Saturday, 15 January 2011


In a philosophical mood today, and reflecting, as I often do, why these Norse and Viking Ramblings are so important to me. Many wonder why I like cold and windswept places rather than the olive groves of, say Crete - not that I don't like those, quite the opposite, I love them. But warm and soft places just don't inspire me. So I'm really pleased to see some of my favourite places mentioned in today's Guardian, in a feature  in which the great and the good (professors, librarians, artists, authors) write about their 'Inspiring Views'. Greenland, North Yorkshire (Ribblehead), the Outer Hebrides (Harris) and the Lake District (Wasdale) all get a mention. Greenland is certainly much in the media these days, what with Stephen Leonard's reports from there in the Guardian, and Bruce Parry's BBC programmes on the Arctic, and I've noticed it's lately become a very popular topic with PhD students in Norse and Viking Studies. Greenland is certainly majestic, awesome and endlessly fascinating. But the wild, but quieter, places are perhaps the ones that really inspire, me at least. As Robert Rowland Smith says of Wasdale, 'there's the Viking church reminding you that you might at some point need mercy from all those towering forces gathered round'. Quite so. He's a philosopher, too, so perhaps excused not realising it isn't really a Viking church.

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