Archive for the ‘The Vikings’ Category


Within our Wyatt line it is Elizabeth Brooke, wife of Sir Thomas Wyatt the Poet, who gives us our best (?) ties to the Vikings. Historians keep trying to find good things to say about the Viking transition from farmers to marauders, but it’s futile. “Fearless” and “ambitious” only go so far.

They did not fear death; they only feared dishonor.

They were not influenced by Roman culture and laws. Their ships were beautifully built and breathtakingly capable, but their intent was on taking what they wanted, from the gold and silver of English churches to the Irish and English people they captured and sold as slaves.

Eventually they took land and settled in. When the host talks about York – remember that’s where our medieval Wyatts lived.

Neil Oliver, the archaeologist featured in these videos is clearly passionate about his – our – ancestors. He ate what they ate and slept as they slept. He travels to their windswept places. He talks about how they lived over the centuries, the great distances they traveled, how they adapted to varied places and why they ultimately gave up Thor, Odin and their pagan gods for the one Christian God.

These videos are about one hour each; enjoy. [Oliver is also impossibly dreamy with that hair and accent! Ladies, settle in with a glass of wine and enjoy.]

Presented by Neil Oliver
Archaeologist, historian, author and broadcaster
Bio: http://www.neiloliver.com/

Who Were the Vikings, Episode 1

“Neil Oliver heads for Scandinavia to reveal the truth behind the legend of the Vikings. In the first programme, Neil begins by discovering the mysterious world of the Vikings’ prehistoric ancestors. The remains of weapon-filled war boats, long-haired Bronze Age farmers, and a Swedish site of a royal palace and gruesome pagan ritual conjure up an ancient past from which the Viking Age was to suddenly erupt.”


The Trading Empire, Episode 2

“Neil Oliver heads out from the Scandinavian homelands to Russia, Turkey and Ireland to trace the beginnings of a vast trading empire that handled Chinese silks as adeptly as Pictish slaves. Neil discovers a world of ‘starry-eyed maidens’ and Buddhist statues that are a world away from our British experience of axe-wielding warriors, although it turns out that there were quite a few of those as well.”


End of the Viking Age, Episode 3

“Neil Oliver explores how the Viking Age finally ended, tracing the Norse voyages of discovery, the first Danish kings, and the Christian conversions that opened the door to European high society. He also uncovers the truth about England’s King Canute – he was not an arrogant leader who thought he could hold back the waves, but the Viking ruler of an entire empire of the north and an early adopter of European standardisation.”


When I was done watching, I happened across my family tree DNA. It’s just so exciting when science confirms what we’ve found through research. Our report shows our lineage “has its roots in northern France. Today it is found most frequently within Viking/Scandinavian populations in northwest Europe …”

It’s hard to explain why we’re so proud of our Viking ancestry; but we are.


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Born about 530
Father of Kari

“Themorrisclan.com” says: “Old Russian tales tell of a Finnish prince who hired a giant to help him conquer Russia from Estonia to Kiev. The giant’s name was Calewa (Kaleva). After finishing this task the prince gave the giant Kvenland as his own kingdom.”

Research suggests that Fornjot was:

– A giant  (jötun), as indicated by his name
– Finland’s first and most powerful ruler
– Kalev of the Kalevala, the epic poem of Finland
– The first known direct paternal ancestor of William I of England
– A terminal ancestor of many European noble families and modern Icelandic families

He was:

– The subject of the Fundinn Noregr, the History of Norway
– Written about in Sagas of the Orkneyingers

Viking voyages

Viking voyages


This is the history of the capture of the Orkney Islands in Scotland by the King of Norway. It combines oral tradition with historical fact.

The saga was translated from Norse to English by George W. Dasent in 1894.

(The following portion relates to King Fornjot and his sons.)

1.  There was a king named Fornjot, he ruled over those lands which are called Finland and Kvenland;  that is to the east of that bight of the sea which goes northward to meet Gandvik;  that we call the Helsingbight.  Fornjot had three sons;  one was named Hler, whom we call Ægir, the second Logi, the third Kari;  he was the father of Frost, the father of Snow the old, his son’s name was Thorri;  he (Thorri) had two sons, one was named Norr and the other Gorr;  his daughter’s name was Goi.  Thorri was a great sacrificer, he had a sacrifice every year at midwinter;  that they called Thorri’s sacrifice;  from that the month took its name.  One winter there were these tidings at Thorri’s sacrifice, that Goi was lost and gone, and they set out to search for her, but she was not found.  And when that month passed away Thorri made them take to sacrifice, and sacrifice for this, that they might know surely where Goi was hidden away.  That they called Goi’s sacrifice, but for all that they could hear nothing of her.  Four winters after those brothers vowed a vow that they would search for her;  and so share the search between them, that Norr should search on land, but Gorr should search the outscars and islands, and he went on board ship.  Each of those brothers had many men with him.  Gorr held on with his ships out along the sea-bight, and so into Alland’s (1) sea;  after that he views the Swedish scars far and wide, and all the isles that lie in the East salt sea;  after that to the Gothland scars, and thence to Denmark, and views there all the isles;  he found there his kinsmen, they who were come from Hler the old out of Hler’s isle, (2) and he held on then still with his voyage and hears nothing of his sister.  But Norr his brother bided till snow lay on the heaths, and it was good going on snow-shoon.  After that he fared forth from Kvenland and inside the sea-bight, and they came thither where those men were who are called Lapps, that is at the back of Finmark.  But the Lapps wished to forbid them a passage, and there arose a battle;  and that might and magic followed Norr and his men;  that their foes became as swine (3) as soon as they heard the war-cry and saw weapons drawn, and the Lapps betook themselves to flight.  But Norr fared thence west on the Keel, (4) and was long out, so that they knew nothing of men, and shot beasts and birds for meat for themselves;  they fared on till they came where the waters turned to the westward from the fells.  Then they fared along with the waters, and came to a sea;  there before them was a firth as big as it were a sea-bight;  there was a mickle tilths, and great dales came down to the firth.  There was a gathering of folk against them, and they straightway made ready to battle with Norr, and their quarrel fared as was to be looked for.  All that folk either fell or fled, but Norr and his men overcame them as weeds over cornfields.  Norr fared round all the firth and laid it under him, and made himself king over those districts that lay there inside the firth.  Norr tarried there the summer over till it snowed upon the hearths;  then he shaped his course up along the dale which goes south from the firth;  that firth is now called Drontheim.  Some of his men he lets fare the coast way round Mæren;  he laid under him all withersoever he came.  And when he comes south over the fell that lay to the south of the dalebight, he went on still south along the dales, until he came to a great water which they called Mjösen.  Then he turns west again on to the fell, because it had been told him that his men had come off worsted before that king whose name was Sokni.  Then they came into that district which they called Valders.  Thence they fared to the sea, and came into a long firth and a narrow, which is now called Sogn;  there was their meeting with Sokni, and they had there a mickle battle, because their witchcraft had no hold on Sokni.  Norr went hard forward, and he and Sokni came to handstrokes.  There fell Sokni and many of his folk.

2.  After that Norr fared on into the firth that goes north from Sogn.  There Sokni had ruled before in what is now called Sokni’s dale.  There Norr tarried a long time, and that is now called Norafirth.  There came to meet him Gorr his brother, and neither of them had then heard anything of Goi.  Gorr too had laid under him all the outer land as he had fared from the south, and then those brothers shared the lands between them.  Norr had all the mainland, but Gorr shall have all those isles between which and the mainland he passes in a ship with a fixed rudder.  And after that Norr fares to the Uplands, and came to what is now called Heidmörk (5);  there that king ruled whose name was Hrolf of the Hill;  he was the son of Svadi the giant from north of the Dovrefell.  Hrolf had taken away from Kvenland Goi, Thorri’s daughter;  he went at once to meet Norr, and offered him single combat;  they fought long together and neither was wounded.  After that they made their quarrel up, and Norr got Hrolf’s sister, but Hrolf got Goi to wife.  Thence Norr turned back to the realm which he had laid under him, that he called Norway;  he ruled that realm while he lived, and his sons after him, and they shared the land amongst them, and so the realms began to get smaller and smaller as the kings got more and more numerous, and so they were divided into provinces.

3.  Gorr had the isles, and for that he was called a sea-king;  his sons were they Heiti and Beiti, they were sea-kings and mighty overbearing men.  They made many inroads on the realm of Norr’s sons, and they had many battles, and now one, now the other won the day.  Beiti ran into Drontheim and warred there;  he lay where it is now called Beitsea and Beitstede;  thence he made them drag his ship from the innermost bight of Beitstede, and so north over Elduneck, that is where the Naumdales come down from the north.  He sat himself on the poop and held the tiller in his hand, and claimed for his own all that land that then lay on the larboard, and that is many tilths and much land.  Heiti, Gorr’s son, was father of Sveiði the sea-king, the father of Halfdan the old, the father of Ivar the Uplanders’ earl, the father of Eystein the noisy, the father of earl Rognvald the mighty and the wise in council. (6)

4.  Earl Rognvald joined Harold fair-hair when he seized the land, but he (Harold) gave him lordship over both the Mæren and Romsdale; (7) he had to wife Ragnhilda the daughter of Hrolf nosy;  their son was Hrolf who won Normandy, he was so tall that horses could not carry him;  for that he was called Ganging-Hrolf;  from him are come the Rouen Jarls and the English Kings;  their son was also Ivar, and Thorir the silent.  Rognvald had also base-born sons, their names were Hallad and Hrollaug and Einar, he was the youngest.  Harold fair-hair fared one summer west across the sea to chastise the Vikings, when he was weary at the peacelessness of those who harried in Norway in summer, but were in the winter in Shetland or the Orkneys.  He laid under him Shetland and the Orkneys and the Southern Isles;  he fared west too as far as Man, and laid waste the tilths of Man.  He had there many battles, and took as his own lands so far west that no king of Norway has ever owned land further west since.  And in one battle, Ivar, son of earl Rögnvald, fell.  But when king Harold sailed from the west, then he gave to earl Rognvald, as an atonement for his son, Shetland and the Orkneys;  but earl Rognvald gave both lands to Sigurd his brother:  he was one of king Harold’s forecastle men.  The king gave Sigurd the title of earl when he went from the west, and Sigurd stayed behind there in the west.

1.  The sea in which are the Åland Isles in the Gulf of Bothnia.

2.  Now Læssö in the Cattegat.

3.  That is, were panic stricken and rushed wildly about.

4.  Keel:  The ridge of mountains which forms the watershed, backbone, or keel, between Sweden and Norway.

5.  Now Hedemark.

6.  He was called Rognvald the mighty and wise in council, and men say both were true names.” R. L.

7.  Both the Mæren” are North and South Mæren, which are divided the one from the other by the Romsdale firth.  They stretch north-eastward along the coast from Stadt to Naumdale.”

For sources and more information, please see:


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A friend and long-time aficionado of Vikings and Druids pointed me to “the Viking Answer Lady” yesterday. He said I might find part of the information interesting. I won’t be using it in the book but I DO find it fascinating – especially since our pre-Rollo Norman/Viking generations ran on for many, many years.

Rollo accepting Christian baptism.

Rollo accepting Christian baptism.

COURTSHIP: In Viking times courtship was fairly creepy. “The most important, unwritten rule of courtship was that the less a hopeful groom saw of his intended bride before entering into formal marriage negotiations with her family, the better his chances were of staying alive.”

MARRIAGE: Marriages had little to do with love and a lot to do with keeping people from killing each other.

A marriage “meant a chance for the bride’s family to make an alliance with one of the most important families… and thus be assured of powerful support in its dealings at the local thing and Alþingi“(Jacobsen, Position of Women, p. 40).Another very important function of marriages was not just the promise of economic gain or political advantage: often the Scandinavian wife served as a “peace-pledge,” bartered in marriage to guarantee the reconciliation between formerly feuding parties (Jenny Jochens, “The Medieval Icelandic Heroine: Fact or Fiction?” Viator 17 [1986]: p. 37). Anglo-Saxon literature in particular records this Germanic theme, identifying wives and queens as “peace-weavers,” who through childbearing wove together the blood of warring tribes, acted as a hostage for her family within the enemy camp, and sought to cool hatreds within her new family (Jane Chance, Woman as Hero in Old English Literature. Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 1986. pp. 1-3).

ARRANGED MARRIAGES weren’t a problem for men because they had a lot of options. “Bed slaves” were available for purchase. (That wasn’t necessarily a good thing for the slave, who might be forced to join her “master” in death.)

Concubines were also perfectly acceptable. They were usually women of lower class than the men; as a result, they didn’t mind. And the wives didn’t seem to mind so much because the concubine was never allowed to marry the man due to difference in class.

Apparently the woman’s consent WAS an important factor in the arrangement. “While the law did not require that a woman consent to her marriage, it seems to have been a very good idea to get her approval, for in the sagas, ‘all five marriages made contrary to the stated will of the girl are unmitigated disasters, ending with the death, maiming, or divorce of the husband’”.

TRUE LOVE: Those who were truly in love were sometimes serious about until death do us part. “Saxo Grammaticus records the moving last speech of a man about to be hanged, as he speaks of his beloved:

‘There shall be one end for us both; one bond after our vows; nor shall our first love aimlessly perish. Happy am I to have won the joy of such a consort; I shall not go down basely in loneliness to the gods of Tartarus. So let the encircling bonds grip my throat in the midst; the final anguish shall bring with it pleasure only, since the certain hope remains of renewed love, and death shall prove to have its own delights. Each world holds joy, and in the twin regions shall the repose of our united souls win fame, our equal faithfulness in love ‘”(Saxo Grammaticus. Gesta Danorum. cited in Hilda R. Ellis-Davidson. The Road to Hel. Westport CT: Greenwood Press, 1943. pp. 53-54).

DIVORCES: Those who weren’t in love could easily end things. “The Arabic poet al-Gazal reported that he was told by a Danish queen that ‘jealousy was unknown in that country, and that women stayed with men of their own free will, and left them whenever they wanted to’ (Jacobsen, Sexual Irregularities, pp. 78-79). While this is not a completely accurate statement, examination of the sagas shows that women were often the ones who initiated a divorce.” (Frank, p. 478).

The Icelandic law code granted divorce on three conditions – in those cases where the couple gave each other “large wounds” of brain, body cavity of marrow; if one of the two was too poor to support themselves; and if the husband attempted to take his wife out of the country against her will.

SPOUSE ABUSE was not acceptable. “Slapping a spouse, especially in front of witnesses, was considered extremely humiliating (Williams, p. 106). The Gulaþing Law of Norway made special provisions against a husband slapping his wife: if a man struck his wife in front of witnesses, she could not only claim monetary compensation for the blows equal to what he would have received had another man struck him, the wife had the right to divorce the husband on top of the fine after the third slap (Jacobsen, Position of Women, p. 116). Slapping a wife is the most common reason given for a divorce in the sagas (Jochens, Icelandic Heroine, p. 39). Occasionally a woman did not feel that divorce was sufficient retaliation for the insult of a slap: Hallgerd in Njals saga was involved in the deaths of two husbands who made the fatal mistake of slapping her “(Magnusson and Palsspn. Njal’s Saga. pp. 59 and 123).

Cool stuff; check it all out here:


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So much emphasis is put on Sir Thomas Wyatt when it is his wife, Elizabeth Brooke, who gives the Wyatts their/our rich legacy.  Elizabeth’s line goes back beyond the Dukes of Normandy. The most exciting experience in putting this book together was learning that the Dukes of Normandy claim a line of descent from epic Norse and Icelandic sagas.  

Rollo, First Duke of Normandy

Rollo, the first Duke of Normandy was born about 860 and died about 932. Encyclopeadia Britannica states that Rolf was a “Scandinavian rover who founded the duchy of Normandy.

Making himself independent of King Harald I of Norway, Rolf sailed off to raid Scotland, England, Flanders, and France on pirating expeditions and, about 911, established himself in an area along the Seine River. Charles III the Simple of France held off his siege of Paris, battled him near Chartres, and negotiated the treaty of Saint-Clair-sur-Epte, giving him the part of Neustria that came to be called Normandy; Rolf in return agreed to end his brigandage. He gave his son, William (I) Longsword, governance of the dukedom (927) before his death.

Rolf was baptized as ‘Robert’ in 912 but is said to have died a pagan.”

(Courtesy of The Encyclopeadia Britannica Web Site prior to their reverting to a pay service.)

I found a wonderful website that takes us back to the earliest viking times.  Please see:  http://www.robertsewell.ca/normandy.html

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