By Eleanor Rosamund Barraclough
Within the demise days of the 8th century, the Vikings erupted onto the foreign level with brutal raids and slaughter. The medieval Norsemen might be top remembered as monk murderers and village pillagers, yet this can be faraway from the total 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 surprising 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 international throughout 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 some distance past old proof. What emerges from those stories is a mix of realism and delusion, quasi-historical adventures and unique wonder-tales that rocket some distance 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 area that produced them, Eleanor Rosamund Barraclough now takes her personal journey during the dramatic landscapes that they describe. alongside the best way, she illuminates the wealthy yet frequently complicated saga money owed with a number of different facts: archaeological unearths, rune-stones, medieval international maps, encyclopedic manuscripts, and texts from as far-off as Byzantium and Baghdad. As her trip around the previous Norse global indicates, via situating the sagas opposed to the unveiling history of this different facts, we will commence no less than to appreciate simply how the realm was once skilled, remembered, and imagined through this precise tradition from the outermost fringe of Europe such a lot of centuries ago.
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Additional resources for Beyond the Northlands: Viking Voyages and the Old Norse Sagas
Forested Markland (now Labrador) Fig. Reconstruction of a Norse building at L’Anse aux Meadows, Newfoundland Fig. 1190–1210) Fig. Ungortok, Chief of the Kakortok, in an illustration from Rink’s Tales and Traditions of the Eskimo (1875) Fig. Church ruins at Hvalsey in the Eastern Settlement Fig. The Skálholt Map Fig. Coptic christening scoop from Egypt found on Helgö Fig. Bishop’s crozier from Ireland found on Helgö Fig. Buddha statue from northern India found on Helgö Fig. Bronze handle found in the earliest occupation layers of Staraya Ladoga Fig.
This is also a land born of the Viking Age. As ice ages and empires came and went, Iceland remained splendid in its fiery northern isolation. It was only at the end of the ninth century that Norwegian ships reached its shores and disgorged their cargo of livestock, furniture, and settlers, who came with the intention of making Iceland their home. Today most Icelanders can still trace their ancestry back through the generations, all the way to these first settlers. However, as far as we can tell, the first people to set foot on Iceland were not Norse, but Irish.
From her comments I have learnt many useful things, not least that ‘hoards’ and ‘hordes’ are not interchangeable entities, there is no travel-guide series called Lonely Plant, private parts are not covered in public hair, vikings do not sail in hips, and the adjective ‘weird’ should be used sparingly. I found another extraordinary home and extraordinary friends as an Extraordinary Junior Research Fellow at The Queen’s College, thanks to Rebecca Beasley, Paul Madden, and many other fellows and staff.