April 16, 2020 — How did the Vikings have the fitness to fight when they drank a lot and ate plenty of meat? Well, to start with, they only drank mead and ale, and maybe wine if they went far enough south to get any. They didn’t have distillation. READ MORE »
March 2, 2020 — Viking raiding was more often than not a part-time occupation. The Orkneyinga saga (included in the Icelandic Flateyjarbók) describes the habits of one Norse gentleman by the name of Sveinn Ásleifarson. In the spring, he oversaw the planting of grain on his farm at Gáreksey (today a small island in Orkney, Scotland with the modern name Gairsay.) When the farming preparation was completed, he went off raiding in the Hebrides and Ireland, but he was back to his home on Gáreksey to take in the hay and the grain by mid-summer. READ MORE »
January 15, 2020 — The birth of Europe was anything but a smooth and effortless process. The region known as Europe today has been reshaped several times by centuries of wars, raids, and the falls and rises of petty kingdoms and vast empires alike. The most destructive, intense, and violent events that eventually led to the formation of modern-day Europe — even dwarfing the brutal onslaught of the sub-sequent Viking Age — occurred in a period roughly spanning four hundred years, from around 200-600s CE. READ MORE »
December 15, 2019 — The midwinter festivities of ancient Europe are often called Yule or Yuletide. Ritual celebrations were important and essential components in old times, especially in the Norse cultures because of the long dark winters in Scandinavia and Finland. The Norsemen held great feasts to venerate their ancestors, swear oaths, for fertility, and to celebrate seasonal shifts in nature.
Towards the end of the year, Vikings in western Scandinavia (and Varangians in the east) welcomed the new year through great feasting. These Yuletide celebrations hailed from a distant past, perhaps further back than the Bronze Age, and had thus been a recurring tradition since long before the Viking Age. READ MORE »
December 2, 2019 — If someone asked whether you’d ever seen a four-horned goat, you’d be forgiven for initially thinking it was the start of a joke. Few breeds are actually polycerate, a word used to describe sheep and goat mammals that can grow more than two horns (those who do often have their additional horns removed for commercial or safety purposes.) The rare Manx Loaghtan is different, because having four horns is actually one of its accepted characteristics, and the term rare isn’t simply a subjective designation. In fact, The Rare Breeds Survival Trust of the United Kingdom classifies the Manx Loaghtan as an at-risk breed, since there are fewer than 1,500 breeding females registered in the whole of Britain, spread across the Isle of Man, the Isle of Ramsey, and a few other nearby islands. READ MORE »
November 16, 2019 — Included on Draugablíkk’s recently released EP, the song “To Særkland and Back Again” is inspired by real events that took place in the Eastern lands of Særkland in the Viking Age. Historical sources describe how Varangian Rus’ (eastern Vikings) met betrayal, massacre, tragedy, and death on the Caspian Sea.
In the early 900s, Scandinavian Varangians ruled Kievan Rus’, the predecessor to modern Russia. People in the Viking Age knew the eastern Rus’ lands as “Garðaríki” (the Realm of Fortified Towns) and “Sviþjóð hin mikla” (Greater Sweden). The Varangians and the Rus’ primarily hailed from ancient Sviþjóð (Sweden), Eystra Gautland (Eastern Götaland, a “kingdom” separate from Sweden in the Viking Age), and the island of Gotland in the Baltic Sea. READ MORE »
October 23, 2019 — This picture, taken in 1904 by Norwegian photographer Olaf Væring, shows the Oseberg Viking ship excavation in Norway. The placename Oseberg literally translates to “Ásmountain” which in this context means “Burial Mound of the Æsir.” The Oseberg Viking ship is famous for many reasons, such as its beautifully carved ornamentation and possible connection to the mythological (but widely attested) Yngling dynasty. READ MORE »
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