Saturday, October 5, 2013

Olaf the Peacock's Irish Mother

Heidarviga Saga  
The Icelandic sagas are prose histories of the Norse —and Celts—who settled in Iceland during the 10th - 11th centuries. The sagas, capturing an earlier oral tradition, were probably set to writing during the 13th and 14th centuries.

"Some of the richest and most interesting writings from medieval Europe come from one of its furthest corners: during the 13th and 14th century Icelanders began to write down the stories they had collected orally from previous centuries. These sagas would cover events in Iceland and elsewhere, going back to the days when the island was first discovered and settled back in the ninth century. They are stories of family feuds, outlaws and the occasional monster lurking somewhere the uninhabited stretches of the Iceland.' — 

The only problem with this post (above) from is that when the Viking Norse "discovered" an "empty" Iceland, and Norse colonists arrived ca. 870-930 AD—there were already Northern European settlements dating from ca. 500 AD. And the other problem with Medievalist's statement is that those Icelanders were not wholly Norse, their slaves and concubines were often Irish or Scottish. Of course, viking means pirate, so I guess pirating is fitting.

Naddod was a Faroese Viking (by way of Shetland) who is credited with the discovery of Iceland. Grímur Kamban became the first to settle ca. 825. Grimur was either Irish/Scottish or Norse Irish, with a Gaelic nickname. Garðarr Svavarsson is credited as the first Scandinavian to have lived in Iceland one winter. He was was married to a woman from the Hebrides. A Hebridean woman would be Irish/Scottish, not Norse as the Norse did not bring Norse women with them. They took Celts as slaves. The VIkings were NOT the first Northern Europeans in the Faroes, and Iceland. (Not to mention, the Inuit.) Unless, of course, one were to definitively define Icelanders (and Faroes Islanders) as half Scandinavian and half Celtic.
The medieval chronicler Ari Thorgilsson said Ingólfr was the first Nordic settler in Iceland, but mentioned that "Papar" – i.e. Irish monks and hermits – had been in the country before the Norsemen. He wrote that they left because they did not want to live amongst the newly arrived pagans.  Ingólfr Arnarson —Wiki
Hjörleifr had been murdered by his Irish slaves because of his ill-treatment. Ingólfr hunted them down and killed them in the Westman Islands (Vestmannaeyjar, named after the slaves).

This tidbit's significant as you will see from the excerpts of the tale posted below, the Laxdaela Saga. The sagas seem to be "fictionalised distortions of real societies.…" and 'family sagas' of Icelandic literature are quite distinct, the overall network of saga society is consistent with real social networks." It's a strong possibility the Icelanders were following in the tradition of Irish recording of oral tradition, though a few centuries later.

(BTW, what is this skewed fascination with Vikings anyway, and why is most everything we associate with Vikings, is plain old wrong? Like (Celtic) horned helmets? Where did we pick up this romantic ideal fraught with bogus information? Does it date back to Hitler, and his search for the "pure" Aryan race? Or is it an earlier Victorian hangover? But I digress.)

The ceremonial Waterloo Helmet is the only existing Celtic bronze horned helmet —La Tène  c.150–50 BC. —Wiki
The word "viking" was first popularised at the beginning of the 19th century by Erik Gustaf Geijer in his poem, The Viking. Geijer's poem did much to propagate the new romanticised ideal of the Viking, which had little basis in historical fact.     —Vikings  A romanticised picture of Vikings as noble savages began to take root in the 18th century, and this developed and became widely propagated during the 19th-century Viking revival.
Norse myths were religiously adopted by Germanic Neopaganists in Germanic countries during the early 20th c., and in most of the the English-speaking world during the 1960s. It's probably during that latest Neopagan adaptation that most of our Viking misconceptions were spawned.

There's an Irish oral tradition that a Tralee mariner Brendan the Navigator visited Iceland and the Faroe Islands circa 500 AD. Bantry's (where my family is from) patron saint is Brendan. (Based on an immram, or voyage tale, the Brendan Voyage tale was transcribed in Latin in 800 AD.) The description of Brendan's "insulae" (islands) is remarkably similar to the Faroe Islands.

One fanciful name for these mythical northern islands was Thule, which was reported to be "a six days' sail north of Britain, and near the frozen sea." (There was persistent belief that islands to the west of Great Britain recorded as early as 330 BC. Whether fact or fiction, it fed the questing beast)  

The Irish Tír na-nÓg (Land of the Ever-young) was another mythical island to the west. Reason enough to set sail—because they were there. "The Icelanders' own records mention about 400 original settlers "with mostly Celtic nicknames" who were living in Iceland previous to Norse colonization. (Clements). The significant part of that statement is that settlers were there previous to Norse discovery.

Thule or Tile on the Carta Marina of 1539 by Olaus Magnus, located northwest of the Orkney islands, with a "monster, seen in 1537", a whale ("balena"), and an orca. —Wiki

My Bantry grandmother told me that the Irish monks brought sheep to the Faroes, and the name, though Nordic, means sheep islands. And sheep islands do figure into the Brendan tales.

St. Brendan described the largest island as the Island of Sheep (Streymoy?) A bay in the southern part of Streymoy, is called Brandansvik (St. Brendan's Bay). His "bird paradise" might be the island of Mykines. There are several Faroe places named after the Irish monks (papar) including remote caves. —Faroe Islands Review History
The Faroes were part of a trade network with Dublin as a hub, and many Irish women made their way there as wives or slaves. DNA analysis shows that 84% of Faroese females are of Irish or Scottish descent.  —Faroe Islands Review History
(NB: contrary to modern belief, Irish monks were NOT celebate.)

Dicuil, in the 2nd half of the 8th century, wrote of "heremitae ex nostra Scotia" ("hermits from our land of Ireland"—Scotia was Ireland, not Scotland!) who lived on the northerly islands of Britain for a hundred years until the arrival of Norse pirates. An Irish nickname of Faroe islanders, Na Scigirí, possibly refers to the Eyja-Skeggjar (land of bearded men).

Northern European settlements (whether Irish, Scottish or Pictish) in the Faroes have been archaeologically dated to ca. 400 AD.
“There is also good evidence that they [the Celts] had sails: there is a model boat from Ireland that dates from about 100 BC that has a mast, which could be a model for Celtic boats more generally,” Jennings said. “There is not so much evidence of sails in Norway until as late as 700 AD. It is therefore more likely that these early Faroese settlers came from the British Isles.” —Andrew Jennings, Nordic Historian
The Vikings settled in the Faroe Islands before they went to Iceland, ca. 800 AD. Then, 60 years later, Iceland was supposedly "discovered" by the Norse. That's the equivalent of three generations in the Faroes before the Norse shoved off to Iceland. Plenty of time to hear about those Celtic settlements in Iceland. During the settlement of Iceland, the Faroes, the half-way mark, was the only provision stop for grain, meat and water.

The Faroe Islands, a remote North Atlantic archipelago, stepping stones half-way between Scotland Norway and Iceland, were inhabited 500 years before the Vikings arrived. Archaeologists taking "scientific samples for environmental archaeological analysis from the medieval Viking settlement,“ did not expect to find evidence of a previous culture.

Archaeologists Mike Church and Símun V. Arge said: “We uncovered some burnt peat ash containing barley grains under the Viking longhouse. It was not until we had it dated that we realized what we had found.” Barley is not indigenous to the Faroes, and there were "old field systems that didn’t seem to tie into later settlements." Church concluded, “There is evidence of Irish hermits sailing into the North Atlantic islands in a passage by an Irish Monk called Dicuil in 825AD.”
Many other islands lie in the northerly British Ocean. One reaches them from the northerly islands of Britain, by sailing directly for two days and two nights with a full sail in a favourable wind the whole time … Most of these islands are small, they are separated by narrow channels, and for nearly a hundred years hermits lived there, coming from our land, Ireland, by boat.

Here's the rub: Icelanders have maintained that they were purely Scandinavian, and that they lived in genetic isolation for 1200 years. Note that there were Irish mentioned in the equation. The Irish were expunged from Icelandic oral tradition and there's almost no mention of the Irish in the Icelandic sagas that were recorded around the 13-14th centuries—with the exception of the Laxdaela Saga, and Burnt Njáll—whose name sounded suspiciously like the Irish Niall. (Kin to 5th c. Niall Nóigiallach, whose middle name was randy: he dinna wear pants; his Y-DNA genes got around. M222 sub-clade rools.) But in the 1970s, my English professors insisted there was NO relationship—merely coincidence. Icelandic peoples were Scandinavian.

Then the human genome mapping project got up to speed. Lo, there were chinks in the Viking armor. Iceland had relative genetic isolation, yes, but their preferred bedfellahs of choice were Irish captives—who did not come or go gentle. And who were the real transmitters of culture? Icelandic-Irish women who spoke to their children in Irish, and in some cases, gave them Irish names. And they just happened to turn up in Icelandic sagas.

New genetic studies in Iceland uphold a deep Irish connection in that the DNA genome tests reveals that 20% males and 63% females are of Irish ancestry (Irish Roots in Iceland). "The population of the Faroe Islands appears to have the highest level of asymmetry in Scandinavian vs British Isles ancestry proportions among female and male settlers of the archipelago." mDNA analysis shows that 84% of Faroese females are of Irish or Scottish descent. Mitochondrial DNA is passed from mother to offspring.

Burnt Njáll the lawyer, and Erik the Red(head) had prodigious tempers. (I'm gathering that when the omens were bad, the Vikings burnt all the lawyers.) All that loose Irish DNA might explain some of those Viking redheads too. Tróndur í Gøtu of the Færeyinga Saga, was described as having "a shock head of red hair, and…freckled of face and right grim of look", features which were inherent to Faroese, who are said to have descended from Thorstan the Red's daughter. (I bet she was Irish).

Excerpt from Njáls saga (Möðruvallabók AM 32 folio 13r cia. 1350). —Wiki
At least 60% of the Icelandic and Faroese.maternal gene pool hails from Ireland and Scotland. And the Viking contribution: "mtDNA lineages from Scandinavia to the populations of Iceland, Orkney, the Western Isles, and the Isle of Skye are 37.5%, 35.5%, 11.5%, and 12.5%, respectively." The mDNA study shows that the majority of female settlers came from the British Isles, "whereas ~80% of male settlers were Scandinavian." This data confirms Irish oral tradition. The study also notes that "the Gaelic contribution to the Icelandic mtDNA pool may have been at least as large as that from Scandinavia." (mtDNA and the Islands of the North Atlantic). That means there were almost no Scandinavian women emigrating form Norway. Norse-Irish women from Dublin and the Hebrides, yes.

I found interesting research on Iceland where "genealogy is an integral part of the culture — 80% of all Icelandic people who have ever lived can be traced on family trees." The country is isolated geographically, with little migration from other places ever since a few hundred Vikings and some Celts arrived almost 1200 years ago. (Decodeing Iceland's DNA). Note the acretion: "and some Celts," and these Celts are?

Islandia map by Abraham Ortelius ca 1590 —Wiki

Contrary to what we've been led to believe, Iceland was not an isolated Norse settlement unto itself. There's also a slew of Icelandic-Irish names which is curious as Vikings were more conservative naming boys than girls: Njáll/Njála, Brjan/Brjánn, Dufniall/ Domnall, Konall, Kjartan, Kjallakr, Kaðall, Kormakr, Meldun, Melpatrikr, Oskar, Patrek, Brigit. An Icelandic village, Patreksfjörður, is Padraig's Fjord. Vestmannaeyjar means "Irish Island." Írafell, and a mountain called, Írafellsbunga (are Éire (Irish) Fell, and  Éire Mountain, respectively), and Kjaransvík (Ciaran’s Bay) in the Westfjörðs, which seems to have been an Irish-Icelandic stronghold.

Of particular interest is the placename, Melkorkustaðir, once home to an irate Irish slave girl, Melkorka (see my story below), who was mother of Olaf the Peacock, a prominent character in many Icelandic sagas. None of this proves the Irish were in Iceland beforehand, it just proves they were there right alongside the Norse—in the thick of things. It also strongly suggests the sagas are based on historical fact.

Recent archaeological digs in the Faroes and Iceland note that there were Northern European settlements from ca. 400 to 800 AD, that definitely predate the Norse settlements. Archaeologists are reluctant to suggest as to who these people actually were. Chances of finding burials and intact DNA are slim to none. Also, Vikings often built on top of the older sites—which means their either integrated, or wiped the other settlers out. We know the earlier settlers raised barley, cut peat turf, and built soil beds with ash and seaweed—like Aran Islanders.

Another fact that seems to get buried in the Viking version of history is that female Icelandic settlers; slaves and concubines were predominantly Irish. Aud the Deep-minded, (Unn, or Auðr, daughter of Ketil Flatnose (ruler of the Hebrides)—he kicks off Laxdael Saga). Aud/Unn/Auðr, wife of Olaf the White, King of Dublin (853 AD), brought Irish slaves with her to Iceland from Dublin (by way of Caithiness). (Clements). She may not have been Irish, but it's possible that her father was Norse Irish, (and the chances of her mother being Irish?) which makes her…

At any rate, Aud/Unn/Auðr was a singularly unViking woman: she secretly built a ship in the forest (Scandinavian women were not allowed to own ships; had few rights—unlike Irish women who were on equal footing with men); she sailed to Orkney;  married off one of her granddaughters; and then set sail for Iceland. She then freed all her Irish slaves in Iceland. Another reference noted she had a child with an Irish slave. I guess it worked both ways.

Olaf the Peacock's grandfather, Höskuldr Dala-Kollsson's mother was Thorgerd Thorsteinsdottir, daughter of Thorstein the Red, who was son of Olaf the White, King of Dublin, whose father was Hiberno-Norse warlord Ingjald Helgasson. I won't even mention that several these Icelandic and Norse characters who settled the Hebrides, or came from there, before emigrating to Iceland, were also Norse-Irish.

Ketill Bjǫrnsson, aka Flatnose (Old Norse: Flatnefr), was a 9th c. (Irish?) Norse King of the Isles—who led raids AGAINST Norway. (Orkneyinga Saga). However, Irish genealogy recorded that Aud's father was also Irish King Aedh. (Annals of Ulster). It could be a scribal error, or there was more than one outrageously uppity Norse woman named Aud. Ketill sounds suspiciously like Kaðall/Cathal, and Flatnefr may be a phonetic corruption of Find (white). Scratch the surface—most emigrating Norsemen had Irish mothers, their children had Irish nicknames. (Jennings and Kruse).

The sagas of Iceland's colonization attempted to expunge all record of the Irish presence, but the Laxdaela saga-maker captured an Irish family pedigree—probably because the story wouldn't work without the Irish connection. Unique among Icelandic sagas, the Laxdaela Saga seems to have a feminine hand—recording matrilineal lineages in both Norse and Irish; perhaps it was composed by a woman, in Western Iceland, ca. 1230-1260.

Excerpts from the Laxdaela SagaChapter 21:

CIRCA  956, an Icelandic merchant, Ólafr Höskuldsson (c. 938–1006), at his slave mother's urging, decided to go abroad to seek his fortune. (Think of it as an Icelandic Norse walkabout—because Ólafr's mother was a slave, Ólafr didn't hold high rank in the community.) 

Now, Ólafr's father, an Icelandic godi or chieftain, Höskuldr Dala-Kollsson, overheard his unruly "mute' thrall-woman (slave), Ólafr's mother, Melkorka, speaking Irish to her son. He was surprised in that she never spoke to anyone. She was so murderously unruly, he had to move her to the other side of the fjord, a place called Melkorkustaðir, to separate her from his wife. How these women might have fought, Melkorka—without words—is curious. I imagine hair pulling, biting and scratching was involved. Melkorka told Höskuldr that her father was an Irish king named "Myrkjartan" (Mael-Curcaigh -of the Leather Cloaks, or Muirchertach—Muir = "mariner"). There's an untold backstory there as to why she refused to speak Icelandic. Did Höskuldr speak to her in Irish, or Old Norse, or was the back-of-the-hand the lingua franca?

We find that Ólafr's mother Melkorka was captured in a Norse expedition to Ireland, and by one account, she was sold in Holland where Höskuldr bought her. But it sounds like he had his hands full. Melkorka taught Ólafr Irish Gaelic on the sly and urged her son to visit her family—and to meet his grandfather. (NB: Mel- as in sweet? + -corca—from Cork/Kerry, or possibly a daughter of Corc? Or is it a riff off her father's name, Mael-Curcaigh?)

Ólafr, aka Olaf the Peacock (he was a bit of a clotheshorse who had a fine embroidered red cloak) "knew for certain that Myrkjartan, the king (of Dublin), was his mother's father." 
Olaf's mother spoke Irish and hid the fact that she could speak, and because she refused to speak Old Norse, ergo she was "mute." We have a record of a linguistic boycott.

Olaf and his men sailed off from Iceland and eventually landed somewhere in Ireland, but were stuck in a shallow bay. "At last two Irish men rowed a boat out to the ship. They asked what men they were who had charge of that ship, and Olaf answered, speaking in Irish, to their inquiries…" Olaf's speaking in "perfect Irish" was a bit of a game-changer. The lines were blurred: the Irish didn't pillage the ship.

My Celtic Studies professor, Dr. Dan Melia theorized that, the Irish rowed out, expecting to find a merchant ship—a Norse Walmart. So, perhaps Irish-speaking Norse (Irish-Icelandic) Or Norse-spealing Irish weren't an anomaly. It also suggests that there was a lot of travel 
 back and forth from Iceland to Ireland to Iceland again.

When the Irish couldn't claim the foundered icelandic ship in the bay—it was in too deep of water, they sent for their king. "The king asked who was the master of the ship. Olaf told his name, and asked who was the valiant-looking knight with whom he then was talking. He answered, "I am called Myrkjartan."

Olaf asked, "Are you then a king of the Irish?" Olaf said, I have, sire, to tell you this, that my father lives in Iceland, and is named Hoskuld, a man of high birth; but of my mother's kindred, I think you must have seen many more than I have. For my mother is called Melkorka, and it has been told me as a truth that she is your daughter, King."

"The king answered, "This is clearly seen in this Olaf, that he is a highborn man, whether he be a kinsman of mine or not, as well as this, that of all men he speaks the best of Irish."

They discover that they are indeed kin and exchange pleasantries in Irish.

"Olaf pleading his case again in a speech long and frank; and at the end of his speech he said he had a ring on his hand that Melkorka had given him at parting in Iceland, saying "that you, king, gave to her as a tooth gift."

"The king took and looked at the ring, and his face grew wondrous red to look at; and then the king said, "True enough are the tokens, and become by no means less notable thereby that you have so many of your mother's family features, and that even by them you might be easily recognised; and because of these things I will in sooth acknowledge your kinship…"

"The king now rode to Dublin, and men thought this great tidings, that with the king should be journeying the son of his daughter, who had been carried off in war long ago when she was only fifteen winters old."

What the Laxdaela Saga records is that Melkorka was the "mother of kings." She was higher born than her Viking "husband," the nobleman Hoskuldr, so her son Olaf was eligible under Irish law, to become an Irish king. Note the reference to direct matrilineal Irish lineage of kingship. The king had other sons but he wasn't impressed with them, so he offered the Irish kingship to Olaf, who regretfully declined, and returned to iceland.

Olaf's father-in-law Egill Skallagrímsson, Egil's Saga. Egil the poet and healer sounds very much like a druid, especially his horsehead curse. —Wiki
The son of a slave woman, Olaf became one of the wealthiest landowners in Iceland and played a major role in its politics and society during the latter half of the tenth century. In addition to the Laxdaela Saga in which he takes a leading role, Olaf also is mentioned in Egil's SagaNjal's Saga, Gunnlaugs Saga, Kormaks Saga, Grettir's Saga and the Landnámabók, among others. —Olaf the Peacock, Wiki

For further reading:

The Online Medieval and Classical Library
Icelandic Saga Database Brilliant, all online.
Laxdaela Saga
The (carbon-based old school) translation I read was by Magnus Magnusson and Hermann Palsson, Laxdaela Saga. Penguin, 1969.
Laxdaela Saga Wiki
Orkneyinga Saga Wiki
Njáls Saga Wiki
Njáll was a real person, a lawyer. There was bad blood between Njáll and his neighbors. This saga borrows heavily from the Laxdaela Saga.
The lost Brjáns Saga Wiki
 Apparently the heroic feats of Brian Boru (Brian Bóruma mac Cennétig 941-1014) entered into Icelandic consciousness, so much for that Norse Icelandic isolation theory. Brján was a common name.
Faereyinga Saga Wiki
Protagonist Grímur Kamban has an Irish last name: camb crooked, as in Campbell Caimbeul Crooked-Mouth or Cameron Camshron Crooked Nose).
A handy Wiki list of Icelandic sagas.

Author of many Icelandic sagas, Snorri Sturluson (poet, lawyer, politician, womanizer).

Settlement of Iceland  Wiki
Íslendingabók, and Landnámabók, two historical settlement of Iceland records
The Íslendingabók claims that the Norse settlers encountered Gaelic monks from a Hiberno-Scottish mission when they first arrived in Iceland. The first written source to mention the existence of Iceland is a book by the Goidelic monk Dicuil, De mensura orbis terrae, which dates back to 825. Dicuilus claimed to have met some monks who had lived on the island of Thule.
Icelandic Commonwealth

Conversion of Iceland 
In 1000, Iceland suffered a forced Christian conversion by Norway. Some Icelanders had already adopted Christianity through their contact with the Irish. Most were pagan. Norwegian King Olaf refused Icelandic seafarers access to Norwegian ports, cutting off all trade between Iceland and Norway. He took Icelanders living in Norway hostage—he threatened to kill the sons of prominent Icelandic chieftains unless they accepted Christianity. 
Meanwhile in Ireland, Brian Boru  ousted the Vikings (and Icelanders) so Dublin, once a thriving Viking port, was no more. It was Irish. The Icelanders desperately needed a European port to survive—fish and homespun wool were the main exports (so much for that isolation theory—again). They cowped and became Christian. That meant no more taking of Irish or Scottish slaves. 
Aka Scoto-Norse, Hiberno-Norse, Irish–Norse, Foreign Gaels, Gall-Ghàidheil. They called themselves Ostmen or Austmenn (East-men); they called the Irish Vestmenn (West-men) (see Vestmannaeyjar).
It is recorded in the Landnamabok that there were papar or culdees in Iceland before the Norse (Irish monk DicuilDe mensura orbis terrae). The settlement of Iceland and the Faroe islands by the Norse included Norse–Gaels, slaves, servants and wives—called "Vestmen," the name is retained in Vestmanna in the Faroes, and the Vestmannaeyjar off the Icelandic mainland, where it is said that Irish slaves escaped to.
Melkorka Wiki
Brendan Wiki

Navigatio sancti Brendani abbatis (The Voyage of Saint Brendan the Abbot) 800 AD, 200 years after Brendan’s death.

The Brendan Voyage, Tim Severin, 1982 (a friend of my grandmother's, way back then, I thought Tim to be a bit of a crackpot, with his reenactment voyage, but I've since revised my first opinion. He's come over for tea and sodabread and rant about the Irish connections. I assumed it was an Irish pride conspiracy thing.

mtDNA and the Islands of the North Atlantic:  Estimating the Proportions of Norse and Gaelic Ancestry  The estimate of Scandinavian ancestry ranges from 11.5% in the Western Isles to 37.5% in the Icelanders. Of the Scottish populations, Orkney evidently has the closest matrilineal links with Scandinavia. The Western Isles, the Isle of Skye, and the coastal population of northwest Scotland all exhibit similarly low levels of Scandinavian mtDNA ancestry. In contrast, Icelanders have a similar proportion of Scandinavian mtDNA ancestry to that of the Orkney islanders, indicating that the majority of Icelandic matrilines originated from the British Isles.

Largest-To-Date Genetic Snapshot Of Iceland 1,000 Years Ago  Jan. 18, 2009 — Scientists at deCODE genetics have completed the largest study of ancient DNA from a single population ever undertaken. The results confirm previous deCODE work that used genetics to test the history of Iceland as recorded in the sagas. The country seems to have been settled by men from Scandinavia – the vikings – but that the majority of the original female inhabitants were from the coastal regions of Scotland and Ireland, areas that regularly suffered raids by vikings in the years around the settlement of Iceland 1100 years ago.

Decodeing Iceland's DNA

The Iceland Experiment

The Viking Journey of Mice and Men mouse mDNA timeline of mouse colonization matches Viking invasion—but no evidence of house mice from the Viking period in Newfoundland. 

Small Mammals Have A 'Celtic Fringe' Too (I'm being a bit tonue-in-cheeky here) The origin of the ‘Celtic fringe' of genetically and culturally distinctive people in the NW British Isles is the source of fierce academic controversy. But small mammals mimic ‘human-like' geographic pattern of genetic variation.

The Vikings Were Not the First Colonizers of the Faroe Islands raises questions about the timing of human activity on other islands systems where similarly evidence may have been destroyed.

Highly discrepant proportions of female and male Scandinavian and British Isles ancestry within the isolated population of the Faroe Islands

The Early Settlement and Trade of Iceland
Over at, I found a paper, From Dál Riata to the Gall-Ghàidheil Jennings, Andrew and Kruse, Arne (2009). Also published in the journal, Viking and Medieval Scandinavia.

Vikings May Have Been More Social Than Savage  Sagas are "fictionalised distortions of real societies.…" and 'family sagas' of Icelandic literature are quite distinct, the overall network of saga society is consistent with real social networks."

Viking and Medieval Scandinavia, annual multidisciplinary journal published by Brepols (a database of papers).

See also The old constitution. Libellus Islandorum, p 159. (Oops, I lost the English translation page. Sorry. Ironic in that this particular link is what inspired me to write this piece.)

I'm a great fan of Gwyn Jones. (You can read some of it at Google Books:)  A History of the Vikings, Oxford Univ. Press, 1984. You also can take a peek at it, and other books, at BookLens.

F. Donald Logan's The Vikings in History, looks promising. A free PDF, it's a real steal.

Check out Jonathan Clements' A Brief History of the Vikings,  "When the Vikings "discovered" Iceland, the Irish were already there. For some reason, they had a lot of Irish people with them.... Supposedly, their Irish slaves revolted, stole their remaining possessions and women, and set up on the Vestmannaeyjar ... the daughter of the Irish king Myrkjartan."  (Google Books)

I also found a reference that "Hoskuld Dalakol's son, from Laxadaal in Iceland, bought, at a market at Brennoe, in Holland, a daughter of the Irish King Myrkjartan, named Melkorka, who must have been carried away into slavery from Ireland…" —The Irish Monthly Magazine, Vol. 2, p. 475.  Unfortunately, I didn't save the link, I was hot on the trail, and now I can't find it, not even with the Google back-link. The link that got away.  —from Google Books.

Now this slays me, after I struggled so to write this piece, I found this:
The Vikings left little impact on Ireland other than towns and certain words added to the Irish language, but many Irish taken as slaves inter-married with the Scandinavians, hence forming a close link with the Icelandic people. In the IcelandicLaxdœla saga, for example, "even slaves are highborn, descended from the kings of Ireland."[49] The first name of Njáll Þorgeirsson, the chief protagonist of Njáls saga, is a variation of the Irish name Neil. According to Eirik the Red's Saga, the first European couple to have a child born in North America was descended from the Viking Queen of Dublin, Aud the Deep-minded, and a Gaelic slave brought to Iceland.[11]   Irish people - Wiki

Read about my madcap adventures with a recalcitrant Icelandic pony:
HELGAR THE HORRIBLE Helgar the Horrible, was unlike the other horses. He wasn't wily as my bandit Shetlands, dubbed the “Little Shytes” by irate neighbors, as there wasn’t a fence made that could contain the ponies. Nor was he prissy like the dainty Welsh ponies pretending to be grown-up horses at a gymkhana, their manes in need of imaginary smoothing. Helgar was more akin to the dour donkeys—but the similarities ended with the dorsal stripes. 

This post always draws ire from the romantic neo-Vikings of the New World.
THE VIKING IRISH REDHEAD GENE MYTH OK, so why is it that every St. Paddy's Day, silly redhead stereotypes and myths foam up and froth over like bad green beer, equating Irish redheads with the Viking invasions when Vikings are generally blond or dark-haired?

In case you're in need of an Irish medieval timeline:
from ANNALS OF THE 4 MASTERS I compiled this timeline at the end of last century (by hand)—at a time when I had almost no internet access—and there was no such thing as broadband. I spent a lot of time searching UC Berkeley Library microfiche databases, and in the dusty library basement with (19th) century facsimiles of Irish Annals. This timeline is also augmented from miscellaneous timelines I was reading [they are marked in various ((inventive)) parentheses]. I used several timelines in order to read Patrick's Confessios and Adámnan's Life of Columba in a quasi-historical context.

No comments: