Norwegian Vikings

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In Norway the gravitation is just as perceptible as the natural forces wind, fire and ice, and strongly felt when driving along the roads in the Bergen area, where the roads are constructed directly into the steep cliffs that fall vertically down into the deep and narrow fiords, with only tiny spots of arable land here and there. So, if nothing else, for topographic reasons it is easy to understand why Norwegians have always been attracted to the open sea. About 1200 years ago the first Vikings set out from these fiords and similar landings with a wild, pagan energy, driving them to exploration, colonization and trade in lands beyond the  horizon. 

The period of their time was in itself brutal, and the Vikings were wild warriors and brutal to an extent that the Christian monks in foreign lands (notably the British Isles and Ireland) -- maybe not unjustified -- considered them devils from the sea. Nordic Viking Life is vividly described in the Norse Ballads by the American poet and linguist, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, who learned the Scandinavian and Old Norse languages, and translated the original ballads into modern English. 

Over time the Vikings have been glorified by Scandinavians, and banned by other peoples for their brutality and cruelty; linguistically they have been abused by demagogues promoting the ideology of Arian Superiority. Football clubs, hooligans and other mobs have used them as mascots. Although today the helmet with horns is synonymous with the Vikings, it is a fact that their historical helmets did not have horns. 

Norway 1942. A fleet of Viking ships on sea. The Norwegian text in the top says: "Broad Sails Go Over the North Sea". 

  • Norway 1942. A fleet of Viking ships on sea. The Norwegian text in the top says: "Broad Sails Go Over the North Sea", referring to the first line of a poem "Olav Tryggvason" (1861), by the Norwegian poet Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson, and music by the Norwegian composer Rikard Nordraak (1842-1866). 

    As an aside, Rikard Nordraak was a close friend of the Norwegian composer Edvard Grieg, and was also the composer of the Norwegian national anthem "Ja, vi elsker dette landet" with lyrics by his cousin, Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson. 

Norway 1930. King Olaf's death at the Battle of Stiklestad in 1030. Scott 153.

Norwegian Viking history is vividly described on Norwegian stamps 1930 "The Death of Olav the Holy at the Battle of Stiklestad" in 1030 [Olav is the Patron Saint of Norway] (Scott 153), and in a set of six stamps 1941, featuring the poet Snorre Sturlason (1178-1241) and the "The Chronicle of the Kings of Norway". (Scott 240-245). 
  • Norway 1930. King Olaf's death at the Battle of Stiklestad in 1030, after a painting by Peter Nicolai Arbo.  Scott 153. 

The life of King Olav and The Battle of Stiklestad is determined as the end of the Norwegian Viking era, and the introduction of Christianity in Norway. The Norwegian cathedral "Nidaros" was later built in Trondheim, very close to the place where the Battle of Stiklestad took place, and has since been used as the Coronation Church of Norwegian kings, and used by the Norwegian royal family for weddings, baptism of their children, and royal funerals. 

Norway 1941. King Olav sailing in wedding procession of Viking ships. The stamp is from the set dedicated to Snorre Sturlason. Scott 243.

  • Norway 1941. King Olav sailing in wedding procession of Viking ships. The stamp is from the above mentioned set dedicated to Snorre Sturlason. Scott 243. 

Other than the Battle of Stiklestad, there are practically no Norwegian stamps about viking life  in Norway. 

The Aland Islands is a group of 6.554 small islands at the mouth of the Gulf of Bothnia, between Finland and Sweden. It is a province of Finland, awarded to the latter by the League of Nations in 1921. 

The patron saint of Aland is Saint Olaf, who is also the patron saint of Norway and the Faroe Islands, and who introduced Christianity in all three countries. St. Olaf is also known as Olaf Haraldson. For further information, please follow the links quoted below. 

St Olaf plays an important part in the Norwegian Viking Saga "The Chronicle of the Kings of Norway"  vividly told by the poet and writer Snorri Sturlason in a collection of sagas concerning the various rulers of Norway during the period 850-1177. 

  • Aland 2000. Saint Olaf, Viking Navigator who introduced Christianity in the Aland Islands. In the background an ancient map of the Nordic Countries (Finland on the far right), and Aland Islands located in the Gulf of Bothnia, slightly northeast of Stockholm. The stamp is engraved by Martin Mörck. 

Aland 2000. Hlodver den Lange [Louis the Tall].

Anyone familiar with the Nordic literature has at some point maybe come across Snorri Sturlason's chronicle of the Viking Age, the "Heimskringla" from 1225 AD. In the "King Olaf Trygvason's Saga" the Norwegian king Olaf at one point chooses his crew for his pride ship "The Long Serpent". 

Hlodver Lange from Saltvik was handpicked as one of the king's closest men and bodyguards. "The Long Serpent" is featured on a set of Faeroese stamps 2006, see Faeroe Islands. 

  • Aland 2000. Hlodver den Lange [Louis the Tall]. Compare his impressive height with the normal-sized person on his right. 

 The saga of the Norwegian Vikings in 
Norway     Faeroe Islands     Iceland     Greenland     Canada     Isle of Man

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Copyrighted © 14th January 2007. All Rights Reserved
Revised 15-feb-2007

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Contact me: Ann Mette Heindorff