Vikings: Past and future



Don’t forget to fight for your honor Shield Maidens!

girl power go girl two You go girl

Before we speak more of the past, let us take another look at the future?

Lagertha puts it very clearly and straight forward when Ragnar asks, “Is your Earldom really that important to you? Why?”  Lagertha answers simply and boldly, “Because it is mine!”


A sneak peek at season 3: conversation and meeting between Ragnar, Lagertha and King Ecbert!


Vikings: Secrets of the Vikings: The Saga of Ragnar Lothbrok

And, from the journals of Athelstan, we find his thoughts on all of the events of the past?

Athelstan's book

Athelstan’s book

He speaks of many things, but for me his words on loyalty and honor have the most meaning and most clearly point out why I have for so long put my faith and my fate with that of Siggy and Rollo despite their many faults and flaws.

Vikings: Athelstan’s Journal: Loyalty


Vikings: Athelstan’s Journal: Honor


Athelstan spoke of  the importance of loyalty and honor, the many ways both of those attributes shape our personal lives and our destinies.  Our lives may be governed by the fates of Gods and destiny but it is up to us how we choose to follow that fate or destiny. We may end up at the same final place no matter what we do, but will that ending and that memory of our life be recalled with honor and loyalty or disgrace and betrayal? That is for us each to decide and to choose. In the end, it comes down to whether our life- our story is remembered at all and whether we are remembered well and worthy by our future generations.

I previously spoke of  the trial which would affect so many of us in different ways? It was not and end of things, but a beginning of  hard lessons, tests of loyalties and bitter betrayals which would result in a great change for our village.  I could go into great detail and depth on what happened but I shall try to keep to the most important parts of it.

Ragnar walked away from the trial knowing that he was not really a free man, there would be a high price for this acquittal of his honor and of Lagertha’s.  Rollo walked away knowing the same thing… his loyalty to family and his betrayal of Earl Haraldson would not go unpunished.

The Earl made many plans in a short time. His first act was to show Ragnar that he was still Earl, he was still in control.

It was fine day, one good for hunting and so Ragnar left the farmstead unattended to do jus that. It has been quiet and he was not expecting any reprisal or retribution from Haraldson, especially not the kind that would follow?

a day in the woods hunting

hunting to eat

The people of his farmstead were occupied with the daily chores of life and not expecting trouble…

even the family heir must work to eat here

even the family heir must work to eat here

Bjorn as well as the rest of the group were taken by surprise to see the Earl Haraldson calmly sitting upon his horse instructing his men to attack.

Bjorn looks up to see Earl Haraldson and his men arriving and attacking

Bjorn looks up to see Earl Haraldson and his men arriving and attacking

attacked by haraldson and his men

attacked by haraldson and his men

In all truth, no one ever expected the Earl to go to such violent and brutal lengths against those innocent villagers and workers who had no part in the feud between Ragnar and him other than to be a part of Ragnar’s farmstead. I do not think that even Siggy knew how deeply and cruelly her husband’s mind was turning? She would soon have her own fears to contend with on that path his mind was taking.

a surprise attack on peaceful villagers

a surprise attack on peaceful villagers


running in fear for their lives from their own leader

running in fear for their lives from their own leader

Ragnar arrived home to find his farm and his family under attack.


arriving to find his family and farmstead under attack

He managed somehow to get to the questionable safety of his house and found his family alive. Although he had been seriously wounded getting there, his first thought was of how to get his family out of this attack safely? Bjorn of course argued that he would stay with his Father but Ragnar would hear none of it and pushed the boy down a ladder to escape. They made their way to the boat and were able to watch from a distance as the farmstead was burned and everything they owned destroyed.

watching from the boat watching the house burn

With his family safely escaped to the boat, Ragnar was taken by the Earl.

on his knees before haraldson

on his knees before haraldson


What do you say now Ragnar Lodbrok?  I am Earl here and I control everything, even you!

What do you say now Ragnar Lodbrok? I am Earl here and I control everything, even you!

Ragnar accepted his fate and asked for one last moment to pray to his Gods…

I accept my fate let me speak with my gods

He prayed for strength and his Gods listened because as he so oft reminds everyone, the Gods favor him!

The gods are with him he finds his strength manages his own escape

He did escape and did fine until he ran out of space to run? He eventually came to a cliff with certain death on both sides of him. His family looked on in horror from the boat at his choice.

one of those I am going to die any way I will take my chance with the fall

Ragnar faces one of those, I am going to die any way – I will take my chance with the fall, moments!

the leap the shock

The men assume that no one could survive the fall and give him up as dead.

his followers catch up with him and he has one choice left

The family held their breath and prayed for some sign of survival.

can you see him

Athelstan showed his courage and his devotion to this family that day by diving in and saving Ragnar’s life.  It would forever change how he was looked upon in this village!

athelstan dives in after him  Where are they athelstan saves his life  Is he dead

He did survive and was eventually taken to Floki’s home where it would take many weeks for him to recover in hiding from Haraldson.

During this time the Earl was making many other plans which would have dire impact on so many. He of course did not believe that Ragnar was dead, but he could not prove it either way? He also wanted to know where Ragnar’s family had disappeared to… he thought this all too suspicious to let go of? And, he had one more matter of revenge to settle… that was with Rollo. Rollo was continuously followed and harassed by Haraldson’s men for the assumption that he must know something of his brother’s fate and that of his family. He was also being watched by someone else who had her own interests in his survival?

It was during this time too that Haraldson made a decision about his daughter’s future fate, without consulting his wife Siggy. Siggy took this decision as a betrayal from him and even though she professed to understand his later reasons, I do not think she ever did forgive him for the act. It hurt her deeply that this man whom she had once loved, had been ever loyal to would keep such secrets from her. I do think that one of the worst parts of those secrets were the ones which surrounded the death of her sons. He chose to keep this from her for all of those years, and had kept the remaining remnants of their lives, their existence from her as well. As if he were the only one who cared for them, as if he were the only one to hurt so deeply from their loss…

First, he chose a husband for Thyri,  an old, ugly fat Swede for their young daughter… did he care so little for their own daughter as to marry her off to such a man? Was his daughter nothing more to him than bags of silver and land that they did not need? His response to Siggy’s outrage said everything, “I stopped caring about anything when our sons died!”

young thyri's future husband

young thyri’s future husband

why is he here what does he want

why is he here? what does he want?

why would we want to know each other better

why would we want to know each other better

too shocked for words

too shocked for words

siggy too upset to speak

siggy too upset to speak


After Haraldson’s announcement of this marriage, Siggy could not keep silent her thoughts!

you told me nothing you've treated me with utter contempt you don't care about any of us

you told me nothing you’ve treated me with utter contempt you don’t care about any of us

I care for her security and her future and ours

I care for her security and her future and ours


this marriage will bring us land and important alliances he is cousin to king horik

this marriage will bring us land and important alliances he is cousin to king horik

what do you say thyri  Thank  you

how could you don't you care for her happiness  He will give us 20 pounds of silver for her

how could you? don’t you care for her happiness? He will give us 20 pounds of silver for her…Is that all she is worth to you, all we are worth?

Haraldson admits to Siggy that he stopped caring about such things as happiness when their sons died.

I stopped caring about anything when our boys died

I stopped caring about anything when our boys died

He then shared the secret of how they were killed and buried in such a blatent disrespect to him and how it was a clear message to him that there would always be those who would seek to destroy him. He shared with her too, finally, the locks of their hair which he had kept for long and not allowed her to see.

Haraldson shows siggy the locks of their sons hair

Haraldson shows siggy the locks of their sons hair

they were my sons I bore them I raised them I loved them just as I loved you once

they were my sons I bore them I raised them I loved them just as I loved you once

I think for Siggy, this secret was the most hurtful and deepest of  pain and betrayal which she ever felt? For him to hold on to these few precious memories of their sons for himself cut her heart in the worst possible way. That he assumed his own grief and suffering were more than hers was more than she could take and it did break something within her heart for she had truly cared for and loved this man. And, now she must try to accept that his actions and the feelings of revolt and vengeance on the part of those who hated him would continue to put them all in danger, so much so that she must sacrifice her daughter’s happiness and go along with this marriage just to see Thyri safe away from this place.

You see when you have such knowledge being married to a rich old man isn't so bad

You see when you have such knowledge being married to a rich old man isn’t so bad


Believe me when I say that this was one wedding that most of us would have preferred not to attend! All of our hearts went out to poor Thyri even if most did not know the truest of reasons for such a deplorable and disgusting arrangement!

thyri's wedding

thyri’s wedding

Siggy tries to console Thyri

Siggy tries to console Thyri

the happy and excited groom

Nooo I can not pretend I can not smile about this  Neither can I.

Nooo I can not pretend I can not smile about this Neither can I.

just go on and remember to look happy

We all made attempt to pretend happiness for the couple but it was so difficult and took much mead on everyone’s part!

advice from Mother  stay calm pretend to be happy

advice from Mother stay calm pretend to be happy

thyri's wedding night

thyri’s wedding night

Then there came a surprise guest to the feast and we all held breath in fear that blood would be spilled?

a surprise guest at the wedding

a surprise guest at the wedding


Siggy looked on in great worry...

Siggy looked on in great worry…

Rollo took it upon himself to attend the wedding feast for Thyri!

rollo shows up at the wedding feast

rollo shows up at the wedding feast

Fortunately, the feast was not marred by bloodshed as well as disgust… Earl Haraldson and Rollo made attempt to be somewhat civil for the time being?

I don't remember inviting you  Oh I assumed you had just forgotten to

I don’t remember inviting you Oh I assumed you had just forgotten to

that could have been you dancing with my daughter.  Well I had to think about it...

that could have been you dancing with my daughter. Well I had to think about it…

I guess was not fated to marry her!

I guess was not fated to marry her!

That attempt at civility would not last long as we will find out soon!

To be continued….








Vikings: Early days, The Trial

It all happened so long ago that there are times when my memory fades and I forget those early events that put us all where we are now. From that first raid that brought a young and frightened Athelstan to us, to Earl Haraldson’s resentments, fears and retributions, Rollo’s mistakes and struggles with his conscience, a second raid that went so wrong… and on to wars between our own people. I speak of our own people because that is how I do feel now even though there are oft times when I struggle as much as Athelstan and Rollo with my divided feelings of loyalties and beliefs.

I feel I must tell of these earliest days so that you may better understand how and why my friends made the choices they did as years went on, our lives changed and we became different people than we were in the beginning. Life has a way of changing us, all of us- sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse as we try to deal with what has happened to us in each our own way.

I have made much mention of why I am loyal to Siggy and to Rollo even though I do not always trust either of them. I do not always trust them, but I have come to understand them over the years and I accept them for who they are as they accept me and place no expectations or threats upon me. Perhaps if you know more about their beginnings, their pasts as I know them, you will not judge them quite so harshly either.

Let me share some of their early stories with you now…

I will start with that second voyage to England that went wrong in ways that would affect the future?

Season 1 episode 4: Trial

first view of english village

What began as a simple plan, an easy raid or so Ragnar assumed… ended up going very badly for some and resulted in deaths and the making of an enemy. Ragnar did attempt in the raid to abide by some rules of conscience. He wanted the treasures, not dead bodies and tried to assure the villagers that if they would but hand over the riches, they would live unharmed.

raiding the church floki tastes the wine

floki at the alter while everyone watches

Ragnar and most of his group stuck to this promise.  In fact, Rollo showed heart and compassion for the old man he came across. He offered him comfort and a drink instead of killing him.

rollo finds an old man Rollo offers drink to dying old saxon man The early days of Rollo

One man of the group did not abide though and his action would end up affecting everyone’s future. Cnut, who was the brother of Haraldson- the one he sent to keep an eye on things…Cnut chose instead to rape as well as pillage.

knot's prey knut shows his colors

Lagertha did make but one mistake that day… though to her credit, and to the relief of the Saxon woman, it was a good thing she did make her one unwise choice. Ragnar had warned her earlier to be sure to stay with the group and not go off on her own? She disregarded that advice and found Cnut raping the woman. Lagertha could not stand by and allow this woman, Saxon or not, to be so used and violated!

lagertha interrupts

She tried to stop Cnut, and was then brutally attacked by him.

lagertha tries to stop cnut

Being the warrior that she was, she would not go down without a fight and ended up killing him.

lagertha will not go down without a fight lagertha attacks cnut

The men have finished their plundering and catch up with Lagertha. Ragnar asks the crucial question of, “Where is Cnut?”

where is cnut

where is cnut?

Lagertha knows there will be repercussions for her action but is stoic, blunt and honest in her simple answer, “I killed him”

i killed him

I killed him

Ragnar is not amused or happy and demands an explanation from her.

You what?

It is important here to know what Ragnar’s first reaction to her explanation was. He turned his anger on his brother Rollo, who had nothing to do with the event at all!

ragnar blames rollo Where were you

Ragnar blames and accuses Rollo of being at fault for the event, “Where were you?”

Ragnar walked away from the group in his frustrated, ill place anger leaving resentments and bitterness behind.


anger and resentment start here

anger and resentment start here

I am reasonably sure that such accusations and blame had been placed upon Rollo before by his brother but this one left much bitterness in Rollo’s heart because he cared much for Lagertha and to be blamed for something happening to her was not something he could take lightly or easily forget! This whole event would not be quickly forgotten or forgiven by any of those involved. It put a dark note to this raid and the group wanted to quickly return home from it…

Their ill luck continued though as they arrived at the beach to find their visit had not gone as secretly as they had assumed.

returning to the beach they realize they have been taken by surprise Ragnar is not having a good day

A battle on the beach ensued and they lost good men in the fight.

the viking dead

They buried their dead, sent them on to Valhalla and vowed vengeance for kin.

Don't grieve him don't pity him he will go to valhalla

Don’t grieve him don’t pity him he will go to valhalla

Yes he's happier than we are

Yes he’s happier than we are

he was my kinsman we must avenge his death

he was my kinsman we must avenge his death

They had made a fierce enemy in King Aelle and would eventually face him again in battle. But, before that time, battles would come at home!

Aille is furious King Aellie berates his men for losing to a bunch of pagans

As they made their voyage home, Athelstan was attempting to care for the children as best he could. He was realizing that child rearing was not such an easy task, especially when charged with the care of one such as stubborn and often resentful Bjorn!

meanwhile back at the farm Athelstan tries to look after the children

Athelstan’s patience as well as his faith was sorely tested in his arguments with the boy. One such argument over a visit to Kattegat resulted in Bjorn’s insistence of making a sacrifice to Thor for the safe return of his parents… When Athelstan reasonably questioned, “What would you sacrifice?”

what will you sacrifice

what will you sacrifice

Bjorn answers spitefully, “You!”



Athelstan turned later to God in anger and frustration, “Why? Why me? Do you even listen to me… why do you not send a sign?”

For the first time in my life I am angry with you, God!

For the first time in my life I am angry with you, God!

Where are you why don't you give me a sign

Where are you why don’t you give me a sign

a sign from God...

a sign from God…

Athelstan took the sight of the owl as his sign from God… woke Bjorn up in the middle of the night and pledged they would all go to Kattegat the next day.

Bjorn wake up  we'll all go to kattegat tomorrow

Bjorn wake up we’ll all go to kattegat tomorrow

Ragnar’s group returned home to great praises that did not long last.

Ragnar tells of the saxon attack and their defeat of them returning home with their treasure

Haraldson, of course wanted to know where Cnut was, what had happened to him?

dead how did this happen

dead? how did this happen?

Ragnar stepped forward and place the blame upon himself for Cnut’s death. He gave the explanation that he had come upon Cnut raping his wife.

rollo looks on as ragnar takes blame for lagertha's action

rollo looks on as ragnar takes blame for lagertha’s action

Haraldson refused to believe his story, finding it all too convenient that his brother should be accused and killed with no witnesses…

facing arrest ragnar says for your wife siggy would you not have done the same

facing arrest ragnar, says for your wife siggy would you not have done the same

Ragnar would stand trial for Cnut’s murder… and Haraldson would see to it that he was found guilty even if he had to come up with his own false witnesses to the event.

He found in Rollo, what he thought to be a willing betrayer? Haraldson questioned how Ragnar had treated Rollo and whether his loyalty to Ragnar was really so well placed?

is your brother a fair man does he treat you well and equally

is your brother a fair man does he treat you well and equally

I think he likes to rule you and what ever he says he considers himself to be first amoung equals.

I think he likes to rule you and what ever he says he considers himself to be first amoung equals.

Haraldson then went so far as to make Rollo an offer of more than riches or land? He made an offer of family ties…


haraldson makes his offer to rollo

haraldson makes his offer to rollo

The Seer and Siggy both watched from the shadows as Haraldson offered up his daughter, Thyri as payment for ultimate betrayal.

the Seer attends this meeting

siggy watches from shadows as haraldson offers rollo his daughter

siggy watches from shadows as haraldson offers rollo his daughter

This is my daughter thyri

This is my daughter thyri


It was during this time that I first became aware of some other involvement or knowing of each other between Siggy and Rollo?  Ohhh, I am sure that as Haraldson’s wife, she knew well of who he was, but was there more to it than just that? I do not know, have never asked- for I was better off in the not knowing, and it was not of my business, was it?  All that I know is that it was at this time that Rollo came more closely into our lives and has remained in our lives since!

haraldson introduces his wife siggy to rollo

After this meeting, came the trial- which Haraldson was sure would go his way no matter what happened? Of course he did not plan on Lagertha’s desperate attempt to save her husband by confessing to the murder herself.  Lagertha could not stand by and see her husband killed for her action.

ragnar's trial

May Thor strike you dead

May Thor strike you dead

My husband did not kill anyone  I did!

My husband did not kill anyone I did!

Siggy is moved by this confession

Siggy is moved by this confession

Her confession disrupted the trial for a bit but Haraldson dismissed her confession with his statement that he had a witness to the action?

we have proof  we have a witness

we have proof we have a witness

The hall was silent and breaths gasped when Rollo stepped forward as that witness.

rollo steps forward

rollo steps forward

You say you are a witness  Yes

You say you are a witness? Yes

Who killed my brother

Who killed my brother?

Knowing what had been offered to Rollo, and knowing what light Ragnar had been place in within Rollo’s mind…. I held my breath as well wondering what he would say?  Would he go so far as to betray his brother, and thereby Lagertha and the children as well in return for what Haraldson promised?  No, he would not betray them, his family. He stated that he had seen Cnut raping Lagertha and then seen Ragnar kill the man for it.

Ragnar lodbrok killed him

Ragnar lodbrok killed him because the man was raping his wife!

your half brother was caught raping his wife!

your half brother was caught raping his wife!

Later when Lagertha attempted to thank him for what he had done for his brother, Rollo’s feelings were clear. “I did not do it for him, I did it for you!”

I didn't do it for him I did it for you

Ragnar was a free man… but not truly, nor were any of them now.

Now you may remove my chains. Who has the keys?

Now you may remove my chains. Who has the keys?

Earl Haraldson had no choice to let the matter go for the moment but he did not forget, he did not forgive and he would have his final say on this. Ragnar knew the matter was not over either and that there would be a battle with Haraldson in the future.

unable to control his anger and rage at another friend's death ragnar leaves ragnar meets with his gods and prepares for battle with Haraldson

Ragnar’s battle with Earl Haraldson would affect us all, none would be immune from it. Rollo’s loyalty to family would cost him dearly as well. He had betrayed Earl Haraldson and would suffer the consequences of it. He would also learn not to be so trusting of those who made him promises… or would he?












Vikings: Waiting for the future, Remembering early days of Rollo

Remember to vote… the battle is fierce and our Viking Warriors are falling in the battle?


We win, we have the heads to prove it!

We win, we have the heads to prove it!

Shhhhh be still, close your eyes, listen… It is coming. Can you feel it? As I sit here in the darkness remembering the past, those distant memories, I can feel the future storms coming upon us soon!

ships in the mist

ships in the mist

I try to keep the feeling at bay, try not to think of what lies ahead for us all but tis very hard… the waiting is at times unbearable! I find myself unable to focus or concentrate on the work at hand that I must try to finish before that future arrives in just a few weeks from now. Tis not nearly as hard during the daylight when there is much else, much other work to keep my thoughts occupied on. Alone in my small space in the deepest of night though, when I should be at rest, my mind whirls with the past and the future that looms so close now. I usually use this time to record my thoughts as tis not wise or safe for me to display this work to others… My thoughts are a jumble and I know I will not complete my task of recording the past before the next journey begins. I worry that once the new journey begins, I will have no time to properly document this important early past.  Tonight is wasted and I must rise soon to get on with the chores of life. I have but a  moment now to put down a few scattered thoughts on those earliest days.  As always seems to happen with me, my mind wanders to Rollo, his past and his future that I worry so about?  Many ask why I continue to remain so loyal and so faithful to this man, and to that other one- Siggy? They warn me that no good will come from such alliances. Even Siggy oft warns me that I should not keep myself in the middle of this mess… But, I can not go back on my allegiance nor can I sway my mind or heart from the idea that I am on the path that I should be? There are other places I could be, safer places possibly- but perhaps not? I will write of that later.  For tonight, I think back on those earliest days of Rollo.  I know that despite his many errors in judgement, his impulsive actions, and his feelings of resentment, even in the beginning there was something within him that spoke of his worth?


The early days of Rollo

One memory stands out. While he was admittedly a warrior born and bred, knew of little else… yes he was vicious and fiercer than many others but he had, and yet still does hold something within that many of those other warriors lack? He has compassion, and a heart. I do think that at times, he thinks and acts with more what is in his heart than what is common sense and logical? On their early raid of Northumbria, when many things went wrong, Rollo showed his compassion. He came across this ailing old Saxon man who was unable to put up any sort of fight or resistance. Rollo could easily have killed the old man, but instead chose to offer the man a drink?  Of course, he did later take the man’s meager possession of any worth- the cup… but, for all purposes, the man would most likely have no need of it much longer anyway. What Rollo did do in those few moments was offer the old man comfort rather than fear of a bloody death.  For all of Rollo’s words of war and slaughter, it is these actions that speak far louder for his worthiness and his greatness. He chooses not to admit to these such actions for feeling that they will make him look less of a warrior, but really these are the actions that I hold on to and cause me to see that there is far more to him than just a Warrior!

rollo finds an old man Rollo offers drink to dying old saxon man

 I think of Rollo’s many struggles to become that great warrior, that great man… the many times he has failed in the past and been at the bottom seemingly without hope or redemption and yet managed to find the inner strength to go on? Every man must face his demons and his downfalls. All must face that bottom in order to learn and to climb up and appreciate what they have achieved. At times, it seems that the Gods much favor Ragnar.  He has achieved great glory but even Ragnar must face that bottom and climb back up.  Tis a much harder fall from such a high point as Ragnar’s?  Rollo has met his bottom already, numerous times and is used to the climb back up.  It has given him strength and a deeper will to fight for a better future!

rollo's glory

And, now with those thoughts of Rollo on my mind, I must try to sleep!

Viking adventure: Last thoughts before I embark!





Previous related post:

I am so excited, nervous, and just a little overwhelmed with all of the preparations for this trip! There are still a few final details to get worked out with the travel arrangements and a bit of last minute research, but Mrs. Graham assures me that we are almost ready for my departure. While she and her staff are seeing to the final travel details, I am trying to cram in as much history and varied information as possible and go over notes on what Mrs. Graham and her associates want me to pay most attention to as far as documentation?  They want me to keep a close eye on a man named Rollo? It seems they are concerned about his behaviors and are wondering if he truly is destined for greatness? They also want more information on Ragnar Lodbrok and his sons… there is so much controversy on all of them that it would be helpful to sort out the myths from fact.

mrs graham and tea leaves2

Ahhhh Mrs. Graham, I am so grateful to her for this opportunity! I only hope I make it back to see her again, and don’t end up regretting taking her up on this offer, or cursing her name and existence at some point in the future during this experience! Let’s pray that her tea leaf readings are not just a bunch of fanciful imagination!

tea leaf reading2


Before I leave on my adventure, I do have a few last thoughts and research notes I would like to share.

First of all, my thoughts on how one chooses to look at history and learn it? There is much debate and criticism over the methods used to learn history… Many historians and intellectuals look down on the history information provided in fiction as in books, movies and television. I keep seeing the comments on how inaccurate all of this information is and how it does more harm than good to be presented in such formats. These academics insist that if one wants the truest picture of history, then they need only concern themselves with non-fictional accounts and documents. Every time a historical novel or show arrives on the scene it is picked apart and criticized for all of it’s inaccuracies, frowned upon as a misleading or misrepresentation of what actually happened.  Yes, I do agree in some part with those observations. There are any number of books and shows that so blatantly disregard the facts and misrepresent the events and as a result, can not be considered as any form of historical representation at all. I have read and viewed more than my share of those, and do not bother to comment on them or share them here!

My disagreement with such academics and historians is in terms of  what is accurate, what is the truth? There is a much common phrase that, History is written by and colored by the victors. For that reason, the so called documentation and accurate evidence cited is often written in terms of what the victorious side wanted portrayed. With the more ancient past, much of the time, the losing sides were so decimated as not to even leave behind any trace as to what their side of the story or event might have been. So, by all rights, even the most supposedly accurate accounts of an historical event are colored by the writer’s viewpoint and perspective at that time.

My other personal thought on the subject is that any book or show that sparks an interest finding out more about history is well worth the reading or the viewing! I hear so often from so many people that they don’t like history, it’s sooo boring and does not interest them at all? I usually ask them what they do like to read or watch, and then explain to them that everything from sci-fi, fantasy, horror or  suspense and  mystery… what ever genre they have mentioned, has already been written about throughout history. When put that way, it sparks their curiosity in history. An example of this is the horror genre. Now, I am not a fan of this genre by any means but a recent conversation with a group of young people who are fans led to my suggestion that if they want some short horror stories, they should perhaps try reading the original Brothers Grimm Fairy Tales!

Another example of generating interest in history; I recently watched an old movie with a young co-worker.  The movie was Gypsy, it was an entertaining musical about the life of Gypsy Rose Lee. My young co-worker enjoyed the movie and was surprised when I mentioned that it was about a real woman. She then asked me for more information so she could find out more.  It doesn’t sound like much, but it spurred her interest in a past time period- and sometimes, that is all it takes!  My only slight concern on this particular occasion is the thought of not hoping that my young co-worker is not considering a change of careers now? Ahhhh well, I guess if she chooses this path, at least she will be an entertainer with some class!

Gypsy_Rose_Lee_NYWTS_1 Gypsy-Rose-Lee-photo


When history is presented in a way that people can relate to, it becomes more real, more personal and so much more interesting and valuable to them! If one begins their journey and education through history because of a so called frivolous book or silly show, what does it really matter as long as they are motivated to pick up a book, to search for  knowledge in any way that keeps them interested and wanting to learn more? Eventually their path will take them to the more truthful and accurate facts such as they exist.


Now back to our Vikings related research!

As I mentioned, I am finishing up some of the last minute research regarding the general time period. In a previous post, I mentioned a few book suggestions for additional information and insight into the importance of this time period and some of the historical figures related to it.  One book is of particular importance even though it deals with a much later time frame?

I am the Chosen King

In this beautifully crafted tale, Harold Godwinesson, the last Saxon King of England, is a respected, quick-witted man both vulnerable and strong, honorable and loving-and yet, in the end, only human. After the political turmoil and battles leading up to 1066, we all know William the Conquerer takes England. But Helen Hollick will have readers at the edge of their seats, hoping that just this once, for Harold, the story will have a different ending.

I finished the book and have nothing but praise for Helen Hollick’s representation of all the characters involved in this historically important event! She gave an excellent portrayal of all the people, and presented them on a well even playing field. What she does for this event in history is provide us with a sense and feeling of their emotions, she gives us a well thought out picture of who they were and why they made the choices they did. Even though I knew perfectly well how it was going to end, she held my interest and my concern for all of them until the very end. She gave a detailed, but not overly bogged down and boring account of that final battle between the two men who would be King at Hastings. In those final pages and moments, she gave us some much appreciated and welcome thoughts on how each of the men might have felt at the end, knowing the importance of the outcome and what their fates would be if they lost the battle. She made me care about both men, see the event and the history from each of their perspectives.  The book  gave me insight into each of their possible personalities, their character traits and caused me to think more on how each of their past histories brought them to this point in time!

The reason I feel this book and these two men are so important to our journey to an earlier time is due to who and where they each came from. If you trace each of their ancestries, you will see the irony and the twist of fate or what ever you want to call it that led these two men to face each other in a final battle for the future of England.

Harold Godwinson, the chosen King of England

harold godwinnson

Harold Godwinson

Harold II (or Harold Godwinson) (Old English: Harold Godƿinson; c. 1022 – 14 October 1066), was the last Anglo-Saxon King of England.  Harold reigned from 6 January 1066  until his death at the Battle of Hastings on 14 October, fighting the Norman invaders led by William the Conqueror during the Norman conquest of England. His death marked the end of Anglo-Saxon rule over England.

Harold was a powerful earl and member of a prominent Anglo-Saxon family with ties to King Cnut. Upon the death of Edward the Confessor in January 1066, the Witenagemot convened and chose Harold to succeed; he was crowned in Westminster Abbey. In late September he successfully repulsed an invasion by rival claimant Harald Hardrada of Norway, before marching his army back south to meet William the Conqueror at Hastings some two weeks later.

On the surface, it may not seem that Harold had any real tie or connection to that earlier time of the Vikings, the one which we will be soon visiting. If you look closer into his family’s history however, you will find them closely tied to those Vikings and their eventual dynasty.

This is a quick, abbreviated history of Harold’s family and their ties to the history of Denmark. I do not want to overwhelm you or bog you down with excessive details on this. I do want to point out that if you are interested in how this matters, you should pay most attention to his Mother’s lineage and connections. His Mother, Gytha Thorkelsdottir was the one who brought the historical tie and passed it down to her son.

Harold was a son of Godwin, the powerful Earl of Wessex, and Gytha Thorkelsdóttir, sister-in-law of King Cnut the Great of England and Denmark. Gytha’s brother was Ulf Jarl, who was married to Cnut’s sister Estrith. This made Ulf the son-in-law of King Sweyn Forkbeard,  and the father of King Sweyn II of Denmark. Godwin was the son of Wulfnoth, probably a thegn and a native of Sussex.Godwin remained an earl throughout Cnut’s reign, one of only two earls to survive to the end of Cnut’s reign. On Cnut’s death, Godwin originally supported Harthacnut instead of Cnut’s initial successor Harold Harefoot, but managed to switch sides in 1037, although not without becoming involved in the murder of Alfred Aetheling, half brother of Harthacnut and younger brother of the later King Edward the Confessor.  When Harold Harefoot died, Harthacnut became king and Godwin’s power was imperiled by his earlier involvement in Alfred’s murder, but an oath and large gift secured the new king’s favour for Godwin.   Harthacnut’s death in 1042 likely involved Godwin in a role as kingmaker, helping to secure the English throne for Edward the Confessor. In 1045, Godwin was at the height of his power, when his daughter Edith was married to the king.

To make a very long history and story short, Gytha brought with her to Saxon England, the connection and loyalties to the Danish dynasty of Cnut and his father, Sweyn Forkbeard… why is this so important, you might ask? Well, because Sweyn Forkbeard’s lineage traces back to one important  member of  Ragnar Lodbrok’s founding family!

Sweyn_Forkbeard Swen_Widlobrody_ubt


If you trace Sweyn Forkbeard’s lineage back, you will find him to be a descendant of one Harthacnut of Denmark… Harthacnut or Cnut I (Danish: Hardeknud) (born c. 880) was a legendary King of Denmark. Adam of Bremen makes him son of an otherwise unknown king Sweyn, while the saga Ragnarssona þáttr makes him son of the semi-mythic viking chieftain Sigurd Snake-in-the-Eye, himself one of the sons of the legendary Ragnar Lodbrok!

Sigurd Snake-in-the-Eye, as we will eventually come to find out is the son of Ragnar Lodbrok and second  wife, Aslaug.

sigurd snake in the eye

ragnar and aslaug1 ragnar and aslaug4 VIKINGS2_09-final

Aslaug in Norse mythology

Aslaug and her father the king painting of Aslaug the legend


So, while Harold may not be a direct descendent of Ragnar Lodbrok by blood and he may be looked on as a Saxon King… the last Saxon King for that matter, his family history and his character has it’s roots bound deep in this Viking dynasty. In fact, after his death, his Mother Gytha eventually returned to Scandinavia, taking with her one of Harold’s daughters.

William the Conqueror

The other key player and claimant for the throne of England in 1066 was of course, William the Conqueror. William I (Old Norman: Williame I; c. 1028[ – 9 September 1087), usually known as William the Conqueror and sometimes William the Bastard,  was the first Norman King of England, reigning from 1066 until his death in 1087. The descendant of Viking raiders, he had been Duke of Normandy since 1035 under the style William II. After a long struggle to establish his power, by 1060 his hold on Normandy was secure, and he launched the Norman conquest of England in 1066. The rest of his life was marked by struggles to consolidate his hold over England and his continental lands and by difficulties with his eldest son.

William the Conqueror AKA William I

William the Conqueror AKA William I

William’s lineage traces him back to one other person of note in Viking history… Rollo (c. 846 – c. 932), baptised Robert and so sometimes numbered Robert I to distinguish him from his descendants, was a Norse Viking who was founder and first ruler of the Viking principality which soon became known as Normandy. His descendants were the Dukes of Normandy, and following the Norman conquest of England in 1066, kings of England; he is the 33rd-great-grandfather of Elizabeth II.


*****Warning**** I do need to clarify and be very clear here on one point… for the purposes of our upcoming Viking Adventure and travel back in time, it is as yet uncertain whether the “Rollo” we will be observing is indeed the same person as this most famous one of history? We can only speculate or guess on this right now! It has been leaked that members of the Lodbrok family will travel to France and encounter a few people who would make this guess a plausible one….

                            Vikings Season 3 spoiler and preview: Charles Emperor of France and daughter, Gisela will make their appearance. Canadian actor Lothaire Bluteau will portray Emperor Charles of France and French actress Morgane Polanski (daughter of Roman Polanski) will be Princess Gisla, the Emperor’s daughter and his main advisor.

Lothaire Bluteau

Lothaire Bluteau

Morgane Polanski

Morgane Polanski

The appearance of these two characters does much to link the Lodbrok dynasty’s Rollo to the historical Rollo.  According to accurate history, Rollo is traditionally referenced to as marrying Gisela, the daughter of Charles III of France.

Rollo with Gisela and Charles of France

Rollo with Gisela and Charles of France


Now that you are thoroughly overwhelmed with history and confused even more, let’s go back to the original topic of William the Conqueror! I’m sure you’re thinking to yourself, “Yes, Please do get to the point of this already, we’re tired of the extra history lessons!”


Ok, the whole point of this history lesson and it’s comparisons to the Vikings legacy is that while Saxon England assumed it was being conquered by Normandy, in a sense it was actually being conquered once again by a Viking descendent that in many ways, still fought and thought like a Viking Warrior.

Rollo’s words can just as easily be attributed to how William the Conqueror felt and acted.



In a last thought on Helen Hollick’s portrayal of Harold Godwinson and William, her presentation of the two men could also very well represent the two founding characters of the Lodbrok legacy. After many generations of violence and battles for England, Harold Godwinson comes across as one similar to Ragnar Lodbrok in his beliefs, his reasonings, and his actions. He is caught in the middle of a for the most part, an un-winnable situation but tries to put the future of his country and his people as a whole above his personal wishes. In another ironic symbolism or reversal of it… Harold sets aside his long time love and handfasted wife in order to marry within the church and possibly provide a legitimate heir to the throne. Ragnar Lodbrok sets aside his long time love and wife (though, to his credit, he does offer to keep her as wife? She soundly refuses to share!) in preference for a wife who can bear him more sons. 

Then there is William, who is a bastard son and must fight for everything he feels is his. He is determined to win at all costs, willing to do what ever he has to in order to achieve his goals. He is volatile, uneducated in a scholarly sense but he is a Warrior and thinks like one in all instances. His goal is not so much one for the long range future of his people, but more of a personal vendetta. He is angry with Harold, whom he considered a friend- an ally… he feels betrayed by Harold and acts on it. In Helen’s representation of him, he also acts on it as part of a one time promise he made to his wife- that he would make her a Queen… and so he will, no matter what the cost to others. It is not until the end when he faces his final battle with one that he realizes is an equal on all levels, that he thinks about the possible consequences, about the future for all, not just for himself. Her portrayal of William, his character and his flaws closely parallels that of  Ragnar’s brother Rollo. Rollo, who acts before thinking much of the time, who questions and resents, who battles with himself so constantly.  It often seems impossible that this struggling and often failing Rollo could be the forefather, the founder of such a dynasty as Normandy? Yet, we see that same struggle for worthiness in William I as he battles for what he thinks is his by right.

In the final battle at Hastings, it was an evenly matched battle that by all accounts, Harold should have been able to win? But, by a twist of fate or luck, William won the battle for England. This event resembles much of what happens with Rollo’s life in the Vikings Saga. He  makes grevious errors in judgement, is  at the point of failing miserably but is always the warrior in the end. He is usually on the brink of following the wrong path but for some reason or twist of fate, he succeeds- often surprising himself!

portrait of Rollo in history

portrait of Rollo in history

Old ways of yule


I know this has been a rather lengthy, involved and more in depth look at some of the history that will take place after the Vikings initially invade England but I think it’s important to know the legacy that the Vikings such as Ragnar Lodbrok and his brother leave for us in the future!

And, yes, while many will scoff at the Vikings Saga as it is presented on the history channel, throw up their hands in disgust and cries of  “That’s not what really happened”,  I applaud Michael Hirst’s representation of history. He has worked hard to incorporate as much actual history as possible into the show and as a result, the show and the subject of Viking and Saxon era history has reached millions of viewers. Many of those viewers develop a deeper interest in the history of the time period,  go on to do their own research into it and come away with more knowledge and understanding of the past. Is that such a bad thing?

Historical accuracy

Some critics have pointed out historical inaccuracies in the series’ depiction of Viking society. Lars Walker, in the magazine The American Spectator, criticized its portrayal of Viking Age government (in the person of Earl Haraldson) as autocratic rather than essentially democratic.  Joel Robert Thompson criticized the show’s depiction of the Norse peoples’ supposed ignorance of the existence of Britain and Ireland, and the use of the death penalty instead of outlawry (skoggangr) as a punishment for heinous crimes.

Monty Dobson, a historian at Central Michigan University, criticised the show’s depictions of Viking Age clothing, but went on to state that fictional shows like Vikings could still be a useful teaching tool.   The Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten reported that the series incorrectly depicted the temple at Uppsala as a stave church in the mountains, whereas the historical temple was situated on flat land and stave churches were a hallmark of later Christian architecture in Scandinavia.   The temple as depicted in the show does have similarities with the reconstructions of the Uppåkra hof on the other hand. The show also portrays a crucifixion of a prominent character instigated by a Christian bishop near Wessex, apparently as a standard punishment for apostasy – however, Emperor Constantine outlawed crucifixion in the 4th century  and no crucifixions were documented to have taken place in Europe thereafter.

Other errors include the presence of window glasses, XVI-XVIIth century helmets used by King Ecbert´s soldiers, the mention of “Russia” as the land the Vikings aim to plunder in the first episode, although the episode takes place in 793 A.D. and Russia would not exist until 860 A.D. (as the Kievan Rus’), as well as the scenery where Ragnar Lodbrok lives, which shows great mountains although there are no mountains in Denmark. One could assume Ragnar lives in Norway because of the presence of fjords and that Uppsala can be reached by land while Horik arrives always by sea. However, Lagertha seems to be able to ride from Hedeby to Kattegat without crossing a sea which would be impossible at the time.

Regarding the historical accuracy of the show, showrunner Michael Hirst comments that “I especially had to take liberties with ‘Vikings’ because no one knows for sure what happened in the Dark Ages” and that “we want people to watch it. A historical account of the Vikings would reach hundreds, occasionally thousands, of people. Here we’ve got to reach millions.”  When Katheryn Winnick was asked why she licked the seer’s hand she answered “It wasn’t originally in the script and we just wanted to come up with something unique and different”.


As I pointed out in the beginning of this discussion, my personal thought is that whether it is a book or a show, if it sparks one’s interest in learning more about history then it is well worth the time spent on it! To disregard a particular genre or format, as being just fiction and not authentic or accurate causes those who would look down on it or negate it’s value to miss the whole point that history has to be made interesting and relative to those learning from it. If you can not get people to read it, view it or listen to it, then it’s accuracies really make no difference anyway.  In sharing history and it’s lessons, one needs to make it interesting enough for the audience to want more of it! Such is the case for Vikings, which will embark upon it’s third season this winter. People are interested in the show, and as a result, are more interested in the real history presented in it!

So with that thought in mind, I will end this long winded discussion and be off to finish my last minute preparations for heading into the past with the Vikings.

If you missed my previous discussions regarding travel plans, you can catch up on it here:

I will be traveling to Lindholm Hoje near Aalborg Denmark

With the assistance of Mrs. Graham and her Time travel associates, I will be attempting to go through some stones in this area to the past and then travel to Kattegat where I will find the founding family of Ragnar Lodbrok!

Upon my arrival there, I will then proceed to document events of their lives from their humble beginnings as farmers and sometime raiders to their eventual rise to power and rulers of the Viking era!






Reflections, wishes and suggestions for the new year!

I just want to take a quick bit of time today to catch up and catch my breath from the busiest weeks of the Holiday season! I hope everyone is enjoying what ever winter holiday you observe or celebrate. My wish is that it is filled with joy, with love, with faith and blessings for the new year! May the coming year be filled with light and goodness for all of you!

After celebrating Yul with all of you here, Christmas with my family, and working, I am going to take a few days to relax and recover from all of it! As I do this, I am reminded of how holidays used to be as compared to what they are now? At one time, really not so many years ago… well, okay a lot of years ago if you are one of the young ones for whom time is still flashing by so quickly that you don’t realize it’s leaving you.  I’m showing my age here, so please be patient and understanding!  When I was growing up all of those years ago, certain days were considered and observed as National Holidays for almost everyone. Businesses were closed, entertainment venues, restaurants- all but essential services were closed so that people could take those few days to celebrate and enjoy the occasion with their families. Little of that remains anymore. Now these Holidays have become much like any other day, with people attempting to carve out some precious time to make it feel like a holiday and capture some thread of what was once so special about the event.  Families were much closer back then, in distance as well as heart. It was easier to come together, share the special time, reconnect with loved ones and build memories that would carry on to the future generations.

Now days, many of us struggle with trying to keep those traditions, those memories and yet adjust them to fit into a world that so quickly changing and evolving around us. With such change always comes compromise. We must give up some beliefs, traditions and sense of our past in order to adapt to a new world, new beginning. What we do not need to give though, are the memories, the stories and the lessons that we learned from the past! We are not the only society that has undergone great change so quickly and profoundly that it wiped out some traces of previous cultures and beliefs. As we look at history, we can find many examples of societies and civilizations that either survived, adapted or faded away as their worlds changed around them. The expression of “If we do not learn from history, we are destined to repeat it” holds as much truth and value today as it did when George Santayana first commented on it.


Santayana is known for famous sayings, such as “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it”,  or “Only the dead have seen the end of war.” Santayana, like many philosophers since the late nineteenth century, was a naturalist (that is, he denied the existence of supernatural beings, like gods and ghosts), but he found profound meaning in literary writings and in religious ideas and texts (which he regarded as fundamentally akin to literature). Santayana was a broad ranging cultural critic whose observations spanned many disciplines. He said that he stood in philosophy “exactly where [he stood] in daily life.”


It is my personal belief that we assume too often that history is not important, that it has no bearing or affect on what we are experiencing in such a new and different time. We assume that our current life struggles and issues are so vastly different from those of the past, that we are so much more intelligent, more evolved, and somehow better than those long dead ancient beings. Of what use or importance could any of their experiences be to us? In reality, they struggled with the same universal life issues that we do today. Some of them survived and flourished, some of them did not. It was all about choices that they made with their hearts, their consciences, and their desire to create a better world for the future. We all make those exact same choices each and every day.

My hope and wish for this coming year is simply that by coming here, reading through my thoughts and my impressions of the past, some of you might find that history speaks as much to you in some way as it does to me? I am reminded of what I have learned through years of teaching and helping others… If you make a difference in one person’s life, then you have succeeded in a purpose of your life. You may not be able to change the world, but if you change one person’s life, then you have made a start on that greater change.


Okay, enough my reflections and philosophy… As you take your own time to wind down from Holiday stress and prepare for the coming year, I just want to leave you with a few suggestions for reading and viewing!


Movies and Television Viewing Suggestions

For the many Outlander fans here, I have a viewing suggestion that may or may not interest you, but might help some of you get through the later books that involve so much detailed history of the American Revolution? The AHC- American Heroes Channel- has a three part mini series on the American Revolution. I have not watched it yet, but have it recorded and plan to watch it all later this evening!

American revolution2 american-revolution-ahc-2


If you prefer some much earlier history, along with some blood letting and a look at the earliest beginnings of Britain, I have two suggestions for you.  I am not normally a fan of blood and heavy handed action movies that don’t necessarily portray history all that realistically but I did watch these two movies and stayed interested all the way through them!

First is The Eagle (2011 film)


The Eagle is a 2011 historical adventure film set in Roman Britain directed by Kevin Macdonald, and starring Channing Tatum, Jamie Bell and Donald Sutherland. Adapted by Jeremy Brock from Rosemary Sutcliff‘s historical adventure novel The Eagle of the Ninth (1954), the film tells the story of a young Roman officer searching to recover the lost Roman eagle standard of his father’s legion in the northern part of Great Britain. The story is based on the Ninth Spanish Legion‘s supposed disappearance in Britain.

The film, an AngloAmerican co-production, was released in the U.S. and Canada on 11 February 2011, and was released in the United Kingdom and Ireland on 25 March 2011.

In the year AD 140, twenty years after the Ninth Legion disappeared in the north of Britain, Marcus Flavius Aquila, a young Roman centurion, arrives in Britain to serve at his first post as a garrison commander. Marcus’s father disappeared with the eagle standard of the ill-fated legion, and Marcus hopes to redeem his family’s honour by bravely serving in Britain. Shortly afterwards, only Marcus’s alertness and decisiveness save the garrison from being overrun by Celtic tribesmen. He is decorated for his bravery but honourably discharged due to a severe leg injury.

Living at his uncle’s estate near Calleva (modern Silchester) in southern Britain, Marcus has to cope with his military career having been cut short and his father’s name still being held in disrepute. Hearing rumours that the eagle standard has been seen in the north of Britain, Aquila decides to recover it. Despite the warnings of his uncle and his fellow Romans, who believe that no Roman can survive north of Hadrian’s Wall, he travels north into the territory of the Picts, accompanied only by his slave, Esca. The son of a deceased chieftain of the Brigantes, Esca detests Rome and what it stands for, but considers himself bound to Marcus, who saved his life during an amphitheatre show.

I enjoyed the movie for it’s look at the pre-history, and the history of the Roman involvement in Britain. It deals with the real mystery of the Ninth Legion, and you can find more information on that here:

the-eagle-movie the-eagle-movie2 the-eagle-movie-tatum-3

One other excellent film dealing with early Britain and legends is, King Arthur.


This is not your typical King Arthur legend type of film! This movie presents the legend in a much more realistic portrayal. As many of my long time followers know, I have a deep fascination and interest in all things King Arthur related so this movie was perfect in every way for me! for more information on the history and legends about King Arthur, you can search through my archives on the subject!

King Arthur is a 2004 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.

Arthur, also known as Artorius Castus (Clive Owen), is portrayed as a Roman cavalry officer, the son of a Roman father and a Celtic mother, who commands a unit of Sarmatian auxiliary cavalry in Britain at the close of the Roman occupation in 467 A.D. He and his men guard Hadrian’s Wall against the Woads, a group of native Britons who are rebels against Roman rule, led by the mysterious Merlin (Stephen Dillane).

As the film begins, Arthur and his remaining knights Lancelot (Ioan Gruffudd), Bors (Ray Winstone), Tristan (Mads Mikkelsen), Gawain (Joel Edgerton), Galahad (Hugh Dancy) and Dagonet (Ray Stevenson) expect to be discharged from their service to the Empire after faithfully fulfilling a fifteen-year commitment.

However, on the night they are to receive their freedom, Bishop Germanus (Ivano Marescotti) sends them on a final and possibly suicidal mission to rescue an important Roman family. Marius Honorius (Ken Stott) faces impending capture by the invading Saxons, led by their chief Cerdic (Stellan Skarsgård) and his son Cynric (Til Schweiger). According to Germanus, Marius’ son, Alecto, is the Pope‘s favorite godson and may be “destined to be Pope one day”.

At the remote estate, Arthur discovers Marius has immured pagans: a Woad named Guinevere (Keira Knightley), and a small boy, Lucan. Arthur frees them and decides to take everyone, along with Marius’ family, back to Hadrian’s Wall.


king-arthur-sagaci-sassoni saxons

Arthur and his Knights


A truly original and unique version of Guinivere!

king arthur movie2 king arthur movie


Of course, there are a number of television series that will entertain you and possibly, hopefully provide you some historical lessons as well. If you have Starz, or any number of online services, you might want to catch up on Outlander- if you have seen it already, or not enough times in the case of many fans out there! We’ve already discussed all of it in great depth through out the blog.  Just start searching through the archives for it and that could keep you busy until the show starts again in April!

OUT-101_20131011_EM-0630.jpg Outlanderday


Another show that we’ve made extensive reference to here is Vikings on the History Channel!

ragnar viking long boat Lindisfarne-ep2

The Vikings will return for season three on February 19! We will be exploring more of their history and the show in upcoming posts!

Vikings is an Emmy Award nominated  historical drama television series written and created by Michael Hirst for the television channel History. It premiered on 3 March 2013 in the United States and Canada.  Filmed in Ireland, it is an official Ireland/Canada co-production.

Vikings is inspired by the sagas of Viking Ragnar Lothbrok, one of the best-known mythological Norse heroes and notorious as the scourge of England and France. It portrays Ragnar as a former farmer who rises to fame by successful raids into England with the support of his family and fellow warriors: his brother Rollo, his son Bjorn, and his wives—the shieldmaiden Lagertha and the princess Aslaug.

On 5 April 2013, History renewed Vikings for a ten-episode second season, which premiered on 27 February 2014.  On 25 March 2014, History renewed Vikings for a ten-episode third season, which is scheduled to air on February 19, 2015.


Book suggestions!

If the viewing suggestions are not enough, and you prefer reading about history, I do have a few suggestions for that as well.  Contrary to recent posts and public opinion, I do read a great deal besides Outlander! In fact, I spend much of my free time reading… I have a long commute to and from work each day, which provides me with plenty of time to indulge in one of my favorite pass times- reading. While I do occasionally venture into the time travel realm for reading enjoyment… I know, I know, it would seem and appear that time travel would be my main priority/focus, but actually it is not. Most of my reading focus is on early medieval history from the early Viking Ages through William the Conqueror and on through to about the 1500s.

I have been quite lax and remiss about updating my book reviews page since Outlander appeared but, please rest assured that I have indeed kept up with my other reading! I am providing a quick guide here for those of you who are interested in reading material aside from Outlander! You can also always check out my reviews and books on my Goodreads page.  I have better luck keeping those reviews updated than the ones here!

For now, I will just update you with a few that I’ve read lately and may have referenced in earlier posts!


 Veil of Time  by Claire R. McDougall.  This was a one of the time travel exceptions I’ve made and it well worth the read as it is so much more than just time travel or a romance novel!

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?

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.



Circle of Ceridwen Series by Octavia Randolph

If you are interested in early Saxon and Viking history in Britain, I highly recommend this series!

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

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.

Young women with courage. Swords with names. Vikings with tattoos. Danger. Passion. Survival. Warfare. Sheep. And Other Good Things…

The year 871, when England was Angle-Land. Of seven Anglo-Saxon kingdoms, five have fallen to the invading Vikings. Across this war-torn landscape travels fifteen year old Ceridwen, now thrust into the lives of the conquerors. But living with the enemy affords Ceridwen unusual freedoms – and unlooked-for conflicts. Amongst them she explores again her own heathen past, and learns to judge each man on his own merits. Her divided loyalties spur her to summon all her courage – a courage which will be sorely tested as she defies both Saxon and Dane and undertakes an extraordinary adventure to save a man she has never met.

The first book of The Circle of Ceridwen Trilogy, the historical adventure saga enjoyed by thousands of readers in over 125 nations.


There are four books in the series… and I am keeping my fingers crossed that there will eventually be more. The series covers the life and journey of Ceridwen from her early years as a somewhat naïve teen through her years living with the Viking conquerors of  Britain, to her journey to the Viking homelands of Gotland. It is an excellent well documented and detailed look at the changes in lives and cultures during that time period, with a focus on how one young woman deals with all of those sudden changes in her life.  I would definitely recommend you read all of them and check out Octavia Randolph!

Ceridwen of Kilton the claiming Hall of Tyr

After reading the last one, Hall of Tyr, there was also a nice bonus of a medieval cookery booklet included. She includes early medieval Britain fare as well as medieval Scandinavian dishes!

For a sample of her cookery details, you should read this article!



For slightly later medieval history, try The Handfasted wife  and the Swan daughter by Carol McGrath.

the handfasted wife by Carol McGrath The Swan daughter by Carol McGrath

These two books are about history during the time of William the Conqueror. They are well written historical biography types more than romances.

The first one, Handfasted wife tells the story  of the Norman Conquest from the perspective of Edith (Elditha) Swanneck, Harold’s common-law wife. She is set aside for a political marriage when Harold becomes king in 1066. Determined to protect her children’s destinies and control her economic future, she is taken to William’s camp when her estate is sacked on the eve of the Battle of Hastings. She later identifies Harold’s body on the battlefield and her youngest son becomes a Norman hostage. Elditha avoids an arranged marriage with a Breton knight by which her son might or might not be given into his care. She makes her own choice and sets out through strife-torn England to seek help from her sons in Dublin. However, events again overtake her. Harold’s mother, Gytha, holds up in her city of Exeter with other aristocratic women, including Elditha’s eldest daughter. The girl is at risk, drawing Elditha back to Exeter and resistance. Initially supported by Exeter’s burghers the women withstand William’s siege. However, after three horrific weeks they negotiate exile and the removal of their treasure. Elditha takes sanctuary in a convent where eventually she is reunited with her hostage son. This is an adventure story of love, loss, survival and reconciliation.




The second book is about Edith and Harold’s daughter, Gunnhild.  The Swan Daughter is a true 11th C tale of elopement and a love triangle by best-selling author of The Handfasted Wife, Carol McGrath. A marriage made in Heaven or Hell.  It is 1075 and Dowager Queen Edith has died. Gunnhild longs to leave Wilton Abbey but is her suitor Breton knight Count Alan of Richmond interested in her inheritance as the daughter of King Harold and Edith Swan-Neck or does he love her for herself? And is her own love for Count Alain an enduring love or has she made a mistake?



For a better and even more detailed perspective the events of this time period, I would suggest and encourage you to read  two other books about this era by Helen Hollick!

I have already previously mentioned her work, The Forever Queen (The Saxon Series #1)  on my book reviews page but am going repeat here for easier reference. This book is a great depiction and detail of  Emma of Normandy, whom little is known about but who is so important in history. It is the first of two books on Emma and her offspring, with the second book being, I am the Chosen King.

What kind of woman becomes the wife of two kings, and the mother of two more?

Saxon England, 1002. Not only is Æthelred a failure as King, but his young bride, Emma of Normandy, soon discovers he is even worse as a husband. When the Danish Vikings, led by Swein Forkbeard and his son, Cnut, cause a maelstrom of chaos, Emma, as Queen, must take control if the Kingdom-and her crown-are to be salvaged. Smarter than history remembers, and stronger than the foreign invaders who threaten England’s shores, Emma risks everything on a gamble that could either fulfill her ambitions and dreams or destroy her completely.

Emma, the Queen of Saxon England, comes to life through the exquisite writing of Helen Hollick, who shows in this epic tale how one of the most compelling and vivid heroines in English history stood tall through a turbulent fifty-year reign of proud determination, tragic despair, and triumph over treachery.

The Forever Queen (The Saxon Series, #1)The Forever Queen by Helen Hollick
My rating:
5 of 5 stars

Fantastic! I was quite impressed with all of this book. I appreciate that it was not so much a gushy over done, made up romance novel but more of a historical docu-drama of her life. Helen Hollick took the limited details surrounding this somewhat forgotten queen that we hear so little about and wove those details into an excellent story!

I wrote the above short review a while ago but wanted to add to it because I am still so impressed with the storytelling of Helen Hollick. I have not read the second book of the series yet, but will get to it soon! After spending an immense amount of time reading quite serious histories, I needed to take a break and read some less intense ones!

This was most definitely one of the more serious and intense ones! It is not a feel good, happily ever after love story by any means. If you are looking for that, you will be quite disappointed. What you will find is a story about the grim and gritty realities of a woman’s life in those early medieval times. Just because a woman was of noble blood and ended up with a crown- more than one, it did not mean her life was any easier. In fact, in so many ways it was even more difficult.

Emma was married first to Æthelred who failed as both a King and a husband, but Emma did do her duty in providing him with not one, but two legitimate heirs. That should have given her some security in those times but unfortunately luck was not with her… or maybe it was? The kingdom is overtaken by Cnut who claims her along with the kingdom. She finally finds love with him only to have him die leaving the kingdom in another battle of who should rule.

The story of her life was well documented in this book with more than enough factual information woven into the story to give what I felt it was an excellent representation of the constant hurdles she endured throughout her life that colored and shaped how she viewed her role and her destiny as well as that of her sons.


I am the Chosen King

In this beautifully crafted tale, Harold Godwinesson, the last Saxon King of England, is a respected, quick-witted man both vulnerable and strong, honorable and loving-and yet, in the end, only human. After the political turmoil and battles leading up to 1066, we all know William the Conquerer takes England. But Helen Hollick will have readers at the edge of their seats, hoping that just this once, for Harold, the story will have a different ending.

I am in the process of reading I am the Chosen King right now and am just as impressed with it as I was with the first book! What is interesting for me now is the comparison between this work and the information I previously read in Carol McGrath’s books about the same people. Where as Carol’s books deal more with Edith’s and her daughter’s lives and their possible perspectives of the time and events, this work goes into more depth concerning all of the key figures of the time. By reading all of them, I think you could gain a better insight and picture of  what was happening and how those involved might have come to the choices they made.



Now for one last thought of interest.  You might be wondering just how all of this extensive and in depth history ties into  my interest in the Vikings Saga on the history channel and it’s related actual history? Well, I will leave you with a few clues…

Vikings is inspired by the sagas of Viking Ragnar Lothbrok, one of the best-known mythological Norse heroes and notorious as the scourge of England and France. It portrays Ragnar as a former farmer who rises to fame by successful raids into England with the support of his family and fellow warriors: his brother Rollo, his son Bjorn, and his wives—the shieldmaiden Lagertha and the princess Aslaug.

As the above paragraph states, the show and it’s various main characters are based on what is known about actual history. Ragnar Lothbrok is based on

Ragnar Lodbrok or Lothbrok (Old Norse: Ragnarr Loðbrók, “Ragnar Hairy Breeches“) was a legendary Norse ruler and hero from the Viking Age described in Old Norse poetry and several sagas. In this tradition, Ragnar was the scourge of France and England and the father of many renowned sons, including Ivar the Boneless, Björn Ironside, Halfdan Ragnarsson, Sigurd Snake-in-the-Eye, and Ubba. While these men are historical figures, it is uncertain whether Ragnar himself existed or really fathered them. Many of the tales about him appear to originate with the deeds of several historical Viking heroes and rulers.

According to legend, Ragnar was thrice married: to the shieldmaiden Lagertha, to the noblewoman Þóra Borgarhjǫrtr, and to Aslaug. Said to have been a relative of the Danish king Gudfred and son of the Swedish king Sigurd Hring, he became king himself and distinguished himself by many raids and conquests until he was eventually seized by his foe, King Ælla of Northumbria, and killed by being thrown into a pit of snakes. His sons bloodily avenged him by invading England with the Great Heathen Army.


In reality, Ragnar ultimately comes to a bad end and probably was not such a likeable fellow as he is portrayed in the show.

His brother, Rollo is inspired and based on another historical Viking.

A character based on the historical Rollo, played by Clive Standen, is Ragnar Lodbrok‘s brother in the 2013 television series Vikings

vikings_gallery7_2-P rollo


In actual history, Rollo comes out far better than Ragnar ever could have hoped for!


If you look at his family tree, you will see how he ties in to medieval history. He was the ancestor of William the Conqueror- and if you look into William’s activities, you might see that his Viking heritage of conquering came out quite boldly in his genes!


Rollo is the great-great-great-grandfather of William the Conqueror. Through William, he is an ancestor of the present-day British royal family, as well as an ancestor of all current European monarchs and a great many pretenders to abolished European thrones. A genetic investigation into the remains of Rollo’s grandson Richard I and great-grandson Richard II has been announced, with the intention of discerning the origins of the famous Viking warrior.

The “Clameur de Haro” in the Channel Islands is, supposedly, an appeal to Rollo.

Rollo’s grave at the cathedral of Rouen


So, as my last thought and conclusion for the day…. Which brother would you prefer to take your chances with? Personally, I am going with team Rollo!

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Follow our Viking journey in coming new year!

Ragnar and Rollo legacy

Mrs. Graham tells my fortune!




Just a quick update… Mrs. Graham stopped by to let me know all is forgiven and she is dropping that silly notion of legal action. She says there has been a huge increase in business at all of the other Standing Stone sites thanks to the free advertisement that I gave her! As a token of her appreciation, she offered to do a free tea leaf reading for me.  Now, my personal opinion on the tea leaf reading is that of, “Who on earth dreamed up this rather bizarre form of fortune telling?”  Of course, I didn’t want to offend her by insinuating that I had serious doubts about any accuracy or validity of this particular form of fortune telling. I did ask her casually if she did palm reading and might she do one of those instead? She mentioned that yes, she does do some palm reading, but prefers the tea leaves as it kills two birds with one stone… as in you get to relax with a nice spot of tea along with having your fortune told! I guess I can’t fault her reasoning on that, I do enjoy a spot of tea myself. So, I went along with her absurd idea of the tea leaf reading- if for not other reason than I had a bit of spare time on my hands, the tea sounded good, and it might provide me with some free entertainment and amusement!

Mrs graham demonstrates tea leaf reading

mrs graham and tea leaves2

I tried not to show any doubt or laugh out loud at her as she took her time inspecting the tea leaves in the bottom of my cup… So serious she was about all of this? I’m sorry, it’s just difficult for me to take this tea leaf reading art seriously!  Really, what kind of fortune or future can you decipher from a mess of soggy tea leaves randomly stuck to the bottom of tea cup?



mrs graham3

Mrs. Graham senses my doubting disbelief in the art and gives me a lecture and lesson on the history and art of reading tea leaves!

Tasseography (also known as tasseomancy  or tassology) is a  divination or  fortune-telling method  that interprets  patterns  in tea leaves, coffee grounds,  or wine sediments.

The terms derive from the French word tasse (cup), which in turn derives from the cognate Arabic word tassa, and the Greek suffixes -graph (writing), -logy (study of), and -mancy (divination).

Divination attempts to gain insight into the natural world through intuitive interpretation of synchronistic events.

The first inklings of Western tasseography can be traced to medieval European fortune tellers who developed their readings from splatters of wax, lead, and other molten substances. This evolved into tea-leaf reading in the seventeenth century, a short time after Dutch merchants introduced tea to Europe via trade routes to China.

Scotland, Ireland, Wales and England have produced a number of practitioners and authors on the subject, and English potteries have crafted many elaborate tea cup sets specially designed and decorated to aid in fortune-telling. Cultures of the Middle East that practice divination in this fashion usually use left-over coffee grounds from Turkish coffee/Lebanese coffee/Greek coffee turned over onto a plate.


Ok, Ok…I put on my most serious face and nod my head in feigned interest and respect- just to get her to stop frowning lecture she is giving me! She goes back to reading the leaves intently, and then reaches for my hand. Yes, this is the good part! She is going to throw in a palm reading as well… she says this will just give her a clearer picture of what the leaves are telling her?

tumblr_mc58b2CSzm1qljfm7o1_500 palm-reading-maps--large-msg-138766562547 multi-perspective-palm-reading-chart-1

Ohhhhh ummmmm she’s going on again in an in depth, detailed explanation of palm reading now… I am far too interested and impatient to sit through a long discussion. I just want to know what she sees! I very politely tell her that I would love to discuss it in more depth at some other time- I am not making that up, I really would love to know more about the palm reading! But, for now, I really am far too excited to hear what her reading is. I’m not so interested in the tea leaves as she is but the palm reading has caught my imagination! She looks as though she’s bursting to tell me something… Ohhhh I hope it’s  good! I hope it’s not one of those usual clichés like meeting a tall dark and handsome stranger, going on a voyage, or any of that silly stuff!

Mrs Graham tries to tell Frank

Well go ahead then, Mrs. Graham, tell me what my future, or my past holds….

tea leaf reading2

What? What is this? She is smirking and going on about seeing distant Stones, a sea voyage, a tall dark and handsome stranger, a king… she says she sees ancient lands being fought over? Alright, that is really just enough! I know she could not have seen all those things in a bunch of teal leaves or on the palm of my hand! Now, I am a little annoyed that she is playing a prank on me. I have to tell her so!

She laughs at my irritation and moves the tea cups out of the way.  She digs in her over large purse and puts out some maps and other papers on the table. Still laughing at me, she says she could not resist the bit of fun but she does have some serious information to share with me!

It seems that there has been a great deal of interest in early medieval times and the Viking ages. A number of people have expressed interest in traveling to those times and her company is working on putting together some packages for those time periods. In fact, she states, she has been working with some ancient sites in Denmark and Sweden in order to provide transport points directly to the Vikings so that people might have a travel experience which reflects the Viking perspective or point of view.

Ales_stenar_bred stones

Ales_stenar_bred stones



Kong Asgers Høj

Kong Asgers Høj

ancient stone near uppsala

ancient stone near uppsala

uppsala vikings

uppsala Vikings


Hmmmm, this all sounds quite interesting? I admit that I am one of those people who would be keenly interested in such a trip as it is one of my favorite time periods… I express my interest to Mrs. Graham, who nods her head, “I thought you might be interested in helping us out with our project.” She goes on to explain that they are working with some groups in Denmark to provide a unique type of experience for interested travelers, but before they can offer the package, they need some volunteers to assist them.  I am about to wave my hand wildly in the air and squeee in some childish excitement, “Ohhhh Pick me, Pick me!” She stops me and tells me to sit back down so she can explain before I blindly agree!

I listen half heartedly to her advisements and warnings… I am going to volunteer no matter how much she warns me of the dangers involved- especially when she mentions that this trip would be a free one! Whooooo talk about luck, an all expense paid vacation back to the past, to the land and time of the Vikings! I try hard to contain myself and remain calm but it’s a total fail until she regains my attention when she brings up the topic of the palm reading and tea leaves. She gives me a serious, pay attention look that causes me to do exactly that.  Mrs. Graham tells me that the palm reading and tea leaves did indeed indicate some of those things such as an important kingly man, another stranger, a long voyage, and the turbulent fighting for land or power.  She warns me in no uncertain terms that I will be in the middle of all of this and there will be grave danger in my travel. I should take some time to think about it and then get back to her?

Two distant lands meet and fight for power….

Viking era Denmark

Denmark_viking age

Denmark_viking age

Early England


A kingly Royal man, Ecbert of Wessex

Egbert of Engand

Ecbert of Wessex

vikings-linus-roache-history Vikings-Ecbert-King-of-Wessex-played-by-Linus-Roache1

A long voyage…

viking long boat

Some other strangers…

Ragnar Lodbrok


His brother, Rollo…


A clash of cultures, a battle for land and power…

Early Christianity in England


The more ancient Gods and ways of  Vikings


The battles over land, power, traditions and cultures

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