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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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.

JOHN STEINBECK’S PROPAGANDA NOVEL: The Moon Is Down


 

 

Viking Magazine’s recent issue on “The Unsung Hero of the Telemark,” reminded me that on April 9th, 1940, life changed for all Norwegians with the launch of Operation Weserübung, the invasion of their homeland by the Nazi’s. The country was taken entirely by surprise and it was a time of chaos for many Norwegians. Consistent with Germany’s Blitzkrieg doctrine, five divisions of Nazis invaded at once, Quisling was on the radio declaring himself Prime Minister and ordering all resistance to halt at once and the Norwegian military was left in a state of initial disarray due unclear mobilization orders from the government. The whole of the country was in a state of psychological shock from the Nazi invasion.

 

But did you know that John Steinbeck’s novel, The Moon is Down, was written as propaganda designed to encourage the resistance movement. In 1941, Steinbeck was working with a precursor of the CIA, the Office of Strategic Services (OSS). He was in close contact with refugees from Norway and Denmark and the information they gave him helped him decide what kind of propaganda to write.

 

Steinbeck’s method was far subtler than that of the overcooked rant. There are no heel-clicking Huns, no depraved, monocled intellectuals, no thundering sieg heils in his tale. Yet nothing can disguise the theft of freedom, and eventually the local patriots’ desire to regain their freedom impels them to resist.

 

In spite of the Nazis’ efforts to suppress The Moon is Down hundreds of thousands of copies of the Norwegian, Danish, Dutch, and French clandestine editions circulated during the occupation. Mere possession of it often meant an automatic death sentence.

 

 

 

 

Steinbeck’s explanation for the perceptiveness that made his propaganda so effective was simple. During his visit to Norway in 1946 to receive King Haakon’s medal, he stated, “I put myself in your place and thought what I would do.”

 

STEINBECK HAD A SURE SENSE OF AUDIENCE.

 

WHAT ALL US WRITER TYPES HANKER AFTER.

MORE NORSE AND VIKING STUFF: THE 13TH WARRIOR


Rethel the Archer

 

Enough of Steinbeck.  It’s these hot Viking types that are now giving me inspiration.  Here’s my favorite.  Rethel the Archer.  My gosh, he may be gray but he’s  not too old to be the 5th warrior to commit and take the bone from that nasty old seer, The Angel of Death.

Guess why I’m so taken with Rethel?  It’s because he keeps his mouth shut.  Only one line during the entire odyssey: “no wall, no moat, not even a presentable fence.”  And with this, he sums up the whole situation.  Bravo Rethel!

My saying for the day:  A book should be an axe to the frozen sea within us.   Some Viking should have said this.