Saturday, 28 September 2013
Strangely enough, the other reference to Mousa in saga-literature also involves an elopement. In ch. 93 of Orkneyinga saga the jarl Haraldr Maddaðarson sets off from Caithness to Shetland, intending to kill a certain Erlendr ungi who had proposed to Haraldr's mother Margrét, and been refused by her son. Erlendr takes Margrét to Mousa, where Haraldr attempts to ambush them, but finds it impossible to attack the broch. In the end, the two men are reconciled and become allies, and the couple get married. Having played her part in Northern Isles politics, Margrét is then out of the saga.
Although the Orkneyinga saga anecdote is set in a chronologically later period than the Egils saga story, I can't help wondering if the latter is modelled on the former. Orkneyinga saga is an earlier text than Egils saga, and we know that Snorri Sturluson read it (because it is mentioned in Heimskringla). So if he also wrote Egils saga (a big 'if', but certainly not impossible), then he might well have modelled his story of a romantic young couple on that of the slightly less romantic middle-aged couple. Or is it just that Mousa is such a romantic place that it spawned more than one fanciful tale of people's adventures there?