Falconry in Viking-Age Europe


 


“They had hawks on their shoulders” ‘Their haufdu Hauka sina a oxlom’ (Rolf Krakes Saga)

 

The remains of hawks are found in the graves of men of importance from the Viking-Age, but after Greenland was settled by Erik the Red in 985, Greenland Gyrfalcons were sent back to Europe. They were so prized that only the highest ranking Kings could afford to own them. Lesser ranking Earls might sport a Tiercel Peregrine, Knights a Saker, Yeomen perhaps a Groshawk or Hobby, Priests had Sparrowhawks, Knaves, servants, and children were restricted to Kestrels. The Gyrfalcon became the cash cow export of the Greenlanders.

 

Recently a 2,500-year-old nest was discovered on a cliff in Greenland. The nesting site is still continually used and it’s the oldest raptor nest ever recorded. Three other nests over 1000 years old have also been found. One contained feathers from a bird that lived more than 600 years ago. It wasn’t easy for the Greenland Norse to capture these birds. Take a look at the cliffs.

 

And, take a look at the chicks! I’m happy there are laws about exporting captured birds today.

 

You can get BUFFALOed at:
http://www.amazon.com/Buffaloed-Fairlee-Winfield/dp/1439200998

 

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Published in: on April 1, 2010 at 8:03 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Ode to a Haggis


OK my good Norse friends. I. M. Buffaloed about your postings on my Facebook wall that you prefer HAGGIS to my menu for the Greenland Viking Feast. And I’ll never believe the rumor that the recipe came to Scotland on the longboats from Scandinavia.

Do you have any idea of what that Haggis stuff is? I can hardly even speak of it. It’s sheep’s puck. The heart, liver, and lungs of sheep all minced up with onion, oatmeal, suet, spices, and salt boiled together in the poor animal’s stomach for three hours. Oh dear! And up until now I thought I admired the Scots.

Here’s their menu for a Robert Burns’ traditional Scottish supper:

1 large Haggis

Neeps and Tatties (rutabaga and potatoes boiled and mashed)

A dram of Scotch whisky

I’ll need more than a dram to get through this supper! But consolation, we can read aloud from Scotland’s greatest poet. The poem I’m thinking of goes—something, something, and then—

“. . . Nine inch will please a lady. . . .” Burns was a great poet.

GREENLAND VIKING HOLIDAY FEAST – 1344


Magnus: Tie an apron over your best fur dress and get ready, Sigrid. Sixty people, sixty people! …and praise Thor,1 they’ll be here overnight. Your reputation as a cook will be tested to the limit. What have you got on hand? We’ll need at least 6 fat seals. Make a list.

Sigrid: 2 seals

Walrus meat leftovers I was turning into pemmican

1 seal, under the stones on the north side (the meat should be turned by now)

Magnus: That’s equal to about 4 seals. So I’ll need to beg a couple of seals from our neighbors; 2 seals from Hallgrim and 2 from Arne.

Sigrid: 13 bundles of caribou bones that are in the cold hole (hunters really enjoy the marrow)

2 rear legs of a good sized lamb

20 bundles of roots from the birch thicket

6 bundles of dried seaweed and algae

1 sealskin full of fermented birds (the kids’ll love them)

Guts from 8 seals stuffed with fat. These will be for snacks. I cut them into little thumb size pieces, and they’re the highlight of any meal.

And, for breakfast, Mangus, we have enough dried fish and butter seasoned with seaweed.

Mangus: We’ll need at least six of your soapstone boiling pots.

Sigrid: I only have four, but they’re getting warm now over the seal blubber cooking lamps. One has a crack, and leaks a little. I smeared grease on the inside, it helps, but we’ll need to do it all night.

Mangus: I’ll send the boys across the bay to get two more boiling pots from the neighbor. But what about the drinks?

 Sigrid: Bva, of course. It’s refreshing. I’ve already boiled the blood and I’ll mix it with the cold water just before serving begins.

 

1 Mangus has never adopted the true faith.

EDVARD MUNCH hears Columbus discovered America


Leif Ericson Day is approaching—October 9. All of us Nordic types are getting ready for big celebrations. It takes plenty of Goggling to make a celebration. So while looking through the great Viking ship stuff at http://media.photobucket.com I ran across the notorious Edvard Munch painting, Skrik, and I finally got it—Eddie’s true intention—the origin of The Scream.

It is a self-portrait. Here’s what happened. Eddie is walking down Ekeberg Hill above the Christiania harbor. He has just visited his sister Laura who is confined to a mental hospital. She’s manic depressive. Eddie only suffers from relentless melancholia. Anyway, as Eddie walks across the bridge he passes two guys. One says to the other, “History books all say that the Italian fugleskemsel, Christopher Columbus, discovered America!”

Well, suddenly the sky around Eddie turns blood red and the fjord and city become blue-black. He stands there trembling with anxiety and he senses an infinite scream passing from his bloodless lips and moving outward through all of Norway and beyond.