Tag Archive | King Ecbert of Wessex

I am King! Really, why and how?

I am King

All of the above men are or were Kings in our Vikings saga, the exception being young Erlandeur…his chance at King being thwarted by Ragnar Lothbrok! I have included Harald Finehair in the portrait as he will be arriving next season as King of Norway.  What I hope to do with this series of articles is shed some light on the hows, the whys of Kingship, and give some brief historical insight on each of these men and their claim to Kingship.  I will also look at a recent discovery of a Leadership gene, right to rule and divine destiny and how these concepts relate to these men becoming King. *Note* This is part one of a series that will look at each of these Kings and their claims or right to rule!

First, before anything else, we need to explore the concept of King, or monarchy in general.

A monarchy is a form of government in which sovereignty is  one or several individual(s) reigning until death or abdication. They are called the monarchs.  Forms of monarchy differ widely based on the method of selection of the monarch, and any predetermined limits on the length of their tenure. When the monarch has no or few legal restraints in state and political matters, it is called an absolute monarchy. Cases in which the monarch’s discretion is formally limited (most common today) are called constitutional monarchies. In hereditary monarchies, the office is passed through inheritance within a family group, whereas elective monarchies use some system of voting. Each of these has variations: in some elected monarchies only those of certain pedigrees are eligible, whereas many hereditary monarchies impose requirements regarding the religion, age, gender, mental capacity, and other factors. Occasionally this might create a situation of rival claimants whose legitimacy is subject to effective election.

Tribal kingship is often connected to sacred functions, so that the king acts as a priest, or is considered of Divine ancestry. The sacred function of kingship was transformed into the notion of “Divine right of kings” in the Christian Middle Ages.  In Germanic antiquity, kingship was primarily a sacral function, and the king was elected from among eligible members of royal families by the thing.

Monarchies are associated with  hereditary rule, in which monarchs rule for life and pass the responsibilities and power of the position to their child or another member of their family when they die. Most monarchs, both historically and in the modern day, have been born and brought up within a royal family, the center of the royal household and court. Growing up in a royal family,  future monarchs are often trained for the responsibilities of expected future rule.

 Different systems of succession have been used, such as proximity of blood, primogeniture, and agnatic seniority (Salic law). While most monarchs have been male, many female monarchs also have reigned in history; the term queen regnant refers to a ruling monarch, while a queen consort refers to the wife of a reigning king. The principal advantage of hereditary monarchy is the immediate continuity of leadership (as seen in the classic phrase “The King is dead. Long live the King!“).


Monarchy, especially absolute monarchy, sometimes is linked to religious aspects; many monarchs once claimed the right to rule by the will of a deity (Divine Right of Kings, Mandate of Heaven), a special connection to a deity (sacred king). Many European monarchs have been styled Fidei defensor (Defender of the Faith); some hold official positions relating to the state religion or established church.

  In a hereditary monarchy, the position of monarch is inherited according to a statutory or customary order of succession, usually within one royal family tracing its origin through a historical dynasty or bloodline. This usually means that the heir to the throne is known well in advance of becoming monarch to ensure a smooth succession.

Primogeniture, in which the eldest child of the monarch is first in line to become monarch, is the most common system in hereditary monarchy. The order of succession is usually affected by rules on gender. Historically “agnatic primogeniture” or “patrilineal primogeniture” was favoured, that is inheritance according to seniority of birth among the sons of a monarch or head of family, with sons and their male issue inheriting before brothers and their issue, and male-line males inheriting before females of the male line. 

Before primogeniture was enshrined in European law and tradition, kings would often secure the succession by having their successor (usually their eldest son) crowned during their own lifetime, so for a time there would be two kings in coregency – a senior king and a junior king. Examples include Henry the Young King of England and the early Direct Capetians in France. In Saxon history, King Ecbert did similar with his son Aethelwulf. We will delve into that later.

aethelwulf and ecbert

 Sometimes, however, primogeniture can operate through the female line. In some systems a female may rule as monarch only when the male line dating back to a common ancestor is exhausted.  This is how Kwentirith has managed to achieve her current rule of Mercia…

Just a hint here Kwentirith when everyone throws empty cups at you you may have a few friend problems!

Just a hint here Kwentirith when everyone throws empty cups at you you may have a few friend problems!

In the case of the absence of children, the next most senior member of the collateral line (for example, a younger sibling of the previous monarch) becomes monarch. In complex cases, this can mean that there are closer blood relatives to the deceased monarch than the next in line according to primogeniture. This has often led, especially in Europe in the Middle Ages, to conflict between the principle of primogeniture and the principle of proximity of blood.


For our purposes in this discussion, we are going to deal mainly with the Hereditary Monarchy, because for the most part all of the Kings in our saga have achieved their crown via that sucession. Even Ragnar Lodbrok as we will see in tracing his limited history, probably did have a sort of blood link to the crown of Denmark. The only one that there is some doubt or question of will be King Aelle of Northumbria. We just do not know enough about him to make any detailed or accurate assumption as to his right or claim to that Kingdom.

Before looking at each man’s history and personal claim to Kingship, we should also look at some other more general theories and concepts regarding Kingship and it’s history. This will help to better understand each particular man’s role in this career choice…

Right to Rule and Divine right of Kings

The divine right of kings or divine right  asserts that a monarch is subject to no earthly authority, deriving the right to rule directly from the will of God. The king is thus not subject to the will of his people, the aristocracy, or any other estate of the realm, including the Church. According to this doctrine, only God can judge an unjust king. The doctrine implies that any attempt to depose the king or to restrict his powers runs contrary to the will of God and may constitute a sacrilegious act. It is often expressed in the phrase “by the Grace of God,” attached to the titles of a reigning monarch.

While this concept would seem on the surface only to apply to European Kings of later centuries, the basis for the principle goes much further back and ties into the idea or concept that Kings were descended from God, or Gods… That they had a direct connection to that higher power and therefore had a right or claim to rule because of that connection. Denmark had a history for following this principle of right to rule dating as far back as to a point when it was inhabited by the Angles, who then eventually migrated to Britain and brought the concept with them.

The Dacians settled in a region that includes modern Denmark and the northwest region of Germany.  The Dacians named this region Dacia, in honor of their homeland.  In Dacia, the Dacians displaced the native peoples.  Undoubtedly, some level of integration happened between the Thracians, Dacians, and native populations.  Dr. David Faux offers a compelling argument that while the Dacians clearly displaced the Celtic Cimbrians, the Angles are likely to have partially integrated with them.

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.


The remote origins of the theory are rooted in the medieval idea that God had bestowed earthly power on the king, just as God had given spiritual power and authority to the church, centering on the pope. The immediate author of the theory was Jean Bodin,  who based it on the interpretation of Roman law.  This principle and theory would and did directly apply to King Charles and King Ecbert- who used the church to back his claim to power. King Aelle who deemed himself a Christian would have used such theory to some extent to validate his Kingship, though I think he achieved his crown by might and then would have tried to justify it in some way.  As to the Scandinavian Kings, we would assume that this principle would not have applied… but, when we look closer at their histories, we will see that while they may not have used the Christ God to justify their claims, they did claim connections to their own Gods to back up their rule once they established it.  For the Danes, they were long linked to the Frankish Empire and even back to Roman cultures so those ancient concepts would have made way into their own culture even if they did not ascribe to Christianity per say. As far back as the Romans were using links to the Gods to justify their claims to rule. Julius Caesar claimed connection to Venus.

The theory went back to those earliest Christians who advocated allegiance to Caesar even though he was a Pagan ruler.

  1. The New Testament, in which the first pope, St. Peter, commands that all Christians shall honour the Roman Emperor (1 Peter 2:13–17), even though, at that time, he was still a pagan emperor. Likewise, Jesus Christ proclaims in the Gospel of Matthew that one should “Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s”; that is at first, literally, the payment of taxes as binding those who use the imperial currency (See Matthew 22:15–22). Jesus told Pontius Pilate that his authority as Roman governor of Judaea came from heaven according to John 19:10–11.
  2. The endorsement by the popes and the church of the line of emperors beginning with the Emperors Constantine and Theodosius, later the Eastern Roman emperors, and finally the Western Roman emperor, Charlemagne and his successors, the Catholic Holy Roman Emperors.


The basic theory and premise of such divine right goes all the way back to Egypt with the Pharaohs linking themselves to the Gods. The future Christian interpretation of it just set down a different set of rules to follow. This principle and concept ties in well with the practice of hereditary monarchy and succession according to bloodline. Once one has established rule of a Kingdom, it is always wise to have some other means besides just might to back up one’s claim! This principle ensures that your hard fought for Kingdom will remain in the family for future generations and it also gives you an added cushion of authority in the eyes of your subjects who might think twice about rebelling against you if they believe you have some connection to the Gods!  It’s fine to achieve a Kingship and Kingdom by force, but eventually people will tire of fighting on your behalf and you will need some other means to control and lead them into your way of thinking. What better means of control than convincing them that you have supreme right from the Gods above to rule them!

I know, I know, you’re getting bored with all of this and want to get to the more interesting stuff… I just have one last theory to bring up before we get to our Viking era Kings. This theory is a recent development and discovery related to genetics.  Now you’re probably groaning to self- yes, you are, I can hear you! You’re thinking, What the Hell does current genetic research have to do with any of this! Well, please stick with me and let me explain!

In the past few years, there has been a vast amount of research done on genetics, DNA and how it might relate to us in various ways. Some of it has to do with genealogy and the ability now to better trace our ancestry, and of course that would include tracing Royal lineages- should some Royal ever require some need of proof that they are indeed part of Royal bloodline- or for those who just want to be able to say, Hey I am descended from Ragnar, Rollo, or others of historic fame. That in itself is quite interesting and I do plan to participate in that endeavor sometime soon.

If you are so inclined and interested, you can get more information about that research on these sites:

AncestryDNA project at Ancestry.com


TribeCode DNA Ancestry testing


Although that genetic progress is interesting, it is not what we are most interested in with regards to this discussion. The discovery that pertains more to us is that of a specific gene called the Leadership gene!  A GENE has been uncovered that may help to create born leaders, or possibly trace the pattern in past leaders.

The leadership gene, known as rs4950, is an inherited DNA sequence associated with people taking charge.Scientists accept that leadership skills are also learned. But the gene may provide the vital push needed to make someone into a manager rather than a minion.  Researchers found the gene after analysing DNA samples from around 4000 individuals and matching them to information about jobs and relationships. Workplace supervisory roles were used as a measurement of leadership behavior.  The study showed that a quarter of the observed variation in leadership traits between individuals could be explained by genetics.

Lead scientist Jan-Emmanuel De Neve, from University College London, said: ‘‘We have identified a genotype, called rs4950, which appears to be associated with the passing of leadership ability down through generations.   ‘‘The conventional wisdom – that leadership is a skill – remains largely true, but we show it is also, in part, a genetic trait.’’

Some of the greatest leaders in recent history include Martin Luther King, Mohandas Gandhi, Nelson Mandela and Sir Winston Churchill.  Leaders do not necessarily have to be heroic or good though. Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin and Genghis Khan were also great leaders in their own way.

The new research suggests at least the possibility that some of these historic figures were blessed with the leadership gene. Despite the importance of the gene, acquiring a leadership position still mostly depends on developing the necessary skills, say the researchers.



Now if I have completely confused you as to the relevance of this genetic discovery to our topic of Kings and their claims of divine right, let me try to put some perspective on it.  The Royal dynasties now and in the past are based on some principle that their bloodline enables or allows them to rule. Granted, their claim is that it comes from God, the Gods, that divine connection or link. They knew nothing about genetics or DNA, they attributed their ability to a higher power. But, given the discovery of this gene, it would be fascinating to find this gene in some of those ancient rulers! Perhaps it was not God who destined or determined their fate or ability, but it may have been something in their bloodline from the beginning that allowed for the earliest of these rulers to be leaders and then pass that predisposition down to their offspring and future rulers! The research does conclude that this gene does not completely determine one’s ability or success but merely predisposes them toward that. It also states that having such gene does not equate to heroics or good, it could also enable a person with worst of intentions or morals to succeed in leading people in their direction.

As a genetic trait, it might be responsible for that certain charisma, charm or bearing that a person  innately presents which would allow for people to follow them- good or bad! It may come across as an overall appearance, a self confidence, an air natural inborn Royalness such as some of our Kings and their offspring display.  It could also be some inborn ability convince or sway people to your side, to your beliefs… some people are natural born salesmen! Ragnar certainly has it.


And, he has passed it down to his son Bjorn who is not King yet, but will be one day.

Can you do that Bjorn can you lead with your head and set your heart aside

If Ragnar is gifted with such a gene then in our saga, his brother Rollo would probably carry the gene as well. Rollo does not achieve Kingship in history nor probably in our version of it, but he comes close in founding his own dynasty of Normandy. And, great Monarchs will descend from his line in history so we could probably assume that Rollo did indeed have this gene!

what will the future hold for rolloPortrait of Rollo's destiny. Credit to Ines Jagger of Vikings Aftermath group and to lindamarieanson of deviant art.

Whether we like him or not, Ecbert does have this innate trait, this ability to charm and control…

Vikings-Ecbert-King-of-Wessex-played-by-Linus-Roache1ecbert has been disobeyed

King Horik most likely  had the gene bit it  is one of those cases where he used none of it for good!

horik sends rollo to jarl borg while he stays at kattegathorik and wife Gunhild who was once a great sheild maiden herself

Does King Aelle have it? I would say, possibly but as in Horik’s case, it’s not been a case of any good coming from it? The only reason that I suspect he might possibly carry the gene is for the fact that daughter Judith appears to have it and presents a better side of it! This is of course in our fictional version of the history. Later we will attempt to look at Aelle in the context of actual history and what his claim or justification may have been. As I have mentioned previously, I suspect that he may have come by his rule and his Kingdom more by might than by any true right, but he may have had the gene, which would have enable him to sway people to his line of thinking…

King-Aelle1Aelle and judith

Now for the moment, that leaves us with new comer Harald Finehair of Norway… we know next to nothing about him and can only gauge any thought or assumption on a limited vision of his outward appearance? But, from that appearance, I would say that yes he probably does have this gene.

peter franzen4

I am going to include one other person of interest in this list because while he does not have royal blood as far as we know at this time, he does display this trait and characteristic. That would be Kalf!

Kalf tries to remain unphased and calm through Ragnar's tiradeKalf says his own last minute prayer to the gods

And, if one bases the succession of their reign on such bloodline or ability, there may always come a point where a successor has not inherited such gene from his parent. That would leave your dynasty with a weak, ineffective leader such as our Frankish King Charles! In the case of Charles, any of the Charles that he may be representing in our version of history, we also need to take into account one other thing that may have affected their genes. With the principle and practice of hereditary monarchy comes a somewhat disturbing side affect. In order to keep your Royal bloodline continuing, your descendants must marry within a severely limited group of others who would presumably share this royal blood. This practice results in a great deal of inbreeding with close relatives. The early Christian church realized this and did put forth a number of rules regarding who one could marry. This might have been looked at as some sort of extreme Papal control and Bureaucracy but in reality, it was their means of dealing with the affects of  such close inbreeding that led to much hereditary illnesses, instabilities and insanities being passed down through generations or ruling families.

charles I must prove myself better than my brothers and these Northmen have provided just the event

Charles and other members of his Frankish dynasty were thought to be afflicted by various forms of such instability. So, while Charles may or may not have inherited the leadership gene, (my personal thought is that he probably did not!) he most likely did inherit some of the other instabilities of his family.

As long as we’re looking at Charles, let us quickly look at his daughter, Gisla… who may or may not be a real person. In our fictional account, she is quite young but she does seem to have moments where she displays such a leadership gene.

charles leaves but the people still rejoice around the real hero of the day gisla

gisla raises the banner and reminds the men of what they fight for

gisla raises the banner and reminds the men of what they fight for

Since we have brought up the realities of inbreeding and instability, there is one other person to look at in relation to the leadership gene and to claims of right to rule. That person would of course be the Princess Kwentirith in our saga, who is said to be a daughter of Offa and who is now Queen of Mercia. Kwentirith is based loosely on some real women of that time period who did have some claim to rule. It was very rare that a woman would be allowed to rule but there were some early instances of it in Saxon history. It would have been due to the early practice of following the blood line and a woman being the last and only direct relative left to take over. That was the case of Kwentirith when her brother so conveniently died.  We will deal with the history of Mercia and their rule later. For now let us just look at Kwentirith in respect to whether she might have the leadership gene and whether she also carries some inherited family instability! At her best, Kwentirith can present a charming and engaging personality and a regal bearing.  She may have the gene which would allow her to put forth an initial image and presence that people would pay some attention to. Unfortunately, she also displays such an irratic and volatile range of instability that people quickly realize her instability! Is this instability inherited or due merely to her childhood environment? My thought is that it is probably a bit of both. She refers to the behaviors of her Father and her uncle, as well as brothers so I would think that some of the insanity is inherited, probably from a long line of inbreeding before the family might have converted and followed rules of the church!


the return of kwentrith

the return of kwentrith

kwentirith enjoys the snack and Rollo thinks to enjoy his own snackKwentirith unleashing her savagery on Uncle britwulf's head

I have given you some basic overall theories and reasons on the hows and whys of Kingship in general, and how they relate to our Royalty in the Vikings saga.  In my next posts, I will deal with each King separately. Because all of these people have some real life historical basis, I will look at them in that historical context rather than the fictional one. Where ever possible, I will attempt to explore the fictional relationship as it might relate to the real one. The only people who do not seem to have any real life basis as yet would be Kalf, and Aelle’s daughter Judith. But, seeing as they are not yet rulers in any way, we will not look into their histories as it relates in this way!  Also, I have already dealt with both of them in previous posts so we will leave it at that for the time being!

You can find my thoughts on Kalf in the previous post about Hedeby:


Judith’s story is detailed here:


Based on the historical fact that Horik’s and Ragnar’s claims are both tied to the Crown and history of Denmark, I will look at them together in relation to that history. In looking at that history, it may also lead us to exploring Aelle’s limited history in Northumbria… mainly because when we look closer at the history of the Danes and the Angles who resided in that country prior to the Danes taking over, we will see the migration of them to places in Britain such as Northumbria, York, and East Anglia. I will also look at where the ruling line went after Ragnar in history because historically he did not rule for very long and his sons did not take his place in succession. Because of that, we will look at who did come afterwards, and what happened to his sons in history. This will include a look at Sweden where Bjorn Ironside eventually become a King.

We will look at Ecbert’s path to his rule and his claim in relation to Saxon history and in relation to the church because they backed his initial claim to his throne. That Church connection will also be a connection to the rule of Charles. We will also see in this history, the claim of one woman who bears some similarity to our Kwentirith.

We will look at Harald Finehair and his connection or claim to the rule of Norway in a separate discussion because while we all tend to look at the Vikings and Scandinavia as one inclusive entity, they were very separate kingdoms much further back than the Viking age! As they all migrated to Britain during various time periods, they located themselves in different localities and did not identify themselves under that one umbrella of “Viking” They did not even particularly like each other and would not have chosen to band together or associate with each other unless it was for such purpose of defeating a common enemy such as the Saxon English!

I hope that you will join me and enjoy the upcoming journey as we explore the rights and claims to Kingship!

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

This article includes Horik, Ragnar, as well as Ragnar’s sons Bjorn, Ivar and Sigurd!

Horik and Ragnar their paths to ruling a dynasty

Ecbert’s claim to Wessex:

The beginnings of Egbert's power plots

The beginnings of Egbert’s power plots




Vikings Wanderer: Other Strangeness!



Aside from the Princess Kwentirith and her strangeness ( as if that isn’t enough for anyone to handle!) there was so much other strangeness going that it was difficult to keep up with it!  Before we see what the next chapter reveals, we should look at those odd events.  When we spoke of  Torstein’s fate, and of Kwentirith, I mentioned some celebration which included mushrooms? I believe those mushrooms were part of the cause for the lack of treatment to Torstein’s arm. So, first let us look at that celebration and those mushrooms.

Of important note relating to this celebration involving mushrooms- mushrooms have been long known for their hallucinogenic properties and are still often used in many shamanic rituals and vision quests. In a previous episode, Floki fed his friends a certain type of mushroom, “food of the Gods” to put them into death like trance. Mushrooms have often been referred to as food of the Gods because of their various hallucinogenic properties and other affects. One must be extremely cautious when eating mushrooms and know exactly what kind they are eating. Some will cause the hallucinations, some will have the death trance affect, and yet other will cause types of crazed behavior such as that of going Berserker… A number of resources have made reference to the Norse people using mushrooms to help achieve that Berserker affect. 

Mushrooms as food of Gods


After the battle with Kwentirith’s Uncle, the group engaged in celebration that centered around the eating of mushrooms. Their celebration turned bizarre to say the least! Floki, after ingesting some of them, found Kwentirith’s behavior amusing and had no issue with going out to retrieve her Uncle’s head for her to chop into bits!

another bite of the shroom and sure no problem I'll get the head

floki gets his head

here is uncle Britwulf

here is uncle Britwulf

Whether Kwentirith’s behavior was due partially to ingestion of said shrooms or her general insanity is uncertain…

Kwentirith unleashing her savagery on Uncle britwulf's head

I should mention here that Aethelwulf and his Priest were not impressed or amused by the celebration or the behaviors that ensued!

Aethelwulf and his priest look on in shock

Aethelwulf and his priest look on in shock

I hate to admit it, but it was our Rollo who was responsible for encouraging the consumption of large quantities of the mushrooms. Being a good friend and good host, he offered his find to everyone, including Torstein. Rollo offered Torstein mushrooms as a form of   pain relief, which I suppose could go to his favor as he was trying to aid his friend in the only way he knew of at the time?

rollo offers mushrooms as relief

rollo offers mushrooms as relief

passing the shrooms

Rollo’s behavior due to the mushrooms was by far the most bizarre and begs to answer the question of, “How many mushrooms are too many?” Rollo obviously consumed far too many of the shrooms!

I wonder how many shrooms are too many shrooms

To say that Rollo’s behavior was bizarre would be understating and putting it mildly?  It started as just a curious observation on his part of watching the group of prisoners and then descended into an obsessive thought concerning one captive and his leg?

What's that moving over there in the woods

What’s that moving over there in the woods

I must fix this now

I must fix this now

what is wrong with these barbarians

I see dead people  I see dead people moving

I see dead people I see dead people moving

There now I see dead people

There now I see dead people

I shall fix this leg and it's annoyance to me

I shall fix this leg and it’s annoyance to me

Ohhh oooops I guess I do not see dead people?

Ohhh oooops I guess I do not see dead people?

that dead man is yelling at me  I must yell back

After chopping off the offensive leg, Rollo staggers away and realizes that yes, maybe there is such a thing as too many mushrooms?

Whoa I don't think I should have had that last shroom

The shrooms did have some helpful affect on Torstein… he was so dazed that he did not seem phased by Rollo’s act other than to casually ask, “Why did you do that?” Rollo’s reply… “It was that leg, I did not like the angle of it!”

why did you do that   that leg  I did not like the look of it

Rollo’s ingestion of said shrooms also affected him in that after a rather embarrassing encounter with Kwentirith, he found the whole event hilarious?

Ummm not so fast  the witch come out in her

Ummm not so fast the witch come out in her

No means No at least you understood that didn't you

No means No at least you understood that didn’t you

NO Now we know our first English word A woman has slapped me and told me no why do I find that so hilarious

I do think that they all embibed far too many  mushrooms and their next action was a direct result of that…

well ok maybe the shrooms haven't quite worn off yet

well ok maybe the shrooms haven’t quite worn off yet

It did have the desired affect of scaring the crap out of their enemy but once the shrooms wore off, they were then faced with another rather nasty after affect? While it seemed like a great idea at the time, it was one of those things where you rethink your decision once you have to clean it all up the next day!

whose bright idea was this now we have to get rid of all of them

whose bright idea was this now we have to get rid of all of them

now the shrooms have worn off and the men think well maybe this was a little much

now the shrooms have worn off and the men think well maybe this was a little much


The other strangeness had nothing to do with mushrooms or celebrating… though, I do wonder if the women perhaps being bored- were ingesting a few mushrooms of their own? This event took place in Kattegat and involved the women left behind. Aslaug, Helga and Siggy were left behind at Kattegat to fend for themselves… This event could only be described as “Nightmare in Kattegat”! The women began having an odd shared dream experience where they each saw the same strange man, and the impending death of their ancient Seer?

I can not discount the idea or concept of shared dreams because I have had my own personal experience involving them.  For me it had nothing to do with the mystical or religious/spiritual ritual connotations  but was more of  what I believe might have been some past life memory that we all might have shared? I will delve more into it in a separate post at a later time. I just mention it because, having had my own experience with the shared dreams, this event struck a chord with me. I do believe that they exist for any number of different reasons. They come from some deeper place in our consciousness and serve to connect our spirits or souls in some way to teach us a group lesson, to possibly bond us together for some reason?  These three women left in Kattegat are three very different women going on very different paths of life. They are not necessarily that good friends with each other, but they do have one thing in common. These women are deeply rooted in the old religion, the old ways and they are not yet swayed or prone to believing in the new Christian religion. While the others travel to England and become more exposed to new beliefs and traditions, these three women will hold more firmly to their own ways and beliefs. Aslaug was considered to be a Volva or seer in her own right. What the dreams mean to them, or are predicting is uncertain as yet. There any number of things that they could be representing and everyone has their own theory on what the dreams are foreshadowing or telling us. Their dreams are of a wandering traveler arriving at their village. All of the women agree that part of the dream is not frightening but exciting? It is a dream from which they are disappointed to wake from and realize it is not real. They look forward to this stranger coming.  In their dreams, he arrives with one hand covered in blood and the other hand holding a ball of flaming snow?  The dream that disturbs them is one of  the death of their ancient Seer… What should we read into these dreams? I really have no more idea than the women at this point! Could the wanderer be Odin in disguise, some think this a possibility. Could the death of the Seer be a representation of the death or demise of their religion, their beliefs? I think this could be a good possibility.  If that is the case, then does the Wanderer have something to do with bringing about this demise, this change? Is he some sort of prophet sent to test them and tempt them? Or is he just some sort of Charlatan or trickster who sees lonely gullible women to take advantage of with intent to sell them some fabrication of his creation?


Shared Dreaming- does it exist?


nightmare in kattegat

As I stated, perhaps they were a bit bored, a bit frustrated, and a bit worried about their futures? They were wandering around Kattegat with far too much free time on their hands and their minds…

the women left behind share a dream

speaking of the dream

speaking of the dream

The curious and mysterious dream of a strange wanderer turned to a nightmare of seeing their Seer slaughtered, coved in blood…

where are you ancient one

looking for the seer

looking for the seer

seeing the death of the seer

seeing the death of the seer

nightmare in kattegat

was it just a dream?

was it just a dream?

Awaking from the nightmare, they all tried to assure each other that is was just a bad dream… Yes, just a bad dream

so much blood it was everywhere

so much blood it was everywhere

sharing the nightmare

sharing the nightmare

it was only a dream

it was only a dream

Or was it? The wanderer that they had seen in their dreams made his appearance in Kattegat!

wanderer coming through the mist

wanderer coming through the mist

wanderer comes out of the mist

wanderer comes out of the mist

the wanderer

helga sees him coming

helga sees him coming

blood in the snow

blood in the snow

wanderer's hand dripping with blood

wanderer’s hand dripping with blood

the wanderer arrives dripping blood and holding flaming snow

the wanderer arrives dripping blood and holding flaming snow

These three women will be tested, tempted and each will fight their own personal inner battle- perhaps that is what the Wanderer is there for? To simply guide these women through their own choices and set them on their own varying paths of life.   While the Wanderer is testing these women in Kattegat, in England Athelstan faces his own tests of faith.

There are so many layers of subtle clues and connections that it is difficult to pinpoint them all!  I do find it interesting and curious that while the Wanderer is dripping blood from his injured hand, Athelstan is also dripping blood from his own hands? Athelstan makes a very profound and prophetic analogy too, when he is trying to explain the differences in beliefs but mentions how closely they are actually connected. His comparison of Odin dying on a tree and being reborn to Christ being crucified and resurrected speaks volumes in connecting the two religions. In his thoughtful perception that Odin’s death and rebirth story was so similar but happened so many centuries before the story of Christ, Athelstan was able to bridge that basic lack of understanding and acceptance of beliefs. Would it sink in and have affect on the others he spoke to such as Judith? That remains to be seen. Ecbert already has an understanding and some acceptance of the concept but he has a higher priority that concerns him. Whether Ecbert believes in Christianity or not is rather a moot point… he understands the power of the Christian Church, the politics of that Church. He knows that in order to continue with his own quest for power, he needs the backing of the Church. Ecbert will play the good and devout Christian because it is in his best interests to do so.  Lagertha is faithful to Odin and her beliefs, but in all reality, Odin has not been all that generous or kind to her lately? If she should face yet another crisis in her life and feel let down or feel that Odin has once more turned his back upon her, she may be open to other options… She is also a very intelligent woman who will make her own choices and decisions based on what she sees and experiences. Ragnar is already at the point of questioning his beliefs because of Athelstan’s guidance, so Lagertha may make her own way down that path as well.  Judith, a devout Christian would have the most difficult time accepting any religion or belief system that goes against her own. Her mind is so engrained in the Church’s teachings that to question anything different would be almost impossible for her to comprehend.

Athelstan is destined to a higher purpose in life. His mind, his body and his soul are being tested now and it seems that it will only be a matter of time before he passes these tests and is called back to God? He has already had an affect on both Ecbert and Ragnar… how many others will his spirit touch before he leaves this earth.  Peacemakers such Athelstan made it possible for some to find a way of accepting other beliefs than their own. Many of the people who converted to Christianity in the beginning did so because they already had a belief in more than one God, so in their mindset, they could look upon the Christian God as just another of the many Gods they held belief in. It is far easier to accept one God into a house of many than it is to share your one personal God with a whole house of other ones.  Many early converts also saw the advantages and benefits that the all powerful church could provide and thus went along with the ruse of belief even if they thought it was all nonsense?

Athelstan the bridge between two worlds

Setting Athelstan’s personal struggles aside for now- he is struggling with those more earthly lessons of passion and desire… and is being tested in that area by the Lady Judith. She is also being tested greatly and as her Father in law, King Ecbert reminds her, she is treading in dangerous waters with her desire and fascination for Athelstan.  This is a personal test for both of them and what ever the results, I am sure they will both suffer some consequence for it.  There is a far greater test facing Athelstan right now that involves all of the new settlers as well, including Lagertha. 

I have mentioned previously, the wounds on Athelstan’s hands that do not seem to ever heal completely. Those wounds occurred when he was tortured and crucified by other “Christian” Priests…

crucifiction of Athelstan crucifiction of Athelstan2

Ecbert saved his life that day and their bond began there.

Now, he seems marked forever by God and though he does not seek or want the attention, his affliction is seen as a mark of holiness and greatness by some? So, while Athelstan does not reach for fame or want it, he will most likely receive it.  It is a belief of the Norsemen that fame and reputation are the greatest of gifts and accomplishments that one could receive from the Gods. They often desire and crave it more than anything else, for then when you enter Valhalla, the Gods will know of you from your actions and your fame on earth? Kalf in Hedeby- the one who would betray Lagertha for such greatness speaks of this exact desire. His one goal, his one desire is to be as famous as Ragnar, so that all will know his name.

what sensible man would be afraid of one such him a farmer who made himself king

what sensible man would be afraid of one such him a farmer who made himself king

Kalf does not really care how he becomes famous, only cares that the Gods know his name and remember him? He will do anything to pursue this greatness while Athelstan on the other hand, would most likely do anything not to be so famous?

I want to be famous I want the Gods to know my name

I want to be famous I want the Gods to know my name

It remains to be seen yet as to how the Gods and the spinners of fate will answer Kalf’s wishes?  Meanwhile, God has already given Athelstan his destiny whether he wants it or not…

Athelstan's hands dripping in blood


Stigmata (singular stigma) is a term used by members of the Christian faith to describe body marks, sores, or sensations of pain in locations corresponding to the crucifixion wounds of Jesus Christ, such as the hands, wrists, and feet.

The term originates from the line at the end of Saint Paul‘s Letter to the Galatians where he says, “I bear on my body the marks of Jesus.” Stigmata is the plural of the Greek word στίγμα stigma, meaning a mark, tattoo,  or brand such as might have been used for identification of an animal or slave. An individual bearing stigmata is referred to as a stigmatic or a stigmatist.

Stigmata are primarily associated with the Roman Catholic faith. Many reported stigmatics are members of Catholic religious orders. St. Francis of Assisi was the first recorded stigmatic in Christian history. For over fifty years, St. Padre Pio of Pietrelcina of the Order of Friars Minor Capuchin reported stigmata which were studied by several 20th-century physicians.


Athelstan’s hands that will not heal and that often drip blood are his destiny, his fate… they are his God’s mark, his testimony and his lesson to others? God has sent this sign through Athelstan to show others. Actions speak louder than words… While Athelstan is a gifted teacher, speaker and preacher, sometimes it takes more than words to convince people. The settlers are all pagans who deeply resent the Christian interference in their lives. When Lagertha settled into the new home, Ecbert made much of insisting that Athelstan bless the home. This offended some of the people. It  caused anger and dissent between our own people, some of whom were already feeling a pull towards these new beliefs.

ecbert asks Athelstan to bless the new house

ecbert asks Athelstan to bless the new house

one of the settlers shows what he thinks of the christian blessing

one of the settlers shows what he thinks of the christian blessing

the woman prays along until the man stops her

the woman prays along until the man stops her

It was some time after this house blessing event that Athelstan came to us in great despair and concern… he was as frightened and alarmed as the rest of us were by his hands!  He entered the house and called to us in much emotional if not physical pain.  When Lagertha turned and saw his hands, her fear and puzzlement were apparent on her face. None knew what to make of this sudden pouring out of blood from his hands.

lagertha sees Athelstan come in

lagertha sees Athelstan come in

athelstan's hands are covered in blood

athelstan’s hands are covered in blood

Even I, being a half hearted, doubtful and non-practicing Christian who has heard of such things before, was at a complete loss for words or explanation. If it should scare me, then I can only imagine what thoughts ran through everyone else’s minds and hearts?  It is one of those events that causes you to pause, wonder and fear that is truly a sign from God, or the Gods… and then your next thought is immediately of what could it mean? It is a much soul shocking event that unsettles even the most rational and logical minds!

lagertha shows fear at Athelstan's condition

lagertha is at a loss she does not know what to think

lagertha is at a loss she does not know what to think

What is the reason, what does it mean? Right now, I am as puzzled and fearful as all others… I have no rational answers or explanations! I only know that my personal faith is being questioned and tested as are those of so many others here and in Kattegat. For the time being, all I can do is put my faith in the Spinners of Fate- those most ancient ones who sit together weaving our lives and our destinies. Those spinners of fate, I do believe in. They weave all of our lives together in a pattern, a story that unfolds over time with no regard or concern for our personal choices of which God, which King, which road or river to follow. We think that we make the choices, but really they will take us where they choose in the end. I will content myself with that and I will simply follow where they lead me to.

The suffering of Athelstan










Vikings: Wanderer, part one Let us speak of Ecbert



they're at the top of that hill

they’re at the top of that hill

Before we talk of battle, blood and fears, let us talk of King Ecbert. If you recall, I previously mentioned my concerns about the land he has given us and I also voice thoughts on what his plans or motives might be?


Because as we all know, everyone has secrets, everyone has some ulterior motive in their actions… well, everyone but Athelstan, but his is another story that we will talk of later! For now we will just focus on Ecbert, his possible motives and of course his involvement with us.

Upon our arrival at our farms, Lagertha did indeed question King Ecbert about the same concerns that I thought of earlier. He admitted that the previous landholders had been removed to allow for our settlement. He did make much assurance though that there would be no problem and we would be well safe and under his protection.

settling into the new home ecbert makes assurance that he will protect them and there will be no repercussions

It was always Ragnar's dream to find land to farm and live peacably now that is my dream as well

It was always Ragnar’s dream to find land to farm and live peacably now that is my dream as well

I give my oath that you will be safe here

I give my oath that you will be safe here

King Ecbert did little to hide his affections for Lagertha and made much attempt to win her heart? I am not saying whether this is good or bad… time will tell of that. I trust that my Lady Lagertha is wise enough to know of what games he might play, know the consequences and even take advantage of his affections for her if the need should arise. As I have said, I am sure that he has his own agenda and motives for his actions. But, as I see it for now, he truly does care for Lagertha so, really is that such a bad thing? She enjoys his company as well and as long as she is happy, that is all matters for the time being. Who are we to judge what is in the heart of others? To some, Ecbert’s  first gift to Lagertha may have seemed lacking… but it spoke volumes to Lagertha’s heart!

the way to a farm girl's heart  a gift of dirt Ahhhh dirt my favorite scent ecbert does seem sincere in his gift though I thank you with all my heart

The farming is a hard task and everyone must help to see it’s success. Lagertha  does never put herself above us and is always willing to do far more than she needs to.

the farmstead in Wessex

In her efforts, we are reminded of the Seer’s words to her… “The Sword and the Plow will sustain you until you become like a virgin once more.”

the marriage of plow and sword will sustain you until you become a virgin once more

the marriage of plow and sword will sustain you until you become a virgin once more

King Ecbert sees her efforts and her diligence, and I think he became even more impressed with her worth? He did offer some respite to her in an invitation to visit his Villa.

Farmer Lagertha agrees to visit Ecbert's home because  I need a bath

And, so Lagertha and Athelstan went back to Egbert’s home for a visit. He did his best to ensure her comfort. When  a  dinner time discussion of religion became a bit too uncomfortable for everyone, he gracefully managed to change the subject by presenting her with an additional gift! The topic had turned to differences in beliefs, always a touchy subject for casual dinner conversation.

ecbert waits anxiously for Athelstan's answer Athelstan tries to explain the differences athelstan's answer I love Odin and I love jesus christ ecbert decides a change of subject is needed Stones are much easier to wear than earth Now really what woman could resist such a gift

Later as Lagertha and Athelstan prepared to leave, there was a discussion in which Lagertha showed that she was wiser than thought and knew more of this English language than Ecbert had assumed?  Lagertha made thanks for the beautiful necklace and mentioned that it was such fine work, it must have been created by the dwarves. Ecbert laughed and said, “We do not have dwarves in this country.” Lagertha’s reply, “Oh, yes you do, you just don’t see them!”

we don't have dwarves in England  Yes you do  you just don't see them

we don’t have dwarves in England Yes you do you just don’t see them

There was much more that happened during this visit but it regards Athelstan and the Lady Judith and not Ecbert or his involvements so much with us. We will speak more of it when we speak of Athelstan’s troubles.


Now, let us speak more Ecbert and his other possible motives and reasons… His motives and other plans do include that Princess Kwentirith, and of course his son Aethelwulf, so we will speak of both of them during this discussion.  First it might help to know some true  history regarding King Ecbert and his reign over Wessex. because then it might make more sense to see how Kwentirith would tie in to his possible plans.

Although Kwentirith is a fictional person, I have made mention that she bears close resemblance to a real person in the history of Wessex. For that information you can refresh your memory by reading more about that here:  https://timeslipsblog.wordpress.com/2015/01/05/vikings-trivia-who-is-princess-kwenthrith/

Offa of Mercia:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Offa_of_Mercia

Kwentirith at one time mentioned that her Father was Offa, King of Mercia. There was actually a battle over the control of Mercia after Offa’s death, though Ecbert was not directly involved in that other than for the fact that many of the Mercians continuously opposed him and his rule of Wessex.  It was not until later years that he became involved in wanting control of Mercia.  For our purposes, Kwentirith would play into his plans for achieving this control?  She is fighting for control of Mercia herself, or so we would assume… But, in reality, it is quite obvious that the woman is not stable and very doubtful whether the residents of Mercia would allow her to rule even if she were stable minded. If Ecbert were to back her in her plan, though, he could then take control of Mercia from her. Once the battle was won, it would not be difficult to prove her unfitness to rule and if the Papacy were on his side he could very easily gain the rule of Mercia. The Papacy was on his side as it is thought that it was their backing that helped gain him the crown of Wessex in the first place.

The battle of Ellendun

A map of England during Egbert’s reign

 In 825 one of the most important battles in Anglo-Saxon history took place, when Egbert defeated Beornwulf of Mercia at Ellendun—now Wroughton, near Swindon. This battle marked the end of the Mercian domination of southern England.   The Chronicle tells how Egbert followed up his victory: “Then he sent his son Æthelwulf from the army, and Ealhstan, his bishop, and Wulfheard, his ealdorman, to Kent with a great troop.” Æthelwulf drove Baldred, the king of Kent, north over the Thames, and according to the Chronicle, the men of Kent, Essex, Surrey and Sussex then all submitted to Æthelwulf “because earlier they were wrongly forced away from his relatives.”  This may refer to Offa’s interventions in Kent at the time Egbert’s father Ealhmund became king; if so, the chronicler’s remark may also indicate Ealhmund had connections elsewhere in southeast England.

The Chronicle’s version of events makes it appear that Baldred was driven out shortly after the battle, but this was probably not the case. A document from Kent survives which gives the date, March 826, as being in the third year of the reign of Beornwulf. This makes it likely that Beornwulf still had authority in Kent at this date, as Baldred’s overlord; hence Baldred was apparently still in power.  In Essex, Egbert expelled King Sigered, though the date is unknown. It may have been delayed until 829, since a later chronicler associates the expulsion with a campaign of Egbert’s in that year against the Mercians.

The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle does not say who was the aggressor at Ellendun, but one recent history asserts that Beornwulf was almost certainly the one who attacked. According to this view, Beornwulf may have taken advantage of the Wessex campaign in Dumnonia in the summer of 825. Beornwulf’s motivation to launch an attack would have been the threat of unrest or instability in the southeast: the dynastic connections with Kent made Wessex a threat to Mercian dominance.

The consequences of Ellendun went beyond the immediate loss of Mercian power in the southeast. According to the Chronicle, the East Anglians asked for Egbert’s protection against the Mercians in the same year, 825, though it may actually have been in the following year that the request was made. In 826 Beornwulf invaded East Anglia, presumably to recover his overlordship. He was slain, however, as was his successor, Ludeca, who invaded East Anglia in 827, evidently for the same reason. It may be that the Mercians were hoping for support from Kent: there was some reason to suppose that Wulfred, the Archbishop of Canterbury, might be discontented with West Saxon rule, as Egbert had terminated Wulfred’s currency and had begun to mint his own, at Rochester and Canterbury,  and it is known that Egbert seized property belonging to Canterbury.  The outcome in East Anglia was a disaster for the Mercians which confirmed West Saxon power in the southeast.


 More information of Egbert of Wessex and the battle Ellendun http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Egbert_of_Wessex

More information on Aethelwulf:   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/%C3%86thelwulf_of_Wessex

You might wonder how this relates in any way possible to our Vikings Saga?  Well, as it’s mentioned, this battle is the key to Ecbert taking control of Mercia. Let us look at how our story might make use of such battle?

We already know that Kwentirith is involved in a fight with her remaining brother for the land and that Ecbert has offered his help to her in this battle. Why would he offer assistance if there were not some potential of great gain for him.  He needs assistance to win the fight is not above using the force of well trained Danish mercenaries such as Ragnar and his men. This would also be a benefit because many of his own men probably are not keen on fighting with neighbors and family in Mercia? Ragnar and his men know little of the bigger picture… though Ragnar did mention earlier, “There is some bigger problem here that is not ours, but his.” He was referring to Ecbert at the time.

Ecbert’s son Aethelwulf quickly volunteered to join in the battle, which would put him in place to receive great credit for a success. A defeat of Mercia would bode well for him and it would go along with history’s reference to him being involved in the battle.

Initially there was no battle on the river bank because Kwentirith’s brother chose wisely to listen to his advisor who told him in no uncertain terms, “Leave, leave now in order to survive!”

well ok maybe the shrooms haven't quite worn off yet time to meet the brother

Bergrid I love you don't leave

Bergrid I love you don’t leave

Maybe now is a good time to pray

There was much that led up to this meeting but I will address them in another discussion. This discussion only pertains to those events important to understanding these Saxons involved in the fight.

WTH It's that crazy sister of mine!

WTH It’s that crazy sister of mine!

you must not trust her she killed your brother and she will kill you

you must not trust her she killed your brother and she will kill you

but I love her

but I love her

survive first then talk of love

survive first then talk of love

Realistically, if you were a Mercian, would you want this woman as your ruler? If  she succeeds in defeating her brother, the Mercians will probably beg King Ecbert to step in and remove her!

Kwentirith as future ruler

Bergrid made a choice to flee rather than face this army… probably a wise choice at the time. Ragnar knew he must continue the fight and sent Aethelwulf to find out where they would flee to. Aethelwul is not just a meek Christian but a warrior in his own right, and he begins to show his worth in this situation.

aethelwulf shows his own warrior leader side

aethelwulf shows his own warrior leader side

Aethelwulf also shows that he is not above his own methods of torture to gain needed information!

aethelwulf shows his own warrior leader side

aethelwulf shows his own warrior leader side

brother birghred's man is captured

brother birghred’s man is captured

I could remove an eye or some teeth which would you prefer

I could remove an eye or some teeth which would you prefer

I don't believe you I don't know anything it's your choice

It's strange how I always know if someone is telling the truth

It’s strange how I always know if someone is telling the truth

After the threat of such torture, the captured man gives up his information and Aethelwulf offers some forgiveness as he is not like those Northmen?

I have no argument with you let's sup together  we're not all like the northmen

One added thought on Aethelwulf’s comments… perhaps Lady Judith would be wise to take heed of his warnings?

I always know when someone is telling me the truth

I always know when someone is telling me the truth

Aethelwulf returns to the group with his information that holds the key to the possible future battle?

they're at the top of that hill

they’re at the top of that hill

Berghrid and his men wait at the top of the hill for help to defeat Ragnar and Ecbert’s forces.  Why is this important, why is this the key? That most important battle for Ecbert, the battle of Ellendun was fought at or near a place called Wroughton.  Occupation of the area continued into the early Middle Ages (AD 410–1066) when two battles are understood to have taken place in the area: Breahburh (AD 567), thought to have been fought by Ceawlin of Wessex on the slopes of Barbury Hill, and Ellandun (AD 825) at Elcombe Hall by Egbert of Wessex. However there is no agreement that the latter was here (it is known to have been south of Swindon). Burial sites in the vicinity are believed to be associated with these battles.

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

battle of Ellendun

battle of Ellendun

Barbury Castle:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barbury_Castle

aerial photograph  by webbaviation.co.uk

Barbury Castle is an Iron Age hill fort situated in Wiltshire, England. It is one of several such forts found along the ancient Ridgeway route. The site, which lies within the Wessex Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, has been managed as a country park by Swindon Borough Council since 1971. It is situated on Barbury Hill, a local vantage point, which, under ideal weather conditions, commands a view across to the Cotswolds and the River Severn. It has two deep defensive ditches and ramparts. The Old Ridgeway runs close by and the modern Ridgeway crosses through the castle. In the surrounding area are to be found round barrows, Celtic field systems and 18th-19th Century flint workings.

On a side note, this area is also the site of another historical landmark.  The Uffington White Horse is located close by.

The Uffington White Horse is a highly stylised prehistoric hill figure, 110 m long (374 feet), formed from deep trenches filled with crushed white chalk. The figure is situated on the upper slopes of White Horse Hill in the English civil parish of Uffington (in the county of Oxfordshire, historically Berkshire), some 8 km (5 mi) south of the town of Faringdon and a similar distance west of the town of Wantage; or 2.5 km south of Uffington. The hill forms a part of the scarp of the Berkshire Downs and overlooks the Vale of White Horse to the north. Best views of the figure are obtained from the air, or from directly across the Vale, particularly around the villages of Great Coxwell, Longcot and Fernham. The site is owned and managed by the National Trust and is a Scheduled Ancient Monument.


Uffington White Horse, sketched by William Plenderleath in The White Horses of the West of England (1892)

The figure presumably dates to “the later prehistory“, i.e. the Iron Age (800 BC–AD 100) or the late Bronze Age (1000–700 BC). This view was generally held by scholars even before the 1990s, based on the similarity of the horse’s design to comparable figures in Celtic art, and it was confirmed following a 1990 excavation led by Simon Palmer and David Miles of the Oxford Archaeological Unit, following which deposits of fine silt removed from the horse’s ‘beak’ were scientifically dated to the late Bronze Age.

Iron Age coins that bear a representation comparable to the Uffington White Horse have been found, supporting the early dating of this artefact; it has also been suggested that the horse had been fashioned in the Anglo-Saxon period, more particularly during Alfred’s reign, but there is no positive evidence to support this and the view is classified as “folklore” by Darvill (1996).

Numerous other prominent prehistoric sites are located nearby, notably Wayland’s Smithy, a long barrow less than 2 kilometres (1 mi) to the west. The Uffington is by far the oldest of the white horse figures in Britain, and is of an entirely different design from the others.  It has long been debated whether the chalk figure was intended to represent a horse or some other animal. However, it has been called a horse since the 11th century at least. A cartulary of Abingdon Abbey, compiled between 1072 and 1084, refers to “mons albi equi” at Uffington (“the White Horse Hill”).

The medieval Welsh book, Llyfr Coch Hergest [The Red Book of Hergest] (1375-1425), states: “Gerllaw tref Abinton y mae mynydd ac eilun march arno a gwyn ydiw. Ni thyf dim arno.” which translates as “Near to the town of Abinton there is a mountain with a figure of a stallion upon it and it is white. Nothing grows upon it.”

The head of the horse, with sheep grazing around it.

The horse is thought to represent a tribal symbol perhaps connected with the builders of Uffington Castle.

White Horse Hill and Dragon Hill

Also important to note here is Ecbert’s later move on to Northumbria?  According to history, shortly after his victory of  Mercia, he took control of Northumbria as well.Later in 829, according to the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, Egbert received the submission of the Northumbrians at Dore (now a suburb of Sheffield); the Northumbrian king was probably Eanred.  According to a later chronicler, Roger of Wendover, Egbert invaded Northumbria and plundered it before Eanred submitted: “When Egbert had obtained all the southern kingdoms, he led a large army into Northumbria, and laid waste that province with severe pillaging, and made King Eanred pay tribute.” Roger of Wendover is known to have incorporated Northumbrian annals into his version; the Chronicle does not mention these events.   However, the nature of Eanred’s submission has been questioned: one historian has suggested that it is more likely that the meeting at Dore represented a mutual recognition of sovereignty. In 830 Egbert led a successful expedition against the Welsh, almost certainly with the intent of extending West Saxon influence into the Welsh lands previously within the Mercian orbit. This marked the high point of Egbert’s influence.
Our Vikings saga differs from history in that our Aelle is currently leader of Northumbria… and conveniently, his daughter, Lady Judith has been married off to Aethelwulf to seal alliances between the kingdoms.  At this time, I am unaware of what precise agreements were made between Aelle and Ecbert so I can not delve into that right now.
Ecbert did gain control over Mercia and Northumbria in the 820s but was unable to maintain that control. Both Wessex’s sudden rise to power in the late 820s, and the subsequent failure to retain this dominant position, have been examined by historians looking for underlying causes. One plausible explanation for the events of these years is that Wessex’s fortunes were to some degree dependent on Carolingian support. The Franks supported Eardwulf when he recovered the throne of Northumbria in 808, so it is plausible that they also supported Egbert’s accession in 802. At Easter 839, not long before Egbert’s death, he was in touch with Louis the Pious, king of the Franks, to arrange safe passage to Rome. Hence a continuing relationship with the Franks seems to be part of southern English politics during the first half of the ninth century.Carolingian support may have been one of the factors that helped Egbert achieve the military successes of the late 820s. However, the Rhenish and Frankish commercial networks collapsed at some time in the 820s or 830s, and in addition, a rebellion broke out in February 830 against Louis the Pious—the first of a series of internal conflicts that lasted through the 830s and beyond. These distractions may have prevented Louis from supporting Egbert. In this view, the withdrawal of Frankish influence would have left East Anglia, Mercia and Wessex to find a balance of power not dependent on outside aid.

Despite the loss of dominance, Egbert’s military successes fundamentally changed the political landscape of Anglo-Saxon England. Wessex retained control of the south-eastern kingdoms, with the possible exception of Essex, and Mercia did not regain control of East Anglia.   Egbert’s victories marked the end of the independent existence of the kingdoms of Kent and Sussex. The conquered territories were administered as a subkingdom for a while, including Surrey and possibly Essex.   Although Æthelwulf was a subking under Egbert, it is clear that he maintained his own royal household, with which he travelled around his kingdom. Charters issued in Kent described Egbert and Æthelwulf as “kings of the West Saxons and also of the people of Kent.” When Æthelwulf died in 858 his will, in which Wessex is left to one son and the southeastern kingdom to another, makes it clear that it was not until after 858 that the kingdoms were fully integrated.  Mercia remained a threat, however; Egbert’s son Æthelwulf, established as king of Kent, gave estates to Christ Church, Canterbury, probably to counter any influence the Mercians might still have there.

In the southwest, Egbert was defeated in 836 at Carhampton by the Danes,  but in 838 he won a battle against them and their allies the West Welsh at the Battle of Hingston Down in Cornwall. The Dumnonian royal line continued after this time, but it is at this date that the independence of one of the last British kingdoms may be considered to have ended.  The details of Anglo-Saxon expansion into Cornwall are quite poorly recorded, but some evidence comes from place names.  The river Ottery, which flows east into the Tamar near Launceston, appears to be a boundary: south of the Ottery the placenames are overwhelmingly Cornish, whereas to the north they are more heavily influenced by the English newcomers.

I know that I have probably provided more information on Ecbert than most would be interested in knowing, but as I have stated before, I think it is important to understand some of his historical background when trying to figure out his character in our version of history.  I also think that it is important to present some of this history as a counter part to the fiction that is being presented in our story.

In regards to the changes that Michael Hirst makes in order to adapt history to the storyline, I feel he makes great attempts to weave historical events and people into the story. I remind everyone that it is after all, historical fiction! My personal feeling is that this battle of Ellendun is  crucial to the expansion of Ecbert’s rule and later, Aethelwulf’s rule as well. I would think that might well get presented somehow within the story to show that other side of Ecbert, that side that we have seen little of as yet?  So, my current thought is that Berghrid’s men at the top of that hill in the distance could be some reference to this important battle.

they're at the top of that hill

they’re at the top of that hill




Vikings: Message to Athelstan!

To my Dear friend Athelstan,

I send you this message to entreat you to tread very carefully on your future path in England. I have received some unclear tellings of the future from the Seer here in Kattegat… some of which concerns you? I feel I must warn you of this and ask you to be most careful in any affairs of the heart that you may at some point enter in to. I know that you are torn by your beliefs and most likely will eventually forsake your vows as a monk… that is not what I am concerned about. It is more the choice of which ever woman you will forsake these vows for which concerns me. I know too that you will treat this message and it’s contents as much private and will not share this information with anyone else, as it could put us both in grave danger from all sides.

athelstan season3

I have spoke to you before of my visions, as you are want to call them, of what the future may hold for all of our friends- both in Kattegat and in England. What I must warn you of  concerns those in England?  I know and understand how you are torn in your loyalties to both the Vikings and the English as am I. This very touchy matter of which I warn you about regards the English of whom you feel some of that loyalty to?

athelstan with aethelwulf and ecbert

You have developed a close relationship to Ecbert, and not so much of a closeness to his son, Aethelwulf… The matter of which I must warn you of  concerns these two men, or rather more so- Ecbert’s son Aethelwulf and his wife, Judith?

judith vikings

We know that Judith, the daughter of Aella has been wed to Aethelwulf as a show of peace and alliance between Northumbria and Wessex. It is a fragile peace and alliance as most are… and if this marriage should not work out for what ever reasons, it will not bode well for either side? I mention this because I do realize that it may not be the easiest or happiest of marriages for Judith? Aethelwulf is reported and recorded as being a very devout and overly zealous Christian… I understand there was some difficulty for you when he accused you of turning into a Pagan?

aethelwulf and athelstan

I bring this up because as he is such a devout man, he would take his marriage vow, and those of his bride quite seriously? There is also the matter of any offspring from this union, which would hold great importance in the future. 

aethelwulf and judith Judith_Wedding vikings

What I know of the future of  England is that sons of Aethelwulf will play very important roles? My sight of the future may differ from what will happen… I can only say that you should take great care in any relationship you may form with Judith. Someone will bear Aethelwulf sons who will be a part of shaping the future of England. Now, whether Judith bears those sons or some one else does is difficult to determine? There is also the possibility that Judith could bear him sons who may or may not be of his blood? That would be extremely difficult to prove in this time!

aethelwulf vikings2

The Seer has shared some images with me that lead me to believe that Aethelwulf becomes much troubled over some event in his life? What ever this event is, it takes a toll on the man and he resorts to gevious  penance and religious fervor over it.

what on earth is going on here?

what on earth is going on here?

what goes on here 2

what goes on here 2

The Seer has also shown me some vague images that perhaps you and Judith may become more than just good friends?

more wooo but with who?

more wooo but with who?

I just feel that I must warn you to take great care and caution if this is the path you choose… Aethelwulf will one day be King of Wessex, Judith will be queen and it could be dangerous for both of you should this relationship be found out! I do not think that Ecbert will take this matter lightly either should it come to light while he is King? Please use care. Judith seems to be a good woman and I know it would pain you deeply if one you cared about were to be greatly harmed by this affair of the heart. I will leave this matter to your soul and pray that you will find happiness in the future, but will not find it at the harm or heartbreak of another. Please let your conscience and your mind be your guide in this, and not some other part of your person. Think of what I have shared with you on the future of your England?

athelstan and ecbert aethelwulf and ecbert

Aethelwulf in history:

Æthelwulf, also spelled Aethelwulf or Ethelwulf; Old English: Æþelwulf, meaning “Noble Wolf”, was King of Wessex from 839 until his death in 858. He was the only known child of King Egbert of Wessex.  He conquered the kingdom of Kent on behalf of his father in 825, and was sometime later made King of Kent as a sub-king to Egbert. He succeeded his father as King of Wessex on Egbert’s death in 839, at which time his kingdom stretched from the county of Kent in the east to Devon in the west. At the same time his eldest son Æthelstan became sub-king of Kent as a subordinate ruler.



Judith in history: Judith’s true history differs from what is portrayed and presented in our Vikings version of history.

Judith of Flanders (or Judith of France) (c. 843 – c. 870)  was the eldest daughter of the West Frankish King and later Holy Roman Emperor Charles the Bald and his wife Ermentrude of Orléans. Through her marriages to two Kings of Wessex, Æthelwulf and Æthelbald, she was twice a queen. Her first two marriages were childless, but through her third marriage to Baldwin, she became the first Countess of Flanders and an ancestress of later Counts of Flanders. One of her sons by Baldwin married Ælfthryth, a daughter of Æthelbald’s brother, Alfred the Great. She was also an ancestress of Matilda of Flanders, the consort of William the Conqueror, and thus of later monarchs of England.


Vikings Trivia: Who is Princess Kwenthrith?


Ok, Ok, I know most of you are thinking, “Enough already, Why haven’t you left yet? You should be well on your way to Kattegat by now!”  Well, I am almost ready to leave- in fact I am headed to Lindholm Hoje near Aalborg Denmark and you will get that update on Friday! For now, I just wanted to share this one bit of historical data with you. I am currently trying to finish up some reading and thought you might enjoy the comparisons. This latest book gives us a look at that most interesting of characters in Saxon England.  She recently showed up on King Ecbert’s doorstep, and I thought she sounded familiar so of course I had to do a bit more research of my own on who she might be?  I am always interested in the back stories of who various characters might be based on…

I’m quite sure many of you who are following the Vikings Saga are just as curious about this woman as I am!

Princess-Kwenthrith-arrives-at-Wessex-1024x682 Kwenthrith1 Kwenthrith2

Yes, it’s Princess Kwenthrith in the flesh and wanting more flesh, manly flesh, womanly flesh… but not animal flesh!

Princess Kwenthrith is the young daughter of the late King Offa of Mercia and sister of the late Prince Kenelm, who’s since been sainted by the pope, something the outspoken Kwenthrith finds laughable since her brother, she claims, raped her when she was twelve.

Rumors abound that the princess killed her brother, the heir-apparent to Offa’s throne, setting off a nasty civil war, herself being one of the leading claimants to the Mercian crown. Realizing the advantage of influencing the Mercia’s future, King Ecbert seeks to ally himself with the princess, at least for the time being. He welcomes her to Wessex with a grand feast, where she engages Athelstan in conversation about his experiences among the Northmen. Kwenthrith proceeds to ask the flustered monk about the liberal sex life of the Northmen, and how much more “natural” it seems.

She later shares King Ecbert’s bed, though he is unfortunately finished (and quite exhausted) before the princess has had enough. The king sends in three of his guards  in an attempt to satisfy her seemingly insatiable sexual appetite.

When King Ecbert hires a company of Vikings as mercenaries, after a stunning victory against them in battle, the princess strolls through the ranks, remarking that she would like to breed with them, that she would certainly produce “giants” with such men.


Now, as I mentioned, her story sounded vaguely familiar to me so I had to dig up the rest of her story. Of course, names have been altered in the saga… probably to protect what ever innocent victims there may have been, or to not libel the woman’s name just in case she perhaps was not quite as wretched and rather depraved as she appears in history? What ever the reason, there was indeed actually a daughter of King Offa of Mercia and she did have what might be considered a not so savory reputation- that is putting it nicely!

Eadburh Saxon serial killer?

Eadburh Saxon serial killer?



Eadburh (Old English: Ēadburh), also spelled Eadburg, (fl. 789-802) was the daughter of King Offa of Mercia and Queen Cynethryth. She was the wife of King Beorhtric of Wessex, and according to Asser‘s Life of Alfred the Great she accidentally killed her husband by poison. She fled to Francia, where she is said to have been offered the chance of marrying Charlemagne, but ruined the opportunity. Instead she was appointed as the abbess of a convent. Here she is said to have fornicated with an English exile. As a result she was eventually expelled from the monastery and ended her days begging in the streets of Pavia.

Personally, after reading her story, I think they should include more of it into the saga? There are times when actual history is just as interesting, possibly even more so than any fiction you might create around it! For example, according to history, she most probably knew Egbert- maybe even very well before her arrival on his door step. Her Father,  Offa of Mercia and Beorhtric of Wessex, sent Egbert into exile but on Beorhtric’s death in 802 Egbert returned and took the throne. 

I recently came across an interesting book on her told from her point of view!

Lost dreams by jayne stone


Women have always had a tough time in politics. Over twelve hundred years ago, Eadburg made a name for herself as one of the most powerful queens of the early middle ages, and her reputation for malevolence is documented in a contemporaneous biography of King Alfred the Great. Was she truly evil, a tyrant and a murderer, or could her reputation have been part of a double-standard smear campaign by later generations of male chroniclers? Read her story, and you decide.

She is one of those people in history that little is known about, and most of what is recorded about her is from the opposing/winning side and the men in power at the time as is so often the case. This story looks at her life and some of the recorded events from how she might have experienced and perceived it as a woman.  She willing admits to some of her supposed misdeeds and character flaws but gives her own reasonings for them and explanations as to why she acted in the way she did. I recommend it for that reason and besides that it’s a rather fun read and contains some excellent words of wisdom from women throughout history as chapter headings!

Added update: I’m almost finished with the story of Eadburh, only have a few pages left but can’t quite bring myself to come to the end of it yet. After all of her various tragedies- yes, some or most of which she probably brought on herself… but still I will be sad to see her pass on even though she has been ready to go for quite some time. I still stand by my initial thought that Michael Hirst should have just presented the character known as Princess Kwenthrith as this real historical person. He has used much of her story in Kwenthrith’s background so really, what need was there to change her name/identity for the show? I am really looking forward to seeing what direction he takes her in but now after reading about her history and reading this version of her story, I will be stuck on comparing Kwenthrith to the Eadburh that I have come to know?  I do have to say Thank You to Jayne Stone for this provocative and thoughtful rendition of the woman behind the rumors… Ohhh, and thank you too, Jayne for not leaving her die in the Church yard alone. I really thought that was going to be the sad and most pathetic end to her life right there! I do also have to amend my previous comment on this being a fun read? It was not a fun read as in light and amusing by any stretch of imagination. It was a fun read in the sense of  how she approached Eadburh’s depressing, often tragic circumstances and balanced it with enough lighter moments of her life so that we still always hold out some hope for her even in the end. Jayne Stone took this much unknown woman with an at best sketchy reputation- at worst, an outright murderer- she made her come alive and made me care about her. Jeeeesh, she even made me care about the little dog, Poot! I think I felt as bad for him as I did for some others who met a horrible end!

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

vikings_gallery7_8-P vikings_gallery7_5-P vikings_gallery7_4-P vikings_gallery6_6-P vikings_gallery6_4-P vikings_episode4_1-P