The Vikings

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The Vikings

Post  eddie on Tue Oct 25, 2011 5:16 pm

It's a new Viking invasion of Britain – but this time it's cultural

After the discovery of a Viking burial site in Scotland, Norse history and myths are the focus of a TV saga, epic novels and a major British Museum exhibition

Vanessa Thorpe, arts and media correspondent
The Observer, Sunday 23 October 2011


Joanne Harris, whose second novel in her Norse series was published this month. Photograph: Suki Dhanda for the Observer

Longboats, funeral pyres, glinting helmets and drinking horns: the discovery of a buried Viking boat in the west Highlands a few days ago has given an extra fillip to a burgeoning cultural fascination with all things Norse.

A succession of Viking literary sagas, films and television series, pieces of poetry and avant-garde art, not to mention preparations for a major British Museum show, are now all on the slipway.

More than 50 years after actors Kirk Douglas and Tony Curtis donned their woollen tunics for Hollywood blockbuster The Vikings, a television series of the same name and a TV version of British writer Neil Gaiman's Nordic gods-inspired bestseller, American Gods, are both in development. The Vikings, which picks up on interest aroused by Kenneth Branagh's recent action film Thor, is being produced and written by the team behind BBC2 series The Tudors, and will tell the story of Ragnar, the great Viking leader and his two wives and four sons, who travelled to Ireland, England and France. The semi-mythological figures of Ragnar and his sons were also at the centre of the Curtis and Douglas epic, but this 10-part drama will chart their conquests while aiming to correct misconceptions about Viking society.

American Gods, Gaiman's mystical cult saga, tells the story of Shadow and his dealings with a modern-day incarnation of the Norse god Odin, or Woden. Gaiman is far from the only popular fiction writer to tap into Viking myth. This month novelist Joanne Harris, the author of Chocolat, brings out the second book in her Norse series. Published by Random House and called Runelight, it follows the story of Maddy Smith, the heroine first established in her 2007 book, Runemarks, who together with Norse gods Loki, Thor and Odin has to prevent the end of the world.

Also joining the queue to pay tribute to the Vikings is new novel The Bone Thief. Author VM Whitworth, an Anglo-Saxon specialist, said: "The Viking age is fascinating because of its multicultural glamour. It's full of fast-moving heroes and heroines, and the constant clash of religions and cultures. Thanks to the Vikings, we can write a story that can plausibly take in Ireland and Arabia."

Perhaps the highest-profile arrival in Norse terrain is children's novelist Francesca Simon, author of the Horrid Henry books. Her imagination was sparked by looking at the Lewis chessmen, the 12th-century Scandinavian ivory pieces in the British Museum, and wondering what would happen if they came to life. "I decided that the Lewis chessmen were Odin's warriors, asleep and frozen until he summoned them at a time of great peril," she explained. Her book, The Sleeping Army, published by Faber, is the result of an abiding love of Norse stories. She is haunted, she said, by the inevitable final flood, fire and death battle, known as Ragnarok, that wipes out both the Earth and the gods.

Norse mythology is the collective term for the ancient legends of Scandinavia (Sweden, Denmark, Norway and Iceland) and one of its main sources is the Edda of Snorri Sturluson, a guide to Old Norse mythology and prosody written in the 13th century.

Modern British understanding of the Vikings has been skewed by the fact that surviving accounts were written by monks who suffered in their raids and invasions. It is a version of history that is to be counterbalanced in the major Viking exhibition coming to the British Museum in three years' time. The centrepiece of the show will be a 1,000-year-old longship, dragged out of Roskilde harbour, near Copenhagen. The 115ft-long vessel went down in a storm in the early 11th century, during the reign of Canute the Great, who united Denmark, Norway, southern Sweden and England in a Viking empire. It was discovered during a dredging operation in 1997.

As well as inspiring mainstream entertainment, Norse stories are behind the work of avant-garde Icelandic artist Gabriela Friðriksdóttir, whose exhibition in Frankfurt runs until early next year. The artist has frequently collaborated with Icelandic singer Björk, and her films in particular draw on the dream worlds she creates from Norse mythology. One room in the show, Crepusculum, uses a display of medieval manuscripts that had never left Iceland before. On calfskin parchment, they set out legends of knights and saints, as well as factual reports, law codes and almanacs. This summer at the Edinburgh arts festival the Exquisite Corpse Dance Theatre, from Newcastle upon Tyne, performed a work based on Norse myths to fringe audiences in Leith. Called Valhöll – Hall Of The Slain, it looked at Viking beliefs about conquest and warriors' afterlife.

© 2011 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved.


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Re: The Vikings

Post  eddie on Tue Oct 25, 2011 5:55 pm

Before my stubble turned grey, it was red.

Odd, because I have fair hair (what's left of it).

I conclude from this that I have a free pass into Valhalla.

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Re: The Vikings

Post  eddie on Tue Dec 13, 2011 6:14 am

Winter reads: Myths of the Norsemen by Roger Lancelyn Green

This re-telling of the Norse sagas delivers an icy gust from the distant kingdom of childhood

Richard Lea

guardian.co.uk, Monday 12 December 2011 14.08 GMT


'Grinding blocks of ice'. Photograph: Brennan Linsley/AP

"In the northern lands the summer is short and the winter long and cold. Life is a continual battle against the grim powers of nature: against the cold and the darkness – the snow and ice of winter, the bitter winds, the bare rocks where no green thing will grow, and against the terrors of dark mountains and wolf-haunted ravines."

So begins Roger Lancelyn Green's version for children of the Myths of the Norsemen, and a more wintry opening it's difficult to imagine. A deep seam of bone-chilling cold runs through these tales, from the "grinding blocks of ice" which become Ymir, "father of the terrible Frost Giants", to the "bare rocks and dark valleys" through which Thor travels en route to the castle of Utgard, from the "high, lonely mountains" under which Loki finds the dwarf Dvalin, to the Fimbul Winter which announces the coming of Ragnarok.

For the "much-enduring" men and women who lived in the north, Lancelyn Green continues, "it seemed that the very elements were giants who fought against them with wind, frost and snow as weapons". But despite the cruelty of this world, there was "love, and honour, courage and endurance … mighty deeds to be done and bards or skalds to sing of them".

Assembled from the Volospa, the Prose Edda, the Volsunga Saga and other ancient texts, Myths of the Norsemen tells the story of the world from creation to apocalypse, with plenty of daring feats and low cunning along the way. First published in 1960, it is in many ways a companion volume to Lancelyn Green's sun-dappled Tales of the Greek Heroes, published two years before. But, as the author explains in his introduction, Norse mythology is the opposite of Greek not only in terms of climate, or the scantiness of the surviving material, but also in its spirit, that "air of 'Northernness'" which makes it so appealing as nights draw in and the cold begins to bite. The sagas "all end in tragedy", he writes, "in the picture of the brave man struggling in vain against the powers of fate".

We hear how the world was made from the body of Ymir, held firm by the Ash Yggdrasil, of the first man and woman, Ask and Embla, and of the palace of the gods, Asgard, joined to the earth by the Bridge Bifrost, "which appears to men … as the rainbow". We follow Odin as he searches for wisdom among Dwarfs and men, in the land of the giants and among the Vanir who live "above the high top of Yggdrasil", and of how he tore out one eye so he could drink from the Fountain of Wisdom. We ride in Thor's chariot behind his goats Gaptooth and Cracktooth to enjoy the dubious hospitality of the giants in Jotunheim – rigged eating contests, crooked running races and all. We watch as the curse of Andvari's ring brings ruin to Sigurd and Brynhild, as Loki's evil Giant-nature slowly triumphs over his blood-brotherhood with the gods.

Looking back at it now it's striking how many of the women – Gunnlod, who lets Odin drink the Mead of Inspiration made from Kvasir's blood, or Freya, bewitched by "the shimmer and the gleam" of the necklace Brisingamen – are foolish sops for heroes and gods to rescue or outwit. And the pursuit of Odin, flying back to Asgard with the giant Suttung following behind as "a great black eagle, with mighty wings almost as big as those of Raesvelg, the Giant who made the tempests", is perhaps a little too close to that of Loki, returning to the palace of the gods chased by the giant Thiassi as "a mighty eagle, so great that his wings seemed to stretch across the sky". But Lancelyn Green's version is full of the grandeur and the suppleness of ancient stories.

Odin is one moment sly trickster, letting the giant Baugi's labourers kill themselves on their newly-sharpened scythes, and the next stern judge, decreeing that Freya must "wear ever the Brising Necklace" to remind her of her folly. Giants are, here, brutish thugs with evil in their blood, and there, "fair and lovely to look upon, with hair shining like gold" or even "wisest of all living creatures". Thor may disguise himself in dress, veil and hood like a panto dame to win back his hammer Miolnir, he may spend the night hungry and kvetching in the thumb of a giant's glove, or bring back a giant's kettle on his head, "the chains and pot-hooks rattling about his heels", but when he fishes, he fishes with a bull for the Midgard Serpent which encircles the world, when his hammer misses its target it cleaves a gorge in the mountainside, when he drinks at a horn which is joined to the sea he drinks so mightily that "the tides shall ebb and flow for ever more" in memory of the deed.

The saga ends in a vision of the tragedy which Lancelyn Green promised, with Thor poisoned by the Midgard Serpent at last, Odin devoured by the Fenris Wolf and the fire of the giant Sutur spread over the whole earth. But with the wind moaning over the chill plains and the wolves howling in the mountains, Odin returns to Asgard with a word of comfort and hope for gods and men. All I need now is to find a child still unspoilt by the bleak wit of Jeff Kinney or the souped-up scatological narrative drive of Dav Pilkey, a child who'll bear with my tattered 70s paperback long enough to hear it.

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Re: The Vikings

Post  Constance on Wed Dec 14, 2011 12:05 am

Mr.Wang at Chinese school reminded me on Saturday that the Chinese sailed west 200 years before Columbus and build settlements in North America.

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Re: The Vikings

Post  Constance on Wed Dec 14, 2011 12:09 am



Rowan Gavin Paton Menzies (born 14 August 1937)[1] is a retired British submarine lieutenant-commander and author. He is best known for his controversial book 1421: The Year China Discovered the World, in which he asserts that the fleets of Chinese Admiral Zheng He visited the Americas prior to European explorer Christopher Columbus in 1492, and that the same fleet circumnavigated the globe a century before the expedition of Ferdinand Magellan. Menzies' second book, 1434: The Year a Magnificent Chinese Fleet Sailed to Italy and Ignited the Renaissance extended his discovery hypothesis to the European continent. In his third book, The Lost Empire of Atlantis, Menzies claims that Atlantis did exist and maintained a global seaborne empire extending to the shores of America and India, millennia before actual contact in the Age of Discovery.

Mainstream historians dismiss Menzies' theories and assertions as fictitious.[2][3][4][5][6][7]

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Re: The Vikings

Post  pinhedz on Sat Jan 28, 2012 10:55 am


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Re: The Vikings

Post  pinhedz on Sat Jan 28, 2012 10:57 am


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Re: The Vikings

Post  pinhedz on Sat Jan 28, 2012 11:03 am

The largest Lutheran parish in the world is now located in Minneapolis, Minnesota:


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Re: The Vikings

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