Search Results for: Norse migration to Scotland

From the Creator: Ancient history connects the Norse with Romans and King Arthur!

If you are following… or attempting to follow the story, with all of it’s branches, twists and turns, you already realize that there is a great deal of research that goes into all of it! Before I ever add to it, I try to research my history and ensure that my paths are at least somewhat plausible!  Sometimes it’s easier than others. And, sometimes, I get the occasional gift from above in finding those links where I need them to be?  Such is the case with Eric’s long history- aside from the Vampyre turn anyway! That turn will be dealt with in upcoming episodes, along with the rest of his varied past!

 

We have already learned of his early voyage across the sea with his family, but it was a rather vague memory with few details other than the difficult crossing for him as a young boy. Right now, I am doing some additional research into the Norse migrations to portions of the Scottish Isles. When we think of those migrations, we of course think only of the Viking travels and conquests. In reality, there were Norse settlements in the upper Isles long before those Viking raids. Some of the outer isles, such as the Shetland Islands were inhabited by Norse/Scandinavian peoples as far back as 43AD when the Romans mentioned them.

In AD 43 and 77 the Roman authors Pomponius Mela and Pliny the Elder referred to the seven islands they call Haemodae and Acmodae respectively, both of which are assumed to be Shetland. Another possible early written reference to the islands is Tacitus‘ report in AD 98, after describing the discovery and conquest of Orkney, that the Roman fleet had seen “Thule, too”. In early Irish literature, Shetland is referred to as Inse Catt—”the Isles of Cats”, which may have been the pre-Norse inhabitants’ name for the islands. The Cat tribe also occupied parts of the northern Scottish mainland and their name can be found in Caithness, and in the Gaelic name for Sutherland (Cataibh, meaning “among the Cats”).

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shetland

 

There is an interesting video of pre-historical buildings on the island, which you can view here:

 

These two maps of the Shetland Islands and Isle of Skye show that it would have been a probable or plausible migration in those earliest ancient times from the Shetlands down to the Isle of Skye where Eric and his family settled.

1000miles shetland islands map of Scotland with Shetland islands and Isle of Skye

 

During those very early years, the Romans were in control of much of the lower areas of Britain and the lowlands of Scotland. Some of their ancient documents mention the tribes of the highlands and outer isles and there is documentation and evidence that they were in familiar with inhabitants of some of those outer isles, such as Orkney. One document mentioned that the King of Orcus/most likely Orkney was among a group of 11 that were involved in peace treaties with the Romans.

 

The following maps are of the areas in Roman times. The Romans initially built the Antonine wall, but later gave up on that border and focused their defenses more on the borders of Hadrian’s wall. They were unable to successfully maintain control of the Northern reaches including the highland areas and eventually gave up trying!

Roman era map of Britain

16_distance_slab

Roman Distance marker stone from along Antonine’s wall.

Probable Roman defense Old Celtic tribes of southern scotland and north east England Antonine_wall_map

 

 

The reason that the Roman control of the area is important for our story purposes is due to some of the historical theories on the legend of King Arthur.  In our story, During Eric’s earlier years he and  Adrian DeWare were knights/ warriors in the service of Arthur. There has been a massive amount of research on the origins of the legend of Arthur from a real historical stand point.  Depending on which theories you choose to go by, Arthur was a conglomeration of more than one real warrior or ruler in those early Roman times.

I recently watched an interesting documentary on one of those theories. It was a short summary of the theory and the history and if nothing else gives one a basic starting point for further research! I found it on Netflix.

Mystery Files: King Arthur

http://www.netflix.com/WiMovie/70299221?trkid=439131

 

You can also find more information on one of the possible pre-cursors to Arthur here:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Riothamus

 

An alternative candidate for Arthur is described as follows:

Alternative candidates for the historical King Arthur[edit]

Some theories suggest that “Arthur” was a byname of attested historical individuals.

Lucius Artorius Castus

In 1924 Kemp Malone suggested that the character of King Arthur was ultimately based on one Lucius Artorius Castus, a career Roman soldier of the late 2nd century or early 3rd century. This suggestion was revived in 1994 by C. Scott Littleton and Linda A. Malcor and linked to a hypothesis (below) that the Arthurian legends were influenced by the nomadic Alans and Sarmatians settled in Western Europe in Late Antiquity.   Littleton had earlier written about this hypothesis in 1978 together with Ann C. Thomas.

All that is known about Artorius’ life comes from two Latin inscriptions discovered in the 19th century in Podstrana on the Dalmatian coast. After a long, distinguished career as a centurion and then primus pilus in the Roman army Artorius was promoted to praefectus legionis of the VI Victrix, a unit that had been headquartered at Eboracum (York) since c. 122 AD. The praefectus legionis (or praefectus castrorum) served as third-in-command of the legion and was responsible for the general upkeep of the legionary headquarters, a position normally held by older career soldiers who did not command soldiers in battle.

When Artorius’s term as praefectus legionis ended he was assigned the temporary title of dux legionum and was put in charge of transferring some units of unknown size with British associations to the Continent for an expedition against either the Armorici or the Armenians.  Later he became civilian governor (procurator centenarius)of the province of Liburnia, where he seems to have ended his days.

Malcor, in a hypothetical reconstruction of Artorius’ life based in part on Malone and Helmut Nickel,proposes that he fought against Sarmatians in eastern Europe early in his military career and this led in 181 AD to his being assigned in the command of a numerus of Sarmatians based at Ribchester (Bremetennacum) that campaigned around Hadrian’s Wall. 5,500 Sarmatians had been sent to Britain by the emperor Marcus Aurelius in 175 AD. Artorius led these Sarmatians against invading Caledonians, who overran Hadrian’s Wall during the period 183–185. Then, after the collapse of his legion, he returns to Eboracum, then is sent by the governor of Britannia to lead cavalry cohorts against an uprising in Armorica. Medieval sources often place Arthur’s headquarters in Wales at Caerleon upon Usk, the “Fortress of Legions” (borrowed from Latin Castra Legionum). Eboracum, in the Vale of York, was sometimes referred to as Urbe Legionum or the “City of the Legion”, and was the headquarters of the legio VI Victrix.

Malcor also suggests that Artorius’ standard was a large red dragon pennant (auxiliary forces did not use eagle standards), which is proposed as the origin of the Welsh epithet Pendragon “Dragon Chief/Head” (alternately, “Leader of Warriors”) in Arthurian literature. According to both Malone and Littleton/Malcor,Artorius’ alleged military exploits in Britain and Armorica could have been remembered for centuries afterward, thus generating the figure of Arthur among the Welsh, Cornish and Bretons. This is linked to the original theory of Littleton, Thomas and Malcor which suggests that folk narratives of the Alano-Sarmatians settled in Western Europe formed the core of the Arthurian tradition.

The Sarmatians had a near-religious fondness for their swords: tribal worship was directed at a sword sticking up from the ground, similar to the sword in the stone. They carried standards in the form of dragons. Ossetian Nart sagas contain a number of interesting parallels to the Arthurian legends. First, the life of the Nart warrior (batraz) is tied to his sword, which must be thrown into the sea at his death. When one wounded Batraz asks his last surviving comrade to do the task for him, his companion tries to fool him twice before finally hurling the weapon into the sea; rather like Arthur’s wondrous sword Excalibur which had to be returned to the Lady of the Lake at his death by his last surviving knight, Bedivere. The Nart heroes Soslan and Sosryko, collect the beards of vanquished enemies to trim their cloaks like Arthur’s enemy Rience: both have one last beard to obtain before the cloak is complete. Two other similar motifs are the Cup of the Narts (“Nartyamonga”), which appeared at feasts, delivered to each person what he liked best to eat, and which was kept by the bravest of the Narts (“Knights”) – somewhat similar to the Grail – and the magical woman, dressed in white, associated with water, who helps the hero acquire his sword, similar to the Arthurian Lady of the Lake.

There seems to be little reason for Artorius to have become a major legendary figure: no Roman historical source mentions him or his alleged exploits in Britain, nor is there any clear evidence that he ever commanded Sarmatians. Neither of Artorius’ inscriptions from Podstrana mention command of any full legions (as proposed by Malcor, et al.), or establish his command of the VI Victrix (nor any numeri), nor do the inscriptions provide any evidence of command of, or association with, Sarmatians, or indicate anything about his standard.

Unlike dux legionum, dux bellorum or dux belli were not titles or ranks in the Roman Army but generic Latin phrases. Joshua was called dux belli of the Israelites in the Latin Vulgate Bible, Hanno the Great was dux belli of Carthage in Justin’s Historiarum Philippicarum. Closer to the time and place, Saint Germanus of Auxerre was twice styled dux belli by Bede). Artorius is not recorded as having fought in any known battles to match against those in the Historia Brittonum. However Geoffrey adds that Arthur twice took troops across the sea to Armorica, once to support the Roman emperor and once to deal with his own rebels.

The theory of a connection between the Alan and Sarmatian peoples and the legend of King Arthur depends upon the fact that the Alano-Sarmatians were steppe nomads known in the 2nd century for their skill as heavy cavalry. In 175, Marcus Aurelius, after defeating the Sarmatian Iazyges tribe during the Marcomannic Wars, took 8,000 Sarmatians into Roman service, of whom 5,500 were sent to the northern borders of Britain. The 5th century Notitia Dignitatum mentions a “Formation of Sarmatians” (Cuneus Sarmatarum; cunei were small auxiliary units in the late Empire) being present at Bremetennacum (Ribchester), where we find inscriptions dating to the 3rd century AD of a “Wing of Sarmatians” (ala Sarmatarum) and a “Company of Sarmatian Horsemen” (numeri equitum Sarmatarum).

Many of the parallels or similarities between Arthurian and Sarmatian tales only occur in writings dating from and after Geoffrey of Monmouth and do not affect the core issue of historicity. Some of the strongest similarities of Arthurian and Sarmatian tales occur in Thomas Malory‘s Le Morte D’Arthur, when Arthur and his warriors had already evolved into “knights in shining armor”. Critics conclude that Sarmatian influence was limited to the post-Galfridian development of the tales instead of historical basis, if at all.

 

What all of these interesting ideas and theories do for us is give us a plausible link and connection to how Eric came to be in Scotland in the first place, how he might have traveled throughout the area in those earliest years and how he might have come into contact with others such as Romans during that time. It lays a groundwork and foundation that I was searching for with  Adrian DeWare in being far more ancient even than Eric and having come from some other distant place originally!  In the future we will see how they met and learn a little more of Adrian’s more ancient past!

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From the Creator: Some history of Clans in Scotland

 

Our current storyline involving Eric North, finds him questioning his loyalties and his ties to the Vampyres in comparison to those of his Clan and his country.  He owes much to the Vampyres and has been one of them for a great many centuries. We will see in future episodes though that his ties to the Clan MaCleod go back as far, or further than the ties to the Vampyres. In order to understand why Eric might be so willing to put the Clan and Country, as well as Judith, ahead of any allegiance to the Vampyres, it might help to have some background history and information on the Clan systems of the Highlands along with their importance and impact on their members lives and self identities. It might also help us in understanding some of Brennie’s difficulties in accepting her place in the Vampyre world over the centuries. Both Brennie and Eric have feelings of loyalties and bonds outside of the Vampyre realm though for the most part they have managed to maintain their loyalty to the Vampyres.

Eric and friends5

Eric’s thoughts:

https://timeslipsblog.wordpress.com/2014/06/20/eleanors-journal71-erics-thoughts/

Eric in the Castle

Eric’s memories

https://timeslipsblog.wordpress.com/2014/06/20/eleanors-journal72-erics-memories-a-time-before-vampyres-and-a-life-of-contradictions/

 

Most people tend to assume that Clan refers to family connections. In some areas it does.  The Scottish/Gaelic Clan membership includes a much broader group of membership. It is a common misconception that every person who bears a clan’s name is a lineal descendant of the chiefs. Many clansmen although not related to the chief took the chief’s surname as their own to show solidarity, or for basic protection, or for much needed sustenance.

The Scottish Clan system was based more on a form of  feudal organization than strictly  family connections. Their existence goes back to before the year 1000 AD and was the basis for Highland government until they were essentially destroyed by the British in 1745. When the British took over ruling authority in 1745, they set into place strict rules that would take away all power and sense of allegiance or affiliation to separate clans. They sought to eliminate completely the history and culture of the highland Clans in order to bring those people into British control rather than separate Clan control.

In the most ancient history of the clans, the Chief or founder of a clan would have been one chosen as leader of that group by the members. It then developed into a highly complex system of government based on those original leaders.

To look at the Clan as a family connection or grouping is far too basic or simplistic for the system that evolved from the beginnings of small family or warrior groups that banded together in order to survive. Over the centuries, Clan membership cut across all lines of class, status, religions, initial family connections  or other allegiances.  As mentioned earlier, many of those who swore allegiance to a certain clan would give up their original family ties, or surnames for that of the Clan which was offering them protection and much needed benefits. People often speak of “old” families or lineage, while in reality no family is older than any other. It is just that some families can easier trace their lineages back with documented records. This generally applies to aristocracies and Royal family lines in other countries. In the Scottish Highlands, virtually everyone can trace their history back to one of the historic ruling clans.

Sir Iain Moncreiffe  provided a description which appealed to all Highland descendants. He described it in this way, the sacred royal and dynastic origin of the founder chiefs, and thus of the clans themselves: the ultimate biological unity with the Sovereign that accounts for ‘Highland pride’ and ‘loyalty; In the end-papers of this book, Sir Iain sets out two conjectural family trees: The Galley, showing clan descent from the Norse King Ingiald, 7th century ruler of Uppsala, and The Lyon, showing clan descent from the Irish Eochu, King of Tara, father of Niall of the Nine Hostages.

The Highland Scottish Clan system and the people it includes can trace their origins and history back to Celtic beginnings in Ireland and the most ancient Norse migrations.

 

These ancient Norse migrations are the basis in our story for Eric North’s ancestry. Once his small family group arrived, they would have eventually become part of the Clan Mcleod, which has a long and rich history and claims connections to the Norse, and to Fairies in their documented accounts of their lineage!

 

Before we go into specific history of the clan Mcleod, it might be interesting and benefitial to understand some basics of Clan hierarchy with the Chief’s place and role in it.

Clan hierarchy and Chief

What is a Chief ?  A chief is properly described as Chief of the Name and Arms. He is head of the whole Clan name in Scotland. The description; Chief of the Clan is sometimes used although this is more properly a social description rather than a legal designation. The chief of the name and arms is entitled to wear three eagle’s feathers in his bonnet badge. Under the Chief are his designated branch rulers known as Chieftains.  A Chieftain is the head of a considerable branch of the name and was frequently called Chieftane of the Cuntrie. A chief will have one or more chieftains under his command although in the organization and leadership of their branch they will have considerable independence. The chief’s eldest son or heir presumptive is also considered to be a chieftain and in the major clans, all the chiefs’ sons may be considered to be chieftains. A chieftain of a clan is entitled to wear two eagle’s feathers in his bonnet badge. Having said that the head of a whole name is described as Chief; the law does recognize that there are different levels of chiefship to reflect the relative importance of the different names of Scotland.

In history, the Chief’s role was of high importance, but what of now days?  What use  is he or she when warfare has little use for claymore,  kilt or pipes?What use is a Chief when the economy of the clan no longer depends upon a communal agriculture close to the land of a single glen or island or district?  What use is a chief when boasting of great exploits or mighty position is more likely to bring  embarrassment than  cheers of  approval?

In spite of all these changes, the chief of a clan still is usually the center of leadership in whatever the clan does. What has changed is less the role of the chief than it is what the clan does. Where once it was the very essence of existence, the clan now is a valued adjunct to the more fundamental problems of earning a living in a money economy, and of being a good citizen in a modern community, a community caring little for ethnic attachments to past glories and ties. (Even in Scotland is this in a sense true.) The modern chiefs role can be seen then in terms of these clan activities and interests– supplemental to our everyday lives, but vital to the clan. Finally, a chief still serves as symbol, representative and leader of his great extended family.
http://www.unc.edu/~ecanada/clansys.html

Earliest forms of the Clan system and Chief’s role.

In Gaelic, clann means children, and, by extension, descendants. The head of each clan was often a “king,” which over the years evolved into “chief.” Members of the clan did not necessarily bear the same name. At first, only the chief and his family used fixed surnames to indicate their descent from the founder of the clan. Around the 17th century, the use of surnames among all clans in the Highlands became the norm.

In the early history of Scotland’s clans, to avoid corruption, the king was not permitted to own property. The clan provided for all his needs in return for his wise leadership.  Succession was hereditary within a family, with each clan electing a new king.   It was a unique system, whereby the lowest member shared a common bond with the king, in this way it differed from feudalism, in which each rank in society owed their lord everything. In those earliest days, just because you were the eldest son, that did not necessarily mean you would automatically become the next leader. The Clan members would meet and decide on who among the family was the best choice as leader of the group.

As the clan system developed, “broken” men –men without a connection to any clan–were allowed to join. Sometimes, tenants of clan lands who came from outside the clan became members after three generations of tenancy.   In spite of that affiliation, however, these tenants were still not considered blood members of the clan.  In yet another variation of membership, an entire clan or “sept” (a branch of a clan) could be accepted into another clan after losing the last of its chiefs or its territory.  Smaller clans sometime swore fealty to a larger clan for safety.

Traditionally, the men of the clan were called together by a fiery cross (crois taraidh), which was made from two pieces of burned, or burning, wood. A relay of runners tied the pieces of wood together with a rag soaked in blood and carried the cross from glen to glen.

Generally speaking, the men in most clans fought and hunted, while the women and older children did the work at home. A steady source of income for  some  clans  was “blackmeal,” or protection money, which the Lowlanders or other neighbors paid to buy off the raiders.

In spite of his often humble surroundings, a clan chief tended to create the kind of pageantry usually associated with royalty.  Whenever he traveled, his huge entourage followed. First, were his henchmen or personal bodyguard.  Next, came the bard (Seanachaidh).  It was the bard’s duty to record the chief’s heroic deeds, including those of the clan and the chief’s forebears.   Following the bard was the piper.  The piper ’s position was hereditary one, passing father to son. The bard and the piper often followed the chief into battle, “the former that he might witness with his own eyes his leader ’s acts of valour, and the latter to inspire the Clan to greater heroism by his playing,” wrote Scottish historian Fitzroy MacLean.  Next up was the chief’s spokesman (Bladaire), who functioned as a king of protocol officer.  The spokesman’s role was to issue proclamations for the chief or argue the chief’s position on a dispute.  Finally, bringing up the rear of the company was a ghillie, or two, who carried the chief’s broadsword and shield (targe).

The last rites given to a Highland clan chief were no less renowned for spectacle than his entourage.  Regardless of the distance, custom dictated that the chief had to be buried with his fathers.

The chief’s corpse was carried feet first, with the piper ’s place at the head. Tightly furled in front was the clan standard. Following behind were the Clansmen with drawn swords. Attending every funeral was the piper, whose music honored the dead as well as inspired the bearers on the march.   The women of the clan followed the funeral march as far as the first brook (burn).  At that point, they presented a cup of wine, which symbolized a prayer for the departed.

Because the distances to the burial ground could be quite lengthy, the custom of wakes began among the Gaelic-speaking descendants of both the Scots and the Irish.  Although they now have a reputation as being somewhat rowdy, wakes evolved gradually from the quiet, reverential vigils of Roman Catholicism.

Inclement weather was no obstacle to a proper and ceremonious burial for a Clan Chief.   In fact, if anything, it spurred the burial party to even greater pride in their duty as the procession chanted:  “Blessed be the corpse the rain rains on.”

http://www.clanhendersonsociety.org/history-of-the-clan-system/

 

History of Clan Mcleod and Dunvegan Castle

The Clan Macleod were the original founders of our story’s Dunvegan Castle and we will try to stay as close and true to their rich history as possible with our inclusion of them in the ongoing story! It might be of some interest to note here that they have been long associated with stories of Fairies and other such legendary figures… namely that of the rather famous immortal, Duncan Macleod of the Highlander series!

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Highlander:_The_Series

 

 

Clan MacLeod (/?klæn m?’kla?d/; Scottish Gaelic: Clann Mhic Leòid;  is a Highland Scottish clan associated with the Isle of Skye. There are two main branches of the clan: the Macleods of Harris and Dunvegan, whose chief is Macleod of Macleod, are known in Gaelic as Sìol Tormoid (“seed of Tormod”); the Macleods of Lewis, whose chief is Macleod of The Lewes, are known in Gaelic as Sìol Torcaill (“seed of Torcall”). Both branches claim descent from Leòd, who lived in the 13th century.

 

The surname MacLeod means ‘son of Leod’. The name Leod is an Anglicization of the Scottish Gaelic name Leòd, which is thought to have been derived from the Old Norse name Ljótr, meaning ugly. Clann means family, while mhic is the genitive of mac, the Gaelic for son, and Leòid is the genitive of Leòd. The whole phrase therefore means The family of the son of Leod.
The Clan MacLeod of Lewis claims its descent from Leod, who according to MacLeod tradition was a younger son of Olaf the Black, King of Mann (r.1229–1237). However, articles have been published in the Clan MacLeod magazine which suggest an alternative genealogy for Leod, one in which he was not son of Olaf, but a 3rd cousin (some removed) from Magnus the last King of Mann. In these alternative genealogies, using the genealogy of Christina MacLeod, great granddaughter of Leod, who married Hector Reaganach (McLean/McLaine) these articles suggest that the relationship to the Kings of Mann was through a female line, that of Helga of the beautiful hair. The dating of Christina’s genealogy and the ability to line it up with known historical facts lend a great deal of authenticity to the claims of the authors.

 

MacLeod tradition is that Leod who had possession of Harris and part of Skye, married a daughter of the Norse seneschal of Skye, MacArailt or Harold’s son who held Dunvegan and much of Skye. Tradition stated that Leod’s two sons, Tormod and Torquil, founded the two main branches of the Clan MacLeod, Siol Tormod and Siol Torquil. Torquil was actually a grandson of Tormod; Torquil’s descendants held the lands of the Isle of Lewis until the early seventeenth century when the Mackenzies successfully overthrew the Lewismen,[3] partly with the aid of the Morrisons, and the MacLeods of Harris (Siol Tormod). Younger branches of Siol Torquil held the mainland lands of Assynt and Cadboll longer, and the Isle of Raasay until 1846.[3] Siol Tormod held Harris and Glenelg on the mainland, and also the lands of Dunvegan on the Isle of Skye.

Leod, according to tradition, died around 1280 and was buried on the holy island of Iona, where six successive chiefs of the clan found a last resting-place after him.[4]

 

A DNA project studying the Y-DNA of males bearing surnames associated with Clan MacLeod found that the vast majority of the men tested had a Haplogroup of R1b, which is the most common Haplogroup in the British Isles. A total of 32% of all men tested, who were also in this R1b Haplogroup, also shared the same Haplotype and showed this group shared a common ancestor.

A romanticised depiction of a McLeod by R. R. McIan in 1845.
According to the study, this 32% of MacLeods tested had a common ancestor within 1000 years (some will have a common ancestor earlier but all who match with another of the surname with 23/25, 33/37, 62/67 markers share the same more distanct ancestor), thus this Haplotype is considered to show the founding lineage of the Clan MacLeod.[5] While the study could not prove a “Viking” origin of the clan, the study claimed the DNA of this group showed that the clan was founded by a man who could have originated in Scotland or the Isle of Man. It should be noted however, that the R1b haplogroup is found at 30% frequency in Norway and that the studies of the haplogroup R1b are very fluid.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clan_MacLeod

 

Of further note on the history of the Clan Macleod is the history of the Castle Dunvegan, which we have covered previously, and the ancient artifacts that are related to the clan and the Castle. Those being the The Fairy Flag, Ruiaidh Mor’s drinking horn, The Dunvegan Cup.

Ruiaidh Mor’s drinking horn
A drinking horn, made from ox horn, with a silver tip. Named for Sir Rory Mor (Ruiaidh Mor MacLeod) clan chief who lived from 1562-1626. Some historians suggest that it actually dates from the 10th century and is of Norse origin. Clan tradition says that the chief must prove himself by drinking a full measure of wine from the horn.

The Fairy Flag
In a special display case within the castle is the prize possession of Clan MacLeod; the Fairy Flag. This is the Highlands, and you almost expect myths and fantastical tales to appear around every corner, but even so, the Fairy Flag is something special.

There are several versions of the story, so you are free to choose your own! One story goes that a chief of Clan MacLeod fell in love with a ‘bean sidhe‘, a fairy princess. The princess’s father was against the marriage, but his daughter pled to be allowed to marry the chief until the father agreed to a period of handfasting. This was a sort of trial marriage that lasted for a year and a day. At the end of the handfasting period the princess was to return to the fairy realms, and bring with her nothing from the human world.

The agreement was made, and for a year the couple lived happily at Dunvegan. A son was born to them, but at the end of the handfasting period the princess bade a tearful farewell to her husband at the Fairy Bridge, not far from the castle. She made her husband promise that the baby would never be allowed to cry, for the sound of his cries would disturb her even in the fairy realms. The distraught chief agreed, but the depth of his grief alarmed his clan members. They thought to cheer him up and organised a large party for his birthday, to take his minf off his loss. The revellers celebrated long into the night, and the young nursemaid assigned to guard the baby crept from her post to watch the revels.

You can perhaps guess what happened next; the baby kicked off his coverlet and began to cry, and the mother heard him from far away in her fairy realm. She appeared by his cradle, wrapped the baby in her shawl, and sang a lullaby to nurse him back to sleep. The nurse returned, and though could hear the lullaby she could not see the fairy mother. She took the child, still wrapped in the strange shawl, to see the chief, and told him what had happened.

When the child grew to be a young man he told his father a strange tale; that the shawl was a talisman, and that if the clan ever found themselves in danger they should wave the shawl three times and armies from the fairy realm would come to their aid. A powerful weapon indeed, but there was a catch; the fairy flag could only be used three times, then it would return to the fairy realms, taking with it the one who waved the flag.

Dunvegan cup, Fairie Flag and rory mors horn

Dunvegan cup, Fairie Flag and rory mors horn

remnants of the Fairy Flag of Dunvegan

remnants of the Fairy Flag of Dunvegan

The Fairy Flag has been used twice; once when the clan was in battle against their bitter enemies the MacDonalds. The clan chief waved the flag three times and the tide of the battle turned in the MacLeod’s favour. The second time the MacLeod cattle herds were stricken with plague and the clan members were dying of starvation. The chief waved the flag and the fairies returned the cattle to health.

Another tradition says that the Fairy Flag was guarded by hereditary standard bearers, and only the eldest male of this family was allowed to unfurl the flag. The very first standard bearer was honoured by being buried in the tomb of the clan chief on Iona.

During World War II many MacLeod servicemen carried a photo of the Fairy Flag in their wallets, and it is claimed that no airman who carried the photo was lost in the Battle of Britain. The chief of Clan MacLeod famously offered to bring the flag to Dover and wave it at the Germans should they invade Britain. Thankfully his intervention was not required, and the Fairy Flag is still waiting its third use. In the meantime it sits in a special display case in Dunvegan Castle.

A fanciful myth? Perhaps, but where does the flag actually come from? Scientific tests on the fabric reveal that it is made of silk from Rhodes or Syria, and dates to sometime between the 4th and 7th centuries. So it is of very ancient provenance. One story suggests that it was brought back from the Holy Land by a crusader.

 

The Dunvegan Cup
This is a late 15th century ceremonial cup made of wood decorated with silver. It was created in 1493 for Caitriona, wife of John Maguire of Fermanagh. How did it come to Dunvegan? History is vague on this point. One legend says it was a gaift of faeries.

http://www.britainexpress.com/scotland/castles/dunvegan.htm

 

 

 

From Odin and Woden to Anglo-Saxons in Britain

wodin and his followers

woden and his followers

 

 

saxon right to rule2

In my previous article on kings and dynasties, I stated that I would look at each group separately in more depth.  In order to better understand the Anglo-Saxon rule in England, we need to have some history on who the Angles, the Saxons and Jutes were, and how they came to England in the first place.  This article is a brief look at that history.

You can view the previous article here: https://timeslipsblog.wordpress.com/2015/05/15/i-am-king-really-why-and-how/

I am King

Before we get into the rulers and their divine right to rule, we need to look briefly at the history of the kingdoms, the people and how they came to be in Britain. We will look at the Angles, the Saxons, and yes even the Jutes who seem to get overlooked and forgotten in the discussions of early Britain, I am also going to include a segment on one other group that gets mixed in with the rest but does have it’s own separate identity… that would be a group of Geats from the area of Sweden who made their contribution via the Wulfinga tribe who would settle in part of Britain.  I am including this group for two reasons. They did play an important part in the history of  Britain, and one of our past rulers was presumably a part of this group. The unfortunate Jarl Borg  belonged  to a distinctive Norse tribe known as the Gautar, a people referred to in English works such as Beowulf and Widsith as the ‘Geats’, and related to the Germanic Goth tribes which invaded the western Roman Empire. The Gautar have since been assimilated by the Swedes in the Medieval period.  Jarl Borg, as a powerful Geatish lord of near-kingly powers, may have been a member of the royal clan of the Wulfings (descendents of the wolf) who traditionally ruled over the Gautar of Ostergotland.

Sam Newton and others (including Rupert Bruce-Mitford), have proposed that the East Anglian Wuffing dynasty was derived from the Wulfings, and it was at their court that Beowulf was first composed.  

The Wuffingas, Uffingas or Wuffings were the ruling dynasty of East Anglia, the long-lived Anglo-Saxon kingdom which today includes the English counties of Norfolk and Suffolk. The Wuffingas took their name from Wuffa, an early East Anglian king. Nothing is known of the members of the dynasty before Rædwald, who ruled from about 599 to circa 624. The Viking invasions of the ninth century destroyed the monasteries in East Anglia where many documents relating to the rule of the Wuffingas would have been kept.

The last of the Wuffingas kings was Ælfwald, who died in 749 and who was succeeded by kings whose lineage is unknown.  The kingdom of East Anglia was settled by peoples from northern Europe during the 5th and 6th centuries. Historical sources relating to the genealogy of the East Anglian kings include the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle and Bede‘s Ecclesiastical History, both compiled many years after the kingdom was formed, as well as lists produced by medieval historians, such as the 12th century Textus Roffensis, who may have had access to other sources that are now lost. Several of the Wuffingas kings are included in a pedigree of Ælfwald, contained in the Anglian collection that dates from the 9th century. In the pedigree, Ælfwald is claimed to descend from the god Wōden.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wulfing

jarl borg caressing his wife's skull

jarl borg caressing his wife’s skull

jarl borg planning revenge

jarl borg planning revenge

In my previous article about Horik and Ragnar, I did touch on the beginnings of the Angles and Saxons in Britain with their migration from their homelands as the Danish or Dani began to take over those areas.  This migration  included Jutes and Geats from the southern area of what is now Sweden. Keep in mind that this migration took place centuries prior to the Viking arrivals in late 700s and 800s. These earliest migrations began as the Romans were fighting to maintain control of this outpost known as Britannia. Another important fact to remember for our purposes here is that we are not looking at the areas of Wales, Cornwall, Scotland or Ireland in this discussion.

Little is really known about the Jutes, their migration to Britain or their eventual demise in that land. They most likely joined with their neighbors, the Angles and Saxons in the relocation to Britain when the Danes and Franks became more powerful and took over the home lands.  It is possible that the Jutes are a related people to the Geats and a Gothic people as it is mentioned in the Gutasaga that some inhabitants of Gotland left for mainland Europe. Large grave sites were found at Willenberg, Prussia (now Wielbark, Poland). The finds were attributed to the ancient Gutones, who may speculatively belinked to the much later Goths.

They settled in smaller  southern areas of England,  kent and Isle of  Whight.  If you look at this map of Anglo-Saxon England, you can see that Kent is fairly close to east Anglia where the Geats (Wulfings) settled. If the two groups were related or connected to each other, it would stand to reason that they re-settle in some close proximity.

The Jutes were a smaller group than the others and they seem to have rather quickly been assimilated into those larger groups, losing most of their previous individual history or identity. While it is commonplace to detect their influences in Kent (for example, the practice of partible inheritance known as gavelkind), the Jutes in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight vanished, probably assimilated to the surrounding Saxons, leaving only the slightest of traces.  The culture of the Jutes of Kent shows more signs of Roman, Frankish, and Christian influence than that of the Angles or Saxons. Funerary evidence indicates that the pagan practice of cremation ceased relatively early and jewellery recovered from graves has affinities with Rhenish styles from the Continent, perhaps suggesting close commercial connections with Francia. It is possible that being such a small group that they were more quickly assimilated into the Christian beliefs and culture as well. Some early historians speculated that they were victims of Ethnic cleansing by the West Saxons but later theories suggest that it was more a case of them assimilating themselves into the larger groups. What ever the reason, they disappeared as a group early on and played no role in the later settlements of  England by the Anglo-Saxons.

East-Anglia-11

 

 

Angles-Saxons-Jutes-&-Frisians during roman occupation of Britannia   map

Angles-Saxons-Jutes-&-Frisians during roman occupation of Britannia map

For our discussion, we are only going to focus on those areas that the Jutes, Angles and Saxons would conquer and settle in.  The following is an early map of  the home lands that the Jutes, Saxons and Angles occupied prior to the Danes took them over.

Angles_saxons_jutes in northland  map

Angles_saxons_jutes in northland map

This map gives a breakdown of where they originally settled in Roman era Brittania.

Anglo_saxon_jute breakdown in Britain map

Anglo_saxon_jute breakdown in Britain map

By the early 600s, this is what the kingdoms and settlements were beginning to look like with this, Angles and Saxons controlling much of the area and Jutes holding on to a few small portions. The native Britons were relegated to the areas of Whales and Scotland at that time. This is a precursor to the four main kingdoms that would remain and become vital power players in the future. By the  800s it would become Wessex, Mercia and Northumbria, with East Anglia remaining a small separate entity.

Angles,_Saxons,_Jutes_in_Britain_year_600  map

Angles,_Saxons,_Jutes_in_Britain_year_600 map

This is what the land looked like by late 700s, early 800s in the time of Ecbert.

Egbert_of_Wessex_map

Egbert_of_Wessex_map

 

 

The Romans left Britannia in the early 400s as the Angles, Saxons and Jutes began their migration to the area.  They left behind their buildings, their roadways, some of their culture and they left behind  their religion as well. By the time the Romans left Brittania, they were Christians. Some of their citizens and their priests would have chosen to stay in this land that they now considered home. As they became assimilated into the new cultures taking over the land, they would most likely have begun the process of  slowly merging and weaving together the two separate belief systems into a form of Christianity that those North people would understand and accept. By the 800s when the second wave of Northmen arrived, these earlier invaders and settlers had become  fully immersed in the Christian belief system with their previous Nordic beliefs long forgotten, set aside or kept secret. There would have been remaining sects and pockets of those who followed the old ways but this would have been in the more isolated, rural areas and even then, they would have kept it at a low profile so as not to draw attention or recrimination from the Church, which was becoming so much more powerful and controlling.

 

First we should look at the original migration of the Saxons, Angles and Jutes from their homeland to the areas that they each ultimately settled in Britain. They all came from the same general area, probably spoke the same language and most importantly, held the same beliefs. All of these early tribes followed Odin or Woden and they took their belief system with them to Brittania. The only difference in the belief system is that the Angles, Saxons and Jutes in Britain  followed this God as Woden while those who remained in the homeland used the word Odin..  Woden would eventually play an important part in determining the rulers of the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms.

gods of our saxon gods 1.sun god 2. moon god 3.god tiw 4. woden

gods of our saxon gods 1.sun god 2. moon god 3.god tiw 4. woden

The ancestor of the South Saxon kings, Woden was born at the beginning of time, his parents being the giant, Bor, and the giantess, Bestia, who came from chaos.

Woden was the Father God, the god of battle and death, the god of inspiration and wit, and, far from least, he was the god of learning. Woden was also the psychopomp of slain warriors, taking them back to Valhalla, his hall of the brave. Valhalla was situated in a joyous land called Gladheim, where Woden also had another hall with twelve thrones upon which were seated his councillors.

Woden was the great chief of the Aesir, a race of war gods who lived in Asgarth, the world of divinities. The god-chief had two ravens, Hugin (Thought) and Munin (Memory), who told him all that had happened in Milgard, the world of mortals.

Woden was in wedlock with Frigg, the goddess of fertility, conjugal love and motherhood.

Their eldest son, Balder, was the favourite of all the other gods and known for his matchless beauty and sweetness of character. He was the god of plants and good forces. He lived in a hall called Breithablik with his wife, the daughter of the god Nepr, and her name was Nanna. Forseti, their son, was the god of justice, peace and truth. He had a throne in his hall. This residence was called Glitnir, a palace which was embellished with silver and gold.

Balder was killed unintentionally by his blind brother, the god Hoder, with a bough of mistletoe, having been misled by the malicious Loki, the god of mischief, destruction and fire.

Woden and Frigg had another son who was killed in combat at the battle of Ragnasok. His name was Hermod. Since he had no children and nor did Hoder, presumably Aelle and Mealla (if they were royal) would have claimed descent from Woden through his grandson, Forseti. Woden also had a natural son called Vithar, by his concubine Grithir, who was a giantess.

Norway_Fjords woden

According to Norwegian myth the mountain caves in this land of fjords are peopled by supernatural giants called trolls, although they sometimes appear as dwarfs. Tradition also says that they read the Old Testament. Perhaps trolls derive their ancestry from a distant memory of neanderthals, as might the giants who are said to have existed in the chaos before the birth of Woden.

The traditional view has always been presented that the Anglo-Saxons made a great invasion of the land, destroyed everything in their path and took it over completely, wiping out all of the previous inhabitants or causing them to flee to the wilds and desolation of the west and northern portions. We have been told that, much like the second wave of Vikings, they were marauding, murderous heathenish Barbarians. This traditional view is slanted and biased in favor of the Romans, and the Christians who were able to write down their versions of what happened during that era. As with any history, there are two sides to every event and the truth lies somewhere in the middle. Were there great battles, burnings, pillaging and death? Yes, of course there were- on all sides.  If you were a villager or farmer of that time, you may not have even been sure quite who was destroying your life. You might have imagined that it was that group of Barbarians, those Saxons that your overlord mentioned… but you may not have been aware of what your overlord had previously done to incur that wrath? You may not even have completely understood all of the groups waging war against each other, or that those Saxons were aiding some neighboring kingdom that your ruler had caused to create an enemy of. If you survived to tell of the battle, your recollection would be only of what you experienced first hand, or what your ruler told you was the cause. You would have known little or nothing about any underlying reasons and you most likely have not cared because in your small world, you would have gone on with your struggle for life in those bleak and uncertain times.

 

The Romans had been in control of the area for 350 years by the time they decided to leave. What happened in Britannia should hold the Romans as much or even more accountable and responsible than the Anglo-Saxons. They left the territory in a vulnerable state, having already destroyed and weakened the native Britons’ ability to rule or govern for themselves. What followed was chaos that left the remaining residents fighting amongst themselves for control of the area. As I’ve already mentioned, some Romans chose to remain as they now considered themselves more Briton than Roman.  Many of them held bitterness and resentment of the Roman Empire for what happened. One other thing to consider is that many  of those who remained may also have been soldiers who had been conscripted into the Roman army from all parts of the Empire, probably including those places of the Saxons, Angles and Jutes.  Just because one was attached to the Roman Empire it did not necessarily mean they were Roman or even a Roman citizen.  When the Roman Empire began to fall, many one time citizens or allies would probably have returned their allegiance to what ever home land they were from originally or the land they were residing in when the fall came. Those Romans that remained became Romo-Britons, and retained their previous elite statuses and lands for some time. They became part of the Briton elite rulers who were trying to re-build and re-establish kingdoms within the country.  Rome made Britain a melting pot of cultures before the Saxons ever thought of arriving.

If you search through the histories to find that in between middle ground, you will find that the Saxons were not unknown to the Roman Empire or the Britons, nor were they necessarily the barbarians they were depicted as other than for the fact they were one of the many groups rebelling against the Roman Empire at the time. The Saxons were at one time part of that Empire, having been brought into it by the Foederati or treaty system that the Romans used to increase their armies. foederati and its usage and meaning was extended by the Roman practice of subsidizing entire barbarian tribes — which included the Franks, Vandals, Alans and, best known, the Visigoths — in exchange for providing warriors to fight in the Roman armies. Alaric began his career leading a band of Gothic foederati.

Saxons were mentioned as early as 350 by the Romans who were already dealing with Saxon defiance to their rule. It was during that time that Rome created a military district called the Litus Saxonicum (“Saxon Coast”) on both sides of the English Channel.  The Saxons were fighting ongoing battles against the Franks who were Roman allies.  It is possible that Saxon settlement of Great Britain began only in response to expanding Frankish control of the Channel coast.  An important clue to why the Saxons might have felt some justification in their continuing settlement of Britain is that before the end of Roman rule in Britannia, many Saxons and other folk had been permitted to settle in these areas as farmers. The Romans opened the door for them to move in…. perhaps because they were already thinking of  pulling out of the area and did not really care so much about who moved in next. The Romans may have thought that if the Saxon groups moved into Britain, they would be less of a threat on the rest of the continent.  For the retreating Romans, it may have been a case of “Fine, you want a place of your own…Here take this place and Good Luck with that!”

 

After the Romans retreated from Britannia, some of the remaining powers continued to use the Roman system and still maintained some connection to Rome even though The Roman Empire had made it clear that those who remained in this place would be on their own and should not expect assistance from Rome. At some point they did appeal to Rome for assistance in fighting the Picts and Scoti, and this is possibly how the Saxons entered the picture on a larger scale. They were not marauding invaders, they were invited into the country by both the Romans and the later rulers of Britain!

This early documentation by Gildas in the 6th century is interesting because while he does refer to the Saxons as enemies, he admits that they were invited- hired to help, and he gives a clue as to what the middle ground may have been.

In Gildas‘s work of the sixth century, De Excidio et Conquestu Britanniae, a religious tract on the state of Britain, the Saxons were enemies originally from overseas, who brought well-deserved judgement upon the local kings or ‘tyrants’.

  1. After an appeal to Aëtius the Britons were gripped by famine while suffering attacks from the Picts and Scoti; some fought back successfully, leading to a period of peace.
  2. Peace led to luxuria and self-indulgence.
  3. A renewed attack was threatened by the Picts and Scoti, and this led to a council, where it was proposed and agreed that land in the east would be given to the Saxons on the basis of a treaty, a foedus, by which the Saxons would defend the Britons in exchange for food supplies. This type of arrangement was unexceptional in a Late Roman context; Franks had been settled as foederati on imperial territory in northern Gaul (Toxandria) in the 4th century, and the Visigoths were settled in Gallia Aquitania early in the 5th century.
  4. The Saxon foederati first complained that their monthly supplies were inadequate. Then they threatened to break the treaty, which they did, spreading the onslaught from “sea to sea”.
  5. This war, which Higham called the “War of the Saxon Federates”, ended some 20–30 years later shortly after the siege at Montis Badonici, and some 40 years before Gildas was born.
  6. There was a peace with the Saxons who returned to their eastern home, which Gildas called a lugubre divortium barbarorum – a grievous divorce with the barbarians. The “divorce settlement”, Higham in particular argued  was a better treaty and the ability to get tribute from the people in the east, under the leadership of the person Gildas called pater diabolus or Father-devil.

What this excerpt tells us is the Britons hired the Saxons, promised them  payment and supplies and then were unable or unwilling to carry through on the treaty. Other early writings mention that the Saxons were also promised land to settle and the Britons reneged on that as well. What ensued was a lengthy period of wars and battles between the Britons and the Saxons.

Gildas described the corruption of the elite: “Britain has kings but they are tyrants; she has judges but they are wicked”. This passage provides a glimpse into the world of Gildas, he continued: “they plunder and terrorise the innocent, they defend and protect the guilty and thieving, they have many wives, whores and adulteresses, swear false oaths, tell lies, reward thieves, sit with murderous men, despise the humble, their commanders are ‘enemies of God'”; the list is long. Interesting oath breaking and the absence of just judgements for ordinary people was mentioned a number of times. British leadership, everywhere, was immoral and the cause of the “ruin of Britain”.

Hengist and Horsa:

HegestAndHorsa hengist and horsa

The earliest accounts of the Saxon arrival are stories or legends regarding two Saxon brothers, Hengist and Horsa.  Bear in mind that these accounts were not written down until centuries later.  Both Anglo-Saxon chronicles and Norse Sagas give versions or accounts of the men.  Hengist and Horsa are figures of Anglo-Saxon history, which records the two as the Germanic brothers who led the Angle, Saxon, Frisian, and Jutish armies that conquered the first territories of Britain in the 5th century. Tradition lists Hengist (through his son, whose name varies by source) as the founder of the Kingdom of Kent. As with most of the stories, theirs was colored by the Christian Monks recording history of the time. What you need to do is strip all of that coloring away down the most basic part of the account. 

The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle entry for the year 449 records that Hengest and Horsa were invited to Britain by Vortigern to assist his forces in fighting the Picts. Hengist and Horsa arrived at a place called Ipwinesfleet, and went on to defeat the Picts wherever they fought them. Hengist and Horsa sent word to the Angles describing “the worthlessness of the Britons, and the richness of the land” and asked for assistance. Their request was granted and support arrived. Afterward, more people arrived in Britain from “the three powers of Germany; the Old Saxons, the Angles, and the Jutes”. The Old Saxons populated the areas of the kingdoms of Essex, Sussex and Wessex. The Jutes populated the area of Kent, the Isle of Wight and an area of the adjacent mainland that would later be part of Wessex. The East Angles, Middle Angles, Mercians and “all those north of Humber” arrived from the region of Anglia (a peninsula in Southern Schleswig, Northern Germany) “which has ever since remained waste between the Jutes and Saxons”. These forces were led by the brothers Hengist and Horsa, sons of Wihtgils, son of Witta, son of Wecta, son of Woden.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hengist_and_Horsa

The Historia Brittonum records that, during the reign of Vortigern in Britain, three vessels that had been exiled from Germania arrived in Britain, commanded by Hengist and Horsa. The Historia Brittonum details that Geta was said to be the son of a god, yet “not of the omnipotent God and our Lord Jesus Christ,” but rather “the offspring of one of their idols, and whom, blinded by some demon, they worshipped according to the custom of the heathen.” In 447 AD, Vortigern received Hengist and Horsa “as friends” and gave to the brothers the Isle of Thanet.

After the Saxons had lived on Thanet for “some time” Vortigern promised them supplies of clothing and other provisions on condition that the Saxons assist him in fighting the enemies of his country. The Saxons increased in number and the Britons were unable to keep their agreement. The Britons told the Saxons that the Saxons’ numbers had increased, that they no longer needed Saxon assistance and that the Saxons should go home as the Britons could no longer support them.

Vortigern allowed Hengist to send for more of Hengist’s countrymen to come over to Britain and fight for Vortigern. Messengers were sent to “Scythia“, where “a number” of warriors were selected, and, with sixteen ships, the messengers returned. With the men came Hengist’s beautiful daughter. Hengist prepared a feast, inviting Vortigern, Vortigern’s officers, and Ceretic, his translator. Prior to the feast, Hengist enjoined his daughter to serve the guests plenty of wine and ale so that they would get very intoxicated. The plan succeeded. “At the instigation of the Devil”, Vortigern fell in love with Hengist’s daughter and promised Hengist whatever he liked in exchange for her betrothal. Hengist, having previously “consulted with the Elders who attended him of the Angle race,” demanded Kent. Without the knowledge of the then-ruler of Kent, Vortigern agreed.

This account by the Historia Brittonum is somewhat contradictory at best… If Vortigern wanted them out of the country, why would he have then allowed them to send for additional forces? What is does do though, along with other accounts is set a basis for the British Kings reneging on their promises to those Saxons they needed help from. Hengist most likely knew full well of this breech and responded in kind with his own betrayals.  The British Kingdoms were not just fighting the Picts and Scoti, they were fighting each other and would go to such lengths as using Saxon mercenaries to win their battles. What eventually happened was that the Anglo-Saxons fought to retain lands they had been given, as well as developing allegiances with some of those British Kingdoms.

 

I am providing this history of the Anglo-Saxon immigration to Britain because I feel it is important to see them in that middle ground of a history that has often portrayed them as the scourge of Britain. It is difficult to piece together what might have happened but many historians today have searched for that middle ground, that in between, those few grains of possible truth sifted out from the extremes.  There a number of theories on how and why the Anglo-Saxons may have become the dominant culture in Britain where by the 8th century, they were viewed as the locals and native Britons were viewed as outsiders or foriegners.  The name Welsh originated as an exonym given to its speakers by the Anglo-Saxons, meaning “foreign speech” (see Walha). The native term for the language is Cymraeg and Cymru for “Wales”.

Most agree now that they did not come in all in one invading force and wipe out the previous culture. It began as a small migration and settlement of them in places where they had been given land. The Roman Britons did not disappear, nor did the native Britons.  A  last battle took place between the original Saxon mercenaries and the Britons- a battle which the Saxons felt justified in fighting because of broken treaties.  the Saxons lost this last battle but were not defeated, decimated or thrown out of the country. A compromise seemed to have been reached and lands were divided up between the British elite rulers and the Saxons. 

Historian Nick Higham is convinced that the success of the Anglo-Saxon elite in gaining an early compromise shortly after the Battle of Badon is a key to the success of the culture. This produced a political ascendancy across the south and east of Britain, which in turn required some structure to be successful.  After this time there began the process of cultures merging together to form one new one.  The Bretwalda concept is taken as evidence for a presence of a number of early Anglo-Saxon elite families and a clear unitary oversight. Whether the majority of these leaders were early settlers, descendant from settlers, or especially after the exploration stage they were Roman-British leaders who adopted Anglo-Saxon culture is unclear. The balance of opinion is that most were migrants, although it shouldn’t be assumed they were all “Germanic”. There is agreement: that these were small in number and proportion, yet large enough in power and influence to ensure “Anglo-Saxon” acculturation in the lowlands of Britain.  Most historians believe these elites were those named by Bede, the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle and others, although there is discussion regarding their floruit dates. Importantly, whatever their origin or when they flourished, they established their claim to lordship through their links to extended kin ties. As Helen Peake jokingly points out “they all just happened to be related back to Woden”.

For a more in depth and detailed look at the Anglo-Saxon migration and theories of why they were so successful, you can start your search here:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anglo-Saxon_settlement_of_Britain

Throughout history, the reputation of those earliest Saxons has been colored by the Christian accounts of them as heathens and barbarians that destroyed a land and culture… what is interesting and important to remember is that those same Christians were  in the process of completely wiping out that culture and belief system that they were blaming the Saxons for.  The Christians had already cleared the land of much of it’s previous beliefs by decimating and eliminating the old religious leaders- the Druids and driving out the followers who still clung to those beliefs. Those early Christian leaders were as much responsible for the terror and dark ages that would follow as the Saxons were.

The early Christians shaped our history by shaping our tales, our legends and myths of that time. They were responsible for such tales as the brave and virtuous King Arthur, his valiant knights of the round table who fought evil, injustice and the barbarians in effort to save England, to unite it against all of those evil and demonic forces. We all know those legends and myths that portray the Christian brotherhood in glory and present the Saxons as some of those evil invaders…  And, somewhere even in those tales there are probably small grains of truth as to possible figures of who Arthur might have been or represented, of battles that probably did actually take place. There are a number of King Arthur theories relating to the history of Britain during those dark ages. If you are interested, I have a previous article for you to read:

https://timeslipsblog.wordpress.com/2014/06/24/from-the-creator-ancient-history-connects-the-norse-with-romans-and-king-arthur/

I would also suggest that you read Bernard Cornwell’s series on King Arthur. He strips away much of the myth and legend, and tells a tale more of the history and the battles that ensued after Rome left. He still leaves the Saxons in a rather bad light but he does not paint such a perfect picture of Arthur or the Britons either, so it kind of evens out the story a bit. It is an interesting perspective on the legend and does take into account the long lasting Roman influences left behind!

 

winter_king_uk-179x307

‘Once upon a time, in a land that was called Britain, these things happened . . . . and I was there, and this is how it was.’ The Winter King , like the rest of the trilogy, is narrated by Derfel (which is pronounced Dervel), one of Arthur’s warriors. This first book tells how after the death of Uther, High King of Britain, the country falls into chaos. Uther’s heir is a child, Mordred, and Arthur, his uncle, is named one of the boy’s guardians. Arthur has to fight other British kingdoms and the dreadful “Sais” – the Saxons – who are invading Britain. Arthur is supposed to marry Ceinwyn, a princess of Powys, but falls disastrously in love with Guinevere – ‘There have been many more beautiful women, and thousands who were better, but since the world was weaned I doubt there have been many so unforgettable as Guinevere . . . and it would have been better, Merlin always said, had she been drowned at birth.’

 To read an interview  with the Camelot Project, click on this link:  http://d.lib.rochester.edu/camelot/text/thompson-interview-cornwell

For another perspective on the story of Arthur and the Roman involvement, you could also watch one of my favorite movies…

Movie_poster_king_arthur

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/King_Arthur_(film)

King Arthur is a 2004 action adventure film directed by Antoine Fuqua and written by David Franzoni. It stars Clive Owen as the title character, Ioan Gruffudd as Lancelot, and Keira Knightley as Guinevere.  The film is unusual in reinterpreting Arthur as a Roman officer rather than a medieval knight. Despite these departures from the source material, the Welsh Mabinogion, the producers of the film attempted to market it as a more historically accurate version of the Arthurian legends, supposedly inspired by new archaeological findings. The film was shot in England, Ireland, and Wales.  It gives a somewhat more historical perspective as well, but does still put the Saxons in the role as sole villains. I watched it recently while researching this history and found myself more seriously bothered by this representation than before! I am still searching for some sort of story that portrays the Saxons in a slightly more positive or at least more balanced light?

In the above movie, the Saxons are represented by their leader Cerdic and his son Cinric… They are of course the vicious torturing villains that we have come to expect Saxons to be. Of interesting note for Vikings fans, Cerdic is played by Stellan Skarsgard- father of Gustav Skarsgard who does such an incredible job portraying Floki!

stellan skarsgard cerdic4

In history, Cerdic was Cerdic was allegedly the first King of Anglo-Saxon Wessex from 519 to 534, cited by the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle as the founder of the Kingdom of Wessex and ancestor of all its subsequent kings… which of course would feasibly include Ecbert. I say feasibly because there was some dispute as to whether Ecbert was actually a d descendant.

The most interesting and curious thing about Cerdic’s history is that while his supposed royal pedigree traced him back to Woden, just as all of the other rulers’ did, it seems to have been added later. Historians think that at some point there was forged and alliance between him and  Bernicia, and he conveniently borrowed the earlier pedigree of Bernicia, tacking it on to his own. The reason for this was to perhaps give himself more of a royal/divine lineage than he might have originally had.  There is currently a thought that he was actually  was a native Briton, and that his dynasty became Anglicised over time.   This suggests that ethnicity was possibly not as important in the establishment of rulership within the proto-states of Post-Roman Britain as has been traditionally thought. Cerdic’s father, Elesa, has been identified by some scholars with the Romano-Briton Elasius, the “chief of the region”, met by Germanus of Auxerre. 

J.N.L. Myres noted that when Cerdic and Cynric first appear in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle in s.a. 495 they are described as ealdormen, which at that point in time was a fairly junior rank.   Myres believed that,

It is thus possible … to think of Cerdic as the head of a partly British noble family with extensive territorial interests at the western end of the Litus Saxonicum. As such he may well have been entrusted in the last days of Roman, or sub-Roman authority with its defence. He would then be what in later Anglo-Saxon terminology could be described as an ealdorman. …

Some would disagree with Myres, as Cerdic is reported to have landed in Hampshire. Some also would say that the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle proves that Cerdic was indeed a Saxon, however it does not prove that he had no Celtic blood.  Some scholars believe it likely that his mother was a British Celt who left for the Continent, or perhaps a Continental Celt. Geoffrey Ashe postulates he may be a son of Riothamus.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cerdic_of_Wessex

Despite the conflictin history surrounding his origins, Descent from Cerdic became a necessary criterion for later kings of Wessex, and Egbert of Wessex, progenitor of the English royal house and subsequent rulers of England and Britain, claimed him as an ancestor.  As I mentioned, Egbert’s claim was dubious and is thought  by some to have been fabricated during his early reign  or his bid for that right to give him more legitimacy in his claim. Whether fabricated or not, it was accepted and he was allowed to trace his right back to Cerdic and to Woden….

cerdic is not happy

 

What ever the reasons or theories behind the Anglo-Saxons in Britain,  one thing is certain and evident. As a group, they succeeded where Rome and even the Britons themselves  failed. They entered into a land that even the Roman Empire had failed to conquer and succeeded for the most, so well that in the future they would be looked at as the locals and the native Britons would be considered the outsiders. They succeeded so well in fact that in the future, when the second wave of Northmen arrived on their shores, they looked at them as foreign Heathenish Barbarians.  By the time the Vikings arrived in the late 700s and into the 800s, the Anglo-Saxons had become a completely different culture and society that bore little or no resemblance what so ever to the past they had left behind.  But, had they truly left the past behind them, forgotten who they were originally?

 the Norse Sagas regarding Ragnar Lodbrok give reason to believe that perhaps these Saxons, Angles and Jutes had not completely forgotten their past or their heritage. Some versions of the sagas include passages that comment on how Ragnar’s Father, Sigurd Hring once counted a part of England as part of his realm. Another saga source also mentions that Ragnar Lodbrok went to the place in Angleland of which his forefathers owned.  This would tie in with the fact that the Angles who had originated in lands around Denmark had already migrated to parts of Britain as early as the 5th century. He visited this Angleland and was initially welcomed into their court of royalty. Then he was lured into visiting King Aelle in Northumbria and was murdered by him. I have addressed this connection in my previous article about Horik and Ragnar.

https://timeslipsblog.wordpress.com/2015/05/27/horik-and-ragnar-part-of-the-oldest-monarchy-in-europe/

The Angles were thought to be allies at one time with the early Danes who took over their land and were a partial cause for them migrating to Britain. The Saxons were in a similar situation at the time of their migration to Britain. As the Danes became stronger and more powerful, they began to overtake those lands and cultures near to them- mainly the Angles and Saxons, but they also took over much of Juteland as well causing these three cultures to migrate to that land which held more opportunity for them. It does stand to reason that these people would continue to hold some grudge or resentment of those who were initially responsible for their relocation in the first place. They may have assimilated into some new culture, but they would probably have their own old oral  histories of a past that included tales of this distant ancestral land that had been taken over by those others… some of those oral histories are included in poems and heroic stories such as Beowulf, Wulf and Eadwacer and Judith.  Another such early work is that of Widsith  from the Exeter book. The Widsith is an old poem that surveys the people  kings, and heroes of Europe in the Heroic Age of Northern Europe.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Widsith

 

I hope that I have not bored you or overwhelmed you too much with the history of these earliest Saxons. As I keep mentioning, it is important to know some of their history and see both sides of it considering the fact that they did integrate so fully and deeply into the culture that it became their own. As they settled into this new culture and land, they forged those alliances with the remaining British Rulers, became rulers of their own kingdoms and quite quickly took on the Christian religion once they realized the power behind that force. That is not to say that the Christian missionaries had any easy time of converting the Anglo-Saxons. What the Church did in order to accomplish this feat would leave long lingering misgivings and resentments from other Christian Kingdoms and dynasties. The Church had an extremely difficult time converting these Heathens, and resorted to the practice of diluting their religion into terms that the Pagan Saxons would accept. They set about comparing their Christ God to Woden, to telling their testaments and stories in relation to Woden and even went so far as to accept and approve of those earliest Saxon Rulers having divine right to rule on the basis of their genealogy connecting them back to being sons of Woden!  Eventually all of the Anglo-Saxon Rulers of those early Kingdoms of Britain would prove their right by tracing their lineage back to Woden and the Church put it’s stamp of approval on this, in fact in some ways encouraged it. There had to be some way of proving right to rule other than just by might in order to maintain some stability and not descend into the chaos once again. In the future, other loyal and Royal Christian dynasties would decry this as giving in to those Pagans, view it as watering down the religion and hold little regard for these so called  new Christian Royals.

Before we look at what the Kingdoms became and looked like in the time of our Anglo-Saxon Rulers such as Ecbert, Aelle, and yes even Kweni, I want to suggest an interesting documentary about the early Saxons and how their religion evolved. 

This is a preview clip of the documentary called From Runes to Ruins by by Thomas Rowsell, Jamie Roper and Anthony Leigh. It is all about Anglo-Saxon paganism. 

About the director

 
While studying my Master’s degree in medieval history, I was fascinated by the same mythology and legends that had inspired J.R.R. Tolkien to write The Lord of the Rings. Delving through old leather books and countless journals, trying to discover more about the forgotten religion of the Anglo-Saxon pagans, I couldn’t help noticing some familiar place names. It seemed that all the places from my youth were in some way connected to the history of the Anglo-Saxon heathens; whether it be the village of Thursley, named after Thor, which was near to my childhood home, or the ancient pagan barrows I used to camp on as a teen. I realised that through the landscape I had a personal relationship with the pre-Christian inhabitants of England and wondered how many other people had developed this strange fascination. Initially I had never intended to present From Runes to Ruins, but after the production house I was working with dropped the project, I no longer had the funds necessary to pay for a famous presenter. Financial constraints necessitated my stepping in to the presenting role, but this allowed me to put a personal slant on the documentary, using the pagan landscape of my own past to communicate the culture of a far more distant one. I hope that From Runes to Ruins sparks a new interest in the pagan religion of our Anglo-Saxon ancestors and also encourages people to look at the land itself as a beautiful, spiritual inheritance which brings us closer to nature, our ancestors and each other.
You can rent the entire video here:  http://fromrunestoruins.vhx.tv/
It is well worth  the 3.99 rental fee!
Now you know way too much about the early history of Angles, Saxons and Jutes in Britain… far more than you probably wanted to know! I do hope that it has given you some different perspective of the Anglo-Saxons, their reasons for moving to this land along with their justification for staying and fighting for it. Perhaps the next time you read a book or watch a movie about them, you will have some second thought about how they are portrayed.  In future articles, we will look at each of the four Kingdoms that remained during the later Vikings saga- Wessex, Mercia, Northumbria and East Anglia.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

TimeSlips: looking back and forward!

 

Timeslips cover

We’ve reached another huge milestone and once again it’s time to take a few moments to thank everyone who visits and travels through history with me! A few of you have been here since the beginning with me and I want you to know how much I appreciate your continued following through all of the paths we’ve taken in exploring history. Some of you arrived here via the Sims, where this all started, some made the journey through those mysterious Outlander Stones, and yet others have sailed in with the Vikings!  No matter how you have found us, many of you have chosen to stay on the journey.  I can not tell you how much it means to me, how much I appreciate your visits, your comments, questions, and your involvement in this site. I bid you all a gracious and heartfelt welcome and hope that you will continue to enjoy exploring the past with me!  As I mentioned, we have reached a personal milestone for me- 100,000 views! If you have been with me from the earliest beginnings, you will understand why this is such an amazing accomplishment for me.

I began this blog as a way to share my little fantasy world of the Sims 3, my builds, my characters and my stories within that context. One thing has been here since that initial beginning and that has been a life long love of history! I used that Sims platform to begin sharing my love of history, story telling and the weaving of those passions together. I am forever grateful to the Sims 3 for providing me with a basis to begin this journey!  If you look back in my archives, you will find the creations, the ideas and the stories that have led us to where we are today- in the middle of the Viking era with historical figures such as Ragnar, Rollo, King Ecbert, King Charles of France and others who will arrive in our future.

When I began building the castles and homes of history, I did it with the thought and premise that every building has a history filled with people, events and stories never told. I went on the idea that perhaps if one had such ability, they might be able to feel the vibrations, hear the sounds of that past and see the stories unfold in some way. Much of my early writing was a combination of building or renovation progress and the stories that came to life with that progress. I based it much on the way you might see it if you were renovating a historical building in real life. Each time you strip away a layer of paint or dust, you find a new layer, a new story of the past.

As I’ve mentioned, it all began with Sims 3, with castles, with royals, with history and fantasy woven together. Those creations, characters and stories were a huge part of  our beginnings here . While I have progressed from them, I have not forgotten them and I am proud of them. That early work enabled me to set a foundation for this blog that I have tried to keep in mind even today as I use other platforms such books and television to hopefully inspire and encourage you on your own explorations of history. My intent has always been to present history in a way that is interesting and captures your attention. I have always tried, from the beginning to present historical facts in a way that you might be curious enough to go off on your own search of history. In the past, I used the Sims 3 platform to weave together a long and ongoing look at history with a huge dose of fantasy… the Sims allowed me to explore that venue, that realm of vampires, fairies, witches and time travel and use them in telling the stories of the past. As I used that method, I always tried to incorporate actual events, facts and real life mysteries where ever possible along the way. Those early stories, while often fanciful did lead us through history from the present to the past and back again. Yes, I have taken a break from them, but as any writer can attest to, sometimes you need to step back, take a long break, and perhaps re-evaluate your work. The story remains in the background waiting for that time when you can return, re-focused with a clearer idea of where to go. That is where my story is… always in the back of my mind, always in my heart, waiting for that time when I can return to it and give it the proper attention and focus that it deserves!

In a way, my deviation and time away from the story is actually a way of doing more research into the past while keeping my original story and those characters that are now like a part of my family in mind. In some ways, the paths are always connected whether  or not you are ever aware of it. My mind continues to research, to piece together events and people together in relation to my beloved story of the past, the present and the future!

For those of you who have arrived later in the journey and have not searched this space for other bits of information, I can only suggest and hope that you take some time during your visits here to explore those other times, places and stories that are stored here! My archives have become a rather vast vault of time and history spanning from the earliest Roman history in Britain, to that now ever present Viking era that involves so much more than just the Vikings, it veers from tales and history of King Arthur to the mysteries of the princes of the tower. Our journey through time brought us to the world of Outlander, where we became lost in the Standing Stones and spent much time in the 1700s of Scotland and early America, and because of that trip, we found ourselves immersed in the world of the Vikings and early Saxon history! As a result, we are now on a journey through the early medieval period that includes those Vikings, Saxons, and everyone else in between that the Vikings influenced from the Frankish Empire to the creation of Normandy and the eventual battle for a united Kingdom of Britain, as well as future travels to Iceland, Ireland, Scotland, and possibly even on to earliest explorations of North America.

So, how do my early stories of history still remain connected to this present path we are on?  Well, for that you need to take a look at some of those early stories and where my characters have been in the past. First of all, you may need a short summary of how their stories actually began with a fantasy called Royals Castle and a young woman named Eleanor Deguille… my first blog entries covered the beginnings of her story and her life. She began at Royals Castle, traveled through time to various points in history, arrived in the present and then travelled back again. Throughout her story, she met a number of historical figures, viewed some important events and, her story introduced us to some other important characters who had their own stories to tell.

Lady Eleanor DeGuille through time and history, from a lonely child pawn of Royals to an uncertain romance, timeless friendship to a Mother's spirit within her guiding her journey and her destiny.

Lady Eleanor DeGuille through time and history, from a lonely child pawn of Royals to an uncertain romance, timeless friendship to a Mother’s spirit within her guiding her journey and her destiny.

Eleanor’s story was the start of this blog! If you are interested, you can read those earliest beginnings here:

https://timeslipsblog.wordpress.com/2013/07/19/eleanors-journal-entries/

For another look at Eleanor and how her life is woven together within the threads of history and legends, you can read this story about the legends of Avalon, Melusine the Water Goddes and my interpretation of that legend as it shows up through history with people such as Henry VIII and his ancestors making claims to being descended from Arthur and even Melusine! Melusine is a legend or tale that has it’s origins in early France, mainly Poitou, the low countries, and Normandy! She was often referred to as the  fairy of Normandy, or Bretagne. Connecting Eleanor to this legend gave her a more solid connection to the history of France.

Avalon cover1

Arthur and Vivianne

Arthur and Vivianne

https://timeslipsblog.wordpress.com/melusinas-story-a-royals-link-to-avalon/

Eleanor Deguille’s mysterious life eventually connected her to the beginnings of tales of Britain, Romans  and a man named Arthur… that is was where her life, her time travel and her story began. While her story and the rest of it is steeped in the fantasy of those Vampires, Witches, Fairies and time travel, it is woven together with those real events of history. Eleanor’s story took her from that early beginning in the fairy tale realm of British history to the 1400s and 1500s of France, England and Scotland. In those earliest beginnings we met a man named Eric North. Eric’s story is just as important as Eleanor’s and it is a connecting point for that earliest time in Britain’s history. Eric’s story begins in the present day, and then goes on to tell the story of the earliest migrations of the Norse to areas of Northern Britannia as it was known then by the Romans who inhabited the isle. Eric began his life in one of the far off North places and made a journey by sea as a young child with his family to a place now known as the Isle of Skye on the coast of Scotland. He spent his youth growing up in that place which would eventually become Dunvegan Castle.  I used this place and this Castle as the setting for Eric’s birthplace and ancestral home because of it’s rich ties to early Viking history as well as it’s stories of such mythical things as the Fairie Flag. It’s location also lent itself well to making it plausible as a place that some of those earliest travelers might have made their way to. I have always attempted to make those  connections where ever possible when weaving together the fantasy and the history.

You can read part of Eric’s story here:

https://timeslipsblog.wordpress.com/2014/06/20/eleanors-journal72-erics-memories-a-time-before-vampyres-and-a-life-of-contradictions/

Eric in the Castle Eric's final farewell to loved ones

While Eric’s character and story are that of the fantasy realm, his story does make the connections from that earliest migration of the Norse, their settling in this new unknown place and their eventual plausible meetings with the Romans who were attempting to advance from the southern portions of Britannia into the northern portions which were already inhabited by groups such these ancient Norse and Picts…  Eric’s story tells of the rich history  those northern regions now known as Scotland. His story presents the earliest known legends and theories that go back as far as Egyptian migrations to that area!

You can find more of the ancient history of  the Romans and the Norse migration here:

https://timeslipsblog.wordpress.com/2014/06/24/from-the-creator-ancient-history-connects-the-norse-with-romans-and-king-arthur/

This early post explains some of the theories and thoughts on possible Egyptian migration to Ireland and Scotland!

https://timeslipsblog.wordpress.com/2014/07/20/from-the-creator-historical-information/

As to why I chose the Isle of Skye for the setting, you can read that here:

https://timeslipsblog.wordpress.com/2014/06/02/from-the-creator-some-historical-background/

If you go back and read some of these early posts, I think you will see how Eric came to play such an important part in my story, how he sort of took over the story with his life and his story and why he remains such an important connection for me on my path through history which has landed me in this time of the Vikings and kept me here for so long!

 

All of those early stories of history have led us to where we are right now, exploring the real history of all of those people that Michael Hirst and other creators/authors introduce us to! One such important person is Rollo, who we have seen claw his way out of the shadows and darkness of his early life to put himself on the path to his own fame and dynasty.

 

Portrait of Rollo's destiny. Credit to Ines Jagger of Vikings Aftermath group and to lindamarieanson of deviant art. 600px-Cronological_tree_william_I_svg

William the Conqueror AKA William I

Recently, I began reading a book about our Viking, Rollo’s descendant, William the Conqueror and was rather surprised to find a mention of the Fairie Flag in it. The Fairie Flag is one of those relics of Dunvegan Castle that I originally found so intriguing when researching a past for my character,  Eric.

Dunvegan cup, Fairie Flag and rory mors horn

Dunvegan cup, Fairie Flag and rory mors horn

fairy_flag_2

http://fairyroom.com/2013/01/fairy-flag-of-dunvegen/

More information on the history of Scotland, Clans, Dunvegan Castle and the Fairy Flag can be found in this early post:

https://timeslipsblog.wordpress.com/2014/06/21/from-the-creator-some-history-of-clans-in-scotland/

Now, as I mentioned, the book I was reading was about William the Conqueror and Normandy so I was immediately puzzled and curious about this  reference to the Fairy Flag. The book is  The Lion and the Rose: William Rising by Hilary Rhodes. It is the first book in a series about William, his history and his conquest of England. Yes, it is historical fiction, but it is extremely well researched and I think it presents a great picture of the man and his path to the Crown of England. The author presents and provides some excellent resources and references as well as weaving together an interesting story!

http://www.amazon.com/Lion-Rose-Book-One-William-ebook/dp/B00L4K5GKE/ref=sr_1_3?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1433189138&sr=1-3&keywords=the+lion+and+the+rose

Fairie flag and Robert of Normandy

In the beginning of the book, William’s Father, Robert the Magnificent or Robert the Devil, travels to the Byzantine Empire where he meets the Empress Zoe, who shares a foreshadowing, a prophecy of his future with him. That prophecy is a bit of a puzzle for readers to decipher throughout the book or books. I found it interesting, intriguing and of course I had to go in search of answers!  The prophecy states: The fighting man and the wyvern and the fairie flag, all will come, and all will give battle, but it is the lion that reaches for the roots. I can not see the end of that. I can not see if it will be enough. The deepest roots can be ripped free. And there is a great ripping to come, aye.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_I,_Duke_of_Normandy

In attempting to make sense of this puzzle, there is one other piece of information that shows up on the same page and is an important clue. This bit of information ultimately gives us the answer to the puzzle of the Fairie Flag and links the entire story and history of Dunvegan Castle to that of the Vikings. That clue is found in the mention of one Harald Sigurdsson… otherwise known  as Harald Hardrada!

Harald_Hardrada_window_in_Kirkwall_Cathedral_geograph_2068881

Harald Sigurdsson (Old Norse: Haraldr Sigurðarson; c. 1015 – 25 September 1066), given the epithet Hardrada (harðráði, roughly translated as “stern counsel” or “hard ruler”) in the sagas, was King of Norway (as Harald III) from 1046 to 1066. In addition, he unsuccessfully claimed the Danish throne until 1064 and the English throne in 1066. Prior to becoming king, Harald had spent around fifteen years in exile as a mercenary and military commander in Kievan Rus’ and in the Byzantine Empire.

When he was fifteen years old, in 1030, Harald fought in the Battle of Stiklestad together with his half-brother Olaf Haraldsson (later Saint Olaf). Olaf sought to reclaim the Norwegian throne, which he had lost to the Danish king Cnut the Great two years prior. In the battle, Olaf and Harald were defeated by forces loyal to Cnut, and Harald was forced in exile to Kievan Rus’ (the sagas’ Garðaríki). He thereafter spent some time in the army of Grand Prince Yaroslav the Wise, eventually obtaining rank as a captain, until he moved on to Constantinople with his companions around 1034. In Constantinople, he soon rose to become the commander of the Byzantine Varangian Guard, and saw action on the Mediterranean Sea, in Asia Minor, Sicily, possibly in the Holy Land, Bulgaria and in Constantinople itself, where he became involved in the imperial dynastic disputes. Harald amassed considerable wealth during his time in the Byzantine Empire, which he shipped to Yaroslav in Kievan Rus’ for safekeeping. He finally left the Byzantines in 1042, and arrived back in Kievan Rus’ in order to prepare his campaign of reclaiming the Norwegian throne. Possibly to Harald’s knowledge, in his absence the Norwegian throne had been restored from the Danes to Olaf’s illegitimate son Magnus the Good.

In 1046, Harald joined forces with Magnus’s rival in Denmark (Magnus had also become king of Denmark), the pretender Sweyn Estridsson, and started raiding the Danish coast. Magnus, unwilling to fight his uncle, agreed to share the kingship with Harald, since Harald in turn would share his wealth with him. The co-rule ended abruptly the next year as Magnus died, and Harald thus became the sole ruler of Norway. Domestically, Harald crushed all local and regional opposition, and outlined the territorial unification of Norway under a national governance. Harald’s reign was probably one of relative peace and stability, and he instituted a viable coin economy and foreign trade. Probably seeking to restore Cnut’s “North Sea Empire“, Harald also claimed the Danish throne, and spent nearly every year until 1064 raiding the Danish coast and fighting his former ally, Sweyn. Although the campaigns were successful, he was never able to conquer Denmark. Not long after renouncing his claim to Denmark, the former Earl of Northumbria, Tostig Godwinson, brother of the newly chosen English king Harold Godwinson, pledged his allegiance to Harald and invited him to claim the English throne. Harald went along and entered Northern England in September 1066, raided the coast and defeated English regional forces in the Battle of Fulford near York. Although initially successful, Harald was defeated and killed in an attack by Harold Godwinson’s forces in the Battle of Stamford Bridge.

Modern historians have often considered Harald’s death at Stamford Bridge, which brought an end to his invasion, as the end of the Viking Age. Harald is also commonly held to have been the last great Viking king, or even the last great Viking.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harald_Hardrada

 

Harald Hardrada could be considered as the fighting man of the prophecy, but what connection would that have in relation to the other parts, such as the Fairie Flag of Dunvegan Castle?  What does the Fairie Flag or Dunvegan have to do with this at all? Well, for that, you need to know the history of Dunvegan Castle, and the theories on the origins of the Fairie flag!

dunvegan8

Dunvegan Castle

dunvegan3

Dunvegan Castle2

 

https://timeslipsblog.wordpress.com/2014/06/09/from-the-creator-history-of-dunvegan-castle/

Although three individual Chiefs in the last seven generations have been comprehensively ruined by the apocalyptic difficulties caused by the unrelenting hostility from centralised government towards the Clan system practised behind the Highland line, they have remained faithful to the Rock. Dunvegan Castle is said to be the oldest inhabited castle in Northern Scotland, having been occupied by the Chiefs of MacLeod continuously, for over seven centuries and still today remaining the Ancestral home of the present chief, Hugh MacLeod of MacLeod, the 30th of the line, and his family.

Geneologies trace the origins of the McClures and the MacLeods to a thirteenth century fellow named Leod (1200-1283), the son of Olaf the Black, King of the Isle of Man, who in turn was the descendent of the eleventh century Norse King Harald Hardrada. Leod married Lady Macarailt, an heiress to Dunvegan, the birth of their two sons (Tormond and Torquil) marking the entry of the MacLeods into Dunvegan and the pages of history. Very simply, “Mac” is a Gaelic word meaning “son of” with Tormond fathering the MacLeods of Harris, and Torquil begetting the MacLeods of Lewis. (Incidentally, the McClure’s are the descendents of Tormond.)

 As to the theories on the Fairie Flag…  Legends, however fantastic or far-fetched they may appear to be, are rarely without some trace of historical fact. When a relic survives to tell its own story, that at least is one fact it is impossible to ignore. The precious Fairy Flag of Dunvegan, the most treasured possession of the Clan, is just such a relic …The traditional tales about its origin, some of them very old indeed, have two themes – Fairies and Crusaders. Fairy stories are difficult to relate to fact; they often occur as a substitute for forgotten truth. The connection with the Crusades can, however, be linked to the only definite information available as to the origin of the Fairy Flag – the fabric, thought once to have been dyed yellow, is silk from the Middle East (Syria or Rhodes); experts have dated it between the 4th and 7th centuries A.D., in other words, at least 400 years before the First Crusade. So was it the robe of an early christian saint? Or the war banner of Harold Hardrada, King of Norway, killed in 1066, or did it emerge mysteriously from some grassy knoll in Skye? The Legends are all we have to guide us to the answer.

So, there is our connection between Harald Hardrada, the Fairie Flag and Dunvegan Castle! Harald’s connection to the prophecy and to William the Conqueror is that he was one of the fighting men attempting to lay claim to the crown of England at the same time as William. He felt he also had a valid claim and chose to fight Harald Godwinsson for it. It is sometimes thought that his battle with Harald brought about the end of the Viking age, and the end of Harald’s rule of England as well. Harald Godwinsson and his forces defeated Harald Hardrata at the  Battle of Stamford Bridge but did not have time to recover fully before having to turn around and face William and his army at Hastings. The forces were well evenly matched and the battle was close. It is thought that had Godwinsson’s army been better rested and recovered from the previous battle with Hardrada, they would probably have been victorious in the battle of Hastings.

There is one  bit of information on Harald Hardrada that should be of interest to all of us who are waiting for the next raiding season of the Vikings Saga to arrive…

Harald Hardrada was a descendant and a member of the Fairhair/Finehair dynasty of Norway. A member of that dynasty is rumored to be arriving on our Viking shores soon! One Harald Finehair and brother, Halfdan the Black will be showing up as rivals and threats to Ragnar.

peter franzen4

https://timeslipsblog.wordpress.com/2015/05/06/vikings-season-4-coming-soon-to-a-village-near-you/

Harald Fairhair (Old Norse: Haraldr Hárfagri, Norwegian: Harald Hårfagre; c. 850 – c. 932) was remembered by medieval historians as the first King of Norway. According to traditions current in Norway and Iceland in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, he reigned from c. 872 to 930. Most of his life remains uncertain, since the extant accounts of his life in the sagas were set down in writing around three centuries after his lifetime. A few remnants of skaldic praise poems attributed to contemporary court poets exist which seem to refer to Harald’s victories against opponents in Norway. The information supplied in these poems is inconsistent with the tales in the sagas in which they are transmitted, and the sagas themselves often disagree on the details of his background and biography.  Two of his sons, Eric Bloodaxe and Haakon the Good, succeeded Harald to become kings after his death.

Harald_Hardrada_saga_ancestry

A last bit of interesting information on Harald Hardrada…. it seems that there has been some effort and attempt being made to make a bio-pic movie about his life. I just recently came across a few articles regarding the possibility of Leonardo DeCaprio producing and starring in such a movie. The articles are a bit dated though and I have heard nothing else about such a project. I am curious about it  and wonder if it is still going forward…. With all of interest now in Viking history, I would think it might do well!

http://www.slashfilm.com/leonardo-dicaprio-producing-and-could-star-in-viking-film-king-harald/

 

This battle for the crown of England was  much a case of family disputes and feuds over who had right or claim to that crown. Harald Hardrada had a claim based on his link to the previous ruler, Harthacanut of Denmark and England but realistically he had a very weak claim at best. Harald Godwinsson had no real claim either, the only with any true justifiable blood claim to the crown was indeed William the Conqueror, who was at least a blood relative- even though distant- of King Edward. So, in this sense, William would end up digging deep into the family roots and toppling all to claim the crown. The only other person with a better and legitimate blood claim was unfortunately a young boy with no hope of winning any battle for the crown.

The one other part of the prophecy that we have not mentioned yet is the wyvern.

A wyvern (/ˈwvərn/ WEYE-vərn), sometimes spelled wivern, is a legendary winged creature with a dragon‘s head and wings; a reptilian body; two legs; and a barbed tail.

The wyvern in its various forms is important to heraldry, frequently appearing as a mascot of schools and athletic teams (chiefly in the United States and United Kingdom). It is a popular creature in European and British literature, video games, and modern fantasy. The wyvern is often (but not always) associated with cold weather and ice, and it will sometimes possess a venomous bite or have the ability to breathe fire. The wyvern is a frequent charge in English heraldry and vexillology, also occasionally appearing as a supporter or crest.

In regards to it’s mention in the prophecy, a wyvern is used as symbol in one very  important place.  The Wyvarn is depicted as the symbol of Wessex, the home of Ecbert and his descendents including Alfred the Great and on to Edward the Confessor who left the future rule of England in such dispute and question that his witan/council even went so far as to search for a long exiled and hidden heir residing in Hungary!

After the Danish conquest of England in 1016, Canute had the sons of Edward’s half brother Edmund Ironside, Edward said to be only a few months old, and his brother, Edmund, sent to the Swedish court of Olof Skötkonun  (who was either Canute’s half-brother or stepbrother), supposedly with instructions to have the children murdered. Instead, the two boys were secretly sent either to Kiev, where Olof’s daughter Ingigerd was the Queen, or to Poland, where Canute’s uncle Bolesław I Chrobry was duke.  Later Edward made his way to Hungary, probably in the retinue of Ingigerd’s son-in-law, András in 1046, whom he supported in his successful bid for the Hungarian throne. Many years later when it became apparent that King Edward and his wife Edyth were not going to produce and heir, a search for any missing heirs ensued and Edward the exile was found in Hungary.

On hearing the news of his being alive, Edward the Confessor recalled him to England in 1056 and made him his heir. Edward offered the last chance of an undisputed succession within the Saxon royal house. News of Edward’s existence came at a time when the old Anglo-Saxon Monarchy, restored after a long period of Danish domination, was heading for catastrophe. The Confessor, personally devout but politically weak and without children, was unable to make an effective stand against the steady advance of the powerful and ambitious sons of Godwin, Earl of Wessex. From across the Channel William, Duke of Normandy, also had an eye on the succession. Edward the Exile appeared at just the right time. Approved by both king and by the Witan, the Council of the Realm, he offered a way out of the impasse, a counter both to the Godwinsons and to William, and one with a legitimacy that could not be readily challenged.

Edward, who had been in the custody of Henry III, the Holy Roman Emperor, finally came back to England at the end of August 1057. But he died within two days of his arrival. The exact cause of Edward’s death remains unclear, but he had many powerful enemies, and there is a strong possibility that he was murdered, although by whom is not known with any certainty. It is known, though, that his access to the king was blocked soon after his arrival in England for some unexplained reason, at a time when the Godwinsons, in the person of Harold, were once again in the ascendant. This turn of events left the throne of England to be disputed by Earl Harold and Duke William, ultimately leading to the Norman Conquest of England.  Edward the exile did leave an heir, a young boy- Edgar the Aetheling who was immediately made heir apparent or Atheling. When Edward died, the boy, a young teen at the time was too young to successfully wage a fight for the crown or win any war that was certain to follow. The council feared being taken over again by outsiders waiting for a chance to claim England so they chose instead to elect Harald Godwinsson to the rule. Edgar eventually found asylum in Scotland with Malcom III, who had married Edgar’s sister Margaret.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edgar_the_%C3%86theling

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edward_the_Confessor

Wessex is often symbolised by a wyvern or dragon.

Both Henry of Huntingdon and Matthew of Westminster talk of a golden dragon being raised at the Battle of Burford in AD 752 by the West Saxons. The Bayeux Tapestry depicts a fallen golden dragon, as well as a red/golden/white dragon at the death of King Harold II, who was previously Earl of Wessex. However, dragon standards were in fairly wide use in Europe at the time, being derived from the ensign of the Roman cohort, and there is no evidence that it identified Wessex.

 

800px-Flag_of_Wessex_svg

Wyvern on early flag of Wessex

 

Why is any of this important in relation to where we’re at now in history with the Viking age?  It is extremely important because the Vikings of our Vikings saga as presented by Michael Hirst, and hopefully soon the onscreen version of Bernard Cornwell’s Saxon Chronicles, will soon move on to the next years, the next era of the Viking history that includes so much more than just the story of Ragnar Lodbrok and his adventures. We will soon be traveling to the time when Ragnar’s sons and so many others make their own marks and contributions to history. We will see the beginning of Rollo’s great dynasty in Normandy take shape, we will see Ecbert’s grandson, Alfred the Great will take his place in history. The battles for land and claims to kingdoms will begin in earnest and we will witness all of it. As we do, I will continue to help weave the history and the stories together, and perhaps one of these days, I will even find time and inspiration to return to some of my original stories.  I hope that all of you will remain on the journey with me and enjoy all of it!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Horik and Ragnar, part of the oldest monarchy in Europe!

 

Horik and Ragnar their paths to ruling a dynasty

Previous related post: https://timeslipsblog.wordpress.com/2015/05/15/i-am-king-really-why-and-how/

In our previous discussion of Kings, I said that I would look at each King and group in more detail in relationship to their path and claims to Kingship. In this discussion, we will look at Horik, Ragnar and the history of monarchy in Denmark. We will not bother with Erlandeur because besides being fictional, his chance for the crown of Denmark has already pretty much been usurped and destroyed by Ragnar Lothbrok. We will however look at Bjorn Ironside, some of his history and his eventual rule in Sweden. The more southern portions of Sweden were long fought over and often controlled by Denmark, so Bjorn Ironside ruling there would make sense in some ways.

Before we look at how and where Horik and Ragnar fit in the dynasty of Denmark’s rulers, let us first look briefly at the history of Denmark and it’s monarchy in general. I say briefly because Denmark’s history and that of it’s monarchy is lengthy and complex!

The history of Denmark as a unified kingdom, first begun in the 10th century, but historic documents describes the geographic area and the people living there – the Danes -, as early as 500 AD. These early documents include the writings of Jordanes and Procopius. With the Christianization of the Danes c. 960 AD, it is clear that there existed a kingship in Scandinavia which controlled roughly the current Danish territory. Queen Margrethe II can trace her lineage back to the Viking kings Gorm the Old and Harald Bluetooth from this time, thus making the Monarchy of Denmark the oldest in Europe. The area we now know as Denmark, has a rich prehistory, having been populated by several prehistoric cultures and people for about 12,000 years, since the end of the last ice age.

 Agricultural settlers arrived around 3000 BC. Many dolmens and rock tombs date from this period. The Nordic Bronze Age period in Denmark from about 1500BC featured a culture which buried its dead, with their worldly goods, beneath burial mounds. The many finds of bronze from this era include beautiful religious artifacts and musical instruments, and provide the earliest evidence of social classes and stratification.

In a previous article I wrote about Lindholm Hoje, where a massive burial site of stone ships from pre-Viking and Viking eras is located.  Some of these grave mounds date back as early as the 6th century and continuing on up through the 11th century. You can read more about this site and these ancient grave here:

https://timeslipsblog.wordpress.com/2015/01/09/our-viking-adventure-begins/

Lindholm-Hoje_web Lindholm hoje near Aalborg Denmark

 

The Roman provinces, whose frontiers stopped short of Denmark, nevertheless maintained trade-routes and relations with Danish or proto-Danish peoples, as attested by finds of Roman coins. The earliest-known runic inscription dates back to ca. 200 — literacy as well probably came from the south. Depletion of cultivated land in the last century BC seems to have contributed to increasing migrations in northern Europe and increasing conflict between Teutonic tribes and Roman settlements in Gaul. Roman artifacts are especially common in finds from the 1st century. It seems clear that some part of the Danish warrior-aristocracy served in the Roman army.

The Chronicon Lethrense explains how the Roman Emperor Augustus battled Denmark in the time of David,  Denmark consisted of seven territories Jutland, Funen, Zealand, Møn, Falster, Lolland and Skåne which were governed by King Ypper of Uppsala. He had three sons, Nori, Østen and Dan. Dan was sent to govern Zealand, Møn, Falster, and Lolland, which became known jointly as Videslev. When the Jutes were fighting Emperor Augustus they called upon Dan to help them. Upon victory, they made him king of Jutland, Funen, Videslev and Skåne. A council decided to call this new united land Danmark (Dania) after their new king, Dan. Saxo relates that it is the legendary Danish King Dan, son of Humbli, who gave the name to the Danish people, though he does not expressly state that he is also the origin of the word “Denmark”. Rather he tells that England ultimately derives its name from Dan’s brother Angel. Going by this early description of the area that Denmark, or Danmark encompassed, in those earlier years, Skane (Sweden) was a part of the earliest Danish empire and did not come into it’s own entity and identity until much later in history. Swedish Kings or rulers would have been considered as a sort of sub-king under the control of the Danish empire.

The earliest mention of a territory called “Denmark” is found in King Alfred the Great‘s modified translation into Old English of Paulus Orosius’ Seven Books of History Against The Pagans (“Historiarum adversum Paganos Libri Septem”), written by Alfred when king of Wessex in the years 871–899. In a passage introduced to the text by Alfred, we read about Ohthere of Hålogaland’s travels in the Nordic region, during which ‘Denmark [Denamearc] was on his port side… And then for two days he had on his (port side) the islands which belong to Denmark’.

In the Treaty of Heiligen, which was signed at Heiligen in 811 between Denmark and the Frankish empire, it mentions King Hemming and Charlemagne. Based on the terms of the accord, the southern boundary of Denmark was established at the Eider River. Moreover, the treaty confirmed the peace established by both signatories in 810.

The first recorded use of the word “Denmark” within Denmark itself is found on the two Jelling stones, which are rune stones believed to have been erected by Gorm the Old (c. 955) and Harald Bluetooth (c. 965). The larger stone of the two is popularly cited as Denmark’s baptismal certificate (dåbsattest), though both use the word “Denmark”, in the form of accusative ᛏᛅᚾᛘᛅᚢᚱᚴ “tanmaurk” ([danmɒrk]) on the large stone, and genitive “tanmarkar” (pronounced [danmarkaɽ]) on the small stone. The inhabitants of Denmark are there called “tani” ([danɪ]), or “Danes”, in the accusative.   In the Song of Roland, estimated to have been written between 1040 and 1115, the first mention of the legendary Danish hero Holger Danske appears; he is mentioned several times as “Holger of Denmark” (Ogier de Denemarche).

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Etymology_of_Denmark

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scania

Some of the earliest literary sources back as far as the 6th century mention the Danes or the Dani.  In his description of Scandza, the ancient writer Jordanes says that the Dani were of the same stock as the Suetidi (Swedes, Suithiod?)  expelled the Heruli and took their lands.  The Old English poems Widsith and Beowulf, as well as works by later Scandinavian writers — notably by Saxo Grammaticus (c. 1200) — provide some of the earliest references to Danes. This early Roman map shows the land of the Herull which was taken over by the Dani. It also shows the land of Angill, Saxone and the isle of Brittania. As the Dani took over land, the Angells and the Saxones would eventually migrate to Britannia.

early roman map showing Danmark and Britannia

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Denmark

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scandza

This is an early map of the area named Scandza which shows the place of Danen and interestingly, it also shows an area named Ranaricii which could be the place of the earliest accounted King Randver/Ragnar who appeared in the line of Kings around 756.

Scandza

early map of the area called Scandza

The history of Danish rulers goes almost as far back as the general history of the area. It’s earliest beginnings can be traced back to before the 5th century. Some of the ruling history is linked to the early lands and history of the Angells or Angeln, whose lands they took over or merged with the people so well that it became part of Danmark as Angeln made migration to Brittania. Important and interesting to note is that as part of this merging, many Danes would probably have made the migration along with the Angles. This would have set up the earliest migrations of Danes into Britannia, long before the Viking era!

A Danish kingdom seems to have been established by the late fifth century, but the earliest records of its kings is fragmentary and sometimes allusive. However, some data can be built up from those records, especially from the Old English poems, Beowulf and Widsith, and the fragment commonly known as The Fight at Finnesburg. Many of the notes regarding fifth and early sixth century Danes are taken from the Alan Bliss/JRR Tolkein examination of the latter. A distinctly separate Danish ‘province’ existed in Jutland between the sixth and ninth centuries, perhaps initially wholly or semi-independently as one of the early rival states.

I am not going to list the entire length of succession here, which dates all the way back to the early 4th  century with a Ruler shared in common with the Angles. The earliest known ruler was Skiold.  Skiold or Scyld, first of the Scyldings, is the founding father of the Danes in southern Sweden, but is also a highly important figure in the list of kings of Angeln.   The earliest rulers seem to have been common between the Angles and the Danes with the first true and separate Danish ruler being listed as Dan mikilláti / Dan the Magnificent in the early 4th century. From then on the Danish rule became separate, well established and generally followed along right to rule principles for succession. Each successive ruler had some blood connection to the previous one.

Dan mikilláti / Dan the Magnificent

Son of Danp , who was the brother-in-law of Domar.

 

Dan is the legendary founder of the (ancient) Danish kingdom. He is mentioned in several medieval Scandinavian texts, which establish that he is either the son of Danp or one of the sons of King Ypper of Uppsala (the other two being Nori, who later rules Norway, and Østen, who later rules the Swedes (possibly the Östen of the late sixth century)). Whatever Dan’s reality in history, his coming suggests that a new dynasty is founded, or at least that a sideshoot of the same dynasty of ancient rulers of the Dene takes over.

For a detailed look at these earliest lines and the right to rule principle, you can find more detailed information in the following links.

History Files, Kingdoms of Scandinavia and Demmark

http://www.historyfiles.co.uk/KingListsEurope/ScandinaviaDenmark.htm

Dacians in Denmark:

http://romanianhistoryandculture.webs.com/daciansindenmark.htm

For our purposes, we are most interested in the later time periods in which Horik and Ragnar Lodbrok would have shown up.  As I mentioned in the previous discussion of Kings, we are going to look at these men from a historical perspective first and foremost and then see what bearing the historical information has on our fictional representations of these men.  To do this, we need to jump ahead to Denmark in it’s more present context… if you call the year 756 current!  For us, it simply means that from about that period on, their history was better documented to a certain extent.

In 756, the first account of a Ragnar shows up on the ruler timeline… This account of a Ragnar seems similar to later accounts of Ragnar Lodbrok, so it could be a case of errors in recounting history or mixing of the legends. None the less, it is listed so has to be taken into some account. It is also mentioned in later accounts of another ruler/relative, Sigurd Hring so for that reason too, it bears mentioning now as the origin of Ragnar.

756 – 794

Randver / (Ragnar?) / (Ongendus?)

Generally believed to be the first king of Denmark (& Sweden).

794

Jarl Eystein of Sweden defeats an attack by Eric and Agnar, two of Randver’s sons, but falls during a subsequent attack by Randver’s wife and two remaining sons, one of which is Björn Järnsida, Once Randver himself passes away, Björn becomes king of the Swedes.

horik tells floki I am not interested in deals  Ragnar will come to the right conclusion and make the right decision

Let’s deal with King Horik before we attempt to place Ragnar on the timeline and into the dynasty.  In order to better understand Horik’s story, we need to look at the history of his Father’s rule. Horik’s Father was Gudfred or Godfred. King Godfred (ruled from 804 or earlier until 810) was a Danish king before Viking era. Gudfred was the younger son of King Sigfred. The interesting part of Gudfred’s reign is two-fold… First of all, he chose not one of his many sons as his successor, but his nephew, Hemming. There is no real explanation or reason for this other than possibly he didn’t trust any of his sons to rule? This set off a chain of events that would cause a long period of civil wars in the Kingdom with fighting over the succession. It resulted in his own death by one of his sons…and then much dispute and fighting between sons, with Horik being the sole survivor to take over the throne.

In 809, King Godfred and emissaries of Charlemagne failed to negotiate peace. In 810, Gudfrid led 200 ships to plunder the Frisian coast, and forced the merchants and peasant to pay 100 pounds of silver and claimed Northern Frisia as Danish territory. To protect the northern coast of the Frankish Empire, Charlemagne began paying Viking chieftains to protect sections of the coast from the Schlei west to the Weser River. That same summer King Godfred was killed by one of his housecarls. According to Notker of St Gall, the bodyguard who murdered King Gudfred was one of his own sons.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gudfred

Of course, there is no mention of which son was actually responsible for the murder… and all of the sons eventually banded together to depose Hemming of his rule. A series of battles and ovethrows ensued with Horik being the sole surviving son left to rule.

Hemming did not last long. Horik and another of Gudfred’s sons took power in 811, later expelling a rival named Harald Klak, who took refuge at the court of Charlemagne’s son and successor, Louis the Pious. In 819, Louis forced Gudfred’s sons to accept Harald as co-ruler. Harald converted to Christianity in 826, with Louis standing as his godfather, but Harald was driven out of Denmark for the second and final time one year later. By then Horik was the only son of Gudfred’s still alive, making him the sole king of the Danes.  Horik refused to convert to Christianity, as it was his enemies’ religion, and resisted attempts by Archbishop Anskar of HamburgBremen to proselytize the Danes. In 845, Horik’s army attacked Hamburg and destroyed St. Mary’s Cathedral there. It was Horik’s last major war in East Francia.

However, Danish raids against Frisia continued. The Franks lacked an effective fleet, so the Danes could raid more or less with impunity. The Danes sacked the silver minting center of Dorestad in 834, 835, and 836, and plundered Walcheren in 837. In 845, a Viking warlord named Ragnar Lodbrok  attacked Paris and had to be bought off with 7,000 French livres (pounds) (2,570 kilograms (5,670 lb)) of gold and silver.

King Horik  disapproved of these raids, for successful raiders constituted possible rivals (especially if these successful raiders were also relatives with a possible claim to the throne). Occasionally, Horik even punished raiders. In 836,  Horik sent an embassy to King Louis declaring that he had nothing to do with those early raids on Frisia, and that he had executed those responsible. In 845, following Ragnar’s mysterious death or disappearance, he had Ragnar’s remaining followers massacred. Horik may have insinuated to Frisia that Ragnar was dead but in reality, perhaps Ragnar had just managed to escape and disappear from Horik’s reach.  Perhaps, Horik exiled or banished him from the Kingdom, because if we look at some of various versions of  history, Ragnar was alive in 860 and up until 865 when he was noted as having been killed by King Aelle in Northumbria.  In 854, King Horik I was killed by a nephew whom he had driven into exile. While in exile, the nephew had become a successful raider. Again, no mention is ever made of just who the exiled nephew is, only that he became a successful raider… Perhaps this was a case of Horik making an error in judgement and allowing Ragnar to live for some reason- for example if Ragnar was indeed possibly a distant relative? It would have been a case similar to that of  the Ragnar in Michael Hirst’s version of the saga making a mistake in allowing Horik’s son Erlandeur to live only to have him return later seeking vengeance and retribution. I should note here too that in history, Horik’s young son, still a child, did inherit the crown for a while. This scenario that I’ve suggested might be a case of Ragnar being involved in the murder somehow but not necessarily directly responsible for the actual deed. This event with Horik also gives us some insight as to how Michael Hirst might have used it in putting together his version of what happened to Horik. Someone close to him did kill him and it very well could have been Ragnar Lodbrok! This is just added validation that Mr. Hirst does follow lines of history closer than most might assume when watching his version of history play out.

horik and son return from wessex

If we look at Horik’s right and claim to rule, he did have right to the rule of Denmark as one of his Father’s sons. But, there had to have been some reason that Gudfred did not want his sons ruling the dynasty? Did he have some good reason for not trusting them with the future rule of Denmark? Did he look at them and see them all as unworthy of ruling? Did he for what ever reason, foresee what chaos and turmoil they might put the country in with their fighting for control. What ever his reasons were, he was intent on his sons not ruling and Hemming ruling instead.

horik watches everything

I did present some of the history of Horik and Hemming in a previous post on the importance of  Hedeby, so you can read more of that here:

https://timeslipsblog.wordpress.com/2015/05/13/vikings-lagertha-kalf-and-why-is-hedeby-so-important/

ragnar

How does Ragnar Lodbrok or Lothbrok fit into all of this dynasty? For that we need to look at what little we know of him historically and assume that, yes he did actually exist during some part of this time period. As most historians would agree on, there is too much mention of him in numerous  historical accounts from differing sources and documentations of the era for him not to have existed. His historical information however gets so mixed up and weighed down in exaggerations of his life that he takes on a more legendary and god like quality than any real man. We need to sort through those legends and mythical accounts of him to find a truer picture of who he might have been and what part he may have played in actual history.  He was not a God, he was not married to any Goddess- as much as he might have claimed, or his children and future descendants may have added to the stories! His claim to be descended from Odin… well, that gave him some God like link or advantage which he used to his full advantage as many other rulers have.

vikings_s3_ragnar-E

As I presented earlier, a first account of him shows him as possibly being one of the first Kings of Denmark and Sweden in 756. But, later accountings put him as being a King of Sweden/Denmark during a later period of  860-865

c.860 – 865

Ragnarr Lothbrok

King in Sweden (860-865)? Apparently also powerful in Denmark.

 

Ivarr the Boneless

Son. Viking king of Dublin (853-873).

 

Halfdan

Brother. King of the Scandinavian kingdom of York (875-877).

865 – 878

Ivarr the Boneless, king of Dublin, and his brothers, the sons of Ragnarr Lothbrok, lead the first Viking army to invade mainland Britain in search of conquest rather than pillage. Landing in East Anglia, they ravage the kingdom for a year before heading into Northumbria in 866. That kingdom falls in 867 and a puppet king is installed. The Great Army moves south, campaigning during the spring and summer. East Anglia falls in 869, and the capital of Alt Clut is sacked in 870. Ynys Manau also falls to them in around 870, and between 870-871, Ivarr’s brother, Bagsecg, is involved in the attacks, leading the Great Summer Army into England and adding his forces to those of Ivarr and Halfdan.

Bagsecg is killed at the Battle of Ashdown in Wessex in 871, and the following year the Great Army is back in Northumbria. It winters in late 872 and early 873 at Torksey on the River Trent in Lindsey, before moving west into Mercia, which is defeated in 874 and a vassal king is installed on its throne. Later that year the army divides, with one half going to Cambridge and the rest heading towards the Tyne and eventually settling in York.

He is mentioned in Horik’s history during the year of 845 when he led an invading army to raid Paris.  Now, realistically all of these accounts of his life can not be accurate! So let us look at what we do know. For that, we need to go by what information we know of his sons who were part of the Great Heathen army that invaded England in the 860s. From some documented evidence, we can also piece together that one Ragnar Lodbrok was killed in Northumbria by King Aelle  prior to 865-866. His sons, who would obviously have been adults by then, took revenge on Aelle and killed him.

The Great Heathen Army marched on Northumbria in the late summer of 866, seizing York on 21 November 866.  Symeon of Durham, the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, Asser, and Æthelweard all recount substantially the same version of events in varying detail. Symeon’s Historia Regum Anglorum gives this account of the battle on 21 March 867 where Osberht and Ælla met their deaths at the hands of the Vikings:

In those days, the nation of the Northumbrians had violently expelled from the kingdom the rightful king of their nation, Osbryht by name, and had placed at the head of the kingdom a certain tyrant, named Alla. When the pagans came upon the kingdom, the dissension was allayed by divine counsel and the aid of the nobles. King Osbryht and Alla, having united their forces and formed an army, came to the city of York; on their approach the multitude of the shipmen immediately took flight. The Christians, perceiving their flight and terror, found that they themselves were the stronger party. They fought upon each side with much ferocity, and both kings fell. The rest who escaped made peace with the Danes.

The sagas of Ragnar’s sons embellished the event greatly and listed  all of the various sons of Ragnar who may have participated in the revenge.  Ragnarssona þáttr (The Tale of Ragnar’s sons) added  great  colour to accounts of the Viking conquest of York. This associates the semi-legendary king of Denmark and Sweden Ragnar Lodbrok and his sons, Hvitserk, Björn Ironside, Sigurd Snake-in-the-Eye, Ivar the Boneless, and Ubba. According to the stories, Ragnar was killed by Ælla, and the army which seized York in 866 was led by Ragnar’s sons who avenged his death by subjecting Ælla to the blood eagle.  Earlier English sources record that both Ælla and Osberht died in battle, the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle stating that “both the kings were slain on the spot.  The main figure in the revenge tales is Ivar.  The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle does not name the leaders in Northumbria, but it does state that “Hingwar and Hubba” slew King Edmund of East Anglia (Saint Edmund) some years later.  Hubba is named as a leader of the army in Northumbria by Abbo of Fleury, and by the Historia de Sancto Cuthberto. Symeon of Durham lists the leaders of the Viking army as “Halfdene, Inguar, Hubba, Beicsecg, Guthrun, Oscytell, Amund, Sidroc and another duke of the same name, Osbern, Frana, and Harold.  An interesting  point in Symeon’s listing is that he does not list Bjorn Ironside in his accountings.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/%C3%86lla_of_Northumbria

What we need to do is sort out the embellishments and colorings of his legend and determine some real historical accounting for him if that is possible. Needless to say, the same Ragnar could not have been king on Denmark/Sweden from  before 756-794, then proceeded to continue on to raid Paris in 845 and become King yet again in 860!  What could very well be is that there was a Ragnar in 756 and Ragnar Lodbrok is one his descendants. This would make some sense, and  would  account for how stories of the two might have gotten woven together.  If this was the case, it gives Ragnar Lodbrok a tie or blood connection to the ruling dynasty of Denmark as well! This is important because as we have already seen, the ruling dynasty of Denmark was well set, established and it would have been highly unlikely that one who was completely unconnected in any way would have just walked in and taken over the rule as the Ragnar of our saga did.

My personal thought after researching the history and the legends is that somehow, somewhere along the line in the oral history of Denmark, the two Ragnars got tied together in their stories and became one person. So, what we can do is try to separate the two histories as much as possible. The first Ragnar is most likely the one of the earliest legends of Ragnar as king… the second Ragnar is most probably a descendent of the first and might have embellished  stories of the past to give himself greater fame, using the legends to his advantage. 

All of the various Norse sagas were written down some centuries after the facts so by then, the stories would have been so woven together that it would have been difficult to prove what was accurate and what was not. Also, there were a number of different sagas, each one telling the history from a slightly different perspective depending on which country or nationality was recounting the history.

  

The stories are all so intertwined that it is almost impossible to separate and differentiate them. What may have happened with some of the stories as they were told is that as I said, there was a second Ragnar who was a descendent of the first, and who would have been a raider or warrior under the rule of Horik. He probably was a relative of Horik’s. A clue to this is found in the Norse sagas where it is mentioned that Ragnar Lodbrok was related to King Gudfred and also a son of Sigurd Hring. The legend of Sigurd Hring involves the time period of the earliest mention of Ragnar/Randver  around 750. The time span of Gudfred and his son Horik is later, and would conceivably cover the time of the Ragnar Lodbrok who is involved in events with Horik including the attack on Paris in 845. If you look for some grain of truth and connection in the legends it could be that the first King Ragnar/Randver was related to Sigurd Hring and that some descendant of his as in Ragnar Lodbrok would have been related to Gudfred at the later point.  In looking at the history of Gudfred, he was said to be a grandson of the first King, Ragnar/Randver/Ongendus. This would connect all of them as relatives or descendants of the original Ragnar of 756. The various sagas about Sigurd Hring give differing representations but do provide some interesting points of insight. One legend speaks of Sigurd placing a shieldmaiden on the throne, which could tie or connect to the legend of Lagertha the shieldmaiden that Ragnar Lodbrok eventually married. Most historians debate the existence of Lagertha and put her in the category of myths and legends related to Ragnar but perhaps underneath all of the myth in her story is some grain of truth as well.

Lagertha shieldmaiden

Lagertha shieldmaiden

Another point of interest is that the sagas mention Sigurd Hring having ties to England or Angleland. Another saga source also mentions that Ragnar Lodbrok went to the place in Angleland of which his forefathers owned.  This would tie in with the fact that the Angles who had originated in lands around Denmark had already migrated to parts of Britain as early as the 5th century. If you look at that piece of legend, it would be a case of Ragnar already knowing something of the land of Britain and not just a case of him sailing off on great adventure. Some of the sagas mention that he visited this Angleland and was initially welcomed into their court of royalty. Then he was lured into visiting King Aelle in Northumbria and was murdered by him. This event set off a great war when the sons of Ragnar Lodbrok found out about it and came to seek revenge upon Aelle. Looking at the story in this context suggests that Ragnar was accepted in the land and was acquainted with Aelle on some level where he accepted the invitation and set off to visit Aelle thinking of nothing traitorous or malicious on Aelle’s part otherwise why would he have gone there in the first place. It suggests that there was some other underlying feud or grievance against Ragnar on Aelle’s part. Those early portions of the sagas  made no mention of raiding or invasions even though the earliest known raids on  England did take place as far back as 794 when an attack was recorded on Lindesfarne.  In looking for those grains of truth in the legends and going with the idea that Ragnar may have been banished or exiled by Horik, it stands to some reason that he could have went to some distant relatives residing in this Angleland, thinking he would be safe from Horik’s reach in this place. But, perhaps Horik’s reach stretched further than one might imagine… perhaps it stretched as far as Aelle in Northumbria? I am only proposing ideas here and there is nothing so far to give credence or evidence to this thought so do not attempt to cite me, quote me or argue with me on this line of thinking! I am just putting forth ideas on these earliest events! If one were to go with this random thought on all of it, perhaps Aelle was connected to his possible ancestral homeland. We know next to nothing about Aelle or his true history! Perhaps there was a group there in Northumbria and other places who did have some remaining ties to Denmark and have reasons to either support Horik or support Ragnar… So, Ragnar may have been involved in the murder of Horik and then Aelle responded by murdering Ragnar, not for any raiding accusations but for some other personal motives.

King Aella of Northumbria

 Lastly and possibly, most important to our line of reasoning is that some sagas mention Sigurd Hring as a son of Ragnar/Randver while others mention him as Father of Ragnar? Perhaps this is where the missing link or connection between the two versions of Ragnar are. The sagas concerning Sigurd Hring are sketchy and limited. According to Bósa saga ok Herrauds, there was once a saga on Sigurd Hring, but this saga is now lost. In the old sources,  he is notable for winning the  Battle  of  the  Brávellir  against Harald Wartooth and for being the father of Ragnar Lodbrok.  If you put the pieces of these varying stories together, what you get is that Sigurd Hring was a son of Ragnar/Randver and the Father of Ragnar Lodbrok! This would make a great deal of sense in looking at the time line of the Ragnars ranging from 756 to 865. Sigurd Hring would be both son and Father of  a Ragnar but because his sagas were lost over the years, any important information differentiating the two Ragnars would have been lost as well.

Sigurt_verbrennt_Haralds_Leiche

  The event in Paris where Ragnar Lodbrok is said to have invaded and conquered is probably close to truth, as is probably his reception when he retuned to Horik afterwards where was some disagreement over what happened. This second Ragnar most likely did go on to raid in England after his disagreements with Horik. And, what is so interesting about all of this is the last accounting of Horik being killed by an “exiled” nephew who went on to become a great raider? He was killed in 854. What was Ragnar Lodbrok doing during this time? Where was he? Legends say nothing about time periods or make mention of anything of what happened to Ragnar after his raid on Paris, his return to Horik and Horik’s disapproval and disavowels to the Frankish Empire that he had nothing to do with the raid. It would be highly possible that he exiled this Ragnar and possible as well that Ragnar could have had some sort of involvement in the death of Horik.  Historically, Horik’s son did inherit the throne of Denmark, but he was a child and his time on the throne lasted from 854 to about 865. During that time, Ragnar is listed as ruling a part of Sweden and being powerful in Denmark as well  from 860-865.  It was at the end of this period that he showed up in England and presumably met his death at the hands of King Aelle.  If you put this all into some sort of historical context or plausibility the way I have suggested, it is possible or feasible that there are two separate Ragnars of the same lineage and the second one might have ruled in some same way as Hirst has presented his version of Ragnar.  What Michael Hirst has done is take the pieces of history/legend and tied them together in the portrayal of  Ragnar Lodbrok that most of us are more aware of.  Hirst has given us a version that does not include the earlier legends of Ragnar and a first family save for Bjorn Ironside.    Also, if you put it in terms of recounting a great warrior or ancestor’s fame, one Ragnar Lodbrok probably would not have wanted to admit to any involvement in such an event as killing his relative, King Horik when telling of his great exploits to others. That action might not endear you to those people of that place you were wanting to claim rulership of.  This is one theory of his representation on the timelines. Later, we will look at another theory that Ragnar Lodbrok died in 845 at the hand of King Aelle.

the city of Paris behind it's walls and gates  where are those poor stragglers!

the city of Paris behind it’s walls and gates where are those poor stragglers!

After 865 the throne of Denmark was passed on eventually to Ragnar’s son Sigurd and we will discuss his taking of the rule later.

 It was during that time that Ragnar’s sons were busy making names for themselves in England and in Ireland. Ivar the Boneless was listed as a King of Dublin from 853-873, while another brother Halfdan was listed as King of York or Jorvick from 875-877.  Other brothers are not noted or listed as ruling anywhere during this time but later history will document descendants of Sigurd Snake Eye as being in England, participating in the revenge killing of Aelle, then going on to marry Aelle’s daughter. The one son that there is little mention of being involved in the invasion and conquest of England other that his name being mentioned in the long list of Ragnar’s many sons who may or may not have actually been there was Bjorn Ironside. As I mentioned earlier, in some accounts of the Heathen invasion, Bjorn is not listed at all.

Can you do that Bjorn  can you lead with your head and set your heart aside bjorn explains our king is very ill and can not travel

There seems to be some confusion about Bjorn Ironside or which family he may have belonged to. In the earliest accounts of the first Ragnar, King of Denmark/Sweden, Bjorn is listed and accounted for as a son of that Ragnar who goes on to rule Sweden. Prior to this time, Denmark and Sweden were closely tied with Ragnar/Randver being King of both areas. After this Ragnar’s death, Bjorn takes over full rule of Sweden- it becomes more of a separate identity and it’s rule is more solidly rooted in history. What  is important in determining a better connection for Bjorn is to look at what we can find in any documented evidence of him in order to figure out where he might actually or feasibly fit into the timeline? Our earliest account of 794 states that after Ragnar/Randver passes away, Bjorn becomes King of the Swedes. What we do not know for certain is when Ragnar/Randver actually dies.

This following timeline is one listed for the Kingdom of Sweden and it lists Bjorn as being King of Swedes from 794-804 or around 860- the same time frame as Ragnar Lodbrok is listed as ruling Denmark. We also do not know of any birth date or death for Bjorn so it is difficult to place him in the families.  This timeline would place him as a son of Ragnar/Randver and of Ragnar Lodbrok much like Ragnar/Randver and Ragnar Lodbrok are accounted as being both Father and son of Sigurd Hring.

794

Jarl Eystein of Sweden defeats an attack by Eric and Agnar, two of Randver’s sons, but falls during a subsequent attack by Randver’s wife and two remaining sons, one of which is Björn Järnsida, Once Randver himself passes away, Björn becomes king of the Swedes.

c.780s – 794

Jarl Eystein defeats an attack by Eric and Agnar, two of the sons of King Randver of Denmark, but falls during a subsequent attack by Randver’s wife and two remaining sons, one of which is Björn Järnsida. It seems possible that, given the Dano-Swedish control of Raumarike in Norway, the subsequent ruler of Raumarike could be a son of Eystein – one Sigtryg Eysteinsson.

Once Randver himself passes away, Björn Järnsida becomes king of the Swedes. With this act Sweden’s kings become more solidly rooted in history. Björn’s supposed barrow cemetery on the island of Munsö gives the dynasty its name, but it is also known as the Ynglings (probably an attempt establish continuity with the ancient Swedish kings), and the house of Uppsala. The Norse Hervarar saga is one of the best sources for establishing the genealogy of the kings in this period.

794 – 804

Björn Järnsida (‘Ironside’)

Or c.856. Son of Randver.

804 – 808

Erik Björnsson

Or d.c.870. Son. Not included in the numbering for Erics.

One can easily follow the succession of Bjorn’s descendants in the ruling dynasty of Sweden. The only break or discrepancy in this line comes in about 860-865 when once again Ragnar Lodbrok  shows up in the line? After his short rule, it reverts right back to Bjorn’s descendants with no real explanation or reason for the interruption. 

  What you also need to remember is that often in the past, relatives even distant ones might have been referred to as cousin or nephew. It was also easy to confuse family lines and lineages or descent because quite often, a descendent might refer to themselves as “son or daughter” of some great ancestor in terms of speaking of the importance of such relationship to themselves or to those they were speaking to. This could have been the case for a Ragnar Lodbrok in 845 or 860 when speaking of his ancestor, or of those who claimed to be his sons in 865. They might have been descendant of that first one and made such comment as to reflect the importance, “I am a son of Ragnar Lodbrok” The evidence for some of them being a Ragnar Lodbrok’s direct son is probably true. Those who were a vital part of the Heathen Army, and who were directly mentioned as being at Northumbria and revenging his death- that was probably accurate. Others who were attributed as to being sons may have been relatives, even distant ones at that.

One way of sorting any of this out is to look at the various threads of history, legendary sagas and Anglo-Saxon Chronicles  to see where there might be common ground, or where there might be enough difference as to suggest the possibility of separate families?  Please keep in mind that these are only my own personal thoughts and guesses at sorting out the tangled web of Ragnar Lodbrok and his overly long, prolific life! I am looking at it from the premise that in every legend or myth, there is some grain of truth. I am also going about it from a perspective of genealogy- one which I know has a habit of misinterpreting and misrepresenting information regarding ancestors who have common names! I have spent a great deal of time mired in searches of families who all named their offspring the same names in honor of family ancestry and patriarchs. It has become extremely difficult  and at times almost impossible to differentiate the separate branches of  my Father’s family tree for this reason! The only positive aspect of it is that you immediately recognize when one family line does not fit because the names vary too much from that list of original ones.

Going with the reasoning and assumption that Ragnar did not live for over 100 years and raid England well into his most elderly years, let us try to separate the events and possibly the families without dealing with the legends or the myths.

The first Ragnar/Randver shows up as King of Denmark/Sweden in 756. He has sons Eric, Agnar, Bjorn and an un-named son. There is a battle with the ruler of Sweden, Jarl Eystein and the two older sons are killed. Randver’s wife and other two sons retaliate and Eystein is killed. Later, after Ragnar/Randver’s death, son Bjorn becomes King of Sweden. Some of this is recounted in various versions of Norse sagas.  It is within those various sagas though that the histories may have begun to merge together as they were initially told in the oral tradition. Eric and Agnar along with a son,  Fridleif are consistently named as sons of Ragnar and wife, Thora. Though in one Saxon interpretation, Fridleif is listed as the son of Lagertha. .  My personal theory is that Thora and her sons were most probably the family of the Ragnar who was King in 756. 

In some of the sagas, Bjorn is listed as one of the sons of Ragnar and Aslaug but in the legend of Aslaug, Bjorn is not listed as one of her sons.

painting of Aslaug the legend

According to the thirteenth-century Tale of Ragnar Lodbrok, Aslaug was the daughter of Sigurd and the shieldmaiden Brynhildr,  but was raised by Brynhildr’s foster father Heimer. At the deaths of Sigurd and Brynhildr, Heimer was concerned about Aslaug’s security, so he made a harp large enough to hide the girl. He then traveled as a poor harp player carrying the harp containing the girl.  They arrived at Spangereid at Lindesnes in Norway, where they stayed for the night in the house of the peasants Áke and Grima. Áke believed the harp contained valuable items and told his wife Grima. Grima then convinced him to murder Heimer as he was sleeping. However, when they broke the harp open, they discovered a little girl, whom they raised as their own, calling her Kráka (“Crow”). In order to hide her beauty – the accepted sign of her noble origins– they rubbed her in tar and dressed her in a long hood.

However, once as she was bathing she was discovered by some of the men of the legendary king Ragnar Lodbrok. Entranced by Kráka’s beauty, they allowed the bread they were baking to burn; when Ragnar inquired about this mishap, they told him about the girl. Ragnar then sent for her, but in order to test her wits, he commanded her to arrive neither dressed nor undressed, neither hungry nor full and neither alone nor in company. Kráka arrived dressed in a net, biting an onion and with only a dog as a companion. Impressed by her ingenuity and finding her a wise companion, Ragnar proposed marriage to her, which she refused until he had accomplished his mission in Norway. She gave him four sons: Ivar the Boneless, Hvitserk, Ragnvald the Mountain-High and Sigurd Snake-in-the-Eye.

When Ragnar visited viceroy Eysteinn Beli of Sweden, Eysteinn persuaded him to reject Kráka and marry his daughter, Ingeborg. On his return home, three birds had already informed Kráka of Ragnar’s plans, and so she reproached him and told him of her true noble origins. In order to prove she was the daughter of Sigurd who had slain Fafnir, she said she would bear a child whose eye would bear the image of a serpent. This happened and she bore the son Sigurd Snake-in-the-Eye. When Eysteinn learned of Ragnar’s change of mind, he rebelled against him but was slain by Ragnar’s sons at Kráka’s behest.

When Ragnar was about to undertake his fated expedition to England, his failure was due to his not heeding Kráka’s warnings about the bad condition of the fleet. When King Ælla threw Ragnar into the snake pit, Ragnar was protected by an enchanted shirt that Kráka had made. It was only when this shirt had been removed that the snakes could bite Ragnar and kill him.

***An interesting side note and thread running through the legends of Ragnar are the snakes… according to legends, snakes were involved in his meeting and marriage to his first wife, Thora. When Sigurd Hring dies, Ragnar succeeds him as the king of Sweden and Denmark. Many foreign kings come to take parts of his kingdom as they think Ragnar is too young to defend it.  Herrauðr, the earl of Götaland and one of Ragnar’s vassals had a daughter, Þóra Borgarhjǫrtr, who was very beautiful. He gave her a lindworm, but after some time, it encircles her bower and threatens anyone who approaches it, except for her servants who fed it with an ox every day. At his symbel, Herrauðr promises his daughter to the man who kills the serpent.  When Ragnar hears of this, he goes to Västergötland and dresses himself in shaggy clothes that he had treated with tar and sand. He took a spear and approached the serpent which blew poison at him. Ragnar protected himself with his shield. He speared the serpent through its heart. He then cut off the serpent’s head, and when the people found out what had happened, he married Thora.Then, he proceeded to liberate his kingdom.  A different version of the legend says that Thora  was fond of snakes and raised them as pets until they threatened to over run the kingdom and the people were in fear of both the snakes and Thora because of her uncommon fascination with them. Her Father offers her hand in marriage to anyone who can get rid of the snakes.  Ragnar succeeds in killing them and wins Thora.****

Þóra Borgarhjǫrtr

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/%C3%9E%C3%B3ra_Borgarhj%C7%ABrtr

If we go by the theory that a Ragnar/Randver was the Father of Sigurd Hring, and Sigurd Hring was then the father of Ragnar Lodbrok, the following genealogy chart that I have found would make some sense and provide for some  dates to  go by in placing Ragnar Lodbrok and his families. These dates are still highly improbable but do give a slightly better time frame. This chart suggests that Ragnar died shortly after his excursion to England and his meeting with Aelle probably between 845-850. Going by this chart, the accountings of Ragnar being a King of Sweden around 860-865 would have been an error. What is possible is that his sons, such as Ivar were referring to his Royal lineage and his being King at some point in his past. The rulership of Denmark was in such upheaval throughout the early Viking era that there may have been gaps in the kingship and Ragnar was placed erroneously in that later time period by later historians. In placing Ragnar erroneously, they may have also placed Bjorn the same way.

This is a family chart for the family ancestry that can be found here:

http://www.mathematical.com/sigurdssonragnar765.html

*Ragnar “Lodbrok” “Lothrocus” “Hairy Britches” Sigurdson King of Dacia (Denmark)
born about 0754 Uppsala, Sweden

died 0845 Northumbria, England

father:
*Sigurd “Ring” Randversson King in Sweden
born about 0730 Denmark

died 0812

mother:
*Alfhild Gandolfsdotter
born about 0735 Denmark

married about 0759 Uppsala, Sweden

siblings:
Miss Sigurdsdotter born about 0760 Uppsala, Sweden

spouse:
*Aslaug Sigurdsdotter
born about 0765 Denmark

married about 0783 Denmark

children (from this marriage):
*Bjorn “Ironside” Ragnarsson born Denmark
*Ivar “The Boneless” Ragnarsson King of Dublin & York born about 0787 Denmark died 0873
*Sigurd “Snake-Eye” Ragnarsson born about 0786 Denmark
Hvitserk Ragnarsson born about 0790 Denmark
Rognvald Ragnarsson born about 0791 Denmark
*Halfdan “White Shirt” Ragnarsson King of Dublin died 0877 Ireland
Ragnhildir Ragnardottir
Alof Ragnardottir
Ubbe Ragnarsson

other spouse (or consort):
*Thora Herraudsdatter
born about 0756

children by this union:
*Eirik Ragnarsson
born 0788 Denmark

If you piece together some of these threads with the legends, you come out with a time line of a  Ragnar Lodbrok being born around 756-760 and plausibly being King in 790s with a marriage to Thora and then to Aslaug, with his younger sons being those of Aslaug. The key in connecting Bjorn to which Mother is to look at Bjorn’s family chart and compare it to the dates given as approximations of birth dates for those younger sons. If we assume that the early information of Bjorn Jarsida becoming King of Sweden in late 790s or early 800s is close to accurate, then this following family chart does make sense and it would place him as much older than the younger sons belonging to Aslaug. There is no birth date or death given for Bjorn, but his oldest son is listed as being born around 796 in Sweden, with another son Erik being born around 798. This gives us a clue as to an approximate birth era for Bjorn. We could reasonably place him between 15-20 at the birth of the first child which would put his birth around 775. Please remember these are all approximations- that is all we can go by here! In 775, if Aslaug’s birth date was close to correct, she would have been a bit young to have birthed Bjorn! Thora, however, was listed as being born around 756 so it is more conceivable that Thora was his Mother, not Aslaug.

Ragnar and young Bjorn

*Bjorn “Ironside” Ragnarsson
born Denmark

father:
*Ragnar “Lodbrok” Lothrocus king of Dacia (Denmark) Sigurdson
born about 0765 Uppsala, Sweden

died 0845 England

mother:
*Aslaug Sigurdsdotter
born about 0765 Denmark

married about 0783 Denmark

siblings:
*Ivar “The Boneless” Ragnarsson King of Dublin & York
born about 0787 Denmark died 0873 England

*Sigurd “Snake-Eye” Ragnarsson born about 0786 Denmark
Hvitserk Ragnarsson born about 0790 Denmark
Rognvald Ragnarsson born about 0791 Denmark
*Halfdan “White Shirt” Ragnarsson died 0877 Ireland
Ragnhildir Ragnardottir
Alof Ragnardottir
Ubbe Ragnarsson

spouse:
unknown

children:
*Refill Bjornsson born about 0796 Sweden
Asleik Bjornsson born about 0812 Sweden died 0850
Erik Bjornsson born about 0798 Sweden

We know little history or accurate dates for events in Bjorn’s life but we can get a somewhat clearer picture of them when we look at a brother of his that is mentioned in some of his history.  A brief and very basic sketch of Bjorn’s life is that he was a legendary king of Sweden who lived sometime in the 9th century.   Björn Ironside is said to have been the first ruler of the Munsö dynasty. In the early 18th century, a barrow, on the island of Munsö was claimed by antiquarians to be Björn Järnsidas hög or Björn Ironside’s grave. Hög, from the Old Norse word haugr, means barrow or mound. 

Bjorn Ironside's grave site at Munso

Bjorn Ironside’s grave site at Munso

Björn and his brother Hastein conducted many (mostly successful) raids in France in a continuation of the tradition initiated by their father Ragnar Lodbrok. In 860, Björn led a large Viking raid into the Mediterranean. After raiding down the Spanish coast and fighting their way through Gibraltar, Björn and Hastein pillaged the south of France, where his fleet over-wintered, before landing in Italy where they captured the coastal city of Pisa. They proceeded inland to the town of Luna, which they believed to be Rome at the time, but Björn found himself unable to breach the town walls. To gain entry, he sent messengers to the bishop to say that he had died, had a deathbed conversion, and wished to be buried on consecrated ground within their church. He was brought into the chapel with a small honor guard, then amazed the dismayed Italian clerics by leaping from his coffin and hacking his way to the town gates, which he promptly opened, letting his army in. Flush with this victory and others around the Mediterranean (including in Sicily and North Africa) he returned to the Straits of Gibraltar only to find the Saracen navy from Al-Andalus waiting for him. In the desperate battle that followed, Björn lost 40 ships, largely to a form of Greek fire launched from Saracen catapults. The remainder of his fleet managed to return to Scandinavia, however, where he lived out his life as a rich man.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bj%C3%B6rn_Ironside

Little is known of Hastein’s early life, described as a Dane in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, he is often given as a son of Ragnar Lodbrok. He is first recorded taking part in the Viking attack on the Frankish Empire, occupying Noirmoutier in 843 and on the Loire again in 859 for his great raid into the Mediterranean. One of the most famous Viking raids was Hastein’s voyage to the Mediterranean (859-862AD), having set out with Björn Ironside, another son of Ragnar Lodbrok with 62 ships from the Loire.  At first the raiding did not go well, with Hastein being defeated by the Asturians and later the Muslims of the Umayyad Caliphate of Córdoba at Niebla in 859. Success followed with the sacking of Algeciras, where the mosque was burned, and then the ravaging of Mazimma in the Idrisid Caliphate on the north coast of Africa, followed by further raids into the Umayyad Caliphate at Orihuela, the Balearic Islands and Roussillon.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hastein

The main reason these events and time frames are important is that it places Bjorn as in the middle of these important and documented raids during the time that one part of the timeline sets him as becoming King of Sweden. It seems to me that he would a little busy with raiding in the Mediterranean sea and North Africa to have made a quick trip home to grab the crown and dash away again just as quickly. I suppose it is possible but perhaps it was more likely that he might have ruled earlier on as a younger man and left the crown to a son who was old enough to trusted with ruling in his place.  It also gives some credence to the thought or theory that he was not actively involved in the events taking place in England during that time if he was otherwise occupied in the Mediterranean and then sailing home to live out his remaining years as a rich man.

We have one other piece of evidence that ties Bjorn to Thora rather than Aslaug and places him on the timeline. This accounting is given in a history of Ivar the Boneless, son  of Ragnar and Aslaug. While the history and existence of Ragnar may be disputable,  the existence of Ivarr, Ragnarr’s eldest son, as an historical figure is in no doubt. His exploits are recorded in contemporary historical documents, and it is possible to trace his movements with relative certainty.

Ivar is what he is  you know that

Much of Ivar’s history is taken from the Norse Sagas and filled with as much color and exaggeration as the stories of his Father.  Some of it though can be documented and one might assume that Ivar had input in the recording of some of his family history even if he like so many others of the time paid a Bard or story teller great wealth to embellish the facts. This particular accounting puts his approximate birth as after 790 and his death was documented as 873. He died a very wealthy old man with no wives or heirs to cause an early death for him!

In the accounting of Ivar’s family history and Ragnar’s wives, Lagertha is listed as the first wife, Aslaug as second, Thora as third and Svanloga as a fourth wife. One reason for Thora possibly being listed as third might be as previously suggested in other charts, that she was not a true wife but a concubine. It might also have been Ivar’s way of implying greater importance to his Mother, Aslaug than to Thora.

http://www.historyfiles.co.uk/FeaturesBritain/EnglandIvarr.htm

Ivarr the Boneless

   

Born

Place unknown

Estimated to AD 794.

Acceded

856 – Dublin

 

Died

873 – Dublin

 

Notes

Active in East Anglia, Dublin and York.

Father

Ragnar Lothbrok

(Hairy breeches) Chieftain of Denmark and Sweden.

Mother

Aslaug

Second wife of Ragnar.

Married

 

Brother 1

Halfdan

(of the Wide Embrace) son of Thora, third wife of Ragnar.

Brother 2

Sigurd / Siyard

(Snake-in-the-Eye) son of Aslaug.

Brother 3

Ubbi

Son of Esbern’s unnamed daughter.

Brother 4

Bjorn Ironside

Son of Thora.

Brother 5

Rathbarth

Son of Thora.

Brother 6

Dunyat

Son of Thora.

Brother 7

Agnar

Son of Thora.

Brother 8

Regnald

Son of Svanloga, fourth wife of Ragnar.

Brother 9

Vithserk

Son of Svanloga.

Brother 10

Erik Wind Hat

Son of Svanloga.

Brother 11

Fridlef

Son of Lathgertha, first wife of Ragnar.

I know this trip through history and genealogy has been long and confusing much of the time. Now  you understand what Genealogists go through on a daily basis when researching your family tree for you. If you wonder and complain at the prices they charge for such a task, now perhaps you can appreciate just how difficult their job is! It is made even more challenging in the respect that in order for their findings to be accepted as legitimate, they must have verified and documented evidence for every link or branch that they add to the tree for you. If they do not provide this documented evidence, your tree is basically worthless in any legitimate claims to your history. There are of course some instances when it would be impossible to find such documented actual evidence and they must go by some general consensus or assumption. In those cases, they must make this clear and note that in their research. This research involves a great deal more than going to such places as Ancestry.com and searching through often misleading and unverified information! I have a number of issues with such sites but will reserve those thoughts for some other time and post!  For our research on Ragnar’s history, we are almost finished! I know many of you who have stuck with this are now sighing a huge breath of relief and muttering, “Thank Gods for that!”

We have one set of information left to look at and decipher. The timelines state that one Ragnar Lodbrok was King of Denmark from 860-865. We have already looked at much of the history that would suggest otherwise, such as him dying shortly after 845 in England. We have also looked at his sons Bjorn and Ivar and their connections to the family. There is one son left to look at here as far deciphering some of the historical information. That son is Sigurd-snake in the eye.

sigurd snake in the eye

Sigurd is found in Ivar’s family listing as a brother, with his Mother being Aslaug.  He is also listed in some accounts of the Great Heathen army invasions,  he is listed in a number of sagas and genealogies as well. This Sigurd is an important link and connection from the better documented lineage of Danish Royalty that begins with Gorm the Old.

In the accounts of Sigurd’s history we find out a bit more about Ragnar as well. Sigurd’s accounting states that Ragnar died in 865 rather than 845, but this still could be a case where it is listed as 865 because that is when Sigurd actually found out about it.

Sigurd Snake-in-the-eye (Old Norse: Sigurðr ormr í auga) was one of the four sons of Ragnar Lodbrok. The “Snake-in-the-eye” part of Sigurd’s name denoted the fact that that he was born with a mark in his left eye, described as the image of the Ouroboros (a snake biting its own tail) encircling the pupil of his eye. The snake mark had been prophesied by his mother Aslaug, the daughter of the Valkyrie Brynhildr. In modern times, it has been suggested that the mark in Sigurd’s eye was a result of a congenital mutation of the PAX6 gene. As a boy, Sigurd was close to his father and accompanied Ragnar on a hazardous expedition through Russia to the Hellespont. Later on in life he is said to have sojourned for a time in Scotland and the Scottish Islands.   In 865 King Ella of Northumbria killed Ragnar Lodbrok in a pit of serpents. When Ragnar was suffering in the pit he is reputed to have exclaimed: “How the young pigs would squeal if they knew what the old boar suffers!”

Sigurd and his siblings learned of their father’s death when the king Ælla sent an envoy to alert them of it. When the brothers heard of their father’s death Sigurd is said to have cut himself to the bone with a knife he held in his hand and his brother Björn Ironside gripped his spear so tightly that the imprint of his fingers was left in the wood.

Sigurd and his brothers swore they would avenge his killing in time-honoured Viking tradition. The legend says that their first attempt failed, but through the treachery of the youngest brother, the notoriously cruel and cunning Ivar the Boneless, Ella was duped into a battle he could not win. In 866 they crossed the North Sea with a large army. This Great Heathen Army sacked York, met King Ella in battle and captured him. They sentenced him to die according to the custom of the Blood Eagle), an exceedingly painful death. It consisted of cutting away the ribs from the spine and pulling the lungs backward through the cavities formed to form the shape of an eagle.

 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sigurd_Snake-in-the-Eye

This information is found only in the various sagas and there is no mention in the Saxon Chronicles. The date is listed as 865, and as I have already suggested, it could have been set as that because that is when they were made aware of it. It mentions that Aelle sent an envoy to boast of his accomplishment, but it could have taken some years for such an envoy to make the voyage, find the right people and finally deliver the message. It then might have taken some considerable time for the brothers to unite and plan their vengeance. It does state that an early attempt was made but failed. This would mean that the brothers would have had to return home, re-group and plan a better attack- that too could have taken some length of time. Given this theory, it would still be feasible that Ragnar died in the earlier time frame rather than 865. 

What is far more important about Sigurd’s connections is the rest of his history. Eventually, Sigurd  showed  up in the timelines as ruler of Denmark after 865. As I  have mentioned previously, there is some discrepancy and unrest with the ruling dynasties from about 860 until 866 when Sigurd shows up as ruling Denmark. Ragnar was listed as a King of Sweden during that time, as was son Bjorn. The histories of that time period  are uncertain.  I have already discussed the idea that there was a great deal of chaos during that time and it is more probable that Ragnar and Bjorn ruled at some earlier points. What is possible, is that in 866 or shortly after there was unrest and dispute over the rule after the death or de-throning of Horik’s son. Sigurd may have come forward with his claim to the throne through Ragnar as an earlier King and was able to win the title in that way. Ivar already had rule of Ireland, Bjorn was settled in Sweden so Sigurd may have had no brothers disputing or wanting this rule. What ever the case, Sigurd showed up in 866 as ruler and from then on the line continued from him, his descendent Gorm the Old on to present day!

Ragnarssona þáttr informs that when his father died, he inherited Zealand, Scania, Halland, the Danish islands, and Viken. He married Blaeja, the daughter of king Ælla of Northumbria and they had the children Harthacanute and Aslaug, who was named after her grandmother Aslaug. 

Harthacanute succeeded Sigurd as the king of Zealand, Scania and Halland, but he lost Viken. He was the father of Gorm the Old, the king of Denmark. Gorm succeeded his father as king and married Thyra, the daughter of the Jutish chieftain Harald Klak. When Harald died, Gorm took his kingdom too, and united Denmark.

Harald succeeded his father as king and married Gyrid of Sweden. They had a son named Sweyn Forkbeard. Sweyn succeeded his father as king and married Gunhild. They had a son named Cnut the Great. Sweyn also ruled England in his lifetime and established the Danish Empire. When Sweyn died, his elder son Harald Svendsen became the King of Denmark, as England’s former king, Ethelred reclaimed it. However, as Harald did not marry, his brother Cnut the Great became king, re-established the Danish Empire, and married Emma of Normandy. They had a son named Harthacnut. When Cnut died, Harthacnut became king of the Danish Empire, however, he lost England to Edward the Confessor in 1042.

Ok, we have now looked at most of the history and legend surrounding Horik and Ragnar…  it has left all of us bleary eyed and just as confused as ever. Yes, that does include me! So, where does all of this assorted information leave us or lead us? While it’s all of varying interest to those curious about this sort of thing, do we have any better understanding, ideas or clarity on what it all means or of what importance any of it actually is to the beginning premise or thought of either Horik, Ragnar Lodbrok or any of his descendants having some right to rule according to history?

I think that from what we have learned in piecing together the history and the legends, we can see that yes, there are definitely grains of truth in the legends. Because of this, we can not discount the legends in relation to actual history. I believe that I have managed to sort through those legends for the connecting bits of truth in them and present a view of history that brings the legends and history together. Hopefully, you have stuck with it and all of it makes some better sense to you.

Here is a brief summary of what we have learned.  All evidence leads us to some proof that a Ragnar/Randver and or a Ragnar Lodbrok did actually exist beginning with a time frame from possibly early 700s, stretching to and end in either 845 or 865. This is a span of  well over 100 years. Knowing this would be impossible if we look at him in the context of being a real person, we have come up with the theory that there was most likely more than one Ragnar. Ragnar/Randver is most likely the original patriarch of this entire dynasty of the Danes. King Horik has been proven through some history as having been a real ruler of the Danes and his ancestry puts him as a descendant of this earliest Ragnar. Ragnar Lodbrok was most probably a descendant of that early Ragnar as well, and would have been a relative of King Horik’s. Horik managed to claim the rule despite his Father’s insistence on a different relative ruling instead. Some time during the 840s Ragnar Lodbrok was involved in an attack of Paris and then suffered retribution for it from King Horik. Horik swore to the Frisians and Franks that he had no involvement in the attacks and that he had dealt with those responsible. After this point, Ragnar’s history and existence became murky, he disappeared from Denmark and later showed up in England as an unfortunate guest of King Aelle. Meanwhile, Horik was killed during that same time frame by an un-named exiled relative who went on to become a great raider. His son, Horik II became ruler as a child and ruled until about 866. During the 860s, sons of Ragnar Lodbrok were involved in the great Heathen invasions of England. It was during this time that they made claims of their Father, Ragnar Lodbrok being a King in Denmark. Some time after the initial invasions, when Horik’s son Horik II either died or was de-throned in Denmark, Ragnar Lodbrok’s son Sigurd took over rule and the line then continued through him on to his descendant, Gorm the Old to the present day. 

Gorm the Old

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gorm_the_Old

What all of the historical and legendary information leads us to is that both Horik and Ragnar Lodbrok could feasibly claim some blood inherited right to rule. For some reason, Horik’s Father, Gudfred had serious doubts about his own sons’ abilities to rule effectively and chose to leave the rule to a nephew, Hemming. Naturally, Gudfred’s sons disputed this decision, one of them killed Gudfred, Hemming was eventually defeated and the last son standing, Horik, claimed the throne. Ragnar Lodbrok was a part of this dynasty and may have actually ruled himself at one point during the early era. So, both men had some  legitimate right to the rule which would have allowed for Ragnar’s son Sigurd to claim the rule at a later point.  Horik’s line ended with his son and probably opened the door to Sigurd to step in and place his legitimate claim!

 

 

Vikings: Lagertha, Kalf, and why is Hedeby so important?

 

Ahhhh while I am enjoying my comfortable vacation in Paris, that does not mean I do not hear rumors of what is going on elsewhere in our world! Paris is a great city full of merchants and traders from near and far. Now that it is quiet  on the Viking front- their raiding season is over and we can all rest easily for a bit- we get visitors even from that Northland, ones not involved in raiding, but true explorers and traders who travel to the farthest reaches of the world trading goods for wealth.  Our city even now in these early times, known for it’s finest and trend setting attire. Wealthy women from as far away as those backwards kingdoms of Wessex and Northumbria, from those far northern places such as Kiev and even such places as Hedeby all send their merchants and messengers to us in search of precious materials and patterns… They even at times think to bribe our talent sewers and weavers into leaving us for their households. Thankfully, our women are most happy and content here, they would not dream of leaving such luxury as we have here for those wild and heathen places where their creations would not be so appreciated or seen by so many! 

Rollo  like I said don't piss me off  I'm not in a good mood right now

Of  course, all of our best dressmakers and costumers are right now extremely busy and much overwhelmed by the daunting task of creating appropriate attire for the upcoming wedding of the Princess Gisla to our Viking friend Rollo! We are still negotiating this agreement and hopefully it will go through with few problems, but one never truly knows how things such as this will turn out? I am confident that Rollo and his current personal advisor, Sinric will manage to work all of this out. Please understand that in these times, this is a far more detailed process than just arranging a Royal wedding, which can be taxing in itself!  It involves many various contracts, treaties and agreements between both sides and it is a very intricate and delicate negotiation. The slightest wrong wording of something, or misplaced comment could end the entire deal and put us all in danger once again! And, then there is the matter of  Gisla herself, who as yet is still pouting, locked away in her quarters and refusing to give in on this marriage.  To say that this court is in disarray is putting it quite mildly!

I am enjoying my time here but everyone’s nerves are a bit frayed by all of these wedding and treaty details going on here. The seamstresses have the duty to ensure plain Gisla is attired in all of the wealth and bounty accorded to her status… yes, they must turn her into a glorious swan that represents her Royal status and causes people to overlook her flaws, even her most apparent behavior flaws! I do not envy this task at all.

gisla's instructions make sure they do not capture you alive

gisla's response to her father's whining  Father get up they have gone now you are safe

gisla is not amused

gisla is not amused

a stubborn and determined gisla does show her lack of complete understanding of the situation

The other massive difficulty for our ladies is that not only must they dress Gisla appropriately, they must ensure that she has a wealth of linen goods to accompany her to her new household, should this marriage finally go through. It is generally expected that she will bring with her a great treasure of household goods to set up housekeeping where ever Rollo should find for them to live. This would include all of the finery that she is accustomed to such as bed linens, coverlets and hangings, tapestries and wall hangings, table linens and adornments, plus bolts of cloth for future use.  Yes, the women are weary and stressed… and if this all should be for naught, they shall all be quite more vexed than they already are at the girl and her ongoing childish tantrums over such a thing as an arranged marriage for the good of their country.  This is what happens when you spoil a child and give her far too much leeway in her thoughts. The women all agree that she is no different from any other girl who’s duty  from birth is to work toward a marriage of alliances. I have also heard a number of women comment as to how if Gisla is not willing to do this, they would gladly trade places with her to wed and bed that Viking man, Rollo! He did cause quite a stir at his first court appearance and of course all of the women have heard the stories of his courage and bravery in battle!

rollo's thought Haaaaaa I understood every word I think you owe me even more money and land for taking her off your hands...

rollo’s thought Haaaaaa I understood every word I think you owe me even more money and land for taking her off your hands…

 

In spite of all of this wedding chaos, they are also trying to keep up with the ongoing requests from all of those merchants and traders visiting the city because these women have good business sense!  They are not willing to turn down a chance for profit and future business so they want to keep these merchants appeased as well. When I visited their quarters recently, they were busy with a design that I could tell immediately, was not meant for our Gisla. I made casual inquiry of who this gown was for.  They responded that it was for a woman of  high worth and quality in a far off North place of Hedeby… Hedeby?  I was now quite curious as I know of only one woman of such worth who might be connected to Hedeby. I had to satisfy my curiosity and question them for more information on this woman. Unfortunately, they were unable to tell me much other than that the woman of worth was named Lagertha!

someone as in Lagertha is getting a fancy new dress

someone as in Lagertha is getting a fancy new dress! Preview clip of season 4 costumes.

 

I watched them work on the gown and gazed thoughtfully at this  creation still somewhat in it’s early stages. Such a beautiful dress, I thought to myself, it would look magnificent on Lagertha. As I continued to gaze at it, I was reminded of the wedding dresses that the far off future generations of brides will wear. They do not wear such types of all white dresses now but they do adorn themselves in all of the wealth and finery that they can afford to display their worth and their value to their future family. What ever the case or occasion, this dress does bespeak of that worth and value such as a regal bride, a queen, an Earl in her own right, or say possibly the wife of an Earl might wear!

As I left the sewing rooms, my thoughts turned to my friend Lagertha, to the mysterious Kalf, and to that kingdom which they were at such odds over… Hedeby. I thought of how disillusioned and angry Lagertha was when they left Paris. Her last trust in Ragnar destroyed, her son Bjorn having to choose between her and Ragnar once again, and her words to Kalf during this time. She had told Kalf that she would go with him, be with him with his understanding and acceptance that one day, she would kill him!

Lagertha what if I agree to be with you to go with you but... Lagertha if you accept that condition then let us be together and enjoy each other

Lagertha is my friend, I love her dearly but sometimes she is just so stubborn and so insistent that she is right that she will not listen to the advice of others or listen to her own voice of reason. She is a fierce and mighty warrior and life often ends up as a battle or a competition to be won. I admire her for her determination and her pride, for her innate sense of honor and justice, and for her warrior spirit. She is so full of that spirit in all parts of her life, she lives, loves and fights with so much passion that sometimes it overshadows her clearer thinking.  She has made her share of mistakes, she has survived and achieved her fame in what is truly a man’s world in this time but it has cost her much. Men have used her, betrayed her, abused her but she does not give up or give in easily in anything that matters to her heart. Once she has her mind set to something, it is almost impossible to sway her from it… Ragnar did remind Kalf of this when he told Kalf that the matter of Hedeby was a personal one that the two of them must work out for themselves.

I want my land and my title back and I brought my Ragnar with me to get it

I want my land and my title back and I brought my Ragnar with me to get it

It's clear that these men do not like her or at least do not want to be ruled by her

It’s clear that these men do not like her or at least do not want to be ruled by her

ragnar's look to lagertha you stay out here and don't make any more trouble

ragnar’s look to lagertha you stay out here and don’t make any more trouble

 

that is between you and my ex-wife  and I wish you good luck on that one!

that is between you and my ex-wife and I wish you good luck on that one!

When I think of the situation with Lagertha and Kalf, I know that much of it comes down to her insistence on being right in this matter of Hedeby, and her feeling that both Ragnar and Kalf have betrayed her. While she was away in England fulfilling her and Ragnar’s dream and enjoying her dalliance with King Ecbert, she left Kalf in Hedeby to be responsible for it in her absence. When she spoke of Kalf during this time, she spoke fondly of him and even before that, it obvious that were feelings between them.

kalf says I have nothing to offer. Lagertha:   Let me be the judge of that

kalf says I have nothing to offer. Lagertha: Let me be the judge of that

 

kalf and lagertha

Not Kalf never Kalf he would never betray me

Not Kalf never Kalf he would never betray me

So, with a possibility of some future together between Lagertha and Kalf, one which so many have such concerns and doubts about, let us look at the entire situation realistically. Let us look at Lagertha’s decisions, what ever Kalf may or may not be hiding or be responsible for, Ragnar’s involvement in all of it, and let us look at Hedeby itself- it’s importance and it’s history.

Hedeby history

 

First of all, let us look at Hedeby, it’s importance and it’s history- and how that history and tradition relates to the present situation between Lagertha and Kalf. I do not want to overwhelm and overload you with historical facts, but my research has proven that Hedeby is clearly such an important place in history that it needs to be presented here in that context so that you understand some of the reasons behind Kalf’s behaviors and thoughts, Ragnar’s reasons for wanting to hold on to it and Kalf as an alliance, and Lagertha’s reasons for wanting it- because of it’s importance, it is of far more value than just her spoken reason of, I want it because it is mine! In looking at the history, we will also see why it might be next to impossible for her to actually rule this land on her own. When Kalf states his justification for having it, he may be more right than Lagertha.  Ragnar as King, and as one who know much more about everything than he lets on, would clearly know of Hedeby’s history and understand how difficult this situation is. He would  understand why Lagertha might not be able to achieve this rule but knowing Lagertha, he would also know very well that she would not be willing to listen to reason on this matter! As King, Ragnar should be aware of  and knowledgeable about Kalf himself. Kalf admits that he has ambitions of fame and greatness for himself, but that he rightly fears Ragnar. As Kalf puts it, What man would not fear such a man as Ragnar, a farmer who made himself King! I have always been of the thought that there is more going on between Kalf and Ragnar behind the scenes and beneath the surface than we are aware of.  Did they betray Lagertha outright with malicious and manipulative intent? Well, Ragnar has certainly betrayed her trust a number of times so, it wouldn’t be out of line for him to have betrayed her in this matter of Hedeby as well. On the other hand, he would know that this situation of Hedeby is a difficult one to solve and realistically, the easiest way to solve it would be as he put it, for Lagertha and Kalf to work it out.  In some way, I think Ragnar’s rationale is that if Kalf and Lagertha were to marry and form such an alliance, it would keep Hedeby, Kalf and Lagertha closer under his control and his watchful eye, since it’s becoming abundantly clear that he trusts few, not even Lagertha any longer.  Has Kalf betrayed her? Well, in some ways, yes of course he has but in looking back at the situation she left for him to manage, he may have felt justified and felt as well that he could find a way to work through this mess with her. He did tell her that he believed their lives and their fates were destined to be entwined together.

Is your earldom really that important to you  Yes because it's mine

Ragnar: Is your earldom really that important to you? Lagertha: Yes because it’s mine

kalf gives his speech I was born here in hedeby I belong here I have better claim and right to this than you

kalf gives his speech I was born here in hedeby I belong here I have better claim and right to this than you

realistically she is the outsider here

realistically Lagertha is the outsider here

ragnar's frustrated look of how do I explain this to her

ragnar’s frustrated look of how do I explain this to her

Well there is never much use in arguing with you

Well there is never much use in arguing with you

 

The history and importance of Hedeby

After researching the history of Hedeby, I am a little frustrated with how Michael Hirst has so far presented it and it’s importance to the Norse and Viking history. From what little information we have been given about the place, one might have a tendency to view it as a rather small, relatively unimportant village or earldom other for the fact that Lagertha ended up there when she left him and married the previous Earl. He does make some mention of it’s ships and that importance in his willingness to work with Kalf but other than that, it is portrayed as a place of little consequence other than to those living there.  In reality, it was one of the major port settlements and one of the oldest kingdoms in that northern land. Until sometime in the mid 800s, it was a kingship in it’s own right.

 Hedeby (Danish pronunciation: [ˈheːð̩byːˀ], Old Norse Heiðabýr, German Haithabu or Haddeby) was an important trading settlement in the Danish-northern German borderland during the Viking Age. It flourished from the 8th to the 11th centuries.

The site is located towards the southern end of the Jutland Peninsula. It developed as a trading centre at the head of a narrow, navigable inlet known as the Schlei, which connects to the Baltic Sea. The location was favorable because there is a short portage of less than 15 km to the Treene River, which flows into the Eider with its North Sea estuary, making it a convenient place where goods and ships could be ported overland for an almost uninterrupted seaway between the Baltic and the North Sea and avoid a dangerous and time-consuming circumnavigation of Jutland, providing Hedeby with a role similar to later Lübeck.

Hedeby was the second largest Nordic city during the Viking Age, after Uppåkra in southern Sweden,  and used to be the oldest city in Denmark until the site became part of Germany.

 

hedeby

Hedeby is first mentioned in the Frankish chronicles of Einhard (804) who was in the service of Charlemagne, but was probably founded around 770. In 808 the Danish king Godfred (Lat. Godofredus) destroyed a competing Slav trade centre named Reric, and it is recorded in the Frankish chronicles that he moved the merchants from there to Hedeby. This may have provided the initial impetus for the town to develop. The same sources record that Godfred strengthened the Danevirke, an earthen wall that stretched across the south of the Jutland peninsula. The Danevirke joined the defensive walls of Hedeby to form an east-west barrier across the peninsula, from the marshes in the west to the Schlei inlet leading into the Baltic in the east.

The town itself was surrounded on its three landward sides (north, west, and south) by earthworks. At the end of the 9th century the northern and southern parts of the town were abandoned for the central section. Later a 9-metre (29-ft) high semi-circular wall was erected to guard the western approaches to the town. On the eastern side, the town was bordered by the innermost part of the Schlei inlet and the bay of Haddebyer Noor.

Hedeby became a principal marketplace because of its geographical location on the major trade routes between the Frankish Empire and Scandinavia (north-south), and between the Baltic and the North Sea (east-west). Between 800 and 1000 the growing economic power of the Vikings led to its dramatic expansion as a major trading centre.

The following indicate the importance achieved by the town:

  • The town was described by visitors from England (Wulfstan – 9th century) and the Mediterranean (Al-Tartushi – 10th century).
  • Hedeby became the seat of a bishop (948) and belonged to the Archbishopric of Hamburg and Bremen.
  • The town minted its own coins (from 825?).
  • Adam of Bremen (11th century) reports that ships were sent from this portus maritimus to Slavic lands, to Sweden, Samland (Semlant) and even Greece.

Situated in present-day Germany’s northernmost state of Schleswig-Holstein, the location at the neck of Jutland was the perfect site for a trading port, as pre-Viking settlers had already recognised. Here, only a narrow land-crossing separates the Schlei, an inlet of the Baltic, in the east from the then tidal river to the west, giving access to the North Sea. In what were the early days of kingdoms in Scandinavia, the wealth and power generated by long-distance trade prompted Hedeby’s documented foundation by Danish King Göttrik at the beginning of the ninth century. Commercial contact also meant cultural contact leading to the spread of ideas and beliefs as well as fashions and technologies. Trade flourished, workshops produced their wares, the harbour expanded. And at this place where political and cultural boundaries met, one of Scandinavia’s earliest towns developed and thrived. Merchant ships came and went with their cargoes of furs, amber, soapstone, semi-precious stones, iron, silver, glass-beads…  and, not least, slaves.

But as a kingdom’s prized possession, Hedeby was fiercely fought over by rival rulers, and in the tenth century defences were built around it. In the course of the eleventh century, trading was relocated to a site at nearby Schleswig, and when Haithabu was ravaged in the middle of the century it was abandoned. The site within the semi-circular rampart was left virtually undisturbed in its rural context, keeping its memories and treasures hidden, until its rediscovery by archaeologists in the late nineteenth century.

http://www.schloss-gottorf.de/haithabu/das-museum/viking-museum-haithabu.

So, obviously, Hedeby was an extremely important port which Kings such as Ragnar would have deemed crucial to have under their control. During much of the 9th century, Hedeby was under the control of Danish rulers but some time during the late 9th century it fell under the rule of a Swedish dynasty. A Swedish dynasty founded by Olof the Brash is said to have ruled Hedeby during the last decades of the 9th century and the first part of the 10th century. This was told to Adam of Bremen by the Danish king Sweyn Estridsson, and it is supported by three runestones found in Denmark. Two of them were raised by the mother of Olof’s grandson Sigtrygg Gnupasson. The third runestone, discovered in 1796, is from Hedeby, the Stone of Eric (Swedish: Erikstenen). It is inscribed with Norwegian-Swedish runes. It is, however, possible that Danes also occasionally wrote with this version of the younger futhark.

For a long period of time, Hedeby was the kingship location, not just an Earldom under the rule of  a King.  Mr. Hirst presents us with a version of Hedeby where the land is now a minor Earldom under the rule of Danes and a fictional Sigvard was Earl. Sigvard was domineering and abusive, often asserting his power and ownership over Lagertha. He is brutal, ill-tempered, and frequently drunk, beating Lagertha when she talks back to him. Sigvard dislikes Bjorn, Lagertha’s son with Ragnar, and takes pleasure in insulting and humiliating him in front of his people.  Lagertha eventually stabbed him and his nephew, Einar killed him- it is important to remember, Lagertha did not kill him, Einar did!

After Sigvard’s death, supposedly the people chose Lagertha as their new Earl rather than Einar. Einar  was not much more trusted or liked it would seem, than his uncle Sigvard.  The fact that he had just murdered his uncle for control of the Earldom probably had something to do with their not choosing him as Earl. Yes, they did choose Lagertha as new Earl, which was extremely rare and not a generally accepted practice at the time, or for this land. I believe they would have expected her to quickly marry an acceptable candidate and then co-rule or step down in deference to the one she would marry. They would also have expected her to remain there as ruler during this most precarious transition period when the land would have been in disarray and turmoil over the recent events. This all brought Kalf into the picture. Kalf, also a fictional character, was Lagertha’s well trusted and liked second in command. We know little else of Kalf’s ties and relationships within Hedeby. He did state at one point that he had more right and claim to the title than Lagertha did. He was born in Hedeby…. but, surely there must be some other reason to justify his claim than just that fact? Hopefully, Mr. Hirst will address some of this in the future!

Before we go on with the real history of Hedeby, let’s look closer at what Kalf was dealing with in Hedeby when Lagertha so rashly decided to follow Ragnar to England. She left a land in disarray and expected Kalf to manage it all for her while she was gone. Kalf had to deal with Einar, who held a seething grudge against Lagertha for spurning his sexual offers- and for insulting him with the comment that he would never be Earl because even his own people considered him a failure and unworthy of ruling.  Their decision to choose an outsider and a woman over him as the next male in line would surely have ate deeply at him and he would have reason to cause rebellion and revolt against her in her absence. Einar was bitter and willing to go to any lengths to see her deposed. Kalf is an intelligent man, always thinking ahead, and thinking of consequences and repurcussions. There would have been many who might side with Einar in his rants against Lagertha. Kalf had to find a way to diffuse this situation, not cause more rebellion by the killing of Einar. Kalf was in a difficult position. He could accuse Einar of treason and have him killed, but that would only lead to more rebellion.  Kalf is also an ambitious man with goals of fame of his own. He has some reason or justification for feeling that he has right to this Earldom and he needs to find a way to accomplish that without complete civil war. He chose to indulge Einar and gain his support for him as Earl.  I believe that he felt that he could work the situation out with Lagertha if or when she should ever return. Realistically, the land of Hedeby was in some chaos at this time without an actual ruler. Who knew if Lagertha or Ragnar would return from the voyage, how long does a country wait for a ruler to return? Kalf took the steps he needed to ensure that Hedeby had a ruler, one who was liked, trusted and capable of ruling. As to the situation with Erlandeur, son of King Horik… when we look closer at the history of Hedeby, we will see that Kalf may have his own reasons for luring Erlandeur in, for playing his own deceptive game with Erlandeur in order to eventually destroy the boy himself.

I’ve mentioned previously that we know little about Kalf’s past history or why he might feel justified in his claim to the Earldom. But, if we look at the history of Hedeby, we will find that it was Erlandeur’s father, a King Horick who was much responsible for the demise of  any Royal households in Hedeby and it eventually lapsing into a more minor Earldom.

For our history purposes, I am only going to deal with the earlier periods of Hedeby’s history and not the later periods when it became a part of Denmark and Sweden at various point of time. As I have already stated, Hirst has placed it as an Earldom ruled by the Danes. There could of course be some future ambitions on Kalf’s part to undo this but we do not know of such plans right now.  For now, I want to present the portion of history that ties Hedeby to the Carolingian Frankish Empire led by Charlamagne, and to Horick of Denmark.

This is a list of Kings of Hedeby covering the time period of 780 to about 916. If you look towards the bottom of the list, you will find reference to Ragnar Lodbrok’s son Ivar the Boneless. You will also notice reference to the lands held in Britain, as in York or Jorvick.
Kings of Hedeby (Haithabu) House of Vestfold c.780–798

Sigurd I … son of king Øystein of Vestfold in Norway; king in southern Jutland 798–804

Harald I … brother of Sigurd I 804

Harald II … son of Harald I 804–810

Halfdan … son of Harald I 810

Sigurd II … son of king Halfdan II of Vestfold, brother of Sigurd I 810

Godfred I … brother of Sigurd II; Vestfold 802–810? 810–812 Hemming … son of Sigurd II & 810–812

Sigurd III … son of Sigurd II 812

Anulo … son of Halfdan 812–814

Harald III, Klak … son of Halfdan; deposed, died 844 & 812–814

Rörik … son of Halfdan; deposed, died 844 813–854

Erik I … son of Godfred I 854–870:

Erik II … son of Erik I & 854–862

Sigurd IV … son of Erik I & 854–885

Godfred II … son of Harald III 870:–891:

Erik III … son of Erik II 891:–894

Knud … son of Rörik; deposed, died 894 House of York (Jórvík) 894–c.910

Oluf, the Brash … son of (?) king Ivar the Boneless of York, son of Ragnar Lodbrok c.910–c.915

Gurd … son of Oluf & c.910–c.915 Gnupa … son of Oluf c.915–c.916 Sigtryg … son of Gnupa
I. Mladjov

The early history of Kings of Daneland and specifically, Hedeby is actually documented within Frankish records of Charlamagne and later rulers. It is detailed in the Annales Fuldenses, or Annals of Fulda are East Frankish chronicles that cover independently the period from the last years of Louis the Pious (died 840) to shortly after the end of effective Carolingian rule in East Francia with the accession of the child-king, Louis III, in 900. Throughout this period they are a near contemporary record of the events they describe and a primary source for Carolingian historiography. They are usually read as a counterpart to the narrative found in the West Frankish Annales Bertiniani.

 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Annales_Fuldenses

These Frankish annal mention early Rulers of Daneland and Hedeby. They also document much of the unrest and civil wars of Daneland and Hedeby during those early years. During many of those disputes, the early rulers of Hedeby sought protection and aid from the Frankish Empire. There is a very detailed account of this history in research regarding one of the rulers, Harald III, Klak.  What is confusing here is that these early rulers of Hedeby were the earliest rulers of the entire land of Denmark. Because Hedeby was the largest and most important settlement at the time, the rulers generally located themselves in that area.

The earliest disputes  came from King Horick’s Father, Godfrid and his brother Halfdan.  Little is mentioned of Halfdan other than that he turned to Charlamagne and the Franks for aid. We do know more about Godfrid, who supposedly was murdered by one of his own sons…. an action which I would not put past or above Horik who eventually became King!

King horik's family of daughters

floki also plays the dangerous game of politics trying to gain horik's trust ragnar stabs horik and looks down at the bloody dagger

Fearing an invasion by the Franks, who had conquered heathen Frisia over the previous 100 years and Old Saxony in 772 to 804, Godfred began work on an enormous structure to defend his realm, separating Jutland from the northern extent of the Frankish Empire. The Frankish invasion never materialized, but it caused Gudfred to construct the first sections of the Danevirke, which ran from the Schlei toward the west coast of Denmark by means of the river Trende. The wall was built with an earthen embankment topped by a wooden stockade and protected from the south by a deep ditch. Denmark’s most important town, Hedeby, which apparently already existed on the Schlien, was expanded and garrisoned with Danish soldiers and the early sections of the wall were designed to protect it.

In 808, King Godfred forced the Obodrites to acknowledge him as their overlord. The citizens of Reric were allied with Charlemagne, who used the port as part of a strategic trade route. King Gudfred attacked Reric burnt it down, killed Chief Drożko and ordered the merchants to resettle at Hedeby, which was being integrated into the Danevirke defensive line.

In 809, King Godfred and emissaries of Charlemagne failed to negotiate peace. In 810, Gudfrid led 200 ships to plunder the Frisian coast, and forced the merchants and peasant to pay 100 pounds of silver and claimed Northern Frisia as Danish territory. To protect the northern coast of the Frankish Empire, Charlemagne began paying Viking chieftains to protect sections of the coast from the Schlei west to the Weser River. That same summer King Godfred was killed by one of his housecarls. According to Notker of St Gall, the bodyguard who murdered King Gudfred was one of his own sons.

For some reason, when Godfred died, his nephew, Hemming inherited the throne rather than any of his sons. No reason is given for this but in any case, Hemming’s rule did not last long. Hemming died and  Sigifrid, the nephew of King Godofrid, and Anulo, the nephew of Heriold and of the former king, both wished to succeed him. Being unable to agree on who should be king, they raised troops, fought a battle, and were both killed. The party of Anulo won, however, and made his brothers Heriold and Reginfrid their kings. The defeated party out of necessity had to go along with Anulo’s party and did not reject the brothers as their kings. They say that ten thousand nine hundred and forty men died in that battle.” Heriold usually translated to Harald. This would bring us to Harald Klak as ruler of Hedeby and Denmark. Harald and his brother Reginfrid were installed as co-rulers.

There was another rebellion led by the sons of Godfred- Horik would have been among them… Harald and Reginfrid were defeated. The Annales entries of 814 start with the death of Charlemagne. Louis the Pious became sole emperor and turned to diplomatic relations with other European powers. The Royal Annales then mention the continuation of the conflict among the Danes and that Harald Klak sought refuge in the court of Louis. “Heriold and Reginfrid, kings of the Danes, had been defeated and expelled from their kingdom the year before [813] by the sons of Godofrid, against whom they regrouped their forces and again made war. In this conflict Reginfid and the oldest son of Godofrid were killed. When this had come to pass, Heriold despaired of his cause, came to the emperor [Louis], and put himself under his protection. The emperor received him and told him to go to Saxony and to wait for the proper time when he would be able to give him the help which Heriold had requested.

Eventually, some sort of agreement was made whereby Harald would be co-ruler with two of those sons. One of those sons would have been Horik. Everything remained calm for a time until Harald once again pleaded for assistance. He and a group of 400 Danes again sought sanctuary from the Frankish Empire and assistance to restore him to his throne. This assistance was granted on condition that he accept the Christian faith and be baptized. He was also granted land in the Frankish realm should he ever need to seek asylum or refuge in the future.   On his return to Denmark Harald was probably accompanied by Saint Anskar and a group of monks and it may have been in this time that a church in Hedeby was first built, as well as a school were twelve Danish boys (some of whom were from Harald’s household) were to be educated as priests.

In the second year after his return to Denmark, however, in 827, he was once again expelled by the surviving sons of Gudfred. One of them was Horik I. The Royal Annals mention in 827: “The emperor [Louis] held two assemblies. One was at Nijmegen because Hohrek (Latin:Hohrici), son of Godofrid, the king of the Danes, had falsely promised to appear before the emperor.” Later in the year the Annals mention the deposition of Harald. “In the meantime the kings of the Danes, that is, the sons of Godofrid, deprived Heriold of his share of the kingship and forced him to leave Nordmannia.” The reason for the deposition is not mentioned. His introduction of Christianity may have also made him unpopular with his subjects. 

It seems that, in the years between 829 and 852, Harald had remained a figure of some influence in the region, but he never again managed to launch a serious attempt to regain the Danish throne, nor did the Frankish monarchs seem interested in sending more armies to fight his cause. He died two years before his rival King Horik the elder.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harald_Klak

Horik I (died 854) reigned as sole King of the Danes from 827 to his violent death in 854. His reign was marked by Danish raids on the Franco-German empire of Louis the Pious, son and successor of Charlemagne.

Horik’s father was King Gudfred, known for his successful raids and wars against Charlemagne’s Frankish empire and against the Abodrites. In 810, Gudfred was assassinated by one of his own sons, and his nephew and successor Hemming made peace with Charlemagne.

Hemming did not last long. Horik and another of Gudfred’s sons took power in 811, later expelling a rival named Harald Klak, who took refuge at the court of Charlemagne’s son and successor, Louis the Pious. In 819, Louis forced Gudfred’s sons to accept Harald as co-ruler. Harald converted to Christianity in 826, with Louis standing as his godfather, but Harald was driven out of Denmark for the second and final time one year later. By then Horik was the only son of Gudfred’s still alive, making him the sole king of the Danes.

Horik refused to convert to Christianity, as it was his enemies’ religion, and resisted attempts by Archbishop Anskar of HamburgBremen to proselytize the Danes. In 845, Horik’s army attacked Hamburg and destroyed St. Mary’s Cathedral there. It was Horik’s last major war in East Francia.

However, Danish raids against Frisia continued. The Franks lacked an effective fleet, so the Danes could raid more or less with impunity. The Danes sacked the silver minting center of Dorestad in 834, 835, and 836, and plundered Walcheren in 837. In 845, a Viking warlord named Ragnar Lodbrok attacked Paris and had to be bought off with 7,000 French livres (pounds) (2,570 kilograms (5,670 lb)) of gold and silver.

King Horik seems to have disapproved of these raids, for successful raiders constituted possible rivals. Occasionally, Horik even punished raiders. In 836, Horik sent an embassy to King Louis declaring that he had nothing to do with the raids on Frisia, and that he had executed those responsible. In 845, following Ragnar’s mysterious death, he had Ragnar’s followers massacred.

In 854, King Horik I was killed by a nephew whom he had driven into exile. While in exile, the nephew had become a successful raider. No mention or name was ever given of the nephew who killed him.

In our Viking version of the history, Kalf makes a point of stating that no Christian King would ever be able to rule their land or their people.

Kalf's response to Ragnar's baptism  I hope it is true because no Christian King will ever be allowed to rule the vikings

Kalf’s response to Ragnar’s baptism I hope it is true because no Christian King will ever be allowed to rule the Vikings

 

Kalf: no christian king will ever rule our world  it's unthinkable it goes against all of our gods

Kalf: no christian king will ever rule our world it’s unthinkable it goes against all of our gods

While our Kalf is a fictional creation, I can’t help but wonder what his past story is, how he might possibly be connected to any of Hedeby’s rich history of dissenters and disputes over the throne of Danemark?

Aside from Hedeby’s rich Royal links, it’s history goes even deeper than that.

The broad and deep impact of the Danish peoples on world history has been long appreciated by scholars of the middle ages.  This is especially true for a branch of the Danish royal family that held the ancient town of Hedeby for many centuries.  Hedeby was perhaps the oldest and largest town and the most active marketplace in ancient Scandinavia.  Hedeby lies in the ancient region of Angle, which is now positioned in the modern German district of Schleswig-Holstein. 

 Wikinger Museum Haithabu 

 

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Hedebyhouses001.jpg

The Angles, a subgroup of the Danish peoples, are well known in history for their role in the Anglo-Saxon development of England.  The full extent of Danish influence and especially that of the Angles, however, is only recently beginning to surface.  This site is developed for the purpose of further documenting the role of the Angles in world history in accordance with recent and ongoing discoveries, including those based on archeology, DNA and various other forms of research.

The seat of power in Angle was Hedeby-Haithabu, and the regional name of Angle derives from the angled, or curved shape of the large semi-circular bailey fort at Hedeby.  Hedeby was an ideal location due to its position at the end of a very long inlet that cuts half way through lower Denmark.  Merchants would pass through Hedeby to substantially reduce transit time and risk, a benefit for which merchants were happy to pay a toll to the kings of Angle.

A dominant feature of the fort at Hedeby was the placement of Hawthorn bushes atop a tall earthen wall.  These bushes bristle with long, sharp thorns, providing additional defense against invaders.  The wall was curved (angled) in a semi-circle, with one side opening to a bay.  This curved wall and the thorns of the Hawthorn bush are defining features of the fort at Hedeby, and many places and people from Angle are named in honor of these and other features of the Hedeby fort.  The list of such names is quite long, but we might consider a few root words and composite names relevant to the I1a migration topic:

  • Bul/Bol:  cognate with ball, bowl, meaning “round, curved”
  • Rus/Ris:  derives from O.N. hris, meaning “thorny thicket”
  • Ger/Gar:  derives from PIE *ghers- “stand out, rise to a point, bristle” used to name the thorny briar and spear
  • Poe/Pa:  cognate with pea, meaning “round, curved”
  • Tringen:  Old Frisian, “ring, curved”
  • Phris/Pres:   authorities beginning with Chalmers (see Watson) correctly identified -fries with Gaelic preas, Angl. pres(s), gen. phris, Angl. -fries, gen. pl. preas, (b)p(h)reasach, “bush, copse, thicket, briar”

From these root words, we get the following names:

  • Bulgar, “round [wall] of thorns”
  • Rus, “thorny thicket”
  • Rustringen, “round [wall] of thorny thicket”
  • Paris, “round [wall] of thorny thicket”
  • Frisia, “land named for the thorny thicket”

These names support the notion that Hedeby is the nucleus for migration of the Angles to Paris, York, Frisia, Kiev, Bolghar (Volga Bulgars), and Bulgaria (Danube Bulgars).

The Angles are known to have favored York and we know that a mass migration from Angle to York happened in the 5th century.  In the 9th century, the famous Viking Ragnar was ruler of Hedeby and was captured and killed in York.  His son Sigurd (aka Ingvar) captured York, which became an Angle stronghold and the capital of Northumbria.  A tribe called the Parisii held York in the 1st century.  As mentioned, the Parisii and Paris derive from Pa-hris, “round [wall] of thorny thicket” and are named in honor of Hedeby.  The Parisii “tribe” was also found in France near Paris.

Frisia is an ancient land lying within the current political boundaries of The Netherlands.   The Frisii and Frisia are names for the fris or thorny thicket ring hedge that characterized Hedeby.  Similarly, the Belgea and Bulgar are each named for the boll-ger, or “ring of thorns.”

The use of thick hedgeworks for defense was not known in Italy.  A tribe of the Belgea, the Nervii, became known to Julius Caesar during his campaigns.  The Nervii tribe, he says, had an ancient practice: they cut into slender trees and bent them over so that many branches came out along their length; they finished these off by inserting brambles and briars, so that these hedges formed a defense like a wall, which could not only not be penetrated but not even be seen through.  There is some evidence for hedges from excavation.  For instance, Hawthorn berry pits are found in great quantities in the refuse layers of Hedeby.  Archeologists are puzzled, as Hawthorn berries are not generally considered edible.  Also, part of a hedge was excavated at Bar Hill (Dunbartonshire).  Beneath the Roman fort were found hawthorn stems.

http://romanianhistoryandculture.webs.com/daciansindenmark.htm

There is one other very important concept that these earliest Dacians/Angels passed on to their future generations, and it applies directly to the situation that Lagertha is in right now with regard to ruling Hedeby. That extremely critical and paramount concept is, The Right to Rule!

Right to Rule

Claimants to power in Angle were from a ruling family, with preference given to the eldest male most closely related to the prior ruler.  This tradition reduced the likelihood of conflict during times of transition and served to concentrate wealth and power.  This tradition continued in Russia, Scotland, Flanders, Normandy, post-conquest England and other regions controlled by the Angles, likewise serving to enable the formation of powerful governments and military capabilities.  Conflicts were reduced to situations where the lack of an immediate male heir led to contested claims by paternal cousins.

The origin of this behavior is perhaps based on the very ancient notion that the royal family descends from the gods.  Perhaps this concept was borrowed by the Dacians and Thracians from the Romans.  The family of Julias Caesar (gens Julia), for example, claimed to descend by Venus through Aeneas.  The original royal family of Norway were said to be descended from Odin.  Frey was the main god of kingship among the Swedes and the royal family (the Ynglings) were believed to have descended from him.

We should consider the many similarities among the the Goths, Dacians and Thracians.  They shared common cultural characteristics and often shared a common government.  We might consider the possibility that these groups of peoples were aware of their common heritage and perhaps ruled by branches of a common ruling family.

When Kalf makes his point that he has better right and claim than Lagertha, the most rational or real reason for that could be if he is hiding something in his family history that would somehow link him to that “Right to Rule”? Just the fact that he is from Hedeby would not necessarily give him just reason to make such claim over hers. In Lagertha’s defense, she was the wife of the previous Earl and the people did choose her, although they later changed their mind. And, in looking at the history of Hedeby as we have, if Kalf does have some as yet unknown better claim to Hedeby, he might have some better claim to the rule of all Danemark because it is all tied together!

kalf gives his speech I was born here in hedeby I belong here I have better claim and right to this than you

kalf gives his speech I was born here in hedeby I belong here I have better claim and right to this than you

kalf admits I did yes I did even though all the while I was desiring you.

kalf admits I did yes I did even though all the while I was desiring you.

If one observes Kalf and his actions in Paris, he does present a regal and confident appearance. Some might say he displays that inherent leadership quality and bearing that those who carry a Leadership gene present naturally.  So, where might he have inherited it from, and what does he do with it in the future? Some of you are probably asking, What the Hell is a Leadership gene anyway and what does it have to do with this subject!

Kalf says his own last minute prayer to the gods

Well, that my friends is what I intend to discuss in my next post! We will look this leadership gene concept and how it relates and applies to that concept of Right to Rule and Rule by divine right!

http://www.smh.com.au/technology/sci-tech/leadership-is-in-the-gene-say-scientists-20130115-2cs7c.html

For more information on the rich history of Hedeby, here are some  additional excellent links!

Hurstwic: Towns and Traditions

http://www.hurstwic.org/history/articles/daily_living/text/Towns.htm

Viking Museum Haithabu

http://www.schloss-gottorf.de/haithabu/das-museum/viking-museum-haithabu

The Vikings- Heading west:

http://www.ivargault.com/vikingene/vesterled_en.html

 

 

 

 

Time Traveler’s Christmas : Happy Yule Fest!

 

 

 

 

viking yule2

New religions new traditions

Previous Christmas guide post: https://timeslipsblog.wordpress.com/2014/12/15/time-travelers-guide-to-christmas-oh-christmas-tree/

Christmas music: https://timeslipsblog.wordpress.com/2014/12/16/musical-inspiration-christmas-music/

yule the longest night Yule_log

First of all, I do need to acknowledge that some people may take offense at portions of this next discussion about the origins and history of Christmas.  A great many Christians firmly believe that Christmas is their own personal, sacred holiday and that it should be observed within the context of  the Christian symbolism of  it.

 

The early Christian Church involvement

If you have been following our previous discussion, you will already know that we have touched on many of the pre-Christian roots of the holiday. For an excellent article that refers to the true history of  what Christmas should mean, please read this article!

http://time.com/3631899/christians-christmas/

The mid winter festival and holiday was around long before Christianity ever became a part of it. In fact, in terms of the history of civilization, the Christian addition to the holiday is quite recent. We have already pointed out that the early Christian Church could not compete with the so called Pagan religions and beliefs so they instead chose to incorporate those traditions and beliefs into their religion in order to convert the Pagans.

There are many Christians today who believe that they as Christians somehow own the rights and observances of this holiday? They cry outrage and criticism that others have taken the Christ of  Christmas in such ways as referring to the day as x-mas.  In reality, the x has been a part of the holiday since it’s earliest days of Christianity!

xp in x-mas

http://news.yahoo.com/x-xmas-literally-means-christ-150002098.html

 

The winter Solstice celebrations have been around probably since the earliest beginnings of man’s understanding and record keeping of the seasons, the sun and the darkness.

The solstice itself may have been a special moment of the annual cycle of the year even during neolithic times. Astronomical events, which during ancient times controlled the mating of animals, sowing of crops and metering of winter reserves between harvests, show how various cultural mythologies and traditions have arisen. This is attested by physical remains in the layouts of late Neolithic and Bronze Age archaeological sites, such as Stonehenge in England and Newgrange in Ireland. The primary axes of both of these monuments seem to have been carefully aligned on a sight-line pointing to the winter solstice sunrise (Newgrange) and the winter solstice sunset (Stonehenge). Significant in respect of Stonehenge is the fact that the Great Trilithon was erected outwards from the centre of the monument, i.e., its smooth flat face was turned towards the midwinter Sun.

 

Neolithic site of Goseck circle. The yellow lines are the direction the Sun rises and sets at winter solstice.

The winter solstice may have been immensely important because communities were not certain of living through the winter, and had to be prepared during the previous nine months. Starvation was common during the first months of the winter, January to April (northern hemisphere) or July to October (southern hemisphere), also known as “the famine months”. In temperate climates, the midwinter festival was the last feast celebration, before deep winter began. Most cattle were slaughtered so they would not have to be fed during the winter, so it was almost the only time of year when a supply of fresh meat was available. The majority of wine and beer made during the year was finally fermented and ready for drinking at this time. The concentration of the observances were not always on the day commencing at midnight or at dawn, but the beginning of the pre-Romanized day, which falls on the previous eve.

Because the event is seen as the reversal of the Sun‘s ebbing presence in the sky, concepts of the birth or rebirth of sun gods have been common and, in cultures using winter solstice based cyclic calendars, the year as reborn has been celebrated with regard to life-death-rebirth deities or new beginnings such as Hogmanay‘s redding, a New Year cleaning tradition. Also reversal is yet another usual theme as in Saturnalia‘s slave and master reversals.

Some time during the fourth century, the Christian Church became involved in the celebration.

Athelstan

 The chronography of 354 AD contains early evidence of the celebration on December 25 of a Christian liturgical feast of the birth of Jesus. This was in Rome, while in Eastern Christianity the birth of Jesus was already celebrated in connection with the Epiphany on January 6.  The December 25 celebration was imported into the East later: in Antioch by John Chrysostom towards the end of the 4th century, probably in 388, and in Alexandria only in the following century. Even in the West, the January 6 celebration of the nativity of Jesus seems to have continued until after 380.  In 245, Origen of Alexandria, writing about Leviticus 12:1–8, commented that Scripture mentions only sinners as celebrating their birthdays, namely Pharaoh, who then had his chief baker hanged (Genesis 40:20–22), and Herod, who then had John the Baptist beheaded (Mark 6:21–27), and mentions saints as cursing the day of their birth, namely Jeremiah (Jeremiah 20:14–15) and Job (Job 3:1–16).  In 303, Arnobius ridiculed the idea of celebrating the birthdays of gods, a passage cited as evidence that Arnobius was unaware of any nativity celebration.[55] Since Christmas does not celebrate Christ’s birth “as God” but “as man”, this is not evidence against Christmas being a feast at this time.  The fact the Donatists of North Africa celebrated Christmas may indicate that the feast was established by the time that church was created in 311.

ChristAsSol

Dies Natalis Solis Invicti

Main article: Sol Invictus

Dies Natalis Solis Invicti means “the birthday of the Unconquered Sun”, a festival inaugurated by the Roman emperor Aurelian to celebrate the sun god and celebrated at the winter solstice, 25 December.  During the reign of the emperor Constantine, Christian writers assimilated this feast as the birthday of Jesus, associating him with the ‘sun of righteousness’ mentioned in Malachi 4:2 (Sol Iustitiae).   In his work Adversus Haereses, Irenaeus (c. 130–202) identified the conception of Jesus as March 25 and linked it to the crucifixion, with the birth of Jesus nine months after on December 25.  Celebration of the conception of Jesus, known as the Annunciation, became associated with the spring equinox, thus led to Christmas coinciding with the winter solstice.   An anonymous work known as De Pascha Computus (243) linked the idea that creation began at the spring equinox, on 25 March with the conception or birth (the word nascor can mean either) of Jesus on 28 March, the day of the creation of the sun in the Genesis account. One translation reads: “O the splendid and divine providence of the Lord, that on that day, the very day, on which the sun was made, the 28 March, a Wednesday, Christ should be born. For this reason Malachi the prophet, speaking about him to the people, fittingly said, ‘Unto you shall the sun of righteousness arise, and healing is in his wings.'”

In the fourth century, John Chrysostom, who promoted the celebration on 25 December, commented on the connection: “But Our Lord, too, is born in the month of December … the eight before the calends of January [25 December] …, But they call it the ‘Birthday of the Unconquered’. Who indeed is so unconquered as Our Lord …? Or, if they say that it is the birthday of the Sun, He is the Sun of Justice.”  With regard to a December religious feast of the sun as a god (Sol), as distinct from a solstice feast of the (re)birth of the astronomical sun, one scholar has commented that, “while the winter solstice on or around December 25 was well established in the Roman imperial calendar, there is no evidence that a religious celebration of Sol on that day antedated the celebration of Christmas”.  “Thomas Talley has shown that, although the Emperor Aurelian’s dedication of a temple to the sun god in the Campus Martius (C.E. 274) probably took place on the ‘Birthday of the Invincible Sun’ on December 25, the cult of the sun in pagan Rome ironically did not celebrate the winter solstice nor any of the other quarter-tense days, as one might expect.”   The Oxford Companion to Christian Thought remarks on the uncertainty about the order of precedence between the religious celebrations of the Birthday of the Unconquered Sun and of the birthday of Jesus, stating that the hypothesis that 25 December was chosen for celebrating the birth of Jesus on the basis of the belief that his conception occurred on 25 March “potentially establishes 25 December as a Christian festival before Aurelian’s decree, which, when promulgated, might have provided for the Christian feast both opportunity and challenge.

 

There is of course far more involved in the Church’s attempt to take over the Holiday from the Pagan influences, this is just a very brief and basic description it. What it came down to though, was a thought on the winter solstice of, if you can’t eliminate it or beat it… join it and make it your own. While the masses converted to Christianity, most of them still continued with their winter Solstice traditions and celebrations despite every attempt by the early Church to eradicate the celebrations.

My personal thought on the current outpouring of criticism and demands for Christ to be put back in Christmas… it was always first and foremost a Pagan festival, perhaps all of the so called Pagans of the World should speak up and insist upon putting the Pagan back in Yule! If one were to use the early Church’s definition and perception of Pagan, that would include a great many people today. The early Christian Church recognized only one true religion- that being the Roman Catholic Church, anyone who did not follow that religion and it’s beliefs would be considered a Pagan, a heretic, a heathen.

gods of our saxon gods 1.sun god 2. moon god 3.god tiw 4. woden

gods of our saxon gods 1.sun god 2. moon god 3.god tiw 4. woden

Another excellent article on thoughts about the holiday: Putting Odin back into the Yule Tide Season!

http://ezinearticles.com/?Putting-Odin-Back-Into-the-Yule-Tide-Season&id=3005931

 

Now that we have discussed the early Church’s involvement in the holiday, let’s move on to the Pagan celebration that seems to have had the most influence on our present day traditions and celebrations of the holiday.

Yule

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Yule or Yuletide (“Yule time”) is a pagan religious festival observed by the historical Germanic peoples, later being absorbed into and equated with the Christian festival of Christmas. The earliest references to Yule are by way of indigenous Germanic month names Ærra Jéola (Before Yule) or Jiuli and Æftera Jéola (After Yule). Scholars have connected the celebration to the Wild Hunt, the god Odin and the pagan Anglo-Saxon Modranicht.

Terms with an etymological equivalent to Yule are used in the Nordic countries for Christmas with its religious rites, but also for the holidays of this season. Yule is also used to a lesser extent in English-speaking countries to refer to Christmas. Customs such as the Yule log, Yule goat, Yule boar, Yule singing, and others stem from Yule. A number of Neopagans have introduced their own rites.

 

Yule is the modern English representation of the Old English words ġéol or ġéohol and ġéola or ġéoli, with the former indicating the 12-day festival of “Yule” (later: “Christmastide“) and the latter indicating the month of “Yule”, whereby ǽrra ġéola referred to the period before the Yule festival (December) and æftera ġéola referred to the period after Yule (January). Both words are thought to be derived from Common Germanic *jeχʷla-, and are cognate with Gothic (fruma) jiuleis and Old Norse (Icelandic and Faroese) jól (Danish and Swedish jul and Norwegian jul or jol) as well as ýlir,  Estonian jõul(ud) and Finnish joulu. The etymological pedigree of the word, however, remains uncertain, though numerous speculative attempts have been made to find Indo-European cognates outside the Germanic group, too.

The noun Yuletide is first attested from around 1475.  The word is attested in an explicitly pre-Christian context primarily in Old Norse. Among many others (see List of names of Odin), the long-bearded god Odin bears the names jólfaðr (Old Norse ‘Yule father’) and jólnir (Old Norse ‘the Yule one’). In plural (Old Norse jólnar; ‘the Yule ones’) may refer to the Norse gods in general. In Old Norse poetry, the word is often employed as a synonym for ‘feast’, such as in the kenning hugins jól (Old Norse ‘Huginn‘s Yule’ > ‘a raven’s feast’).

 

Yule is attested early in the history of the Germanic peoples; from the 4th century Gothic language it appears in the month name fruma jiuleis, and, in the 8th century, the English historian Bede wrote that the Anglo-Saxon calendar included the months geola or giuli corresponding with either modern December or December and January.

While the Old Norse month name ýlir is similarly attested, the Old Norse corpus also contains numerous references to an event by the Old Norse form of the name, jól. In chapter 55 of the Prose Edda book Skáldskaparmál, different names for the gods are given. One of the names provided is “Yule-beings.” A work by the skald Eyvindr Skáldaspillir that uses the term is then quoted, which reads “again we have produced Yule-being’s feast [mead of poetry], our rulers’ eulogy, like a bridge of masonry.”  In addition, one of the numerous names of Odin is Jólnir, referring to the event.

The Saga of Hákon the Good credits King Haakon I of Norway with the Christianization of Norway as well as rescheduling the date of Yule to coincide with Christian celebrations held at the time. The saga states that when Haakon arrived in Norway he was confirmed a Christian, but since the land was still altogether heathen and the people retained their pagan practices, Haakon hid his Christianity to receive the help of the “great chieftains.” In time, Haakon had a law passed establishing that Yule celebrations were to take place at the same time as the Christians celebrated Christmas, “and at that time everyone was to have ale for the celebration with a measure of grain, or else pay fines, and had to keep the holiday while the ale lasted.”

Yule had previously been celebrated for three nights from midwinter night, according to the saga. Haakon planned that when he had solidly established himself and held power over the whole country, he would then “have the gospel preached.” According to the saga, the result was that his popularity caused many to allow themselves to be baptised, and some people stopped making sacrifices. Haakon spent most of this time in Trondheim, Norway. When Haakon believed that he wielded enough power, he requested a bishop and other priests from England, and they came to Norway. On their arrival, “Haakon made it known that he would have the gospel preached in the whole country.” The saga continues, describing the different reactions of various regional things.

                     It was ancient custom that when sacrifice was to be made, all farmers were to come to the heathen temple and bring along with them the food they needed while the feast lasted. At this feast all were to take part of the drinking of ale. Also all kinds of livestock were killed in connection with it, horses also; and all the blood from them was called hlaut [ sacrificial blood ], and hlautbolli, the vessel holding the blood; and hlautteinar, the sacrificial twigs [ aspergills ]. These were fashioned like sprinklers, and with them were to be smeared all over with blood the pedestals of the idols and also the walls of the temple within and without; and likewise the men present were to be sprinkled with blood. But the meat of the animals was to be boiled and served as food at the banquet. Fires were to be lighted in the middle of the temple floor, and kettles hung over them. The sacrificial beaker was to be borne around the fire, and he who made the feast and was chieftain, was to bless the beaker as well as all the sacrificial meat.

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The narrative continues that toasts were to be drunk. The first toast was to be drunk to Odin “for victory and power to the king”, the second to the gods Njörðr and Freyr “for good harvests and for peace”, and thirdly a beaker was to be drunk to the king himself. In addition, toasts were drunk to the memory of departed kinsfolk. These were called “minni [memorial toast]”.

The Svarfdæla saga records a story in which a berserker put off a duel until three days after Yule to honour the sanctity of the holiday. Grettis Saga refers to Yule as a time of “greatest mirth and joy among men.”  This saga is set soon after Iceland converted to Christianity and identifies Yule with Christmas: “No Christian man is wont to eat meat this day [Yule Eve], because that on the morrow is the first day of Yule,” says she, “wherefore must men first fast today.”

Haakon the Good ruled Norway during the early 900s. He lived from 920-961 and spent most of his youth being raised in England and fostered by King Haakon was fostered by King Athelstan, as part of a peace agreement made by his father, for which reason Haakon was nicknamed Adalsteinfostre.  The English king brought him up in the Christian religion.  When Haakon returned to Norway to claim his throne, he was successful in every way except converting the Norse to Christianity. Haakon was frequently successful in everything he undertook except in his attempt to introduce Christianity, which aroused an opposition he did not feel strong enough to face. So entirely did even his immediate circle ignore his religion that Eyvindr Skáldaspillir, his court poet, composed the poem Hákonarmál on his death, representing his reception by the Norse gods into Valhalla.

The Nordic regions were the most resistant and longest hold outs to the conversion to Christianity, perhaps that is one of the reasons that their ancient traditions have remained with us even though for the most part, theirs was an oral history and language. Their ancient beliefs were so strong that they have continued to influence us to the present day.

Scholars have connected the month event and Yule time period to the Wild Hunt (a ghostly procession in the winter sky), the god Odin (who is attested in Germanic areas as leading the Wild Hunt and, as mentioned above, bears the name Jólnir), and increased supernatural activity, such as the aforementioned Wild Hunt and the increased activities of draugar—undead beings who walk the earth.

Modranicht, an event focused on collective female beings attested by Bede as having occurred among the pagan Anglo-Saxons on what is now Christmas Eve, has been seen as further evidence of a fertility event during the Yule period.

The events of Yule are generally held to have centred on Midwinter (although specific dating is a matter of debate), and feasting, drinking, and sacrifice (blót) were involved. Scholar Rudolf Simek comments that the pagan Yule feast “had a pronounced religious character” and comments that “it is uncertain whether the Germanic Yule feast still had a function in the cult of the dead and in the veneration of the ancestors, a function which the mid-winter sacrifice certainly held for the West European Stone and Bronze Ages.” The traditions of the Yule log, Yule goat, Yule boar (Sonargöltr) still reflected in the Christmas ham, Yule singing, and others stem from Yule customs, and customs which Simek takes as “indicat[ing] the significance of the feast in pre-Christian times.”

When the Norse migrated to the British Isles, they brought their religion, their beliefs, traditions and Yule with them.  In the northern regions such as Scotland, traces of it can be found in Hogmanay, and throughout the rest of the Isles, it has merged with the celebration of Christmas until it is difficult to differentiate any of it!

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The celebration of Yule became Yuletide, Christmastide, Candlemas, Twelve days of Christmas… All of these had origins and roots in the ancient Yule celebration and observance.

One of the most familiar of the traditions is the Yule log.

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A yule log is a large wooden log which is burned in the hearth as a part of traditional Yule or modern Christmas celebrations in several European cultures. It may also be associated with the winter solstice festival or the Twelve Days of Christmas, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, or Twelfth Night.

The Yule log has been said to have its origins in the historical Germanic paganism which was practiced across Northern Europe prior to Christianization. One of the first people to suggest this was the English historian Henry Bourne, who, writing in the 1720s, described the practice occurring in the Tyne valley. Bourne theorised that the practice derives from customs in 6th to 7th century Anglo-Saxon paganism.

Robert Chambers, in his 1864 work, Book of Days notes that “two popular observances belonging to Christmas are more especially derived from the worship of our pagan ancestors—the hanging up of the mistletoe and the burning of the Yule log.” James George Frazer in his work on anthropology, The Golden Bough (p. 736) holds that “the ancient fire-festival of the winter solstice appears to survive” in the Yule log custom. Frazer records traditions from England, France, among the South Slavs, in Central Germany (Meiningen) and western Switzerland (the Bernese Jura).

There is some controversy over the origin of the tradition in England.   Because there are no accounts of the custom in Great Britain prior to the 17th century, some historians and folklorists have theorised that it was not an ancient British custom but was in fact imported into Britain from continental Europe in the early modern period, possibly from Flanders in Belgium, where the tradition thrived in this period. My personal theory on this is that once the Saxons and Vikings who remained in  England converted to Christianity, the practice would have been set aside in the Nobility classes who were trying to adhere to the Church beliefs. It most likely would have continued in rural areas that held on to the old ways much longer.  When the practice returned in the 1600s, it would have been looked on as a novel, new and festive tradition without the previous ties to the pagan religion. There would have been those who remembered the old ways though and embraced this new acceptance of the practice.

The earliest origins of burning the yule log probably involved burning the log outdoors together as a group to keep the darkness at bay on the longest night of the year until the sun returned.  There is evidence of burning of sacred trees such as the Yew tree in ancient Britain.  Fire was sacred to all ancients and they would have revered the burning of  such large and sacred trees as offerings to their Gods.

http://www.walkhighlands.co.uk/news/the-oldest-living-thing-in-europe/0012067/

 

The yule log is a remnant of the bonfires that the European pagans would set ablaze at the time of winter solstice. These bonfires symbolized the return of the Sun.

An oak log, plus a fireplace or bonfire area is needed for this form of celebration. The oak log should be very dry so that it will blaze well. On the night of Yule, carve a symbol of your hopes for the coming year into the log. Burn the log to release it’s power. It can be decorated with burnable red ribbons of natural fiber and dried holly leaves. In the fireplace or bonfire area, dried kindling should be set to facilitate the burning of the log.The Yule log can be made of any wood (Oak is traditional). Each releases its own kind of magick.

Ash — brings protection, prosperity, and health

Aspen — invokes understanding of the grand design

Birch — signifies new beginnings

Holly — inspires visions and reveals past lives

Oak — brings healing, strength, and wisdom

Pine — signifies prosperity and growth

Willow — invokes the Goddess to achieve desires

http://thecronescottage.tripod.com/thecottagedecyule2001/id16.html

Yule and it’s Viking origins of Odin the Wanderer

Odin on his eight legged horse.

Odin on his eight legged horse.

wodin

Long before Christianity spread throughout the world, Pagan rituals and customs were prevalent throughout the lands and there was another whose arrival was long awaited by the inhabitants of northern Germany and Scandinavia – Odin the Wanderer or Wodan, the father of all the gods. Also known as the warrior god, the legends that became part of our Santa tradition were mostly of the benevolent kind. It was Odin who traveled the skies by night on his sled with his eight-legged horse Sleipner bringing gifts of bread for those in need.

According to Viking lore, the northern Germans and Scandinavians celebrated Yule, a pagan religious festival heralding the arrival of the winter solstice from mid-December to early January. During this time, many believed that Odin, disguised in a long blue-hooded cloak, would travel to earth on his eight-legged horse, to observe homesteaders gathered around the campfires to see how content the people were and for those in need of food, he left his gifts of bread and disappeared.

As traditions grew over time, the children of these lands would anticipate the arrival of gift-bearing Odin and would fill their boots with straw, carrots or sugar and place them near the fireplace so that Sleipnir could come down to eat during his midnight rides. Odin would then reward these kind children by replacing the food with gifts and candy treats inside the boots.

By now, you can see that many of those traditions transcended time albeit with slight changes: the eight-legged horse became eight tiny reindeer; the boots by the fireplaces would eventually become stockings “hung by the chimney with care;” and the food and candy, well those became to toys from the chief toymakers of the land – Santa and his elves!

Although Odin and Santa share many characteristics in that they both are older men with white beards and donning cloaks, there is one striking difference between the two – Odin is missing his left eye. According to legend, Odin ventured to Mimir’s Well, near Jötunheim, the land of the giants, as not Odin himself, but as Vegtam the Wanderer.  To gain knowledge of the past, present and future, Odin had to drink from the Well of Wisdom but for a price.  Ultimately, he had to sacrifice his left eye and today, it lies at the bottom of this Well of Wisdom as a symbol of the price he paid for the wisdom he possesses.  Fascinating legend!   

Upon the advent of Christianity, Odin eventually evolved into Saint Nicholas or Santa Claus and today, the children await the arrival of Sinterklaas or Santa Claus or both.   According to legend, Odin, the father of all the gods, portrayed one of twelve characters each month of the year. In December, he became Jul and the season of his arrival was known as Jultid or Yuletide.

http://www.examiner.com/article/christmas-traditions-europe-odin-and-the-celebration-of-yule

 

The time of Yule was one of great feasting and merriment as well as being full of sacred rituals.  Besides being a time of greatest darkness and fear, it was also a time to look forward to the sun’s lengthening and to new beginnings.

 

We have been focusing our discussion around the time period of the 800s with the Vikings arrival in England. I have chosen this time period because it provides for a good comparison between the early Christian Church’s influence and the still strong beliefs held by those Vikings. I think it is one of the most interesting eras for the specific reason that it shaped the future of  Europe in so many ways,  was a turning point, and yet left such long lasting traces of the ancient beliefs. This time frame also showed how much power and influence the Roman Catholic Church had at the time in the fact that it so quickly assimilated and converted the Anglo-Saxons in the area. Prior to the 800s, the Saxons were still holding on to their Northern Germanic identities and cultures. Within the space of  less than a century for the most part, those Saxons had completely settled into the areas of Britain.  They became the dominant force with the help of the Church, and had as a compromise, given up any outward sign of their previous culture and belief system. I say outward sign, because many of the Overlords held their old beliefs in some secrecy and it was more a matter of acceding to the Church as a way of receiving the benefits the Church could provide.

 

When the Vikings arrived in England, they were introduced to new teachings, new ways and beliefs. These new beliefs would have an affect on many of the Vikings and would cause them to rethink their own ways.  For what ever reasons, the Vikings would not  forget their old beliefs and traditions as quickly or as easily as the previous Anglo-Saxons had. It would be a long struggle for Christianity to convert these followers of the old Norse Gods and Goddesses.

 

Even the ancient Yule log has taken on a more Christian symbolic form.  The original log with it’s adornments of nature’s symbols attached to it have been replaced with Christian symbolism in the more modern tradition of a small log with three candles to represent the Holy Trinity.  Where once the Holly and Ivy that may have been wrapped around it had more pagan meanings, now they are a part of the Christian symbolism. Holly was once associated with ancient Romans and Druids. 

yule3 yule

 

European Holly  was sacred to druids  who associated it with the winter solstice, and for Romans, holly was considered the plant of Saturn.  European Holly has always traditionally had a strong association with Christmas. Henry VIII wrote a love song Green groweth the holly which alludes to holly and ivy resisting winter blasts and not changing their green hue So I am and ever hath been Unto my lady true.

The Holly and Ivy once symbolized the masculine and feminine and would have probably been an integral part of some Winter Solstice observances that included fertility and new beginnings.

The Christian symbolism of Holly and Ivy are presented in the Christmas Carol, The Holly and the Ivy

The holly and the ivy, when they are both full grown,Of all the trees that are in the wood, the holly bears the crown.

Refrain:
Oh, the rising of the sun and the running of the deer,
The playing of the merry organ, sweet singing in the choir.
The holly bears a blossom as white as lily flower,
And Mary bore sweet Jesus Christ to be our sweet saviour
Refrain
The holly bears a berry as red as any blood,
And Mary bore sweet Jesus Christ to do poor sinners good.
Refrain
The holly bears a prickle as sharp as any thorn,
And Mary bore sweet Jesus Christ on Christmas Day in the morn.
Refrain
The holly bears a bark as bitter as any gall,
And Mary bore sweet Jesus Christ for to redeem us all.

Earlier Carols reference the more ancient and pagan origins and meanings.

An early book mentions the carol as well as a manuscript containing a more ancient song which is, or was, in the British Museum. The book was printed in 1823 and entitled Ancient Mysteries Described: Especially the English Miracle Plays founded on Aprocryphal New Testament Story extant among the unpublished manuscripts in the British Museum by the author, investigative journalist, devout Christian and former satirist, William Hone (1780–1842), and printed at 45 Ludgate Hill London. The book contains a list of carols (p 99) described as Christmas Carols now annually Printed including 70. The holly and the ivy, now are both well grown.

The book also describes (p 94) a British Museum manuscript: The same volume contains a song on the Holly and the Ivy which I mention because there is an old Carol on the same subject still printed. The MS begins with,

Holly and ivy in the snow in Elmstead Wood

Nay, my nay, hyt shal not be I wys,
Let holy hafe the maystry, as the maner ys:
Holy stond in the hall, faire to behold,
Ivy stond without the dore, she ys ful sore acold,
Nay, my nay etc
Holy and hys mery men, they dawnseyn and they syng,
Ivy and hur maydyns, they wepen and they wryng.
Nay, my nay etc’

The music and most of the text was also collected later by Cecil Sharp (1859–1924) from a woman in Chipping Campden, Gloucestershire which is also related to the older carol described as: “The Contest of the Ivy and the Holly”, a contest between the traditional emblems of woman and man respectively.

Holly stands in the hall, fair to behold:
Ivy stands without the door, she is full sore a cold.
Nay, ivy, nay, it shall not be I wis;
Let holly have the mastery, as the manner is.
Holly and his merry men, they dance and they sing,
Ivy and her maidens, they weep and they wring.
Nay, ivy, nay, it shall not be I wis;
Let holly have the mastery, as the manner is.
Ivy hath chapped fingers, she caught them from the cold,
So might they all have, aye, that with ivy hold.
Nay, ivy, nay, it shall not be I wis;
Let holly have the mastery, as the manner is.
Holly hath berries red as any rose,
The forester, the hunter, keep them from the does.
Nay, ivy, nay, it shall not be I wis;
Let holly have the mastery, as the manner is.
Ivy hath berries black as any sloe;
There come the owl and eat him as she go.
Nay, ivy, nay, it shall not be I wis;
Let holly have the mastery, as the manner is.
Holly hath birds a fair full flock,
The nightingale, the popinjay, the gentle laverock.
Nay, ivy, nay, it shall not be I wis;
Let holly have the mastery, as the manner is.
Good ivy, what birds hast thou?
None but the owlet that cries how, how.
Nay, ivy, nay, it shall not be I wis;
Let holly have the mastery, as the manner is.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Holly_and_the_Ivy

 

 

On a personal note, after much reflection on all of the history, and fond memories from my childhood, I chose to include a yule log in our holiday celebration this year.   Growing up, my family was not overly religious and we celebrated the holiday for it’s family traditions rather than any deeply religious or spiritual beliefs. Most of our holiday traditions were family oriented and tied to the traditions of my parents from when they grew up. Often they wouldn’t even know the reason or origin of a tradition other than, “It’s just what we’ve always done.”  My Mother was German, my Father was of  English and Dutch descent, but one thing they both held memories of was the Yule log. So, we always had one as décor at the holidays.

This year, I brought back the tradition. For our family tradition, it had to be a birch log…probably because we lived in Northern Minnesota where the Birch was abundant! Now, after reading some of the symbolism, the Birch does make sense as it represents new beginnings.  Of course, living here in California, I had some difficulty getting a birch log! Amazon.com to the rescue though, and I was able to receive a birch log from my homeland of Northern Minnesota!

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It came with the modern Christian symbolism of the trinity of candles and I am fine with that. I did give much thought to the decoration of it though, in reference to more ancient symbolism. Alas… No, I do not have a fire place to put it into so decorating around it will have to suffice.

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I used a combination of natural live greenery and some artificial to achieve the affect I wanted, only because I could not find easily purchasable fresh holly or mistletoe.

yule log finished

yule log finished

The Mistletoe Magic :

From the earliest times mistletoe has been one of the most magical, mysterious, and sacred plants of European folklore. It was considered to bestow life and fertility; a protection against poison; and an aphrodisiac. The mistletoe of the sacred oak was especially sacred to the ancient Celtic Druids. On the sixth night of the moon white-robed Druid priests would cut the oak mistletoe with a golden sickle. Two white bulls would be sacrificed amid prayers that the recipients of the mistletoe would prosper. Later, the ritual of cutting the mistletoe from the oak came to symbolize the emasculation of the old King by his successor. Mistletoe was long regarded as both a sexual symbol and the “soul” of the oak. It was gathered at both mid-summer and winter solstices, and the custom of using mistletoe to decorate houses at Christmas is a survival of the Druid and other pre-Christian traditions. The Greeks also thought that it had mystical powers and down through the centuries it became associated with many folklore customs. In the Middle Ages and later, branches of mistletoe were hung from ceilings to ward off evil spirits. In Europe they were placed over house and stable doors to prevent the entrance of witches. It was also believed that the oak mistletoe could extinguish fire. This was associated with an earlier belief that the mistletoe itself could come to the tree during a flash of lightning. The traditions which began with the European mistletoe were transferred to the similar American plant with the process of immigration and settlement.

 Mistletoe_Berries_Uk mistletoe2

The Legend :

For its supposedly mystical power mistletoe has long been at the center of many folklore. One is associated with the Goddess Frigga. The story goes that Mistletoe was the sacred plant of Frigga, goddess of love and the mother of Balder, the god of the summer sun. Balder had a dream of death which greatly alarmed his mother, for should he die, all life on earth would end. In an attempt to keep this from happening, Frigga went at once to air, fire, water, earth, and every animal and plant seeking a promise that no harm would come to her son. Balder now could not be hurt by anything on earth or under the earth. But Balder had one enemy, Loki, god of evil and he knew of one plant that Frigga had overlooked in her quest to keep her son safe. It grew neither on the earth nor under the earth, but on apple and oak trees. It was lowly mistletoe. So Loki made an arrow tip of the mistletoe, gave to the blind god of winter, Hoder, who shot it , striking Balder dead. The sky paled and all things in earth and heaven wept for the sun god. For three days each element tried to bring Balder back to life. He was finally restored by Frigga, the goddess and his mother. It is said the tears she shed for her son turned into the pearly white berries on the mistletoe plant and in her joy Frigga kissed everyone who passed beneath the tree on which it grew. The story ends with a decree that who should ever stand under the humble mistletoe, no harm should befall them, only a kiss, a token of love. What could be more natural than to translate the spirit of this old myth into a Christian way of thinking and accept the mistletoe as the emblem of that Love which conquers Death? Its medicinal properties, whether real or imaginary, make it a just emblematic of that Tree of Life, the leaves of which are for the healing of the nations thus paralleling it to the Virgin Birth of Christ.
Read more at http://www.theholidayspot.com/christmas/history/mistletoe.htm#c7QoxysJ1HStX4Xw.99

 

As we close out this year and prepare for the beginnings of the new year, we pay tribute to those Saxons and  Vikings who met each other in England so long ago. The new ways of the Christian Church met the old beliefs of the Norse Gods and there would be a long dark battle to see the light again. What would emerge was a new beginning, a merging of cultures and traditions even though the Church would attempt ever after to gloss over those old beliefs, eradicate them and turn them into Church approved symbolism.

 

craigh_na_dun_time tours

https://timeslipsblog.wordpress.com/2014/11/29/beyond-crag-na-dun-other-sites-and-options-for-your-time-travel-experience/

 

In the coming year, I will be embarking on my Viking time travel adventure courtesy of Mrs. Graham and Crag na dun Time Travel, so I thought it appropriate at this time to pass along Yule Tide and Odin’s Feast greetings from some of those who will be involved in this experience!

viking yule2

Ragnar Lodbrok and his wife, Auslag bid you welcome to their feast at Kattegat.

 

 

Kattegat, Danemark

Kattegat, Danemark

King Egbert of Wessex sends his own greetings and warnings from the Saxon Christians of England

vikings_episode4_gallery_1-P

 

 

King Ecgbert of Wessex

King Ecgbert of Wessex

Egbert_of_Wessex_map

Athelstan the Monk sends his prayers to all.

 

Athelstan the Monk

 

 

Rollo, brother of Ragnar bids you not to forget the old ways and the fires burning from within.

Old ways of yule

Lagertha, one time wife of Ragnar Lodbrok, valiant Shield Maiden and now an Earl in her own right, sends blessings from her home of choice- Hedeby, Scandinavia.

Lagertha's Yule greeting

hedeby2 Hedeby3

 

 

 

 

Time Traveler’s guide to Christmas: Pre-Christian roots

Music to accompany your holiday time travel journey: https://timeslipsblog.wordpress.com/2014/12/16/musical-inspiration-christmas-music/

 

 History of Christmas in early England

Previous post: https://timeslipsblog.wordpress.com/2014/12/12/time-travelers-guide-to-christmas-part-one/

yule3

As I mentioned in the previous post, this next discussion will focus on earlier forms of celebrating Christmas. As we work through the history, you will find that many of the customs and traditions you follow now as Christmas celebrations are passed on from much earlier pre-Christian winter Solstice celebrations.  Some of them are remnants of Roman traditions but the majority of them that we are most familiar with stem from ancient Germanic and Nordic beliefs and customs. As we saw in the previous post, the earliest Norse migration into northern Scotland and the later Saxon and Viking migrations into the southern portions of the British Isles infused the cultures there with those Germanic and Norse traditions.  The earliest Romans also left their mark in some ways, but towards the end of their occupation of the land, they had become Christians and would eventually bring Christianity to the land.

 

 Roman traditions and beliefs

The druids, the Celtic priestly caste who were believed to originate in Britain,  were outlawed by Claudius,  and in 61 they vainly defended their sacred groves from destruction by the Romans on the island of Mona (Anglesey).  However, under Roman rule the Britons continued to worship native Celtic deities, such as Ancasta, but often conflated with their Roman equivalents, like Mars Rigonemetos at Nettleham.

The degree to which earlier native beliefs survived is difficult to gauge precisely. Certain European ritual traits such as the significance of the number 3, the importance of the head and of water sources such as springs remain in the archaeological record, but the differences in the votive offerings made at the baths at Bath, Somerset, before and after the Roman conquest suggest that continuity was only partial. Worship of the Roman emperor is widely recorded, especially at military sites. The founding of a Roman temple to Claudius at Camulodunum was one of the impositions that led to the revolt of Boudica. By the 3rd century, Pagans Hill Roman Temple in Somerset was able to exist peaceably and it did so into the 5th century.

Eastern cults such as Mithraism also grew in popularity towards the end of the occupation. The Temple of Mithras is one example of the popularity of mystery religions amongst the rich urban classes and temples to Mithras also exist in military contexts at Vindobala on Hadrian’s Wall (the Rudchester Mithraeum) and at Segontium in Roman Wales (the Caernarfon Mithraeum).

 

Fourth century Chi-Rho fresco from Lullingstone Roman Villa, Kent, which contains the only known Christian paintings from the Roman era in Britain.

It is not clear when or how Christianity came to Britain. A 2nd-century “word square” has been discovered in Mamucium, the Roman settlement of Manchester.  It consists of an anagram of PATER NOSTER carved on a piece of amphora. There has been discussion by academics whether the “word square” is actually a Christian artefact, but if it is, it is one of the earliest examples of early Christianity in Britain.  The earliest confirmed written evidence for Christianity in Britain is a statement by Tertullian, c. 200 AD, in which he described “all the limits of the Spains, and the diverse nations of the Gauls, and the haunts of the Britons, inaccessible to the Romans, but subjugated to Christ”.  Archaeological evidence for Christian communities begins to appear in the 3rd and 4th centuries. Small timber churches are suggested at Lincoln and Silchester and baptismal fonts have been found at Icklingham and the Saxon Shore Fort at Richborough. The Icklingham font is made of lead, and visible in the British Museum. A Roman Christian graveyard exists at the same site in Icklingham. A possible Roman 4th century church and associated burial ground was also discovered at Butt Road on the south-west outskirts of Colchester during the construction of the new police station there, overlying an earlier pagan cemetery. The Water Newton Treasure is a hoard of Christian silver church plate from the early 4th century and the Roman villas at Lullingstone and Hinton St Mary contained Christian wall paintings and mosaics respectively. A large 4th century cemetery at Poundbury with its east-west oriented burials and lack of grave goods has been interpreted as an early Christian burial ground, although such burial rites were also becoming increasingly common in pagan contexts during the period.

The Church in Britain seems to have developed the customary diocesan system, as evidenced from the records of the Council of Arles in Gaul in 314: represented at the Council were bishops from thirty-five sees from Europe and North Africa, including three bishops from Britain, Eborius of York, Restitutus of London, and Adelphius, possibly a bishop of Lincoln. No other early sees are documented, and the material remains of early church structures are far to seek.  The existence of a church in the forum courtyard of Lincoln and the martyrium of Saint Alban on the outskirts of Roman Verulamium are exceptional.  Alban, the first British Christian martyr and by far the most prominent, is believed to have died in the early 4th century (although some date him in the middle 3rd century), followed by Saints Julius and Aaron of Isca Augusta. Christianity was legalised in the Roman Empire by Constantine I in 313. Theodosius I made Christianity the state religion of the empire in 391, and by the 5th century it was well established. One belief labelled a heresy by the church authorities — Pelagianism — was originated by a British monk teaching in Rome: Pelagius lived c. 354 to c. 420/440.

A letter found on a lead tablet in Bath, Somerset, datable to c. 363, had been widely publicised as documentary evidence regarding the state of Christianity in Britain during Roman times. According to its first translator, it was written in Wroxeter by a Christian man called Vinisius to a Christian woman called Nigra, and was claimed as the first epigraphic record of Christianity in Britain. However, this translation of the letter was apparently based on grave paleographical errors, and the text, in fact, has nothing to do with Christianity, and in fact relates to pagan rituals.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roman_Britain#Religion_2

While this may not seem related to our discussion of early Christmas traditions, it is important to know some of the early history of the land in order to better understand how the various beliefs and traditions came to merge together and become what we observe and practice today. It is of course, extremely important to any time traveler who might find themselves in such an earlier time period either by choice… or as the result of any miscalculation or error in the time travel mechanism! While Crag na dun Time Travel has perfected it’s travel, there is always the slight chance of malfunction resulting in a misplacement in time. In these rare cases, Crag na dun Travel will offer full refund and reimbursement upon your return. Please keep some receipt of travel to the time period as your proof of error on their part! Now, back to our discussion…

During the Roman occupation of the British Isles, they most likely left traces of their own midwinter celebrations. Their occupation of the area lasted for some time, from about 45Ad to the late 5th century.  Over those centuries, they made the transition from paganism to Christianity but many still practices and observed their Pagan festivals even after turning to Christianity. One such festival was that of Saturnalia.

Saturnalia

Saturnalia was an ancient Roman festival in honor of the deity Saturn, held on the 17th of December of the Julian calendar and later expanded with festivities through to the 23rd of December. The holiday was celebrated with a sacrifice at the Temple of Saturn, in the Roman Forum, and a public banquet, followed by private gift-giving, continual partying, and a carnival atmosphere that overturned Roman social norms: gambling was permitted, and masters provided table service for their slaves. The poet Catullus called it “the best of days.”

In Roman mythology, Saturn was an agricultural deity who was said to have reigned over the world in the Golden Age, when humans enjoyed the spontaneous bounty of the earth without labor in a state of social egalitarianism. The revelries of Saturnalia were supposed to reflect the conditions of the lost mythical age, not all of them desirable. The Greek equivalent was the Kronia.

Although probably the best-known Roman holiday, Saturnalia as a whole is not described from beginning to end in any single ancient source. Modern understanding of the festival is pieced together from several accounts dealing with various aspects.  The Saturnalia was the dramatic setting of the multivolume work of that name by Macrobius, a Latin writer from late antiquity who is the major source for information about the holiday. In one of the interpretations in Macrobius’s work, Saturnalia is a festival of light leading to the winter solstice, with the abundant presence of candles symbolizing the quest for knowledge and truth.  The renewal of light and the coming of the new year was celebrated in the later Roman Empire at the Dies Natalis of Sol Invictus, the “Birthday of the Unconquerable Sun,” on December 25.

The popularity of Saturnalia continued into the third and fourth centuries AD, and as the Roman Empire came under Christian rule, some of its customs have influenced the seasonal celebrations surrounding Christmas and the New Year.

The poet Catullus describes Saturnalia as the best of days. It was a time of celebration, visits to friends, and gift-giving, particularly of wax candles (cerei), and earthenware figurines (sigillaria). The best part of the Saturnalia (for slaves) was the temporary reversal of roles. Masters served meals to their slaves who were permitted the unaccustomed luxuries of leisure and gambling. Clothing was relaxed and included the peaked woollen cap that symbolized the freed slave, which looks an awful lot like Santa Claus’s peaked red hat . A member of the familia (family plus slaves) was appointed Saturnalicius princeps, roughly, Lord of Misrule.

So, the tradition of Saturnalia left us with gift giving, candles, Santa’s red hat… and the Lord of Misrule!

 

Lord of Misrule

In England, the Lord of Misrule — known in Scotland as the Abbot of Unreason and in France as the Prince des Sots — was an officer appointed by lot at Christmas to preside over the Feast of Fools. The Lord of Misrule was generally a peasant or sub-deacon appointed to be in charge of Christmas revelries, which often included drunkenness and wild partying, in the pagan tradition of Saturnalia.

The Church held a similar festival involving a Boy Bishop. This custom was abolished by Henry VIII in 1541, restored by the Catholic Queen Mary I and again abolished by Protestant Elizabeth I, though here and there it lingered on for some time longer.[1] On the Continent it was suppressed by the Council of Basle in 1431, but was revived in some places from time to time, even as late as the eighteenth century.

 

In the spirit of misrule, identified by the grinning masks in the corners, medieval floor tiles from the Derby Black Friary show a triumphant hunting hare mounted on a dog.

While mostly known as a British holiday custom, the appointment of a Lord of Misrule comes from antiquity. In ancient Rome, from the 17th to the 23rd of December, a Lord of Misrule was appointed for the feast of Saturnalia, in the guise of the good god Saturn. During this time the ordinary rules of life were subverted as masters served their slaves, and the offices of state were held by slaves. The Lord of Misrule presided over all of this, and had the power to command anyone to do anything during the holiday period. This holiday seems to be the precursor to the more modern holiday, and it carried over into the Christian era.

In the Tudor period the Lord of Misrule is mentioned a number of times by contemporary documents referring to both revels at court and among the ordinary people.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lord_of_Misrule

 

Boxing Day

In addition to the already listed contributions, the Romans were also responsible for the eventual tradition and holiday of Boxing Day, which is celebrated throughout the British Isles.

The exact etymology of the term “boxing day” is unclear. There are several competing theories, none of which is definitive.  The European tradition, which has long included giving money and other gifts to those who were needy and in service positions, has been dated to the Middle Ages, but the exact origin is unknown. It is believed to be in reference to the Alms Box placed in places of worship to collect donations to the poor. Also, it may come from a custom in the late Roman/early Christian era, wherein metal boxes placed outside churches were used to collect special offerings tied to the Feast of Saint Stephen, which in the Western Church falls on the same day as Boxing Day.

In Britain, it was a custom for tradespeople to collect “Christmas boxes” of money or presents on the first weekday after Christmas as thanks for good service throughout the year.This is mentioned in Samuel Pepys‘ diary entry for 19 December 1663.  This custom is linked to an older English tradition: since they would have to wait on their masters on Christmas Day, the servants of the wealthy were allowed the next day to visit their families. The employers would give each servant a box to take home containing gifts and bonuses, and maybe sometimes leftover food.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boxing_Day

 

Anglo-saxon  period, traditions and beliefs

The Romans left the British Isles around the end of the 5th century and were replaced by the Angles/ Saxon invasion and migration into the area. They arrived during the 5th century and remained a dominant force until 1066 and William the Conqueror took over the land.

The Anglo-Saxons were a people who inhabited Great Britain from the 5th century. They included people from Germanic tribes who migrated to the island from continental Europe, and their descendants; as well as indigenous British groups who adopted some aspects of Anglo-Saxon culture and language. The Anglo-Saxon period denotes the period of British history between about 450 and 1066, after their initial settlement, and up until the Norman conquest.

The Anglo-Saxon period includes the creation of an English nation, with many of the aspects that survive today including regional government of shires and hundreds; the re-establishment of Christianity; a flowering in literature and language; and the establishment of charters and law. The term Anglo-Saxon is also popularly used for the language, in scholarly use more usually called Old English, that was spoken and written by the Anglo-Saxons in England and eastern Scotland between at least the mid-5th century and the mid-12th century.

The history of the Anglo-Saxons is the history of a cultural identity, and how this developed from divergent groups, grew with the adoption of Christianity, was used in the establishment of various kingdoms, and, in the face of a threat from Danish settlers, re-established itself as one identity until after the Norman Conquest.  The outward appearance of Anglo-Saxon culture can be seen in the material culture of buildings, dress styles, illuminated texts and grave goods. Behind the symbolic nature of these cultural emblems there are strong elements of tribal and lordship ties, and an elite that became kings who developed burhs, and saw themselves and their people in Biblical terms. Above all, as Helena Hamerow has observed, “local and extended kin groups remained…the essential unit of production throughout the Anglo-Saxon period”.

Use of the term Anglo-Saxon assumes that the words Angles, Saxons or Anglo-Saxon have the same meaning in all the sources. Assigning ethnic labels such as “Anglo-Saxon” is fraught with difficulties, and the term itself only began to be used in the 8th century to distinguish “Germanic” groups in Britain from those on the continent.  Catherine Hills summarised the views of many modern scholars that attitudes towards Anglo-Saxon and hence the interpretation of their culture and history has been “more contingent on contemporary political and religious theology as on any kind of evidence.”

The history of the Saxons is far too in depth and extensive to delve into here and does not pertain all that much to our discussion of early Christmas traditions and beliefs. The most important thing to keep in mind and consider is that they were made of a variety of northern Germanic tribes. While some of these tribes were early converts to Christianity, many of them were not and brought with them their more Norse beliefs.

800px-Anglo_Saxon_migration_5th_cen

Many of the early Saxons had similar beliefs to the later Viking invaders, though as time passed they became the minority and were eventually over taken by those who had converted to Christianity.

For a more detailed and in depth look at these early Saxons, their struggle to hold on to their old ways and their eventual demise under the Christian influence, I would highly suggest you read this series of books by Octavia Randolph. I suggest here mainly because she deals with the early Saxon beliefs and how closely they were connected to the Norse/Vikings beliefs of the time. She also has excellent descriptions of some of their traditions and celebrations! It is a series of four books that tell a young woman’s journey through the Viking conquests of early England and then her life in the northern lands of  Danemark, and Gotland.

circle of ceridwen1

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23123223-the-circle-of-ceridwen

In Circle of Ceridwen, Octavia Randolph discusses in great detail, the Saxon belief in Woden and  it’s close connection to the Viking belief in Odin.

 

 

Woden in Anglo-Saxon England

“If a West Saxon farmer in pagan times had walked out of his bury or ton above the Vale of Pewsey some autumn day, and looking up to the hills had caught sight of a bearded stranger seeming in long cloak larger than life as he stalked the skyline through the low cloud; and if they had met at the gallows by the cross-roads where a body still dangled; and if the farmer had noticed the old wanderer glancing up from under a shadowy hood or floppy brimmed hat with a gleam of recognition out of his one piercing eye as though acclaimed a more than ordinary interest, a positive interest, in the corpse;… and if all this had induced in the beholder a feeling of awe; then he would have been justified in believing that he was in the presence of Woden tramping the world of men over his own Wansdyke.”

Anglo-Saxon polytheism reached Great Britain during the 5th and 6th centuries with the Anglo-Saxon migration, and persisted until the completion of the Christianization of England by the 8th or 9th century.

For the Anglo-Saxons, Woden was the psychopomp or carrier of the dead,  but not necessarily with the same attributes as the Norse Odin. There has been some doubt as to whether the early English shared the Norse concepts of Valkyries and Valhalla. The Sermo Lupi ad Anglos refers to the wælcyrian “valkyries”, but the term appears to have been a loan from Old Norse; in the text, it is used to mean “(human) sorceress”.

The Christian writer of the Maxims found in the Exeter Book (341, 28) records the verse Wôden worhte weos, wuldor alwealda rûme roderas (“Woden wrought the (heathen) altars / the almighty Lord the wide heavens”). The name of such Wôdenes weohas (Saxon Wôdanes with, Norse Oðins ve) or sanctuaries to Woden survives in toponymy as Odinsvi, Wodeneswegs.

Royal genealogy

Woden listed as an ancestor of Ælfwald of East Anglia in the Textus Roffensis (12th century).

As the Christianisation of England took place, Woden was euhemerised as an important historical king  and was believed to be the progenitor of numerous Anglo-Saxon royal houses.

Discussing the Anglo-Saxon settlement of Britain, Bede, in his Ecclesiastical History of the English People (completed in or before 731) writes that:

The two first commanders are said to have been Hengist and Horsa … They were the sons of Victgilsus, whose father was Vecta, son of Woden; from whose stock the royal race of many provinces deduce their original.

The Historia Brittonum, composed around 830,  presents a similar genealogy and additionally lists Woden as a descendent of Godwulf,  who likewise in Snorri Sturluson’s Prose Edda is said to be an ancestor of “Vóden, whom we call Odin“.

According to the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, composed during the reign of Alfred the Great,  Woden was the father of Wecta, Beldeg, Wihtgils and Wihtlaeg  and was therefore an ancestor of the Kings of Wessex, Northumbria, Mercia and East Anglia. As in Bede’s Ecclesiastical History, a history of early Anglo-Saxon migration to Britain incorporating Woden as an ancestor of Hengist and Horsa is given:

These men came from three tribes of Germany: from the Old Saxons, from the Angles, and from the Jutes … their commanders were two brothers, Hengest and Horsa, that were the sons of Wihtgils. Wihtgils was Witta’s offspring, Witta Wecta’s offspring, Wecta Woden’s offspring. From that Woden originated all our royal family …

Descent from Woden appears to have been an important concept in Early Medieval England. According to N. J. Higham, claiming Woden as an ancestor had by the 8th century become an essential way to establish royal authority. Richard North (1997) similarly believes that “no king by the late seventh century could do without the status that descent from Woden entailed.”

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/W%C5%8Dden

Pre-cursor to Santa Claus

The reason that Woden and Odin become important in our discussion of Christmas is that they are both considered pre-cursors to Father Christmas and Santa Claus!

Throughout the Middle Ages and into the modern period, Woden persisted as a figure in folklore and folk religion, notably as the leader of the Wild Hunt found in English, German, Swiss, and Scandinavian traditions.

Woden is thought to be the precursor of the English Father Christmas, or Father Winter, and the American Santa Claus.

A celebrated late attestation of invocation of Wodan in Germany dates to 1593, in Mecklenburg, where the formula Wode, Hale dynem Rosse nun Voder “Wodan, fetch now food for your horse” was spoken over the last sheaf of the harvest.  David Franck adds, that at the squires’ mansions, when the rye is all cut, there is Wodel-beer served out to the mowers; no one weeds flax on a Wodenstag, lest Woden’s horse should trample the seeds; from Christmas to Twelfth-day they will not spin, nor leave any flax on the distaff, and to the question why? they answer, Wode is galloping across. We are expressly told, this wild hunter Wode rides a white horse.

A custom in Schaumburg is reported by Jacob Grimm: the people go out to mow in parties of twelve, sixteen, or twenty scythes, but it is managed in such a manner that, on the last day of harvest, they are all finished at the same time, or some leave a strip that they can cut down at a stroke, or they merely pass their scythes over the stubble, pretending that there is still some left to mow. At the last strokes of their scythes, they raise their implements aloft, plant them upright, and beat the blades three times with their strops. Each spills on the field a little of his drink—whether beer, brandy, or milk—then drinks it himself, while they wave their hats, beat their scythes three times, and cry aloud Wôld, Wôld, Wôld!. The women knock all of the crumbs out of their baskets onto the stubble. They march home shouting and singing. If the ceremony was omitted, the hay and corn crops would be bad in the following year. The first verse of the song is quoted by Grimm,

„Wôld, Wôld, Wôld!
Hävens wei wat schüt,
jümm hei dal van Häven süt.
Vulle Kruken un Sangen hät hei,
upen Holte wässt manigerlei:
hei is nig barn un wert nig old.
Wôld, Wôld, Wôld! “

“Wôld, Wôld, Wôld”!
Heaven’s giant knows what happens,
He, looking down from heaven,
Providing full jugs and sheaves.
Many a plant grows in the woods.
He is not born and grows not old.

“Wôld, Wôld, Wôld”!

 

Wodan_heilt_Balders_Pferd_by_Emil_Doepler wodin saxon god wodin

 

As the Saxons became Christians, their beliefs in the old Gods and old ways were considered Pagan by the Church. It was a constant struggle  for the Church to eliminate the Pagan beliefs and traditions so they began to incorporate the Pagan beliefs into their preaching as a way to draw the people in. This took place from the beginnings of the Church as an organized powerful and political force. No matter how they tried though, they were unable to get people to give up many of their long held traditions and celebrations of the mid-winter Solstice.  Their earliest means of  incorporating the mid-winter Solstice was to set the birth of Jesus at the same time, referring to him and the event as the “Sun of Righteousness”.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christmas

The Saxons became Christians and the lower portions of the British Isles were  settled into small separate  kingdoms and territories ruled by newly Christian overlords who fought amongst themselves for power and control but  generally followed the laws of the Church, which held most of the power at the time. If they still practiced or observed Pagan traditions, they did it privately.

The arrival of the Norse Vikings brought back old ways, beliefs and traditions.

It is important to note here that the Saxon migration, as well as the later Viking migration only applies to the lower portion of the British Isles. Scotland was not really involved in this restructuring of the land and was dealing with it’s own changing dynamics. As I have previously mentioned, there was already a Norse migration and influence on the Northern portions of Scotland, the Church was also making it’s way into converting the Scottish lands, and there was what might be considered as a form of genocide of the remaining Druids and Picts of the areas. Little remains of either culture to determine what their traditions or beliefs might have entailed.  what we can note here is that the inhabitants of the Highland areas had a clan or tribal system that might be similar to those of Germanic or Norse tribal or clan systems.

For a better feel and sense of what was taking place in the northern areas of Scotland during these early times, I would suggest reading

 

For our purposes, we are focusing on the beliefs and traditions that we can more easily trace back to their original roots.

 Maggie Griggs makes the trip back in time in Veil of Time  by Claire R. McDougall.

Veil of Time

A compelling tale of two Scotlands-one modern, one ancient-and the woman who parts the veil between them.

The medication that treats Maggie’s seizures leaves her in a haze, but it can’t dull her grief at losing her daughter to the same condition. With her marriage dissolved and her son away at school, Maggie retreats to a cottage below the ruins of Dunadd, once the royal seat of Scotland. But is it fantasy or reality when she awakens in a bustling village within the massive walls of eighth-century Dunadd? In a time and place so strange yet somehow familiar, Maggie is drawn to the striking, somber Fergus, brother of the king and father of Illa, who bears a keen resemblance to Maggie’s late daughter. With each dreamlike journey to the past, Maggie grows closer to Fergus and embraces the possibility of staying in this Dunadd. But with present-day demands calling her back, can Maggie leave behind the Scottish prince who dubs her mo chridhe, my heart?

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18144050-veil-of-time

Now, while the area of Dunnad and Kilmartin are filled with ancient Stone circles and Standing Stones, Maggie did not make use of them for her trip through time. They were an integral part or mechanism for her travel though as she had not experienced the time travel previously to her visit to Dunadd as an adult.  Also, the Druidess priestess and others she met in the past seemed to feel that the Stones were responsible for her travel as well as for any number of other events. Maggie was suffering from a number of traumatic events in life and decided to spend some time by herself in an isolated cottage at the base of the Dunnad hill fort.  She is working on her doctoral thesis- on the history of Witchcraft in Scotland and trying to finish it before facing a life altering and possible mind altering major operation to cure her of her epileptic seizures. It seems that the combination of the seizures and what ever mystical properties might be at this area are initially the trigger to send her back through time to the year 735 when Dunnad was at the height of it’s importance in history.

The book gives a very good description and visualization of  Mid-winter solstice celebrations as they might have taken place during that time! It also references the Druidic influences and Pict representation in that area and time.

https://timeslipsblog.wordpress.com/?s=veil+of+time

 

In our next segment, we will explore what happens when the Saxons of England face their past and their future with the arrival of the Norse Vikings who bring with them the old beliefs and traditions once more.

 

Settled Christian Saxons face their past and their future with arrival of Vikings

King Ecgbert of Wessex

King Ecgbert of Wessex

 

Time Traveler’s guide to Christmas! part one

Music to accompany your holiday time travel journey: https://timeslipsblog.wordpress.com/2014/12/16/musical-inspiration-christmas-music/

Welcome all to our Holiday edition of Time Slips! I have been quite busy of late between getting ready for the Holidays with my family and making final preparations for my upcoming Time Travel adventure with Crag na dun Time Travel tours. The preparations  for this trip have been far more extensive than I would have thought, and it has taken up much of my time. Mrs. Graham is adamant that I be well studied for any possible events of the time and place that they are sending me to? But, more of that a bit later!

 

yule%20log

For now, We are taking time out from all of our plans in order to share what we feel is important information for all of you might be planning your own trips back in time.  Mrs. Graham mentioned that there have  been a large number of  bookings over this Holiday season. It seems that these time travel packages are becoming popular gifts, and a great many people have expressed interest in experiencing a holiday of the past.  Mrs. Graham is somewhat concerned about this and has asked that we put together an informational page as a guideline to the differences you might experience as you travel back in time to what you believe is a more traditional holiday?

mrs graham3

I have to agree with Mrs. Graham in her concern for your expectations, and for your safety should you make some grevious error in communication or behavior should you not realize or understand the traditions, beliefs or even the laws of the past times to which you are traveling. For those of you who are planning to travel over the Holidays, it is most imperative that you read this guide- especially those of you have booked travel to 1600 and 1700s Scotland- as this is one of the most popular destinations right now, we will deal with some of this first!

Above all else, you should be aware of what the laws were regarding the celebration of Christmas during this time period. Many of you are planning trips to the highlands and may be expecting some great celebrations of the Christmas Holiday there… that would not be the case!

In 17th century England, some groups such as the Puritans, strongly condemned the celebration of Christmas, considering it a Catholic invention and the “trappings of popery” or the “rags of the Beast“.  In contrast, the established Anglican Church “pressed for a more elaborate observance of feasts, penitential seasons, and saints’ days. The calendar reform became a major point of tension between the Anglican party and the Puritan party.”  The Catholic Church also responded, promoting the festival in a more religiously oriented form. King Charles I of England directed his noblemen and gentry to return to their landed estates in midwinter to keep up their old-style Christmas generosity.  Following the Parliamentarian victory over Charles I during the English Civil War, England’s Puritan rulers banned Christmas in 1647.

Protests followed as pro-Christmas rioting broke out in several cities and for weeks Canterbury was controlled by the rioters, who decorated doorways with holly and shouted royalist slogans.  The book, The Vindication of Christmas (London, 1652), argued against the Puritans, and makes note of Old English Christmas traditions, dinner, roast apples on the fire, card playing, dances with “plow-boys” and “maidservants”, and carol singing.

The Restoration of King Charles II in 1660 ended the ban, but many Calvinist clergymen still disapproved of Christmas celebration. As such, in Scotland, the Presbyterian Church of Scotland discouraged the observance of Christmas, and though James VI commanded its celebration in 1618, attendance at church was scant.  The Parliament of Scotland officially abolished the observance of Christmas in 1640, claiming that the church had been “purged of all superstitious observation of days”.  It was not until 1958 that Christmas again became a Scottish public holiday.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christmas

The celebration of Christmas would have been a very quiet, somber and rather secretive observe in private chapels among those Papists in the area.

Claire hears of no Christmas party this year

We also want to address the small matter of that other most revered personality of the season here… Yes, that would be Santa Claus!

Claire believes in Santa

A number of figures are associated with Christmas and the seasonal giving of gifts. Among these are Father Christmas, also known as Santa Claus (derived from the Dutch for Saint Nicholas), Père Noël, and the Weihnachtsmann; Saint Nicholas or Sinterklaas; the Christkind; Kris Kringle; Joulupukki; Babbo Natale; Saint Basil; and Father Frost.

The best known of these figures today is red-dressed Santa Claus, of diverse origins. The name Santa Claus can be traced back to the Dutch Sinterklaas, which means simply Saint Nicholas. Nicholas was Bishop of Myra, in modern-day Turkey, during the 4th century. Among other saintly attributes, he was noted for the care of children, generosity, and the giving of gifts. His feast on December 6 came to be celebrated in many countries with the giving of gifts.[70]

Saint Nicholas traditionally appeared in bishop’s attire, accompanied by helpers, inquiring about the behaviour of children during the past year before deciding whether they deserved a gift or not. By the 13th century, Saint Nicholas was well known in the Netherlands, and the practice of gift-giving in his name spread to other parts of central and southern Europe. At the Reformation in 16th–17th-century Europe, many Protestants changed the gift bringer to the Christ Child or Christkindl, corrupted in English to Kris Kringle, and the date of giving gifts changed from December 6 to Christmas Eve.

Father Christmas, a jolly, well nourished, bearded man who typified the spirit of good cheer at Christmas, predates the Santa Claus character. He is first recorded in early 17th century England, but was associated with holiday merrymaking and drunkenness rather than the bringing of gifts. Hmmm, it seems that Father Christmas could have been Claire’s patron saint, knowing her fondness for the drink? Except for the fact that he was of Sassenach origin, the rest of the highlanders might have requested his visits as well…

Now, given the fact that Claire was traveling from the 20th century and was a Sassenach, she would have most likely just addressed any requests she had to Santa, or Father Christmas…

Claire's letter to Santa

Hopefully, she would have made this request privately and not called even more attention to her odd ways and behaviors… such as her reference to stockings by the fire…

Well, fortunately for her, Saint Nicholas was able to decipher her letter and answered her requests!

Celebrating Hogmanay

too much whiskey

While the Scots of the time did not outwardly observe or celebrate Christmas, they did celebrate Hogamanay!

Hogmanay (Scots: [ˌhoɡməˈneː], HUG-mə-NAY, Scottish English: [ˌhɔɡməˈneː] HOG-mə-NAY) is the Scots word for the last day of the year and is synonymous with the celebration of the New Year (Gregorian calendar) in the Scottish manner. However, it is normally only the start of a celebration that lasts through the night until the morning of New Year’s Day (1 January) or, in some cases, 2 January—a Scottish Bank Holiday.

There are a number of theories on the origins of  Hogmanay. The etymology of the word is obscure. The three main theories derive it either from a French, Norse or a Goidelic (Insular Celtic) root. The word is first recorded in 1604 in the Elgin Records as hagmonay (delatit to haue been singand hagmonayis on Satirday) and again in 1692 in an entry of the Scotch Presbyterian Eloquence, “It is ordinary among some plebeians in the South of Scotland to go about from door to door upon New-years Eve, crying Hagmane”.

 

Some authors reject both the French and Goidelic theories, and instead suggest that the ultimate source both for the Norman French, Scots, and Goidelic variants of this word have a common Norse root.  It is suggested that the full forms

  • Hoginanaye-Trollalay/Hogman aye, Troll a lay (with a Manx cognate Hop-tu-Naa, Trolla-laa)
  • Hogmanay, Trollolay, give us of your white bread and none of your gray[19]

invoke the hill-men (Icelandic haugmenn, cf Anglo-Saxon hoghmen) or “elves” and banishes the trolls into the sea (Norse á læ “into the sea”).  Repp furthermore makes a link between Trollalay/Trolla-laa and the rhyme recorded in Percy’s Relics Trolle on away, trolle on awaye. Synge heave and howe rombelowe trolle on away, which he reads as a straightforward invocation of troll-banning.

The roots of Hogmanay perhaps reach back to the celebration of the winter solstice among the Norse,  as well as incorporating customs from the Gaelic celebration of Samhain. The Vikings celebrated Yule,  which later contributed to the Twelve Days of Christmas, or the “Daft Days” as they were sometimes called in Scotland. Christmas was not celebrated as a festival and Hogmanay was the more traditional celebration in Scotland.  This may have been a result of the Protestant Reformation after which Christmas was seen as “too Papist”.

Considering the fact that there was a Norse migration to the northern parts of Scotland long before the Vikings arrived in southern parts of the British Isles, the Norse origin would make sense.

https://timeslipsblog.wordpress.com/?s=Norse+migration+to+Scotland

 

There are many customs, both national and local, associated with Hogmanay. The most widespread national custom is the practice of first-footing, which starts immediately after midnight. This involves being the first person to cross the threshold of a friend or neighbour and often involves the giving of symbolic gifts such as salt (less common today), coal, shortbread, whisky, and black bun (a rich fruit cake) intended to bring different kinds of luck to the householder. Food and drink (as the gifts) are then given to the guests. This may go on throughout the early hours of the morning and well into the next day (although modern days see people visiting houses well into the middle of January). The first-foot is supposed to set the luck for the rest of the year. Traditionally, tall dark men are preferred as the first-foot.

 

This next custom of the highlands provides another connection or tie to more ancient Norse traditions and beliefs that midwinter is a time between living and dead, a time when the dead roam the earth among the living.

An old custom in the Highlands, which has survived to a small extent and seen some degree of revival, is to celebrate Hogmanay with the saining (Scots for ‘protecting, blessing’) of the household and livestock. Early on New Year’s morning, householders drink and then sprinkle ‘magic water’ from ‘a dead and living ford‘ around the house (a ‘dead and living ford’ refers to a river ford that is routinely crossed by both the living and the dead). After the sprinkling of the water in every room, on the beds and all the inhabitants, the house is sealed up tight and branches of juniper are set on fire and carried throughout the house and byre. The juniper smoke is allowed to thoroughly fumigate the buildings until it causes sneezing and coughing among the inhabitants. Then all the doors and windows are flung open to let in the cold, fresh air of the new year. The woman of the house then administers ‘a restorative’ from the whisky bottle, and the household sits down to its New Year breakfast.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hogmanay

 

Now that you have a very basic understanding of what the Holiday season may or may not have included in 1600 and 1700s Scotland, we hope that you do more of your own in depth research before your trip!

We will continue our exploration of past traditions and beliefs with our next discussion of even earlier times and places, and we will see how they still play a part in our present day traditions!

yule the longest night

Odin versis santa

 

 

 

 

Beyond Crag na Dun: Crag na dun Time Tour options!

 

 

Achhhhh, alright, Mrs. Graham has requested that we post this advertisement here along with additional information on her business?

 

 

 

craigh_na_dun_time tours

Mrs. Graham is of course the housekeeper for Reverend Wakefield of Inverness, but she has a number of other small business interests as well. She is the leader of the local chapter of Druidic Dancers and Callers, runs a part time business of fortune telling- for more information on personalized tea leaf readings contact her at her private residence in Inverness, and it seems that she is the owner of a small but thriving tour business that specializes in very specialized and unique travel packages. She was quite upset with our initial insistence that Crag na dun does not exist. She has went so far as to threaten us with a libel suit and states that our information could damage her business as well as her professional reputation.

Because of this pending litigation, we feel obligated to give Mrs. Graham equal space in which to defend her claims and thereby promote her business…

Mrs Graham tries to tell Frank

Mrs. Graham insists that Yes, indeed Crag na dun does exist but that it’s secret location is a crucial key to the success of her business. She compares the secrecy of location to that of secret recipes and formulas used by Chefs, food, beverage and pharmaceutical manufacturers. For some time, Mrs. Graham has run a small tour agency that specializes in a very unique type of travel package. Recently, her business has become so popular that she had to take on a number of affiliates and partners to keep up with the enormous demand for these tours.  She is happy to announce that the business has become a huge success, so much so in fact, that even with the addition of these affiliates, they are unable to fulfill some of the requests.

Crag na dun Time Tours would like to apologize for the delays and backlogs in meeting some of their customers’ inquiries and requests. If you are having difficulty contacting them, please be patient and understand that they are making every attempt to expand their business to meet your needs. They would also like to advise that at this time, due to an extremely high volume of travel requests to 1700’s Scotland, they are unable to accept any more reservations for that time period. The waiting list is already quite lengthy and the company has temporarily put a hold on any further travel to that time frame. An added advisement concerning this time frame, and the trips in general: Please read your pre-travel package and contract thoroughly before traveling. Crag na dun Time Tours does not promise or guarantee in any way that you will meet or encounter specific individuals… namely one James Malcom Mackenzie Fraser or any of his various relatives. It seems that a few customers have returned from their trips rather disgruntled and demanding their money back… Crag na dun time Tours has a no refund policy which is spelled out very clearly in the contract!

The company would like to take a moment here to inform travelers that they have refined their travel techniques over the years and successfully managed to break the 200 year time constraint that has plagued travelers for years. They are now able to send you as far back as any stone’s original building. They would like to advise however, that there is a great deal of risk the further back one goes, and they can not make any safety guarantees should you choose to go all the way back to the very beginnings.

The company does regret that it can not provide more 1700’s trips right now but is offering discounts on some other packages that might be of  just as much interest to travelers. While they can not send you to the mid or later 1700s, they do have some limited packages available for late 1600s-early 1700s…this time frame would put you in the era of the first Jacobite Risings and one other somewhat famous rebel… Rob Roy MacGregor?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rob_Roy_MacGregor

rob-roy rob roy 2 Rob roy2 rob_roy_13

They are running a special on early 1300’s packages right now which include the time period of  some other famous Scots, Robert the Bruce and of course, William Wallace.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_the_Bruce

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Wallace

Robert_The_Bruce_Crowned_King_of_Scots Robert_I_and_Isabella_of_Mar Robert the Bruce

braveheart

In addition to these packages, the company is running some special promotions in honor of their newest affiliate, Castlerigg Stone Circles near Keswick, England! The Castlerigg circle and nearby town of Keswick have a long and rich history dating back to 3000 BC. Their varied history includes pre-history Druidic times, Roman occupations, Picts, Angles and Saxon invasions, Viking conquests and early Christian monks and monasteries as well as William the Conquerer’s son, William II.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Keswick,_Cumbria

lakes castlerigg cumbria

king arthur movie king arthur movie2 King-Arthur-2004-king-arthur-875459_1000_674 king-arthur-sagaci-sassoni saxons

Moragsoorm long boat Lindisfarne-ep2 vikings-linus-roache-history vikings_gallery7_4-P vikings_gallery7_2-P

Now hopefully this blatant plug for Crag na dun Time Tours will satisy Mrs. Graham and she will drop her pending litigation against us… Please take note, Mrs. Graham that we have even changed the title of the article to include a plug for your company!

 

 

 

First of all before we embark on this journey, we all need to be very clear on one important point. Crag na dun is a fictional Stone Circle created by Diana Gabaldon specifically for the Outlander series! It does not exist anywhere other than in her very creative imagination and the pages of the book. If you are planning to book a tour which includes a visit to “crag na dun”, please be advised in advance that the “crag na dun” you will be visiting will only be a representation of that place.

excerpt from Outlandish Companion regarding whether craigh na dun is a real location.

excerpt from Outlandish Companion regarding whether craigh na dun is a real location.

 

The Stones depicted in the show are Styrofoam and built as part of set design for location shooting.

craigh na dun in show3 Outlander 2014 OUT-101_20131011_EM-0630.jpg

What we are going to explore is some of the many real Stone Circles and ancient sites throughout Scotland and Britain. We will also delve into some other options for time travel… yes, there a great many of them out there! It is speculated an rumored that one could make the trip using various different methods? We’ll touch on a few of them later.  Lastly, we will look at some other time periods that one might end up in when traveling… since that is a truly massive endeavor, we will limit the travel to time frames within the vicinity of Standing Stones or circles in more ancient Britain.

 

Let’s start our journey with the places that Diana mentioned in her references to Craigh na dun.  She mentions Castlerigg, the Clava Cairns near Inverness, and Tomanhurich hill. Now, we are all aware that the mythical craigh na dun is located in the highlands of Scotland somewhere near Inverness? The first circle mentioned is not in this area, but well worth looking into.

 

Castlerigg Stone Circle

 

Castlerigg stone circle is located  in Keswick in  Cumbria  North west England. One of  around 1,300  stone  circles  in  the  British  Isles  and  Brittany, it  was constructed as a part of a  megalithic  tradition that  lasted from 300  to 900 BCE, during  the Late Neolithic and  Early Bronze Ages.

Aside from the more famous Stonehenge, Castlerigg is a site that most of us would immediately identify with when we think of Stone Circles.

You can find more information on it here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Castlerigg_stone_circle

 

CastleriggStoneCircle(SimonLedingham)Jul2005 Castlerigg_A_Outlier Castlerigg The_Wonders_of_the_World_in_Nature,_Art_and_Mind_Robert_Sears_1843

It is located near Keswick, Cumbria northwest England, so it would not be a plausible location for Craigh na dun. You can see it’s location on the map below, with the Keswick area starred.

Cumbria on map kenswick marked with star

castlerigg-stone-circle2 Druidical_Circle_near_Keswick_in_Cumberland

As I mentioned, while it is not a location for Craigh na dun, it is an excellent representation of a Stone Circle. You might want to keep this site in mind if you prefer to travel back in time to England rather than the highlands of Scotland! It is still well formed with many of the Stones remaining, if that has any bearing on accuracy in determining one’s destination to the past? In fact, it is said that the number of stones is constantly changing. There is a tradition that it is impossible to count the number of stones within Castlerigg; every attempt will result in a different answer. This tradition, however, may not be far from the truth. Due to erosion of the soil around the stones, caused by the large number of visitors to the monument, several smaller stones have ‘appeared’ next to some of the larger stones. Because these stones are so small, they are likely to have been packing stones used to support the larger stones when the circle was constructed and would originally have been buried. Differences in opinion as to the exact number of stones within Castlerigg are usually down to whether the observer counts these small packing stones, or not; some count 38 and others, 42. The ‘official’ number of stones, as represented on the National Trust  information board at the monument, is 40. 

If you could put this site in some context to places and events within the Outlander series, it would be of interest in that is lies in the Lakes district where Jamie Fraser resided as a groom after his release from Ardsmuir Prison. Helwater Estate is located within the Lakes district. It’s location is also in a reasonable vicinity to Northumbria and Hadrian’s Wall, where Roger Wakefield’s Father, Jerry MacKenzie disappeared during World War II while testing a plane for Frank Randall and MI5, the British Intelligence force. 

If one wanted to think about it’s other possible time travel connections to the more ancient past, it is considered much like Stonehenge, a most ancient Druidic worship site. If we look at the nearby village of Keswick and it’s history we can piece together the area’s history from those ancient and unknown druids to it’s strategic importance during Roman occupation with Hadrian’s Wall being in the western part of the county. There are Roman road passing by the present day town.  Several Christian saints preached the Gospel in the north of England in the late 6th and early 7th centuries AD; in Keswick and the surrounding area the most important figures were  St Herbert of Derwentwater and his contemporary St Kentigern.  The former, the pupil and friend of St Cuthbert of Lindisfarne, lived as a hermit on an island in Derwentwater, now named after him.  Kentigern, who lived and preached in the area before moving to Wales, is traditionally held to have founded Crosthwaite Church,  which was the parish church of Keswick until the 19th century. 

Keswick’s recorded history starts in the Middle Ages. The area was conquered by the Anglo-Saxon Kingdom of Northumbria in the seventh century, but Northumbria was destroyed by the Vikings in the late ninth. In the early tenth century the British Kingdom of Strathclyde seized the area, and it remained part of Strathclyde until about 1050, when Siward, Earl of  Northumbria, conquered Cumbria. In 1092 William II, son of William the Conqueror, marched north and established the great baronies of Allerdale-below-Derwent, Allerdale-above-Derwent, and Greystoke, the borders of which met at Keswick.   In 1181 Jocelyn of Furness wrote of a new church at Crosthwaite, Keswick, founded by Alice de Romilly, the Lady of Allerdale, a direct descendant of William II’s original barons. In 1189, Richard I granted the rectory of Crosthwaite to the Cistercian order of Fountains Abbey.

During the 13th century, agricultural land around the town was acquired by Fountains and Furness Abbeys. The latter, already prosperous from the wool trade, wished to expand its sheep farming, and in 1208 bought large tracts of land from Alice de Romilly. She also negotiated with Fountains Abbey, to which she sold Derwent Island in Derwentwater, land at Watendlath, the mill at Crosthwaite and other land in Borrowdale. Keswick was at the hub of the monastic farms in the area, and Fountains based a steward in the town, where tenants paid their rents.  Furness also enjoyed profitable rights to the extraction of iron ore.

Now, knowing some of it’s history, you will be a bit better prepared should you decide to use Castlerigg as your time travel portal. If it is extremely powerful, and you are well versed and equipped in the navigation of travel, this portal could land you in the time of Druids, put you close to a Roman Outpost along Hadrian’s Wall, deliver you into the hands of Viking conquerors, or place you in close proximity to early Normans or Christian Monks… take your pick but choose wisely because all of those times could be quite dangerous for an unknown traveler.

 

The second place mentioned by Diana Gabaldon is Clava Cairns near Inverness. This the one more familiar to Outlander fans and followers. 

Clava Cairns near Inverness

The Clava cairn is a type of Bronze Age circular chamber tomb cairn, named after the group of 3 cairns at Balnuaran of Clava, to the east of Inverness in Scotland. There are about 50 cairns of this type in an area round about Inverness. They fall into two sub-types, one typically consisting of a corbelled passage grave  with a single burial chamber linked to the entrance by a short passage and covered with a cairn of stones, with the entrances oriented south west towards midwinter sunset. In the other sub-type an annular ring cairn encloses an apparently unroofed area with no formal means of access from the outside. In both sub-types a stone circle surrounds the whole tomb and a kerb often runs around the cairn. The heights of the standing stones vary in height so that the tallest fringe the entrance (oriented south west) and the shortest are directly opposite it.

Where Clava-type tombs have still contained burial remains, only one or two bodies appear to have been buried in each, and the lack of access to the second sub-type suggests that there was no intention of re-visiting the dead or communally adding future burials as had been the case with Neolithic cairn tombs.

These Stone sites around Inverness would be the most plausible locations for Craigh na dun as they are also located close to Culloden.

Culloden battlefield, a few miles to the east of Inverness attracts a huge number of visitors every each year. But only a few of those visitors realise that only a mile to the south east lies a very different link with the past, every bit as evocative as Culloden and in many ways more tangible, despite dating back to around 2000BC.

The Clava Cairns lie not much more than a cannon shot away from Culloden, and Jacobites fleeing the carnage of the battle may well have passed this way. Yet it is worth remembering that the seemingly huge distance in time back to the very different world of Culloden, some 250 years, is just one sixteenth of the distance we’d have to travel back in time to meet the builders of these cairns.

http://www.undiscoveredscotland.co.uk/inverness/clavacairns/index.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clava_cairn

2_clava-mc-03_III_05_stone-III_nickb_surrounding-middle-cairn_tma_37429 Balnuaran of clava Clava Cairns clava cairns2 clava cairns3 clava cairns4 Clava20East20Cairn20nr20Inverness-Archaeology- cupandring splitx

 

The third site mentioned by Diana is Tomnahurich Hill.

Tomnahurich   Hill


Tomnahurich Hill – which  means hill  of the  yews -is a rounded tree covered hillock on the outskirts of Inverness, the hill has a wealth of traditions associated  with it, and it is famed as an abode of  the fairies. A modern cemetery now  covers the  hill.

The most enduring tradition connected with the hill is that fiddlers (or a fiddler) were lured into playing at fairy revelry, and emerged after one night beneath the hill to find that hundreds of years had passed in their own world. The story has two basic forms, in one a solitary fiddler falls asleep on the hill and wakes up in an underworld palace. He is made to play all night for the entertainment of the fairy queen, and finally awakes on the shores of the River Ness, later to discover that a hundred years have passed. The other story features two fiddlers and is outlined below:

The Fiddlers of Tomnahurich
Two travelling fiddlers were visiting Inverness looking for places where they could play, while searching for a suitable venue they met an old man in strange clothes, who asked them if they would perform for him. They agreed and followed the old man to the wooden hill of Tomnahurich, just as the sun slipped out of view over the Western horizon. There was an opening in the side of the hill through which they followed the old man into a brightly lit cavern hall, where a great feast was underway. The feast was attended by a host of people, all dressed in colourful finery, and each seeming to have an air of enchantment and beauty about them. They sat down at one of the many tables and preceded to enjoy the fine wine and the rich food served before them.

Tomnahurich HillTomnahurich Hill When it came the time for dancing they played their fiddles and the party got into full swing, each fiddler playing better than they had ever played before. Finally, in what seemed like no time at all, the feast was over and it was time for the fiddlers to leave. Their noble company thanked them, and the old man who had led them into the hillside paid them with a bag of silver and gold coins. The fiddlers left the hill in a fine mood, and walked back towards the centre of Inverness. As they neared the town they saw that everything had changed, where there was once dense woodland buildings now stood, as if they had appeared overnight. All the people they met along the way were dressed in strange looking clothes, and poked fun at the fiddlers ‘old fashioned’ clothing.

The fiddlers decided that they had been enchanted in some strange way and made the return journey to their town. When they arrived they were dismayed to find that everything they knew here had also changed; their homes were no longer occupied and they recognised no one. In despair they ran into the local church where the local priest was in the midst of delivering a sermon. As soon as the priest spoke the word of God both fiddlers crumbled to dust in front of the eyes of the horrified congregation.

The difference in time between this world and the world of the fairy races is an important folklore motif found in many tales about the otherworld. The way the unfortunate fiddlers crumbled to dust after returning to their own world is also often found in folk tales such as that of King Herla.

There are many more traditions associated with the hill, Thomas the Rhymer is said to be buried beneath it, or to live within it, ready to lead an army of men and white steeds to rally Scotland in its hour of need. In Celtic myth Fion trained his dog to lead two of every species of animal around the hill in pairs to unravel enchantment by an Irish enemy.

Directions: The hill is just off the A82, to the West of the River Ness.

http://www.mysteriousbritain.co.uk/scotland/invernesshire/featured-sites/tomnahurich-hill.html

https://graveyardsofscotland.wordpress.com/2014/01/20/fairy-hill/

Besides Thomas the Rhymer’s supposed connection, the Brahan Seer is also connected to this Fairy hill, now cemetery. So, while there are no Stone Circles to be found here, you may still be able to travel through time at this site due it’s Fairy connections… I would be hesitant about using this one however, as the Fairy connection might even more risky than just time travel? I do suppose though if one was brave enough to try it, it might be an enlightening experience. 

305BrahanSeer

tomnahurich-graveyard-inverness-83 tomnahurich-graveyard-inverness-11 tomnahurich-graveyard-inverness-19 Tomnahurich Hill

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_the_Rhymer

Of course we can not bring up Thomas the rhymer without mention of the fairy realm!

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fairy

Thomas the rhymer be Katherine Cameron

Thomas the rhymer be Katherine Cameron

The Eildon Hills where Thomas the rhymer supposedly met the past

The Eildon Hills where Thomas the rhymer supposedly met the past

In some legends, Guinivere is referred to as a fairy

In some legends, Guinivere is referred to as a fairy

faerie_forest__the_radient_pool__by_makinmagic-d4q70ka 640px-SophieAndersonTakethefairfaceofWoman 800px-Johann_Heinrich_Füssli_058 11107 Sir_Joseph_Noel_Paton_-_The_Quarrel_of_Oberon_and_Titania_-_Google_Art_Project_2

 

The next site on our journey keeps coming up in any search for Craigh na dun or Standing Stones so I am going to include here as well. If you search the internet for Craigh na dun, one of the first sites listed is a link to Megalithic Portal and Callinish4.  The link is a bit of a let down as it is just one quick picture and an answer to the query of what Craigh na dun looks like?

Callinish  Standing Stones

 

http://www.megalithic.co.uk/article.php?sid=1146411369

callanishiv1a

The photo posted on Megalithic Portal was impressive and led us to visit the Callinish Stones directly!

The Callinish Standing Stones are located on the Isle of Lewis and are one of several stone sites on that island. The Isle of Lewis is located in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland.

The Outer Hebrides (Scottish Gaelic: Na h-Eileanan Siar, IPA: [nə ˈhelanən ˈʃiəɾ]) also known as the Western Isles and the Long Island, and as Innse Gall in Gaelic is an island chain off the west coast of mainland Scotland.   The islands are geographically coextensive with Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, one of the 32 unitary council areas of Scotland. They form part of the Hebrides, separated from the Scottish mainland and from the Inner Hebrides by the waters of the Minch, the Little Minch and the Sea of the Hebrides. Scottish Gaelic is the predominant spoken language, although in a few areas English speakers form a majority.

Most of the islands have a bedrock formed from ancient metamorphic rocks and the climate is mild and oceanic. The 15 inhabited islands have a total population of 27,400  and there are more than 50 substantial uninhabited islands. From Barra Head to the Butt of Lewis is roughly 210 kilometres (130 mi).

There are various important prehistoric structures, many of which pre-date the first written references to the islands by Roman and Greek authors. The Western Isles became part of the Norse kingdom of the Suðreyjar, which lasted for over 400 years until sovereignty was transferred to Scotland by the Treaty of Perth in 1266. Control of the islands was then held by clan chiefs, principal of whom were the MacLeods, MacDonalds, Mackenzies and MacNeils. The Highland Clearances of the 19th century had a devastating effect on many communities and it is only in recent years that population levels have ceased to decline. Much of the land is now under local control and commercial activity is based on tourism, crofting, fishing, and weaving.

Sea transport is crucial and a variety of ferry services operate between the islands and to mainland Scotland. Modern navigation systems now minimise the dangers but in the past the stormy seas have claimed many ships. Religion, music and sport are important aspects of local culture, and there are numerous designated conservation areas to protect the natural environment.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Outer_Hebrides

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The Callinish Stones are one of the most famous Stone sites in Scotland and closely comparable to Stonehenge in England.  They date back as far as 3000 BC. 

There were limited excavations in 1980-1 which provided some information on the development of the site. The first traces of human activity are indicated by a broad ditch (no longer visible above ground) which appears to have belonged to some structure or enclosure.  This may have been ritual, but could instead have been domestic.  In the centuries around 3000 BC, however, the site was turned over to agriculture which obliterated most of the earlier traces.   After this, the site was allowed to grass over for a time.

The stone circle was set up between 2900 and 2600 BC.   It is not clear whether the stone alignments were constructed at the same time as the circle, or later.  Some time after the erection of the stones, a small chambered tomb was inserted into the eastern part of the stone circle.   The many pottery fragments found indicate that the tomb was used for several centuries.  These pottery fragments included not only the local Hebridean pots, but numerous sherds of beaker vessels (dating to around 2000-1700 BC) and sherds of grooved ware.

Around 1500-1000 BC the complex fell out of use and was despoiled by the later Bronze Age farmers.  Fragments of pots appear to have been cast out of the chamber.  This may have been just ordinary agriculture, but it may conceivably have been ritual cleansing.  There appears to have been a later rebuilding of the tomb, but this may have been for domestic use as there is no evidence for any later ritual use of the monument.  Between 1000 BC and 500 BC the stones were covered by a thick layer of turf. It is estimated that the place was abandoned around 800 BC.  Only in 1857 was the overlying 1.5 metres of peat removed.

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The Callanish Stones consist of a stone circle of thirteen stones with a monolith near the middle. Five rows of standing stones connect to this circle. Two long rows of stones running almost parallel to each other from the stone circle to the north-northeast form a kind of avenue. In addition, there are shorter rows of stones to the west-southwest, south and east-northeast. The stones are all of the same rock type, namely the local Lewisian gneiss. Within the stone circle is a chambered tomb to the east of the central stone.

Centre stone

The central monolith stands 0.8 metres west of the true centre of the stone circle. The stone is 4.8 metres high, 1.5 metres wide and 0.3 metres thick.  The largest sides of the stone are almost perfectly oriented to the north and south. The monolith has the shape of a ship’s rudder and probably weighs about seven tonnes.

Stone circle

The stone circle consists of thirteen stones and has a diameter of 11.4 metres. The stone circle is not a perfect circle, but is a ring with a flattened east side (13.4 metres north-south by 12 metres east-west). The stones have an average height of three metres. The ring covers an area of 124 square metres. This is quite small compared to similar circles, including the nearby Callanish II which is 2.5 times as large.

Northern avenue

The avenue connects to the stone circle from the north-northeast. The avenue is 83.2 metres long.  The avenue has 19 stones remaining: nine stones are on the eastern side, ten on the western side.  The largest stone is 3.5 metres high and stands on the western end of the row. The two rows are not exactly parallel to each other but fan out: at the north end the rows are 6.7 metres apart, while the distance between the rows is 6 metres at the south end.  From the circle the height of the stones decreases towards the middle of the avenue; from there the height increases again. The stones of the eastern side of the avenue have only three-quarters of the height of the stones on the western side.

Stone rows

As well as the two stone rows of the avenue, there are three stone rows connecting to the circle. One comes from the east-northeast, one from the south, and one from the west-southwest. The east-northeast row today consists of five stones and is 23.2 metres long.  The southern row consists of five stones and is 27.2 metres long.  The west-southwest row consists of four stones and is 13 metres long.

None of the stone rows is aimed at the centre of the stone circle. The east-northeast row is aligned to a point 2 metres south of the centre; the south row points to 1 metre west of the centre and the west-southwest row points to 1 metre south of the centre.

Chambered tomb

 Chambered tomb

Between the central and the eastern monolith of the stone circle is a chambered tomb 6.4 metres long.  This was built later than the stone circle and is squashed in between the eastern stones and the central monolith.

There is another stone cairn just on the northeast side of the stone circle.  It has been reduced to ground-level and the outline can barely be traced.  It is not necessarily an original part of the site.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Callanish_Stones

Callanish I is just one of over twenty megalithic sites on Lewis.

The stones are intricately connected to the landscape, as with many megalithic ceremonial complexes.  in the case of Callanish I, the stones share  an intimate relationship with both the range of hills known as the ‘sleeping beauty’ or the ‘old woman of the moors’. When the moon reaches it’s southern extreme each 18.6 years it is seen to rise from behind the sacred hill range and skim the horizon for four hours till it gently sets again behind the Harris hills. This range of hills are as much a part of the monuments as the stones themselves.

http://ancient-wisdom.co.uk/scotlandcallanish.htm

The Callenish Stones, their history and their location make them an excellent candidate for any type of  ancient time travel. A few things to consider about traveling through at this site… They are probably quite powerful and would most likely take you very back in history.  There is most likely a Druidic connection to them, as with many of the circles? If you are choosing this site, you should prepare for the travel by brushing up on your most ancient Gaelic languages along with your Gaelic and Celtic history. A study of ancient Norse traditions and their migration to this area would be highly advised as well. When I talk about ancient Norse, I am not referring to the Viking migration… I am referring to the Norse migrations that took place even earlier than that!

https://timeslipsblog.wordpress.com/?s=Norse+migration+to+Scotland

 

Now, obviously with over 1300 ancient Stone site throughout the British Isles and Brittany, there is no possible way that we can touch on all of them here! I am going to present two more sites that I feel are important and worth considering as possible transport points for any time travel destinations that you might have. I am not going to touch on Stonehenge here because it is so obvious and famous that it really needs no further detailed exploration by us!  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stonehenge

As you can see on the maps, Stonehenge is located in southern England and if you are a well experienced and trained time traveler, you could probably use this portal to get to any time period in England that you are interested in traveling to!

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If you are looking for another spot that might be connected to Outlander, I would highly suggest that you head to the isle of Orkney. There is much mystery surrounding this isle in the books. It is speculated that Geillis Duncan was involved in archaeology research there along with Rob Cameron.

Rob Cameron and the Orkneys Echo in the bone

Excerpt from Echo in the bone regarding Rob Cameron’s connection to the Orkneys

 

There are rumors that Master Raymond may have some connection to the isle as well! Diana Gabaldon has given clues to Master Raymond’s past in sharing some of her writings on her facebook page. She also commented on her interest in Orkney Isles in an interview with National Geographic.

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2014/08/140808-outlander-scotland-orkney-islands-stonehenge-neolithic/

 

Orkney Islands

 The Orkney Islands have a long and colourful history. It is no exaggeration to say that the isles are a place where this history remains a part of everyday life.

Every corner of the islands has its ancient monuments, most of them in a remarkable state of repair.

For thousands of years, people have lived and worked in Orkney.

From the stone age Orcadians, who left a legacy of monuments that continue to inspire today, through to the Vikings, who took the islands in the ninth century and made them the centre of a powerful Earldom and part of the kingdom of Norway, and beyond.

The Orkney islands are covered with monuments that stand as constant reminders of the events and people that have gone before.

Houses and tombs dating back 5,000 years share the landscape with Bronze Age cemeteries, standing stones, 2,000 year old brochs, viking ruins, medieval churches and Renaissance palaces.

Our history is therefore not something that exists only in schoolbooks, or in the thoughts of academics.

Orkney’s history and heritage is everywhere – an intricate tapestry of events stitched into the very fabric of the islands themselves. Orcadians have a connection with this history – events that were witnessed by their ancestors many generations ago.  The past is alive and remains part of everyday life, albeit unconsciously.

http://www.orkneyjar.com/history/

Skara bra orkney Orkney island skara brae map Skara bra orkney orkney_1 Orkney standing stones

The entirety of Orkney is filled with ancient sites which deserve much mention but for right now, we will concern ourselves with Standing Stones and Stone Circles. On the main island you will find the Ring of Brodgar.

Ring_of_Brodgar,_Orkney

The Ring of Brodgar (or Brogar, or Ring o’ Brodgar) is a Neolithic henge and stone circle in Orkney, Scotland. Most henges do not contain stone circles; Brodgar is a striking exception, ranking with Avebury (and to a lesser extent Stonehenge) among the greatest of such sites.  The ring of stones stands on a small isthmus between the Lochs of Stenness and Harray. These are the northernmost examples of circle henges in Britain.  Unlike similar structures such as Avebury, there are no obvious stones inside the circle,  but since the interior of the circle has never been excavated by archaeologists, the possibility remains that wooden structures, for example, may be present. The site has resisted attempts at scientific dating and the monument’s age remains uncertain. It is generally thought to have been erected between 2500 BC and 2000 BC, and was, therefore, the last of the great Neolithic monuments built on the Ness.  A project called The Ring of Brodgar Excavation 2008 was undertaken in the summer of that year in an attempt to settle the age issue and help answer other questions about a site that remains relatively poorly understood.  The results of the excavation are still preliminary.

The stone circle is 104 metres (341 ft) in diameter, and the third largest in the British Isles.  The ring originally comprised up to 60 stones, of which only 27 remained standing at the end of the 20th century. The tallest stones stand at the south and west of the ring, including the so-called “Comet Stone” to the south-east.  The stones are set within a circular ditch up to 3 metres (9.8 ft) deep, 9 metres (30 ft) wide and 380 metres (1,250 ft) in circumference that was carved out of the solid sandstone bedrock by the ancient residents.[7] Technically, this ditch does not constitute a true henge as there is no sign of an encircling bank of earth and rock. Many archaeologists continue to refer to this structure as a henge; for example, Aubrey Burl classifies the ditch as a Class II henge; one that has two opposing entrances, in this case on the north-west and south-east.

The ditch appears to have been created in sections, possibly by workforces from different parts of Orkney. The stones may have been a later addition, maybe erected over a long period of time.

Examination of the immediate environs reveals a concentration of ancient sites, making a significant ritual landscape. Within 2 square miles (5.2 km2) there are the