Episode 29h – Egil’s Saga (Part 8)

In this episode, Egil and Thorolf arrive in King Athelstan’s England. The good news – Athelstan really likes the Skallagrimssons. The bad news – Anglo-Saxon England is about to go to war with King Olaf and his massive army of Scots, Danes, Irish-Norwegians, and Welsh. We’ll get a front row seat as Egil and Thorolf command Athelstan’s Viking troops in the Battle of Wen Heath! If you’re not familiar with the Battle of Wen Heath, then perhaps you know this incredibly significant engagement as the Battle of Brunanburh! That’s right, Egil and Thorolf will both play a significant role in the battle that would seal England’s fate. Are both Egil and Thorolf battle-savvy enough to survive the onslaught of King Olaf’s forces? There’s only one way to find out.

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Along the way, we talk about the major figures of the Battle of Brunanburh and the saga author’s fictionalized stand-ins. You’ll hear all about King Olaf Guthfrithsson of Dublin, King Constantine II of Scotland, King Owain of Strathclyde, the earls of Northumbria, Godric and the swift-footed Alfgeir, and the earls of Britain, Hring and Adils. We also touch on the origins of Alfred the Great’s famous epithet and the life of his dynamic daughter, Æthelflæd (see the picture from Matthew Paris’ Additamentorum episode below). Click here for an excellent biography of Æthelflæd by the boys at Rex Factor.

Finally, we announce the identity of the very special guests we invited to join us for a Saga Brief on the Battle of Brunanburh. That’s right, we’ve got a special episode coming for you soon with some guests we think you’ll all love.

And thanks to Danheim, a Nordic folk/Viking inspired music project, for letting us use his music. Check the credits below for links to the songs. If you’re interested in hearing more from Danheim, visit his webpage or Youtube channel.

Music Credits:

Intro Music – “Prelude and Action” by Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)

Summary Music “Wild Cherry Rag” by The Victor Orchestra

Preview Music – “Hringrás” by Danheim

Poetry Music – Poem 1 from “Vanheimr” and Poem 2 from “Hringrás” by Danheim

Outro Music – “Stormfront” by Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)

Selections from music by Kevin MacLeod licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

Saga Brief 15 – Ivar the Boneless

Alex Anderson as Ivar the Boneless in Vikings
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In this episode, we tackle the life of Ragnar’s fiercest and most complex son, Ivar the Boneless. We begin with an investigation into Ivar’s birth and enigmatic nickname. From there we trace the path of his illustrious military career. Our journey will take us from Denmark to Ireland, where Ivar conquers Dublin and goes head to head with the High King of Ireland, Mael Sechnaill. From Dublin, we’ll follow Ivar to Anglo-Saxon England with the Great Heathen Army. There Ivar and company topple kingdom after kingdom with ruthless efficiency. Join us as we dive deep into the medieval chronicles, legends, and tales to uncover the stories behind Vikings’ most compelling character, Ivar the Boneless, King of the Vikings in Ireland and Britain.

Previous Vikings Related Episode Links:

Saga Thing 7: The Saga of Ragnar Loðbrok and His Sons

Saga Brief 1: The Blood-Eagle

Saga Brief 3: Krákumál

Saga Brief 5: The Story of Rollo the Viking

Saga Brief 11: The Lesser Ragnarssons

Interested in learning more about Mael Sechnaill and the Irish side of the Viking invasions? Check out this episode of the Irish History Podcast – Vikings in 9th century Ireland.

Select Bibliography for this Episode:

Æthelweard. Chronicon Æthelweardi. Edited and Translated by Alistair Campbell. New York: Oxford University Press, 1962.

The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle. Translated by Michael Swanton. New York: Routledge, 1998.

The Annals of Ulster. Edited and Translated by Pádraig Bambury and Stephen Beechinor. Corpus of Electronic Texts Edition. Cork: Ireland, 2000.

Asser, John. Alfred the Great: Asser’s Life of King Alfred and Other Contemporary Sources. Edited and Translated by Simon Keynes and Michael Lapidge. New York: Penguin Books, 1983.

Brink, Stefan and Neil Price. The Viking World. New York: Routledge, 2008.

Clarke, Howard B. and Ruth Johnson. The Vikings in Ireland and Beyond: Before and After the Battle of Clontarf. Dublin, Ireland: Four Courts Press, 2015.

Crawford, B. E. Scandinavian Scotland. Leicester: Leicester University Press, 1987.

Downham, Clare. Viking Kings of Britain and Ireland: The Dynasty of Ívarr to A.D. 1014. Edinburgh: Dunedin, 2007.

Fragmentary Annals of Ireland. Edited and Translated by Joan Newlon Radner. Dublin: Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies, 1978.

Jones, Gwynn. A History of the Vikings. New York: Oxford University Press, 1968.

McTurk, Rory. Studies in Ragnars Saga Loðbrokar and its Major Scandinavian Analogues. Medium Ævum Monographs. New Series XV. Exeter: Short Run Press,  1991.

Saxo Grammaticus. The History of the Danes. Edited and Translated by Peter Fisher and H. R. Ellis Davidson. Cambridge: D.S. Brewer, 1996.

Smyth, Alfred P. Scandinavian Kings in the British Isles, 850-880. New York: Oxford University Press, 1977.

Stenton, Frank M. Anglo-Saxon England. 2nd edition. New York: Oxford University Press, 1989.

Valante, Mary A. The Vikings in Ireland: Settlement, Trade, and Urbanization. Portland, OR: Four Courts Press, 2008.

Waggoner, Ben. The Sagas of Ragnar Lodbrok. New Haven, CT: 2009.

Episode Credits:

Intro – VioDance cover of “If I Had A Heart” by Fever Ray with Hardanger Violin

Closing Music – Logan Kendell’s folk cover of “If I Had A Heart” by Fever Ray. To purchase a copy of the song, visit Logan Kendell’s bandcamp page. Be sure to check out his other music while you’re there. As a big fan of outlaws, I recommend his cover of “Not in Nottingham” from Disney’s Robin Hood

Episode 26a – The Saga of the People of Kjalarnes

Bui Burns the Temple (Matt Smith 2018)

As we have mentioned recently on social media, the great Matt Smith has agreed to join the Saga Thing team and provide us with an original drawing for each saga episode. We’re excited to be working with him. You’ll get a fuller appreciation of each image he creates for us by listening to the episode. I don’t think you’ll be surprised to hear that this image was inspired by one of the climaxes of the saga. One of the climaxes? Yes. Just one of many.  Thanks again to Matt for donating his time and talents. Matt wrote and illustrated Barbarian Lord, a graphic novel heavily inspired by the Icelandic Sagas.  You can see more of his work here: matt-illustrations.com. Welcome to the team, Matt! If you like what he’s doing for Saga Thing, drop him a line and express your appreciation on Twitter, where he’s @barbarianlord.

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In this episode, we discuss the first half of Kjalnesinga saga (The Saga of the People of Kjalarnes). You’re not alone if the name doesn’t ring a bell. This saga isn’t widely read or commented upon, despite being full of interesting tidbits for further discussion. For example, Kjalnesinga saga is the only saga whose action takes place within the modern boundaries of Reykjavík.  If you’ve been to Iceland’s capital, then you’ve no doubt seen the impressive Mount Esja (Esjan) looming across the bay. This saga offers some clues about where the mountain and the places around it got their names, at least according to the saga author.  In addition to some fascinating toponomy, Kjalnesinga saga looks into the lives of the first two generations of settlers in Kjalarnes, starting with Helgi Bjolan and a group of Irish immigrants that he graciously welcomes into his land. The majority of the action concerns the children of these initial settlers.  Here’s a quick key for those of you who have trouble keeping track of all the names.

Kjalnesinga Genealogy

As if a genealogical tree wasn’t enough, we’ve also got a map of Kjalarnes for you, generously prepared for us by Rob from Totalus Rankium podcast, using Emily Lethbridge’s Icelandic Saga Map.  to get a sense of the region and who lives where. Rob is an unofficial/official member of the Saga Thing team. We look forward to more awesome maps from Rob for future episodes. If you find these maps helpful, let Rob know on Twitter, where he’s @TotalusRankium.

Kjalnesinga Saga (Map)

When you’ve finished digesting all this great info, give the episode a listen. Kjalnesinga saga features a vivid description of a pagan temple, rising tensions between Irish Christian immigrants and the just-a-little-less-recently-immigrated pagan Icelanders, one of our more violent slayings (which is really saying something), an official holmgang, and our first ever love quadrangle…or square, if you will. There’s plenty here for everyone.

Because we promised a link to our Saga Brief on the holmgang, as if you haven’t already heard it, I’m providing it. John put no effort or time into providing this link, just as I suspected.

Music Credits:

Intro Music – “Prelude and Action” by Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)

Summary Music“Galway” by Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)

Outro Music – “Stormfront” by Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)

Selections from music by Kevin MacLeod licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/


Episode 20k – Njal’s Saga (Part 11)



Kari Solmundarson


The epic journey through Njal’s Saga finally comes to an end.  In this episode, we follow Kari Solmundarson on his quest to avenge the deaths of everyone he was forced to leave behind in the burning house.  His targets are Flosi and the Burners.  With so many against him, the odds aren’t in his favor.  But Kari is known throughout Iceland for his unmatched bravery and fearlessness.  His pursuit of the burners carries him from Iceland to the British Isles and then on to Rome.  Along the way, we’ll take a brief detour to Ireland for a glimpse at the historic Battle of Clontarf. 1200px-'Battle_of_Clontarf',_oil_on_canvas_painting_by_Hugh_Frazer,_1826 Though this may be the end for our little summer saga, there’s plenty here for everyone to enjoy.  In addition to the revenge, the battles, and the blood, you’ll want to keep listening for the world’s strangest mathematics word problem and a brief discussion on Entish naming practices.  Enjoy!

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Promised References from this episode:

The Icelandic Saga Map

The Irish History Podcast – Episode 11: Brian Boru, The Battle of Clontarf, and the Aftermath

William Ian Miller’s Why Is Your Axe Bloody?

Miller Axe Bloody

Music Credits:

Intro Music – “Prelude and Action” by Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)

Previous Episode Review – “Whispering” by Paul Whiteman

Episode Summary – “Satiate – Percussion” by Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)

Hrafn’s Clontarf Report Poem – “Teller of Tales” by Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)

Outro Music – “Stormfront” by Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)

Selections from music by Kevin MacLeod licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/