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MORE VIKING GOODNESS IN THE UK

First the British Museum opens its epic Vikings exhibit. Now there's this fantastic event at University of Birmingham:

Midlands Viking Symposium
Saturday 26th April 2014

The Universities of Birmingham, Nottingham and Leicester are proud to announce the tenth Midlands Viking Symposium, an event designed to bring together academics and enthusiasts in Viking Studies.

Speakers

Dr Christina Lee (Nottingham): Sick Vikings

The paper will look at what we know about responses to illness - in the Viking Age but much more through what later sagas tell us about attitudes towards disease and illness.

Dr Chris Callow (Birmingham):  Did the Vikings sacrifice their slaves?

There is an account by the traveller-scholar Ibn Fadlan of the Viking community in eastern Europe performing an elaborate funeral ritual in which a slave girl is killed. As a result many scholars cite this and archaeological evidence in support of the idea of so-called ‘slave burials’, for the deliberate killing of slaves to be interred with their masters. This talk reviews the evidence of some of these gruesome and not-so-gruesome-looking graves to consider the question afresh across the Viking world.

Dr Philip Shaw (Leicester): A glove in hood’s clothing? Hrólfs saga kraka and Beowulf, once more with humor

The Old English poem Beowulf and the Old Norse Hrólfs saga are two of the most important stories in their respective languages. Scholars have often pondered the apparent similarities between parts of each story. In this talk it will be argued that the overall pattern of three monster fights found in Beowulf is retold as a kind of joke in Hrólfs saga when Bo̢ðvarr encounters Ho̢ttr at Hrólf’s hall and he fights with a dragon-like monster. This interpretation has implications for our understanding not only of how this particular Old Norse saga originated but for the nature of story-telling in the Viking Age.

Dr Slavica Rankovic (Leeds): Grettir’s Secret Formula

Grettir’s saga is one of the most intriguing of the Sagas of Icelanders, the major genre of saga that was written down in medieval Iceland. Through the centuries scholars have puzzled over how and why these stories came into being – at the same time as they look like folktales they look like sophisticated literary works. This talk will present some of the latest research on how the formulaic elements of the sagas ‘worked’ for medieval audiences. Grettir, the aggressive outlawed hero of this saga also famously expressed his ability to resist temptation through what might be called a ‘no reaction’ formula. The nuances of Grettir and his saga will be analysed to show how and why he emerges as one of the most complex characters in world literature.

Bernadette McCooey (Birmingham): The Viking Age farm

For all their reputation as marauders, the Vikings and their descendants had to feed themselves. This talk consider the Viking ‘colony’ in Iceland where the farm was the basic building block of society and the stage on which most of life’s events took place. The farm was also a unit of production that ensured the survival of the farm’s inhabitants. Livestock were an essential element of farm production, yet questions about how farms worked have been neglected. I hope to raise some of the issues concerning livestock and the daily management of the animals, and offer some insights into the routine of Viking Age Icelandic farm.

Cat Jarman (Bristol): Resolving Viking Age Repton? New techniques on old bones

One of the most famous Viking Age excavations in England was that around the church of St. Wystan in Repton, Derbyshire, between 1974 and 1993. It uncovered considerable evidence for the presence of the 873-4 AD Viking winter camp recorded in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle. Among the discoveries were a small fortification, ‘Scandinavian’ burials. Most strikingly there was a mound burial containing the disarticulated bones of at least 264 people. Were these the bones of the Viking army and their followers? This talk presents some of the first results of the scientific analysis of these human remains to determine the geographical origins and social status of those interred. 

Gareth Williams (Curator Viking exhibition, British Museum): Repton revisited: the Viking camps of the Great Army in the light of the Torksey and 'North Yorkshire' sites

The activities of the 'Great Heathen Army' of 865-78 represented an important new phase in Viking activity in England, and one which culminate in the settlement of much of northern and eastern England by the Vikings. This period, which also had parallels in Ireland and the Frankish kingdoms, was characterised by forces campaigning for years at  a time, choosing to over-winter in enemy territory rather than either returning home or (until the very end of the period) settling permanently in the territories they had conquered. This strategy depended on the development each year of so-called 'winter camps' as seasonal bases. Until recently, the only one of these bases to be investigated in any detail was Repton in Derbyshire, where a D-shaped enclosure around the existing monastery church has set a paradigm for what 'Viking camps' were like. Recent years have seen the partial investigation of two new sites, one at Torksey in Lincolnshire, the other in North Yorkshire. Although neither has been fully investigated, they have strong similarities, and suggest a very different scale and character of activity to that suggested in the traditional interpretation of Repton.

More information: birmingham.ac.uk/schools/historycultures/departments/history/events/2014/viking-symposium.aspx
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MIME FINDS THE MOTHER OF SIEGFRIED IN THE FOREST
from Siegfried by Richard Wagner
illustrated by Arthur Rackham
norsemyth.org/p/books.html

In the 1st act of the 3rd opera in Richard Wagner's Ring of the Nibelung, the dwarf Mime describes how he found Sieglinde (mother of the hero Siegfried). She was last seen fleeing from the wrathful Wotan (Odin) at the end of the previous opera. Mime tells Siegfried:

A woman once I found
Who wept in the forest wild;
I helped her here to the cave,
That by the fire I might warm her.
The woman bore a child here;
Sadly she gave it birth.
She writhed about in pain;
I helped her as I could.
Bitter her plight; she died.
But Siegfried lived and throve.

from The Ring of the Nibelung, Volume 2:
Siegfried & The Twilight of the Gods
The featured free eBook
at The Norse Mythology Online Library

Read the eBook online or download (PDF) at
norsemyth.org/p/books.html
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VIKING IRELAND: WEAPONS – THE AXE

National Museum of Ireland has created a nice video series about #Vikings in Ireland. This first one features Dr. Andy Halpin of the Irish Antiquities Division discussing 3 Viking battle-axes discovered in Summer 2013. Click the video & start learning, y'all!

All the Viking Ireland videos are now posted on The +Norse Mythology Channel. Subscribe (free) to NorseTube at youtube.com/user/NorseTube
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TUNE IN, TURN ON, DROP THE HAMMER

I'm on Chicago Public Radio around 9:45 am (Chicago time) to talk about norsemyth.org being named the world's #1 religion blog & about my dual life as mythologist & musician. Listen worldwide at wbez.org/player
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Drop in, turn on, and tune the television.
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VIKING RADIO

Wednesday around 9:45am (Chicago time), I'll be on Chicago Public Radio to discuss writing The Norse Mythology Blog since 2010, winning Best Religion Weblog 2014, entering the Weblog Awards Hall of Fame & my double life as a mythologist & musician.

You can listen live anywhere in the world at wbez.org/player

You can check out the archive of Norse myth articles & interviews at norsemyth.org
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THE ORIGIN OF INTERNET TROLLS

In their classic "Book of Trolls" (1972) Ingri & Edgar Parin D'Aulaire tell of a boy who once looked through the eye of a troll:

"Before the boy gave the eye back, he peeked through it and what he saw was very strange. Light was dark, dark was light, and even the raging trolls looked gentle and kind. For trolls had troll-splinters in their eyes and that made them see everything askew.

"That is why when a troll looked into his rock-crystal mirror, he was so pleased with what he saw. To his eyes his ungainly wife looked rosy-cheeked and buxom, and the troll-children were the finest of young fellow, frisky like cubs as they wrestled and tumbled about."

Later, the D'Aulaires tell of trolls who burst and turn to stone when the sun shines on them:

"But we do know that every time a troll burst, the splinter in his eye was scattered far and wide. Maybe that is why there are people everywhere today who see things askew. What is bad looks good to them and what is wrong looks right.

"They do not know that they have troll-splinters in their eyes and you cannot see them. But you can be very sure that the troll-splinters are there."

So, next time a random jerky-boy internet troll posts some manky felgercarb on your Facebook wall, remember: he's really just a sad schmo sitting in his mom's basement, squinting through the troll-splinters in his eyes. Poor little fella!
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Have them in circles
847 people

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A HORRIFYING HATE CRIME...
AND CNN'S PROBLEMATIC REPORTING
wildhunt.org/2014/04/cnn-ties-accused-white-supremacist-killer-frazier-glenn-cross-to-odinism.html

Our friend Jason Pitzl-Waters of The Wild Hunt contacted me last night about the awful murders in Kansas on Sunday. The accused was apparently targeting Jewish people & has declared his attachment to Odinism in the past (as well as to monotheism, atheism, etc). I wrote a statement denouncing racism & anti-semitism in heathenry - but also one criticizing CNN's sensationalistic reporting of the story.

Check out Jason's article, which quotes many heathen voices speaking out against the killings & their supposed connection to heathen beliefs. Jason also clearly details the faults in CNN's coverage.

Note: CNN is now in the process of quietly editing their original post on the story, adding quotes from heathens and linking to Jason's article - and even changing the post's title. Why didn't CNN do it's research BEFORE printing the story?

Here's the Wild Hunt piece: wildhunt.org/2014/04/cnn-ties-accused-white-supremacist-killer-frazier-glenn-cross-to-odinism.html
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CNN is ridiculous. I live in the general Boston area... We all remember what happened here a year ago, right? CNN was jumping on the story and making absolute fools of themselves over the bombing. They're fear-mongering, money-grubbing, ridiculous people. 
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RECREATING NORDIC GROG
from archaeology.org/issues/132-1405/trenches/1976-juellinge-denmark-recreating-nordic-grog

The woman, dead at 30, was buried 1,900 years ago in an oak log near Juellinge, Denmark. Interred with her was a long-handled bronze strainer that still held residue of a fermented drink she may have been meant to enjoy in the afterlife.

Now the ingredients and even the flavor of that drink, a “grog” made from local fruits, grains, and herbs mixed with grape wine from southern Europe, are becoming clearer. University of Pennsylvania archaeologist Patrick McGovern has applied biomolecular techniques to organic residue taken from four ancient Scandinavian artifacts, including the woman’s strainer, a clay jar, and pieces of Roman bronze drinking sets, dating to between 1500 B.C. and A.D. 200.

Using a method called solid phase micro-extraction, McGovern found volatile organic compounds that are biomarkers for ingredients such as lingonberry, bog cranberry, rye, barley, juniper, birch, pine, bog myrtle, and yarrow. Tandem mass spectrometry then showed the presence of tartaric acid, the biomarker for wine.

“This work is the first to prove that wine was being traded from the south to the north at this time,” says McGovern. It has also created a detailed, consistent picture of ancient Scandinavia’s preferred beverage of distinction. McGovern is working with Delaware’s Dogfish Head Brewery—as he has on previous concoctions based on ancient residues—to create a modern rendition of the sour, fruity, herbaceous grog.

Story by Katherine Sharpe
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+Christopher Allen Interesting, thanks for the information
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DANE'S STONE STANDS AGAIN

6,000-year-old Dane's Stone is upright once more in Highland Perthshire, Scotland. After standing since the Neolithic or Bronze Age, erosion ate away the earth at the stone's base until it fell over during a storm in February. Now, a team led by archeologists & stonemasons has set the stone right.

David Strachan of Perth and Kinross Heritage Trust says: “It is a prehistoric stone & probably dates back to between 4,000 BC & 1,000 BC. The name 'Dane’s Stone' was probably given during the Middle Ages, around about the time of the Vikings."

Strachan says funeral ceremonies were likely held at the stone & said standing stones were "like churches" of ancient times: “We don’t really know a huge amount about what these stones are for, but many do have ritual or religious significance.”

At the time it fell, less than 20 inches of the 7 foot, 4.5 metric ton stone remained buried in the soil. To prevent erosion from again wearing away the ground supporting the Dane's Stone, a concrete pit has been built & 1/3 of the stone is now buried.

Oliver Lewis of Historic Scotland says, “The height of the stone now is probably how high it was when it was first put up. Over the years, gradual agricultural improvements have removed the soil around it so, at the beginning of this year, around 2.1m (6.8ft) was above the ground & it was leaning. We have now set it deeper & I don’t think it will fall over again in our lifetime.”
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VIKING VICTORY JAZZ DANCE
news.allaboutjazz.com/news.php?id=109205#.Uz7M56XeP8v

#1 most-read story on "All About Jazz" website is on (1) The Norse Mythology Blog winning Best Religion Weblog 2014 and (2) the show next week where I'll debut folklore-based tunes from my upcoming "Grimms' Fairy Tales" recording. Dig it, Vikings!

Read the story here: news.allaboutjazz.com/news.php?id=109205#.Uz7OyKXeP8v
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Congratulations! Crossover success story. ;)
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The Norse Mythology Google+ Page
Introduction
The Norse Mythology Google+ Page
by Dr. Karl E. H. Seigfried

Dr. Karl E. H. Seigfried writes The Norse Mythology Blog. A Norse mythologist and musician in Chicago, he teaches Norse mythology classes at Newberry Library. He has also taught Norse mythology at Loyola University Chicago and Norse religion at Carthage College, where he was founder & faculty advisor of the Tolkien Society.

Karl has been a featured writer and lecturer at the Joseph Campbell Foundation and the Wagner Society of America, and he is the author of all Ásatrú definitions in the Religion Stylebook of the Religion Newswriters Association. He's a member of the Society for the Advancement of Scandinavian Study, the Tolkien Society (UK), the Viking Society for Northern Research (UK) and the Religion Newswriters Association. He's also the Official Norse Mythologist of the Stephanie Miller Show.

2012, 2013 & 2014 Weblog Awards: Best Religion Weblog
Weblog Awards Hall of Fame: First religion blog to enter the Hall of Fame
Chicago Public Radio: "[Karl's] one of the country’s most respected researchers and lecturers on Norse mythology."
Chicago Humanities Festival: "Seigfried is a prolific chronicler of the world of Norse mythology."
Johan Hegg (Amon Amarth): "[Karl's] probably a better Guardian of Asgard than I am."
Jóhanna G. Harðardóttir (Ásatrúarfélagið): "Hér er rétti maðurinn á ferð til að kenna Norræna goðafræði í US."
Syracuse University iSchool: "This is an entertaining and enlightening blog to follow for anyone interested in Norse mythology."
Weaving Wyrd: "His questions are thought-provoking, and his scholarly bona fides are pretty impressive."
Bob Freeman: "Best Esoteric Website 2013: For anyone with an interest in Norse culture, myth, and magic, there is no better place to visit on the web."
The Wild Hunt: "If you aren’t already reading Dr. Karl E. H. Seigfried's amazing The Norse Mythology Blog, then you've been remiss. The blog is one of the most content-rich affairs for lovers of Norse mythology I’ve ever seen."
Tales of a GM: "This is an amazing resource for anyone interested in the history and culture of Northern Europe. The Norse Mythology Blog is such a brilliant combination of modern issues and ancient sources. If you have any interest in Norse culture or mythology, then you must visit Dr Seigfried’s site."
Vancouver Sun: "The best blog on faith and spirituality may be one about a so-called ‘dead’ religion, Norse mythology. The Norse Mythology Blog reflects deep knowledge of this ancient religion, along with an affable spirit. [Karl] knows everything one would ever want to know about Thor, Odin, Frey, Loki, Frigg, Freya and countless more Norse gods, goddesses and mythological hangers-on."
City Magazine (Serbia): "Ako vas je ikada makar malo zainteresovala istorija i kultura severne Evrope, a naročito njena istorija, ovde ćete naći mnogo više interesantnog štiva nego što biste se ikada nadali. Posebno je interesantno da uspeva da poveže savremene momente sa prastarim izvorima."

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Questions? Contact Karl through the Contact page at The Norse Mythology Blog.