‘God helped thee; The eagle got food afresh’: Norse Crusaders and the Pleasure of Killing

King Sigurd and his men ride into Miklagard by Gerhard Munthe.

The men of the north are often depicted in the Norse sagas as taking great pleasure in killing, even doing it for no good reason

Reflections on Our Fascination with Vikings and What It Tells Us about How We Engage with the Past

A Viking Sword that has been heated and bent before being included in a burial. It is believed that the sword may have been symbolically killed. Photo by Astrid Westvang / Flickr

What drives our fascination with these people who lived so long ago, about whom we know relatively little and yet who my students see very clearly and definitively?

An Eye for Odin? Divine Role-Playing in the Age of Sutton Hoo

Sutton Hoo helmet at the British Museum

This paper presents some new observations concerning the construction of the Sutton Hoo helmet, as a point of entry to a wider discussion of pre-Christian religious and ideological links across Scandinavia.

Rich and Powerful: The Image of the Female Deity in Migration Age Scandinavia

Sif (1909) by John Charles Dollman

I believe serious blunders have been made concerning the identification of males and females. It
is simply inadmissable to interpret any figure with open, shoulder-length hair as female when all the evidence for the centuries in question shows females have only been depicted with long hair tied in the Irish ribbon knot.

Tolkien and the Viking Heritage

Rohirrim

Much has already been written about the influence of Norse mythology on The Lord of the Rings. Less research has so far been done about how other aspects of the culture and history of the Vikings and Anglo-Saxons influenced Tolkien’s writing.

Continuity: Folklore’s Problem Child?

Odins Riddles

Few topics play a more central role in the way scholars have thought – and, in some cases, continue to think – about medieval folk cultures than has the issue of continuity.

Poems by a Viking

Poems by a Viking

What was a poem by a Viking like? In his new book, Crimsoning the Eagle’s Claw, Ian Crockatt has translated dozens of poems of one of the most famous poets from the Norse world.

Ragnar Lothbrok and the Semi-Legendary History of Denmark

Ragnar meets Aslaug, as depicted by August Malmström (1829–1901)

An investigation into the historical models for the legendary/literary figure Ragnar Lothbrok, including discussion of semi-legendary Danish history from the early sixth to late ninth centuries. Presents an argument for a female model, Lothbroka.

The Picts and the Martyrs or Did Vikings Kill the Native Population of Orkney and Shetland?

orkney - photo by Jan Reinecke / Flickr

I suspect that the Norse invaders of Orkney and Shetland didn’t just overwhelm’, or ‘submerge’ the native population: I think they killed them.

Viking raids were for more than just money, historian says

Vale of York Hoard - Carolingian Cup -  photo by vintagedept / Wikipedia

In his article, ‘What really caused the Viking Age? The social content of raiding and exploration’, Steven P. Ashby, a medieval archaeologist and lecturer at the University of Cambridge, outlines the many factors that would have prompted Norsemen – both the elites and the regular men – to conduct their raids across Europe.

Vikings in the Prehistoric Landscape: Studies on Mainland Orkney

Orkney and Shetland Blaeu - Atlas of Scotland 1654

Norse colonists in Orkney contended not only with the islands’ existing occupants, but also with a foreign landscape filled with visible ancient monuments. This paper provides a brief synthesis of the results of research on the landscapes of Viking-Age and Late-Norse Orkney which explored the strategies undertaken by the Norse settlers to re-model their social identities in their adopted environment.

‘Black Men and Malignant-Looking’: The Place of the Indigenous Peoples of North America in the Icelandic World View

Inuit - My Life with the Eskmo (1922) - Vilhjalmur Stefansson

As they headed back to the ship they saw three hillocks on the beach inland from the cape. Upon coming closer they saw there were three hide-covered boats, with three men under each of them.

The Rök Stone – Riddles and answers

rok stone - photo by Bengt Olof ÅRADSSON / Wikipedia

Challenges to the mind were popular at the Frankish court at the time of the Rök Stone. Due to the political situation in Scandinavia at that time the stone was made in a combined Swedish and international context. The methods of the stone are clearly influenced by the Frankish renaissance initiated by Alcuin of York.

Of thieves, counterfeiters and homicides: crime in Hedeby and Birka

Lorenz Frølich. 1856. Rolf Krake jumbs over the fire

Material evidence of prehistoric crime is rare. A compilation of finds from Hedeby harbour however offers three case studies, where three different offences – thievery, counterfeiting and homicide – are likely.

The Viking women who disappeared

Ingeborg - Norse mythology - painting by Peter Nicolai Arbo (1831-1892)

Women played an important part in Viking Age society, and their role far exceeded that of mother and the ‘housewife’. Why, then, are they barely mentioned in the history books?

BOOKS: Medieval Ireland

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In celebration of St. Patrick’s Day, here are some great books on medieval Ireland!

Choosing Heaven: The Religion of the Vikings

Picture stone with snake motif from Martebo church.

The Viking-age gods stemmed from two races – Aesir and Vanir.

Ceremonial Drinking in the Viking Age

A drinking scene on an image stone from Gotland, Swedish Museum of National Antiquities, Stockholm.

Drinking ceremonies played a very important social role in Viking Age Scandinavia and Anglo-Saxon England.

A Quick Guide to Norse Gods

guide to norse gods

The Norse pantheon includes some very interesting characters. This is a little guide to get you started about learning who these gods and goddesses were.

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.

Norse Elements in the work of J.R.R. Tolkien

the-hobbit-map

The books of J.R.R. Tolkien contain multiple Characters, Places and Plots that remind the reader of Old Norse Poetry. This essay gives a short and incomplete overview on the most obvious elements.

Norsemen And Vikings: The Culture That Inspired Decades Of Fear

Viking Axe - photo by Vladimir V. Burov / Flickr

Thoughts of these monstrous men link themselves with words such as bloodlust, raids, and conqueror. Which leaves one to ponder why these men have come to be forever linked with such carnage, surely they must have had some redeeming qualities?

Bárðar saga as a source for reconstruction of pre-Christian religion?

Eldar Heide

Paper by Eldar Heide given at the second meeting of the Old Norse Folklorist Network

Þur sarriþu þursa trutin: Monster-Fighting and Medicine in Early Medieval Scandinavia

Skírnismál

This paper seeks evidence among our extensive Scandinavian mythological texts for an area which they seldom discuss explicitly: the conceptualisation and handling of illness and healing.

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