Archives

Vikings early days: Dispossessed

The early days of Athelstan's journey

The early days of Athelstan’s journey

Because two men lack self control...

Because two men lack self control…

Note: I have noticed in browsing through other reviews and recaps of this early episode, Season 1- episode 3, that it does not get as much attention as I think it should? While it may not seem as event worthy as some other episodes, it sets the scene and the tone for the rest of the season and for the future. We see the depths of Earl Haraldson’s depravity, cruelty and madness beginning. We also see the shaky beginnings of some fragile form of friendship between Ragnar and Athelstan. This episode is where Ragnar shows the beginnings of his leadership qualities as well as his ability to see the world in broader terms than just raiding. In other scenes we can glimpse the lack of control in both Floki and Rollo, and we see how the behaviors of these men will be trials to Ragnar in the future.  It’s interesting to look back at this episode and see in retrospect how all of these events play into the future.

I fear it will be some time before I can safely get my messages out of this village. Earl Haraldson is becoming more and more paranoid as each day goes by. He is angered beyond control at the return of  Ragnar and his raiding party even though they brought back such treasures of great wealth. Ragnar’s success has put Haraldson in an worse light to the people. He has lost face with them and can not bring himself to change his ways of thinking. On their return, he confiscated all of the treasure and the boat, saying it was all his to begin with as he was the Chieftain here, everything belongs to him and we should all  be wise to remember that fact. He did relent somewhat and offered Ragnar a portion of the treasure. Ragnar chose not treasure but asked to keep the slave, Athelstan.

Ragnar with his treasure athelstan

ragnar with slave athelstan

Everyone was much surprised and many thought Ragnar a fool for this choice but he was insistent that this slave would be worth more to him than any small bit of treasure Earl Haraldson was willing to part with right now. The rest of the raiders were disheartened at not receiving their share of treasure after making the perilous voyage to earn it. It was a somber group afterwards and everyone departed with much grumbling to themselves about how this voyage had turned out and about Earl Haraldson’s treatment of them.

Ragnar takes Athelstan home

Ragnar brought Athelstan home and introduced him to his family… they were not overly impressed by this addition to their household!

gyda and lagertha

 

As some time went by, Athelstan struggled to adjust to  this new life… and he began to realize just what a precarious situation he was in. He had nothing left but his faith and remnants of it’s symbolism to hold on to- such as his shaved head that marked him as one of God’s men, but that mark was disappearing and he feared his faith would as well?

Athelstan in distress over his situation

Not that he was treated all that badly, because he was not. Ragnar and Lagertha tried to treat him as well as possible given the circumstances. He was indeed a strange one to all of them and they did not understand his odd ways at all!  When he was not helping them with the farm work, he spent most of his time with his treasured book. Late into the night, he would attempt to lose himself, or find himself within the pages of that book.  Often times, he would try hard to focus on the book and not the sounds around him at night…

Athelstan's book

Athelstan’s book

As I said, Ragnar and Lagertha made every attempt to treat him as they would treat other guests in their home?  They even went so far as to offer to share their bed with him!

ragnar and lagertha ask athelstan to join them

ragnar and lagertha ask athelstan to join them

Athelstan was  dumbfounded and much uncomfortable with this offer.

I am a monk I must refuse

I am a monk I must refuse

They did not understand his hesitancy and continued to tease and tempt him.

Come on you'll enjoy it

Come on you’ll enjoy it

He explained to them that he had taken a vow of celibacy, could not partake of such actions… he could not look at or touch a woman in such a way.

Wouldn't you like to touch a woman?

Wouldn’t you like to touch a woman?

Ragnar and Lagertha tempt him

They did finally give up and left him alone to seek comfort from his book!

 

While the Lodroks and Athelstan were adjusting to their new life situation at the farmstead, other not so pleasant things were happening in the village.  The first thing was the disappearance of a young boy? No one is really sure what happened to him but we are all certain that Earl Haraldson had something to do with it! The boy had mentioned earlier that Earl Haraldson’s man offered him a small payment if he would help him with a chore later that evening? The boy was never seen again and naturally when Haraldson and his man were questioned, they said they had no idea what the boy could have been talking about? Most likely he ran off on his own adventure?

What really happened that night made it evident that Earl Haraldson is crossing the lines and boundaries of any acceptable behavior. He decided to bury the treasure in a separate secret cairn or hoard. Now, it would have been acceptable for him to set the treasure aside to buried with him upon his death to take to Valhalla with him when he crossed the river… that would have been appropriate, understood and accepted. But, this separate burial in such a way as he did made it very clear that he was going by his own personal and skewed rationale rather than acceptable beliefs! It also proves just how vicious and cruel he was becoming!

While he has the young boy dig a pit for  him, he has a friendly conversation with the boy, encouraging him and putting him at ease. He asks the boy how old he is? When the boy responds with thirteen, Earl Haraldson mentions that is the same age as his son would have been?

 

men will soon be going on summer raids are you looking forward to joining

men will soon be going on summer raids are you looking forward to joining them?

digging a pit

digging a pit

 

He goes on to talk about the need to bury his treasure so it can accompany him on his death… and then mentions how the hoard need protecting now and in the next life.

the hoard needs protection in this life and the next

the hoard needs protection in this life and the next

The Earl’s truest motive and intent suddenly becomes quite clear even in the dark. The boy is slaughtered as a some sort of sacrifice or vengeance and left with the treasure, buried and secret!

You've already seen enough life boy

You’ve already seen enough life boy

Needless to say, the boy’s disappearance has set the village even more on edge than it was previously! There was a witness to this horrific event, that is how we come to know of it now, but that young one is too frightened to come forth. I do not blame this person, we all live in great fear of Earl Haraldson now. I believe his wife Siggy is as fearful as the rest of us but puts up a good front and face of it in order to keep herself on his good side. She is one who will do what ever it takes to survive and hold on to some semblance of her self worth.

 

 

Ragnar is most unaware of this disturbance as he has been at his home trying to gain the trust and friendship of Athelstan… He asks Athelstan about the importance of his book, of his God, and of England. Athelstan tries to explain all of it.

Athelstan explains England and his God to Ragnar

Athelstan explains England and his God to Ragnar

What are these souls?  I want to learn of all this.

What are these souls? I want to learn of all this.

 

Athelstan does not realize yet how cleverly Ragnar’s mind works? He shares all of his information about England with Ragnar only to have it used against him later.

This is what else the Earl has been up to in the village… it is the sight that greets Athelstan as Ragnar brings him into the village to a meeting with the Earl.

The other monks have been put to death

With this sight fresh on his mind, Athelstan kneels in fear as Ragnar forces him to while he meets with Earl Haraldson. Ragnar asks for permission to go on another raid to this England and uses the information that Athelstan shared with him to convince Haraldson. Athelstan is appalled at Ragnar’s action and tries to deny it’s truth. Haraldson does not believe Athalstan’s denials but agrees to Ragnar’s proposal only on one condition.

ragnar meets with haraldson

haraldson debates on ragnar's idea to go west again

haraldson debates on ragnar’s idea to go west again

He tells Ragnar that he can go only if Haraldson’s half brother Knut goes with them. Knut was the spy who betrayed them and did not show up to go on the first voyage. Ragnar appears unconcerned about this and agrees to the terms.

You can go only if Knut goes with you

You can go only if Knut goes with you

Later that evening, they pass the dead monks again.

going past the dead ones

going past the dead ones

Athelstan stops and kneels in front of them, refusing to go on… he most likely is feeling the guilt of betraying his country and causing future slaughter to all there.

Athelstan stops and kneels

Athelstan stops and kneels

There is a feeling that Athelstan would welcome his own death along with that of the other monks, but Ragnar does not kill him. In fact, he cuts him free and tells him to run if he so chooses?

he thinks he is about to die but Ragnar only cuts him loose tells him to run if he wants

he thinks he is about to die but Ragnar only cuts him loose tells him to run if he wants

Athelstan stands for a moment watching Ragnar walk away… What are his choices? He has seen what happened to the others, he would most likely not get very far before meeting the same fate. Does he really want to die with them? He has nothing, no where else to go so he chooses to follow Ragnar.

having no where else to go and in fear of everyone else he follows Ragnar

having no where else to go and in fear of everyone else he follows Ragnar

That night, Ragnar surprises Lagertha with the suggestion that she go with them on this raid?

Ragnar tells Lagertha he wants her to come with him on this next raid.

Ragnar tells Lagertha he wants her to come with him on this next raid.

Lagertha thinks he is meanly teasing her, “What about the farm? And the children?”

Are you jesting with me what about the farm and the children?

Are you jesting with me what about the farm and the children?

Ragnar tells them that Athelstan can help with the farm and mind the children. Bjorn is not amused… in fact he is disgusted and insulted that a slave should be put over him, the heir of the household!

bjorn insulted that a slave is put above him

Ragnar asks sweet Gyda what she thinks? “I don’t mind, I like the priest!”

What do you think Gyda  I don't mind I like the priest

What do you think Gyda? I don’t mind I like the priest!

Ragnar’s response, “There, it’s settled then!” Lagertha had a slightly different response?

If any harm comes to my children I shall rip the lungs out of your body!

If any harm comes to my children I shall rip the lungs out of your body!

 

This voyage would prove to be trouble from the very start! Beginning with the arrival of Knut on the boat.

knut does his duty to haraldson and spies on everything on the boat

knut does his duty to haraldson and spies on everything on the boat

Rollo’s short temper flares already… he does not trust Knut- to Rollo’s credit, he is well justified in that feeling?

Rollo does not trust knut and confronts him

Rollo does not trust knut and confronts him

Rollo’s warning to Knut… A war band lives and fights together. If you can’t trust the men to either side of you, behind you or in front of

you, you are already a dead man.

If you can not trust those around you. You are already a dead man

If you can not trust those around you. You are already a dead man

 

The rest of the voyage is uneventful this time, until they reach their destination?

Their arrival has not gone un noticed

Their arrival has not gone un-noticed

Lindisfarne793

north-britain-map-with-lindesfarne1

north-britain-map-with-lindesfarne1

Northumbria-in-802

Northumbria-in-802

sailing into Northumbria

This time they are met by a band of warriors not a group of pathetic priests.

This time they are met by warriors not priests

A careful and cautious greeting from the English leader.

A careful greeting  Who are you? What do you do here? Are you traders?

A careful greeting Who are you? What do you do here? Are you traders?

Athelstan’s English lessons have paid off and Ragnar is initially able to keep the peace and greet the English.

Ragnar tries diplomacy.  We're Northmen,  yes we are traders.

Ragnar tries diplomacy. We’re Northmen, yes we are traders.

He is making some headway in the conversation but having difficulty controlling a few of his men? One of those men would be his brother Rollo!

of course Rollo is distrustful and suspicious  it's a trap don't listen they will kill us

of course Rollo is distrustful and suspicious it’s a trap don’t listen they will kill us

Another one is the easily agitated floki!

Ragnar has to quickly try to diffuse the situation

Rollo will not be deterred, or silenced in his doubt? He continues to insist that it is a trap!

No it's a trap

No it’s a trap

The other men start to get edgy and doubtful as well…

I'm with Rollo I say we kill them now

I’m with Rollo I say we kill them now

The English Leader grows concerned and wary, asking what is wrong with that man, pointing to Rollo.

What's the matter with him?  He doesn't trust you

What’s the matter with him? He doesn’t trust you

The English leader attempts to offer a gesture of good faith and peace…

an offer of good faith and peace

an offer of good faith and peace

Would the peace offering work? Would Rollo calm down and be appeased for a time?

Will Rollo accept and be appeased?

Will Rollo accept and be appeased?

Well, it might have worked had it not been for Floki losing what little control he maintains over himself?

floki is on edge he is losing what little control he maintains

floki is on edge he is losing what little control he maintains.

Floki went over the edge, lost his control and turned berserker at the sight of a cross?

Bloodlust turns men berserkr

Floki ripped the cross off from the young man…

Floki breaks the peace rips cross of a soldier

Floki breaks the peace rips cross of a soldier

which sent both sides into a rage of panic!

Panic sets in swords are drawn

Panic sets in swords are drawn

There was a comment made of, “What are you doing? I thought we were trying to be friends…”

A battle begins

A battle begins

leaders try to stop it but it's too late

leaders try to stop it but it’s too late

Rollo loses his control and slays the one who was trying to keep the peace!

rollos strikes a blow

Now Ragnar is in the middle of a battle he tried to avoid, and because of his men who lost their self control, he must win this battle!

ragnar in the middle of a battle he did not want  now he must win

ragnar in the middle of a battle he did not want now he must win

A lone survivor escapes and rides away before he can be slaughtered with the rest of his group…

a survivor escapes

a survivor escapes

What remains on the shore, a slain English Nobleman warrior and a path of blood stretching out to the sea.

A nobleman warrior lies in a pool of blood The vikings have left a trail of blood into the sea

My thoughts on this event? Had two men, Floki and Rollo, been in more control of their thinking on this day- the outcome and the future may have taken a much different path? Floki is a wild card and one can never be certain exactly where his thoughts will lead his actions? As for Rollo… he is a loose cannon, as yet ruled by only his warrior mind and his inner resentments of his brother’s successes.  He often acts without thinking ahead of future consequences. As Lagertha wisely put it to him directly on one occasion,”you’re too great a warrior but perhaps not so great a man?”  I think there is a worth and greatness within Rollo but he needs to believe this too. Before Rollo can achieve that greatness, he must learn that there is more to being a great man than just being a mighty and great warrior? Perhaps he should look upon one such as Earl Haraldson to see where only being a great warrior can lead one to?

you're too great a warrior but perhaps not so great a man

you’re too great a warrior but perhaps not so great a man

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vikings Saga: Early days, The Wrath

I must write quickly now, so much is happening so fast that it is difficult to keep up with it all.

Ragnar and his men have left on their “secret” journey… but, as I have said previously, this is a small village and nothing stays secret for very long.  The Earl has spies everywhere and trusts no one… not even his wife, I think- though she does everything in her power to reassure him of her loyalties to him.  The village is quiet and all are on edge worried about the men and about Earl Haraldson’s cruel vengeance. Those in the Earl’s household will all go to great and desperate lengths to keep on his good side. For me, I try as best I can to stay out of the way of him. I think he is suspicious of me probably just because I am a new comer here so anything that goes awry could be blamed upon me as well as those men who have betrayed him. Even Siggy has mentioned that it might be best if I remain well out of his way during this time so as not to bring his anger towards me.

The Earl of course, knows full well of the voyage. As I said his spies are everywhere. His brother in law, Knut pretended to be willing to go along on the voyage and reported everything back to the Earl. One of the housecarls also reported the ship’s leaving to the Earl. That housecarl, Olafur proved he was otherwise disloyal to the Earl though and met a very bad end for it. The Earl caught him looking at and admiring Siggy, he suggested that if Olafur was wanting to bed with Siggy it could be arranged? That fool man was so gullible as to fall for the Earl’s trap. He was invited to Siggy’s bed and then killed for his disloyalty.  I do think the Earl is beginning to tread down the path of irrational madness…

At the Lodbrok farm, Lagertha is still angry, very angry at Ragnar for going on this adventure, and going without her. Ragnar made light of her desire and laughed at her suggestion that she go along. “Who would mind the children? Oh, I know, I shall stay here to cook and clean and tend to them while you go off to fight?” He disregarded her feelings on all of it and in the end he simply declared that she would stay at home on the farm in case Earl Haraldson should grow suspicious and attempt to take their land away.  She is up at the farm with the children, very discontent about all of this. Earl Haraldson did send men to inquire about Ragnar’s whereabouts, to which she made excuse that he was off trading for a few days. 

Earl Haraldson on one hand said he was unconcerned about this voyage because it was doomed anyway, a wild fantasy and those men would all perish at sea, on the other hand though, he was furious that people of his village had so defied him and listened instead to the ideas of Ragnar. He set about finding those involved in the secrecy and punishing them to show what disobedience to him would bring. The blacksmith who forged the anchor of Ragnar’s ship was confronted by Earl Haraldson and his men. At first he denied forging any anchor, but when Svein was about to seize his daughter, he gave in. Earl Haraldson ordered him to look at the flames in the firepit and asked what he saw. When the blacksmith answered that he saw his death, Svein pushed his face in the fire despite the blacksmith’s daughter pleading to leave her father be. It was a brutal and vicious reminder to us all not to cross Earl Haraldson. We all tread very quietly,  carefully … and prayed to the Gods that Ragnar and his men would return home soon.

Thank the Gods they did return safely! I will share their story as they told it, and as the newcomer to the village shared his own version of it?

The journey was a perilous and treacherous one for the men, as it was their first experience in this new boat and being out so far on the open sea. They were be set by a storm of great proportions and feared that they would all perish as Earl Haraldson had predicted.  In the worst of the storm, Rollo voiced his doubts and said the God Thor was angry with them and would strike his hammer to sink them all into the sea. Floki replied however, that Thor was not angry. Thor was celebrating their victory and their boat! Floki was so excited that he forgot he could not swim as he danced around the boat in the middle of the Storm!

Floki sit down remember you can't swim

After the storm, Ragnar ordered the ravens they took with them to be released. If they return quickly there is no land, if they don’t come back they have found land. When they heard the flapping of bird wings, Ragnar thought the ravens returned and his journey is in vain. However, the birds turned out to be seagulls, indicating they are close to the shores of England.

They set ground upon a place called Lindesfarne.  I do feel I need to add a thought here, a very serious and troubling one… one just as troubling as the thought of us travelers in some way affecting or influencing the path of history? I am beginning to feel that something else is very slightly off setting here. Could this time portal have taken us to some slightly different yet parallel version of our world??? There are just these odd discrepancies that show up and do not quite follow what we know as fact about our time line, our history. One of them is of course this event by Ragnar and his men that took them to Lindesfarne.  By all rights, from what we know, Ragnar and the Danes raided in further south areas such as this map shows. The Norse Viking raids were in the more northern portions. I know that we tend to think of them all as one group, but in reality, they were two separate groups with much the same intents. I am pointing these oddities out in my reports so that your researchers are aware of such discrepancies and can look deeper into it.

Lindisfarne793 northumbria modified rl 2

Lindesfarne was a holy Island inhabited by Monks since back to the 6th century.

In 793, a Viking raid on Lindisfarne  caused much consternation throughout the Christian west and is now often taken as the beginning of the Viking Age. The D and E versions of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle record:

In this year fierce, foreboding omens came over the land of the Northumbrians, and the wretched people shook; there were excessive whirlwinds, lightning, and fiery dragons were seen flying in the sky. These signs were followed by great famine, and a little after those, that same year on 6th ides of January, the ravaging of wretched heathen people destroyed God’s church at Lindisfarne.

The generally accepted date for the Viking raid on Lindisfarne is in fact 8 June; Michael Swanton writes: “vi id Ianr, presumably [is] an error for vi id Iun (8 June) which is the date given by the Annals of Lindisfarne (p. 505), when better sailing weather would favour coastal raids.”

Alcuin, a Northumbrian scholar in Charlemagne‘s court at the time, wrote:

Never before has such terror appeared in Britain as we have now suffered from a pagan race. . . .The heathens poured out the blood of saints around the altar, and trampled on the bodies of saints in the temple of God, like dung in the streets.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lindisfarne

I will share the event as it happened from both points of view as I have recently heard both sides of the story.

Their ship cleared the storm, came out of the mist, and the men saw off in the distance, their first glimpse of the new land.

ship in the mist first sight of the western land lindisfarn monastary

The isle of Lindesfarne was home to a monastery, whose monks were famed and honored for their writing/transcribing skills and their illuminated transcript.

Lindisfarne-ep2

During the worst rage of the storm, the Monks attempted to calm themselves in prayer and chantings…. One young monk could not so easily be calmed. He kept insisting that the end was near, he could feel it…

a storm is coming to lindisfarne

Athelstan goes to the Father of the monastery to tell him Judgment Day has come. The Father does not want to hear of it and orders Athelstan to go back to his dormitory to pray God for forgiveness, as everything will be well when the storm passes.

Monks pray for salvation

The storm does pass, or so they think? One of the monks is walking along the beach and spies the boat coming from the mist. He runs to warn his brethren, who take shelter from the coming intruders.

an unseen storm in the mist

the storm arrives

Ragnar and the others march up to the Monastery, expecting and looking forward to a battle…They have been cooped up on a boat for a long time and are ready to fight!

the storm marches inland The storm hist Lindisfarne Monastary and walks through the door

This odd, not what they expected at all? These strange men cowered in their building not even trying to defend or protect themselves!

 

Ragnar was surprised and puzzled by these men on their knees with their heads bowed, chanting in their strange language. Rollo was disgusted with their feeble reaction and refusal to even defend themselves. He lost control of his short temper and killed the leader of the group. Panic erupted amongst the monks and they were quickly slaughtered by the men while Ragnar solemnly stood by watching.

Ragnar puzzled and a little disappointed at the reception

The Vikings were expecting at least some sort of fight

The Vikings were expecting at least some sort of fight

Not much of a fight

Ragnar went on to search through the buildings with a few of the men. They came upon a strange sight. A room filled with treasure, all left out in the open, unguarded or protected.  Ragnar is puzzled but delighted with this find. All of this treasure just sitting here for the easiest taking that they had ever encountered! Still, it was strange was it not?  Surprised the treasures are left in the open, Leif wonders if their God protects it somehow?

Treasure found right out in the open

Treasure found right out in the open

No women, no mead, no worthy fight 

their god's treasure

their god’s treasure

Ragnar wanders around the room looking at the treasures and then looks up at the adornment on the wall. His comment on all of it is, “This is their God dead nailed to a cross he can’t protect anyone what good is he?”

This is their God dead nailed to a cross he can't protect anyone what good is he

This is their God dead nailed to a cross he can’t protect anyone what good is he

While the men wandered around the room gathering treasure, Ragnar spied something else… he found a young monk hiding in the corner holding tightly to another strange treasure, a book!

 

An even stranger treasure a book

An even stranger treasure a book

Even more surprising and puzzling to Ragnar, this young monk spoke their language?

and the treasure speaks their language

and the treasure speaks their language

Unable to control his frustration, he confronted the monk with harsh comment, ” Of all the treasures here, you chose to save this thing…Why?”

of all the treasures here you chose to save this  Why

of all the treasures here you chose to save this Why

 Ragnar asked Athelstan about the. It is the Gospel of St. John.  Ragnar wanted to know why the monk chose to protect that instead of any treasures, Athelstan answered that without the word of God there could be only darkness. Rollo entered the room, saying it was a strange place with only men. When he notices Athelstan, he insisted on killing him but Ragnar forbade it. He thought  the monk was worth more alive than dead. Surprised, Rollo insisted that they are equals and tried to kill Athelstan anyway.  Ragnar pushed him  back, causing Rollo to angrily chop the Crucifix in the room in pieces and tell Athelstan that is how much he respected this God!  Meanwhile, Floki enters a room with many holy papers. Unable to read the odd writings, Floki burnt one of them eventually set the Monastery on fire.

Floki finds more strange writings Look how easy it burns floki paper and fire

The monastery was destroyed along with most of the valuable works within it at the time. Althelstan was taken as slave along with a few other surviving monks and was brought back here to Kattegat.

leaving Lindisfarne with their treasure Athelstan the monk the slave the friend the peacemaker between two worlds

Ragnar with his treasure athelstan

I will write more about their return and the consequences of it later. For now, I just want to share that this Athelstan is in possession of one of the remaining books from Lindesfarne. I believe it may be a portion of the highly important and valuable relic books, The Lindesfarne Gospels? He states that he holds the Gospel of St. John and values it above all else, keeping it close to his person at all times. I have not wanted to call undue attention to myself or cause any further suspicions regarding my situation, or his, so have not asked to see the book as yet. I can not determine whether it might be one of the original portions of the books, or a copy that he might have transcribed for himself.  I do have concern that is could be another of those oddities or slight discrepancies which I referred to earlier.

Lindesfarne Gospels: The Lindisfarne Gospels is a Christian manuscript, containing the gospels of Matthew, Luke, Mark, and John and the life and teachings of Jesus Christ. The manuscript was used for ceremonial purposes to promote and celebrate the Christian religion and the word of God (BBC Tyne 2012). Because the body of Cuthbert was buried in Lindisfarne, Lindisfarne became an important pilgrimage destination in the 7th and 8th centuries and the Lindisfarne Gospels would have contributed to the cult of Saint Cuthbert (BBC Tyne 2012).

The Lindisfarne Gospels manuscript was produced in a scriptorium in the monastery of Lindisfarne. The pages of the Lindisfarne gospels are vellum, made from the skins of sheep or calves and evidence from the manuscript reveals that the vellum used for the Gospels was made from calfskin.  The text of the manuscript is written “in a dense, dark brown ink, often almost black, which contains particles of carbon from soot or lamp black”.  The pens used for the manuscript could have been cut from either quills or reeds, and there is also evidence to suggest that the trace marks (seen under oblique light) were used by an early equivalent of a modern pencil. Lavish jewellery was added to the binding of the manuscript, now lost, later in the eighth century.

There is a huge range of individual pigment used in the manuscript. The colours are derived from animal, vegetable and mineral sources.  While some colours were obtained from local sources, others were imported from the Mediterranean, and rare instances such as lapis lazuli would have been imported from the Himalayas.  Gold is only used in a couple of small details.  The medium used to bind the colours was egg white, but it could have also been fish glue in certain places.  Backhouse emphasizes that, “all Eadfrith’s colours are applied with great skill and accuracy, but…we have no means of knowing exactly what implements he used”.

The manuscript’s pages were arranged into gatherings of eight, and once the sheets had been folded together to make a group of pages, the highest page was carefully marked out by pricking, which was done by a stylus or a small knife.  The holes were pricked through the gathering of eight leaves, and then each individual page was separately ruled for writing with a sharp, dry, and discreet point.

The Lindisfarne Gospels are impeccably designed, and as Backhouse points out vellum would have been too expensive for ‘practice runs’ for the pages, and so “preliminary designs” may have been done on a wax tablet (a device that is hollowed out wood or bone with a layer of wax). Wax tablets were an inexpensive technique to create a first draft because once the sketch was presumably transferred to the manuscript the wax could be warmed and flattened for a new design or outline.

Due to Viking raids the monastic community left Lindisfarne around 875, bringing with them Cuthbert’s body, relics, and books including the Lindisfarne Gospels (BBC Tyne 2012) and the St Cuthbert Gospel. It is estimated that after around seven years the Lindisfarne community settled in the Priory at Chester-le-Street in Durham where they stayed until 995 (where Aldred would have done his interlinear translation of the text).  After Henry VIII ordered the Dissolution of the Monasteries in 1539, the manuscript was separated from the priory.  In the early 17th century the Gospels were owned by Sir Robert Cotton (1571–1631) and in 1753 became part of the founding collections of the British Museum.

Lindisfarne_Gospels luke

Lindisfarne_Gospels luke

lindesfarne gospels Matthew

lindesfarne gospels Matthew

Lindisfarne_Gospels John

Lindisfarne_Gospels John

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lindisfarne_Gospels

I only voice my thoughts and wonderings here because it has been pointed out that he was found in the relics/treasury room holding on to the book for dear life in attempt to protect it. He is more concerned much of the time about the safety of the book than he is about his own safety. Whether he treasures it now because it is his only link to his previous life and faith or because it is even more important than anyone here realizes, understands or cares about is unknown. Even if it is only a copy he has written for himself, it would still hold much value and importance as a remaining book from Lindesfarne. 

 

The young man is in much dire circumstances and danger right now. His fate will be decided soon as Earl Haraldson calls for a meeting to decide the fate of all involved in this voyage. I worry that his wrath will be harsh and cruel to all.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vikings: The Early days in Kattegat

Previous Vikings post:  https://timeslipsblog.wordpress.com/2015/01/11/viking-saga-the-beginnings/

mrs graham3

To Mrs. Graham of Crag na dun Time Travels,

My dear Mrs. Graham, I am writing this short message for you and sending it along with those travelers returning to your time. I will continue to update you in this way for as long as possible. If anything should happen to me along this journey, I am sure that the group will make every effort to inform you as quickly as they can. I am reasonably settled for now in the household of Earl Haraldson and his wife, Siggy. I am not at all sure whether it is really such a good place to be but for the time being it is relatively safe and I am comfortable. I have met a young woman named Helga, who is helping me to fit in here and make the acquaintances that are necessary for our research. Your associate, Gunnar has been a great help as well, though I sometimes think he doubts my ability to handle this assignment. Young Helga seems doubtful too, about my abilities? She does not think I am quite capable of training to become a shield maiden, or a farm help… or much other help, I fear. She has advised that I remain within the Earl’s household for now and learn what I can there? I do think that she and some others, of whom- I am not sure yet, are using this to their advantage so as to know more about what goes on with the Earl and his wife? It seems there are many here who are not so fond of their overlord and do not trust him. I understand their misgivings, as I do not truly trust him either, nor do I entirely trust his wife, Siggy. But, so far, she has treated me well so I can not fault her for that.

Vikings episode one recap:

I am lucky that  Gunnar was able to provide good reference and status for me to enter this household and be more of maid and some time companion to Siggy and her daughter, Thyri. They are often busy with their own activities and have no need of me so I do have some free time.

Thyri, daughter of Earl Haraldson and Siggy

Thyri, daughter of Earl Haraldson and Siggy

Siggy and daughter

Siggy and daughter

Right now it is quiet here. The men of the village have returned from their summer raids to the east in the Baltic areas. They were successful but do not bring back as much as Earl Haraldson had hoped for. The men complain that this is because those areas are poorer and poorer each year and there is little left to raid for. It will all be discussed at the soon coming Thing.

Thing:

In the pre-Christian clan-culture of Scandinavia the members of a clan were obliged to avenge injuries against their dead and mutilated relatives. A balancing structure was necessary to reduce tribal feuds and avoid social disorder. It is known from North-Germanic cultures that the balancing institution was the thing, although similar assemblies are reported also from other Germanic peoples and others.

The thing was the assembly of the free men of a country, province or a hundred (hundare/härad/herred). There were consequently hierarchies of things, so that the local things were represented at the higher-level thing, for a province or land. At the thing, disputes were solved and political decisions were made. The place for the thing was often also the place for public religious rites and for commerce.

The thing met at regular intervals, legislated, elected chieftains and kings, and judged according to the law, which was memorized and recited by the “law speaker” (the judge). The thing’s negotiations were presided over by the law speaker and the chieftain or the king. In reality the thing was dominated by the most influential members of the community, the heads of clans and wealthy families, but in theory one-man one-vote was the rule.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thing_(assembly)

Everyone is busy planning for this gathering and there is not much for me to do as Siggy is well competent and skilled in her handlings of such gatherings. She gave me leave to spend some time with Helga to visit the area families and farms.  I have had chance now to meet the family which you are so interested in. Ragnar Lodbrok and his brother Rollo have returned from their raiding. Ragnar is a farmer when he is at home. He lives up in the hills with his wife, Lagertha and their two children, Gyda and Bjorn. They seem like a nice enough young family?

young bjorn with mother and sister vikings_gallery8_3-P

30sixty Advertising

I have made the trip up to their farm a few times now, and I begin to wonder how happy they really are? Ragnar does not seem content or helpful as a farmer… He is most often off wandering through the woods and visiting others, leaving most of the farm work to Lagertha and the children. Lagertha is busy trying to look after the children and the farm, and often she does not seem all that happy either? There is talk that she used to be an honored and fierce fighting shield maiden but now she is tied down to the farm while her husband continues to go off on raids. From some her comments, I gather that Lagertha would much prefer to be raiding and adventuring with the men! I am sure that she loves her children and is willing to give up anything for them but I think that she must feel much frustration and disappointment with the path her life is on right now. To have given up her previous life as a warrior to settle as farm wife is not how I think she envisioned her life’s path…

Shieldmaiden: A shieldmaiden (Old Norse: skjaldmær, Danish: skjoldmø, Norwegian: skjoldmøy, Swedish: sköldmö, German: Schildmaid) was a woman who had chosen to fight as a warrior in Scandinavian folklore and mythology. They are often mentioned in sagas such as Hervarar saga and in Gesta Danorum. Shieldmaidens also appear in stories of other Germanic nations: Goths, Cimbri, and Marcomanni.  The mythical Valkyries may have been based on the shieldmaidens.  The existence of shieldmaidens is heavily debated but scholars like writer Lars Magnar Enoksen and scholar Britt-Mari Näsström  argue evidence for their existence, while scholar Judith Jesch disagrees citing lack of hard evidence.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shieldmaiden

Lagertha shieldmaiden

Lagertha:

Lagertha was, according to legend, a Viking shieldmaiden from what is now Norway, and the onetime wife of the famous Viking Ragnar Lodbrok. Her tale, as recorded by the chronicler Saxo in the 12th century, may be a reflection of tales about Þorgerðr Hölgabrúðr, a Norse deity.

Her name as recorded by Saxo, Lathgertha, is likely a Latinization of the Old Norse Hlaðgerðr (Hladgerd).  It is frequently rendered in English-language sources as “Lagertha”, and has also been recorded as Ladgertha, Ladgerda or similar.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lagertha

640px-Lathgertha_by_Morris_Meredith_Williams

Lathgertha_by_Morris_Meredith_Williams

 

 

 

Young Bjorn is caught in the middle of his parents frustrations and quarrels, tries to play the peacemaker, and is impatient to be grown! Gyda, the daughter is a quiet girl who wants to please her family in any way possible. She is a sweet girl and loved by all of her family.

As I mentioned, neither Ragnar or Lagertha seem all that happy with their current situation, though they by all rights should be? They have a nice solid farmstead, a piece of land of their own- which many do not have. They have been blessed with two fine children, life should be good for them… they should be happy and content with what they have. They are both stubborn,  fiercely prideful and frustrated with their lives. Their quarrels are as fierce as they are and often young Bjorn is literally stuck in the middle, trying to keep the peace!

Bjorn tries to break up the fight

Bjorn tries to break up the fight

Bjorn in the middle of the fight

Bjorn in the middle of the fight

This family and household does not seem to be quite as happy as it appear on the surface?

There is also something else going on in this home… something that has to do with brother Rollo?  Rollo is as stubborn and fiercely prideful as Ragnar and Lagertha, and it turns out that he also has some not so brother-in-law type of feelings for Lagertha. There is some reference to the past and to Lagertha’s time as mighty shield maiden, as well as a hint that there may have been some sort of relationship or what ever one might want to call it, between Rollo and Lagertha in the past? Rollo still harbors feelings for her and Lagertha makes it clear that there is nothing going to happen again between them.

rollo and lagertha2 rollo's response to lagertha

you're too great a warrior but perhaps not so great a man

you’re too great a warrior but perhaps not so great a man

Lagertha’s last comment to Rollo definitely stung his pride! Yes, there is certainly some sort of turmoil going on in this family!

Lagertha is also upset with Ragnar because he is taking Bjorn to the Thing this year to have his manhood ceremony. She thinks he is too young and can wait another year for it, but Ragnar pays her no mind and takes the boy anyway. She must have been very upset because she did not go down to the village for the event!

Bjorn receives his arm band and becomes a man!

Bjorn's manhood ceremony

Besides the manhood ceremony- which was of course a highlight of the gathering, at least for Bjorn, there was then serious discussion about the raids for the next year. Ragnar got himself into much trouble with suggesting that they try going west instead of east? He went into a lengthy explanation of what he had heard about lands in the west and was scorned, and also warned by Earl Haraldson, who wanted to hear none of such nonsense!

you are a farmer you should be content

you are a farmer you should be content

Earl Haraldson warns Ragnar in very clear terms that he will do as he is told… You are a farmer, you should be content. He suggests that should Ragnar not follow his orders, that piece of land that he owns could easily go to someone who is loyal and obedient to him!

Ragnar, being the stubborn one that he was, was not dissuaded by Earl Haraldson’s threats. He set about a plan to do things his own way and prove Earl Haraldson wrong…

I must confess here that I have concerns about a few things that Ragnar had in his possession? He stated that he received them from a traveling wanderer, and I have to wonder if one our travelers set in motion this whole event? Could he have received these two very important and very curious items from someone in our time traveling group?

Ragnar had two very mysterious and curious objects which he felt would help them easily navigate their way to those lands he had heard of in the west.

A water compass: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/03/26/viking-compass-medieval-mariners-navigate-sunset_n_5036240.html

all signs point to land

 

And, the second item, a sun stone… which Rollo was even more skeptical about than the water compass!

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sunstone_(medieval)

sun stone sun stone at work

Lagertha’s initial response to Ragnar’s idea….

Ragnar and the rock3

Ragnar was determined that these items and one other thing would be their key to getting to that new land. The other thing was a new and different type of boat that his friend, Floki was building. Where did Floki get his ideas for this new kind of boat? He said it came from the Gods as visions, but there were times when Floki didn’t seem as sure about his boat idea as he had insisted in the beginning? Could one of our travelers have influenced this strange man as well?

floki and bjorn I joke about many things but never about ship building

floki and bjorn: I joke about many things but never about ship building!

Ragnar took all of his earnings from the year’s raiding and sank it into this boat building scheme… He put his trust in those two odd items from a wanderer and strange visions from a strange man! He planned a secret trip to this new land and convinced some of his friends to go along on the promise that they would split the rewards evenly between them.

Floki built his boat, then was amazed that it actually worked!

sucess with the boat testing the boat

The group eventually set sail for this adventure thinking that no one would find out? Really, Ragnar… this is a very small village, when half the men suddenly go missing for a length of time, of course people are going to know about it! Earl Haraldson is not too concerned however, because he says that will most likely be the last they ever see of those foolish men!

setting sail from kattegat bay

They set sail and Floki is still continuously amazed and shocked that his boat is sailing and not sinking. It’s a long journey into the unknown and everyone has their doubts about the compass and the sun stone working, about whether they will survive the ocean and the storms to see a new land! One thing was certain… Floki loved his boat! Even in the worst of the storms when they thought they might not survive…

floki loves his boat floki flies

All of floki’s previous doubts and panic over the boat’s sea worthiness were forgotten and he insisted that Thor was just celebrating the building of this boat by proving it’s sea worthiness! He even forgot that he could not swim!

Floki sit down remember you can't swim

Floki sit down remember you can’t swim

 

After the storm and the darkness…

ship in the mist first sight of the western land

There was land, a new uncharted land on which a Viking Storm was about to land!

 

storm2 an unseen storm in the mist

I must close this message for now but wanted you to know of my concerns about whether one of our traveler’s may have inadvertently… or worse, purposely influenced and changed the course of history? We may never know but I feel  it is important to share this deep concern with you and I do feel it warrants further investigation on your part. There is little we can do about it now, the course of history has been sent down this path whether by our hands or by the hands of fate. I feel great changes are coming to this small village of Kattegat and I am in the middle of it. I have not time to go into all of the details of what has been taking place but have just given you the most important facts relating to it. I do have one other concern that troubles me greatly with all of this turmoil taking place around me.

This Earl Haraldson who is the overlord and Chieftain  of Kattegat… he is, I believe, a very troubled man who is struggling to hold on to power in the midst of all of these changes to his small world. It is said that he was once a great Warrior, honored and respected but that has changed in recent years due to a horrific event. I am only mentioning this because it is one of those events that is still somewhat of a mystery and I believe it will haunt both the Earl and his wife, Siggy until their deaths. The Earl and Siggy had two other children, two sons who were brutally murdered/ assassinated in a style of direct disrespect toward their Father. Their heads were cut off, place against their backsides and they were left in a shallow grave. The murderers were never found. The Earl buried them humanely, kept locks of their hair as memory, then turned bitter angry and distrustful of everyone. He is now a grim and cruel man who sees enemies behind every corner. Siggy does her best, what ever is necessary to keep his wrath and anger at bay. She speaks little of this tragedy but it is obvious that she holds deep pain over the loss and it will affect her in many ways for the rest of her life. She holds close to her remaining daughter, Thyri. I believe that she will go to any length or level she feels necessary to protect this last child of hers. I worry  in these difficult and dangerous times for women, should anything ever happen to Thyri, how will Siggy cope with such another loss? I find that while I do not necessarily trust Siggy, I do like her. I hope that she will one day find some peace in her life and perhaps some true happiness? I should not like to see her become as bitter and vengeful as her husband has become, but often I can see her mind going down that path…

Siggy with Earl Haroldson

As I have mentioned, this is a very troubling time here in Kattegat and I fear it will only get worse. I believe we are all in some grave danger here as the tides and the times change. I will try to keep you updated as much as possible. Hopefully we will be able to remain here and not have to flee for our lives should things take a turn for the worse. My messenger is well trusted and will deliver this letter to you personally. Due to the serious contents and concerns I am sharing, I am sure that you would agree it best for it not to be sent to the public agency.