Music from the North

Among the Christmas cards I received in 2016 was one from Tone Holte, a dear friend of mine who shares my passion for and interest in Aud or Unn the Deep-Minded. The envelope also included a gift, a CD by Lyra fra Nord. Lyra fra Nord or ‘The Lyre from the North,’ an ensemble featuring Rolf Agaton, Tone Holte and John Vedde, focuses on medieval and traditional Scandinavian music. The group released its first album Det som bølger ut i havet (‘What waves might bring’) in December 2016.  Continue reading

Women – Key figures in medieval Sweden

In one section of the Swedish History Museum in Stockholm representing the Viking period, Swedish women are represented in one individual display case by a great number of keys found in various archaeological digs. Keys are everyday and familiar objects, that any of us carry with us or use as a part of our daily routines. These seemingly mundane objects carried a lot more meaning during the Viking Age as the title of the display case already suggests: “The woman – a key person.”

Viking-age keys on display at the Swedish History Museum, Stockholm.

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The lone scholar

Empress Matilda, 15th century

“I’m a poor lonesome scholar, I’m a long long way from college-home. And this poor lonesome scholar has got a long long way to roam. Over conferences and over libraries. From dawn ‘til day is done. My books and I keep aspiring, with the desk light on …

I’m a poor lonesome scholar, but it doesn’t bother me. ’Cause this poor lonesome scholar prefers books for company. Got nothing against e-sources, but I wave them all goodbye. My books and me keep aspiring. We don’t like being tied.

Lonesome scholar, lonesome scholar …”

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Traces of Vikings in Northern-Ireland

Display at the Ulster Museum, Belfast, Northern-Ireland.

‘Loose canons’ I muttered under my breath as I read the text announcing the Viking Age exhibit in the Ulster Museum. It was the last day of a five-day visit to Northern-Ireland. Since the weather forecast predicted the final day of my trip to be the coldest and wettest, I decided to keep a visit to the Ulster Museum in Belfast for my last day in the city. The Viking exhibit was a small one showing only a couple of artifacts found mainly in grave sites and hoards in the counties Armagh and Antrim. ‘Loose canons’ seems rather unfit for Vikings sailing to and trying to settle in Northern Ireland. Unlike the Southern part of the isle, where the Vikings established a first Viking kingdom as early as the ninth century, the Northern part of the isle experienced little or no troubles from the Vikings. This also explains the scarcity of Viking finds in this particular area.

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The Old Woman and the Sea

Iceland’s most renowned female settler was Aud the Deep-Minded. She was considered peerless among women, provident and wise, as witnessed by her epithet. She took leave of her husband and sailed to Iceland along with her crew. It is said that her settlement extended across all the valleys of Breidafjordur. Aud was a Christian and considered to be particularly noble and generous. She gave large estates in her settlement to her crew and made her home at the current church estate of Hvammur in Dalir. (Retrieved from: Air Iceland – Facebook)

About a fortnight ago, this quote — posted on the Facebook-site of Air Iceland — announced the naming of their new airship, a Bombardier Q400, after the infamous female settler Auður djúpúðga (‘deep-minded’). Air Iceland decided to organize a contest to name their most recent aircraft after one of Iceland’s own saga heroines who shaped the country and its culture. They wanted first and foremost to honour these heroines’ legacy. Other suggested names were: Arndis the Wealthy, Hallgerd Long-Pants, Thorun the Horned and Thurid the Sound-Filler.

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