Hi, I’m Ingrid.
Here I am trying to give you a helicopter view of the Viking Age by telling stories and owning up to the research I do. To me, that’s important; not to simply write, talk or shout for the sake of it.
How did this all come about? Well, way back when, I actually completed an MA in medieval literature. The more classes I followed, the more medieval stories I read, the more I wanted to understand how medieval people clicked. At the heart of that understanding are language and writing, or in short, stories. Their stories. And as it happens, the Middle Ages is the time when storytelling transitions from sitting around the hearth to writing them down in a manuscript. Many of these manuscripts still survive today and they give us a glimpse into the state of the medieval scribe’s mind. Can that help us to understand?
During my studies, by chance, I discover the Icelandic sagas. And I fall hard for their beauty. They are often described as ‘raw’ and ‘realistic’, especially in comparison to the Anglo-Norman romance cycles. Yet, at a closer look the sagas turn out to be as literary as they come. Here are not social rules on how to behave for members of the aristocracy. Here are lessons for when you’re a chieftain or farmer, sitting in a cold, damp and smelly turf house trying to survive another harsh winter.
Learning about Viking Age history parallel to reading the sagas is therefore essential. Word for word. Sentence by sentence. To understand how medieval people lived and loved, coped and survived. As a layperson, I give you my take on this small part of history. I research all my posts and do my best to give you a balanced take on both scholarly articles and public debate. The articles have full references and links to items I’ve read for my research, or what I believe are interesting reads. These are also your best place to start if you want to read more about a topic. But I’m not a scholar, and this site is not peer-reviewed in the academic sense. You, the reader, are invited let me know about any glaring mistakes!
En passant, this exercise is also about gathering research about the Viking Age for my creative writing. Yes, I too, am trying to finish a book. And you are very welcome to join me on this journey!
For a few household rules, I refer you to my introductory column.
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