Beyond the Northlands: Viking Voyages and the Old Norse by Eleanor Rosamund Barraclough

By Eleanor Rosamund Barraclough

Within the demise days of the 8th century, the Vikings erupted onto the foreign degree with brutal raids and slaughter. The medieval Norsemen can be top remembered as monk murderers and village pillagers, yet this can be faraway from the full tale. in the course of the center a while, long-ships transported furry northern voyagers all over, the place they not just raided but in addition traded, explored and settled new lands, encountered strange races, and launched into pilgrimages and crusades.

The Norsemen travelled to all corners of the medieval international and past; north to the wastelands of arctic Scandinavia, south to the politically turbulent heartlands of medieval Christendom, west around the wild seas to Greenland and the fringes of the North American continent, and east down the Russian waterways buying and selling silver, skins, and slaves. Beyond the Northlands explores this global in the course of the tales that the Vikings informed approximately themselves of their sagas.

But the depiction of the Viking international within the previous Norse-Icelandic sagas is going a ways past historic evidence. What emerges from those stories is a mix of realism and delusion, quasi-historical adventures and unique wonder-tales that rocket a ways past the horizon of truth. at the crackling brown pages of saga manuscripts, trolls, dragons and outlandish tribes jostle for place with explorers, investors, and kings.

To discover the sagas and the realm that produced them, Eleanor Rosamund Barraclough now takes her personal journey during the dramatic landscapes that they describe. alongside the way in which, she illuminates the wealthy yet usually complicated saga debts with various different facts: archaeological unearths, rune-stones, medieval global maps, encyclopedic manuscripts, and texts from as distant as Byzantium and Baghdad. As her trip around the previous Norse global exhibits, via situating the sagas opposed to the disclosing historical past of this different proof, we will be able to start not less than to appreciate simply how the area used to be skilled, remembered, and imagined by way of this exact tradition from the outermost fringe of Europe such a lot of centuries ago.

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Extra resources for Beyond the Northlands: Viking Voyages and the Old Norse Sagas

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By the late ninth century things had got decidedly sticky for the Anglo-Saxons, and the invaders were in charge of a large part of England. With the benefit of ninth-century hindsight, it was clear that the events that had taken place in the dying years of the eighth century had heralded a terrible sea-change for the Anglo-Saxon world. * According to the Norse legends that grew up around Ivar, he and his brothers (who by now had acquired imaginative names such as Bjorn Ironside and Sigurd Snake-in-the-Eye) were spurred on by the death of their father, who had been murdered by the king of Northumbria.

He referred to the ‘heathen people’, ‘heathen lands’, and ‘false gods’, and gave the example of a slave who escaped his master and abandoned Christendom ‘to become a viking’ (to wicinge weorþe). * Broadly speaking, a víkingr sailed abroad to seek adventure and loot. A related word—víking—described the expedition itself, as in, ‘he went on a víking in the summer and got lots of booty’. The words víkingr and víking start to appear on Scandinavian runestones from around the mid-tenth century, although this later date doesn’t necessarily mean that the words emerged later in Scandinavia than in the British Isles (literacy was a far later development in Scandinavia, so written evidence only survives here from later on).

It swallowed up the whole Norse world. Northland of old Many of the most famous writers, composers and artists of the nineteenth century had an interest in vikings that now has been almost forgotten. Sir Walter Scott, perhaps best remembered for his services to the Scottish tourist board, was equally inspired by the Nordic past of the British Isles. His 1822 novel The Pirate was particularly instrumental in shaping the way that the vikings were perceived in the era. 15 Similarly, today William Morris is best known for the intricate designs that adorn the wallpapers and textiles of countless tasteful homes; his thieves steal strawberries, they do not raid monasteries.

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