A runic inscription found in Bergen is quite long and the author must have had a lot of “erotic energy” when he carved these runes into the 33 centimeter-long (13 inches) wooden stick: “I love that man’s wife so high that fire feels cold! And I am that woman’s lover”.
There have so far been found about 700 runic inscriptions dating back to the 14th century in the Bryggen area in Bergen, Western Norway. Several of the inscriptions have a short and erotic message carved into a flat stick of wood, showing that young men have not changed since the Middle Ages.
From about 1360, German merchants established themselves in Bergen in a permanent colony attached to the Hanseatic office. Bryggen is a series of Hanseatic commercial buildings lining the eastern side of the Vågen harbor – an area where there was hectic activity with unloading and loading of merchant ships.
In the year 1300, it is estimated that there may have been about 7000 inhabitants in Bergen, many of whom were young men who came to town to work. The runic inscriptions demonstrate that there has been a deficit of young and “willing” women, and a surplus of virile young men.
- Old Norse Mystery: What Do the Couples Depicted on Thousands of Miniature Gold Amulets Symbolize?
- 800-year-old message carved into Rune Stick Shows Ancient Code still used in Middle Ages
This copper etching from 1580 by Hieronymus Scholeus is the first known drawing of Bergen.
The about 700 runic inscriptions discovered are mostly carved into flat wood sticks, mostly of pine, but there have also been found inscriptions on bone.
The Bryggen finding has been called one of the most important runic discoveries in history because it shows that runes were used for more than inscriptions of names and formal phrases.
Ordinary People’s Alphabet
The Bryggen finds demonstrate the everyday use that runes had in the Bergen area, and probably also in other parts of Scandinavia at the time.
The findings also show that runes were used as late as the 14th century, and maybe even longer. Previously it was believed that the use of runes had died out at the end of the Viking Age and the introduction of Christianity, i.e. about the mid of the 11th century.
With Christianity the Latin alphabet also came. The problem was that reading and writing were reserved for the upper class and clergy, and used as a political tool. The rest of the population was kept on the outside as illiterates.
But perhaps they were not really illiterates in the broader sense of the word. The findings in Bergen show that many had knowledge of the Old Norse alphabet Futhark, and the runes became the ordinary people’s tool for expressing themselves in writing.
- Futhark: Mysterious Ancient Runic Alphabet of Northern Europe
- Tracing the Paths of the Vikings Through Their Graffiti
- The Symbolic Key to a Viking Woman’s Independence
Many of the inscriptions found in Bergen were used as “name tags” following the formula Eysteinn á mik , (Old Norse, Eysteinn owns me ) and some inscriptions have longer messages such as orders.
However, several wooden sticks contain short and naughty messages of different types, but there are also found romantic inscriptions like: Ást min, kyss mik (Old Norse, my darling, kiss me ).
Romantic runic inscription and control notches: “Please love me” on one side and notches on the other, probably showing the number of sacks or barrels that were unloaded or loaded on merchant ships. The wooden stick is about 11 centimeters (4.3 inches) long. (Image: Svein Skare, University Museum of Bergen).
When it comes to all the erotic inscriptions found, there is little doubt that there are young men who have been the authors, like the inscription on this wooden stick:
“The blacksmith slept with Vigdis of the Sneldebein people”. The wooden stick is about 24 centimeters long (9.5 inches) and the use is uncertain. Some believe it may have been used as a hairpin – maybe a secret gift from the blacksmith to Vigdis herself? (Image: Svein Skare, University Museum of Bergen)
The runic inscriptions from Medieval Bergen are currently kept at the Bryggens Museum, and some are on display.
Erotic Medieval Runic Inscriptions Found in Bergen - History
This collection of nine essays deals with the role of epigraphic literacy within the newly introd. more This collection of nine essays deals with the role of epigraphic literacy within the newly introduced Christian culture and the developing tradition of literacy in Northern Europe.
This volume examines the role of epigraphic literacy within the newly introduced Christian culture and the developing tradition of literacy in Northern Europe during the Viking Age and the High Middle Ages. The epigraphic material under scrutiny here originates from Scandinavia and North-West Russia – two regions that were converted to Christianity around the turn of the first millennium. Besides traditional categories of epigraphic sources, such as monumental inscriptions on durable materials, the volume is concerned with more casual inscriptions on less permanent materials. The first part of the book discusses a form of monumental epigraphic literacy manifested on Scandinavian rune stones, with a particular focus on their Christian connections. The second part examines exchanges between Christian culture and ephemeral products of epigraphic literacy, as expressed through Scandinavian rune sticks, East Slavonic birchbark documents and church graffiti. The essays look beyond the traditional sphere of parchment literacy and the Christian discourse of manuscript sources in order to explore the role of epigraphic literacy in the written vernacular cultures of Scandinavia and North-West Russia.
Runes (Proto-Germanic *rūnō 'rune' *rūna-stabaz 'runic letter') are the letters in a set of related alphabets known as runic alphabets, which were used to write various Germanic languages before the adoption of the Latin alphabet and for specialised purposes thereafter. The Scandinavian variants are also known as futhark or fuþark (derived from their first six letters of the alphabet: F, U, Þ, A, R, and K) the Anglo-Saxon variant is futhorc or fuþorc (due to sound-changes undergone in Old English by the names of those six letters).
Runology is the study of the runic alphabets, runic inscriptions, runestones, and their history. Runology forms a specialised branch of Germanic linguistics.
The earliest runic inscriptions date from around 150 AD. The characters were generally replaced by the Latin alphabet as the cultures that had used runes underwent Christianisation, by approximately 700 AD in central Europe and 1100 AD in northern Europe. However, the use of runes persisted for specialized purposes in northern Europe. Until the early 20th century, runes were used in rural Sweden for decorative purposes in Dalarna and on Runic calendars.
The three best-known runic alphabets are the Elder Futhark (around 150–800 AD), the Anglo-Saxon Futhorc (400–1100 AD), and the Younger Futhark (800–1100 AD). The Younger Futhark is divided further into the long-branch runes (also called Danish, although they were also used in Norway, Sweden, and Frisia) short-branch or Rök runes (also called Swedish-Norwegian, although they were also used in Denmark) and the stavlösa or Hälsinge runes (staveless runes). The Younger Futhark developed further into the Medieval runes (1100–1500 AD), and the Dalecarlian runes (c. 1500–1800 AD).
Historically, the runic alphabet is a derivation of the Old Italic scripts of antiquity, with the addition of some innovations. Which variant of the Old Italic branch in particular gave rise to the runes is uncertain. Suggestions include Raetic, Venetic, Etruscan, or Old Latin as candidates. At the time, all of these scripts had the same angular letter shapes suited for epigraphy, which would become characteristic of the runes.
The process of transmission of the script is unknown. The oldest inscriptions are found in Denmark and northern Germany. A "West Germanic hypothesis" suggests transmission via Elbe Germanic groups, while a "Gothic hypothesis" presumes transmission via East Germanic expansion.
The name stems from a Proto-Germanic form reconstructed as *rūnō, which means 'secret, mystery secret conversation rune'. It is the source of Gothic runa ('secret, mystery, counsel'), Old English rún ('whisper, mystery, secret, rune'), Old Saxon rūna ('secret counsel, confidential talk'), Middle Dutch rūne ('id.'), Old High German rūna ('secret, mystery'), and Old Norse rún ('secret, mystery, rune'). The term is related to Proto-Celtic *rūna ('secret, magic'), but it is difficult to tell whether they are cognate or reflect an early borrowing from Celtic.   In modern Irish, "rún" means 'secret'. The term is also found in the same word in Welsh "cyfRINach". According to another theory, the Germanic term may come from the Indo-European root * reuə- ('dig'). 
The Proto-Germanic word for a runic letter was *rūna-stabaz, a compound of *rūnō and *stabaz ('staff letter'). It is attested in Old Norse rúna-stafr, Old English rún-stæf, and Old High German rūn-stab.  Other Germanic terms derived from *rūnō include *runōn ('counsellor'), *rūnjan and *ga-rūnjan ('secret, mystery'), *raunō ('trial, inquiry, experiment'), *hugi-rūnō ('secret of the mind, magical rune'), and *halja-rūnō ('witch, sorceress' literally '[possessor of the] Hel-secret'). 
The Finnish word runo, meaning 'poem', is an early borrowing from Proto-Germanic,  and the source of the term for rune, riimukirjain, meaning 'scratched letter'.  The root may also be found in the Baltic languages, where Lithuanian runoti means both 'to cut (with a knife)' and 'to speak'. 
The Old English form rún survived into the early modern period as roun, which is now obsolete. The modern English rune is a later formation that is partly derived from Late Latin runa, Old Norse rún, and Danish rune. 
History and use
The runes were in use among the Germanic peoples from the 1st or 2nd century AD. [a] This period corresponds to the late Common Germanic stage linguistically, with a continuum of dialects not yet clearly separated into the three branches of later centuries: North Germanic, West Germanic, and East Germanic.
No distinction is made in surviving runic inscriptions between long and short vowels, although such a distinction was certainly present phonologically in the spoken languages of the time. Similarly, there are no signs for labiovelars in the Elder Futhark (such signs were introduced in both the Anglo-Saxon futhorc and the Gothic alphabet as variants of p see peorð.)
The formation of the Elder Futhark was complete by the early 5th century, with the Kylver Stone being the first evidence of the futhark ordering as well as of the p rune.
The angular shapes of the runes are shared with most contemporary alphabets of the period that were used for carving in wood or stone. There are no horizontal strokes: when carving a message on a flat staff or stick, it would be along the grain, thus both less legible and more likely to split the wood.  This characteristic is also shared by other alphabets, such as the early form of the Latin alphabet used for the Duenos inscription, but it is not universal, especially among early runic inscriptions, which frequently have variant rune shapes, including horizontal strokes. Runic manuscripts (that is written rather than carved runes, such as Codex Runicus) also show horizontal strokes.
The "West Germanic hypothesis" speculates on an introduction by West Germanic tribes. This hypothesis is based on claiming that the earliest inscriptions of the 2nd and 3rd centuries, found in bogs and graves around Jutland (the Vimose inscriptions), exhibit word endings that, being interpreted by Scandinavian scholars to be Proto-Norse, are considered unresolved and long having been the subject of discussion. Inscriptions such as wagnija, niþijo, and harija are supposed to represent tribe names, tentatively proposed to be Vangiones, the Nidensis , and the Harii tribes located in the Rhineland.  Since names ending in -io reflect Germanic morphology representing the Latin ending -ius, and the suffix -inius was reflected by Germanic -inio-,   the question of the problematic ending -ijo in masculine Proto-Norse would be resolved by assuming Roman (Rhineland) influences, while "the awkward ending -a of laguþewa  may be solved by accepting the fact that the name may indeed be West Germanic".  In the early Runic period, differences between Germanic languages are generally presumed to be small. Another theory presumes a Northwest Germanic unity preceding the emergence of Proto-Norse proper from roughly the 5th century. [b] [c] An alternative suggestion explaining the impossibility of classifying the earliest inscriptions as either North or West Germanic is forwarded by È. A. Makaev, who presumes a "special runic koine", an early "literary Germanic" employed by the entire Late Common Germanic linguistic community after the separation of Gothic (2nd to 5th centuries), while the spoken dialects may already have been more diverse. 
Runic inscriptions from the 400-year period 150–550 AD are described as "Period I". These inscriptions are generally in Elder Futhark, but the set of letter shapes and bindrunes employed is far from standardized. Notably the j, s, and ŋ runes undergo considerable modifications, while others, such as p and ï, remain unattested altogether prior to the first full futhark row on the Kylver Stone (c. 400 AD).
Artifacts such as spear heads or shield mounts have been found that bear runic marking that may be dated to 200 AD, as evidenced by artifacts found across northern Europe in Schleswig (North Germany), Fyn, Sjælland, Jylland (Denmark), and Skåne (Sweden). Earlier—but less reliable—artifacts have been found in Meldorf, Süderdithmarschen, northern Germany these include brooches and combs found in graves, most notably the Meldorf fibula, and are supposed to have the earliest markings resembling runic inscriptions.
Magical or divinatory use
The stanza 157 of Hávamál attribute to runes the power to bring that which is dead back to life. In this stanza, Odin recounts a spell:
Þat kann ek it tolfta,
ef ek sé á tré uppi
svá ek ríst ok í rúnum fák,
at sá gengr gumi
ok mælir við mik. 
I know a twelfth one
if I see up in a tree,
a dangling corpse in a noose,
I can so carve and colour the runes,
that the man walks
and talks with me. 
The earliest runic inscriptions found on artifacts give the name of either the craftsman or the proprietor, or sometimes, remain a linguistic mystery. Due to this, it is possible that the early runes were not used so much as a simple writing system, but rather as magical signs to be used for charms. Although some say the runes were used for divination, there is no direct evidence to suggest they were ever used in this way. The name rune itself, taken to mean "secret, something hidden", seems to indicate that knowledge of the runes was originally considered esoteric, or restricted to an elite. The 6th-century Björketorp Runestone warns in Proto-Norse using the word rune in both senses:
Haidzruno runu, falahak haidera, ginnarunaz. Arageu haeramalausz uti az. Weladaude, sa'z þat barutz. Uþarba spa. I, master of the runes(?) conceal here runes of power. Incessantly (plagued by) maleficence, (doomed to) insidious death (is) he who breaks this (monument). I prophesy destruction / prophecy of destruction. 
The same curse and use of the word, rune, is also found on the Stentoften Runestone. There also are some inscriptions suggesting a medieval belief in the magical significance of runes, such as the Franks Casket (AD 700) panel.
Charm words, such as auja, laþu, laukaʀ, and most commonly, alu,  appear on a number of Migration period Elder Futhark inscriptions as well as variants and abbreviations of them. Much speculation and study has been produced on the potential meaning of these inscriptions. Rhyming groups appear on some early bracteates that also may be magical in purpose, such as salusalu and luwatuwa. Further, an inscription on the Gummarp Runestone (500–700 AD) gives a cryptic inscription describing the use of three runic letters followed by the Elder Futhark f-rune written three times in succession. 
Nevertheless, it has proven difficult to find unambiguous traces of runic "oracles": although Norse literature is full of references to runes, it nowhere contains specific instructions on divination. There are at least three sources on divination with rather vague descriptions that may, or may not, refer to runes: Tacitus's 1st-century Germania, Snorri Sturluson's 13th-century Ynglinga saga, and Rimbert's 9th-century Vita Ansgari.
The first source, Tacitus's Germania,  describes "signs" chosen in groups of three and cut from "a nut-bearing tree", although the runes do not seem to have been in use at the time of Tacitus' writings. A second source is the Ynglinga saga, where Granmar, the king of Södermanland , goes to Uppsala for the blót . There, the "chips" fell in a way that said that he would not live long (Féll honum þá svo spánn sem hann mundi eigi lengi lifa). These "chips", however, are easily explainable as a blótspánn (sacrificial chip), which was "marked, possibly with sacrificial blood, shaken, and thrown down like dice, and their positive or negative significance then decided."  [ page needed ]
The third source is Rimbert's Vita Ansgari, where there are three accounts of what some believe to be the use of runes for divination, but Rimbert calls it "drawing lots". One of these accounts is the description of how a renegade Swedish king, Anund Uppsale, first brings a Danish fleet to Birka, but then changes his mind and asks the Danes to "draw lots". According to the story, this "drawing of lots" was quite informative, telling them that attacking Birka would bring bad luck and that they should attack a Slavic town instead. The tool in the "drawing of lots", however, is easily explainable as a hlautlein (lot-twig), which according to Foote and Wilson  would be used in the same manner as a blótspánn.
The lack of extensive knowledge on historical use of the runes has not stopped modern authors from extrapolating entire systems of divination from what few specifics exist, usually loosely based on the reconstructed names of the runes and additional outside influence.
A recent study of runic magic suggests that runes were used to create magical objects such as amulets,  [ page needed ] but not in a way that would indicate that runic writing was any more inherently magical, than were other writing systems such as Latin or Greek.
As Proto-Germanic evolved into its later language groups, the words assigned to the runes and the sounds represented by the runes themselves began to diverge somewhat and each culture would create new runes, rename or rearrange its rune names slightly, or stop using obsolete runes completely, to accommodate these changes. Thus, the Anglo-Saxon futhorc has several runes peculiar to itself to represent diphthongs unique to (or at least prevalent in) the Anglo-Saxon dialect.
Nevertheless, that the Younger Futhark has 16 runes, while the Elder Futhark has 24, is not fully explained by the 600-some years of sound changes that had occurred in the North Germanic language group.  [ self-published source? ] The development here might seem rather astonishing, since the younger form of the alphabet came to use fewer different rune signs at the same time as the development of the language led to a greater number of different phonemes than had been present at the time of the older futhark. For example, voiced and unvoiced consonants merged in script, and so did many vowels, while the number of vowels in the spoken language increased. From c. 1100 AD, this disadvantage was eliminated in the medieval runes, which again increased the number of different signs to correspond with the number of phonemes in the language.
Some later runic finds are on monuments (runestones), which often contain solemn inscriptions about people who died or performed great deeds. For a long time it was presumed that this kind of grand inscription was the primary use of runes, and that their use was associated with a certain societal class of rune carvers.
In the mid-1950s, however, approximately 670 inscriptions, known as the Bryggen inscriptions, were found in Bergen.  These inscriptions were made on wood and bone, often in the shape of sticks of various sizes, and contained inscriptions of an everyday nature—ranging from name tags, prayers (often in Latin), personal messages, business letters, and expressions of affection, to bawdy phrases of a profane and sometimes even of a vulgar nature. Following this find, it is nowadays commonly presumed that, at least in late use, Runic was a widespread and common writing system.
In the later Middle Ages, runes also were used in the clog almanacs (sometimes called Runic staff, Prim, or Scandinavian calendar) of Sweden and Estonia. The authenticity of some monuments bearing Runic inscriptions found in Northern America is disputed most of them have been dated to modern times.
Runes in Eddic lore
In Norse mythology, the runic alphabet is attested to a divine origin (Old Norse: reginkunnr). This is attested as early as on the Noleby Runestone from c. 600 AD that reads Runo fahi raginakundo toj[e'k]a. , meaning "I prepare the suitable divine rune. "  and in an attestation from the 9th century on the Sparlösa Runestone, which reads Ok rað runaʀ þaʀ rægi[n]kundu, meaning "And interpret the runes of divine origin".  In the Poetic Edda poem Hávamál, Stanza 80, the runes also are described as reginkunnr:
Þat er þá reynt,
er þú at rúnum spyrr
þeim er gerðu ginnregin
ok fáði fimbulþulr,
þá hefir hann bazt, ef hann þegir. 
That is now proved,
what you asked of the runes,
of the potent famous ones,
which the great gods made,
and the mighty sage stained,
that it is best for him if he stays silent. 
The poem Hávamál explains that the originator of the runes was the major deity, Odin. Stanza 138 describes how Odin received the runes through self-sacrifice:
Veit ek at ek hekk vindga meiði a
netr allar nío,
geiri vndaþr ok gefinn Oðni,
sialfr sialfom mer,
a þeim meiþi, er mangi veit, hvers hann af rótom renn.
I know that I hung on a windy tree
nine long nights,
wounded with a spear, dedicated to Odin,
myself to myself,
on that tree of which no man knows from where its roots run. 
In stanza 139, Odin continues:
Við hleifi mik seldo ne viþ hornigi,
nysta ek niþr,
nam ek vp rvnar,
fell ek aptr þaðan.
No bread did they give me nor a drink from a horn,
downwards I peered
I took up the runes,
screaming I took them,
then I fell back from there. 
This passage has been interpreted as a mythical representation of shamanic initial rituals in which the initiate must undergo a physical trial in order to receive mystic wisdom. 
In the Poetic Edda poem Rígsþula another origin is related of how the runic alphabet became known to humans. The poem relates how Ríg , identified as Heimdall in the introduction, sired three sons— Thrall (slave), Churl (freeman), and Jarl (noble)—by human women. These sons became the ancestors of the three classes of humans indicated by their names. When Jarl reached an age when he began to handle weapons and show other signs of nobility, Ríg returned and, having claimed him as a son, taught him the runes. In 1555, the exiled Swedish archbishop Olaus Magnus recorded a tradition that a man named Kettil Runske had stolen three rune staffs from Odin and learned the runes and their magic.
Elder Futhark (2nd to 8th centuries)
The Elder Futhark, used for writing Proto-Norse, consists of 24 runes that often are arranged in three groups of eight each group is referred to as an Ætt (Old Norse, meaning 'clan, group'). The earliest known sequential listing of the full set of 24 runes dates to approximately AD 400 and is found on the Kylver Stone in Gotland, Sweden.
Most probably each rune had a name, chosen to represent the sound of the rune itself. The names are, however, not directly attested for the Elder Futhark themselves. Germanic pholologists reconstruct names in Proto-Germanic based on the names given for the runes in the later alphabets attested in the rune poems and the linked names of the letters of the Gothic alphabet. For example, the letter /a/ was named from the runic letter called Ansuz. An asterisk before the rune names means that they are unattested reconstructions. The 24 Elder Futhark runes are: 
Anglo-Saxon runes (5th to 11th centuries)
The futhorc (sometimes written "fuþorc") are an extended alphabet, consisting of 29, and later 33 characters. It was probably used from the 5th century onwards. There are competing theories as to the origins of the Anglo-Saxon Futhorc. One theory proposes that it was developed in Frisia and later spread to England, [ citation needed ] while another holds that Scandinavians introduced runes to England, where the futhorc was modified and exported to Frisia. [ citation needed ] Some examples of futhorc inscriptions are found on the Thames scramasax, in the Vienna Codex, in Cotton Otho B.x (Anglo-Saxon rune poem) and on the Ruthwell Cross.
"Marcomannic runes" (8th to 9th centuries)
A runic alphabet consisting of a mixture of Elder Futhark with Anglo-Saxon futhorc is recorded in a treatise called De Inventione Litterarum, ascribed to Hrabanus Maurus and preserved in 8th- and 9th-century manuscripts mainly from the southern part of the Carolingian Empire (Alemannia, Bavaria). The manuscript text attributes the runes to the Marcomanni, quos nos Nordmannos vocamus, and hence traditionally, the alphabet is called "Marcomannic runes", but it has no connection with the Marcomanni, and rather is an attempt of Carolingian scholars to represent all letters of the Latin alphabets with runic equivalents.
Topics similar to or like Runestone
Typically a raised stone with a runic inscription, but the term can also be applied to inscriptions on boulders and on bedrock. Wikipedia
Inscription made in one of the various runic alphabets. They generally contained practical information or memorials instead of magic or mythic stories. Wikipedia
The term Old Norse can also refer specifically to Old West Norse. North Germanic language that was spoken by inhabitants of Scandinavia and their overseas settlements from about the 7th to the 15th centuries. Wikipedia
Granite Viking Age memorial runestone that was discovered in Aarhus, Denmark. The inscription features a facial mask and memorializes a man who died in a battle. Wikipedia
Rundata catalog listing for a Viking Age memorial runic inscription which is located at Nora, which is in Danderyd, Stockholm County, Sweden, and in the historic province of Uppland. Estate held in an allodial title. Wikipedia
The Holmfast Inscriptions are two Viking Age memorial runic inscriptions and one image that are designated as Sö 311, Sö 312, and Sö 313 in the Rundata catalog. They are located in Södertälje, Stockholm County and the province of Södermanland, Sweden by the eponymous road Holmfastvägen. Wikipedia
Rundata catalog listing for a Viking Age memorial runic inscription that is located in Sundby, which is in Solna Municipality, Stockholm County, Sweden, and in the historic province of Uppland. Intertwined serpent and a Christian cross near the top of the design. Wikipedia
Rundata listing for a Viking Age memorial runestone that was found at Egå, Denmark. The inscription on DR 107 consists of three runic text bands carved in the younger futhark with two bands in arches with the third band in the center. Wikipedia
On a Viking Age memorial runestone to two sons that is located in Alsike, Uppsala County, Sweden, which is in the historic province of Uppland. Discovered on December 5, 1947 during restoration work at the church in Alsike. Wikipedia
Rundata catalog number for a Viking Age memorial runic inscription that is located in Tyresta, which is about two kilometers east of Brandbergen, Stockholm County, Sweden, and is within the Tyresta National Park and the historic province of Södermanland. Carved into a gneiss rockface and is about 1.65 meters in height. Wikipedia
Rundata catalog designation for a Viking Age memorial runic inscription to two fathers that is located in Fällbro, which is about 5 kilometers northwest of Täby, Stockholm County, Sweden, which is in the historic province of Uppland. Discovered in 1946 and is carved on a rock-face of a cliff. Wikipedia
Rundata catalog listing for a Viking Age memorial runic inscription which is carved on a rock-face that is located in Åsta, which is three kilometers east of Vallentuna, Stockholm County, Sweden, and in the historic province of Uppland. Signed by the runemaster Öpir. Wikipedia
Rundata catalog listing for a Viking Age memorial runestone that is located in Ryssby, Kronoberg County, Sweden, which is in the historic province of Småland. 2.2 meters in height, consists of runic text inscribed in the younger futhark in three text bands, the first band, marked as "A" in the transliteration of the runes, along the side of the stone, and two band marked as "B" with one forming an arch over a cross and the second directly below the cross. Wikipedia
Viking Age runestone engraved in Old Norse with the Younger Futhark runic alphabet. Located at Aspö Church in Strängnäs Municipality. Wikipedia
The Younger Futhark is divided into long-branch (Danish) and short-twig (Swedish and Norwegian) runes. The difference between the two versions has been a matter of controversy. A general opinion is that the difference was functional, i.e. the long-branch runes were used for documentation on stone, whereas the short-branch runes were in everyday use for private or official messages on wood.
The long-branch runes are the following signs:
In the short-twig runes (or Rök runes), nine runes appear as simplified variants of the long-branch runes, while the remaining seven have identical shapes:
Hälsinge runes (staveless runes)
Hälsinge runes are so named because in modern times they were first noticed in the Hälsingland region of Sweden. Later other runic inscriptions with the same runes were found in other parts of Sweden. They were used between the 10th and 12th centuries. The runes seem to be a simplification of the Swedish-Norwegian runes and lack certain strokes, hence the name "staveless". They cover the same set of staves as the other Younger Futhark alphabets. This variant has no assigned Unicode range (as of Unicode 4.0).
In the Middle Ages, the Younger Futhark in Scandinavia was expanded, so that it once more contained one sign for each phoneme of the old Norse language. Dotted variants of voiceless signs were introduced to denote the corresponding voiced consonants, or vice versa, voiceless variants of voiced consonants, and several new runes also appeared for vowel sounds. Inscriptions in medieval Scandinavian runes show a large number of variant rune-forms, and some letters, such as s, c and z, were often used interchangeably (Jacobsen & Moltke, 1941–42, p. VII Werner, 2004, p. 20).
Medieval runes were in use until the 15th century. Of the total number of Norwegian runic inscriptions preserved today, most are medieval runes. Notably, more than 600 inscriptions using these runes have been discovered in Bergen since the 1950s, mostly on wooden sticks (the so-called Bryggen inscriptions). This indicates that runes were in common use side by side with the Latin alphabet for several centuries. Indeed, some of the medieval runic inscriptions are actually in the Latin language.
According to Carl-Gustav Werner, "in the isolated province of Dalarna in Sweden a mix of runes and Latin letters developed" (Werner 2004, p. 7). The Dalecarlian runes came into use in the early 16th century and remained in some use up to the 20th century. Some discussion remains on whether their use was an unbroken tradition throughout this period or whether people in the 19th and 20th centuries learned runes from books written on the subject. The character inventory is suitable for transcribing modern Swedish and the local Dalecarlian dialect.
The Icelandic and Norwegian rune poems have 16 runes, with the stave names ᚠ fe ("wealth"), ᚢ ur ("iron"/"rain"), ᚦ Thurs ("giant"), ᚬ As/Oss, ᚱ reidh ("ride"), ᚴ kaun ("ulcer"), ᚼ hagall ("hail"), ᚾ naudhr/naud ("need"), ᛁ is/iss ("ice"), ᛅ ar ("plenty"), ᛋ sol ("sun"), ᛏ Tyr, ᛒ bjarkan/bjarken ("birch"), ᛘ madhr/madr ("man"), ᛚ logr/lög ("water"), ᛦ yr ("yew"). [ citation needed ]
The long-branch runes are the following signs:
In the short-twig runes (or Rök runes), nine runes appear as simplified variants of the long-branch runes, while the remaining seven have identical shapes:
Hälsinge runes (staveless runes)
Hälsinge runes are so named because in modern times they were first noticed in the Hälsingland region of Sweden. Later other runic inscriptions with the same runes were found in other parts of Sweden. They were used between the 10th and 12th centuries. The runes seem to be a simplification of the Swedish-Norwegian runes and lack vertical strokes, hence the name 'staveless.' They cover the same set of staves as the other Younger Futhark alphabets. This variant has no assigned Unicode range (as of Unicode 4.0).
An inscription using both cipher runes, the Elder Futhark and the Younger Futhark, on the 9th century Rök Runestone in Sweden.
A Younger Futhark inscription on the 12th century Vaksala Runestone in Sweden.
The runes were in use among the Germanic peoples from the 1st or 2nd century AD.  This period corresponds to the late Common Germanic stage linguistically, with a continuum of dialects not yet clearly separated into the three branches of later centuries North Germanic, West Germanic, and East Germanic.
No distinction is made in surviving runic inscriptions between long and short vowels, although such a distinction was certainly present phonologically in the spoken languages of the time. Similarly, there are no signs for labiovelars in the Elder Futhark (such signs were introduced in both the Anglo-Saxon futhorc and the Gothic alphabet as variants of p see peorð.)
The name runes contrasts with Latin or Greek letters. It is attested on a 6th century Alamannic runestaff as runa, and possibly as runo on the 4th century Einang stone. The name is from a root run- (Gothic runa), meaning “secret” or “whisper”. The root run- can also be found in the Baltic languages meaning “speech”. In Lithuanian, runoti has two meanings: “to cut (with a knife)” or “to speak”. 
The runes developed centuries after the Old Italic alphabets from which they are historically derived. The debate on the development of the runic script concerns the question which of the Italic alphabets should be taken as their point of origin, and which, if any, signs should be considered original innovations added to the letters found in the Italic scripts. The historical context of the script’s origin is the cultural contact between Germanic people, who often served as mercenaries in the Roman army, and the Italic peninsula during the Roman imperial period (1st c. BC to 5th c. AD). The formation of the Elder Futhark was complete by the early 5th century, with the Kylver Stone being the first evidence of the futhark ordering as well as of the p rune.
Specifically, the Raetic alphabet of Bolzano, is often advanced as a candidate for the origin of the runes, with only five Elder Futhark runes (ᛖ e, ᛇ ï, ᛃ j, ᛜ ŋ, ᛈ p) having no counterpart in the Bolzano alphabet (Mees 2000). Scandinavian scholars tend to favor derivation from the Latin alphabet itself over Raetic candidates.  A “North Etruscan” thesis is supported by the inscription on the Negau helmet dating to the 2nd century BC  This is in a northern Etruscan alphabet, but features a Germanic name, Harigast.
The angular shapes of the runes are shared with most contemporary alphabets of the period used for carving in wood or stone. A peculiarity of the runic alphabet is the absence of horizontal strokes, although this characteristic is also shared by other alphabets, such as the early form of the Latin alphabet used for the Duenos inscription, and it is not universal especially among early runic inscriptions, which frequently have variant rune shapes including horizontal strokes.
The “West Germanic hypothesis” speculates on an introduction by West Germanic tribes. This hypothesis is based on claiming that the earliest inscriptions of the 2nd and 3rd centuries, found in bogs and graves around Jutland (the Vimose inscriptions), exhibit word endings that, being interpreted by Scandinavian scholars to be Proto-Norse, are considered unresolved and having been long the subject of discussion. Inscriptions like wagnija, niþijo, and harija are supposed to incarnate tribe names, tentatively proposed to be Vangiones, the Nidensis and the Harii, tribes located in the Rhineland.  Since names ending in -io reflect Germanic morphology representing the Latin ending -ius, and the suffix -inius was reflected by Germanic -inio-,  the question of the problematic ending -ijo in masculine Proto-Norse would be resolved by assuming Roman (Rhineland) influences, while “the awkward ending -a of laguþewa (cf. Syrett 1994:44f.) can be solved by accepting the fact that the name may indeed be West Germanic”  however, it should be noted that in the early Runic period differences between Germanic languages are generally assumed to be small. Another theory assumes a Northwest Germanic unity preceding the emergence of Proto-Norse proper from roughly the 5th century.  An alternative suggestion explaining the impossibility to classify the earliest inscriptions as either North or West Germanic is forwarded by È. A. Makaev, who assumes a “special runic koine“, an early “literary Germanic” employed by the entire Late Common Germanic linguistic community after the separation of Gothic (2nd to 5th centuries), while the spoken dialects may already have been more diverse. 
 Early inscriptions
An illustration of the Ring of Pietroassa (from between AD 250 to 400) by Henri Trenk, 1875.
Runic inscriptions from the 400 year period of c. AD 150 to 550 are referred to as “Period I” inscriptions. These inscriptions are generally in Elder Futhark, but the set of letter shapes and bindrunes employed is far from standardized. Notably the j, s and ŋ runes undergo considerable modifications, while others, such as p and ï, remain unattested altogether prior the first full futhark row on the Kylver Stone (c. AD 400).
Artifacts such as spear-mounts, shield-heads have been found which bear runic marking can be dated to 200 A.D., as evidenced by artifacts found across northern Europe in Schleswig (North Germany), Fyn, Sjaeland, Jylland (Denmark), and Skåne (Sweden). Earlier, but less reliable, artifacts have been found in Meldorf, Süderithmarschen, North Germany these include brooches and comes found in graves, and are supposed to have the earliest markings resembling runic inscriptions.
Theories of the existence of separate Gothic runes have been advanced, even identifying them as the original alphabet from which the Futhark were derived, but these have little support in actual findings (mainly the spearhead of Kovel, with its right-to-left inscription, its T-shaped tiwaz and its rectangular dagaz). If there ever were genuinely Gothic runes, they were soon replaced by the Gothic alphabet. The letters of the Gothic alphabet, however, as given by the Alcuin manuscript (9th century), are obviously related to the names of the Futhark. The names are clearly Gothic, but it is impossible to say whether they are as old as, or even older than, the letters themselves. A handful of Elder Futhark inscriptions were found in Gothic territory, such as the 3rd to 5th century Ring of Pietroassa. The Encyclopedia Britannica even suggests the original development of the runes may have been due to the Goths. 
 Magical or divinatory use
A bracteate (G 205) from around AD 400 that features no runic inscription but the charm word alu with a depiction of a stylized male head, horse and a swastika, a common motif on bracteates.
An illustration of the Gummarp Runestone (500 to 700 AD) from Blekinge, Sweden.
Erotic Medieval Runic Inscriptions Found in Bergen - History
|Gudvangen Viking Market 2016!||25|
I spent the whole past week in between the tall mountains by the Nærøyfjord in Gudvangen, the valley of the Gods. 🌿
As always in Gudvangen, there was a lot of weather. We arrived in rain and were thoroughly soaked during the first couple of days, followed by promises of thunder (which flew by, almost to my dismay as I was starting to look forward to hear it rumble and echo between the majestic cliffs). But the sunshine broke through, and most of our time was spent in sunshine, and there was less need for woolen clothes and more need for sleeping with tents open in the heat of the summer nights.
View from the tent-opening!
Our little group of eight got a spot on the top of the hill and were very happy with it, and were a bit secluded from the main hustle and bustle of the market area. We put up the new middle part in between two of our Gokstad-tents, and it was great to have a place to seek shelter or shade.
With room for several fires, we could also have many people join us in the evenings, for singing, sharing drinks, food, and good company. ^^ During the week another Icelander arrived, then two and three, and we could sing Icelandic folk songs together, such as Ríðum, ríðum" and "Krummavísur".
Happy Viking-market feels, beautiful people and pretty things!
The amazing bone-work of Dariusz.
Wax-tablets (historical iPads).. Did you know that archeological findings of such tablets have impressions in the wood where the stylus has gone through the wax, showing that the runic alphabet was being used?
Vibeke and Kjell (didn't notice his face until later when I zoomed in on the photo, hehe)
The beautiful combs in protective cases sold by Nordlys Viking crafts. I have seen similar finds of decorated composite single combs from Birka, Gotland, Hedeby, and Jorvik, made of bone and antler.
Anja with her new gorgeous hand-woven diamond twill fabric, made of hand-spun woolen thread!
Sewing a new lined woolen cloak.
Silje trying to tidy up an old tablet weaving mess!
Glíma master Lars Magnar Enoksen was present as usual, and Gudvangen hosted its 12th glíma wrestling championship.
My cousin Anna Herdís joined us in the weekend to try Viking reenactment for the first time :) And she rocked my red dress!
Back in our camp, Silje & me, and my historically inaccurate potato.
Vikings waiting in line for the gilde (feast) on Saturday night!
Pit cooked lamb, chicken, and root vegetables..
It was definitely a week of vacation well spent! I arrived back home in Bjørgvin late Sunday night, and tomorrow I am off for my next adventure heading to Iceland for two weeks.
Thank you for now Gudvangen! See you again next summer &hearts
|A productive weekend!||17|
This weekend was the start of my summer vacation, it's been a long time since I took a proper time off, and it feels so great. ^^ That doesn't mean I've been idle though, so here is a follow-up on my last post, the products of the weekend: a green sleeveless summer dress, a blue tunic, and a purple long-sleeved serk. All linen, and with hand-sown outer seems.
Ready to be worn at Gudvangen Viking market in the upcoming week!
I will be back with updates. :)
|New sewing projects.||6|
Went shopping for some linen, first steps of materializing some ideas for new additions to my Viking wardrobe, that have been floating around in my mind lately. I ended up with alen upon alen of green, brown (no big surprises there), blue and purple. Also, I ordered another custom made tablet woven trim from Anna, in different shades of brown wool. Beautiful, isn't it?
Now it remains to be seen whether I will have the chance to start - and perhaps finish - any of these projects before the next Viking market. ^^ I'll probably be bringing some half-sewn garments with me when I go to Gudvangen, but then again, sewing during markets is a relaxing pastime. :-)
This week, the Vikings at Hafrsfjord invited us to their home in Stavanger, some hours south from Bjørgvin. Hafrsfjordkaupangen has become one of my favorite markets, it has such a good atmosphere, so many friendly faces, and a really nice and well organized leadership. It is situated by a river in between tall trees in Møllebukta, by the shore of the legendary fjord where the great battle of Hafrsfjord took place in the late 9th century.
During the weekend we were visited by a TV-team from Austria who contacted me last year, after having read my blog about last summers market. They filmed a lot throughout the market, and we did an interview on the last day. I am horrible in front of video cameras and didn't really manage to convey anything intelligible at all, but it was still all good fun and I am looking forward to see their portrayal of the Norwegian Viking reenactment scene (almost as much as I am looking forward to hearing the Austrian voice-over). ^^
Meanwhile, here are my photos from the weekend!
The calm before the storm. the market area before opening.
Anna tablet weaving :)
I traded me a nice little ceramic cup with knot-symbols, another drinking horn, a new key (Birka-style), a new valkyrja pendant (this one from Grödinge in Södermanland, Sweden), earrings with birds (supposedly from 10th century Sweden, perhaps someone knows the exact origin?), and two triquetra pendants that I asked the smith to make into earrings. :)
Playing Viking games (leikr) in the twilight. (the monument "Swords in Rock" can be seen in the background)
Atmosphere around the large campfire in the evenings. Singing, storytelling and drumming into the summer nights. Could it get any better? ^^
Philip playing his bagpipe :D
The last four days have been filled with good company, food, laughter, music, late nights. and I am content but absolutely exhausted. As I'm writing this it is Sunday night, and we are on our way back home where we expect to arrive sometime after midnight, and I am looking forward to taking a long, warm shower and diving into bed. Already looking forward to the next market, which on my part will be Gudvangen in July!
|Görvar at ríða grund Valkyrjur||12|
Photographer Marius Pettersen came to visit me on the third day of the Bjørgvin Viking market last weekend, and shot some photos in the beautiful surroundings at the Hordamuseum in Bergen.
(He prefers not to watermark his photos, but as with all the photography on this blog, I need to ask you not to share them without providing due credit and source, and not to use them in any hateful or political context)
|Bjørgvin Viking and medieval market 2016||5|
Back home and finished unpacking, after a delightful weekend at our first historical market of the year here in Bergen, beautiful and cheerful Bjørgvin Marknad! My hair smells of bonfires and my feet are sore after walking barefoot more or less all day since Thursday.
I arrived after work, and picked up a long-awaited custom order from fellow Vikings at Taberna Vagantis, my first and very own historical tent! Isn't it beautiful? ^^
I am very excited about it, as it will be my second home away from home, following and housing me on my Viking-expeditions from now on. It canvas is natural linen, thick and waterproof, and the tent poles and engraved heads are reconstructions of the ones found on board the Gokstad ship that I photographed at the Viking Ship Museum earlier this year (except for the originals being painted in black and yellow) and the frame is 2,5 x 3,5 m. I decorated it with a deer skull with antlers that I bought at the market in Gudvangen last year.
The weather is incredibly warm, and the whole weekend has been a summer haze of good company, abundance of foods and drinks, blue skies and green surroundings on the grounds of the Hordamuseum. The longship Haakon Haakonsson was there taking people out to sea, while some of us went swimming by the beach. The Danish group Virelai (music featured above) played festive medieval music for us all weekend, the melodies of flutes and hurdy-gurdies filling the camp.
Thank you once again, Bjørgvin, for your hospitality and good atmosphere! &hearts
|Eggtíð ok stekktíð||31|
Það vorar um vötn og skóga.
Það vorar um hlíð og mel.
Smalar á heiðum hóa
hjörðum við fjallasel.
Vorblærinn lætur í laufi
létt eins og fiðluspil.
Á sveitabæjunum brosa
björt og reisuleg þil.
Það vorar í hug og hjarta
og hrjóstrin skipta um lit.
Úr sólarátt heyrum við söngva
og síglaðan vængjaþyt.
Störfin yngja vorn anda
og efla vor sóknarspor.
Það er létt yfir lífi og vonum,
ljómandi sólskin - og vor.
We are currently in the month of Skerpla, according to the old Icelandic calendar. Even older names for this time are "eggtíð" and "stekktíð", as written by Snorri Sturlusson in Skáldskaparmál. Like many of the old names of the months, they are descriptive and concern agriculture and nature. Eggtíð simply means time of eggs. Stekktíð refers to stekkr which were folds where lambs would be kept from the ewes during nights, so that the ewes could be milked in the morning before the lambs were let out. Stekktíð lasted for a few weeks before the lambs were led up in the mountains for the summer, and this was common practice in Iceland for centuries. The milk would be used for making skyr, as well as butter and cheese. No doubt, the harvest and produce of this time would be welcome additions to breakfast-tables in the North, where supplies in granaries and store houses would be growing meager after the long winter months.
Here in Bjørgvin the market season is drawing very near, and we are preparing and packing for summer days and nights to be spent outside. I am looking forward to reuniting with good friends and fellow Vikings whom I haven't seen since last summer, and there is excitement and bliss in the air. ^^ The poem above is a relatively unknown piece written by Björn Daníelson, and although relatively contemporary, it is timeless just the same, conveying the long awaited feelings of spring, the arrival of the birds and soft summer winds blowing lightly over heath and hillside, spirits strengthened and hearts light.
Music: Wardruna - Dagr
Poetry: Björn Daníelson - Vor (Frá liðnu vori)
|Feast at Austevoll||20|
A few weeks ago our little group of Viking friends were invited to a feast at Austevoll, a place just southwest of Bergen consisting of heaps of islands and reefs of varying size connected by bridges and boats, home and port of a substantial part of the Norwegian fish industry. Austevoll is also home to the countries largest stock of "villsau" (wild sheep), the oldest Norwegian sheep race, domesticated since the iron age. On our way there, we frequently had to stop and urge them on in order to be able to follow the road, which many of them seemed to own themselves, finding it fitting to finish their nap or stop to chew their food there rather than moving for a silly vehicle. ^^ Being half Icelandic, that felt sort of like being home, along with the strong winds and beautiful landscapes all around.
Claus and Anja served us delicious roasted leg of pork cooked Danish-style, with sugar browned potatoes, ale and wine. Later in the evening we prepared snacks, lit up a fire outside, and spent the night enjoying good company in our usual good mood.
Some snapshots from the weekend, and some of our outfits (although I didn't get us all):
Only a few weeks until its time for our first Viking market of the summer, Bjørgvin Marknad!
I wasn't really planning to go out this weekend, but late Friday night, this happened.. ^^ I learned that Kristian was performing with his new band Gaahls Wyrd at the small but famous rock club Garage here in Bergen, and that other fellow "Bergensers" Einar and Lindy-Fay from Wardruna as well as Lars Magnar Enoksen (rune master and friend from the viking reenactment society) were doing guest performances with them. Couldn't miss out on that now, could I?
The party went on until morning, and the birds were singing as I went outside to catch a cab home. But we all had a blast!
Many of you write asking about my clothing, about fabrics, patterns, and how I sow them. I am not an experienced sower, but I do things mostly by eye. I did get a book with patterns for Viking reenactment clothing a few years ago, but I gave up on following the patterns, as I was starting to get unsure of whether there were errors in the book or whether there were errors in my spatial intelligence. ^^ I have made my own patterns for dresses and tunics, mainly according to the finds from Birka and Thorsbjerg, but slightly fitted. While round or keyhole-necklines were common in Birka, the neckline of the Thorsbjerg tunic was boat-shaped, and I vary in which designs I use. I add gores as needed and depending on how much fabric I have available, and the same goes for the length. This would also have been an important consideration during the Viking age, when producing fabric was time-consuming and expensive, and one would let as little as possible go to waste, sometimes resulting in garments being an assembly of smaller pieces.
I thought I'd show you the newest garment I've made. My little brother has been joining me in Viking reenactment for the past few years, and I made him a tunic in brown wool for his birthday earlier this spring.
I decorated it with a tablet woven trim in a Birka style, made by order from a local weaver at Liljekonvall Tablet Weaving (I personally recommend her store, for good Norwegian craftsmanship at fair prices).
I added a name tag just for fun, and to make it more personalized. I sowed in his name in runes using the younger futhark long-branch runes. The younger futhark alphabet contained a reduced number of letters compared to the elder futhark, and did for example not include the letter "e". I replaced it with an "a", in the same way as I have seen in runic finds of his name. Can you read it?
I think it matches his colors well, as well as a mustard undertunic that I made him earlier. It's great to have a brother to practice on. :D
|Sumarmál and the summer blót||17|
Farin er nú veturin, komið er summarmál. (Faroese kvæði)
These days, one moon phase after the spring equinox, it is time for one of the main blots of the year as celebrated in the Viking era, the summer blot. This time was termed sumarmál, and we are entering Harpa, the first summer month according to the Norse calendar which splits the year in two halves. Here in the forests of Western-Norway, me and my friends celebrate and welcome the beginning of summer, life and growth, warmth and light, early mornings and long evenings, and the start of the market season with all the adventures that will follow.
Upon hearing the word blót, some might expect severed heads and people dancing naked around the fire (or something of the sort). If that is the case I must disappoint you, as the blóts are far from any sort of Hollywood-representation. :) Blóts are sacramental meals or feasts, where people gather in fellowship to feast and honor various deities or natural phenomena, seasons and the turns of the wheel of the sun. Sumarmál is by some scholars believed to have been held for Óðinn, for prosperity in summer raids and victory in battle, and may thus have been synonymous with the Sigrblót that is mentioned in Ynglinga saga. Others, like the Ásatrú community in Iceland hold this blót in honor of Frey and Freyja, vanir and Gods of life and fertility of the earth. In our case, this blót is a feast involving friends spending time together in nature, sitting around the fire, sharing good foods and drinks, cheering and celebrating, and planning the upcoming viking expeditions. ^^
Sweet Høst, the Norwegian forest cat.
I made a new dress for the occasion (that is, I tore up the stitches of an old one I had made a few years ago, dyed and hand stitched it back together). I really like how this blue goes with the brown. :)
Birka coat with five gores. I made it way to wide, so it needs some adjustments before I'll be happy with it, but it is comfy and nice for chilly evenings.
We were really lucky with the weather, and although it was not particularly warm, it was dry and windless, and we spent hours and hours outside, keeping warm on mead and fire. ^^ And the morning after I woke up with the sunlight on my face, and walked barefoot on the grass for the first time this year. Lovely!
How do you celebrate the coming of summer?
|Frjádagr (& the Norse names of the days)||8|
Today is the day of Freyja and Frigg, and as I am planning to paint the town red tomorrow, I am spending the night at home enjoying a long-awaited night of relaxation. I'd like to follow up on my earlier post about the Norse calendar, by discussing the old names of the days, named after the Norse Æsir and Ásynjur.
The idea of a seven-day week is ancient, and is believed to have originated from astrological and religious conceptions in the ancient Near East, named by the seven classical planets. It is used in most parts of the world, with the days named after various corresponding gods and goddesses, varying by regions and periods. It was made official in Roman areas in AD 321, adopted by the Germanic peoples, and has been in use in Norway as far back as we know. The old names indicate that the system was in use in Norway before the Christianization.
Day of the Moon. The moon is personified as Máni, brother of Sól, son of Mundilfari. Máni, like his sister, is chased across the heavens by two wolves. When Ragnarök comes (the end of the world), he shall be consumed by one of them, the warg Hati, and disappear.
Tý's day. Tý (or Týr) is the god of warfare, as well as honor, justice, and law. He is one-handed, as he was the only one with enough courage to place his hand in the mouth of the wolf Fenrir in order to get him shackled with the dwarf-made chain Gleipnir.
Oðinn's day, the Allfather, the mightiest and wisest, he who hung from Yggdrasil for nine days and nights and gave his eye to drink from the well of Mímir. Associated with sorcery (seiðr), poetry, and the runic alphabet. Also viewed as a god of war, death, and healing. Husband to Frigg, and chieftain of the gods, he lives in the great hall of Valaskjálf or Valhalla, where he receives half of all men who die in battle. He owns the two wolves Geri and Freki, the eight-legged horse Sleipnir, and the ravens Huginn and Muninn, who tell him of all tidings in the world.
Þór's day, meeting-day, the day of opening of the Thing, and the day to hold blóts. Þór is son of Óðinn, and is the god of strength, protection of mankind, and he who rules the weather. Þór lives in the hall Bilskirnir in his land Þrúðvangur. He owns the hammer Mjölnir, that will always reach what he aims for, and thereafter return to his hand. He will fly across the heavens to fight jötuns, in a carriage drawn by his two goats. He also owns an iron glove which he uses to lift Mjölnir, and the belt Megingjörð, giving him tremendous strength. The thunder is the sound from the wheels of his cart, and as he throws his anvil with great force, sparks will light up the sky.
Freyja's and/or Frigg's day. May have originally been associated with Frigg, corresponding to the Roman goddess Venus, and later associated with Freyja. Frigg is the wife of Óðinn and mightiest of the Ásynjur. She is associated with wisdom and foresight, and is the protector of marrige, family, and home. Frigg, meaning love or beloved, is connected by some sources to the goddess Jörð (earth, mother of Þór) as well as with Freyja. Freyja is the goddess of fertility. She is associated with sex, love, beauty, fertility, and gold, but also with seiðr, war, and death. She is a Vanir, and is the one who introduced seiðr to the Æsir. Her domain is Fólkvangr, and half of all men who die in battle will be chosen by her to live in her halls.
Earlier also called þváttadagr, laug meaning pool of water, and þváttr meaning washing. The weekend was the time for washing and bathing, and the time for cleansing rituals in the Middle Ages.
Day of the Sun. The sun is personified by Sól, daughter of Mundilfari, sister of Máni (the moon), and wife of Glenr. Like her brother she fares across the heavens, chased by a wolf called Sköll (or Fenrir). Her carriage is drawn by the horses Árvakr and Alsviðr. Sól and Máni received this fate as a punishment from the Gods for their father's hubris when he named his children after the sun and the moon due to their beauty. The wolf will eventually catch and eat her, but after Ragnarök she will be succeeded by a daughter, equally beautiful, who will continue on her path.
Wishing you all a great night!
Music: Sun and Moon Dance - Hymne til Freyja (ft. Eliwagar)
|The Viking Ship Museum at Bygdøy||28|
This week I travelled to the east of Norway with a couple of my friends to our capital Oslo. We were mainly there for ArtheCon, the very first Tolkien-con in Norway, but I also really wanted to visit a museum that I haven't been to since I was a child, the Viking Skip Museum at the Museum of Cultural History in Bygdøy.
The museum houses three Viking ships excavated from burial mounds, and a large amount of grave goods. It is most famous for the completely whole Oseberg ship, which is the largest known ship burial in the world and is often deemed to be the finest finding from the Viking Age. You might also recognize it from my header for this website!
And needless to say, I went berserk with my camera, humming in excitement. I had managed to leave my zoom-lens behind, but I got a fair amount of shots of details and things I would like to share with you nevertheless.
The Oseberg ship grave contained remains of two women, both around 153 cm tall. The younger was about 50 years old, with teeth indicating that she had been eating food of high quality. She had a broken collar bone, but unknown reason for death. The older woman was 70-80 years old, an unusually high age to achieve in her time. She had several health problems, including arthritis and compression injuries in her spine which would make her walk crookedly and having trouble turning her head. She had cancer that had spread to her bones, and I've seen from other sources that she was found with a small leather bag of cannabis seeds in her pocket, possibly used for pain-relief. The identity of the Oseberg-women remains a mystery. The burial indicates that they would certainly have had an important and powerful position in their time, and may have been religious or political leaders. Whether they were of equal stature or whether one was sacrificed to follow the other to the afterlife, is unknown.
Three highly decorated sleds were found aboard the Oseberg ship, with corner posts decorated with animal heads, various animal forms and geometrical patterns, representing the work of several woodcarvers. The sleds were decorated with nails of tinned iron, brass and silver, and parts of the pattern and decor was painted with red, grey and brown. The sleds had been in regular use, and spare runners had also been added to the grave.
The Oseberg ship also contained a cart of oak with complex decorations and carvings, with two shafts of ash, likely drawn by two horses (one on each side).
Five beautiful animal head posts were also found in the Oseberg grave, four of them well preserved and displayed at the museum. They all have different designs, and some are decorated with silver nails. each was found together with a rattle made of iron and rope. Their use is unknown, but they may have been part of the burial ritual and been carried in the procession toward the grave.
The Gokstad ship, built with oak that was felled about year 890, is large and sturdily constructed. It is very much seaworthy, and had sailed for many years before being used in the burial around year 900. The man found in the burial chamber was, as his ship, strong and unusually robustly built, with a height of 181-183 cm (well above average at the time). Investigations of the remains show that he might have had a tumor causing imbalance in growth hormones. Several injuries from stabbing and hacking from a sword, a blunter weapon, and a knife (including a calf bone that had been cut straight through), without signs of healing, show that he had died in battle. According to the museum he was about 60 years old when he died, but I've read newer research concluding that he was rather in his 40's.
The Tune ship was built at the same time as the Gokstad ship, and even though it is still the third best preserved Viking ship in the world, it is fragmented and has the missing parts of it have not been reconstructed (partly due to poor documentation and routines during its excavation, and it had also been exposed to oxygen before it was fully excavated in a hurried and rather rough manner). It was even kept outside for a while, before getting its own temporary storage place. It contained a burial chamber with a possible chieftain, but the grave goods are sadly lost or destroyed during or shortly after the excavation. This goes to show the importance of modern archeology and proper treatment of invaluable historical artifacts in order for them not to be lost to future generations.
A large amount of personal items, various equipment and furniture were also found in the various graves. Below you will for example see a dog collar and part of a leash, bridles for horses (one of them from the Borre mounds and the other from Gokstad, possibly made in the same workshop), axes, whistles, several weaves, tools for spinning yarn, and cooking utensils and tableware. Many animals (dogs, horses and oxen) were also found in and around the ships, and the Gokstad grave even contained remains of a peacock, possibly a gift or souvenir from abroad.
Oak lid, decorated with a triquetra or valknútr ("knot of the fallen") symbol.
. and then there were the Oseberg shoes, of which I wear a reconstruction with my Viking outfits :) These are very well preserved, I must say, especially seeing that mine are 1182 years younger and are starting to look a bit scruffy.
And talking about reconstructions, the tents found aboard these ships are commonly used by Viking reenactors. And soon I shall have my own, which is currently in construction and being carved according to the exact design of the Gokstad tent poles (I'll make a blog post of it when summer comes). :)
Then there is this belt buckle, strap end and fastener which was found in the Gokstad ship, showing that belts from the Viking Age could be quite wide, although I have heard reenactors claiming otherwise. This particular buckle was 5 cm wide, I suppose the belt might have been 4,5 cm.
Who would have though that buckets could be this interesting? Both are made of yew wood, and the one intricately decorated with brass embellishments and iron handles contained wild apples, that were so well preserved that they were still red when the ship was excavated. The other one, called the "Buddha-bucket" is decorated with figures sitting in a lotus-position, made of enamel and brass.
Several wooden boxes and iron-bound chests contained textile tools, a lamp, combs, and fragments of textiles and leather. The grave chambers had been robbed, and there were no findings of jewellery or precious metals, which may have been contained in the broken chest seen at the bottom.
. and then there are the textiles! Findings of fabrics are relatively rare, as the natural materials decompose rapidly. The Oseberg grave did however contain remains of tapestries (long and narrow ones that were likely used for decorating walls on special occasions). The largest piece shows a procession of people and horses drawing wagons, and although the colors have faded and disappeared, one can still see the red. There were also various tablet-woven trims and embroideries, including foreign and valuable silk fabric imported from Byzantium and Persia.
We had an amazing time!
Make sure to visit the Viking Ship Museum if you are ever in the area. Seeing actual items made by, owned and used by our forefathers with ones own eyes is an epic and goosebump-inducing feeling that cannot be captured in photos. :)
Music: Forndom - Den Grymma Hästen
|Vorar eptir vetr||17|
Spring has come early in Bjørgvin this year, and I am enjoying waking up to light skies, following my niece to school and walking to work in the mornings, listening to the first chirps of birds returning, and even having some rays left in the evenings as I come home. Soon there will be time for planting seeds and watching them grow. I cannot wait until summer, walking barefoot in the grass and sleeping outside in warm summer nights. It is still only the end of Góa, but Einmánuður (the last winter month according to the old Norse calendar) is right around the corner, starting next week. In the Viking age people would be looking forward to hens starting to lay eggs again, new lambs to be born, and many other blessings of the season and signs of fertility and new life that people today will associate with Easter celebrations.
According to an Icelandic folksong, the weather of these months foretells how the upcoming season will be.
Þurr skildi þorri, þeysöm góa, votur einmánuður, þá mun vel vora.
Trúðu aldrei vetrarþoku, þótt aðeins sé ein nótt til sumars.
Kvöldroðinn bætir. Morgunroðinn vætir.
Sjaldan er gýll fyrir góðu, nema úlfur á eftir renni og í fullu vestri séð.
I would translate that first phrase to something in the lines of "Þorri should be dry, Góa mild/thawing, Einmánuður wet, then spring shall be good". The accuracy of such predictions can be discussed, but so could the modern chaos theory of weather forecasts as well, I suppose. :D
|Brooches, beads and Valkyries||14|
An iconic part of the female Viking garb, the brooches with their strings of beads and pendants are worn across the chest, connecting the loops of the apron dress at the front. They are a beloved part of my historical wardrobe, and the other night I gave them a little upgrade!
I have been collecting new glass beads here and there at various markets and museums that I've visited, and getting rid of all the beads that were not handmade or historical replicas. I like adding pieces as memories from places I go, which is bound to get heavy, so I've had to remove what used to be a fourth row of beads (even if "more is more", there comes a point when it gets impractical and you sound like a jingle bell reindeer when walking around).
The circular bronze pendant in the upper middle is from Birka, so are the bells, and the Mjölnir in the center is in the Swedish style from Östergötland. There are also three pendants there that are believed to represent Valkyries:
They are all findings from Sweden, the first one from Tuna in Uppland, the second from Björkö in Uppland, and the third from Köping in Öland. Seeing that my given name means Valkyrie (or Valkyrja in Norse), what could be more fitting than to have a few of these ladies represented on my clothing? :)
So, this is the current state of my outfit. It is a neverending project in progress!
|Ivar Bjørnson & Einar Selvik's Skuggsjá||13|
This weekend was the premiere of the album "A Piece for Mind and Mirror" by Skuggsjá, a music project by Ivar Bjørnson from Enslaved & Einar Selvik from Wardruna. As my readers will know, I am personally a big fan of Wardruna, and I was looking forward to this collaboration with great enthusiasm. I am lucky enough to live in Bergen, the capital of black metal of the world. It is the home town of many amazing artists, the type of people who will perform for huge audiences worldwide, and then come back to the rainy city to play for free in a small pub and record shop, and go out with people like me to drink and chat afterwards.
A Piece for Mind & Mirror by Skuggsjá
Originally initiated as a commissioned piece for the celebration of the 200th anniversary of the Norwegian Constitution, the theme concerns Norwegian history and tells parts of the old days that have formed us as a nation and people. Having developed into a full album of 10 tracks + 2 bonus tracks (some lasting for a good 10 minutes), it sheds light on aspects of our history that are unknown and forgotten by many.
One example is the history of "fat Olav" (. or St. Olav as he is called today) who cut grain supplies to the North of Norway and practiced a merciless confiscation politic that made himself immensely rich, and even turned his own family against him. The Christianization of Norway and ban of all other religions made him the uppermost leader of the Norwegian church, and he is celebrated as a holy man today. Skuggsjá tells the story of chieftain Tore Hund (Tore "the hound") and the peasants' uprising against Olav, from a historical and educative perspective. And it is all done beautifully, to the sound of historical instruments such as the kraviklyre, which is the oldest string instrument that has been found in Norway, mixed with the electronic in a symbiosis of ancient and modern.
Last night they played two of their new tracks for us, and as Einar said when he held up his lyre, the original is dated to the 13th century and we are waiting for a C14 analysis that may reveal if it is even older (after which Ivar held up his el-guitar to mention that his was from 2004). :) After their performance we went out to celebrate the launch on their new ale, Alu by Norse, a handcrafted Norwegian farmhouse ale based on old Norwegian brewing traditions.
It was a great night!
|Why do fascists love Norse mythology?||6|
The title of this post has been a subject of discussion among my friends in the Viking reenactment society lately, as well as in many Scandinavian speaking newspapers and discussion channels. Why do fascists feel an urge to use Norse mythology as if it had anything to do with their ideology? Why do they insist on dragging our cultural history through the mud?
In Germany, there once lived a dangerous man, with a strange little mustache, who approved of some people and despised others based on their genealogy. He liked blonde, tall and blue-eyed people (none of which he was himself for that matter). He liked them so much that he occupied our country, tortured and killed us when we resisted. Members of his party were into Norse mythology, and they hi-jacked our cultural history and our symbols. This happened in the 20th century, a millennium after the Viking Age. People connect these two periods based on the Nazis who raped our culture, not because it has any other ties with these political views. It is as simple as that. There is no other plausible connection. What you might have read and seen on various social media pages promoting old Norse culture and supremacist views together is without a sense of history, it is ignorance and racism (two characteristics that I am pretty sure are significantly correlated, but that is another matter).
The photos they are using in their promotion, of my friends in the reenactment societies around Scandinavia, are stolen. These people dip their pens in gall, and write texts on photos of people who do not support their views, and who disagree with the juvenile phrases pasted on them. I do not appreciate having to explain to people that I do not support far-right political views etc. due to my interest in Norse culture. I find the mere fact that it is necessary, revolting. Why do organizations such as Åsatrufellesskapet Bifrost (the Norwegian organization for Åsatru) and Ásatrúarfélagið (the Ásatrú association in Iceland) explain on their websites that bigotry and hatred towards others is incompatible with membership? I have never seen any other religious organizations doing the same, but these societies actually do. You are not welcome there, and your views disqualify you from membership. We who love Norse history must speak up in order for the public not to start associating the culture and more of its symbols with modern extremist views, in the same way as the sowilu rune and the ancient swastika have been desecrated. And not only in Scandinavian media, but also in English, because many of the people who are relevant in this discussion do not speak the languages.
Could it simply be due to lack of historical knowledge? One might think so, when looking at some of the facebook-profiles that promote Norse mythology in combination with racist views, with profile photos of them posing with plastic hammers in some basement or club house, basing their appreciation of the Norse culture on Marvel comics and TV-shows.
The title of this post is also that of a Danish article by Sebastian Stryhn Kjeldtoft at Information.dk, concerning thugs who dress up in black hoodies as seen in the photos I am holding above, and patrol Scandinavian cities, protecting the streets from foreigners. This recent phenomenon originated in Finland, the founder being the Nazi and ex-con Mika Ranta. The author allowed me to translate and reproduce parts of it:
But why would a bunch of Finnish nationalists choose to become soldiers of Odin? The Finns were never Vikings.
But nevertheless, if idolizing the Norse cultural history and the Viking Era, one should think they would utilize historical sources, like the rest of us do? That could for example be the "sayings of the high one", Hávamál, 164 stanzas that mainly focus on knowledge, proper conduct, and how to welcome guests. See the irony?
These people are not there out of an egalitarian desire to do good and make people feel safe. If they were, they could have signed up with organizations such as the Natteravnene (the Night Ravens), who are a legal and highly recognized volunteer organization of adult and sober citizens who walk the streets in Norway at night, highly visible in their yellow and labeled vests, to prevent anti-social behavior and promote a safe environment, assist those who cannot take care of themselves, and contact the authorities if needed. To call for help. From the one organization that is supposed to reinforce the law in a democracy: The police. As this commentary points out, vigilantes threaten the foundation of our democracy. The monopoly on violence is, as formulated by Max Weber, the actual definition of a state.
But many of the "Soldiers of Odin" would not have passed the background checks to join such organizations, as they have criminal records. A report presented by the NRK the other night, states that 14 out of 20 central members of the group in Norway are ex-cons, most of them with repeated offenses. That includes one of the administrators of the group, who was sentenced for a blind aggravated assault against an elderly couple he had never seen before, in their home, leaving the elderly man unconscious and broken before he beat up his wife. Meanwhile, their banner reads: "We make the city safer".
Living right next to what was recently turned into a refugee reception center due to the crisis in Syria, I must say I would rather share my neighborhood with people fleeing from war and extremism, than risk running into these criminal fascists in a dark back alley. The refugees are the people who shared Christmas dinner with our neighborhood church, who I pass when taking hikes in our nature, and who play soccer in the evenings wearing secondhand shoes collected by our local soccer-team. Please do not spread fear unnecessarily. Don't be a warmonger. Check your sources, and do reverse image-searches. If in doubt, check official statistics registries yourself for things such as the development of crime rates. Misleading posts being shared on social media promote fear and hate, feelings that are difficult to reverse even if people later find out that the sources came from creative spinning of statistics or satirical newspapers with plain hogwash, because when hatred has already been established independently of facts, people won't remember where it came from in the first place, and quite frankly, I don't think they care.
I am aware that writing publicly about this topic can be uncomfortable, as illustrated by the Norwegian author Bjørn Andreas Bull-Hansen who received death threats from the US after he wrote the critical blog post called "No room for racists in Valhalla". And writing this I am prepared to lose some followers, but in that case I consider it necessary riddance. I have so many more of you who share a sincere love of our history: you who use your free time learning and teaching crafts and techniques that are nearly extinct create beautiful music using historical instruments write educational books arrange and attend reenactment events and markets, to promote and educate tourists and schoolchildren about our culture plain and simple history geeks, and those just eager to learn more. I consider you the real supporters of Norse mythology and cultural history!
|The Eide Pouch||19|
Someday during the early iron age, around year 475, a burial mound was being built at Eide, Gloppen, in Western-Norway. The man who was to be laid there, a powerful and wealthy person, had been dressed in the finest red and brown clothing, with the most extravagant details and colorful tablet woven trims. He was laid upon a bearskin on a bed of birch bark, and on his journey to the afterlife he would bring a rich amount of grave goods, fully equipped with weapons and a range of various belongings. There he would lay for many years to come, the large mound placed by the edge of the highland, easily visible for those passing by on the fjord.
In year 1889, someone would come digging and brushing their way through the dirt, discovering what would become one of Norways larger, archological findings. Beside the man, who is now called the Eide or Evebø chieftain, there was a bronze scale, and a nifty little leather pouch containing seven weights of various sizes. Scales and weights are commonly found in graves from the Roman Iron Age throughout the Middle Ages. They were an important tool for the tradesman or woman, and would have been used for measuring valuables such as precious metals or spices. In the case of the Eide chieftain, it is also possible that they would have been used for legal purposes such as payment of weregild, overseen by a person of authority such as himself.
The pouch is stored in my hometown at the Bergen Museum, as depicted below.
(Photo credit: [email protected])
A simple and straightforward piece in between all the riches, its recreation is ideal for someone who like me had never sown in leather before. So I've made my own Eide pouch, using what I had available, soft goatskin, hand sewn with linen thread. Perfect for keeping valuables at historical markets as well as anywhere else in the daily life of modern vikings. In addition to being darker in color, I've made mine more rectangular, to be a perfect fit for my phone and cards *cough* I mean, my coins and weights!
The glass beads and bells are historical replicas of findings, I believe most of them are from Birka.
Do you do any crafts based on historical sources?
Hatling, S. H. (2009) "Gloppen i Folkevandringstiden. En Sosial Analyse av Evebøhøvdingen". Master's thesis in archeology, Department of Archaeology, History, Cultural Studies and Religion, University of Bergen
|Birkebeinerne (The Last King)||15|
Last weekend a group of my friends and I went to see Birkebeinerne (or "The Last King"), a new film about a piece of Norwegian history dated to 1204-1206, when the country faced civil war and two men of the opposition/rebel party "Birkebeinerne" (Birchlegs) found themselves protecting the late kings' son, Håkon Håkonsson, from being killed by the baglers. The two men, Torstein Skevla and Skjervald Skrukka, transported the child to safety in what was a tough and long journey during over the mountains in the harsh Norwegian winter. The story is strong and iconic, and well deserving of what I am sure will be an large international audience. The filmization has however, as one would expect, been criticized for lack of historical accuracy and compliance to the story. The opening screen indeed stated that this was a film inspired by historical events, thereby escaping some responsibility, though there were some ludicrous costume pieces that hurt my eyes, and in hindsight I realize that I need to do some homework on this one, and I am sure I will have more problems with the storyline after I get a chance to do so. But seeing that I hadn't read up on the history in particularly great detail beforehand (shame on me), I ended up really enjoying it. The beautiful music, impressive landscapes and skiing-scenes (and ridiculously pretty horses and men), didn't hurt either!
We wanted to make a night of it, so I invited them over for a sleepover at my house, and cooked a steak dinner with root vegetable mash, salt-baked potatoes, mushrooms, and mead.
And we dressed up, of course!
Vikings on the bus (Anja and I) ^^
The film has been sold to over 60 countries, so most of you should be able to enjoy it as well (at least sometime during late spring or early summer this year)!
On a different note, I'm reading a book tonight that is also to be made into a film this year, namely J. K. Rowlings' Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. What a nice and cozy read! It drew me right back into the Harry Potter universe, and I am looking forward to see how it transfers to the screen. It will be quite the display of visual effects, I expect.
When time comes, I think we'll have to make another night of it, and I will undoubtedly need to wear my Ravenclaw-scarf for the occasion!
|Thomas Lekfeldt: "The Vikings are Alive"||4|
As I archive old posts, but have been getting quite a few new readers lately, there are some things that call for reblogging.
You see, a few years ago, Danish photographer Thomas Lekfeldt (working for the newspaper Berlingske), visited a few viking markets, including some of the fighter-meetings in Denmark and us at Gudvangen by the Nærøyfjord in Western-Norway. He captured some of the atmosphere of the meetings, where viking reenactors from all over the world gather to live together for a week or so at a time, escaping the modern "clamor of the wagons" to spend time in nature and sleep under summer skies.
This resulted in a media-production with photography and sound recordings, combined with beautiful Icelandic music by Sigur Rós. Click here to read the article and here to watch the video, or see the embedded video file below (property of Berlingske.dk).
I could even spot myself there, wearing a brown linen dress in a few of the photos from Gudvangen, and the photographer kindly sent them to me, allowing them to be shared on my blog.
It should be mentioned that the viking reenactment society involves so much more than what can be captured by a camera. Not only in terms of the arts of historical craftwork, foods, music, sports etc. that were not covered in this production, but mainly in terms of the feeling of meeting fellow history-nerds and good friends (after what is usually a year apart), the joy of new friendships made, and new things learned.
|Níu man ek heima||2|
- Níu man ek heima, níu íviðjur, mjötvið mæran, fyr mold neðan -
I remember nine worlds, nine giantesses, the mighty tree, before the ground below.
First was the world in the south, which is named Múspell. A region of scorching heat, ablaze with fire. It is impassable to those who are outlanders and do not have holdings there.
There is a place in the skies, called Álfheimr.
There live the folk which we call Ljósálfar (Light Elves), fairer than the sun to behold.
In Vanaheim live the wise Vanir. Here Njörðr was created, he who was sold as a hostage to the Gods.
At the end of the ages, shall he return again, home to the realm of the Vanir.
The sons of Bor made themselves an abode in the middle of the world, which is called Ásgarðr. There lived the Gods and their kindred, and many events and tales have come from there to pass on earth and above.
Of Ymirs brows, the blithe Gods made, Miðgarð for sons of men.
The sons of Bor lifted the land, those who Miðgarð the mighty made
the sun shone from the south, on hall stones, earth was grown, with green herbs.
The edges of the earth are circular, and without lies the deep sea.
And by the end of the sea the Sons of Bor gave lands for the Jötuns kin to build.
The Dökkálfar (Dark Elves) live below the earth.
They are unlike the Ljósálfar in appearance and even more in behavior. Dökkálfar are blacker than pitch.
Óðinn cast Hel into Niflheim and gave her the power over the nine worlds, to share abodes between those who were sent to her those who were dead of sickness or age.
It was many ages before earth was created that Niflheimr was made.
And like all things cold were from Niflheimr and all things grim, so were all things from Múspell hot and light. But Ginnungagap, that lay between, was as mild as windless air. And ere the rime met the blaze of the heat, so that it melted and dripped, there awoke from the drops and the energy created, a man-like being.
The number nine is often found in historical manuscripts concerning the Viking Age, emerging as an important concept in Norse mythology. The nine worlds in the Norse cosmology are mentioned repeatedly (and more or less vaguely) in several sources, but no surviving manuscripts offer a clear overview or account of each of them.
The above is my interpretation and attempt to list each domain, but it will not be precise or absolute. There is some variation in names and locations of each world, and in their relation to each other. One example is Hel or Helheimr, which is also treated as a location in Niflheim. Jötunheimr could also be termed Útgarðr, or Miðgarðr and Ásgarðr as Mannheimr and Guðaheimr, respectively.
Based on the sources we have available, we can each form our understandings, but I think it is impossible to be very conclusive. I have ofttimes tried to construct the layout of the world tree, its roots and nine worlds in my mind, but there are inconsistencies that make it hard to draw up. Perhaps it is not to be analytically constructed at all. Or perhaps important sources are lost to us. But what can be said is that it is certainly an impressing universe, rich with personifications and metaphors that can tell us a lot about the culture of the time. And the descriptions above form an open invitation to the topic of the Norse creation myth, but that will have to be a different blog post. ^^
Text: Selected stanzas and excerpts from Gylfaginning, Vafþrúðnismál, & Völuspá, freely translated
Music: Heilung (Kai Uwe Faust) - Alfadhirhaiti
|On a rainy Saturday night||23|
Staying in with my long-eared friend on this stormy and dark Saturday night, listening to music while twiddling about and maintaining my Viking gear, fixing, scrubbing, rubbing, sewing, polishing and oiling.
Soo ready for the new season to start now (not talking about the tv-series, but hey, that too)!
I hope you are all having a good weekend ^^
The midwinter days - halfway between the first day of winter and the first day of summer in the old Norse calendar - call for the miðsvetrarblót.
People in the Nordic countries would celebrate and "drink Yule" long before Christianity was introduced, but the time of the feast was later moved to conform to the new religion as it entered the land and the laws of the countries.
In Saga Hákonar góða, Snorri Sturluson writes: "áðr var jólahald hafit hökunótt, þat var miðsvetrar nótt, ok haldin þriggja nátta jól" (meaning that "before, the Yule celebration would start with hökunótt, that is midwinter night, and was held for three nights").
The exact date of the Yule celebration in the Viking Age is unknown and disputed, but it has been argued that it was held around the first full moon after the first new moon after the winter solstice (and not at the winter solstice as commonly stated). According to this theory, Yule and Midwinter will be celebrated between January 5th and February 2nd., depending on the lunar phases, and thereby marking one of the quarters in the Norse calendar and the four main heathen feasts of the year.
I spent this weekend celebrating midwinter with a few good friends, in the snow-clad woods of beautiful Samdalen.
The temperature crept below -15°C, but we lit a fire and kept warm with sheepskins, mead and ale, salt-cured meat and sausages. We sat there and enjoyed ourselves for hours, under a the kind of starlit sky you only see when there are no streetlights around and you are surrounded by the darkness and solitude of the forest.
When we had used up all the fire-wood we had brought with us, and our hair and the men's beards had gone all white and frosty, we wandered back through the woods to the house, where we had warm moose stew while defrosting our toes and getting the feeling back in our fingers. I fell asleep listening to the others talking, and was woken up a few hours later only to be given a blanket and a pillow, and falling asleep again. What a lovely weekend!
Do you celebrate midwinter?
|Viking market calendar - 2016||9|
Time to start planning this years adventures of a lifetime our escapes into the culture of our past. We will have time off to live, work, create, fight, and teach during long summer days, feast under the starlit skies, and sleep in historical tents, on grass, in trees or cuddled in between warm sheepskins. We will meet up with people we haven't seen since last year, and discuss anything from big life changes to how this season's mead turned out.
And as usual, I can barely wait. I have made an overview of viking and medieval markets in Scandinavia in 2016, that is, all those I am aware of. Each of them is provided with a link for more information.
(Is your market or event not listed here? Please let me know and it will be added.)