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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The Shieldmaiden and Nordic Detectives


Hervor dressed like a man, fought, killed and pillaged under her male surname Hjörvard. She grew up as a slave, but when she finally found out that she was the daughter of Angantyr owner of the magic sword, Tyrfing, she set out to claim the sword as her rightful inheritance.

Hervor let nothing stand in her way. When none of her crew would dare to embark on the haunted island of Samsey, she did it herself. Approaching the fires above the ghostly grave barrows she summoned her father to reveal himself with such harsh words that her father’s voice commanded her not to pursue her quest for Tyrfing. She would not give in but shouted for her rightful inheritance.

At last the grave opened and in its center a fire was shining and there she saw her father. He warned her that the sword would bring death to the whole clan if she used it. This only made her words harsher. She persisted until at last the sword was cast out of the grave and she eagerly gripped it, bid farewell to her dead kinsmen and walked to the shore.

Her ships were gone, but she made her way to Gudmud of Glæsisvellir and taught the king to play the Viking board game of tafl. However, nobody could mess with her, and she killed a courtier when he tried to unsheathe Tyrfing after she left it unattended on a chair. So she left and resumed her Viking activities of killing men for money.

    

. . .More cheery in battle

Than chatting to suitors

Or taking the bench

At a bridal feast.

 

More on Hervor in my next posting.

Meanwhile, I’m reading Stieg Larsson’s hugely popular The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. By now I’d guess most of you have read it. And yes, it’s filled with the fatalism of the Nordic Saga. The Stoic methodical practicality of sifting through hundreds of photographs and police records. Dogged, monotonous procedures.
But it’s also filled with Lisabeth Salander, the embodiment of 21st-century shieldmaiden. None too ladylike, she seeks the only law available in tribal society, revenge.

My Indie Award winning novel is available at: http://www.amazon.com/Buffaloed-Fairlee-Winfield/dp/1439200998

Norse Viking of the Cat World


VIKING OF THE CAT WORLD — THE NORWEGIAN FOREST CAT

  1. Emerald green eyes with a band of gold.
  2. Tufts on paws.
  3. Long silky inner ear hair to deflect the wind and snow that gives this Viking her racing stripes.
  4. A long spun-silk coat to delight the touch.
  5. Magnificent tail that fans to twelve inches.

    Is the Norse name accurate? It sure is, skogkatt, meaning forest cat. A natural breed that came out of the Norwegian forest sometime in the last 4,000 years.

    These beauties must have been companions of Sif, the Norse grain Goddess and wife of Thor. How else was Sif to guard the wheat and barley from the Loki’s tricky rodents. They must have traveled on the knarrs and long boats to Siberia and Iceland.

    At the cat show last weekend I saw this Siberian, Russia’s native forest cat. Doesn’t it look a lot like our Viking? A descendent?

Published in: on December 21, 2009 at 10:33 pm  Comments (3)  
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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.

ANCIENT VIKING SHEEP STEW


You loved the Norwegian waffles, now how about something really Viking. Those guys on the Viking Facebook have been asking for it. ANCIENT VIKING SHEEP STEW because trouble always sets heavy on an empty stomach.

ANCIENT VIKING SHEEP STEW

Serves 75

Ingredients

  • 50 to 60 pounds fat lamb
  • 3 pounds white fat pork
  • 3 pounds smoked pork side meat
  • 50 to 60 onions
  • 3 tablespoons red pepper
  • 7 tablespoons black pepper
  • 10 tablespoons salt
  • 4 to 5 pounds of butter
  • 3 1/2 to four loaves of bread, broken into pieces 

Dress the lamb. Saw the sides from the backbone and cut the meat into smaller portions. Place meat in a kettle with cold water (the best is one of those big old black iron pots, about 30-35 gallons is good for outdoors). Start the fire. Add the finely cubed fat meat and side meat. Then add onion. When meat is tender, remove all bones, and add seasoning: taste to adjust seasoning. Add the butter and the bread.

To stir, use a pronged stick 5 feet long, or a long-handled fork. Stir enough to keep stew from sticking. When water is needed, add hot, not cold, water. Cook until thick enough to eat with a fork. This will take 6 hours or more. Serve hot. But, leftovers are good cold for breakfast.

Illustrated by Joachim Beuckelaer (Flanders, 1500 ad)

Published in: on July 19, 2009 at 9:20 pm  Comments (6)  
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LET’S TALK ABOUT SOME NORSE VIKING STUFF


The Serpent Jörmungandr

No, it’s not the Ouroboros.

Yes, it is the ancient symbol of a snake swallowing its own tail.

This is from Norse mythology.  Jörmungandr is one of the three monster children of Loki who grew so large that he could encircle the world and grasp his own tail in his teeth. 

Or, as in the legends of Ragnar Lodbrok, King Herraud gives a small worm to his daughter Ƃóra Town-Hart and it grows into a large serpent, encircles her cottage, and bites itself in the tail. 

Then, Ragnar has a son who is born with the image of a white snake in on eye. The snake encircled the iris and bit itself in the tail and the son is named Sigurd Snake-in-the-Eye. 

I.M. Buffaloed by what all this Viking mythology stuff means. My Norwegian grandmother never explained it. Can you tell me? 

I only know that most of the time I feel like poor Jörmungandr—devouring myself trying to write books, and market them, and do social networking all at the same time. Maybe I have a snake in my eye, like Sigurd.

Published in: on June 26, 2009 at 11:20 pm  Comments (9)  
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