Sunday, 27 April 2008

The Battle for Asgard


Today's Observer has a review of a computer game called Viking: Battle for Asgard. The blurb for it suggests the authors have a rather superficial understanding of Norse mythology... This trailer clip suggests a rather heavy influence from the Lord of the Rings films, but it does have a brief glimpse of quite a nice Viking ship...

Friday, 18 April 2008

Call Me Didda

I was once told that if I lived in Iceland, I wouldn't be called by my name, but that some nickname would be used, probably Didda. This Icelandic habit of nicknaming is explained in Iceland Review Online. It should be noted that, although bearing some vague connection with my real name, Didda can be used 'for any name', according to the article. So I remain a mystery!

Thursday, 10 April 2008

Viking Age Hoard Found in Sweden - No Fooling!


On the 1st of April, archaeologists working near Arlanda airport found a Viking Age silver hoard, deposited around 850 AD, containing many Arabic coins. The hoard was found during excavation of a much earlier burial site. See the report on the BBC website: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/7330540.stm

The Ice-Cream Ship Thor


On Tuesday, a replica Viking ship, made out of 15 million ice-cream sticks and called Thor, set sail from the Netherlands for England. There's a good video of it (and a short piece in Icelandic) here: http://www.mbl.is/mm/folk/frettir/2008/04/09/vikingaskip_ur_ispinnum/

Wednesday, 9 April 2008

Balestrand



Just a little plug for the delightful fjordside community of Balestrand, in Sogn, where I spent a few days on a recent visit to Norway. The place boasts both genuine antiquities, in the form of ancient burial mounds, possibly from the Viking Age, and lots of evidence of the 19th-century fascination with the period. So a statue of the legendary King Beli, who supposedly gave his name to the place, has been placed atop one of the mounds. Even more delightful is a pastiche stave church built in 1897, belonging to the Church of England (under the aegis of the Bishop of Gibraltar), where services are held in English during the summer season. The church was commissioned by an English lady who lived there and has, as well as many stave-churchy features, some nice Victorian stained glass depicting an array of saints appropriate to the medieval and British Isles theme: SS Margaret, Columba, Sunniva, Clement, Olav, Bride, George, Swithun and Halvard.

Living History


On a recent visit to Norway I discovered a magazine called Levende Historie ('Living History'), a kind of equivalent to History Today, but with lots more Norse and Viking stuff. The current issue (pictured) has an article by Claus Krag on Haraldr harðráði, a column by Dagfinn Skre on how to do archaeology and a brief item about the recently-published genetic study of the north-west of England (though the magazine gets it wrong: the Vikings did not found Liverpool!). There is also a website (http://www.levendehistorie.no/) on which older articles can be read, for instance this one on Óláfr Haraldsson (the Stout, or the Saint, whichever you prefer!): http://www.levendehistorie.no/levende/forside/raaskinnet_olav_digre

Boats and Vikings in the North-West


I've just discovered an undated account published by the Museum of Liverpool addressing the question of whether there really is a Viking boat buried under a pub car park at Meols, on the Wirral. This supposed find was in the news a lot last autumn: http://www.liverpoolmuseums.org.uk/mol/archaeology/fieldarchaeology/meols_viking_boat.asp
The same website has an interesting page on the Huxley Viking hoard originally found in 2004 and currently on tour: http://www.liverpoolmuseums.org.uk/mol/archaeology/pas/huxleyhoard/

Back to the Seventies



My other (better?) half suggests that I use this blog to bring an old album to the attention of Norse-and-Vikingists everywhere (thereby giving away his age in the process...). It's called Lucky Leif and the Longships and was made by Robert Calvert (ex-Hawkwind, for those of you who remember those halcyon days) in 1975. The title and the cover art say it all: it is a 'concept album' based on the Viking voyages to North America. But the songs are mostly really good (the album was produced by Eno), with lots of intertextual and intermusical references. Thus, fans of both the Beach Boys and skaldic verse will appreciate 'The Lay of the Surfers', either for its parodic refrain 'Ba Ba Ba Barbarians' or for its use of kennings like 'steed of the waves'.