and the popularity of the translations in Norway and Iceland

The use and the abuse of history, national heritage and nationalism

‘Icelanders or Norwegians? Leifur, Snorri and national identity then and now’ followed by a panel discussion

Book Review: A Medieval Woman’s Companion by Susan Signe Morrison

Susan Signe Morrison’s book, “A Medieval Woman’s Companion” brings the contributions of medieval women, famous and obscure, to the forefront in this fantastic introductory text.

Environmental Scarcity and Abundance in Medieval Icelandic Literature

Can medieval literary texts tell us anything about the environmental conditions and the availability of natural resources in premodern times?

The geography of a cemetery – the early Christian cemeteries of Skagafjördur, North Iceland

In the last decade early Christian churches and cemeteries in the region of Skagafjördur, North Iceland, have been the object of extensive archaeological research.

From Heroic Legend to ‘Medieval Screwball Comedy’? The Origins, Development and Interpretation of the Maiden-King Narrative

New types of popular texts emerged, bringing with them new images of women, especially the maiden-king or meykongr, a figure that features prominently in many of the late-medieval indigenous romances or (frumsamdar) riddarasögur.

Historical Oddity: The Birth of a Commonwealth in Medieval Iceland

Iceland is an odd place with an odd history. Despite being ranked among the wealthiest nations today, for much of its history it was left out of the growth and development of culture and technology throughout the Medieval period. It has never been a particularly hospitable environment for human habitation. Wind-blasted, cold, and rocky, it was an island left unsettled by humans long after it was discovered.

Was it for walrus? Viking Age settlement and medieval walrus ivory trade in Iceland and Greenland

The Norse expansion into the North Atlantic is remarkable testimony to the maritime transformation of the early medieval world.

Norse North Atlantic Textiles and Textile Production: A Reflection of Adaptive Strategies in Unique Island Environments

Textile production was a key industry for the Norse colonies of the North Atlantic during the late Viking and Medieval period.

Kings, Wars, and Duck Eggs: Interpretations of Poetry in Egil’s Saga

Although Egil’s Saga is memorable enough for its bloodshed, feuds, and comically disgusting mead-hall scenes, the one characteristic which most distinctly sets it apart from the other Icelandic sagas is its extensive use of poetry.

Snorri Sturluson: Viking Mythographer and Historian

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?

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

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

Skriðuklaustur monastery: Medical Centre of Medieval East Iceland?

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

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.

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