Hrothgar’s Saga

THE SAGA

OF

HROTHGAR BOKRAEDER

Translated

By

Professor Liam O'Lot

 

Introduction

Vikings for all occasions, no tale too long

Manaraefan Herred

Very little is known of Grumpy Gunghosson's (1173-1260) personal life, he was a contemporary of Snorri Sturlsson (1179-1241) but it is not known if the two men knew each other. Grumpy seems to have been a great traveller and wandered extensively around Europe, on these travels he collected poems and stories which he wrote down. Grumpy also includes references to the greater events of the times he was writing about, at some time he must have had access to a copy of the Anglo Saxon Chronicle as parts of that document are copied word for word into Hrothgar's Saga. He appears to have had no interest in taking his work with him and lodged the finished poem or story with whoever he happened to be staying with at the time. Consequently his work has turned up all over Europe and its scale and scope was not appreciated until a few years ago.

Most of the stories and poems that have come to light in recent years concern the activities of a Danish adventurer in the late tenth century. Hrothgar's Saga is indeed amazing and, if true, must call into doubt many previously held beliefs about the course of many historical events. Sadly there is no way of verifying the stories, if anything they are repudiated by what is recorded elsewhere. Where the doubt lies is in the partisan nature of the other sources. Chronicles from the time concerned, such as the Anglo Saxon Chronical, were kept by the Church; they are hardly likely to record in any detail the activities of a minor Viking raider who was responsible for destroying many of their properties and an apostate pagan to boot. Snorri never left the Norse world and wrote mostly about events that occurred in Iceland though some of his heros did travel to England, Norway and further afield, as most of Hrothgar's adventures were in England it is perhaps not surprising that Snorri never came across him.

It is therefore possible that these stories are giving us, if not an unbiased view, a different view on the events of the day. If, on the other hand, they turn out to be fictitious then they may be enjoyed for that alone.

The Host that Hrothgar joined is one of the most unusual institutions to be discovered in the Dark Ages. Today equality of the sexes is taken for granted but this was not the case in the Tenth Century, it is therefor a surprise to scholars to learn of an organisation that accepts this modern premise. Within the Host women have the same rights in law as men and may speak for themselves in councils, some hold high ranking positions in the Host and others are described as warriors. Whether this was the last vestige of an older system or the birth of a new one is not known, only that this modern idea did not find acceptance outside the Host and died with it.

The latest document to come to light is Grumpy's "Other Edda"; this document is advice on how a warrior might live life. By today's lights some of the advice is rather odd or even questionable; it is certainly very enlightening as to the way a warrior lived in the tenth century.

If the prose are sometimes contradictory to "historical fact" then the poems are more so, they often contradict what is written in the saga. Hrothgar is himself "killed" in the "Battle of Frome" yet clearly went on to other adventures; it seems that Grumpy adjusts the facts with artistic licence.

Throughout the document that follows any rank or title which begins with a Capital letter is held by a member of the Host.

 

Professor Liam O'Lot studied at B’Jesus Collage, University of Dublin, where he read Books. While at Jesus he shared rooms with Hugh Heffoe and was for a time romantically linked with Mia Owpic. It was here that he first became interested in the works of Grumpy Gunghosson, he came across a reference to his work on a college news paper used to wrap chips he had bought from Paddy's Fish 'n Chip Bar. All would have been lost had he finished his chips before he got back to his rooms and disposed of the paper in the traditional manner; fortunately for the lovers of history Mia Owpic snatched them from him and used them to entice Liam into her bed. The next morning, while eating a breakfast of cold chips, Liam read the article in the paper and set off on the path to fame.

He is currently the Guinness Professor of Leaning at Margerene Collage, University of Dublin.

 

Pub. Apr 1985

 

Professor Liam O'Lot died aged 68 on 1st April 2013 after attending a dinner at Margerene College, he collapsed in the early hours as he returned to his home with his long-time companion Dr Mia Owpic.  Dr Owpic said that he would have seen the joke dying as he did on All Fools Day.  An autopsy revealed that Professor O’Lot had died from liver failure due to excessive alcohol consumption.

 

Pub. Apr 2013

Part 1.  The German Cycle

 

             Shortly after the Beginning Odin Allfather, lord of the gods, had three ravens, Hugin (Thought), Munin (Memory) and Samgangr (Conflict).  Hugin and Munin flew out each day and spied on man for Odin Allfather, Samgangr he kept close by and man lived in peace.  A time came when Odin Allfather, listening to the tales that Hugin and Munin brought to him, was distracted, Samgangr flew away to Midgard and whispered in the ears of men, war was born.       

 

744      In this year is born Hrothgar Long Thumb.

Burlief the Brave married Sigrune the Fair, daughter of Atli the Goth.  Many guests attended the wedding at Burlief's great hall of Bright Haven, all the great and the good of the district came to see Sigrune as she was reputed the most beautiful woman of the age.  The wedding feast was well under way when there came a loud banging at the hall door, Burlief's steward opened the door and admitted a stranger who leaned heavily upon a great staff. None could see the strangers face, nor make much of him as he wore a wide brimmed blue hat and a great cloak of grey wool but as is the custom he was given a place at the table.

When it came time for the happy couple to retire there was a good deal of ribaldry causing the fair Sigrune to blush but neither Burlief, or the brides father Atli, put a stop to it. There came a great crash and all looked to see the stranger standing having brought his staff down upon the feasting table with such force that it had fallen to the ground along with all those sat at it.  The stranger then bellowed out his shame at seeing a new bride blush so at the rude words of common men and two mighty lords standing by. Before Burlief or Atli could reply the stranger threw his staff high into the roof rafters where it stuck for in truth it was a great spear.  All in the hall fell into a deep sleep except Sigrune and the stranger, they then talked for a long while before Sigrune retired to her bed.

The next morning the stranger recovered his spear from the rafters and departed the hall, those who had slept awoke as he passed through the portal and saw not the cloaked and be hatted stranger but a mighty warrior in gilded mail, shining helm and bearing a great spear. None dared speak too loudly about what they had seen and when a child was born to Sigrune in the proper time Burlief recognised him as his own and raised him well, he named him Hrothgar and in time he became known as Hrothgar Long Thumb.

 

768      In this year is born Einar Farter, the son of Hrothgar Long Thumb.

Hrothgar Long Thumb grew to be a fine stout warrior and led the warriors of Burlief against all his foes, he was always lucky in battle and was of such good looks that everyone loved him as soon as they saw him, even those he captured in raids or battle fell under the spell of his good looks.  Hrothgar Long Thumb married a princess won from the Swedish king Thorgood and they had many children but the first was Einar and in time he became known as Einar Farter. This princess was named Fritha of the Smile as after her marriage to Hrothgar Long Thumb she smiled constantly, when asked what made her smile so much all she would say was, "Hrothgar's long thumb".  Hrothgar Long Thumb attacked king Thorgood because he was very greedy and horded much wealth in gold and  silver. Though Thorgood had many reliable warriors he neglected the defence of his lands and hall preferring to hoard his wealth rather than use it to improve the defence of his home. For this reason Hrothgar Long Thumb thought it would be easy to take Thorgood's wealth. Hrothgar Long Thumb defeated Thorgood and forced him to pay well for him to go away, to ensure he never returned Thorgood offered his daughter Fritha to Hrothgar Long Thumb. Fritha was a beautiful woman and Hrothgar Long Thumb was pleased with the offer which he accepted. 

 

806     In this year is born Grim the Wise, the son of Einar Farter.

Einar Farter was a great seafarer and explored many lands particularly to the north and east.  All his expeditions were successful but he often had difficulty finding a crew, it was said he could clear a ship of men while sitting and smilingly to himself quicker than a hundred archers!  Einar Farter was married to Gerda Grim Face who was known as a wise woman, she always kept the doors to his hall wide open except in the worst weather. This Gerda was a woman of the north, she came from Halgoland.  Einar Farter was returning from the frozen seas where he had been hunting the walrus and white bear and sought to sell some of his cargo to the king of Halgoland. The business went well and Einar Farter sold half his cargo there, as he was about to leave Njal White Haven came to Einar Farter's ship and asked to buy one of the white bear skins. Einar planned to take all his remaining white bear skins to the king of Denmark who prized such Things greatly and would pay a high price, he feared that Njal White Haven could not afford th skin. Njal White Haven said that as well as gold he had a foster daughter in need of a husband and asked Einar Farter to come to his hall and meet the girl, if he was satisfied with her he could marry here provided he left a white bear skin with Njal White Haven. Einar was in need of a wife and had been seeking one for some time so agreed. Einar Farter was much taken with Gerda and she with him and the marriage was quickly held. They had six children the youngest of whom was Grim and in time he became known as Grim the Wise.

 

842      In this year is born Orlief the Lost, the son of Grim the Wise.

Grim the Wise was known wide and far for his intelligent speech and wise council.  Any lord or king that planned an expedition or some other great enterprise was sure to seak him out for his advice.  He married the daughter of Eanred, king of Northumbria.  Grim the Wise had arrived in Northumbria with a ship full of brave warriors intent on taking what they wanted but they had the bad fortune to land just where king Eanred had gathered his army to punish an errant lord of his.  All would have been lost to the sea raiders had not Grim the Wise persuaded them to let him try to talk their way out of trouble.  Grim the Wise persuaded king Eanred that he would be wise to let the sea raiders punish his troublesome subject as his hands would remain clean and his warriors un-hurt.  The raiders descended on king Eanred's foe with such ferocity that all were soon slain and much booty was taken to be shared with the king.  King Eanred had planned to attack the sea raiders once they had done his work for him but led by Grim the Wise they had been so successful that none were hurt and the Northumbrian warriors were leary of taking them on in battle.  King Eanred invited Grim the Wise and his warriors to a great feast at which he intended to slay the invaders when they were deep in their cups.  Grim the Wise suspected foul play and instructed his warriors to drink little and keep their wits about them. At the feast Grim the Wise sat himself next to a beautiful young woman who said she was king Eanred's youngest daughter Aethal.  With Aethal Grim the Wise then sat next to king Eanred and they talked long into the night and king Eanred saw no opportunity to dispose of the sea raiders.

The next morning king Eanred rose late to find his court in joyous mood, it seems he had agreed to the betrothal of his daughter Aethal to Grim the Wise! All his lords and advisors agreed this was a good thing and everyone said how great an addition to king Eanred's court would be Grim the Wise.  Shortly after the wedding king Eanred died and Grim the Wise returned to Denmark with his princess. Soon after returning home a son was born to Grim the Wise and Aethal, they named him Orlief and in time he became known as Orlief the Lost.

 

866     In this year is born Hrolf Fleet Foot, the son of Orlief the Lost.

Orlief the Lost went east to find his fortune and was not heard of for many years, for that reason he was known as Orlief the Lost and was greatly mourned by his parents. Orlief the Lost had travelled far to the east and had entered the service of the king of the Bulgars, he learnt to fight in the Bulgar way from horseback and with a bow but when he closed with his foes he threw himself from his horse and attacked as a berserk. This much impressed the king of the Bulgars and he offered Orlief the Lost a wife from his household. Orlief the Lost was much taken with a raven haired beauty named Levina and took her as his bride. When he did return home he and Levina had a half grown son named Hrolf and in time he became known as Hrolf Fleet Foot.

 

895      In this year is born Starkadar Red Hair, the son of Hrolf Fleet Foot.

Hrolf Fleet Foot got his name because he was the swiftest runner if his day, none could catch him in any race. Hrolf was with a band of warriors intent on looting Irish monasteries. At this they were very successful until the king of Meath, Flann Sionna MacMaele Sechnaill O'Neill, came upon them with a great force.  Not wanting to loose the profit of their expedition the raiders divided the loot between them and ran for their ships. Hrolf Fleet Foot was the only one who was able to stay ahead if the men of Meath most of whom were well mounted. Only he and the ship guard were able to get away and they in only one ship! They made their way north for three days then set ashore to rest and find provisions for their return home. The only treasure they had was that which Hrolf Fleet Foot had carried to the ship so they decided to take slaves from a nearby village. This they did and there was one among the women they had taken that caught Hrolf Fleet Foot's eye, a beautiful woman with bright red hair. Hrolf Fleet Foot said to his shipmates that he would forgo his share of the treasure and other slaves if he could keep this one captive to himself. Seeing they would have greater profit this way they agreed. Hrolf Fleet Foot made the woman, whose name was Maeve, his wife and she bore him many sons foremost among whom was Starkadar and in time he became known as Starkadar Red Hair.

 

926      In this year fiery rays of light appeared in the northern sky.  Sihtric died and king Athelstan the Glorious annexed the kingdom of Northumbria: he brought into submission all the kings in this island: first Hywel, king of the West Welsh, and Constantine, king of Scots, and Owain king of Gwent, and Ealdred Ealdulfing from Bamburgh.  They established a covenant of peace with pledges and oaths at a place called Eamont Bridge on 12 July: they forbade all idolatrous practices, and then separated in concord.

             In this year Gilthor the Sailor is born in Denmark, the son of Starkadar Red Hair, son of Hrolf Fleet Foot, son of Orlief the Lost, son of Grim the Wise, son of Einar Farter, son of Hrothgar Long Thumb.

Starkadar Red Hair had grown to be a brave warrior and fine seafarer, he had travelled far and wide and brought home much wealth. He had married Solvieg the daughter of a his fathers neighbour and a fine good looking woman. Starkadar Red Hair often spoke at the thing and his words were greeted well by all those in attendance, none could mistake him when he stood to speak for he had such bright red hair.

 

928      In this year William (Longsword) became duke of Normandy, and ruled fifteen years.

             Rosehild is born in Denmark the daughter of Fredrick the German.

 

945      In this year king Edmund the Magnificent ravaged all Strathclyde, and ceded it to Malcolm, king of Scots, on the condition that he would be his fellow worker both by sea and land.

             Gilthor the Sailor travels abroad, he has many adventures but is captured and held prisoner by the Moors.  He is freed when the Sturaesman of his ship leads his fellow sailors in a raid upon the Moorish prison where he was being held. There was great excitement and commotion in the Moorish town as the raiders cause much damage to distract the Moors from their purpose. Gilthor the Sailor and his companions make their escape.

 

954      In this year the Northumbrians drove out Eric, and Eadred succeeded to the Northumbrian kingdom.  Archbishop Wulfstan was restored to the bishopric of Dorchester.

             Gilthor the Sailor returned home a wealthy man and straight way went before Fredrick the German and asked for the hand of Rosehild. Fredrick the German knew Gilthor the Sailor was from a fine family and could see that he had made himself wealthy in his own right, he welcomed Gilthor the Sailor's suit and a wedding was arranged.

 

957      Archbishop Odo separated king Eadwig and Aelfgyfu, because they were too closely related.  In this year the atheling Edgar the Peaceable received the Mercian kingdom.  Hrothgar was born to Gilthor the Sailor and Rosehild at Aarsholm in Denmark.  When only a few weeks old he became ill and his parents feared that he would die. Three wise women sat by Hrothgar throughout his illness and comforted Rosehild, they helped her with her weaving and told her tales of the great deeds Hrothgar would do when he grew to manhood, he would be renowned for his extreme deeds. Hrothgar, tended by his mother and the wise women, fought his illness and recovered, Gilthor the Sailor said that he had a warrior's strength and would one day be a great man.

 

958      Loftheana was born to Gilthor the Sailor and Rosehild at Aarsholm in Denmark.

 

959      Morrigan Legbiter born in Jorvik.

 

965      King Edgar the Peaceable took Aelfthryth for his queen; she was the daughter of eolderman Ordgar.  Hrothgar takes part in rough spear games with other boys and leads his team to many victories.

             Susan of Lytham Convent born.

 

The Host

 

969   King Edgar the Peaceable commanded all Thanet to be ravaged.  Hrothgar fell in a deep pit full of water and would have drowned if his friend Caden had not pulled him out.

           In this year Saemarr, son of Stan, a man of vision, given to painting Gods and Goddesses of the folk at a great temple in Hakon’s Island, forsook his calling, and came to Giseldone to manage the trade affairs of the gleeman Dic-tun, famed amongst the folk and across many lands for his singing. And who had amassed wealth, with which he had begun a trading booth pitched in the market of Camdun fast by Gisla’s Hill.  This trading centre had long grown up at the fork of the roads known as the way of the Caledonians and the way of the East Saxons, and attracted those from far lands who had come to Lundunwic.  Likewise, the trading booth became a meeting place where men of like mind who in their dull lives, sought fame in keeping the traditions of our folk alive for those to yet to come. Alhan –son of Gaufridus, and true of type to his family title, was the first of such stalwarts, keen in the ways of the folk. This meeting with Saemarr, was soon followed by men of the same ilk, eager to form a bond of comradeship, and that which Norn woven, would work the wyrd of many yet to come across the breadth of Ynglingaland and far beyond.

 

970 During this time, the fellowship steadily grew, rekindling ancient ideals, names and words half-forgotten in the soul of the folk and their kin. Bringing back old customs and ways long trodden underfoot by the teachings of the White Christ. The band laboured to gather equipment, helmets of long dead heroes, friend and foe alike, and many strange weapons of iron and fire, some of which are said to have been of magical origin. Men strode forth, to honour and emulate the deeds of heroic forebears and refashion what their fate had set asunder.

 

971       Archbishop Oscytel passed away, who was first hallowed as the diocesan bishop of Dornwarana Ceaster, and afterwards was hallowed to Jorvik, with the consent of king Eadred and all his councillors; he was bishop for twenty-two years.  He passed away on the eve of All Saints', ten nights before Martinmas, at Tamu.  Abbot Thurkytel his kinsman accompanied the bishop's body to Bead's ford, because he was abbot there at that time.

    By this year, a further but secure stockade had been brought into being as a moot hall by Alhan. At his own domain in End field, on the very Northern boundary of the Middle Saxons, as was, by chance, nearby the homestead of Saemarr’s kinfolk, it was from this place, the two comrades formed and trained those who, from the beginnings of the host, and whose forays and skirmishes soon formed the Odin Guard out of the most steadfast. Through the course of this year the warriors pursued two roles in appearance before the people of the land, but finally, it came to pass that those who, eventually put aside the original outer appearance and changed their path and ways of warfare solely unto those of Viking men, found it to their advantage.  Some half of the original hearth companions found no favour in this course and were lost from the ranks of the host, as their hearts were not in it. The Old Guard who remained, tightened their ranks, and a man must appear worthy indeed were he to gain their trust and companionship. A code of dress, rules and a title were embraced by the warrior band who took it upon themselves to represent the inner spirit of all those who joined them in the shieldwall. Thus did Saemarr become Jarl Ironhorns, and Alhan, the renowned Alanaxe. The Host was joined by Jarl Grimbold Hairy-breaks, who brought many warriors from the north and Jarl Thor Odinsson gathered more from west across the whales’ road.

 

972    The atheling Edmund passed away; his body lies at Raemsea.

In this year Ragnar Bear Odinsson, cast his lot in with the Host. Being a trading man of great strength, guile and of charming manner, his bearing struck the Vikings as a worthy and most useful man to add to their still meagre number. Ragnar had first appeared at the hall doors of the old trading booth, known by men at that time as the Flea Market. Before Dic tun opened his new merchant hall across the great road, on the opposite side of the Gisledone Grove. The mickle Bear bore beneath his arm a great effigy in the form of a man, aiming to sell it. Ironhorns bought the idol on behalf of Dic tun in order to display their wares.  Later dealings with Odinsson, found him willing to go a-Viking in their company, bringing with him, the advantage of his old but fine black ship, which was able to transport his Lord, equipment and some warriors or allies to battle when needed.

Although he could well steer a ship, and was indeed a dangerous fellow to be confronted with, Ragnar knew nothing of fighting with weapons of war. Yet, eagerly did this man take to the handling of such matters and dealing with the men about him. So that when Alhan left his homestead for the village of Burwell in Grantanbrycg scir, and became leader of all provincial Viking warriors, Ragnar became the Jarl Ironhorn’s clear choice of hearth companion and then second in command of the Lundun Sveiter.  Lo, did omens form unnoticed at this time for the future of the host, when great changes would be wrought.

 

973    In this year Otto was elected king of the Saxons and Emperor of the Romans.

Also in this year Edgar the Peaceable, ruler of the Ynglingalish, by a great company was hallowed king in the old borough Acemannesceastre, called Bath, as by its other name it is known on that island.  Great joy was brought to all on that blessed day named Pentecost by men; a company of priests, a host of monks, wise ones gathered.  The winters had passed, nearly ten hundred, so many told from the Nativity of the renowned King, the guardian of light; and Edmund's son, with twenty nine winters lived in the world, in the thirtieth was hallowed king.

Hrothgar, weary of life on his father’s farm at Skolmor, took his axe and his father’s war-board and set out to seek fame and fortune.  He learnt from traders that Harald Gormsson, king of Denmark, was making war on the Saxons.  Hrothgar joined the king’s army fighting the Emperor.

In this year also the church in Ynglingaland held a great synod at Herutford.  The Host descended upon Herutford and greatly discomfited the holy men, they slew many of the locl thanes and took a great amount of the treasure of the church.

By that time Jarl Ironhorns had taken upon himself the eke-name Scarhand, due to the grievous injury wrought on his sword hand by Ragnar Bear Odinsson, who, still new to the war play, had thrust in panic at his Lord, with the very sword he had been loaned by him for the battle at Greenwich.  Indeed at that time, there appeared no evil of heart in the Bear, against the leader he had cut to the bone, even faring him safely home from the leech thereafter.

The evil seeds being planted in the beliefs of men at this time, did sprout forth with wondrous tales, even seven years after Jarl Ironhorns was no longer part of Odinsson’s great army, and had started his own campaigns, and leading a new force of followers in honour of the God Thor.  One myth told how Jarl Ironhorns had been taken captive by the Reeve’s men of Aedelhelm and lost his freedom, which never happened, - other than in the mouths and minds of liars and the fools who wished to speak ill of him, and cast his good name asunder.

974      Though he fought valiantly Hrothgar could not save king Harald Gormsson from defeat at the hands of Otto, Emperor of Germany.  After Otto seized Hedeby Harald Gormsson made peace with the Emperor and agreed to strengthen the Christian church in Denmark. 

    In midwinter, a mighty Celt warrior named Frank the Hammer, who had brought together a band of warriors from Behresduna and Daeccanham in the land of the East Saxons, led a raid on Moesgaarde and found it easy to take what they wanted from the Danes there.

    Within the Host over a short time, inexperience, and heartfelt comradeship turned to self-confidence and overweening pride in the erstwhile hearth companion of Jarl Ironhorns, so that by the time of the first battle near the Saxon burgh near Tone Bridge, and their roles in rank had become reversed. The giant warrior’s size could be likened unto his ambition for power and influence over the newcomers who flooded to his banner. For this campaign, Jarl Ironhorns had fared forth from his trading in Germany to support the siege of the strong castle at that place. He chose to fight beneath the name Estriðsson, as was confirmed with Jarl Ragnar Bear Odinsson’s before the commencement of battle.  After a poor show of missiles from the defenders, beneath the guise Estriðsson, Jarl Ironhorns boastfully confronted the defenders, asking them if they had nothing better to throw at the host. Turning his head to jest with his fellow warriors, the Jarl was hit in the mouth by a skilful archer, who had loosed an arrow, bent on vengeance against the mocking Viking. A splendid and clever shot that did Jarl Ironhorns no great harm other than to his pride, and even he did take in good humour. A great tree trunk was found, some say, from the castle itself, and the log was taken up as a battering ram unto the very gates of the stronghold. After several attempts to break in the stout doors, held fast by the weight of many defenders, it was discovered that the doors opened outwards... Thus was the ramming abandoned, and warriors swarmed along the log and over the gates, managing to unbar the doors. Whereupon they were wrenched open to the disadvantage of those defending. A great slaughter followed, and the bodies of the fallen filled the archway leading into the courtyard. Thus did Jarl Ironhorns and Ragnar Bear Odinsson’s win the day in a show of alliance.

Sometime thereafter, upon yet again wending his way forth from Hamburg to Lundunwic did Jarl Ironhorns attend a gathering of the host at the ale hall of the Pied Bull in Gislas dun, as was their customary thingstead.  Bear Odinnson had called the folk together to heed his new rules. These laws found no favour with Alanaxe and the Odin Guard, who saw the edicts as overbearing, and these hearth companions came to that assembly of warriors to stand as one. They bade Scarhand be their spokesman in confronting Bear Odinsson with their declared intention to part from his host before the whole council and all those assembled, as soon as the leader had finished speaking. Alanaxe followed up Scarhand Ironhorns words, in firm voice. The Odin Guard departed, this caused Ragnar Bear Odinsson to fly into a great rage and he swore an oath against Jarl Ironhorns.

Walt, a lord from the far west, came to the host and asked if they would stand by him while he went before the king of the Ynglingalish, Edgar the Peacable while he made treaty with him.  The Host made a fine display for Walt and he made a favourable treaty, for this he presented a fully fitted out longship Ragnar Bear Odinsson.

 

975    Here ended earthly joys for Edgar the Peaceable, king of the Ynglingalish; he chose another light, bright and glad, gave up this weak, this transitory life.  The time is known, by all those who reckon the calendar rightly, as the month of July, when the young man went forth; on the eighteenth day Edgar the Peaceable went from life, ring-giver to men, and his son received the kingdom then, a child un-grown, prince of eorls, whose name was Edward the Martyr.  And that victorious man, ten nights before from Britain departed, the bishop so good in inner nature, whose name was Cyneweard.

Then in Mercia the Wielder's praise was felled to earth.  Of God's wise servants, many were dispersed, a great distress to those who bore a burning love for the Maker in their hearts.  The First One's might was greatly scorned, the Wielder of glories, the Ruler of the heavens, his rights violated.  And driven out also was Oslac from the land, the valiant warrior over the waves, the gannet's bath; the grey-haired man, wise, skilled in words, over the water's tumult, over the whale's country, deprived of home.

And then was shown up in the skies that star in its setting, which men wise in spirit in the craft of science call a comet, wise truth-bearers.  The Ruler's wrath was throughout the peoples widely shown, hunger on earth; the Lord of heaven took it away again, the Prince of angels gave joy once more to men in this land, gave to the islanders the fruits of the earth.

In this year Ulf the Dauntless left the Emperor Otto's service and joined the Host.  At Ilford the Host fought the Ynglingalish who brought a large bear to the battlefield, this bear performed strange tricks but was otherwise a harmless beast. The Odin’s Guard saw the beast perform and took it as a sign that they should depart early from that place.

 

976   Early in this year the Host fought with their enemies at the Land of Nod.  Gim the Spoon led the Host and set an ambush for the enemy who were led by Harold the Black, Gim the Spoon accounted for many with his arrows and the Saracen, who was impervious to the blows of the enemy, slew great numbers.

    Also in this year the towns of Cobham, Lewes, Faern's burgh, Goedas' town and Staengas were ravaged by the Host.  At Lewes Jarl Ironhorns and the Odin’s Guard fought against the Host and though many on their side were killed they captured Jarl Ragnar Bear Odinsson.  They later released him but not before accepting some fine gifts.

    Jarl Ragnar Bear Odinsson leader of the Host took them on a great raid into Mercia.  Having sailed their ships up the river Maerse they turned south and surprised and captured a burgh from the Mercians.

In this year king Harald Gormsson fought a great battle against jarl Hakon at Hjorungavagr, king Harald took a great many Danes there and had with him the Jomsvikings led by Sigvaldi. Hrothgar was there with the warriors from Aarsholm who fought for king Harald. This battle went badly for king Harald, jarl Hakon had many more warriors and Sigvaldi was pressed hard and fled, many Jomsvikings fled with him though not before a goodly number were killed in the battle. Some of the Jomsvikings were captured and executed and it is said they died well.

 

 

How Hrothgar learns to read

 

977      There was that great meeting at Kirtlington after Easter, and bishop Sideman passed away in sudden death on April 30th.  He was the bishop of Defnas Scir and he wished that his body might rest in Cridiantun, in his bishopric.  King Edward the Martyr and Archbishop Dunstan commanded that he be accompanied to St. Mary's monastery in Abinga's town, and so it was done.  He is buried worthily on the north side of St. Paul's chapel.

In this year all the most senior counsellors of the Ynglingalish fell at Calne from an upper floor, except the holy archbishop Dunstan, who alone stood upon a beam; and some were very badly injured, and some did not come through it with their lives.

Having been compelled to become a Christian by king Harald Gormsson Hrothgar travelled to Germany to fight for the Emperor Otto.  Hrothgar was sent with other foreign mercenaries to defend the eastern frontier of the Empire against the pagan hordes.  While he was in the east Hrothgar was taught to read by a priest, his fellow warriors thought this was strange and called him Bokraeder.

In this year the Host laid waste the towns of Aesurest, Lienga's field, Andredescester, Hitchen, Brighthelmstone, Uingadsore, Shruw's burgh and Maergeate.

Jarl Lief Earthshaker took the ship Bifrost up the river Ouse to attack the town of Lewes, a large amount of ale was taken from the Saxon's here.

In this year Morrigan Legbiter, after coming of age, joined the Host.

 

978      The Host descended upon Bremesgraefen and took away much food and ale making the new year a poor one for the Mercians.

King Edward the Martyr of Ynglingaland was killed in the evening at the gap of Corfe on March 18th, he was stabbed, his foot tied to his stirrup and the horse driven off; he was buried at Uierham, with no kingly honours.  Nor among the Ynglingalish was any worse deed ever done than this, since they first sought the land of Britain.  Men murdered him, but God magnified him; he was in life an earthly king, he is now after death a heavenly saint.  His earthly kinsmen would not avenge him, but his heavenly Father has greatly avenged him.  The earthly killers would have destroyed his memory on earth, but the high Avenger has in heaven and earth greatly increased his memory.  Those who would not bow to his living body now humbly on their knees bow to his dead bones.  Now we may understand that the wisdom of men, their plans and counsel, are as nothing against God's purpose.

Aethelred was hallowed king on the Sunday, the fortnight after Easter, at Kingston; and there were at his hallowing two archbishops and ten diocesan bishops.  The same year, a bloody cloud was seen many times, in the likeness of fire, most often manifested at midnight.  It was formed into manifold beams; when day broke, then it glided away.

Soon after the hallowing of Aethelred the Host took their swords to the people of Aetwoeth and Stoertford, much distress was brought to the land of the Ynglingalish at this time.  Staenesaford and Graevased also suffered from the attentions of the Host.

At this time the Host consisted of the Herreds Einheriar, Tone Bridge, Cantwaraburh, Eastern Burn, Norrovik, Troon, Armounderness, Plump's Town and Liver Lhin and the Lethangs Brighthelmstone, Port Moth and Mann.

In this year Vladimir became prince of Kiev.

 

The Host raids Manau

 

Jarl Ragnar Bear Odinsson took a ship's crew of the Host to Manau and there fought a number of battles against the local people and gaining much honour.  There also came Peat Iron-horns along with the Jarl of the West, Ragnar was enraged and sent the chief of his hearthguard, Saracen, to drive them off. Saracen did this with much violence. From there Ragnar sailed to Scaer burgh and joined the rest of the Host as they fought off the defenders and pillaged the place.

 

979      Eolderman Aelfhere brought the holy king's body from Uierham, and accompanied it with great honour to Scarsftburg.

The Mercians suffered the depredations of the Host and their town of Brumingasham was raised to the ground.

The Host invaded the Isle of Manau, there taking the burgh of Rushden from the inhabitants.  They then held an Althing at Tynewald before burning the town of Raemsea and moving to Peel.  There they built a strong burgh, defending it stoutly from all manner of engines of war; Thorgeir Havarsson particularly distinguished himself there.  After fighting a battle on the western strand and burning the ships of the Manau people, the Host departed with great disagreement amongst its leaders.

The Host returned to Ynglingaland's shores at Dubh Linn where Jarl Sven Gottfriedsson of Amounderness said he could guide Ragnar Bear Odinsson to lands ripe for plunder.  The land there had already been ravaged by other raiders and the Host came away with little profit, Jarl Sven Gottfriedsson particularly felt the loss.

In Norroway, jarl Hakon ruled in peace after defeating in the previous year the sons of Eirik Bloodaxe the king, late of Jorvik; also in Denmark king Harald Gormsson ruled in peace.

In this year Jarl Ragnar Bear Odinsson sent Saracen and the warriors that followed him into exile from the Host.

 

Bjorn and Caradoc

 

980     Abbot Aethelgar was hallowed bishop on May 2nd to the bishopric at Selsey.  In this year a force of Vikingar ravaged Omtune and most of the towns folk were slain or taken prisoner.  In the same year the islands of Thanet and Mona were harried; also in the same year Legacaestir Saetan was harried by the Host.

             Bjorn Styrbjornsson, Sturaesman of Wessex, led warriors of his Lethang to Bremesgraefen; they were Rollo Kilfyarsson, Thorkel, Erik Haraldsson the Archer and Owen Cynfawr.  They sailed in the Golden Fjord and lost one of their shields on the journey but eventually arrived safely.  Once there they fell in with Morrigan Legbiter and the Mercians Caradoc, Frytha the Fair, Sven of Mercia and Skallagrim Baldpate.  All these warriors fought hard for the Host and they were able to greatly improve their fortunes.  With such good gains the Host feasted well, they held sporting contests and sang merry songs.

             The towns of Norrovik and Cantwaraburh suffered from the attentions of the Host, they took much property away from those places.  After this Jarl Ragnar Bear Odinsson led the Host to the isle of Mon in Guined and there fought the forces of Stefe Ap Groom.  Bjorn Styrbjornsson again led Rollo Kilfyarsson, Thorkel, Erik Haraldsson the Archer and Owen Cynfawr to join Ragnar Bear Odinsson's Host. Caradoc, Morrigan Legbiter, Euan the Stout, Skallagrim Baldpate, Baradoc the Smutti, Frytha the Fair and Yr An Distaw the Well Man came from Mercia and fought with Bjorn Styrbjornsson under Ragnar Bear Odinsson.  Two of Ragnar Bear Odinsson's warriors were captured by the Wealsh and tortured to death, this greatly angered him, he determined to show the foe no mercy and use any trick to defeat them.  In a fierce battle the Host drove the Wealsh from the field and burned their homes, no mercy was shown to any they caught.

 

Frytha the Fair captured

 

             Suth Seaxe next suffered a visitation from the Host, Bjorn Styrbjornsson and Caradoc both led their Lethangs to that unhappy place.  Here Frytha the Fair was captured by the enemy and a rescue had to be made, the savagery of the Host knew no bounds when one of their own was in peril.  After Frytha the Fair's rescue a feast was made of the provisions taken from the unfortunate local people.

 

Frytha the Fair carried off again

 

             After this an Irish warrior called Throm Eirelandsson joined Bjorn Styrbjornsson's Herred and was welcomed heartily by all.  Secretly he had been sent by his chieftain to win the confidence of Bjorn Styrbjornsson and his warriors so that he could steel away Frytha.  When next Caradoc's Herred joined with Bjorn Styrbjornsson's, Throm Eirelandsson kidnapped After Frytha the Fair as she went about her morning toilet.  When her absence was noted a search was made and Yr An Distaw the Well Man discovered tracks leading into the forest. Caradoc led the chase and the enraged warriors soon over took the traitor, by now he had re-joined his confederates and a sharp fight ensued.  After Frytha the Fair was rescued, Throm Eirelandsson was captured and the remainder of the Irish put to flight or the sword.  Later Bjorn Styrbjornsson found it in his heart to forgive Throm Eirelandsson and again accepted him as one of his warriors.

             The Host then sailed to Largs in Cuneningas and there built a burgh on the coast which was strongly attacked by the Scots.  There was a great storm and many of the Host's tents were blown away by the wind, the wind was so great that some of the Host sought shelter in a midden.

             At this time Morrigan Legbiter and Ulf the Dauntless spoke with a scribe in Jorvik.  Ulf the Dauntless carelessly told the scribe that he had taken his chief's seat covers to make his armour.  Afterwards he was afraid that his chief would hear of his theft and dispense with his services.  Morrigan Legbiter was asked why she had joined the Host; she replied that she liked fighting.

             Strange omens were seen in this year.  Learned men said this was caused by the God's displeasure with the Pagan Guild of Barbarians and their evil Gods.  The Host held a great feast in Norrovik, said to be the best in the Northlands.

             In the same year Iceland suffered from a great famine.

 

981      In this year Eiric the Red settled in a land he called Greenland, by this he hoped to encourage others to live there.

             St.Petroc's, Padstow, was ravaged, and in the same year much harm was done everywhere along the Ynglingalish sea coast, in both Defnas Scir and West Wealas.  In this same year archbishop Aelfstan of Uintancaestir passed away, and his body lies in the monastery in Abinga's town: Wulfgar received the episcopal see.  In the same year Womaer, abbot of Ghent, passed away.

             The Host descended upon Scar Burgh and there did great destruction to the fort built by those who fought under the White Boar banner.  The warriors of the White Boar were driven away from that place and refused to face the Host in open battle.

             In this year also Otto's Italian subjects rose up in revolt against their master's rule.  A large army was brought together; many warriors were equipped by the bishops of Germany.  Hrothgar Bokraeder joined them from the east. The Emperor Otto invaded Italy to crush the rebels.  There was much slaughter, rapine and pillaging and Hrothgar carried away a great mass of loot.  Hrothgar returned to Germany a rich man.

             In this year Haldor the Viking was held by the king's men of Lanceastir.

 

982      In this year three Vikingar crews landed in Dorseatscir and ravaged Portland.  The same year, there was a great fire in London, said to be caused by great fire breathing dragons.  In the same year, two ealdormen passed away, Ethelmar of Hamtun Scir and Eadwine of Suthe Seaxe.  The body of Ethelmar rests in the new Minster of Uintancaestir, and Eadwines in the Abbey at Abinga's town.  The same year passed away two abbesses in Dorseatscir.

             In the same year the Emperor Otto went to Italy, there he met a great Host of Saracens up from the sea that had the intention of waging war upon the Christian inhabitants.  Hrothgar was again amongst the warriors of the Emperor and fought valiantly for him.  The Emperor fought against them, and there was a great slaughter on either side, but the Emperor had possession of the place of slaughter; he was however, hard pressed before he returned to Germany.  On his way home passed away his brother's son who was also called Otto.  He was the son of Prince Liudolf and this Liudolf was the son of Otto the Elder by the daughter of king Edward the Elder.  Hrothgar again took booty back to Germany but not as much as the year before.

 

Ragnar Bear Odinsson stands down

 

             Ragnar Bear Odinsson stood down as leader of the Host this year, Jarl Sven Gottfriedsson was his successor and the warriors of his Herred Lief Tyrsson, Thorgill, Owen of Taff and Sandi the Carter were on his High Council.

             Thorgeir Havarsson Coalbrowskald went as a mercenary captain to the strong burgh of Peckforton, taking with him Jorunn Havskilepadde.  Mudut Lhal, a warrior from the east, also came to the burgh of Peckforton.  He came alone but was expecting to be joined by other warriors from the east. Soon he was joined by Tehd the Waterer and Baggott, together they cleared out a nest of fell creatures but Mudut Lhal was laid low by poisoned arrows.  Many prayers were said over his body to drive out the evil infesting his body and he eventually recovered.

             Mudut Lhal met Thorgeir Havarsson and Jorunn Havskilepadde and they soon became good friends.  Thorgeir Havarsson taught Mudut Lhal how warriors fought in the west and they fought many battles together.

 

983      In this year passed away eolderman Alfhere and Alfric succeeded to the same eoldormanry and Pope Benedict passed away.

             In the spring of this year the Host went into Wealas and fought the inhabitants.  Caradoc of Mercia went out at night and set traps for the Wealsh warriors, but they were too wise in the ways of war to fall into them.  After this Caradoc often spoke of the wisdom of the Wealsh in this respect, a great quantity of mead and ale was provided to him to still his tongue.

             The Host then left Wealas but held the burgh of Beumaris against the Wealsh for thirteen weeks.  While exchanging insults with the Wealsh the warrior Orm shouted with such force that his teeth flew out of his mouth, he was greatly put out by the laughter of his foes.

             Jarl Bjorn Styrbjornsson held a feast in honour of Jarl Sven Gottfriedsson and his Host in his hall at Bristol.  It was discovered that the wine merchant had not brought sufficient to quench the thirst of such mighty warriors, nor had enough food been prepared to satisfy their hunger, what there was was found not to be to the liking of many.  There was much discontent amongst the Host about this; Caradoc led some warriors to take food from Italian traders that had set up in the town.  Jarl Bjorn Styrbjornsson lost face over this matter.

             In this year Matteyear, another warrior from the east, joined Mudut Lhal at Peckforton.  They then went with some young warriors to destroy a pack of evil creatures that were terrorising the burgh.  The young warriors were terrified that they might meet a ghoul and would jump with fright every time they heard a sound.  Matteyear scouted ahead and then Mudut Lhal would go and kill whatever creature he had found.  As they did this the young warriors would criticise them and complain that they were taking all the treasure they found.  Mudut Lhal and Matteyear decided to let them earn their own; when they next found an evil beast they pushed the young warriors forward, threatening to kill them if they retreated.  After their return from their quest the young warriors attacked Mudut Lhal and Matteyear but were no match for them, some died and the others fled to tend their wounds.

             In this year the Legacaestir Saetan fyrd defeated the Host under Jarl Sven Gottfriedsson.

             In this year Otto, the Emperor of the Romans, died.

 

984     The benevolent bishop Aethelwold passed away; and the hallowing of the succeeding bishop, Aeltheah, whose name was Godwin, was on October 19th; and he took the bishop's throne on the day of the two apostles, Simon and Jude, in Uintancaestir.

             Also in this year the jarl of the Isles died, and was cremated by a great boat-burning in Levik.

             Jarl Sven Gottfriedsson took the Host into Guined and took the strong place called Plas Coch from the Wealsh and held it for some time.  Here there was much talk of the Varangians and some of them had their mettle tested, they were given the most dangerous tasks and called to display their skills.

             A Vikingar force from Shetland harried in Lancaestir Scire at Aeccle's town and faced the Host in battle.  The Host also fought a great battle against the Ynglingalish king Aethelred in Suthe Seaxe, said to be the greatest gathering of the Host seen until that time.  Shortly afterwards the High Council Jarl Thorgill took Odilia as his wife.

             Mudut Lhal descended into the depths below the burgh of Peckforton with Tehd the Waterer and the Giant Jarl.  They had with them others but found that when any fighting was to be done it was up to them.  This time it was Mudut Lhal 's turn to scout ahead, there was no light whatsoever; when Mudut Lhal heard fell creatures moving in the dark he threw small stones and listened to the difference in their sound to detect them.  When he found the creatures he told Tehd the Waterer and the Giant Jarl who would then destroy them.  When they came to a well-lit cave Mudut Lhal left Tehd the Waterer and the Giant Jarl to distract the evil creature they found there, he then crept up behind it.  When he was close enough he leapt onto the creatures back and held its arms while the other two rushed up and slew it.

             Mudut Lhal left the burgh of Peckforton soon after this; he had been wounded too many times and was growing week.  He eventually reached Hengstdun but there he finally succumbed to his wounds.

 

How Hrothgar gets his sword Orcblender

 

             Tired of fighting battles for the Emperor Hrothgar took a ship to Ynglingaland.  While crossing the Muir Nicht a great storm blew the ship off course.  The storm raged for fourteen days and nights, all aboard the ship were violently sick and half the crew were swept away.  When the storm eventually ceased the survivors found themselves near to land, it was very hot and there were great forests of tall trees.

             They beached their ship and searched for fresh water.  Having found water they made camp and fell asleep near their ship.  When they awoke they found that they were surrounded by near naked brown men who babbled at them in a strange tongue.  Weakened by hunger they were easily overcome and taken prisoner.  Hrothgar and the ship’s crew were made slaves and set to work in a quarry.  They soon learned that their captors called themselves Mayans and that each day one of their captives was taken and sacrificed on an altar atop a high pyramid.  The prisoners made many attempts to escape but were always recaptured and returned to the quarry alive.

             Eventually Hrothgar's turn on the altar came.  He had prayed to the White God every day, as he had been taught, hoping that God would see fit to rescue him.  Nothing had happened and as he was led away to his doom Hrothgar renounced Christ; he called on Odin Allfather not to let him die in such a shameful manner.  Before the high priest could lay open Hrothgar's chest and pull forth his still beating heart, a great white bird snatched him from the altar.  With massive claws digging into his body the giant bird carried Hrothgar over the sea.

             As they flew the magical bird talked to Hrothgar, it told him that it was called Veaseatehn and that Odin Allfather sent it to rescue him.  After a flight that seemed to last for ever the bird dropped Hrothgar at Hengstdun, the home of his sister, near the border of West Wealas.  Loftheana nursed her brother back to health.

             After hearing of his adventures Hengst, Loftheana's husband, gave Hrothgar the war gear of the warrior Mudut Lhal who had died of wounds he had received at Peckforton.  Amongst this was the sword Orcblender.

 

Part 2.  The Ulfhednar Cycle

 

How Hrothgar met Morrigan Legbiter

 

985      In this year Edwin was hallowed in Abinga's town.  Also eolderman Aelfric was driven out of his lands by the king.  Also in this year Swein Forkbeard became king of Denmark.

             It was in the spring of this year that Thorgeir Havarsson Coalbrowskald, known as the Mercenary, formed an Ulfhednar band, serving under Jarl Sven Gottfriedsson of Dubh Linn.  He led the Valhalla Ulfhednar harrying down the Ribble River and at Hick's town, Ruffa's Ford and in the kingdom of West Seaxe.  In this campaign they killed the robber chieftain Black Bartolemy, routing his Host. At Healingastun they took into their company a mercenary who was tattooed in the manner of the Rus of Sviarland.  In this season, many Danes from the Dane Law, in company with Thorgeir Havarsson, Thorolf the Tall, Skarp-hedin and others made a strong assault on the citadel of Snottingaham, capturing it.

             Hrothgar wandered about Ynglingaland seeking his fortune.  At Hick's town he fell in with the Sturaesman Thorgeir Havarsson and his Lethang, the Valhalla Ulfhednar.  Thorgeir Havarsson recognized the sword Orcblender and other things belonging to Mudut Lhal, Mudut Lhal had been a friend of his at the burgh of Peckforton and he called on Hrothgar to explain himself.  Hrothgar did so and so unusual a tale had to be accepted as no-one would make such a story up and expect to be believed.  After being tested by Jarl Sven Gottfriedsson, now sometimes called the Great Jarl, Hrothgar was accepted as a Frihal of the Host and joined with them in harrying the country.  It was here at Hick's town that the Thegn Kjarten the Clean Shaven was wounded and carried off to be tended by the dread legionnaires!

             At Har's well Jarl Sven Gottfriedsson's Host was met by that of eorl Sihtorn.  As the two armies came together a great storm began.  The warriors fought in the rain, coming at each other time and again.  The ground was slippery and no one could stand well, eventually the Hosts parted, neither being able to say they had defeated the other, and each went its separate way.

             Jarl Sven Gottfriedsson's Host returned to the north but at Willanholch eorl Sihtorn caught up with them and another battle was fought.  This time the warriors of Wessex threw hammers at the Host of Sven Gottfriedsson.  Hrothgar was wounded in the leg by one of these foul weapons but despite severe pain he continued to do his duty and fought on.  The battle was long and hard and Hrothgar was wounded again, he would have fallen but the press of bodies was too great to allow.  After much inconclusive fighting the two sides again parted company without having come to a conclusion.

             Later Jarl Sven Gottfriedsson sent Thorgeir Havarsson the Mercenary to raid Denmark and his trusted man Thorgill to subdue Northumbria.  Hrothgar went with Thorgill to Berwick and here met Grimbold Hairy-breaks Jarl of Northumbria and his Thegn Ulf the Dauntless, all three became firm friends as they had all fought for the Emperor Otto in the past, they spent many hours around the camp fire drinking ale or mead and talking of old campaigns.  Hrothgar and Ulf the Dauntless swore always to fight together.

             When Thorgeir Havarsson and Kveldulf the Bright returned from Denmark they joined Thorgill in the north.  Kveldulf the Bright had also fought for the Emperor Otto and fell in happily with Grimbold Hairy-breaks and Ulf the Dauntless.  When they arrived a great celebration was held, much strong ale and mead was drunk and Hrothgar entertained them with acrobatics.

             Lindisfarne was raided and sacked, the mead there being taken and drunk.  Afterwards Jarl Sven Gottfriedsson came with more warriors and they attacked Bebbanburgh.  Here they fought for two days, on the first Hrothgar slew a Northumbrian eorl and three of his huscarls before the battle ended with the night.  On the second day Hrothgar, Grimbold Hairy-breaks, Ulf the Dauntless and others captured the Northumbrian's women and much booty besides.

             Whilst looting they were surrounded by their enemies and had to fight their way out of a very tight spot.  Hrothgar, armed only with a scramaseax and with a woman over one shoulder, killed all who came near him and escaped with his prize.  When safe from any pursuit they stopped and celebrated their escape with a flask of strong mead that Ulf the Dauntless had found in the Northumbrian village.  There was more celebrating that night when they returned to the rest of the Host and it was here that Hrothgar first met the shield-maiden Morrigan Legbiter, he was much smitten by her.

             When the Host returned south they sacked Rheged-dale and Wilmslow.  At the latter place Morrigan Legbiter was wounded by a spear thrust to her chest, she was wearing armour but it was of no avail to such a savage attack as she received.  The wound was painful but she survived to fight again.  In the same battle Hrothgar was struck on the head by an axe wielding opponent, his helmet protected him from serious injury but one of his teeth fell out.

             Near the end of the year a fair was held at Iver, Thorgeir Havarsson's Valhalla Ulfhednar were there and when raiders tried to rob the merchants they beat them off and chase them away.

 

How a shield is taken from the Mercians

 

986     In this year the king laid waste to the diocese of Rochester; and a great pestilence among cattle came first to Ynglingaland.  Hrothgar Bokraeder fought with Thorgeir Havarsson's Valhalla Ulfhednar at Jorvik and afterwards announced his intention to take the shield-maiden Morrigan Legbiter for his wife.  Hrothgar wished to find a special gift for Morrigan Legbiter so he set off on a long voyage to the lands far to the west. Here he met a people called the Yakima who had great skill with metal.  From them he got a bracelet of very fine workmanship and returned to Ynglingaland without mishap.

             Hrothgar re-joined Thorgeir Havarsson's Valhalla Ulfhednar on campaign in Mercia.  There was a great battle near Staf's ford on the river Canalus and, after much labour; a shield of great value was wrested from the Mercians.  Here, when they made camp, Thorolf the Tall used his long-axe to cut wood, he thought that the long shaft of the axe would make the task easier.  To his dismay the shaft snapped in two on the first stroke, he was greatly put out by his loss.

             Shortly after this Hrothgar, Brynjolf Odin Frostri, Gunnar and the Thegns Guthrothr Belly-Shaker, Skarp-hedin, and Thorolf the Tall went into West Seaxe where they fought a great battle at Frome.  The West Saxons numbered three to their one and the warriors of the Valhalla Ulfhednar had a bad time of it.  They killed or put to flight all their foes but only Brynjolf Odin Frostri came away without a bad wound.  The fighting was very fierce in the streets of the town, which ran red with blood, and in the houses of the town’s folk.  Brynjolf Odin Frostri slew the eorl Kim, a mighty warrior who was a foot taller and a foot wider than Brynjolf Odin Frostri.  Believing that the battle was won and wishing to gain fame in the eyes of his men eorl Kim challenged Brynjolf Odin Frostri to single combat; it was an ill decision for him.  Brynjolf Odin Frostri slew him with ease and Kim's remaining followers died when they tried to avenge their lord.  This is how the skalds tell the tale of The Battle of Frome:

 

Six men went to Frome,

Warriors all, armed and ready,

From Valhalla they came,

Tough, strong and steady.

Hrothgar Bokraeder the far travelled,

Thorolf the Tall, big of heart,

Skarp-hedin the swift blade,

All ready to play their part.

Brynjolf, knowing arts from far parts,

And Roth Belly-Shaker was there.

Berserk Gunnar ends this list,

Of six brave and fair.

At Frome they met the men of Wessex,

Drunk and merry in the Rose and Crown,

The Valhalla men laid down the challenge,

"Come out drunkards and defend your town."

"We'll meet you on glory field,

"First we'll finish our beer."

Valhalla's men had time to wait,

And to think should they fear.

Wessex men came out,

Led by the mighty Eorl Kim.

Armed with spear and sword,

And shield with iron rim.

Twenty-two of them there were,

Armed and ready for the fight.

"You out number us," called Hrothgar,

"Surely that's not right."

"It is a bit unfair," said Kim,

"You had better have one of mine."

He strode forward to his men,

"Aedric, join the Valhalla line."

Aedric joined the end of the shield-wall,

Roth Belly-Shaker held the other end.

The battle started, Roth swung his axe,

He hit a window and made it bend.

Valhalla's foemen came on forward,

Spears level, ready to thrust.

Confident in their numbers,

Intent on grinding Valhalla into dust.

Back and back Valhalla fell,

Downhill, along the crooked lane.

Aedric fought with half a heart,

Soon to die with a spears pain.

Saxon men with spears did prod,

When Thorolf tired of the play.

He threw his long axe at the foe,

And with sword and scram charged in to slay.

Bloody carnage he wrecked,

Foemen's blood flowed to the ground.

To many to fight alone,

Three spears his belly found.

More Wessex began to fall,

Kim was worried, his men in trouble.

Shields cleaved in two, spears broken,

He needed a plan on the double.

Kim looked for something lying about,

There it was, a bale of hay.

He held it up above his head,

Stepping forward he threw it into the fray.

Through the air it flew, straight and true,

Upon Saxon spears it landed!

Thegns with despair watched,

As Valhalla cleaved their shields iron banded.

In remorse mighty Kim wailed,

Many Saxon warriors the Vikings slew.

Broken up in disarray,

Saxon souls to the gods flew.

But the Wessex numbers were too great,

Gunnar fell, a spear in his chest.

Many a foe fell to his axe,

A valiant warrior he did his best.

Then Roth, his axe grown heavy,

By many blows was beaten down.

His life blood flowing to the earth,

He knew he'd never leave this town.

Hrothgar's bloody axe had sent,

Many mighty thanes to Hel.

Slipping in Gunnar's blood he knew,

He'd lose his life as well.

Falling through a door,

Three spears his guts spilled.

He called out in anger,

" Gunnar, you bastard, you've got me killed."

When brave Hrothgar died,

Wessex were down to eight.

Skarp-hedin and Brynjolf stood together,

Soon to be before Hel's gate.

In for the kill came Saxon thanes,

To slay the noble pair.

Skarp cut and thrust, killing two,

He said, "That's more fair."

But as he spoke a killing stroke,

Took off his noble head.

Down he fell upon the thanes,

A very fitting bed.

Brynjolf now stood alone,

"Stand back my men," Yelled Kim,

"Show some honour, and fight one on one,

"Wolfnoth, you may kill him."

Bold Wolfnoth stepped forward,

But eastern arts and western steel,

Drove Wolfnoth back in pain,

For him death was real.

Two more warriors followed,

Down Wolfnoth's path to the grave.

Now mighty Kim had only two,

Brynjolf he would have to brave.

"I'll show you how it's done,"

In he stepped with a mighty swing.

Brynjolf's shield shattered with the blow,

His arm hung loose with the sting.

But Brynjolf's scram was in Kim's gut,

And he said "Your dead Kim!"

Pain in his eyes he could not believe,

That Brynjolf had done for him.

As the Saxon Eorl fell at his feet,

Brynjolf faced the last two.

In they charged all bold,

But they were all too few.

Soon they died and Brynjolf was,

The last to stand on that bloody field.

Far above the slaughter lane,

Black ravens flew and wheeled

 

How Hrothgar got his scar

 

             Hrothgar, Morrigan Legbiter and Ulf the Dauntless went with Jarl Sven Gottfriedsson into Guined to plunder the lands of the Wealsh Chieftain Stefe Ap Groom.  The Wealsh drove their cattle and sheep into the mountains and hid themselves in Criccieth Castle.  The Host of Jarl Sven Gottfriedsson laid siege to the castle for two days before finally breaking into it.  Hrothgar and Ulf the Dauntless saw the Wealsh Chieftain hiding behind his warriors and crept around behind him.  They charged him but Ulf the Dauntless was quickly knocked to the ground, Hrothgar wounded Stefe Ap Groom but before he could finish the Chieftain Glynn the Short rushed to his master’s aid.  Hrothgar was unable to free himself from the desperate clutches of the Wealsh Chief before Glynn the Short 's sword hit him in the face.

             Hrothgar fell to the ground his blood pouring from him, unable to rise he expected death at any moment.  Before the vile dwarf could finish him Sven came to Hrothgar's rescue, brushing the small villain aside, he helped Hrothgar to his feet.  Morrigan Legbiter, seeing her betrothed fallen, battled her way through the combatants like an avenging Valkyrie, kicking the short viper as she passed.  The castle was taken, though Stefe Ap Groom and Glynn the Short escaped with some of their warriors.  Hrothgar recovered from his wound and was afterwards called by some "Scar Face".

 

Morrigan Legbiter talks to a wizard

 

             The island of Bornholm in Denmark was attacked by Olaf Trygvasson, returning north from king Valdemar in Holmgard.

             After this, Jarl Sven Gottfriedsson led many warriors to Denmark, including Thorgeir Havarsson the Mercenary and Oleg the Rus.  While he was away a strange ship landed in Norfolk.  A hideous green creature accompanied by a wizard, a witch, two fools and seven giant hunting dogs came out of the ship.  Those warriors who had not gone with Sven went to see what it was all about.  The wizard cast a spell on the warriors and they fell out and fought each other, the fools riding the backs of the Giant Jarl and Hrafn the Red as though they were horses.  Though they fought all day none were hurt, they did but exhaust each other and would surely have died of it had not Morrigan Legbiter saved them all.

             Morrigan Legbiter spoke with the black wizard, who called himself Gaz, and persuaded him to go away and release the warriors from the spell.  Morrigan Legbiter never liked to talk about what she said to Gaz and it has never become known how she made him remove the spell.

             The Host then went into Wealas and took the great burgh at Denbigh away from the Wealsh.  Hrothgar and Morrigan Legbiter travelled there in the company of Halgerd Eiricsdotta and Brynjolf Odin Frostri and their great hound.  There was a great deal of ale drunk after the taking of the burgh and some warriors fell to fighting amongst themselves over a woman's affections.

 

Hrothgar and Morrigan Legbiter get married

 

             In the Autumn Jarl Sven Gottfriedsson of Dubh Linn held an Althing and afterward a great feast was held.  At this feast Hrothgar was raised to Drengr of the Host and afterwards he and Morrigan Legbiter were married.  As is the custom they exchanged gifts of great value, all who were there marvelled at their quality.  Thorgeir Havarsson and other men of high rank and stature stood beside them as they were wed and the Celtic Chieftain, and Jarl of the Host, Caradoc gave them a sacred dagger of immense weight.  Jarl Sven Gottfriedsson bade them sit at the high table and there was much merry making and drinking of strong ales.  Here also was it that Thorgeir Havarsson was made one of Sven's Jarls and the Valhalla Ulfhednar became a Herred.

             Olaf Trygvasson married Queen Geira of Wendland and settled in her country ruling it.  There he wintered.

             At the end of the year Jarl Sven Gottfriedsson expelled Jarl Bjorn Styrbjornsson and his followers from the Host. For some time before this Bjorn Styrbjornsson and his warriors had kept themselves apart from the Host, they only occasionally condescended to talk to the other followers of Sven.

 

Kveldulf the Bright cuts his lip

 

987      In this year Hugh Capet was elected by the Frankish nobles as their king.  In Denmark Swein Forkbeard became king.

             In this year Watchet was ravaged and the Vikingar were driven away from Jorvik, eorl Sihtorn was killed there by Thorgeir Havarsson.  A poor feast was held in Mercia, there had been little plunder in this year.  Hrothgar, the Giant Jarl and the Thegn the Old Man of Mercia received gifts here as it was their name day.

             Thorgeir Havarsson's Valhalla Ulfhednar and a Host from the Danelaw came together to sack Crewe.  The fyrds of Mercia and Rheged-dale were routed, whilst Crewe was being sacked and burnt Kveldulf the Bright 's lip was nearly cut off by a Mercian fyrdsman.  Here also it was that Morrigan Legbiter was given the name "Legbiter".  Hrothgar was fighting with a Mercian and neither had the upper hand, they rolled on the ground together each attempting to defeat the other.  As they did so Morrigan Legbiter came upon them and assisted Hrothgar by biting his enemy's leg.

             At the end of spring this year, West Stow in East Engle was laid waste by the pagans.  Eorl Aelfred the Bandy, fleeing in the Fens after defeat in battle, was slain by Kveldulf the Bright the Huscarl wielding a long-axe.

 

Another raid into Guined

 

             After this Jarl Sven Gottfriedsson again led a raid into Guined, Stefe Ap Groom had been raiding in Jarl Sven Gottfriedsson's domain and had to be punished.  The Wealsh again hid in their castle of Criccieth, this time it took three days of hard fighting to drive the Wealsh out.  Stefe Ap Groom was captured but after listening to Jarl Sven Gottfriedsson speak for several hours he was set free, his lands though were divide into three parts and given to his disaffected sub-chiefs, Rig Baldric took the western cantreffs, Eggnoc took those in the east and Stefe Ap Groom retained the central cantreffs.

             A great store of plunder, food and ale was found in the castle and the Host of Jarl Sven Gottfriedsson celebrated late into the night.  Hrothgar drank much strong ale and mead; he conversed at great length with Ulf the Dauntless, Caradoc and Thorgeir Havarsson before trying to sleep in the fire.

             After a further raid deeper into Guined the Host turned towards Mercia.  Near Lady Wolfas town the fyrd of Mercia were mustering, thinking that they were up to no good, Jarl Sven Gottfriedsson sent the Giant Jarl with Caradoc, Skallagrim Baldpate, Hrothgar and many warriors to persuade them not to attack his lands.  This they did but many Mercians were persuaded to go to Valhalla instead!

             In this year Jarl Sven Gottfriedsson gave Jarl Thorgeir Havarsson the charge of ensuring that the warriors of the Host were always ready for battle.

 

How Hrothgar was shot in the face

 

             Later a feast was held at Norrovik but the Host grew angry as there was little food, though the ale flowed freely.  Red Orm the Aged cut his hand open when he foolishly tried to take a scramaseax from a warrior by grasping its blade.  There was much discontent so Jarl Sven Gottfriedsson again led the Host into Guined where plunder had been plentiful in the past. The great army stormed and captured the castle of Denbigh but at Rudglann they had a bad time.

             Kjarten the Clean Shaven was wounded early in the day and so took a station to the rear of the shield wall.  Olaf the Peacock fought the enemy's champion, a giant creature of seven feet in height and called the Mighty Hyak.  Olaf the Peacock battled mightily and struck his foe many times before he fell, such a berserk rage had fallen upon Olaf the Peacock that several strong warriors were needed to drag him back to the Host's ranks.  Thorgeir Havarsson's Huscarls defending Jarl Sven Gottfriedsson were savagely attacked by a troll-beast and its kin; though they killed the creature and many of its kin they were all slain.  Their noble sacrifice enabled the Great Jarl Sven Gottfriedsson to fight on.  Hrothgar, standing firm in the shield wall beside Ulla, was shot down by a hairy barrow-beast. The vile creature’s arrow hit Hrothgar in the face knocking him to the ground.  Morrigan Legbiter and Kjarten the Clean Shaven carried Hrothgar away from the slaughter as the Host was slowly battered down.  The evil Hel spawned creatures summoned by the Wealsh wizards were more than mortal flesh could stand.  The survivors of Thorgeir Havarsson's Valhalla Ulfhednar formed a double shield wall and hacked their way out of the nightmare melee.  Morrigan Legbiter and Kjarten the Clean Shaven carried the unconscious Hrothgar to safety, slipping away from the battle in the confusion.  Many others also escaped, alone and often without their weapons, they made their way back to Denbigh.

             Jarl Sven Gottfriedsson held an Althing to decide what to do next, everyone thought it a good idea to leave the Wealsh alone for a while, so they all went home to lick their wounds.

             During the remainder of the year, the Valhalla Ulfhednar raided various places in Ynglingaland until at Missenden a great battle was fought in the rain.  The Valhalla Ulfhednar were masters of the field.  To celebrate the change in their fortunes Hrothgar and Morrigan Legbiter held a feast.

             At the winter Thingvollr of the Valhalla Ulfhednar Hrothgar became one of Jarl Thorgeir Havarsson's Huscarls.

 

Hrothgar visits Ireland

 

988     In this year Watchet was again ravaged, and Goda, the Devonshire thane, was slain and many with him.  In this year died Archbishop Dunstan, and bishop Aethelgar succeeded to the archiepiscopal see after him, but lived for a short while afterwards, no more than a year and three months.

             Vladimir of Kiev brought Christian priests into his lands in this year.  During the spring Olaf Trygvasson, acting for king Burizlief of the Wends harried the coast of Skane and then ravaged Gotland before returning to Wendland.

             At the beginning of this year Jarl Sven Gottfriedsson, and all the Jarls that followed him, went with all their followers to Rheged-dale, the home of Ottar Haraldsson, Jarl of Hrafnsdale.  There they held a great feast, the best since the marriage of Hrothgar and Morrigan Legbiter.  Here Jarl Thorgeir Havarsson made Hrothgar one of his Thegns.  When the feasting was over, everyone returned to their homes to prepare for the coming campaign season.

             Hrothgar and Morrigan Legbiter went north again to join Thorgeir Havarsson and a Host from the Danelaw in pillaging Crewe for a second time.  Afterwards they went to Thegn Jorunn Havskilepadde 's place for a feast before returning to the south.

             Jarl Sven Gottfriedsson led a great raid into Ireland taking many great warriors from Ynglingaland and Wealas, Thorgeir Havarsson led his Huscarls to Ireland and Hrothgar was among them, lesser warriors were left behind.  The Irish were so shocked by the arrival of the Vikingar that there was little fighting, the Host of Jarl Sven Gottfriedsson marched through Dubh Linn accepting the acclaim of the people who paid them to go away.  Hrothgar and Morrigan Legbiter came away with many valuable books looted from monasteries.  It was here that Hrothgar first met Ulf-eirik Henricksson, an exile from the east; he had fallen out with Jarl Ragnar Bear Odinsson, the leader of the Herred Einheriar.  Ulf-eirik Henricksson asked if he could join the Valhalla Ulfhednar but this was not allowed.

 

Battle against the Irish

 

             After this Jarl Sven Gottfriedsson held a great muster at Rheged-dale.  There was much feasting and merry making as old friends met again.  Jarl Sven Gottfriedsson then took half the Host to raid Skein’s town, a day’s march away.  Hrothgar was left behind in charge of the newest warriors and a few from Cantware.  They were poorly armed, only Hrothgar and a Cantwareish warrior bearing mail, they did have a few bows though.  While Jarl Sven Gottfriedsson was away a large band of Irish raiders came upon Hrothgar and his warriors.  Hrothgar rushed his troop to some high ground nearby to await the Irish onslaught.  There were many great warriors amongst the Irish, Michael O'Hay, Ritchie O'Gove, Christos the Robber and Black MacClegg, their fame was known all about the land.

             The Irish advanced boldly but they were pelted by arrows and other missiles, many a brave but rash hero fell to the deadly rain.  Ritchie O'Gove fell early on, not even bloodying his sword.  The survivors came on but were met by a determined foe, Michael O'Hay, mortally wounded by an arrow, charged bravely into the midst of his enemies and was hacked down.  Christos the Robber fell to Cantwareish spears and Black MacClegg was slain by Hrothgar himself.  With many dead and wounded the Irish broke and ran.

             Hrothgar led his warriors back to their camp, but as they crossed a bridge the raiders attacked again.  Taken by surprise they were driven off the bridge but fought their way to safety.  When Jarl Sven