Unlike the losers from yesterday, the Norsemen (called Vikings when they were away on their marauding voyages) who died at home or in battle were buried with rituals that are gruesome by today’s standards. Burials were either in mounds or ships. The dead, men and women, were buried with their possessions (clothing, weapons, and jewelry) and food for their journey. Wealthy Norsemen could be buried in ships that were either buried or set on fire. Sometimes, their dogs, horses, and servants were killed and sent on the voyage with the deceased. Some Norsemen were buried in ship-shaped graves.
The Vikings believed that those who displayed bravery on the battlefield would receive the greatest reward after death. Odin sent the Valkyries, his female warriors, to the battlefields where they gathered the fallen heroes and them to Asgard to the gods Odin and Freyja were they fought and feasted until Ragnarokk, the twilight of the Gods. Worthy peasants and thralls (slaves) who died were taken to serve in Thor’s hall, Bilskirnir. Some fate to look forward to for all eternity, if you were a peasant or thrall.
Tomorrow, Story Time. Rita Bay
Berserkers were Norse warriors who fought in a nearly uncontrollable, trance-like fury. Whether their fighting fury was due to simply working themselves into a rage prior to battle or induced by drugs is debatable. The berserkers were considered Odin’s special warriors and sometimes wore wolf’s pelt and carried a spear into battle. They are featured prominently in the sagas and poems from yesterday’s posts where they were portrayed as ravenous men who looted, plundered, and killed across Europe.
The earliest reference to berserkers is in a skaldic poem composed by Thorbiorn Hornklofi in the late 9th century in honor of King Harald Fairhair, as ulfheðnar (men clad in wolf skins). The 12th century Icelandic historian and skald Snorri Sturluson description of berserkers in one of his sagas
“Odin’s men rushed forwards without armor, were as mad as dogs or wolves, bit their shields, and were strong as bears or wild oxen, and killed people at a blow, but neither fire nor iron told upon them.”
Imagine waking up to or being confronted by a horde of marauding Vikings sprinkled with berserkers while going about your daily business. Going from free to dead or enslaved in a day. Tomorrow, check out a Viking raid gone REALLY bad – for the Vikings. Rita Bay