Saga Short 7 – The Tale of the Volsi

Warning: This episode may not be suitable for young children

It’s winter in Norway, a time when most people huddle together with family and friends to share warmth, tell stories, and await the coming of spring. But the Christian king Olaf the Stout has heard word about strange goings-on at a farm in the north, where the lady of the house has found a new way to pass the time—she’s starting her own religious cult. So the king and his friends must travel through the winter weather in disguise to learn just what this household is worshiping in the woods—and what they find is something altogether more ridiculous than they could have imagined.

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This one’s unlike anything else we’ve read on the podcast so far—it’s got a well-endowed horse, a boy who’s given to shouting dirty poetry, an open-mike of verse-making at the farmhouse, three men who all choose the same disguise, and a dog who’s hungry for a good time. And what on earth is the farmer’s wife keeping in that long box that smells of leeks and herbs? Enjoy the strange world of Völsa þáttr!

Music Credits:

Intro: From “Death Awaits” by Billy Malmstrom

Outro: From “Óðinn” by Krauka


One thought on “Saga Short 7 – The Tale of the Volsi

  1. Dear John and Andy,
    Thank you for your wonderful podcasts! I just listened to your discussion of Völsa tháttur, which was very … enjoyable. As a Norwegian archaeologist I’ve always taken this tale way too seriously, as a possible hint of pre-Christian ritual. It’s good to see that source criticism can be so funny! But I thought you’d like to know that in Northern Norway today ‘hestkuk’, (i.e. horse-dick) is the worst of insults and fondest of endearments (at least back when I was young). In a famous court case a few years back it was even deemed as a legitimate insult to use against policemen. For my part I imagine that the difficult relationship between Northerners and the royal power in the late Viking period led to a lot of people being called ‘hestkuk’ and that this little thått was another way of Southerners responding to our ‘flowery’ language.
    I remain your humble servant, Niall Armstrong, hiberno-håløyg.


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