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Title: An Account of the Danes and Norwegians in England, Scotland, and Ireland
Author: Worsaae, Jens Jakob Asmussen
Language: English
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 ● Transcriber’s Note:
    ○ This book contains a very large number of Norse letters, special
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------------------------------------------------------------------------



                               AN ACCOUNT

                                 OF THE

                          DANES AND NORWEGIANS

                                   IN

                    ENGLAND, SCOTLAND, AND IRELAND.



------------------------------------------------------------------------



                               AN ACCOUNT

                                 OF THE


                          DANES AND NORWEGIANS

                                   IN


                    ENGLAND, SCOTLAND, AND IRELAND.

                BY J. J. A. WORSAAE, FOR. F.S.A. LONDON:

  A ROYAL COMMISSIONER FOR THE PRESERVATION OF THE NATIONAL MONUMENTS
   OF DENMARK; AUTHOR OF “PRIMÆVAL ANTIQUITIES OF DENMARK,” &C., &C.


                        WITH NUMEROUS WOODCUTS.

                                LONDON:
                     JOHN MURRAY, ALBEMARLE STREET.
                                 1852.



------------------------------------------------------------------------



                                LONDON:
                        GEORGE WOODFALL AND SON,
                      ANGEL COURT, SKINNER STREET.



------------------------------------------------------------------------



                                PREFACE.

                                -------

Mr. Worsaae informs us in his Introduction that the following pages were
not written solely for the learned. They were designed as a popular
contribution to a branch of historical and antiquarian knowledge, which,
though highly interesting both to Scandinavians and Englishmen, has been
hitherto very imperfectly investigated. The English reader will find in
Mr. Worsaae’s work not only many facts concerning the early history of
this country that are either entirely new to him, or placed at least in
a wholly novel light, but he will also meet with many _names_ whose form
may appear foreign and unfamiliar. It may, therefore, be desirable that
on the English reader’s introduction to a more intimate acquaintance
with that Scandinavian race which has more claims than he had, perhaps,
imagined, not only to be regarded as the founders of some of his native
customs and institutions, but even to be reckoned among his forefathers,
he should be enabled to pronounce their principal names correctly. With
this view the following brief remarks are subjoined;—

The double _a_ (_aa_), frequently occurring in proper names, must be
sounded like the English diphthong _aw_, as in Blaatand, Haarfager.

The _ö_, or _oe_, is pronounced like the French diphthong _eu_.

The _u_, as in German and Italian, is equivalent to _oo_ in the English
words _cool_, _troop_, &c.; as in Ulf, Huskarl, &c.

_C_ has invariably the sound of _k_ (with which, indeed, it is
frequently interchanged). The names of Cetel, Oscytel, &c., are to be
pronounced Ketel, Oskytel. Where _c_ or _k_ precedes another consonant,
it retains, as in German, its distinct and proper power. In order to
represent this power, Latin and English writers have sometimes
substituted the syllable _ca_ for the initial _c_ or _k_; as, for
instance, in the name of Canute (_Dan._, Cnut or Knud). This has led to
the very common error of pronouncing the name as if it consisted of two
syllables, with an accent upon the first; as Cán-ute, instead of Cănúte.

_J_ has the sound of the English _y_; as in Jarl (_Yarl_, earl), Jorvik
(_Yor-vik_, York).

The consonants _th_ (the Icelandic Þ[1]) are pronounced like a single
_t_. The word _Thing_ (assizes, &c.), which the reader will so
frequently meet, is sounded like _Ting_. The proper pronunciation is
preserved in the word _Hus-ting_, but by altering the spelling. Thus,
Thor, Thorkil, &c., must be pronounced _Tor_, _Torkil_.

Footnote 1:

  The letter ð has the power of _dh_, or _dth_.

Lastly, the Vikings (_Isl._, Vikingr, a sea-rover, pirate), who played
so great a part during the Danish conquests, were not Ví-kings, but
Vik-ings (Veék-ings); so called either from the Icelandic _Vik_ (_Dan._,
Vig), a bay of the sea, or from _Vig_, battle, slaughter.

London, Dec. 15th, 1851.

------------------------------------------------------------------------



                           AUTHOR’S PREFACE.

In the spring of 1846, his late Majesty Christian VIII. of Denmark
determined that an inquiry should be made respecting the monuments and
memorials of the Danes and Norwegians which might be still extant in
Scotland and the British Islands. His Majesty was the more confirmed in
this design as two distinguished British noblemen, his Grace the Duke of
Sutherland, and his brother Lord Francis Egerton (now Earl of
Ellesmere), had repeatedly stated in their letters to the Royal Society
of Northern Antiquaries that, if a Danish archæologist visited Scotland,
he should receive all possible assistance, especially in Sutherland, a
district so rich in Scandinavian antiquities.

His Majesty did me the honour to intrust this task to me: and the
President of the Royal Society of Northern Antiquaries, and of the Royal
Committee for the preservation of the national monuments—our present
most gracious sovereign Frederick VII.—having, with a lively zeal for
the promotion of the inquiry, furnished me with several letters of
introduction, I travelled during a twelvemonth (1846-1847) in Scotland,
Ireland, and England; where, partly through the personal kindness of the
Duke of Sutherland and of the Earl of Ellesmere, and partly by means of
their influential names, I invariably met with the best reception and
the most valuable assistance in my researches.

The present work contains part of the results of that journey. My aim in
it has been to convey a juster and less prejudiced notion than prevails
at present respecting the Danish and Norwegian conquests; which, though
of such special importance to England, Scotland, and Ireland, have
hitherto been constantly viewed in an utterly false and partial light.
Whilst writing the work in Denmark, I have but too frequently felt the
want of constant access to the well-stored libraries of England;
although those literary gentlemen in Great Britain to whom I have
written for information, have received my applications with their usual
readiness and friendship[2].

Footnote 2:

  Amongst the many gentlemen to whom I owe my thanks, I must
  particularly name: Sir H. Dryden, Bart., of Canons Ashby; C. Roach
  Smith, Esq., F.S.A., London; E. Hawkins, Esq., British Museum; J. M.
  Kemble, Esq.; Professor Cosmo Innes, Edinburgh; Dr. Traill, _ibid._;
  C. Neaves, Esq., _ibid._; R. Chalmers, Esq., of Auldbar Castle; Rev.
  J. H. Todd, D.D., Trinity College, Dublin; Professor C. Graves; and
  Dr. G. Petrie, likewise of Dublin.

However, as my work contains the first fully detailed examination of the
subject _from the Danish side_, I hope that, notwithstanding all its
deficiencies and faults, it may prove of some interest in England, and
serve to excite further investigation, which would doubtless throw a
clearer light upon a very remote, but not on that account less
remarkable, period in the history of England and the North.

                                                       J. J. A. WORSAAE.

Copenhagen, April, 1851.

------------------------------------------------------------------------



                               CONTENTS.


                                -------


                             INTRODUCTION.


                               SECTION I.

Scandinavia’s greatest Memorials.—Those of Denmark and Norway at Sea.—Of
Sweden on Land.—The Influence of Climate


                              SECTION II.

The Great Memorials of Sweden in their Relation to those of Denmark and
Norway.—Danish-Norwegian Memorials in the British Isles


                               ----------


                         THE DANES IN ENGLAND.


                               SECTION I.

Nature of the Country.—Earlier Inhabitants: Britons, Romans, and
Anglo-Saxons


                              SECTION II.

The Danish Expeditions.—The Danish Conquest


                              SECTION III.

The Thames.—London


                              SECTION IV.

Watlinga-Stræt.—South England.—Legends about the Danes.—The Graves of
Canute the Great and Hardicanute


                               SECTION V.

The Wash.—The Five Burghs.—The Humber.—York.—Northumberland.—Stamford
Bridge


                              SECTION VI.

Danish-Norwegian Memorials in the North of England.—Coins.—The
Raven.—The Danish Flag


                              SECTION VII.

Danish-Norwegian Names of Places


                             SECTION VIII.

Resemblance of the People to the Danes and Norwegians.—Proper
Names.—Popular Language.—Songs and Legends


                              SECTION IX.

The Outrages of the Danes.—The Danes and Normans.—Influence of the Danes
in England


                               SECTION X.

Commerce and Navigation


                              SECTION XI.

Art and Literature


                              SECTION XII.

Ecclesiastical and Secular Aristocracy


                             SECTION XIII.

The Danelag.—Holmgang, or Duel.—Jury.—The Feeling of Freedom


                              SECTION XIV.

General View.—Anglo-Saxon and Danish-Norman England.—Sympathies for
Denmark.—The Dane in England


                               ----------


                      THE NORWEGIANS IN SCOTLAND.


                               SECTION I.

Nature of Scotland.—The Highlands and Lowlands.—Population.—Original
Inhabitants


                              SECTION II.

The Anglo-Saxons.—The Danes and Norwegians.—Effects of their Expeditions


                              SECTION III.

The Lowlands.—Population.—Language.—Norwegian-Danish Names of Places


                              SECTION IV.

Traditions concerning “the Danes.”—The Southern and Northern
Lowlands.—Danish Memorials.—Burghead


                               SECTION V.

The Orkneys and Shetland Isles.—Natural Features.—Population.—Oppression


                              SECTION VI.

Shetland.—The People.—Songs.—Sword-Dance.—Language.—Names of
Places.—Tingwall.—Burg of Mousa.—Tumuli.—Bauta Stones


                              SECTION VII.

The Orkneys.—“Þingavöllr.”—Monuments of the Olden Time.—Kirkwall.—St.
Magnus Church


                             SECTION VIII.

Pentland Firth.—The Highlands.—Caithness.—Sutherland.—Dingwall.—Fear of
the Danes


                              SECTION IX.

The Hebrides.—The Northern Isles.—Lewis and Harris (Næs).—Skye.—Ossian’s
Songs.—Iona


                               SECTION X.

The Sudreyjar, or Southern Isles.—Cantire.—Islay.—Man.—Names of
Places.—Runic Stones.—Kings.—Battle of Largs.—“Lords of the
Isles.”—Tynwald in Man


                               ----------


                       THE NORWEGIANS IN IRELAND.


                               SECTION I.

Nature and Population of Ireland.—The “Danish” Conquests.—Traditions
about the “Danes.”—Political Movements


                              SECTION II.

Irish and Scandinavian Records.—Finn Lochlannoch.—Dubh-Lochlannoch.—The
Names of the Provinces


                              SECTION III.

Norwegian Kings.—Limerick.—Cork.—Waterford.—Reginald’s
Tower.—Dublin.—Thengmotha.—Oxmantown


                              SECTION IV.

Norwegian Names of Places.—Near Dublin.—Norwegian
Burial—Places.—Norwegian Weapons and Ornaments


                               SECTION V.

Ancient Irish Christianity and Civilization.—Trade.—No Irish, but
Norwegian Coins.—Sigtryg Silkeskjæg.—Norwegian Coiners


                              SECTION VI.

The Battle of Clontarf.—Power of the Ostmen after the Battle.—Their
Churches and Bishops.—Their Land and Sea Forces.—The English
Conquest.—Remains of the Ostmen.—Their Importance for Ireland


                              SECTION VII.

Conclusion.—Warlike and Peaceful Colonizations Resemblances and
Differences.—Before and Now


                               ----------


APPENDIX I. Document of Edward I.

APPENDIX II. Coinage of the Norwegians in Dublin



------------------------------------------------------------------------



                             INTRODUCTION.

                               ----------

                               SECTION I.

Scandinavia’s greatest Memorials.—Those of Denmark and Norway at Sea.—Of
Sweden on Land.—The Influence of Climate.


The greatest, and for general history the most important, memorials of
the Scandinavian people are connected, as is well known, with the
expeditions of the Normans, and with the Thirty Years’ War.

In the Norman expeditions the North, mighty in its heathenism, poured
forth towards the east, the west, and the south, its numerous warriors
and shrewd men, who subverted old kingdoms, and founded new and powerful
ones in their place. It was by Danish and Norwegian fleets that Normandy
and England were then conquered, and kingdoms won in Scotland, Ireland,
and North Holland; whilst Norwegians settled on the Faroe Islands
(_Dan._, Faröerne), and discovered and colonized Iceland. Hence their
descendants, having afterwards passed over to Greenland, discovered
America, and were in the habit of navigating the Atlantic Ocean
centuries before other European nations.

In all these voyages proportionally few Swedes took part. Inscriptions
on runic stones in Sweden sometimes speak, indeed, of men who had
settled or met their death in the west over in England (Anklant or
Inklant). But on the whole the views of the Swedes were at that time, as
well as at a later period, mostly directed towards the east. Swedish
Vikings, or pirates, harried and established themselves upon the coasts
of Finland and of the countries now belonging to Russia; and a tribe of
them, the Varæger, even made themselves there the reigning people.
Partly in consequence of this, Sweden—and particularly the Island of
Gothland, or Gulland—became the centre of the active trade which in
ancient times (that is, from the eighth to the twelfth century,) was
carried on, through Russia, between Scandinavia and the countries around
the Black and Caspian Seas, as well as Arabia.

The Swedes, however, do not appear very prominently either in ancient
times or in the early part of the middle ages. They were prevented from
playing any considerable part in the distant lands towards the West by
the sanguinary intestine disputes which took place between them and the
Goths; and it was not till the fifteenth century, and after these
disputes were adjusted, that they could appear upon the theatre of the
world as a nation. The Swedish Charleses and Gustavuses, by means of the
sword, subsequently caused the Swedish name to be feared and honoured;
not, however, at sea, but on land, on the plains of Russia, Poland, and
Germany. Gustavus Adolphus, in the Thirty Years’ War, after the disaster
of the Danish-Norwegian king Christian IV., powerfully contributed to
uphold Lutheranism, and by that means to establish liberty of conscience
for Germany and the rest of Europe.

_It was, then, principally at sea that the Danes and Norwegians formerly
won a name in the history of the world, whilst the Swedes obtained
theirs on land._ Indeed, the peculiar nature and situation of the
different Scandinavian countries must have necessarily caused the
strength and courage which were the common attributes of the
Scandinavian race, to be exerted from the first in different directions.
Sweden, which towards the west is separated from Denmark only by the
Sound and Cattegat, is in like manner towards the east separated from
the vast plains of northern Europe by a confined and narrow sea. When,
therefore, the thirst of glory and conquest urged the Swedish warriors
from their homes, it was only necessary for them to cross over to the
opposite shores, or at most to sail along the coasts of the Baltic. In
Sweden, forests, valleys, and rivers, are the most prominent natural
features, whilst the sea is but a subordinate one. It is scarcely to be
expected that such a country should produce good seamen. But in Denmark
and Norway the case is altogether different.

Denmark is surrounded on all sides by the sea, which has indented the
land with numberless bays and firths, and cut it up into small portions.
Nor is it washed only by a confined sea like the Baltic, but also by the
more open German Ocean. From the earliest times, therefore, necessity
obliged the Dane to put to sea in order to keep up his connections with
his friends on the surrounding coasts and islands. Subsequently—when
commerce, and more especially when military honour, required it—he was
compelled to learn how to navigate the open sea, to struggle with the
foaming waves and rapid currents, and to defy the surf—which is still
the constant terror of seamen—on the coasts of north and west Jutland.

Thus the Dane early became a bold and daring Viking, and the Norwegian
distinguished himself in the same manner. Norway turns her broad and
rocky bosom towards the ocean. Her wild and broken coasts, split into
deep fiords, or gulfs, bear witness to the never-ceasing and violent
attacks of the Atlantic. Towards the east, Norway is separated from
Sweden by rocks, forests, and large desert plains. The interior of the
country is partly filled with mountains and immense forests, which
anciently were still more extensive. The valleys alone, along the banks
of rivers, are productive, and capable of cultivation. The greater part
of the inhabitants settled therefore originally on the fiords, or in the
neighbourhood of the sea, where the pasture land was neither so over
grown with wood, nor so sequestered as in the interior, and where also
the sea air rendered the climate considerably milder. The weather,
however, was variable enough, and the products of the earth being,
partly on that account, but scanty, fishing and the chase became
important sources of maintenance for the continually-increasing
population. The forests supplied them with abundance of timber, the soil
was rich in iron; nor were the people wanting in a daring and
enterprising spirit. Ships were soon built, capable not only of
navigating the fiords, but of venturing beyond their mouths. The first
voyages were coasting ones, but subsequently they were extended from the
southern part of Norway to the Danish and Swedish shores.

The Norwegian, who had now become skilled in navigating his ship through
the mountain waves of the Atlantic and the far more dangerous surfs on
the rocks of Norway, no longer dreaded the open sea. When the population
had increased to such an extent that the Norwegian rocks could barely
afford it a sufficient maintenance; when the reports concerning the rich
lands beyond the sea, and their defenceless condition, promised at once
renown and booty; and when, lastly, Harald Haarfager’s conquests
threatened the Norwegians with the loss of their freedom—then thousands
of vessels shot out from the fiords of Norway, and steered dauntlessly
for the neighbouring western islands. A northern life, and the severe
winter’s cold, had not only braced the body of the Viking to endure all
kinds of hardships, and given him strength to wield the sword with
effect; it had also steeled his courage, and taught him fearlessly to
face all manner of danger. The clear starry firmament of the North
enabled him to observe the course and relative situation of the stars,
which were then the only compass by which he steered his ship towards
foreign and unknown shores.

Norway must naturally be better calculated to form hardy persevering
sailors than Denmark. With the exception of the west coast of Jutland,
where there is not a good harbour to be found, and where, consequently,
navigation must, in ancient times, have been very limited, Denmark is
washed by an enclosed sea with flat coasts. The ocean, on the contrary,
washes almost the whole of Norway’s rocky shores; where the numerous and
deeply-indented fiords resemble so many harbours. There are sufficient
indications that anciently the Danes were accustomed to visit only the
comparatively neighbouring countries of England, Holland, and France;
whilst the Norwegians sailed also towards the north on the wide
Atlantic, whose storms and dangers did not prevent them from constantly
visiting the Faroe Islands, Iceland, Greenland, and even America. The
discovery and first colonization of these countries are, with just
reason, the pride of the Norwegians and of their descendants the
Icelanders.

A comparison with other European nations will more clearly show how
great an influence the climate of the North, and especially the Northern
Sea, must have had on the development of navigation among the Danes and
Norwegians, and on their whole maritime life. With the exception of
England, which, in a still higher degree than Scandinavia, swims in the
open sea, and of Holland, which lies as it were half under water, no
country in Europe has produced a seafaring people which can be at all
compared to the Northmen; and this notwithstanding that Germany, France,
and the Spanish Peninsula, have all a very considerable extent of coast.
The reason undoubtedly is, that the coasts of those countries are washed
by enclosed seas, which naturally cannot be compared with the ocean;
whilst the countries themselves, especially Germany and France—and the
latter even in spite of its extent of coast towards the Atlantic—have an
unmistakeable continental character. It is clear, moreover, that the
ocean, as well as the smaller and enclosed seas, have, according to the
difference of latitude, an entirely different influence on the people
who inhabit their shores. The Mediterranean, surrounded by rich and
fruitful, but enervating, countries, has not shown itself capable of
producing such seamen as the Baltic, where the climate is more severe,
and the gifts of Nature incomparably more sparing. Spain and Portugal,
it is true, have a great extent of coast towards the Atlantic, which may
almost be compared with the west coast of Norway. But both those
countries possess a fruitful soil and a glorious southern climate. Their
inhabitants were not, like the Northmen of old, forced to visit foreign
shores in order to procure subsistence, and to struggle continually with
a raw and severe climate. They preferred to stay at home and enjoy the
blessings of their own country; and thus the calm energy and the proud
self-reliance which are engendered by a ceaseless struggle with an
ungrateful soil and climate, and which are indispensable to a hardy
seaman, were not developed in them as in the Norwegians and other
inhabitants of the North. This may have been one of the causes why the
Spaniards and Portuguese were unable to retain, in later times, their
mastery over the new world. They were displaced by the English, a
northern seafaring people, who were more at home on the sea.

It was the same quiet energy which, even amid the excitement of passion,
so strongly distinguished the northern from the southern races. The
inhabitant of the South was more governed, as he now is, by his
passions. A torrent of words, an animated play of the features, or even
perhaps a violent assault, betrayed the fire that raged within him. The
northern man, on the contrary, was of few words. His anger was under the
dominion of his cooler reason, and he was capable of concealing the
emotions of his soul. But he had a good memory. Years would pass before
he revenged himself; and he felt a sort of pleasure in making his
preparations, and waiting for the proper opportunity. The revenge of
blood, therefore, took place in the cold North, as well as in the fiery
South: but in the totally different manner in which it manifested itself
we can hardly fail to recognise the influence of Nature.

It must, however, be borne in mind that in every nation, except those
situated at the Poles or under the Line, where Nature exerts an almost
irresistible and overwhelming force, this influence manifests itself
very differently, according to their different degrees of development.
In the infancy of a people, and so long as their immediate wants render
them entirely dependent on Nature, whose unexplained phenomena appear to
them as those of some foreign and unknown power, her influence on their
life is naturally strongest. The effect is the same as that which
education and the companions with whom he associates produce on an
individual. But as nations gradually become more enlightened and
refined, they obtain a mastery over Nature, whose influence thus grows
weaker and weaker, and at last almost vanishes. It is, indeed, one of
the most marked steps in the progress of human development, when man
becomes Nature’s master, and makes her obedient to his power. Thus when
Englishmen, Frenchmen, and others who belong to a people of defined
character and perfectly-developed nationality, settle in foreign parts,
the influence of Nature, even at the Poles, or under the Line, is
scarcely strong enough to produce any great change in their character.
And upon the whole, to whatever degree civilization may be carried, most
nations will never entirely lose that character which Nature has
impressed upon them in the lands which gave them birth.

The influence of Nature upon the Scandinavian people may be traced
throughout their history, even down to the present times. In their
sanguinary internal wars, the Danes and Norwegians generally gained the
victory over the Swedes at sea. Under able leaders they have sometimes
been victorious on land also; but here the Swedes have in general been
superior. Christian IV. made no progress in the Thirty Years’ War. On
that occasion he proved himself inferior to Gustavus Adolphus, who, when
fighting on land, was in his true element. At sea, on the other hand,
Christian IV. signally defeated the Swedish fleet. The chief heroes of
the Swedish nation, and those who live most in the memory of the people,
are, Gustavus Adolphus, Charles X., and particularly Charles XII.;
although that monarch, by his rash wars in Russia, Poland, and Germany,
inflicted deep wounds upon Sweden, which took a long time to heal. But
the favourite heroes of the Danes and Norwegians are seamen; as
Christian IV., Niels Juel, Hvitfeld, and especially Tordenskjold, who,
singularly enough, was contemporary with Charles XII. The difference
between the people is clearly expressed in the opening lines of two of
the most favourite national songs. The Danish—formerly the Norwegian
also—runs thus:

                  “Kong Christian stod ved höien Mast
                          I Rög og Damp,”

(“King Christian stood by the high mast, enveloped in mist and smoke”),
where there is an allusion to a fight at sea. But the Swedish lines,

                       “Kung Karl den unge hjelte
                       Han stod i rök och dam,”

(“King Charles the young hero, stood in smoke and dust”), allude to
battle and victory on land. Even to the present day it may with good
reason be asserted that the Danes and Norwegians feel more inclination
than the Swedes for a seafaring life. But as the battle in Copenhagen
Roads (April 2, 1801) maintained the ancient reputation of the Danes at
sea, so also recent events have shown, that both the Danes and
Norwegians of the present day can fight on land with distinguished
bravery.

------------------------------------------------------------------------



                              SECTION II.

  The Great Memorials of Sweden in their Relation to those of Denmark
      and Norway.—Danish-Norwegian Memorials in the British Isles.

Russia, Poland, and particularly Germany, were, as we have seen, the
theatre of the greatest victories of Sweden. The glory of Denmark and
Norway, on the contrary, was founded in the West, over the sea, in
America, Iceland, the British Isles, and France. Denmark’s conquests of
the southern and eastern coasts of the Baltic in the twelfth and
thirteenth centuries, under the Waldemars, terminate, however, the times
of the Vikings. The victories of Sweden are of a modern date, and since
the last two centuries; but those of Denmark are of the ninth, tenth,
eleventh, and twelfth centuries. The remembrance of the Swedish
sabre-cut yet remains fresh among the Russians, Poles, and Germans; nay,
in some places, the Swedish name is still a terror to the common people.

It is often made a subject of complaint against the great achievements
of Denmark and Norway that they are of such remote antiquity; and that,
instead of promoting the freedom and spiritual advancement of mankind,
like Sweden’s struggles in the Thirty Years’ War, they rather caused an
immense retrograde step in civilization, since the heathen Vikings acted
with unbridled ferocity, burnt and destroyed churches and convents, and
rudely trampled upon everything that bore the mark of a higher
intellectual development. Thus foreigners, and particularly the German
historians, usually assert, for instance, that the Danish and Norwegian
Vikings brought nothing but misfortune upon the British Isles; whilst,
on the contrary, everything great and good in England is mainly
attributable to the Saxons, or Germans. This, however, is not to be
wondered at, since these critics were obliged to judge of situations for
whose right estimation they were entirely without the necessary
knowledge, namely, that of the more ancient history of the North.

It would certainly not be gratifying to the national feelings of the
Danes and Norwegians if the progress and settlements of the Vikings in
foreign lands were marked only by acts of violence, murder, and
incendiarism. Nor would it be a whit more pleasing or refreshing if it
were necessary to dig up as it were out of the earth the memorials of
those deeds, after they had lain for centuries in oblivion, or if we
were obliged carefully to revive them and procure their acknowledgment
in the countries which were once compelled to bow before the power of
the northern warriors.

But what if the Danish name, and the remembrance of the exploits of the
Danes and Norwegians, in spite of the many centuries that have passed
since they were performed, still live as fresh in the memory of the
people of the western lands as the Swedish name in Germany, nay, perhaps
even fresher? What if we found that, by means of monuments, the popular
character, public institutions, and other traits, a constant powerful
and beneficial influence could be traced from the expeditions of the
Vikings or Northmen, so that the natives of the lands which they subdued
accounted it an honour to descend from the bold natives of the North?
Would not the Northman in that case have a double right to be proud of
his forefathers? Or would he, upon the whole, any longer have reason to
complain?

It is the object of the following pages to convey, partly in the form of
travelling impressions, a picture of the memorials of the Danes and
Norwegians, as they exist in the monuments and among the people of those
countries which in former times most frequently witnessed the victories
of the Danes and Normans—namely, the British Islands. It is, however, by
no means the exclusive, or even special, design of them, to present to
scholars and persons of science detailed and critical observations on
every individual ancient monument in those islands, which may be said to
be of Danish or Norwegian origin. Their aim rather is to describe the
more general, and consequently more appreciable, features of actually
existing Scandinavian monuments; in doing which a distinction will, as
far as possible, be drawn between the Danish and the Norwegian
memorials; and in general between the influence of the Danes in England,
and of the Norwegians in Scotland and Ireland.

------------------------------------------------------------------------



                                  THE
                           DANES IN ENGLAND.

                               ----------

                               SECTION I.

    Nature of the Country.—Earlier Inhabitants: Britons, Romans, and
                             Anglo-Saxons.

The greater part of England consists of flat and fertile lowland,
particularly towards the southern and eastern coasts, where large open
plains extend themselves. Smiling landscapes, with well-cultivated
fields, beautiful ranges of forest, and small clear lakes everywhere
meet the eye. One would often be led to fancy oneself in some Danish
province, if the splendid country seats, with their extensive parks, the
numerous towns, the smoking factories, and the locomotive engines, with
their trains darting continually to and fro, did not remind one of being
in that land, which, with regard to riches and commerce, stands first in
Europe. The plains are watered by noble and smooth-flowing rivers, which
receive in their protecting embraces the thousands of ships which from
all quarters seek the coasts of England. The winter is considerably
milder than in our northern regions; and the sea air, not permitting the
snow to lie for any length of time, renders the climate, on the whole,
warmer. In summer the fields are clothed with the most luxuriant
verdure. The leafy woods, with their numerous oaks, are filled with
singing birds. The charm that is extended over English scenery, united
with that freshness of life that stirs itself on all sides, cannot fail
to make a deep impression on every foreigner. One feels in its full
extent that the nature of the country presents all the requisites for
greatness to a powerful and undegenerate people; and one no longer
requires an explanation why it was not till after a desperate struggle
that the ancient Britons relinquished it, or why, in after times,
various nations strove with their utmost efforts for the possession of
such a land.

The farther one travels towards the north or west of England, the
mountains become higher, the valleys narrower, and the streams more
rapid. In the north, however, the mountains rather resemble high hills.
They do not tower in broken masses like the granite cliffs of
Scandinavia. Their forms are softer and more undulating, and they are,
too, clothed with a rich vegetation, and frequently overgrown with wood.
In Cumberland and Westmorland are inwreathed those charming lakes whose
beauties constantly attract a number of tourists. Even the ridge of the
Cheviot Hills is not much more than about two thousand feet above the
level of the sea: but stretching from east-north-east to
west-south-west, with the river Tweed on one side, and the Solway firth
on the other, they form a natural boundary between England and Scotland.

Farthest towards the west rise the mountains of Wales, England’s real
highland. The valleys here are short and narrow, yet the country has not
the wildness of mountain tracts. Although it contains England’s highest
mountain, Snowdon, whose summit is nearly three thousand five hundred
feet above the sea, still it unites the charms of plain and mountain.
The whole of Wales may be regarded as a knot of mountains opposed by
nature to the enormous waves of the Atlantic Ocean and Irish Sea. The
middle is the highest part, whence rivers flow towards the east and
west; the latter of which, after a short and foaming course, discharge
themselves into the sea. The extent of the country, both in length and
breadth, is, on the whole, inconsiderable.

This little mountain tract, which, in comparison with England, is poor
as regards fertility, but all the richer in natural beauties, contains
the last remains of the former masters of England, the Celtic Britons.
By its remote situation, its rocks and narrow mountain passes, the
characteristics of its former inhabitants have been preserved to our
times. The people speak the ancient Welsh language, a branch of the
Celtic stock; and have also inherited no small share of that burning
hatred which their forefathers nourished against the English, who gained
possession of their original fatherland by force.

Wales was united to England as early as the close of the thirteenth
century; yet for ages later the Britons knew how to keep their country
almost closed against the intrusion of strangers; whilst the harpers, by
their ancient songs, kept alive the remembrance of past exploits and
past disasters, and thus, as it were, still more hedged in and protected
the language and nationality of the people. It was not till later times,
when high roads, and at present railroads, began to open a more frequent
intercourse between Wales and England, that the tones of the harp became
almost entirely mute. The Welsh language gave way more and more to the
English, and the time can hardly be far distant when the Celtic will
become entirely extinct in Wales, as it has long been in Cornwall.

The people, whose scanty remnant thus spend the last days of their old
age among the Welsh mountains, formerly belonged, both by possessions
and kinship, to the most powerful in Europe. Not only were the Scotch
and the Irish of the same origin with them, but on the other side of the
channel, throughout Gaul, or France, Spain, and the middle and south of
Europe, dwelt tribes of the Celtic race. Until about the time of the
birth of Christ there was no people north of the Alps, which, with
regard to power, agriculture, commerce, skill in the arts, and
civilization in general, could equal, much less surpass, the Celts. Yet
they were not strong enough to clip the wings of the Roman eagle, when
it began to extend them over the Alps. The superior military skill and
higher civilization of the Romans, triumphed over the various Celtic
tribes, which were torn by internal dissensions, and could not once,
even under the danger which menaced them, faithfully unite together.
Shortly after the birth of Christ, therefore, the Roman hosts had
already gained a footing in Britain, and, notwithstanding the violent
and repeated attacks of the natives, soon made themselves masters of the
country. They even fought their way to Scotland; where, however, the
wild highlands, and their brave inhabitants, the Caledonians, arrested
their victorious march. The Romans were now obliged to erect walls,
ramparts, and towers, in order to prevent the highland Scots from
uniting with the Britons, and to avert the speedy loss of the land which
they had already won. Throughout Britain they laid the foundations of a
civilization till then unknown there. They promoted agriculture,
commerce, and trade; they made roads, and built towns and castles; and,
as they had not immigrated in any great multitudes, they left the
inhabitants in tolerably quiet possession of the soil of their
forefathers.

But the Roman power fell in turn. It was natural that their dominion in
so distant and sequestered a land as Britain should decay sooner and
more easily than elsewhere, especially as the British chiefs did not
fail immediately to revive the old disputes. Their rude neighbours in
Scotland, the Picts and Scots, no longer restrained by fear of the
Romans, made serious and devastating inroads upon the northern provinces
of England, where no slight degree of riches and splendour already
prevailed. The Britons, moreover, under the dominion of the Romans, had,
like their kinsmen across the channel, already begun to grow cowardly
and effeminate. Long oppression had given the power of the Celts a
death-blow: and they were consequently unable to withstand the powerful
and undegenerate tribes of Germany, which now, in the great tide of
emigration from the east and north of Europe, rushed into the old Celtic
countries, and made themselves new abodes, either, for the most part,
putting the ancient inhabitants to death, or reducing them to a state of
thraldom.

In the fifth century Angles, Saxons, and Jutes, from North Germany and
the peninsula of Jutland, invaded Britain. The unfortunate Britons, when
they would not submit to their conquerors, were persecuted with fire and
sword, and were at last driven to the remote mountain districts in the
West of England, particularly Cumberland (the land of the Cymbri or
Celts), Wales, and Cornwall. After a sanguinary war, which lasted more
than a hundred and fifty years, all their fine fruitful plains fell into
the hands of their foreign conquerors, who continually brought more and
more of their countrymen over, to build up again and inhabit the burnt
or destroyed towns and houses, and to cultivate the neglected fields.
The Angles settled principally in the north of England, the Saxons in
the south and south-west, and mingled amongst both dwelt the Jutes, who
do not appear to have been numerous enough to occupy large districts of
their own. Under the common name of “Anglo-Saxons,” the descendants of
these nations continued for several centuries to be the reigning people,
although the Britons did not cease to make harassing invasions on the
frontiers of their hereditary enemies. For the rest, the Saxons
successfully continued what the Romans had begun, with regard to the
improvement of the land, and the promotion of civilization among the
people. They were, it is true, divided into several tribes and smaller
kingdoms, which not unfrequently warred against each other. But
Christianity soon began to extend itself, and about the time of its
introduction the separate kingdoms were united into one. Churches and
convents rose with surprising rapidity throughout the country, and the
pursuits of peace, science, and art, throve luxuriantly. Every plant,
though foreign, flourished vigorously in the English soil.

In the first ages, however, Christianity produced among the people,
as was the case in other countries besides England, a sort of
degeneracy and weakness. Instead of the din of battle of the
heathens there were now heard songs and prayers, which, joined with
the constantly-increasing refinement, made the people dull and
effeminate, so that they willingly bent under the yoke of their
masters, both spiritual and temporal. In the ninth, tenth, and
eleventh centuries the Anglo-Saxons had greatly degenerated from
their forefathers. Relatives sold one another into thraldom;
lewdness and ungodliness were become habitual; and cowardice had
increased to such a degree, that, according to the old chroniclers,
one Dane would often put ten Anglo-Saxons to flight. Before such a
people could be conducted to true freedom and greatness it was
necessary that an entirely new vigour should be infused into the
decayed stock.

This vigour was derived from the Scandinavian north, where neither
Romans nor any other conquerors had domineered over the people, and
where heathenism with all its roughness, and all its love of freedom and
bravery, still held absolute sway.

                               ----------

                              SECTION II.

              The Danish Expeditions.—The Danish Conquest.

A fate similar to that which the Anglo-Saxons had formerly brought upon
the Britons, now partly became the lot of the Anglo-Saxons themselves.
The same sea, the North Sea, or, as the old inhabitants of Scandinavia
called it, “England’s Sea,” which in the fifth century had borne the
Anglo-Saxons to England, and which had afterwards served to maintain the
peaceful connections of trade, and the intercourse between kinsmen in
England and in their northern fatherland, now suddenly teemed with the
numberless barks of the Vikings, which, from the close of the eighth
century, constantly showed themselves in all the harbours and rivers of
England. For about three centuries the Danes were the terror of the
Anglo-Saxons. They generally anchored their ships at the mouths of
rivers, or lay under the islands on the coasts. Thence they would sail
up the rivers to the interior of the country, where they frequently
mounted on horseback, and conveyed themselves with incredible speed from
one place to another. Their frightful sabre-cuts resounded everywhere.
Their progress was marked by the burning of churches and convents,
castles, and towns; and great multitudes of people were either killed or
dragged away into slavery. In a short time they began to take up their
abode in the country for the winter, and in the spring they renewed
their destructive incursions. The terrified inhabitants imagined they
beheld a judgment of God in the devastations of the Vikings, which had
been foretold in ancient prophecies.

Not even the remote and poorer districts of Wales were spared. It is
true that it was extremely difficult for the Danes to force an entrance
on the land side, and, in order to do so by sea, it was necessary to
make a troublesome and dangerous voyage round the long-extended
peninsula formed by the modern Cornwall and Devonshire. In general its
rivers were not large or navigable, and the number of good harbours was
but small. Nevertheless, the Northmen seem to have known Wales well, as
the old land of the Britons; since it was always called “Bretland,” to
distinguish it from England. Palnatoke, the celebrated chief of the
Jomsvikings, is said to have married there, during one of his warlike
expeditions, Olöf, a daughter of the Bretland jarl, Stefner, whose
Jarledömme (earldom) Palnatoke afterwards possessed. The Sagas often
make mention of _Björn hin Bretske_ (Bear the Briton) as being among his
men; and it is said that when he assisted at the funeral solemnities
which his foster son, King Svend Tveskjæg[3], held in honour of his
father, King Harald Blaatand[4], the half of his suite were Britons.
Svend himself had ravaged Bretland; and it was there, as is well known,
that the Icelander, Thorvald Kodransön, surnamed Vidförle (the
far-travelled), delivered him by his noble disinterestedness from a
perilous imprisonment.

Footnote 3:

  Split-beard.

Footnote 4:

  Blue-tooth.

The expeditions of the Danes to Bretland seem, however, to have been
confined to the tracts bordering on the north bank of the Severn, and to
the Isle of Anglesey; which latter was not unfrequently visited by the
Norwegians in their piratical voyages to the Hebrides and Ireland. At
least the Sagas mention it as “the southernmost region, of which former
Norwegian kings had made themselves masters;” and it was probably here
that Palnatoke had his kingdom. The very name of the island recalls a
close connection with the inhabitants of the north. Anciently it was
called “Maenige;” but the Danes and Norwegians, with regard, clearly, to
its situation by the land of the Angles (England), gave it the name of
“Öngulsey,” or Angelsöen, whence the present form Anglesey may,
doubtless, be said to have been derived.

The connections of the Danish Vikings with Bretland were, however, far
from being always unfriendly. For as the Britons in Wales and Cornwall
constantly nourished a lively hatred against the Anglo-Saxons, on whose
lands they continued to make war, the Danes often entered into an
alliance with them against their common enemies. The Danish and British
armies were either combined, or else the Britons attacked from the west
and south, whilst the Danes invaded the eastern coasts. These deep and
well-laid plans show that the views of the Danes were no longer confined
to robbery and plunder, with a view to gain booty, or to overthrow the
churches and convents which threatened their ancient gods with
destruction, but that they now seriously thought of conquering for
themselves new tracts of country; nay, if possible, of subjugating or
expelling the Anglo-Saxons throughout England.

Already in the ninth century the Anglo-Saxons had receded considerably
before the Danes, who had obtained possessions on the east coast, where
they quickly spread themselves, and where fresh arriving Vikings always
found reception and assistance. The Anglo-Saxon king, Alfred the Great,
was driven from his throne, and wandered about a long time in the
forests, whilst the Danes held the sovereignty in his dominions. He
succeeded, indeed, at length in regaining the crown; but in the mean
time the possessions of the Danes on the east coast had been extended,
and their power continually increased by the arrival of fresh emigrants,
who settled in different parts of the country, and married the native
women. Alfred, it is true, built fleets for the protection of the
coasts; but the militia-men instituted in his time, in order to repel
the frequent attacks of the Danes, now went over to them, accounting
them their kinsmen. In Northumberland especially, the Danes, and a
considerable number of Norwegians, had settled themselves securely under
their own chiefs. Here they had sought a refuge against the new order of
things which was now about to make itself felt in the mother countries,
Denmark and Norway.

Partly as a result of the expeditions of the Vikings, and the frequent
contact into which they were thus brought with Christian States,
Christianity began, towards A.D. 900, to spread itself in the countries
of Scandinavia. About the same time occurred there, as in the rest of
Europe, a union of many small kingdoms under a single sovereign: and the
Scandinavian tribes were subjected to the kings of Denmark, Norway, and
Sweden. Some powerful and malcontent ones had indeed migrated beyond the
sea; but, nevertheless, there were materials enough left for dissension
in the new kingdoms, before Christianity could be generally introduced,
and the power of the kings firmly established. A time arrived when the
internal struggles in Denmark and Norway scarcely allowed the
inhabitants to send any availing support to their friends in
Northumberland, or to the other Danes on the coasts of England. Towards
the middle of the tenth century, therefore, the hitherto almost
independent Danish provinces in England were compelled to submit to the
Anglo-Saxon kings, whose sovereignty, however, was but of short
duration; for after the year 980 Danish and Norwegian Vikings again
swarmed throughout England. Nor was it now, as formerly, merely the
petty kings, who, with a comparatively inferior force, conducted these
warlike expeditions. By degrees the Danish and Norwegian kings’ sons,
and even the kings themselves, endeavoured, with large fleets and
well-appointed armies, to wrest the sceptre from the hands of the feeble
Anglo-Saxon monarchs. It was in vain that the latter strove against
them. They laid a tax on the whole land, called _Danegelt_, in order to
defray the great expenses which the defence of the country against the
Danes occasioned. But the money thus raised it was often necessary to
expend in buying off the Danes, or in supporting their victorious hosts
whilst they wintered in the country. The Anglo-Saxon king, Ethelred,
after seeing his kingdom harried and fearfully devastated by the Danish
king, Svend Tveskjæg, in conjunction with Olaf Trygvesön, the son of the
king of Norway, first succeeded in making peace with Olaf in 995, and
with Svend in 1002, after paying immense sums as Danegelt, and agreeing
to many humiliating conditions.

As a last resource against the daily-increasing number and power of the
Danes, Ethelred determined secretly and cruelly to murder these who were
settled in England. The massacre took place on St. Bridget’s eve, the
13th of November, 1002. Old and young, women and children, were murdered
with the most frightful tortures. Not even the churches could protect
the Christian Danes against the fury of the Anglo-Saxons. The slaughter
was, however, confined almost exclusively to the south of England; since
towards the north, and particularly in Northumberland, the population
was chiefly of Danish and Norwegian extraction.

No sooner did the news of Ethelred’s perfidious and sanguinary act reach
Denmark, than a strong fleet was fitted out, and in the following year
(1003) the Danish flag waved on the coasts of England. After numerous
sanguinary battles, the Anglo-Saxons were compelled to submit to Svend
Tveskjæg and Canute. What could not be conquered by force of arms was
obtained through prudence and cunning. The Danish conquest of England
was completed, and for about one generation Danish kings wore the
English crown.

                               ----------

                              SECTION III.

                          The Thames.—London.

London, and its wealthy neighbourhood, was naturally the main object of
the Danish attacks in the south-east part of England. Under the Romans
it had already become considerable as a commercial mart; but afterwards,
under the Anglo-Saxons, it increased so much in wealth and importance,
that it was, if we may use the expression, the heart of England. It was
for this reason that the old northern bards used the term “Londons
_Drot_” in their songs about the kings of England. From the first London
is undoubtedly indebted for its greatness chiefly to its situation on
the Thames, which opened an easy communication both with the opposite
shores of the Continent and with the interior of England. In our days it
is certainly a remarkable sight to observe the numberless ships that
assemble there from all parts of the world, and to mark the activity
that everywhere prevails on the beautiful shores of the river. But it
becomes doubly remarkable when we recollect that this spectacle is
neither a new one, nor has arisen under a single people; but that it has
been repeated, in a somewhat altered form, for about two thousand years,
under the most different circumstances: namely, under the dominion of
the Britons, the Romans, the Anglo-Saxons, the Danes, and the Normans.
In this respect there is no river whatsoever that can be compared with
the Thames. Had it not been one of the most, or indeed quite the most,
favourably situated stream in Europe for commerce, the greatest
commercial city in the world would hardly have risen on its banks.

But just as the Thames brought, in the olden times, numerous merchant
vessels, and, along with them, wealth and prosperity to the south of
England, so must it also have frequently drawn down ruin on the
surrounding districts, since it attracted thither almost all the Vikings
who sought for booty and conquest. Nature herself has cut a deep bay
into the eastern coast of England, at the mouth of the Thames, and thus
pointed out to the Vikings the way they should pursue. The ships of the
Danish Vikings constantly swarmed at the mouth of the Thames. “When they
were not strong enough to sail up the river and attack London, or when
the winter approached, they anchored under the coast, in places where
they could lie in wait for and seize the merchantmen, and whence they
could easily reach the open sea, if attacked by too superior a force.
Some of their most important stations were under the Isle of Thanet, in
Kent, and the Isle of Sheppey, (_Anglo-Saxon_, Sceapige, or the Sheep
Island,) which lies at the mouth of the Thames. Thus these islands,
whose remote situation rendered them sufficiently dangerous before,
suffered doubly from the ravages committed by the Vikings on the coasts.
Another place near the Thames, where the northern Vikings and conquerors
generally landed when they harried the south of England, and where they
often wintered, was the present Sandwich, in Kent. As it was an
important landing-place even in the times of the Romans, they had
already fortified it. Sandwich (_Ang.-Sax._, _Wic en Stad_) became in
the mouths of the Northmen “Sandvic,” or the sandy bay; an appellation
which perfectly agrees with the nature of the place. We find the same
name for places in Orkney and the Shetland Isles, in Iceland, and
Norway. From Sandwich it was but a few miles to Canterbury (in the
northern tongue “Kantaraborg”), which, being a rich bishopric, was on
that account exposed to remorseless plunder. In the year 1011
especially, the Jarl Thorkel the Tall, visited it with fire and sword.
Christchurch, the principal church in England, was burnt down; the monks
were put to death, and only one in ten of the citizens spared. Many, and
among them Archbishop Elfeg, who was afterwards cruelly murdered, were
cast into prison.

To the south of Canterbury, on the channel, lies “Dungeness;” and at the
mouth of the Thames, “Foulness,” and “Sheerness.” The termination
_ness_, in these names, seems to be neither Saxon, nor Celtic, but
plainly the Danish and Norwegian _Næs_ (a promontory, or lofty tongue of
land, running out into the sea).

The nearer we approach London by the Thames, the more memorials we
find of the Danes. Just before we reach the metropolis, we sail past
Greenwich on the left, called by the northmen “Grenvik” (nearer,
perhaps, “Granvigen,” the pine-bay), whose celebrated hospital
contains in our days a little host of England’s superannuated seamen,
who have fought in defence of her honour, and who, supported by the
public, enjoy an old age free from care. In the eleventh century
Grenvik was also for a long time the resting-place of a host of naval
warriors, who were supported at the public expense; but that was a
host of bold Danish Vikings, who, after having fearfully devastated
England under their chief, Jarl Thorkel the Tall, had now, in 1011,
allowed themselves to be bought off for an immense sum of money, and
to settle down peaceably in the service of the English king Ethelred.
From this time it became the custom for the English monarchs to have
continually a standing army, composed mostly of Danes, “Huskarlene,”
or “Thingmen,” as they were called (Þingmannalið), whose duty it was
to keep the country quiet, and to defend it against foreign invasion;
whence they sometimes came to fight against their own countrymen. King
Athelstan (925-941) had, however, almost a century earlier, made use
of Danish warriors to suppress revolt in his kingdom; for which
purpose it was ordered that one of these men should be maintained in
every house, in order that they might be always ready for the king’s
service. The Thingmen were to the English kings much what the
Varangians were to the Greek emperors in Constantinople. They had
certain rights and privileges, and later, in particular, two places
were assigned to them for their headquarters—London in the south of
England; and in the north, Slesvig (Nottinghamshire). Under King
Canute, they played, as is well known, a considerable part.

The name of Canute the Great is connected not only with the town of
Brentford (Brandfurda), on the Thames, near the western parts of London,
and with Ashingdon (Assatun), in Essex, to the north-east of London,
and, as the legend says, to the north of “Daneskoven” (the Danish
forest), in which places he fought bloody battles with Edmund Ironsides,
before he subdued England; but it is also connected in the closest
manner with London itself.

When I sailed up the Thames for the first time, and when at length,
above a forest of masts, the gray turrets of the Tower appeared on one
side, and London Bridge in the distance, I was involuntarily led to
recall the time when King Canute long lay in vain with his ships before
the fortress and bridge of the metropolis, whilst a great part of the
rest of England submitted to his sway. London Bridge was defended by
three castles, one of which stood on the bridge itself. The Danes
attempted to dig a canal round the foot of the bridge; and though
Canute, who was well supported by Thorkel the Tall, and by Erik Jarl,
the Norwegian, is said to have resumed the siege several times, yet it
was by negociation alone that he seems to have obtained possession of
London.

Even amid the varied impressions created by the metropolis of the world,
I could not forget—and what Dane could?—that it was chiefly here that
for a long period the Northmen found, as it were, another home, from
which they returned to their native land enriched by fresh knowledge,
and on the whole with a higher degree of civilization, which they
afterwards turned to account in the north; that it was here that not a
few of the most zealous promoters and defenders of Christianity in
Scandinavia, and amongst them particularly the Norwegian king, Olaf
Trygvesön, had dwelt before they began the work of conversion; that it
was here, lastly, that several Danish chieftains, and especially Canute
the Great, had played the sovereign, and held their court, surrounded by
the _Thingmen_ and the bards, who in those times usually accompanied the
northern kings. On surveying London, its proud river, and beautiful
uplands, one cannot help doubly admiring the power of that king, who, at
a distance from his native land, was not only able to command all this,
as well as the whole of England, but Norway and Denmark in addition. One
feels the truth of the words of the Saga about Canute: “Of all kings
that have spoken the Danish tongue, he was the mightiest, and the one
that reigned over the greatest kingdoms.”

Although London was at that time one of the most considerable towns in
Europe, it was of course but very small compared with what it is at
present. The walls inclosed only that proportionally small part of
modern London called the “City,” and which forms the centre of its busy
commerce. Close by lay a castle (whence the Northmen’s name for London,
“Lundunaborg”), and undoubtedly on the same spot where, not long after
Canute’s time, William the Conqueror built the Tower. Somewhat higher up
the Thames, on an island which, from the many thorns growing there,
obtained the name of Thorney (_Anglo-Saxon_, Thornege), or the Thorn
Island, stood another castle, said to have been inhabited at different
times by Canute. This island, in whose name we find both the Anglo-Saxon
_ege_, and afterwards the northern _ey_ (island), and which is therefore
sometimes very incorrectly called Thorney _Island_, has now lost both
its ancient name and appearance. Under the name of Westminster, it forms
at present a continuous part of London.

The Dane who wanders through this immense city, will not only be
reminded by such names as “Denmark Court,” “Denmark Street,” and
“Copenhagen Street,” and by monuments in St. Paul’s and Westminster
Abbey, of the sanguinary battles which have taken place in modern times
between England and Denmark, as well as of the older ties of friendship,
which for a long time found increased support by means of the
relationship and reciprocal marriages which occurred in the reigning
families of the two countries; but he will also find traces even to this
day, of the power and influence which his forefathers, both before and
after King Canute’s time, possessed in the most important commercial
city of wealthy England.

Approaching the city from the west end, through the great street called
“the Strand,” we see, close outside the old gate of Temple Bar, a church
called St. Clement’s Danes, from which the surrounding parish derives
its name. In the early part of the middle ages this church was called in
Latin, “Ecclesia Sancti Clementis Danorum,” or, “the Danes’ Church of
St. Clement.” It was here that the Danes in London formerly had their
own burial-place; in which reposed the remains of Canute the Great’s son
and next successor, Harald Harefoot. When, in 1040, Hardicanute ascended
the throne after his brother Harald, he caused Harald’s corpse to be
disinterred from its tomb in Westminster Abbey, and thrown into the
Thames; where it was found by a fisherman, and afterwards buried, it is
said, “in the Danes’ churchyard in London.” From the churchyard it was
subsequently removed into a round tower, which ornamented the church
before it was rebuilt at the close of the seventeenth century.

It has, indeed, been supposed by some that this church was called after
the Danes only because so many Danes have been buried in it; but as it
is situated close by the Thames, and must have originally lain outside
the city walls, in the western suburbs, and consequently outside of
London proper, it is certainly put beyond all doubt, that the Danish
merchants and mariners who, for the sake of trade, were at that time
established in or near London, had here a place of their own, in which
they dwelt together as fellow-countrymen. Here it should also be
remarked, that this church, like others in commercial towns, as, for
instance, at Aarhuus in Jutland, at Trondhjem in Norway, and even in the
city of London (in East Cheap), was consecrated to St. Clement, who was
especially the seaman’s patron saint. The Danes naturally preferred to
bury their dead in this church, which was their proper parish church.

The Danes and Norwegians also possessed an important place of trade on
the southern shore of the Thames, opposite the city—in Southwark, as it
is called, which was first incorporated with London, as part of the
city, in the middle ages. The very name of _Southwark_, which is
unmistakably of Danish or Norwegian origin, is evidence of this. The
Sagas relate that, in the time of King Svend Tveskjæg, the Danes
fortified this trading place; which, evidently on account of its
situation to the south of the Thames and London, was called “Sydvirke”
(Sudrvirki), or the southern fortification. From Sudrvirki, which in
Anglo-Saxon was called Suð-geweorc, but which in the middle ages
obtained the name of Suthwerk or Suwerk, arose the present form,
Southwark, through small and gradual changes in the pronunciation. The
Northmen had a church in Sydvirke dedicated to the Norwegian king, Olaf
the Saint. Olaf, who fell in the battle of Stiklestad, in 1030, was so
celebrated a saint that churches were built in his honour, not only in
Norway, where he became the patron saint of the kingdom, and in the rest
of Scandinavia, but also in almost every place where the Northmen
established themselves; nay, even in distant Constantinople the
Varangians had a church called after him. There is still a street in
Southwark, close by London Bridge and the Thames, which bears the
significant name of Tooley Street, a corruption of St. Olave’s Street.
On the northern side stands a church, called St. Olave’s Church, and
which is found mentioned by that name as early as the close of the
thirteenth century.

Within the city, in what may be strictly called ancient London, where
the Sagas already mention a St. Olaf’s Church, there are to be found at
this day no fewer than three churches consecrated to St. Olave: namely,
in Silver Street; at the north-west corner of Seething Lane, Tower
Street; and in the Old Jewry (St. Olave’s Upwell). The two last-named
stand in the eastern extremities of the city, yet within its ancient
boundaries. In the same neighbourhood, near London Bridge, there is also
a church dedicated to St. Magnus the Martyr, which likewise undoubtedly
owes its origin to the Northmen, either the Norwegians or Danes. St.
Magnus was a Norwegian jarl, who was killed in the twelfth century in
Orkney, where the cathedral in Kirkwall is also consecrated to him.

That so many churches in London should be named after these Norwegian
saints, Olaf and Magnus, who, moreover, were not canonized till after
the death of Canute the Great, and the overthrow of the Danish dominion
in England, furnishes no mean evidence of the influence of the Northmen
in London. It confirms in a remarkable manner the truth of the old
statements, that the Danes who dwelt in London could at times even turn
the scales at the election of a king; as, for instance, after the death
of Canute the Great. An English chronicler, speaking of the power of the
Danes at that period, adds, that the citizens of London had, by reason
of their frequent intercourse with “_the barbarians_” (the Danes),
almost adopted their manners and customs. And it was, indeed, natural
that the long voyages of the Northmen, and the important commerce
carried on between the countries of Scandinavia and England, should have
long secured to the northern merchants an influential position in a city
like London, which was in the highest degree a commercial city, and
particularly when these merchants had once been established there in
great numbers.

But the most striking and remarkable memorial of the early power of the
Danes and other Northmen in London is this—that the highest tribunal in
the city has retained to our days its pure old northern name “Husting.”
The word _Thing_, whereby, as is well known, both deliberative and
judicial assemblies were designated in the north from the earliest
times, does not seem to have been employed by the Anglo-Saxons in that
signification, or at all events not before the Danish expeditions and
Danish immigrations into England. The Anglo-Saxons used in that sense
the term _gemót_, as in “Witena-gemót,” which was the name of their
parliament. Husthings are also especially mentioned in the Sagas as
having been held in the north, particularly by kings, jarls, and other
powerful individuals. The Husthing in London was originally established
in order to protect and guard the laws and liberties of the city and the
customs of the courts of judicature; and the principal magistrates were
judges. In the Latin of the middle ages it is said of a person who
attended there—“Comparuit in Hustingo.” A similar Husting was also
formerly found in the Isle of Sheppey, at the mouth of the Thames.

London, beneath whose walls and gates the Danes have fought numerous
battles with various success, contains within it memorials both of their
greatest power and of the decay of their dominion. On the same side of
the Thames as Sydvirke, or Southwark, but somewhat higher up, lies
Lambeth (formerly Lambythe, Lambgathre), which is now a part of London,
and the residence of the Primate of England, but which in olden times
was a village outside the capital. At a country-house there a Danish
jarl celebrated his marriage in the year 1042. King Hardicanute, with a
number of his followers, was present at the banquet; but just as he was
drinking to the bride, he suddenly fell to the ground, in a fit of
apoplexy, and shortly afterwards breathed his last at the age of only
twenty-six years.

Hardicanute was the last Danish king in England.

                               ----------

                              SECTION IV.

      Watlinga-Stræt.—South England.—Legends about the Danes.—The
              graves of Canute the Great and Hardicanute.

In the heart of the city of London, near St. Paul’s Cathedral, is a
street called “Watling Street.” Anciently it was connected with the
great high road of the same name (or more properly Watlinga-Stræt),
which had been made by the Britons from the Channel and London through
the midst of England to the north-east of Wales, Chester, and the Irish
Channel. On account of the importance of this road, as communicating
with the interior of England as well as with Ireland, the Romans
improved it. But, like most of the high roads of ancient times, it was
carried over heights, with the constant view of avoiding streams which
would require the erection of bridges. It followed, as nearly as
possible, the natural division of the watercourse in England, or the
ridge of the land watershed whence rivers take their course in all
directions.

About the year 1000 this road not only showed the natural boundary
between the northern and southern river-valleys, but likewise indicated
in the clearest possible manner a political boundary between the
inhabitants of different extraction, and different manners and customs.
The districts to the north and east of this road belonged for the most
part to the so-called “Dena-lagu,” or “Dane-lagh,” that is, the Dane’s
community (from _lag_, whence in the north itself, in Norway, for
instance, _Thröndelagen_, and in Sweden, _Roslagen_). For here the
Danes, and other conquerors or immigrants of Scandinavian origin, had
gradually subdued and expelled the Anglo-Saxons, and here the Danish
laws, habits, and customs, chiefly prevailed.

In the districts to the south, on the contrary, the repulsed
Anglo-Saxons had concentrated the last remnants of their former power. A
great number of wealthy and leading Danes were indeed also settled here,
either in the country, or, with a view to commerce, in the principal
towns on the coast; as in Winchester, which, like London, long had its
“Husting;” Exeter, where a church was in later times dedicated to St.
Olave; and Bristol. But, out of London, the Danes scarcely formed at
that time any really strong and united power in the south of England.
The predominating people was the Anglo-Saxon, and in general the old
Saxon characteristics had been preserved.

To the south of Watlinga-Stræt, which had already often been agreed upon
between the Danish conquerors and the Anglo-Saxon kings as the boundary
between the Danish and Anglo-Saxon kingdoms, Edmund Ironsides received
his share of England by agreement with Canute. It was in these districts
that the Anglo-Saxon kings had always found their truest and most
numerous adherents, and they had therefore generally been the theatre of
the more important battles between the Anglo-Saxons and the Danes. Near
Wareham, in Dorsetshire, Alfred purchased peace with a host of the
latter, who swore on their armlets to observe it; but, though this oath
was regarded by the Danes as very sacred, they are said to have broken
it immediately. During his exile Alfred concealed himself for a long
time at Athelney, in Somersetshire; and near Eddington he again beat the
Danes. In the neighbourhood of Athelney, Alfred also induced Gudrun
(Gorm), the king of the Danish Vikings, to receive baptism. The
oppressed inhabitants were in these parts scarcely ever free from the
devastating attacks of the Vikings and conquerors. The Danes frequently
established themselves in castles near the coast, as at Exeter, in
Devonshire; Dorchester and Wareham, in Dorsetshire; Winchester, in
Hampshire; and Chichester, in Sussex. At Southampton, in Hampshire, and
under the Isle of Wight, they generally wintered with large fleets.
Thence they made incursions into the land of the Anglo-Saxons; and if
they could not entirely expel them, and colonize the south of England in
their stead, they at least endeavoured to weaken and exhaust it as much
as possible.

On the whole, it would not have been very easy for the Danes to settle
themselves entirely in any parts of the south, or south-west, of
England; not even on the coasts near the harbours, though regularly
visited by the ships of the Norwegian Vikings. The inhabitants in these
parts were mostly of pure Saxon descent, and consequently already
prejudiced against the Danes, on account of the old disputes between the
Scandinavian and Saxon races; at all events, they somewhat differed from
the Danes in character, manners, and customs. These districts were,
besides, too remote from Denmark; and in case of an attack from the
Anglo-Saxons, which might naturally be expected to take place,
assistance might come too late. The Danes were not so safe there as on
the east coast of England, which lay opposite to Jutland, and where, if
any danger threatened them, a ship could easily be sent with a message
to their friends over the sea, so that, with a tolerably favourable
wind, a strong fleet could be speedily brought within sight of the
Anglo-Saxons. The Angles, whose descendants inhabited these eastern and
northern districts, seem too, with regard to language and national
manners, to have borne a greater resemblance to the Danes than the
inhabitants of any other part of England, so that it was by no means
difficult for the Danes speedily to amalgamate with them. In addition to
this, the eastern coasts offered much the same allurements to the Danes
as the more southern provinces. They were remarkable for their fertility
and for the riches of their inhabitants, acquired as well by agriculture
as by trade with Saxony, Belgium, and Gaul. Precisely on the east coast,
indeed, were situated at that time some of the largest commercial towns
in England.

It is not surprising, therefore, that, with the exception of London and
its environs, there are not found in the south of England, as is the
case farther north, many names of places of well-defined Danish or
Norwegian origin, which have preserved the old northern forms down to
the present day, and which thus clearly testify that a genuine
Scandinavian population must long have lived there. It is only at the
extremities of the coasts that an occasional promontory, or “Næs,” and
small islands whose names end in _ey_ and _holm_, remind one of the
Northmen; as Flatholmes (_Dan._, Fladholmene) and Steepholmes in the
Severn, where there are said to be remains of Danish fortifications;
Grasholm (_Dan._, Græsholm), to the west of Pembrokeshire; Bardsey, west
of Caernarvonshire; Priestholm (_Dan._, Præsteholm), near the northern
inlet of the Menai Straits; and several others.

In the south of England one cannot discover any striking resemblance to
the Danes either in the language, features, or frame of body of the
people. What they have chiefly left behind them here is a name, which
will certainly never be entirely eradicated from the people’s memory.
Centuries after the Danish dominion was overthrown in England, the dread
of the Danes was handed down from one generation to another, and even to
this day they occupy a considerable share in the remembrance of the
English nation. Throughout England the common people—nay, even a great
number of the more educated classes—know of no other inhabitants of the
north of Europe than “the Danes;” and as they include under this name
both Swedes and Norwegians, the idea of the unity of Scandinavia has
unconsciously taken root amongst them. That they have so implicitly
awarded the first place in Scandinavia to the Danes, has not originated
solely from the fact that, anciently, the Danes were really regarded as
the leading people in the north—whence also the old Norwegian language
was often called “dönsk tunga” (Danish tongue); nor because the Danes at
that time undoubtedly exercised a more important influence on the
British Isles than the other inhabitants of the north; it may, likewise,
have arisen from the circumstance that, partly in consequence of its
situation, Denmark has continued to stand, even down to our time, in
much closer relations both of peace and war with England, than Sweden
has; and that the separation of Norway from Denmark is still too recent
an event to have completely penetrated to the knowledge of the less
informed part of the English people. Even had the remembrance of the
Danes in England lain slumbering there, such events as the battle in
Copenhagen roads in 1801, and the seizure of the Danish fleet in 1807,
must at once have brought all the old tales respecting the doings of the
Danes in England to the lips of the English people.

Legends about “the Danes” are very much disseminated among the people,
even in the south of England. There is scarce a parish that has not in
some way or another preserved the remembrance of them. Sometimes they
are recorded to have burnt churches and castles, and to have destroyed
towns, whose inhabitants were put to the sword; sometimes they are said
to have burnt or cut down forests; here are shown the remains of large
earthen mounds and fortifications which they erected; there, again,
places are pointed out where bloody battles were fought with them. To
this must be added the names of places; as, _the Danes-walls_, _the
Danish forts_, _the Dane-field_, _the_ _Dane-forest_, _the Danes-banks_,
and many others of the like kind. Traces of Danish castles and ramparts
are not only found in the southern and south-eastern parts of England,
but also quite in the south-west, in Devonshire and Cornwall, where,
under the name of _Castelton Danis_, they are particularly found on the
sea coast. In the chalk cliffs, near Uffington, in Berkshire, is carved
an enormous figure of a horse, more than 300 feet in length; which, the
common people say, was executed in commemoration of a victory that King
Alfred gained over the Danes in that neighbourhood. On the heights, near
Eddington, were shown not long since the entrenchments, which, it was
asserted, the Danes had thrown up in the battle with Alfred. On the
plain near Ashdon, in Essex, where it was formerly thought that the
battle of Ashingdon had taken place, are to be seen some large Danish
barrows, which were long, but erroneously, said to contain the bones of
the Danes who had fallen in it. The so-called dwarf-alder (_Sambucus
ebulus_), which has red buds, and bears red berries, is said in England
to have germinated from the blood of the fallen Danes. It is therefore
also called _Daneblood_ and _Danewort_, and flourishes principally in
the neighbourhood of Warwick; where it is said to have sprung from, and
been dyed by, the blood shed there, when Canute the Great took and
destroyed the town.

Monuments, the origin of which is in reality unknown, are, in the
popular traditions, almost constantly attributed to the Danes. If the
spade or the plough brings ancient arms and pieces of armour to light,
it is rare that the labourer does not suppose them to have belonged to
that people. But particularly if bones or joints of unusual size are
found, they are at once concluded to be the remains of the gigantic
Danes, whose immense bodily strength and never-failing courage had so
often inspired their forefathers with terror. For though the Englishman
has stories about the cruelties of the ancient Danes, their
barbarousness, their love of drinking, and other vices, he has still
preserved no slight degree of respect for Danish bravery and Danish
achievements. “As brave as a Dane” is said to have been an old phrase in
England; just as “to strike like a Dane” was, not long since, a proverb
at Rome. Even in our days Englishmen readily acknowledge that the Danes
are “the best sailors on the Continent;” nay even that, themselves of
course excepted, they are “the best and bravest sailors in all the
world.” It is, therefore, doubly natural that English legends should
dwell with singular partiality on the memorials of the Danes’ overthrow.
Even the popular ballads revived and glorified the victories of the
English. Down to the very latest times was heard in Holmesdale, in
Surrey, on the borders of Kent, a song about a battle which the Danes
had lost there in the tenth century.

Amidst the many memorials of “the bloody Danes,” the name of Canute the
Great lives in glorious remembrance amongst the English people. It is
significant that later times have ascribed to Canute the honour of
important public undertakings for the common benefit, which, however, at
most, he can only have continued and forwarded. In the once marshy
districts towards the middle of the east coast of England, there is a
ditch several miles long, called the Devil’s dyke (in Cambridgeshire),
the formation of which is by some attributed to Canute, although it
existed in the time of Edward the Elder. Canute’s name is also given to
a very long road over the morasses near Peterborough (Kinges or
Cnutsdelfe), although it was made before his reign. Canute’s name is
also preserved in Canewdon (Canuti domus), near London, and close by the
battle-field of Ashingdon, in Essex, where he is said to have frequently
resided. In like manner a bird, said to have been brought into England
from Denmark, has been called after him _Knot_ (_Lat._, Tringa Canutus
seu Islandica).

It may be asserted, with truth, that not many English kings have left a
better name behind them than Canute. He does not owe this only to the
favour he showed the clergy, the authors of most of the chronicles of
ancient times. He acquired it by his numerous and excellent laws, by the
power he exerted in restoring order and tranquillity in the kingdom, by
his wisdom in suppressing the ancient animosities between the Danes and
Anglo-Saxons, as well as by the care he took to promote the knowledge
and piety of his people. He issued severe laws against heathenism, and
endeavoured to wipe out the traces of his forefathers’ devastations by
re-building convents and churches. He even caused the corpse of
Archbishop Elfeg, so cruelly murdered by the followers of Thorkel the
Tall, to be conveyed with great solemnity from London to Canterbury, and
deposited in the cathedral. To these traits may be added his many
excellent personal qualities, his sincere repentance for the acts of
violence which he committed in the heat of passion, and his profound
humility before God. The story of his shaming some of his courtiers, who
flattered him when walking on the seashore whilst the tide was flowing,
is, if possible, still better known in England than in Denmark. It would
be difficult to find any one who is not acquainted with all the
particulars of it, and who has not heard it stated that Canute, from
that very day, placed his golden crown on the altar of Winchester
cathedral, and never wore it more. This is one of those traits of true
nobility and greatness of soul that are imperishable in all times and
ages.

Canute was first buried in the old convent of St. Peter’s at Winchester;
but his body was afterwards removed into the grand choir of the
cathedral, where both his and his son Hardicanute’s tombs are still to
be seen. Over Hardicanute’s, in the wall that surrounds the middle of
the choir, was placed (1661) a stone, on which a ship is carved, and the
following inscription:—

            Qui jacet hic regni sceptrum tulit Hardicanutus;
                   Emmæ Cnutonis gnatus et ipse fuit.
                In hac cista Lo. 1661. Obiit A.D. 1042.

Or, “Hardicanute, who lies here, and who was a son of Emma and Canute,
bore the kingdom’s sceptre. He died in the year of our Lord 1042, and
was placed in this coffin in 1661.”

[Illustration: [++] Hardicanute’s Tombstone, ship]

The form of the ship on the tombstone shows it to be of no older date
than the seventeenth century; but it was possibly carved there because a
ship of war had previously adorned the tomb of Hardicanute. At all
events, it indicates his relationship with the powerful Scandinavian
sea-kings, and his descent from those Northmen who for centuries were
absolute on the ocean.

Above the before-mentioned wall, in the grand choir, there stands to the
left of the entrance a rather plain wooden coffin, decorated with a gilt
crown, half fallen off, with the inscription:—

    “In this and another coffin, directly opposite, repose the remains
    of Kings Canute and Rufus, of Queen Emma, and of the Archbishops
    Winde and Alfvin.”

[Illustration: [++] Canute’s Tomb]

In Cromwell’s time, the coffins of the kings in the grand choir of
Winchester cathedral were broken open, and the bones dispersed; but they
were afterwards collected together, as far as this could be done, and
again placed in the grand choir in coffins like the one just mentioned.
Thus Canute the Great, whose ambition could not be bounded even by three
kingdoms, has not retained so much as a grave for himself and his
beloved Emma. The presentiment of the perishableness of all earthly
power that seized him when he deposited his golden crown in the same
place has, in truth, been fulfilled!

The other royal coffins that surround the grand choir in Winchester
contain the bones of several old Saxon kings. That the Danish kings
Canute and Hardicanute should be entombed among them, in the midst of
Anglo-Saxon south England, is a sufficient proof of the immense change
that had taken place with regard to the Danes in England since their
first appearance there as barbarous heathen Vikings. Instead of their
kings seeking renown by the destruction of churches and convents, and by
murdering or maltreating the clergy; instead of their despising any
other kind of burial than that in the open fields, on hills under large
cairns, or monumental stones, their successors were now regarded as the
benefactors and protectors of the Church, and as such worthy to repose
in the most important ecclesiastical edifices, even in the principal
district of their former mortal enemies. Nay, the clergy there were
indefatigable in handing down their glory to the latest ages; and thus a
statue of Canute the Great was long to be seen in the cathedral of
Winchester.

But this also affords a striking proof that the Danes and Anglo-Saxons
no longer regarded each other so much in the light of strangers, or with
such mutual feelings of enmity as before; and that Canute had thus
happily broken through the strong barrier which had hitherto separated
Saxon south England from Danish north England.

                               ----------

                               SECTION V.

 The Wash.—The Five Burghs.—The Humber.—York.—Northumberland.—Stamford
                                Bridge.

The Thames certainly brought many Danes in ancient times to the country
south of Watlinga Stræt; but the large bay on the eastern coast of
England, called the “Wash,” and the rivers Humber, Tees, and Tyne,
attracted still more of them to the eastern and northern districts. The
Wash especially seems to have been one of the landing places most in
favour with them. Whether it were its situation, directly opposite to
Jutland on the one side, and on the other, on a line with the fruitful
midland districts of England; or whether it were rather the rapid
current which sets in there that attracted the ships of the Vikings, is
a point that we must leave undecided. This much, however, is certain,
that the first and richest settlements of the Danes were around this
bay; and from it afterwards extended itself quite up to the frontiers of
Scotland, the so-called “Danelagh;” which was a district so considerable
as to comprise fifteen of the thirty-two counties, or shires, then
existing in England, and amongst them the extensive county of
Northumberland.

South of the Wash, and extending towards the Thames, lay East Anglia
(Norfolk and Suffolk); which, a century after the commencement of the
Vikings’ expeditions, was already in the hands of the Danes. Alfred the
Great was compelled to cede it, together with several adjacent tracts of
country, by formal treaty, to the Danish King Gudrun, or Gorm. It is
certain that it had at that time, like Kent, received many Danish
settlers, particularly from the neighbouring Jutland, and their number
continually increased. Yet in East Anglia they seem to have been
scarcely more in a condition to compete with the Anglo-Saxons, in regard
to population and power, than in Kent. It was only on the coast, and
indeed only on that of Norfolk, that they had any settlements, as the
Scandinavian names of places still preserved there show. These districts
lay too near to the main strength of the Anglo-Saxons. The Saxon
inhabitants did not easily suffer themselves to be expelled, and the
Danish dominion there could not, consequently, become of permanent
importance.

But to the north and west of the Wash the Danes obtained a very
different footing. In the province called Mercia (or the Marches), which
formed the centre of England, and in that of Lindisse (or, in old Norsk,
Lindisey), which extended from the Wash to the Humber, they were not
only in possession of a great number of villages and landed estates,
which they had selected to settle on, but had likewise made themselves
masters of several towns, and particularly the five strong fortresses of
Stamford, Leicester, Derby, Nottingham, and Lincoln. These places, which
as early as Alfred’s reign belonged to the Danes, and which were
distinguished by their size, their commerce, and their wealth, obtained
the name of “The Five Burghs” (Femborgene). They formed, as it were, a
little separate state, and possessed in common their own courts of
judicature, and other peculiar municipal institutions. The hostile and
dangerous neighbourhood of the Saxons naturally compelled them to
coalesce together as much as possible; and for a very long period they
formed the chief support of the Danish power in England. Protected by
them from all attacks from the south, the Scandinavian settlers were
enabled securely to continue establishing themselves in the more
northern districts. To arrest the sudden attacks of the Britons in the
west, the Danes also had, on the north-eastern frontier of Wales, the
city of Chester, whose name (_Anglo-Saxon_, Lægeceaster, from the Latin
castra, a camp) shows that it had been a fortified place still earlier,
under the Romans.

Chester formed one of the principal entrances from Wales into the
midland parts of England, as well as into what was then called
Northumberland: under which name was comprised, at least by the Danes
and Norwegians, all the country to the north of the rivers Mersey and
Humber, from sea to sea, and up to the Scottish frontier. Covered by the
“Five Burghs,” it was here that the greater part of Danish England lay.
It was a country filled, particularly in the north-west, with mountains,
and intersected by numerous rivers. Near these, valleys opened
themselves in every direction, of which the largest and most
considerable lay around the tributary streams of the Humber, in what is
now Yorkshire. A separate kingdom had existed here from the oldest
times; and here the Danes, like the Britons, the Romans, and the
Anglo-Saxons before them, possessed the most important city in the north
of England. Built on the river Ouse, which falls into the Humber, it
carried on an extensive trade; and, as the principal seat of the
Northumbrian kings and chiefs, was doubly important. The Britons called
it “Caer Eabhroig,” or “Eabhruc,” the Romans “Eboracum,” the
Anglo-Saxons “Eoforwic,” and the Danes “Jorvik;” whence it is plain that
the form “York,” now in use, is derived.

The Humber and York were for the north of England much what the Thames
and London were for the south. It is not therefore surprising that York
came to possess within its walls the largest and most splendid cathedral
in England, which still towers aloft, a proud and awe-inspiring monument
of the power and religious enthusiasm of the middle ages; nor that the
history of York comprises, so to speak, the whole of that of
Northumberland.

The soil of south England received the dust of the Christian Danish
kings, and of Canute the Great, the hero of Christendom. But the north
of England held the bones of many a mighty Danish chieftain, who had
never renounced his belief in the ancient gods; and, in the
neighbourhood of York, one of the most renowned of heathen heroes, King
Regner Lodbrog, met his death. The names of Regner and his sons were
reverenced and feared in England from their earlier Viking expeditions.
When about to invade England, he suffered shipwreck, and together with
only a few of his men saved himself on the coast of Northumberland. The
Saxon king, Ella, advanced against him from York; a battle ensued, and,
after the bravest resistance, Regner was overcome and made a prisoner.
With true northern pride he would not make himself known to Ella, who
caused him to be thrown into a pen filled with snakes; and it was not
till the dying Regner had sung his swan’s-song, “Grynte vilde Grisene,
kjendte de Galtens Skjebne” (How the young pigs would grunt if they knew
the old boar’s fate), that Ella too late observed to his terror that he
had exposed himself to the fearful vengeance of the king’s sons; who,
guided by the shrewd Ivar Beenlöse, had long been silently preparing for
the conquest of Ella’s kingdom. Ella was vanquished and made prisoner;
and, according to the Norwegian legend, Regner’s sons, to avenge their
father’s miserable death, caused a blood-eagle to be carved on Ella’s
back. The place of Ella’s death is said by some to have been near the
town of “Ellescroft,” or Ella’s Grave. The English accounts make
Regner’s sons, Ingvar and Ubbe, revenge their father’s death in the year
870, by murdering in a most horrible manner King Edmund (who was
afterwards canonized) at the castle of Æglesdon, in East Anglia. They
shot at him as at a mark, then cut off his head, and lastly laid the
body among thorns, in the same forest where their father had been put to
death.

Ivar Beenlöse (the Boneless) succeeded to the kingdom of Northumberland
after Ella; where also such names of subsequent kings as Sigtryg,
Regnald, Godfred, Anlaf (Olaf), and Heric (Erik), unmistakably show
their Scandinavian origin. In Olaf’s time, at the beginning of the tenth
century, the Anglo-Saxon king Athelstane (Adelsteen) succeeded in
subjecting Northumberland, whilst Denmark and Norway, as before
mentioned, were prevented by internal distractions from sending any
effectual assistance to the Danes in England. Olaf fled to Ireland, and
Godfred to Scotland, to assemble the Scandinavian warriors in those
parts, and Athelstane in the mean time destroyed the Danish castle in
York. It is related that Olaf returned with more than six hundred ships,
and again took possession of York. He had with him a great number of
Northmen and Danes from Ireland and Scotland, together with a great many
Celtic Cymri and Britons, and the Scottish King Constantine was also in
his army. Athelstane and this brother Edmund arrayed a mighty force
against them at Brunanborg (Bromford?), where, in the year 937, a battle
was fought; which, though unfavourable to the Danes, afforded the old
northern bards matter for enthusiastic song, of which the Sagas have
still preserved some remains. Subsequently a treaty with King Edmund, in
941, gave Olaf the dominion over the country east and north of
Watlinga-Stræt; but the dispute soon broke out afresh. After the death
of the Northumbrian King Erik in 951, Northumberland ceased to be a
kingdom. From this time it became an earldom (Jarledömme), which was,
however, for the most part, almost entirely independent of the
Anglo-Saxon kings, and governed by Norwegian chieftains. For a long time
it constantly received fresh inhabitants from the mother countries,
Denmark and Norway. Many Norwegians came over; nay, even the King Erik
just mentioned may possibly have been the renowned Norwegian King Erik
Blodöxe, a son of Harald Haarfager, the first absolute sovereign of
Norway. After the death of Harald, Erik became chief sovereign in
Norway; but he and his queen, the notorious Gunhilde, ruled here with so
much cruelty, that the Norwegians gave Erik the surname of Blodöxe
(Blood-axe). Driven from his kingdom, he at length repaired to
Northumberland, where King Athelstane is said to have made him a
tributary king, and where, after many vicissitudes of fortune, he met
his death.

Between the Northumbrian Jarledömme—whence the dignity of the Northern
“Jarls” began to extend itself to the rest of England, which has still
preserved it in the title of “Earl”—as well as between the Danish part
of England and the proper kingdom of the Anglo-Saxons in general,
disputes must naturally have prevailed of a more or less sanguinary
kind. As a necessary consequence of this, the Danish kings, in their
later expeditions against the Anglo-Saxons for the purpose of conquest,
resorted to, and sought support in, the Danish part of the north of
England, in the districts near the Humber. In the year 1013, King Svend
Tveskjæg anchored in this river with a powerful fleet, when he came over
to conquer England. In conjunction with his son Canute, who afterwards
completed the conquest, he had previously lain at anchor at Sandvik
(Sandwich), in Kent. From the Humber he anchored in the river Trent, at
Gegnesburgh (or Gainsborough), in Lincolnshire; whence he harried the
whole of eastern, and part of southern England. The Old Danish land to
the north of Watlinga-Stræt was the first to pay him homage; the rest of
England soon yielded to him, and King Ethelred was obliged to fly to
Normandy. But just as Svend, in the midst of his victorious career, had
returned to Gainsborough—just as he was fleecing and levying
contributions both on laity and clergy—he suddenly fell from his horse
at an assize, or _Thing_, in a fit of illness, and died the following
night, the 3rd of February, 1014. Monkish chronicles relate that it was
St. Edmund who killed him. Ethelred, who now returned to England, in
vain ordered a strict search to be made for the body of Svend, with the
view of wreaking a cowardly vengeance on the impotent corpse of the man
who, when alive, had been so terrible an antagonist to him. But the body
had been secretly conveyed to York, where it was kept concealed during
the winter (but scarcely in the cathedral, although that church had been
founded long before, and was, perhaps, even considerably enlarged by the
Norwegian princes who resided at York). Towards the spring it was
brought over to Denmark by some Englishwomen, who were probably of
Scandinavian extraction, and placed in the cathedral of Roeskilde, in
one of the pillars in the grand choir.

Under the Danish rule, the Danish-Norwegian population in the north of
England increased considerably, both in strength and numbers; although
Christianity, by the wise arrangements of Canute, and particularly by
his severe laws against heathenism, was almost completely disseminated
there. Even after the Danish dominion had come to an end by the death of
Hardicanute in 1042, and the Anglo-Saxon kings had again taken the helm,
the old warlike spirit of the north continued, in spite of Christianity,
to stir in the Northumbrian people. The successors of the Vikings still
preferred, to a natural death, a glorious one on the field of battle;
but Christian tenets no longer permitted them to be marked, when on the
bed of sickness, with the point of a spear, in order to consecrate
themselves to Odin, according to the heathen custom. The mighty Danish
jarl Sivard (Sigeward or Siwerd) reigned over them at that time, who had
fought in many battles both in England and Scotland, whereby his name
became immortalized in Shakspeare’s “Macbeth.” When the news was brought
to him that his son had fallen in battle, he inquired whether he had
received his death wound in front or behind. Being answered,
“Before;”—“In that case,” he exclaimed, “I have reason to rejoice, for
no other death was befitting my son, or me.” When Siward himself
afterwards lay on his death-bed, and felt the approach of dissolution,
an old chronicler (Henry of Huntingdon) represents him as breaking out
into sorrowful complaints, and exclaiming, “How shameful it is for me,
that I have never been able to meet death in my numerous battles, but
have been reserved to die with disgrace like an old cow. Clothe me at
least in my impenetrable armour, gird me with my sword, cover my head
with my helmet, place my shield in my left, and my gilded axe in my
right hand, that I, the bold warrior, may also die like one.” Attired in
full armour, he passed gladly to his fathers in the year 1055, and
doubtless with the secret hope of enjoying in Valhalla a continuation of
that proud martial life for which there would soon have been no longer
room either in Northumberland or in the parent lands of Scandinavia.

Shortly after the death of Siward, the country near York also became the
theatre where one of the last celebrated Vikings of the north fell.
Harald Haardraade was indeed a Christian, and a king in Norway; but with
him, as with many of his cotemporaries, Christianity dwelt only on his
lips. In his heart he was still the bold Viking, who valued Hildur’s
bloody game more than holy psalms, and who preferred conquest on foreign
shores to the peaceful government of an hereditary kingdom. Whilst still
young he had distinguished himself in expeditions in the East, and in
the Greek Empire. It seemed to him disgraceful that those lands,
particularly in the north of England, which had once belonged to his
forefathers, should for ever be wrested from Norway. He therefore agreed
to assist Toste Godvinsön against his brother, the English King Harald
Godvinsön; but on the condition that he himself, if he succeeded in
conquering Harald, should have the dominion of England, whilst Toste was
to have the half of it as jarl, or earl. They landed in the Humber; but
in the battle which shortly afterwards took place (in 1066) at Stamford
Bridge, a little to the east of York, both Toste and Harald fell. Thus
the latter gained no more of England’s soil than the English King Harald
had offered him before the battle, namely, “seven feet of earth, or as
much as he was taller than other men.”

This was one of the last serious attempts on the part of Denmark or
Norway to reconquer England; and in the same year the Normans, after the
battle of Hastings, in which King Harald fell, seized the kingdom which
their Danish kinsmen had formerly possessed. William the Conqueror went
in person against the Northumbrians; but before he disembarked he is
said to have broken up the tumulus on the coast (by the Humber?) in
which, according to the legend, Regner Lodbrog’s son, Ivar Beenlöse, had
ordered himself to be buried, in order to avert the attacks of
foreigners. William had to combat long before he could reduce
Northumberland; but, as we shall afterwards see, he never succeeded in
subduing that spirit of freedom and independence which the Danes and
Norwegians had planted there.

                               ----------

                              SECTION VI.

     Danish-Norwegian Memorials in the North of England.—Coins.—The
                        Raven.—The Danish Flag.

If even the old Saxon south England is distinguished by its richness in
legends and still-existing memorials of the Danes, it is natural that
they should be met with in still greater numbers in the old Danish
districts to the north and east of Watlinga-Stræt.

Here also the Norwegian saint, “St. Olave,” has been zealously
worshipped, both in the country and in the towns. In Norfolk (East
Anglia) there is a bridge called “St. Olave’s Bridge.” In itself it is a
remarkable monument of a time when bridges over rivers were regarded as
such considerable and important structures that, like churches, they
were named after, or dedicated to saints; in ancient Scandinavia they
even built bridges, as several runic stones testify, “for their souls’
salvation.” In the city of Chester, on the northern frontier of Wales,
there is to be found in the southern outskirts, opposite the old castle
and close to the river Dee, a church and parish which still bear the
name of St. Olave. By the church runs a street called “St. Olave’s
Lane.” In the north-west part of York there is likewise a St. Olave’s
church, said to be the remains of a monastery founded by the powerful
Danish Jarl Siward, who was himself buried there in the year 1055. There
can be no doubt that similar churches dedicated to St. Olave were
scattered about in other towns of north England, where further
researches might possibly yet discover at least some of them.

These traces of the importance formerly conferred on St. Olave in the
towns of north England lead one to conjecture that, even after the
Danish ascendancy in England was annihilated, a great number of Northmen
must have continued to reside there, as was the case in London. This is
so much the more natural, as, long before the Norman Conquest, the
Northmen preponderated in many, perhaps in most, mercantile towns of the
north of England, and particularly in the fortified towns occupied by
the Danes. At the time of the Conquest, the population in some of the
largest and most important cities towards the east coast, such as
Lincoln and York, is said to have been almost exclusively of
Scandinavian extraction; hence it was that Lincoln and York, at least,
preserved their original Scandinavian “husting” throughout the middle
ages, and even later.

In and about the last-named city, which was the chief place in Danish
north England, are numerous Scandinavian memorials. The names of several
streets in York end in _gate_. In London, where the same termination of
the names of streets frequently occurs, some have, indeed, endeavoured
to derive this _gate_ from the gates which these streets adjoined; and,
as far as regards London, this explanation may probably in most cases be
correct. But in York, where formerly there were at least a score of such
streets, it is certainly by no means a probable conjecture that twenty
gates existed from which their names were derived; and it therefore
becomes a question whether these _gates_ should not be derived from the
old Scandinavian “_gata_” (a street), particularly when they appear in
compound names, such as Petersgate (Petersgade), Marygate (Mariegade),
Fishergate (Fiskergade), Stonegate (Steengade), Micklegate (from the old
Scandinavian “mykill,” signifying great); which have a striking
resemblance with Scandinavian names of streets; nay, there is even a
legend respecting Godram, or Guthramgate, that it was named after a
Danish chieftain, Guthrum or Gorm, who is said to have dwelt there. The
historical accounts of the number and influence of the Northmen in York
cannot but strengthen these suppositions in a high degree.

North-east of York, on the coast towards the German ocean, is a
promontory called “Flamborough-head.” It is separated from the main land
by an immense rampart said to have been raised by the Danes, and called
on that account “the Danes’ Dyke,” behind which they intrenched
themselves on landing. At no great distance, near Great Driffield, is
“the Danes’ Dale,” and “the Danes’ Graves,” where remains of the Danes
who fell in a battle are said to have been dug up. South of York, on the
Humber, between Richal and Skipwith, human bones and pieces of iron have
likewise been found in several barrows, or tumuli, ascribed to the
Danes. It is supposed that the Danes and Norwegians landed in this
neighbourhood at different times, when proceeding up the Humber on their
warlike expeditions.

The popular legend of the bloody battle by Stamford Bridge, or, as it
was afterwards called, “Battle Bridge,” is not yet obsolete. A piece of
ground near the bridge over the river Derwent is called “Battle-flats,”
and in the surrounding fields, where, for about a century after the
battle, large heaps of human bones were to be seen, joint-bones,
together with iron swords and other weapons, have been ploughed up, as
well as horse-shoes that would be suitable for the small Norwegian
horses. The English chronicles which describe this battle are lavish in
their praises of a Norwegian, who, in the midst of the fight, stood
quite alone on the bridge over the Derwent, and for several hours kept
Harald Godvinsön’s whole army at bay, until at length a man glided under
the bridge and ran him through from below with a spear. The inhabitants
of the village of Stamford Bridge have to the present day kept up the
custom of celebrating this deed at an annual festival, by making
puddings in the form of a vessel or trough; for, as the legend states,
it was in a trough that the slayer of the Norwegian passed under the
bridge. It is certain, however, that the river Derwent hereabouts has
only lately been made navigable.

It would lead us too far to relate, even in an abbreviated form, all the
legends, or to reckon up all the numerous memorials, which, to the north
of Watlinga-Stræt, are connected with the Danes. It is not only the
common people in England who in general ascribe every ancient monument
of any importance to the Danes; there was a time, and no very distant
one, when many learned men were but too much inclined to do the same. In
proof of this it suffices to remark that the celebrated circle of stones
at Stonehenge, on Salisbury Plain, in Wiltshire—the most superb monument
of its kind in the British Islands, or even in the whole of northern
Europe—was also at one time described by the learned as a Danish place
of sacrifice, although it is clearly distinguished, both by its
structure and whole appearance, from the ancient monuments of
Scandinavia; and although, on the contrary, the highest degree of
probability proclaims its having originated from the older inhabitants
of England, the ancient Britons. It is undoubtedly true, that want of
adequate experience and knowledge was generally the real cause why the
learned were never able to distinguish, with certainty, between what
ancient monuments were really Danish and what were not. Nevertheless
they would assuredly never have given the Danes credit for so many
monuments, at the expense of their own countrymen and ancestors, had
they not acknowledged that the immigration and settlement of the Danes
in England was of the most widely-extended importance.

Even in our days English antiquarians are not disinclined to ascribe
British, Roman, or Anglo-Saxon antiquities to the Danes; as well as to
suppose, on the whole, that there are more monuments of the Danes extant
in England, than, strictly speaking, that people can validly claim.

At first sight it might indeed appear that the Danes, who so early, and
for so long a period, had extensive possessions in the north of England,
must have left there a great number of tumuli, stone circles, and
cairns; as well as, in consequence of their numberless fights and
battles, a considerable quantity of entrenchments. It is sufficiently
known how careful the old Northmen were to hand down to posterity the
memory of a hero, and of his deeds. The doctrines of Odin even commanded
it, as a sacred duty, to erect bauta stones in memory of the brave;
which is one of the principal reasons why Scandinavia is distinguished,
even down to modern times, by such a striking abundance of ancient
monuments.

But with regard to England, we must not forget that the inhabitants of
the central and northern parts had for centuries been Christians when
the heathen Danes began to make conquests there. Among the Danes, as
among the Northmen in general, the belief in their ancient gods had been
weakened, and faith in their own power and strength had frequently
usurped its place. Living among Christians in a foreign land, and
doubtless, also, often marrying native females, they easily adopted, at
least in form, the novel doctrines of Christianity, and with them the
customs which they brought in their train. They soon renounced the usage
of placing the dead in mounds, after the heathen manner, and of
providing them with the weapons and ornaments which were dearest to them
when alive. The bodies were buried in churchyards, or in the churches
themselves; and the precious things which were formerly thought to
secure for the hero an honourable seat in Valhalla, now for the most
part remained above ground, where they generally found their way into
the pocket of the monk, in order that he might deliver the deceased from
purgatory by masses for his soul, and procure him an easy entrance into
the kingdom of heaven. By degrees, as the Danes abandoned themselves to
the influence of the higher civilization of England, they must also have
adopted the most essential parts of the English dress, or at all events
English ornaments; and consequently, even if only some few of these were
deposited in the barrows, it became almost impossible to decide, when
these graves were opened after a long lapse of time, whether it were
Danes or Anglo-Saxons who had been originally interred in them.

Thus it is easily explained why but, proportionally, very few really
Danish or Scandinavian barrows and monumental stones are to be found in
England. We must not ascribe it to the progress of agriculture alone
that, even in the north of England, we may search the fields in vain for
stones, which, by runic inscriptions in the ancient language of
Scandinavia, have preserved the remembrance of some distinguished
warrior from the eastern lands beyond the sea. It is but rarely that one
can even fancy that he has met with a Scandinavian runic stone; but a
closer inspection will soon show that both the runes, and particularly
the language in which the inscriptions are couched, betray a foreign,
and especially an Anglo-Saxon, origin. The most important runic stone in
these northern districts is found near the English border, in the Scotch
town of Ruthwell, on the other side of Solway Firth. It is of
considerable height, and is ornamented with a number of carvings of
biblical scenes, mingled with figures of leaves, birds, and animals.
Besides Latin inscriptions indicating and explaining these Christian
carvings, there is a runic inscription on the stone which was long
considered, both by British and Scandinavian archæologists, to be
Danish, or at least to contain remnants of the old Scandinavian
language. But it is now shown to be derived neither from the Danes nor
Norwegians, but from the Anglo-Saxons, as the supposed Scandinavian
inscription includes some verses of an old devotional Anglo-Saxon poem.
The whole appearance of the stone, also, is rather Saxon than Danish.
The runic characters are, in part at least, different from those of
Scandinavia, and the words are not, as in them, separated by points.
Ornaments with similar so-called Anglo-Saxon runic inscriptions are not
altogether uncommon in England, particularly in the north. But as not a
few ornaments, as well as runic stones with inscriptions in the selfsame
character, are also found in the countries of Scandinavia, both in
Denmark and Norway, and particularly the latter, and the west and south
of Sweden (and there mostly in Bleking), it may be a question whether
this runic writing was not originally brought over to England by
Scandinavian emigrants. It would otherwise be inexplicable that they
should have used entirely foreign runic characters in Scandinavia,
whilst they possessed a peculiar and genuine Scandinavian runic writing
of their own. The true state of the matter will not, however, be brought
to light till antiquarians succeed in explaining, in a satisfactory
manner, the inscriptions with Anglo-Saxon runes that are found in
England as well as in Scandinavia, and which, for the most part, have
not hitherto been deciphered.

[Illustration: [++] Swords - Fig. 1. Scandinavian and Fig. 2. Saxon]

It is a matter of course that arms and ornaments should be at times dug
up in England that belonged to Scandinavian Vikings, who found either
death or a new habitation on the English shore. In the rivers on the
eastern coast, where the Vikings’ ships showed themselves so regularly,
and where remains of these ships are supposed to be now and then
discovered, iron swords have been found, as for instance in the Thames,
of undoubted Scandinavian origin. (Fig. 1.) They are in general longer
and heavier than the Saxon sword (Fig. 2.), and are superior to them
from having a guard, and a large, and commonly triangular, knob at the
hilt. On the other hand, they are exactly of the same kind as our
Scandinavian swords of what is called “the iron age;” that is, they
belong to the latest period of heathenism. The Vikings, who often had to
combat from their ships, and who, being few in number, were so much the
more obliged to depend on their arms and the strength of their weapons,
were necessarily compelled to have them both long and good. “Danish
battle-axes” are usually mentioned in the old English and Frankish
chronicles as excellent and dangerous weapons of attack. Nay, even from
the distant Myklegaard, or Constantinople, where the Northmen, under the
name of Varangians, served for a long series of years as the Greek
Emperor’s bodyguard, stories have reached us of the particular kind of
battle-axes which they wielded with such strength. These axes, like the
swords, were frequently inlaid with silver or gold, and were of
excellent workmanship. It is also related by Giraldus Cambrensis that
the Irish procured their battle-axes from the Northmen. The Danes in
England, at least towards the latter part of their sway, are likewise
said to have used shirts of mail, or chain armour, in which, however,
the rings were not interlaced, but sewed on by the side of each other;
helmets, with iron bands that covered the nose; and lastly, large
pointed triangular shields. Some are even of opinion that these coats of
mail were commonly black, and that this gave rise to the Danes being
sometimes called “the black Danes.” Others derive this surname from the
colour of their hair and skin, which must at that time have been in
general considered darker than the Norwegian complexion; whilst others,
again, infer that the Danes generally used black sails for their ships,
and the Norwegians white. The Scotch and Irish distinguish clearly
between “Dubgall” or the black stranger (whence the present name Dugal),
and “Finngall,” or the fair stranger. Old Irish authors also call the
inhabitants of Denmark “Dublochlannoch” (dark Lochlans), and the
inhabitants of Norway “Finn-Lochlannoch” (fair Lochlans). Lochlan is
with them the usual appellation of Scandinavia.

Besides their arms, the ornaments and decorations of the Danes and
Norwegians were also of a peculiar kind; at least they are in general
clearly different from the Anglo-Saxon ornaments now discovered in
graves in England. As the Danish and British antiquities of the earlier,
or what is called the bronze period, betray a considerable and
well-defined difference, so also a comparison between the corresponding
antiquities of the iron period will clearly show, that even if Roman
taste formed the basis of art both among the Anglo-Saxons and the Danes
and Norwegians during the last-named period, yet that each people
followed its own independent course. That the Northmen, consequently,
were not exclusively indebted to England for all that fresh development
of taste which predominated at the close of heathenism and commencement
of Christianity, but that they had themselves, before the Conquest of
England, already made a great step in advance, was however no more than
what one might expect from a people capable of building ships that
crossed the Atlantic, and who were acquainted with, and frequently used,
a peculiar sort of writing, the Northern runes.

But though, at present at least, it is scarcely possible to point out in
England proper a single runic memorial of undoubted Danish or Norwegian
origin, still there are found at times, particularly in north England,
certain antiquities, with inscriptions that perfectly supply the want of
those illustrations which the runic stones would otherwise afford,
respecting the influence and settlements of the Northmen in England.
These are small silver coins struck by Danish-Norwegian kings and jarls
during their dominion there. I do not allude, of course, to coins of
such kings as Canute the Great, Harald Harefoot, and Hardicanute; for as
these princes held a confirmed dominion in England—and that at a time
when coining was general in Europe, and when on the whole the light of
history begins to shine clearer—there would be nothing strange, nor
particularly instructive in an historical point of view, that they also
had coined money. I refer to coins of Danish-Norwegian chiefs, whose
deeds in England the chronicles have related either sparingly or not at
all, and who lived more than a century before the Conquest by Canute the
Great.

A short stay would easily have sufficed to erect a runic or bauta-stone;
and great and imminent indeed must have been the danger which threatened
the Northman of the olden time if he omitted, even on a foreign soil, to
perform the last honours for a fallen friend or relative. But a coin was
not so quickly minted. The countries of Scandinavia had not a mintage of
their own before the year 1000, or thereabout; when the Danish king,
Svend Tveskjæg, having brought home with him from his expedition into
England, a quantity of Anglo-Saxon coins, began to have them imitated.
The Scandinavian Viking, to whom coining was a strange and unknown art,
had enough to do, during a short and dangerous expedition for conquest,
to procure a footing and support for his army; and if he failed in
conquering a kingdom, he was glad to bring home as booty some pounds of
foreign money. It was only when he had made himself king or jarl over a
considerable district, and when he had begun to exchange his wild
warrior’s life for the milder occupations of peace, that he could have
leisure to reflect that he also, like other princes in England, should
promote his people’s welfare and his own advantage by ordering those
coins to be minted which are so important for trade and commerce. The
older the dates of such Danish-Norwegian coins struck in England—the
rarer the minting of coins in general, even in the more enlightened
countries—so much the more clearly is the existence proved of
well-established Scandinavian kingdoms, where works of peace were
already capable of thriving.

Some few years ago (1840), a highly remarkable and very ancient treasure
of silver was discovered near Cuerdale in Lancashire, within the
boundaries of the ancient Northumberland. It consisted of bars, armlets,
a great number of pieces of broken rings and other ornaments, as well as
about seven thousand coins, all of which were inclosed in a leaden
chest. To judge from the coins, which, with a few exceptions, were
minted between the years 815 and 930, the treasure must have been buried
in the first half of the tenth century, or almost a hundred years before
the time of Canute the Great. Amongst the coins, besides a single
Byzantine piece, were found several Arabic or Kufic, some of north
Italy, about a thousand French, and two thousand eight hundred
Anglo-Saxon pieces, of which only eight hundred were of Alfred the
Great. But the chief mass, namely, three thousand pieces, consisted of
peculiar coins, with the inscriptions, “Siefredus Rex,” “Sievert Rex,”
“Cnut Rex,” “Alfden Rex,” and “Sitric Comes” (jarl); and which,
therefore, merely from their preponderating number, may be supposed to
have been the most common coins at that time, and in that part of north
England where the treasure had been concealed. Cnut’s coins were the
most numerous, as they amounted to about two thousand pieces of
different dies; which proves a considerable and long-continued coining.

Not only are the names Sitric (Sigtryg), Alfden (Halvdan), Cnut (Knud),
Sievert (Sivard), and Siefred (Sigfred), visibly of Scandinavian origin,
but they also appear in ancient chronicles as the names of mighty
Scandinavian chiefs, who in the ninth and tenth centuries ravaged the
western lands.

[Illustration: [++] Coin: Sitric Comes]

Sitric Comes is certainly that Sitric Jarl who fell in a battle in
England about the year 900. Alfden is undoubtedly the same king
“Halfden,” who at the close of the ninth century so often harried south
England,—where he even besieged London—till he fell in the battle at
Wednesfield in 910. Cnut, whose name is found inscribed on the coins in
such a manner that one letter stands on each of the four arms of a
cross, whilst the inscription R, E, X. (Rex) is inclosed between them,
is probably he whom the Danes called “Knud Daneast” (or the Danes’ Joy),
a son of the first Danish monarch Gorm the Old; as it is truly related
of him that he perished in Vesterviking (or the western lands). Sigfred
must either have been the celebrated Viking king for whose adventurous
expedition France, and its capital Paris in particular, had to pay
dearly; or that Sigefert, or Sigfred, who in the year 897 ravaged the
English coasts with an army of Danes from Northumberland.

[Illustration: [++] Coin: Cnut]

[Illustration: [++] Coin: Cnut reverse]

The steady connection which the Vikings in England maintained with
France affords a natural explanation why their coins were imitations
both of contemporary English, or Anglo-Saxon, and of French coins. Thus
on the reverse of Cnut’s coins just mentioned, we sometimes find, as on
that engraved above, the inscription “Elfred Rex,” which is purely
Anglo-Saxon; and sometimes the particular mark for Carolus, or Charles
(Karl), which otherwise is only found on the French Carlovingian coins.

[Illustration: [++]Coin: Ebraice]

A very frequent inscription on the Scandinavian coins here alluded to,
as for instance in the last engraving, is “Ebraice Civita,” or “The city
of York;” whose ancient name “Eabhroig,” and in the barbarous Latin of
the time “Eboracum,” was converted into “Ebraice.” On other contemporary
coins struck at York, namely on some of what is called St. Peter’s
money, York is also called “Ebracec” and “Ebraicit.” For the Cuerdale
coins, in order to express the name “Ebraice,” coins of French kings of
the city of “Ebroicas,” or Evreux, in Normandy, seem to have been
particularly chosen as patterns; for by a slight change of a few letters
this Ebroicas could be converted into Ebraice; which was the easier
process at a time when the art of stamping coins was not much practised.
An additional proof that these coins were really minted by Scandinavian
kings in Northumberland, and in the city of York, is, that none such
have been found in any other part of England; whilst, on the contrary,
one of Canute’s coins, which have been so frequently mentioned, was dug
up, together with English and French coins of the same kind as those
found at Cuerdale, at Harkirke near Crosby, also in Lancashire; and
consequently at places whose names ending in _kirke_ (church) and _by_
(town), bear witness no less than that of Cuerdale (from _dal_, a
valley) to the dominion of the Northmen in those parts.

Should any doubt still exist that, so early as the ninth century,
Danish-Norwegian kings and jarls minted a considerable number of coins
in York, in imitation of contemporary Anglo-Saxon and French coins, it
is at all events certain that the Northumbrian kings Regnald, Anlaf or
Olaf, and Erik, who resided in York during the first half of the tenth
century, caused coins of their own to be minted there, and which agree
exactly with the historical accounts. Regnald, who reigned from about
912 to 944, was a son of King Sigtryg, and brother to the Olaf before
mentioned, who fought the battle of Brunanborg; Erik (+ 951) is either
King Erik Blodöxe of Norway, or a son of King Harald Blaatand of
Denmark, who is said to have ruled in Northumberland about the same
time.

In the main points these coins are also imitations of the Anglo-Saxon,
but are distinguished from them by various and very striking
peculiarities, which show them to have been coined both by Danes, or
Norwegians, and by conquerors. Erik designates himself on them by the
Latin title “Rex,” as was usual at that time even among the
Anglo-Saxons; but Regnald and Anlaf use the pure Northern title
“Cununc;” or, in the Icelandic mode of writing, _Konungr_, the ancient
Scandinavian word for _King_. Some of these coins have martial emblems
which do not appear on the Anglo-Saxon coins of the same period, and
which, therefore, were clearly intended to be in honour of the warlike
qualities and victories of the Northmen. Erik’s coins have a sword of
the peculiar Scandinavian form, with a triangular pummel at the end of
the hilt.

[Illustration: [++] Coin: Erik Rex]

Similar swords are also seen on the St. Peter’s money before mentioned,
coined at York during the rule of the Scandinavian kings. One of these
coins represents a bent bow with the arrow on it, and on the reverse a
sledgehammer, or battle-axe.

[Illustration: [++] Coin: Olaf]

[Illustration: [++] Coin]

[Illustration: [++] Cnutr. Recx]

Regnald’s and Anlaf’s (or Olaf’s) coins, with the Scandinavian legend
“Cununc” instead of “Rex,” are ornamented with shields placed together
(an emblem which may have been transferred from them to the later coins
of Harald Haardraade and other Norwegian kings); as well as with flags
of a triangular form, with hanging fringes. It is remarkable enough,
that though such flags are not to be found on contemporary English
coins, a piece of the Danish-English king’s, Canute the Great, has
lately been found on which the king’s bust is represented, and before it
a striped triangular flag with hanging fringes, of the same form as the
flags on the coins of the Danish-Norwegian kings in north England. The
legend on one side is, “Cnutr. Recx;” and on the other, “Brihtred on
Lun;” which shows that the coin was minted in London.

[Illustration: [++] Coin: Anlaf Cununc]

Thus the coins, in conjunction with the chronicles, contribute to prove
that flags were important emblems with the northern conquerors, which
was indeed quite natural with a people like the ancient Scandinavians.
The old Sagas in particular contain frequent accounts of the great value
that the Northmen set on these flags, or, as they were then called,
“mærker” (marks). Thus the Norwegian chief Harald Haardraade, before he
became king of Norway, and after his return from his many expeditions
into the Greek Empire, sitting and conversing one evening (according to
the nineteenth chapter of his Saga) with King Svend Estridsen of Denmark
at the drinking table, Svend asked him what precious things he had that
he set most value on? He answered, his banner, called Landöde (or, the
land-ravager). Svend then asked what qualities this banner had, since he
esteemed it so precious a thing? Harald replied, “They say that he
before whom this banner is borne always gains the victory; and such has
constantly been the case since I possessed it.”

The class of coins before alluded to as minted by Danish-Norwegian
sovereigns in England not only presents a remarkable view of the
importance, as well as appearance, of the old Scandinavian flags, or
marks, but also serves in a high degree to confirm the repeated accounts
of the English chroniclers, that “the Danes,” during their conquests in
the western lands, often bore a common standard, or national flag; a
point about which the Danish chronicles or Sagas are silent. A coin of
Anlaf, or Olaf, king of Northumberland, is particularly illustrative of
this. It has the legend, “Anlaf Cununc,” and represents a bird with
extended wings, in which English antiquarians have very justly
recognised the raven, the chief ensign, or emblem, of the ancient Danes.

From the most ancient times, and almost since the period that war was
first waged, certain ensigns were undoubtedly known and used, around
which the warriors rallied in battle. This had its origin, indeed, in
necessity, in order that, in the tumult of battle, the combatants might
always be able to discern where their fellow-warriors were; and such a
rallying point was particularly of the greatest importance when an army
was thrown into disorder, or began to fly. To this it may be added, that
the commander, or the principal leaders, were generally near the ensign;
which thus became a signal where the battle was usually hottest, and a
point to rally round in order to protect the chief when in danger.

But these ensigns, which doubtless were originally boughs of trees or
other simple things easy to be recognised at a distance, obtained by
degrees a religious importance, and must thus have still more excited
the courage of the combatants. For ensigns those figurative images were
principally chosen under which men were accustomed to represent to
themselves their principal gods, or to which a peculiar religious faith
was attached. In the course of time these ensigns were adopted by whole
tribes as national ones. The eagle, Jupiter’s sacred bird, served the
Romans for a warlike ensign, and animated the legions on their distant
and universally-celebrated expeditions. With them, however, it did not
flutter in a banner, but was cast in metal and fixed on the end of a
staff. The national ensign used by at least a great part of the Gallic
tribes in the south of France about the time of the birth of Christ, was
of a similar kind. According to a few still-existing representations of
it on monuments, it presented the image of a hog, fastened, like the
Roman eagle, at the end of a staff. Among the Gauls the hog was a sacred
animal, whence it is afterwards found frequently represented on the old
Gallic coins.

Among the German and Scandinavian races, on the contrary, we cannot
point with certainty to any such early national ensigns. These people,
as it is well known, formed, for several centuries after the birth of
Christ, a number of petty and independent kingdoms, which were, besides,
often divided amongst several powerful chiefs. It was customary for
every chief to have a peculiar sign, often an animal, delineated on his
shield; and which was likewise represented on the banner that he carried
with him into battle. This banner, or mark, was generally borne before
him in the combat by his “marksman;” and at sea it waved on the prow of
his ship. It was not, like that of the Romans and Gauls, of cast metal,
but of variegated cloth.

It was not till the time that the Danes and Norwegians began to invade
the countries of the west, and to make great conquests there, and
consequently not till the ninth century, that we find the oldest traces
of the Danes, or rather perhaps the Danish-Norwegian Vikings, having
fought under one flag; which was not, like the earlier ones, that of a
single chief, but rather an established national ensign. We must
remember that they were heathens, making war upon a Christian land, and
fighting for Odin and Thor against White[5] Christ. Regardless of their
former contests in the north itself, the Vikings were now united on
these foreign shores by the ties of mutual interest and a common
religion; and nothing, therefore, was more natural than that the ensign
which conducted them in battle should be consecrated to Odin, or, as he
was called, the father of victory, in whose presence they expected at
some time to assemble and enjoy the delights of Valhalla. The eagle had
been consecrated to Jupiter by the Romans; among the Northmen the raven
was Odin’s (or, the Father-of-all’s) sacred bird. One of Odin’s names
was therefore “Ravne-gud” (raven-god). The ravens Hugin and Munin sat on
his shoulders, and only flew away to bring him intelligence of what
happened in the world. The ancient Northmen had consequently an especial
confidence in the omens of Odin’s bird. When the Viking Floke
Vilgerdesön set out from Norway to discover Iceland, he consecrated at a
sacrifice three ravens, which he wished to take with him, to show him
the way. He was therefore called Ravnefloke. The Northmen, also, made
prognostications from the scream and from the flight of the raven; and
the warriors, in particular, regarded it as a good omen if a raven
followed them as they marched to battle.

Footnote 5:

  An epithet applied by the Northmen to our Saviour.

As Jupiter’s eagle had been the war sign of the Romans so was Odin’s
raven the chief mark of the Danes in the heathen ages. An old chronicler
(Emma’s Encomiast) relates, that in the time of peace no image whatever
was seen in the flag, or mark, of the Danes; but in time of war there
waved a raven in it, from whose movements the Danes took auguries of
victory or defeat. If it fluttered its wings, Odin gave them a sign of
conquest; but if the wings hung slackly down, victory would surely
desert them. From the few historical accounts that remain to us of this
raven’s mark we are not, however, justified in believing that it was so
long or so generally adopted among the Danes as the eagle was among the
Romans. We find it expressly mentioned only during the Danish conquests
in the British Islands; yet, remarkably enough, at such different times
and under such peculiar circumstances, that we may with good reason
assert that the raven’s mark was really a common flag of battle and
conquest for the Danes and Norwegians.

It is mentioned for the first time in the year 898, consequently nearly
a thousand years ago; that is to say, about the time of the banner-coins
before described, and especially of that coin of Anlaf, or Olaf, on
which is seen the bird with extended wings. At that time, it is said,
the Danish chiefs suffered a great defeat in South England, in which
they lost their war-ensign, or banner (_Anglo-Saxon_, guð-fana), which
they called “the raven” (_Anglo-Saxon_, ræfen v. hrefn. v. hræfen).
Another account adds, that these chiefs were sons of Regner Lodbrog, and
that the flag, or mark, was cunningly woven by Regner’s daughters. The
raven borne upon it was thought to forbode either victory or defeat.

This ensign is again spoken of a century later, in the time of Canute
the Great. It is mentioned in the great battle of Clontarf, in Ireland
(1014), when Sigurd, the Norwegian Jarl of Orkney, bore a raven-standard
against the Irish. Two years afterwards, in the sanguinary battle at
Ashingdon in Essex (1016), which partly decided Canute’s conquest of
England, the Danish army had begun to give way; when the jarl, Thorkel
the Tall, shouted to the warriors, as he pointed to the flag, that the
raven fluttered its wings, and predicted a glorious victory. The Danes
took fresh courage, and victory crowned their efforts. The mighty Danish
jarl Sivard, or Sigurd, surnamed “Digre” (the stout) (+ 1055), who ruled
the earldom of Northumberland somewhat after Canute’s time, and after
the Danish dominion in England had ceased, also bore a raven ensign,
which was called “Ravenlandeye,” or the raven that desolates the land.
(“_Corvus terræ terror._”) There seems to have been many legends among
the people, both as to the manner in which Sigurd procured this ensign,
and as to its supernatural power.

After the time of Canute the Great and Sigurd Digre, there is scarcely
any coin to be found bearing the image of the raven; but fortunately
there is a representation of another kind, belonging to the eleventh
century, which in no slight degree proves that raven-ensigns were
actually borne by the successors of the Danes and Norwegians in the west
of Europe until about the year 1100.

It is known that Scandinavian Vikings, and particularly Normans and
Danes, conquered the French province afterwards called from the Northmen
(Normænd) Normandy; and that the successors of Rollo, or Rolf (Ralph),
continued to govern that land as dukes. From Normandy, Duke William,
surnamed the Conqueror, passed over in 1066 into England, which he
conquered by the battle of Hastings. The whole expedition, together with
this battle, is represented in the old and extremely remarkable piece of
tapestry, preserved in the cathedral of Bayeux, in Normandy, and said to
have been worked by William the Conqueror’s own consort, Matilda; at all
events it was made shortly after the conquest of England. There can,
therefore, be no question about the fidelity of the figures represented,
at all events, as far as regards the Normans. It is here seen that the
Norman chiefs, after the old Scandinavian fashion, had each his ensign
or banner of party-coloured cloth cut out into tongues or points, and
fastened to the pole of a lance. But where William is represented on the
Bayeux tapestry advancing to the battle of Hastings, the chief banner is
borne by a mounted knight clad in chain armour, who rides before another
knight, likewise clothed in armour, and having on his lance an ensign or
flag with five tongues or points, and with a cross in it.

[Illustration: [++] Bayeux tapestry: Two Knights]

On the chief banner, the only one of that form among the many flags in
the tapestry, but which in its whole shape and pendant fringes bears a
striking likeness to the old Danish flags before mentioned, there is
seen in the middle the figure of a little bird, which may, with the
greatest probability, be taken for Odin’s raven. For it is very natural
that the Scandinavian Vikings, or Normans, who had achieved so many and
such famous conquests under Odin’s raven, should continue to preserve
this sign, even after they had adopted Christianity; and that thus the
Normannic dukes in Normandy should also long bear their forefathers’
venerable ensign with them as a Palladium in the combat.

After the conquest of England by the Normans, however, the Norman kings
abandoned the old Scandinavian raven-mark, and adapted themselves more
to the English customs. Probably each king had his own mark or flag,
after the custom of that time, until the national banner afterwards
received a settled form. But the remembrance of the Danish raven by no
means became obsolete among the English nation. Whilst the raven-flag
has almost been erased from the memory of the Danish people, the
remembrance of it still exists freshly in the British islands; and both
poets and artists who represent, however simply, the ancient combats of
the Danes with the Anglo-Saxons, the Scotch, and the Irish, seldom
neglect to make “the enchanted raven” wave in the Danish ranks.

On the often-mentioned Bayeux tapestry is also represented the fall of
the English king, Harald Godvinsön, at the battle of Hastings. The
king’s flag-bearer, or marksman, who, as well as the king, is on foot,
bears a flag-staff, on which is fixed a figure, probably of cloth, cut
in the resemblance of a dragon, which was the royal mark of the
Anglo-Saxon king. Close before him lies a fallen knight, by whose side
is seen a lance with the point downwards, and on which hangs a similar
dragon.

[Illustration: [++] Bayeux tapestry: Harald Godvinsön]

This fallen knight is without doubt the king. From the form of his flag,
or mark, we may conclude that the Danes’ raven-mark probably consisted
at times of the figure of a raven fixed to a shaft, and cut out or sewed
in a similar manner.

What colours were used for the raven-mark can now hardly be decided. The
bird, or raven, on William the Conqueror’s war-flag appears to have been
of a blue-black on a pale yellow, or light, ground. This colour in the
tapestry may, perhaps, have been accidental; and the account of an
English chronicler would lead us to suppose that the ground of the
Danish flags, or marks, was, at least in time of peace, white. But the
colours were certainly different at different times. There can be no
doubt that the ground was often red; for, from the most ancient times,
red was a very favourite colour in the north, especially in time of war.
The old inhabitants of the north, when they came as friends, used to
show a white shield, but when they appeared as enemies it was red; then
“they raised the war-shield.” In Norway red seems to have been the
national colour from an early period; and it was even ordered in
Gulething’s laws, that every man who possessed six silver marks[6]
should have a red shield. Something similar was probably the case in
Denmark. An old legend preserved by the Scotch historians relates that,
in a battle in Scotland about eight hundred years ago, the Danes wore
red and white tunics. That red and white appear so prominently on the
Danish national colours ever since the thirteenth century is certainly
owing to an ancient predilection among the people for these colours. It
is perhaps, therefore, most probable that the banners, or marks, of the
ancient Danes were, in time of peace, of a light colour, but in war time
of a blood colour, with a black raven on the red ground.

In the ninth, tenth, and eleventh centuries the raven, the Danebrog of
heathenism, waved victoriously in the western lands. It was with Canute
the Great at Ashingdon, with the Norman William at Hastings, and was
thus present at two conquests of England. But the battle of Hastings was
the last important battle that the raven won. Heathen Scandinavia had
exhausted its strength by numerous and far-extended conquests.
Christianity, and with it a new and a higher civilization, advanced with
a power not to be checked even among the ancient followers of Odin. The
raven, Odin’s mark, to which the heathen Danes had attached themselves
with all the strength of religious faith, no longer inspired them as
before when the warriors had lost the hope of the joys of Valhalla. If
they now fought, it was mostly against heathens who would not bow before
that cross on which Christ bled and suffered for the sins of mankind. In
order to inspire the combatants, it was necessary that the banner which
they followed should be an expression of the spirit which stirred among
the people, of that living hope which animated them respecting the
manner of their existence in another world. The raven, the symbol of
heathenism, paled by degrees, as antiquated and meaningless, and at last
quite gave place to the symbol of Christianity, the holy cross.

Footnote 6:

  A mark was half a pound of silver.

The same representations on ancient coins and tapestry, which exhibit
the raven, and the old flags, also show the sign of the cross. The flag
on Olaf’s and Regnald’s coins (p. 53) has a figure in the middle
resembling the cross. This is still more distinct on the Bayeux
tapestry, where William’s chief banner is borne (p. 59), for immediately
after the raven follows a flag with the cross. This last, moreover,
certainly represents the identical consecrated banner with the figure of
a cross, which the Pope sent to William on the occasion of his
expedition against England.

The sign of the cross must by degrees have naturally superseded the
raven, not only among the descendants of the Danes and Norwegians in
England, but also, though perhaps somewhat later, in the north itself.
If we may not assume that the present “Danebrog,” with its white cross
on a red ground, became the Danish national flag immediately after the
introduction of Christianity, it is at least certain that the Danish
kings, in the first two centuries after that event, bore flags with
crosses as their personal banners, or marks; and particularly in the
twelfth century, when the crusades against the heathen Wends began. An
old Saga, or legend, relates, that during one of the crusades of King
Waldemar the Victorious in Livonia, in 1219, the “Danebrog” fell from
heaven among the Danish army. This much, however, is certain—that it is
not till after these crusades that the “Danebrog” appears as the
established national flag of the Danes; and ever since that time, for
more than six centuries, it has continued to wave unchanged in the
Danish fleets and armies. It is remarkable that, as the flag of the
fleet, and of all fortified places, and as the royal flag, it is split;
and it can scarcely be doubted that this form must have originated from
the fringes and tongues, or points, with which the old Danish and
Scandinavian flags were ornamented in the tenth and eleventh centuries.
The Scandinavian people is the only one which from remote antiquity has
uninterruptedly borne this split flag; and it is possible that Sweden,
as well as Norway, obtained theirs, which is of comparatively late
origin, by imitating the old Danebrog.

[Illustration: [++] Flags and Ensigns]

Other European countries also derived from the crusades flags with
crosses as their national banners; as, for instance, England the St.
George’s banner, which was white with a red cross; and Scotland a blue
flag divided by a white St. Andrew’s cross. About the same time the
different kingdoms began to adopt a fixed national coat of arms. Thus
Denmark assumed that still in use,—three blue leopards, or lions, on a
golden shield, strewed with red hearts; which was originally the family
arms of the royal house. It has, however, undergone a few slight
changes. With regard to this subject, it is remarkable that three
leopards were also borne by the Norman dukes, who were of Norwegian
descent, and who, after the conquest, introduced the leopards, or lions,
into the arms of England. Generally the lion was not, nor is indeed at
present, found on coats of arms in England and France, whereas it
appears very frequently in those of the north. Sweden has, besides
others, the Gothic lion; the Norwegian national coat of arms is a lion
with a halberd; and Denmark has, besides the proper national arms, the
Cymbric lion, and the two Sleswick lions. But the lion is so peculiarly
Scandinavian that it does not even cross the Eider; Holstein, which is
German, has an entirely different coat of arms—a nettle-leaf. There is
also this similarity between the Danish and English lions, that they are
represented standing, whilst those on the other national arms are
depicted springing. Would it, therefore, be quite groundless to trace,
even in the armorial bearings of England, one of the many proofs of the
influence which the Northmen, and the Scandinavian elements, still
continued to exert there at the time when the national arms were
adopted, and when the foundations of an entirely new and superior social
system had already been laid?

                               ----------

                              SECTION VII.

                   Danish-Norwegian Names of Places.

On the extremity of the tongue of land which borders on the north the
entrance of the Humber, there formerly stood a castle called Ravnsöre
(raven’s point—in old Scandinavian, Hrafnseyri), and afterwards
Ravnsere. _Öre_ is, as is well known, the old Scandinavian name for the
sandy point of a promontory. Ravn (or Raven) may possibly have been
either the name of the man who first conquered the surrounding district
and built the castle; or, what is certainly far more probable, the
Northmen, on erecting this important castle on one of their first
landing places on the greatest river in north England, named it after
the bird sacred to Odin, which fluttered in their banner, and
prognosticated to them victory in the fight. In that case it was a
singular coincidence that Harald Haardraade’s son Olaf should, after the
battle of Stamford Bridge, have embarked at Ravnsöre for the Orkneys and
Norway with the feeble remnant of the Norwegian army. The very place
which had before so often seen multitudes of Northmen, intoxicated with
victory, land with Odin’s raven-flag, now beheld the flight-like
departure of their successors, after they had combated in vain under
that celebrated banner “Landöde” (the land-ravager), which had
accompanied Harald Haardraade in his expeditions to the East, against
the Saracens and other enemies of Christianity. It was one of the many
proofs that “White Christ” was not yet for the Northmen, at least in
battle, what Odin had been previously.

It is, however, at least certain that the name “Ravenspurn” (Ravnsöre)
is derived from the Scandinavian conquerors. An Icelandic Saga, written
a hundred and fifty years after the conquest of England by the Normans,
or after the battle of Hastings (1066), says that “Northumberland was
mostly colonized by Northmen; for after Lodbrog’s sons, who conquered
the country, had again lost it, the Danes and Norwegians often harried
it; and there are still many places to be found in the district that
have names taken from the Scandinavian tongue, such as Grimsby,
Hauksfliot, and numerous others.”

Old English chroniclers also state that many towns in England had new
names given to them by the Northmen; for instance Streaneshalch came to
be called Whitby, and Northweorthig was named in the Danish language
“Deoraby.”

A surer and more decisive proof than all written historical accounts of
the Danish-Norwegian settlements and diffusion in the midland and
northern districts of England is, that the above-named places, namely,
Grimsby (“the town of Grim”), Whitby (Hvidby, “the White town”), and
Deoraby Dyreby (“town of deer”), contracted to Derby, are to be found to
this day in Lincolnshire, Yorkshire, and Derbyshire; and also that in
these old Danish districts there is, moreover, a very considerable
number of towns with names of just as undoubted Danish origin. A close
inspection of even a common map of England will soon show that there are
not a few names of places in the north of England, whose terminations
and entire form are of quite a different kind from those of places in
the south.

The greater number of names of places in the south of England end in
——ton, ——ham, ——bury, or ——borough, ——forth or ——ford, ——worth, &c.
These, which are of Anglo-Saxon origin, and which also serve still
further to prove the preponderating influence of the Anglo-Saxons in
that part, are, it is true, also spread over the whole of the north of
England. But, even in the districts about the Thames (in Kent, Essex,
Suffolk, and Norfolk) they already begin to be mixed with previously
unknown names ending in ——by (_Old Northern_, býr, first a single farm,
afterwards a town in general), ——thorpe (old Northern Þorp, a collection
of houses separated from some principal estate, a village), ——thwaite,
in the old Scandinavian language Þveit, tved, an isolated piece of land,
——næs, a promontory, and ——ey, or öe, an isle; as in Kirby, or Kirkby,
Risby, Upthorpe and others. As we approach from the south the districts
west of the Wash, such as Northamptonshire and Warwickshire, the number
of such names constantly increases, and we find, among others, Ashby,
Rugby, and Naseby. As we proceed farther north, we find still more
numerous names of towns and villages having in like manner new
terminations; such as, ——with (_i.e._ forest), ——toft, ——beck, ——tarn
(_Scandinavian_, tjörn, or tjarn, a small lake, water), ——dale, ——fell
(rocky mountain), ——force (waterfall), ——haugh, or, how (_Scand._,
haugr, a hill), ——garth (_Scand._, garðr, a large farm); together with
many others. The inhabitants of the north will at once acknowledge these
endings to be pure Norwegian or Danish; which is, moreover, placed
beyond all doubt by the compound words in which they appear.

It is not of course very easy to point out the meaning of every name of
a place that has a Danish or Norwegian termination; the original form
having been partly corrupted by later differences of pronunciation, and
partly changed, by the ancient Scandinavians having often merely added a
Scandinavian ending to the older names, or at most re-modelled them into
forms that had a home-like sound to their ears. Still there are names
enough of places whose signification is quite clear. To instance some
derived from the situation or nature of the place: Eastby (_Dan._,
Ostby; _Eng._, the eastern village), Westerby (_Eng._, the western
village), Mickleby (_Dan._, Magleby; _Eng._, the large village),
Somerby, Markby (_Eng._, the field village), Newby (_Dan._, Nyby;
_Eng._, the new village), Upperby (_Dan._, Overby; _Eng._, the upper
village), Netherby (the lower village), Langtoft (the long field),
Kirkland (church-land), Stainsby (the stone village), Haidenby (_Dan._,
Hedeby; _Eng._, the heath village), Raithby (_Dan._, Rödby, from
_rydde_, to clear away), Dalby (village in the dale), Scawby and Scausby
(village in the wood), Scow, Askwith (_Dan._, Askved, or Askeskov,
_i.e._ Ashwood), Storwith (_Dan._, Storved, or Storskov; _Eng._, the
large wood), Lund (Danish for _grove_), Risby (the beech village),
Thornby (the thorn village), Birkby (_Dan._, Birk; _Eng._, the birch
village), Ings (_Dan._, Enge; _Eng._ meadow), Brackenthwaite
(Bregentved, from Brackens), Northorpe (_Dan._, Nörup; _Eng._, north
village), Millthrop (_Dan._, Möldrup; _Eng._, mill-village), Staindrop
(_Dan._, Stenderup; _Eng._, stone village), Linthorpe (_Dan._, Lindrup;
_Eng._, lime-tree village), Stonegarth (_Dan._, Steengaard; _Eng._,
stone farm), Dalegarth (_Dan._, Dalsgaard; _Eng._, valley farm),
Fieldgarth (_Dan._, Fjeldgaard; _Eng._, rocky farm), with others. A
village on the river Eden in Cumberland is called Longwathby (from a
long ford, or wading place; _Danish_, at vade); and north and south of
the Humber, at a spot where there is a ferry over the river (_Dan._,
Færge), lie north and south Ferriby! Almost all these names, to which a
great number of similar ones might be added, answer to names of places
still in use in Denmark, only with this difference, that _thwaite_ has
there passed into _tvede_, or _tved_, and _thorpe_ into _trup_, _drup_,
or _rup_.

The following examples may be cited of Danish-Norwegian names of places
in England, called after animals: Codale (Cowdale), Swinedale,
Swinethorpe, Hestholm (_Eng._, Horse-holm), Calthorpe, and Hareby.

Names of places containing personal names are, however, beyond
comparison far more numerous, and were probably taken from the first
Scandinavian conquerors; as, for instance, Rollesby (Rolfsby), Ormsby
(Gormsby), Ormskirk, Grimsdale, Grimsthorpe, Haconby, Gunnerby,
Aslackby, Swainby, Swainsthorpe, Ingersby, Thirkelsby, Asserby, Johnby,
Brandsby, Ingoldasthorpe, Osgodby, Thoresby, and several others.

Among this species of names of places are found such as Tursdale,
Baldersby, Fraisthorpe, and Ullersthorpe. Now it is certainly probable
that these were only derived from men named Thor, Balder, Freyer, and
Uller, or Oller; yet we cannot avoid thinking of the old gods who bore
these names, particularly as it was a common custom among the ancient
Scandinavians to name towns and estates after them. In England also are
found Asgardby, Aysgarth (or Asgaard, in Yorkshire), as well Wydale and
Wigthorpe, or Wythorpe; which two names have undoubtedly the same origin
as the old sacrificial and assize town Viborg, in Jutland (from Vébjörg,
or the holy mountains); namely, from _vé_, a sacred place. Even the name
of one of the most important sacrificial places in the Scandinavian
north, is to be found in Yorkshire, in Upsal (from Upsalir, the high
halls). The names of places in England which have preserved traces of
the Danes after they had become Christians, may all the more assure us
that we are not mistaken in regarding the names just mentioned as
remarkable remains of the short period of their domination when
heathens. The names of Bishopsthorpe (Bispetorp), Nunthorpe (Nonnetorp),
Kirkby, Crosby, and Crossthwaite, sufficiently prove that Christian had
succeeded to sacrificial priests, and that church and cross were now
erected where heathen altars and temples had formerly stood.

The name of the village of Thingwall[7] in Cheshire affords a remarkable
memorial of the assizes, or _Thing_, which the Northmen generally held
in conjunction with their sacrifices to the gods; it lies, surrounded
with several other villages with Scandinavian names, on the small tongue
of land that projects between the mouths of the rivers Dee and Mersey.
At that time they generally chose for the holding of the _thing_, or
assizes, a place in some degree safe from surprise. The chief ancient
_thing_ place for Iceland was called like this Thingwall, namely
Thingvalla (originally “Þingvöllr,” “Þingvellir,” or the
_thing-fields_).

Footnote 7:

  Wall, _Dan._, Vold, a bank or rampart.

The before-mentioned names Bishopsthorpe and Nunthorpe apply to estates
that belonged to the church; the following ones, viz., Coningsby,
Coneysthorpe, Coneysby, Kingthorpe, and Kingsby, denote property
belonging to the kings, or destined for their maintenance. Some towns
are named after the trade or business of the original inhabitants as
Smisby (Smithby) Weaverthorpe, and Copmanthorpe (Kjöbmandsthorpe,
_i.e._, merchants-thorpe); others point to the descent of the
inhabitants, such as Romanby, Saxby, Flemingsby, Frankby, Frisby and
Fristhorpe (but this possibly came from “Freyr”), Scotby, Scotsthorpe,
Ireby, Normanby, Danby or Denby, and Danesdale.

It also deserves to be mentioned that many of these names of places have
by degrees become family ones, which are constantly heard in England;
for instance, Thoresby, Ashby, Crosby (whence again Ashby and Crosby
Streets in London), Thorpe, Sibthorpe, Willoughby, Scoresby, Derby,
Selby, Wilberforce, &c.

In order, lastly, to convey an idea of the abundance of Scandinavian, or
Danish-Norwegian, names of places, which occur in the midland and
northern districts of England, a tabular view of those most frequently
met with is here subjoined from the English maps. This list, which is
principally drawn up for the use of those readers who have not a
comprehensive map of England at hand, will, with all its deficiencies,
clearly and incontestably prove the correctness of the historical
accounts, which state that the new population of Danes and Norwegians
that immigrated into England during the Danish expeditions, settled
almost exclusively in the districts to the north and east of
Watlinga-Stræt, and there chiefly to the west and north of the Wash.
Norfolk, Northamptonshire, and Lancashire, have each only about fifty
names of places of Scandinavian origin; Leicestershire has about ninety;
Lincolnshire alone, nearly three hundred; Yorkshire above four hundred;
Westmoreland and Cumberland each about one hundred and fifty. The
colonization has clearly been greatest near the coasts, and along the
rivers; it had its central point in Lincolnshire (the Northmen’s
“Lindisey”), and in the ancient Northumberland, or land north of the
river Humber. Yet it was not much extended in Durham and the present
Northumberland, each of which contains only a little more than a score
of Scandinavian names.

     A TABULAR VIEW OF SOME OF THE MOST IMPORTANT DANISH-NORWEGIAN
                      NAMES OF PLACES IN ENGLAND.

    (_Extracted and collected from “Walker’s Maps,” London, 1842._)

Part A

  ┌────────────────┬─────┬─────────┬────────┬─────┬─────┬─────┬─────┐
  │Names ending in │ by  │ thorpe  │thwaite │with │toft │beck │ næs │
  ├────────────────┼─────┼─────────┼────────┼─────┼─────┼─────┼─────┤
  │In Kent,        │  1  │    .    │   .    │  .  │  .  │  .  │  4  │
  │  north-east of │     │         │        │     │     │     │     │
  │  Watling Street│     │         │        │     │     │     │     │
  │In Essex        │  2  │    3    │   .    │  .  │  .  │  .  │  3  │
  │-Bedfordshire   │  .  │    3    │   .    │  .  │  1  │  .  │  .  │
  │-Buckinghamshire│  1  │    2    │   .    │  .  │  .  │  .  │  .  │
  │-Suffolk        │  3  │    5    │   1    │  .  │  .  │  .  │  1  │
  │-Norfolk        │ 17  │   24    │   2    │  .  │  .  │  1  │  .  │
  │-Huntingdonshire│  1  │    .    │   .    │  .  │  .  │  .  │  .  │
  │-Northamptonshire│ 26  │   23    │   .    │  .  │  3  │  .  │  .  │
  │-Warwickshire   │  2  │    1    │   .    │  .  │  .  │  .  │  .  │
  │-Leicestershire │ 66  │   19    │   .    │  .  │  1  │  .  │  .  │
  │-Rutland        │  .  │    7    │   .    │  .  │  .  │  .  │  .  │
  │-Lincolnshire   │ 212 │   63    │   .    │  1  │  4  │  8  │  1  │
  │-Nottinghamshire│ 15  │   20    │   .    │  .  │  .  │  1  │  .  │
  │-Derbyshire     │  6  │    4    │   .    │  .  │  1  │  .  │  .  │
  │-Cheshire       │  6  │    .    │   .    │  .  │  .  │  .  │  .  │
  │-Yorkshire:     │     │         │        │     │     │     │     │
  │--East Riding   │ 35  │   48    │   1    │  6  │  3  │  1  │  1  │
  │--West Riding   │ 32  │   29    │   6    │  8  │  2  │  4  │  .  │
  │--North Riding  │ 100 │   18    │   2    │  6  │  1  │  7  │  .  │
  │-Lancashire     │  9  │    .    │   14   │  2  │  .  │  .  │  2  │
  │-Westmorland    │ 20  │    6    │   14   │  1  │  .  │ 17  │  1  │
  │-Cumberland     │ 43  │    1    │   43   │  .  │  .  │ 12  │  2  │
  │-Durham         │  7  │    7    │   .    │  .  │  .  │  .  │  .  │
  │-Northumberland │  .  │    1    │   .    │  .  │  .  │  1  │  .  │
  ├────────────────┼─────┼─────────┼────────┼─────┼─────┼─────┼─────┤
  │In all          │ 604 │   284   │   83   │ 24  │ 16  │ 52  │ 15  │
  └────────────────┴─────┴─────────┴────────┴─────┴─────┴─────┴─────┘


                                 Part B

     ┌────────────────┬─────┬─────┬───────┬─────┬─────┬─────┬─────┐
     │Names ending in │ ey. │dale │ force │fell │tarn │haugh│Total│
     ├────────────────┼─────┼─────┼───────┼─────┼─────┼─────┼─────┤
     │In Kent,        │  1  │  .  │   .   │  .  │  .  │  .  │    6│
     │  north-east of │     │     │       │     │     │     │     │
     │  Watling Street│     │     │       │     │     │     │     │
     │In Essex        │  3  │  .  │   .   │  .  │  .  │  .  │   11│
     │-Bedfordshire   │  .  │  .  │   .   │  .  │  .  │  .  │    4│
     │-Buckinghamshire│  .  │  .  │   .   │  .  │  .  │  .  │    3│
     │-Suffolk        │  .  │  .  │   .   │  .  │  .  │  .  │   10│
     │-Norfolk        │  .  │  .  │   .   │  .  │  .  │  .  │   44│
     │-Huntingdonshire│  .  │  .  │   .   │  .  │  .  │  .  │    1│
     │-Northamptonshire│  .  │  .  │   .   │  .  │  .  │  .  │   52│
     │-Warwickshire   │  .  │  .  │   .   │  .  │  .  │  .  │    3│
     │-Leicestershire │  .  │  1  │   .   │  .  │  .  │  .  │   87│
     │-Rutland        │  .  │  1  │   .   │  .  │  .  │  .  │    8│
     │-Lincolnshire   │  .  │  3  │   .   │  .  │  .  │  .  │  292│
     │-Nottinghamshire│  .  │  .  │   .   │  .  │  .  │  .  │   36│
     │-Derbyshire     │  .  │  .  │   .   │  .  │  .  │  .  │   11│
     │-Cheshire       │  .  │  .  │   .   │  .  │  .  │     │    6│
     │-Yorkshire:     │     │     │       │     │     │     │     │
     │--East Riding   │  .  │ 12  │   2   │  .  │  .  │  .  │  109│
     │--West Riding   │  .  │ 12  │   .   │ 15  │  2  │  .  │  110│
     │--North Riding  │  .  │ 40  │   4   │  7  │  1  │  .  │  186│
     │Lancashire      │  2  │ 13  │   .   │  7  │  .  │  .  │   49│
     │Westmorland     │  .  │ 36  │   6   │ 42  │ 15  │  .  │  158│
     │Cumberland      │  .  │ 16  │   1   │ 15  │  9  │  .  │  142│
     │Durham          │  .  │  5  │   2   │  2  │  .  │  .  │   23│
     │Northumberland  │  .  │  3  │   .   │  7  │  .  │ 10  │   22│
     ├────────────────┼─────┼─────┼───────┼─────┼─────┼─────┼─────┤
     │In all          │  6  │ 142 │  15   │ 95  │ 27  │ 10  │ 1373│
     └────────────────┴─────┴─────┴───────┴─────┴─────┴─────┴─────┘

     Besides many other names ending in -holm, -garth, -land, -end,
                    -vig, -ho (how), -rigg, &c.,  c.


The same table still further shows that the names ending in by, thorpe,
toft, beck, næs, and ey, appear chiefly in the flat midland counties of
England; whereas, farther towards the north, in the more mountainous
districts, these terminations mostly give place to those in thwaite, and
more particularly to those in dale, force, tarn, fell, and haugh. This
difference, however, is scarcely founded on the natural character of the
country alone; it may also have arisen from the different descent of the
inhabitants. For although in ancient times Danish and Norwegian were one
language, with unimportant variations, so that it would scarcely be
possible to decide with certainty in every single case whether the name
of a place be derived from the Danes or from the Norwegians; yet it may
reasonably be supposed that part at least of the last-mentioned names
are Norwegian; namely, those ending in ——dale (as Kirk-dale, Lang-dale,
Wast-dale, Bishops-dale); in ——force (as Aysgarth-force in Yorkshire,
High-force, and Low-force, in the river Tees, and in the stream called
“Seamer Water”); in ——fell (old Norwegian, fjall; Mickle-fell, Cam-fell,
Kirk-fell, Middle-fell, Cross-fell); in ——tarn (_Old Nor._, tjörn, or
tjarn, a small lake); and in ——haugh (as in Northumberland, Red-haugh,
Kirk-haugh, Green-haugh, Windy-haugh). Exactly similar names are met
with to this day in the mountains of Norway; whilst they are less
common, or altogether wanting, in the flat country of Denmark. That
Norwegians also immigrated into England, even in considerable numbers,
both history and the frequently occurring name of Normanby in the north
of England, clearly show; but they appear to have betaken themselves
chiefly to the most northern and mountainous districts, which not only
lay nearest to them, but which in character most resembled their own
country. In this respect it deserves to be noticed, that places whose
names end in _tarn_, and are consequently pure Norwegian, are found only
in the most northern counties; and that those in _haugh_—although there
are names of places in Denmark ending in _höi_ (hill)—must also, from
the form, be Norwegian. They are found exclusively in the present
Northumberland, and within the Scotch border.

We may, however, venture to set down the greater part of Scandinavian
names of places in England as Danish. The terminations in _thwaite_ and
_thorpe_, indeed, are to be met with in Sweden, Norway, and Iceland, as
well as in the Saxon and Frisian districts of North Germany; yet as the
corresponding English names are for the most part composed of pure
Scandinavian or Danish words, and as they seldom appear either in the
tracts conquered by the Norwegians in Scotland and Ireland, or in the
southern and south-western, originally Anglo-Saxon, districts of
England, but keep strictly within the same boundaries as the rest of the
Danish names of places, and particularly of those in _by_ (Danish for
town or village), these are valid reasons for regarding them in general
as Danish.

The names of places in England ending in _by_ are only to be found in
the districts selected by the Danes for conquest or colonization. With
the exception of a single Kirby, or Kirkby, in Kent, not far from
London, they are nowhere to be found to the south of Watlinga-stræt (for
Tenby, formerly Tenbigh, in Pembrokeshire, is from a different
derivation); whilst towards the north, they cease in the most
north-eastern county of England, the present Northumberland; in the
south-westernmost part of Scotland (Locherby in Dumfries, Sorby in
Wigtonshire); and in the Isle of Man (Sulby, Jurby, Dalby). If we except
Duncansby in Caithness, and Oreby in the Isle of Lewis, as well as some
few villages in Orkney and the Shetland Isles, they do not appear among
the many pure Norwegian names of places in the north and west of
Scotland, and in Ireland; which, as will be explained in its proper
place, have generally quite a different character from the Scandinavian
(chiefly Danish) names of places in England. It can hardly be said that
this was solely owing to the natural character of the country in England
being more favourable for the building of villages than in those
districts in Scotland and Ireland which were occupied by the Northmen:
first, because the Norwegians seem to have dwelt closely together in
many places there, doubtless in order to resist the attacks of the
natives; secondly, because the land there, though often separated by
nature into many districts, as for instance in Caithness and the
Orkneys, by no means prevented them from assembling together in
villages; and lastly, because _by_ originally denoted only a single
estate or farm. In Norway, the Faroe Isles, and Iceland, many names of
places are to be found, which indicate the existence both of single
farm-houses and collections of them, or villages; but they have this
peculiarity, that they generally end in _bœr_ or _bö_, far more rarely
in _býr_ or _by_; whilst, on the contrary, this last form is essentially
Danish. Names of places ending in _by_ are spread over the peninsula of
Jutland quite down to Danevirke and the Eyder; are found in great
numbers in the southern boundary of South Jutland, or Sleswick; as well
as in the islands and old Danish countries of Skaane, or Scania,
Halland, and Bleking; whence they extend themselves over a great part of
Sweden, and far into Finland. From the most ancient times down to the
present, this difference between the Norwegian form _bœr_, and the
Danish _býr_ or _by_, seems on the whole to have clearly prevailed; and
thus that, as early as the eleventh century, the English towns and
villages are written in William the Conqueror’s “Domesday-book,” with
the Danish ending _by_ or _bi_, and not with the Norwegian form _bœr_ or
_bö_, is certainly no slight corroboration of their assumed Danish
origin. Besides, as _by_ is not found in the names of places south of
the Eyder, in Holstein or North Germany, and as it is wholly unknown in
the Saxon or German languages, there is consequently so much the greater
probability that in England it was derived from the Danes.

For the same reasons, towns whose names end in _by_ are most numerous in
the counties situated on the coast opposite Jutland; viz., in
Leicestershire, 66; Lincolnshire, 212; and the North Riding of
Yorkshire, 100. In the two other Ridings, there are altogether about 70
names of places ending in _by_; in Cumberland, 43; and in Westmoreland,
20. For the rest, this termination occurs so frequently throughout the
old Danish part of England, that, of 1370 Scandinavian names of places,
above 600 (as the tabular view given at page 71 shows) end in _by_,
whilst no other names exceed 280; and even this number is reached only
by the ending _thorpe_, which also is certainly pure Danish; whilst the
most numerous after thorpe fall down to 140. This remarkable
preponderance of Danish endings in _by_, will of itself sufficiently
prove the important and wide-extended influence of the Danes in the
midland and northern counties of England.

The not inconsiderable number (1370) of Scandinavian names of places
collected together in the preceding tabular view, could be much
increased if we were to include all the Scandinavian appellations used
by the common people in many parts of the north of England. A hill, or
small mountain, is there called _hoe_ or _how_ (Höi in Jutland: Höw or
Hyv); a mountain ridge, _rigg_; a ford, _wath_; a spring, _kell_; a holm
or small island, _holm_; a farm (_Dan._, Gaard), _garth_, &c., &c. We
might thus, on a very low calculation, compute in round numbers the
clearly recognisable Scandinavian names of places in England at one
thousand five hundred.

That they should have been preserved in such numbers for more than eight
centuries after the fall of the Danish dominion in England, and that
they should have retained, as it has been shown, the original
Scandinavian forms, and that often in a highly-striking degree,
completely disproves the opinion that the old Danish-Norwegian
inhabitants of the country north of Watlinga-Stræt were supplanted or
expelled after the cessation of the Danish dominion (1042), first by the
Anglo-Saxons, and afterwards by the Normans from Normandy; for if such
had been the case, the names of places would naturally have become
altogether changed and impossible to recognise. As the matter stands it
is sufficiently proved that Danes as well as Norwegians must have
continued to reside in great numbers in the districts previously
conquered by them, and particularly in the north; and consequently that
a very considerable part of the present population in the midland and
northern counties of England may with certainty trace their origin to
the Northmen, and especially to the Danes.

                               ----------

                             SECTION VIII.

     Resemblance of the People to the Danes and Norwegians.—Proper
              Names.—Popular Language.—Songs and Legends.

The present English people is certainly composed, as we have seen, of
the most heterogeneous elements. The Englishman reckons among his
ancestors Britons, Romans, Anglo-Saxons, and Northmen, especially Danes
and Normans. All these people, who successively reigned over England for
centuries, must naturally have left numerous descendants behind them.
But as in ancient times it was a combat of life and death for dominion,
the conquered and their posterity could not immediately amalgamate with
the conquerors. Long after the Norman conquest (1066) the Britons,
Saxons, Danes, and Normans, were still hostilely opposed to each other.
These disputes were brought to a close during the middle ages;
prejudices vanished; mixed marriages became more frequent; the different
races acquired common interests; and at last, with the exception of
those Britons who kept themselves aloof in Wales, passed into one great
nation. From this time it was no longer usual in marriages to regard
family descent; it was only some of the richer sort, and higher lineage,
who considered it an honour to preserve the original blood as pure as
possible. There are families still to be found in England who pretend
that they descend in a direct line from Saxon or Norman ancestors, and
who assert that Saxon or Norman features have been transmitted to them.
But even these families have in the course of time been considerably
mixed with races of an entirely different extraction; nay, even the
Britons in Wales have not been able to prevent some of the hated English
blood from gradually supplying and deteriorating that which runs in
their own veins. Moreover, if we consider what an immense number of
Irishmen, Frenchmen, Germans, Jews, and others, have, particularly
during later centuries, immigrated into England, where they have
settled, and by degrees married natives; and, lastly, if we remember
that most foreigners have settled on the east coast, or in the midland
and north-eastern districts; we might almost deem it impossible to point
out from the features and bodily frame of the inhabitants of these
districts, any preponderating degree of descent from Saxons, Danes, or
any one race of people that colonized England in times so long past. In
this respect we can of course scarcely think of comparing districts of
small extent, such as two neighbouring parishes, or two adjoining
counties on the east coast of England. Nevertheless, if by taking a
survey of such extensive districts as north and south England, we were
able to discover a tolerably decided difference in the general
appearance of the inhabitants, this would be a weighty corroboration of
the assertions of history, and of the proof derived from names, that
these districts were originally peopled by inhabitants of entirely
different descent.

The Englishman of London, and the rest of southern England, does not in
general betray in his exterior any perceptible resemblance to the Danes
and Norwegians. On the contrary, he decidedly differs from them. The
black hair, the dark eye, the fine hooked nose, and the long oval
countenance, remind one either of relationship with the Romans, whose
chief seat in England was in the south, or rather, perhaps, of a strong
compound between the ancient Britons and the Anglo-Saxon and Norman
races, which afterwards immigrated into England. Many of the Britons
seem to have been dark-haired; for among their descendants in Wales, as
well as among their near kinsmen, the Highland Scots and the Irish,
there are still frequently found—and particularly in remote districts,
as, for instance, in the Hebrides—dark-haired and generally small
people, having on the whole dark complexions. It was, too, in the south
and south-west of England that the greatest mixture took place between
the original British tribes and those that afterwards came over.

But as we proceed from the southern towards the middle and northern
parts of England, we find that by degrees an entirely different
physiognomy, which before we only got a glimpse of now and then, and
which could scarcely be remarked in the confusion of people in London,
becomes more and more the prevailing one. The farther one proceeds
towards Northumberland, the more distinct does it become. The form of
the face is broader, the cheek bones project a little, the nose is
somewhat flatter, and at times turned a little upwards, the eyes and
hair are of a lighter colour, and even deep red hair is far from being
uncommon. The people are not very tall in stature, but usually more
compact and strongly built than their countrymen towards the south. The
Englishman himself seems to acknowledge that a difference is to be found
in the appearance of the inhabitants of the northern and southern
counties; at least one constantly hears in England, when red-haired
compact-built men with broad faces are spoken of; “They must certainly
be from Yorkshire:” a sort of admission that light hair, and the broad
peculiar form of the face, belong mostly to the north-of-England people.
On the other hand, little importance must be attached to the
circumstance that Englishmen generally attribute the red hair to the
immigration of the Danes; for though it is true that many Danes, and
particularly many Norwegians, were red haired, yet some tribes of the
original Celtic inhabitants of the British Isles also had red hair; and
the same feature may likewise be partly ascribed to the Saxons.

In the midland, and especially in the northern part of England, I saw
every moment, and particularly in the rural districts, faces exactly
resembling those at home. Had I met the same persons in Denmark or
Norway, it would never have entered my mind that they were foreigners.
Now and then I also met with some whose taller growth and sharper
features reminded me of the inhabitants of South Jutland, or Sleswick,
and particularly of Angeln; districts of Denmark which first sent
colonists to England. It is not easy to describe peculiarities which can
be appreciated in all their details only by the eye; nor dare I
implicitly conclude that in the above-named cases I have really met with
persons descended in a direct line from the old Northmen. I adduce it
only as a striking fact, which will not escape the attention of at least
any observant Scandinavian traveller, that the inhabitants of the north
of England bear, on the whole, more than those of any other part of that
country, an unmistakeable personal resemblance to the Danes and
Norwegians.

Old Scandinavian national names, such as Thorkil, Erik, Haldan, Harald,
Else, and several others, were formerly, at least, not unfrequently used
in these districts. Surnames, such as Adamson, Jackson, Johnson, Nelson
(Nielson), Thomson, Stevenson, Swainson, and others, all of which have
endings in _son_ or _sen_, which never appear in Saxon names, still
frequently occur. The ending _sön_ or _sen_ (a son) is quite peculiar to
the countries of Scandinavia, whence it was brought over to England by
the Scandinavian colonists. It is not, however, confined to the north of
England, but is spread over all the British Islands where the Northmen
settled; for instance, in Scotland we find Anderson, Matheson, &c. It is
very remarkable that the name of Johnson, which, as is well known, is
one of the commonest in England, is also, perhaps, in the selfsame form,
that which most frequently occurs in Iceland.

The still-existing popular dialect affords an excellent proof that the
resemblance of the inhabitants of the northern counties of England to
the Danes and Norwegians is not confined to a, perhaps accidental,
personal likeness. The pure English language itself includes, both with
regard to its vocabulary and inflexions, many Scandinavian elements, the
result of the Danish immigration. But, in the north of England, many
words and phrases are preserved in the popular language, which are
neither found nor understood in other parts, although they sound quite
familiar to every Northman. These original Scandinavian terms are not
only applied, as I have before said, to waterfalls, mountains, rivulets,
fords, and islands, but are also in common use in daily life; as, for
instance, _late_ (_Dan._, lede; _Eng._, to seek), _lite_ (_Dan._, lide;
_Eng._, to rely), _helle_ (_Dan._, helde; _Eng._, to pour out), _hit_
(_Dan._, hitte; _Eng._, to find), _clip_ (_Dan._, klippe; _Eng._, to
cut), _forelders_ (_Dan._, Forældre, or Forfædre; _Eng._, ancestors,
forefathers), _updaals_ (_Dan._, opdals; _Eng._, up the valley),
_kirk-folk_ (_Dan._, Kirkefolk; _Eng._, people going to church),
_kirk-garth_ (_Dan._, Kirke-gaard; _Eng._, churchyard), with many
others.

These originally Scandinavian words are now chiefly found in the
north-west of England, among the remote mountains of Yorkshire,
Westmoreland, Cumberland, and Lancashire, where they have withstood the
changes of time. On entering a house there one will find the housewife
sitting with her _rock_ (_Dan._, Rok; _Eng._, a distaff) and _spoele_
(_Dan._, Spole; _Eng._, spool, a small wheel on the spindle); or else
she has set both her _rock_ and her _garnwindle_ (_Dan._, Garnvinde;
_Eng._, reel or yarn-winder) aside, whilst standing by her _back-bword_
(_Dan._, Bagebord; _Eng._, baking-board) she is about to knead dough
(_Dan._, Deig), in order to make the oaten bread commonly used in these
parts, at times, also, barley-bread; for _clap-bread_ (_Dan._
Klappebröd, or thin cakes beaten out with the hand) she lays the dough
on the _clap-board_ (_Dan._, Klappebord). One will also find the
_bord-claith_ spread (_Dan._, Bordklæde; _Eng._, table-cloth); the
people of the house then sit on the _bank_ or _bink_ (_Dan._, Bænk;
_Eng._, bench), and eat _Aandorn_ (_Eng._, afternoon’s repast), or, as
it is called in Jutland and Fünen, _Onden_ (dinner). The chimney,
_lovver_, stands in the room; which name may perhaps be connected with
the Scandinavian _lyre_ (Icelandic, ljóri); _viz._, the smoke-hole in
the roof or thatch (_thack_), out of which in olden times, before houses
had regular chimneys and “_lofts_” (_Dan._, Loft; _Eng._, roof, an upper
room), the smoke (_reek_ or _reik_, _Dan._, Rög) left the dark (_mirk_
or _murk_, _Dan._, mörk) room. Within is the _bower_ or _boor_ (_Eng._,
bed-chamber), in Danish, _Buur_; as, for instance, in the old Danish
word Jomfrubuur (the maiden’s chamber), and in the modern word Fadebuur
(the pantry).

Outside, in the _garth_, or yard (_Dan._, Gaard), stands the roomy
_lathe_, or barn (_Dan._, Lade), which directly shows how fruitful the
soil is that belongs to the _garth_ (_Dan._, Gaard; _Eng._, a manor,
farm). The shepherd or herdsman, whose _nowth_ (_Dan._, Nöd; _Eng._,
neat cattle) are restless in the _boose_ (_Dan._, Baas; _Eng._, stall)
and _crib_ (_Dan._, Krybbe; _Eng._, manger), is about to cleanse the
stable, and with a _greype_, or gripe (_Dan._, Möggreve; _Eng._,
dung-fork), bears out the _muck_ (_Dan._, Mög; _Eng._, dung) to the
midding (_Dan._, Mödding; _Eng._, dunghill). If we accompany him to the
fields he tells us in a lively tone about the many _threaves_ of corn
(_Dan._, Traver, bundles of twenty or thirty sheaves), particularly of
_big_ (_Dan._, Byg; _Eng._ barley) that have been got from the poor
_ling_ (_Dan._, Lyng; _Eng._, fern) which covers the sides of the
_haughs_ or _haws_ (_Dan._, Höie; _Eng._, hills); of all the
_slaa-torns_ (_Dan._, Slaatjörn; _Eng._, sloes), _lins_ (_Dan._,
Lindetræer; _Eng._, linden trees), _roan trees_ (_Dan._, Rönnetrær;
_Eng._, Scotch rowan trees), and _allars_ (_Dan._, Elletræer; _Eng._,
alders), that grow in yonder little _shaw_ (_Dan._, Skov; _Eng._, wood),
or in that _lawnd_ (_Dan._, Lund; _Eng._, grove), which is likewise full
of _hindberries_ (_Dan._, Hindbær; _Eng._, raspberries), and which is
resorted to by many _gowks_ (_Dan._, Gjöge; _Eng._, cuckoos). A field
farther on, which in its time was acquired by _mackshift_ (_Dan._,
Mageskifte; _Eng._, deed of exchange), has been allowed to _ley-breck_
(_Dan._, ligge-brak; _Eng._, to lie fallow). Through this field winds a
_beck_ (_Dan._, Bæk; _Eng._, brook), or rivulet well stocked with fish,
in which with a _liester_ (_Dan._, Lyster; _Icelandic_, Ljöstr, grains,
or a sort of barbed iron fork on a long pole) one may be able to make a
good capture.

In the river are the _trows_, or troughs (_Jutland_, trow; _Old Scan._,
Þró), made use of to cross over to the opposite shore. These _trows_, or
troughs, are two small boats, originally trunks of trees hollowed out,
and held together by a cross-pole. He who wishes to pass over places a
foot in each trough or boat, and rows himself forward with the help of
an oar. It is said that Edmund Ironsides and Canute the Great rowed over
to the Isle of Olney (in the river Severn) in such boats at the time
when they concluded an agreement to divide England between them. The
original inhabitants of Europe undoubtedly passed the great rivers in
the same simple manner.

Amongst the words in the popular language that still remind one of
ancient Scandinavian customs, those of _yuletide_, _yuling_ (Christmas),
_yule-candles_ (_Dan._, Julelys), and _yule-cakes_ (_Dan._, Julekager),
deserve particular notice. Christmas was certainly kept as a solemn
feast among the Anglo-Saxons, but it does not appear to have had that
importance with them which it had with the Scandinavians; of which this
is a proof, that the old name of Christmas (_Yule_) is preserved only in
those districts in the north that were more especially colonized by the
Northmen. Yule, or the mid-winter feast, was, in the olden times, as it
still partly is, the greatest festival in the countries of Scandinavia.
Yule bonfires were kindled round about as festival-fires to scare
witches and wizards; offerings were made to the gods; the boar dedicated
to Freÿr (_Dan._, Sonegalte) was placed on the table, and over it the
warriors vowed to perform great deeds. Pork, mead, and ale abounded, and
yuletide passed merrily away with games, gymnastics, and mirth of all
kinds. It is singular enough that even to the present day it is not only
the custom in several parts of England to bring a garnished boar’s-head
to table at Christmas, but that the descendants of the Northmen, in
Yorkshire and the ancient Northumberland, do not even now neglect to
place a large piece of wood on the fire on Christmas Eve, which is by
some called the _yule-block_, by others _yule-clog_, or _yule-log_
(perhaps from the old Scandinavian _lág_, _log_, a felled tree;
Norwegian, _laag_). Superstitious persons do not, however, allow the
whole log to be consumed, but take it out of the fire again in order to
preserve it until the following year. Exactly similar observances of
Christmas customs still exist in the Scandinavian North. At Smaaland, in
Sweden, a boar’s-head, called _julhös_ (from _hös_, the skull), is set
on the table at Christmas; and in East Gothland a large loaf, called
_juhlegalt_, is seen on table throughout the festival, of which,
however, nothing is eaten. _Juhlhös_ and _juhlegalt_, as well as the
boar’s-head in the north of England before alluded to, owe their origin
unmistakeably to the expiatory barrow-pig, or “Galt,” offered up by the
old Northmen to Freÿr. The remembrance of the games of the Northmen is
also preserved in England in the Scandinavian word _lake_ (to play),
which is heard only in the ancient Danish districts.

To enumerate all the Scandinavian words in the English popular tongue
would, from their quantity, be both a tedious and a superfluous labour.
The following selection of a hundred of the most common of them will
surely be regarded as sufficient clearly to prove in what a highly
remarkable manner “the Danish tongue” has imprinted itself on the north
of England, in comparison with other countries occupied by the Normans,
as, for example, Normandy; where the Scandinavian language,
notwithstanding the very considerable immigrations from Scandinavia, has
disappeared to such a degree that but very few traces of it now remain.

        A HUNDRED DANISH WORDS, SELECTED FROM THE VULGAR TONGUE,
              OR COMMON LANGUAGE, NORTH OF WATLINGA STRÆT.

            ───────────────┬───────────────┬───────────────
              Provincial   │   English.    │    Danish.
              English[8].  │               │
            ───────────────┼───────────────┼───────────────
            arr            │scar           │Ar
            attercop       │spider         │Edderkop
            awns           │beads of corn  │Avner
            bank           │to beat        │banke
            bairn, bearn   │child          │Barn
            bede           │to pray        │bede
            bid            │to invite      │byde, indbyde
            bide           │to stay        │bie
            big, biggin    │to build,      │bygge, Bygning
                           │  building     │
            blend          │to mix         │blande
            boll, or bole  │trunk of a tree│Bul (Træ)
            brosten        │burst          │brusten
            clammer        │to quarrel,    │klamres,
                           │  grasp        │  fast-klamre
            claver         │to climb       │klavre
            cluve          │hoof           │Klov, Hov
            dyke, dike     │ditch          │Dige
            elt            │to knead       │ælte
            festing-penny  │earnest-money  │Fæstepenge
            fra            │from           │fra
            frem folks     │strangers      │Fremmede Folk
            full           │drunk          │fuld, drukken
            gainest way    │nearest way    │Gjenvei
            gammon         │merriment      │Gammen
            gants, ganty   │to be merry    │gantes
            gar            │to make        │gjöre
            gar            │to hedge       │gjerde
            glowing        │staring        │gloende
              (glouring)   │               │
            greit, greets  │to weep, tears │grœde, Graad
            grepen         │clasped        │greben
            grise          │young pig      │Griis
            groats         │husked corn    │grudtet Korn
            hack           │to stammer     │hakke, stamme
            halikeld       │holy-well      │Helligkilde
            hand clout     │towel          │Haandklæde
            handsel        │earnest        │Handsel
            harns,         │brain, brain   │Hjerne,
              harns-pan    │  pan          │  Hjerne-skal
            heck           │hay-rack       │Hække (til Hö)
            hesp           │latch          │Haspe (Dör)
            hose           │stocking       │hose
            kaam, kem      │comb, to comb  │Kam, kæmme
            kail, kale     │cabbage        │Kaal
            kern-milk      │churn-milk     │Kjernemelk
            kern           │to churn       │kjerne
            kilt           │to tuck up     │kilte (op)
            kitling        │young cat      │Killing
            laid           │just froze     │logt (Iis)
            mauf, meaugh   │brother-in-law │Maag, Svoger
            mind           │to remember    │mindes
            nab            │to catch       │nappe
            neaf (or neif) │fist, handful  │Næve, Nævefuld
              neaf-full    │               │
            neb            │bill, beak     │Næb
            nipping        │to sip         │nippe
            pot-scar       │pot-sherd      │Potteskaar
            quern          │hand-mill      │Qværn
            querken’d      │suffocated     │qværket
            raise          │a heap of      │Rös, Steendysse
                           │  stones, cairn│
            read (or rede) │to guess, know │raade, udtyde
                           │  fully        │
            read           │to comb        │rede (Haar)
            reasty         │toasted        │ristet
            rid            │to remove      │rydde
            rig, riggin    │back, ridge of │Ryg, Rygning
                           │  a house      │
            rip up         │to revive      │rippe op
                           │  (injuries)   │
            rise           │underwood      │Riis
                           │               │  (Underskov)
            rive           │to split,      │rive (splitte)
                           │  divide       │
            sackless       │without suit   │sageslös
            sark           │shirt          │Særk
            scarn          │dung           │Skarn (Smuds)
            schrike (or    │to cry, shriek │skrige
              skrike)      │               │
            scoll          │toast (health) │Skaal
                           │               │  (Drikkelag)
            sele           │to bind, fasten│bind i Sele
            skift          │to change      │skifte (Klæder)
                           │  (clothes)    │
            slade          │sledge         │Slæde
            sleck          │to put out     │slukke
                           │  (quench)     │
            smiddy         │blacksmith’s   │Smedie
                           │  shop         │
            smooth-hole    │hiding-place   │Smuthul
            smouch         │kiss           │Smadsk (Kys)
            snirp          │to pine        │snirpe
            speer (or spar)│to ask         │spörge
            spire          │young tree     │Spire
            stee (or stey) │ladder         │Stige
            steert         │point          │Stjert
            stew           │dust           │Stöv
            stive          │to raise dust  │stöve
            stumpy         │short, thick   │stumpet
            stot           │young horse, or│Stod (Hest)
                           │  bullock      │
            swale          │shade          │Svale (Skygge)
            sype (or sipe) │to drop gently │sive
                           │  (ooze)       │
            tang           │sea-weed       │Tang
            theaker        │thatcher       │Tækker
            toom (or tuam) │empty          │tom
            twine          │to murmur, weep│tvine
            unrid          │disorderly,    │uredt, urede
                           │  filthy       │
            uphold         │to maintain    │holde oppe
            wadmal, woadmel│coarse woollen │Vadmel
                           │  cloth        │
            wan            │rod            │Vaand
            wark           │ache, pain     │Værk (Smerte)
            way zalt       │to weigh salt, │veie Salt
                           │  a game       │  (Leeg)
            wong           │a field        │Vænge

Footnote 8:

  Many of these words are Scotch.

These numerous and striking Danish terms, still existing in the north of
England almost a thousand years after the destruction of the Danish
power there, and after an almost equally protracted struggle with the
constant progress of the English language, show that the Scandinavian
tongue must possess no mean degree of durability. These Scandinavian
words, moreover, taken in conjunction with the unusually numerous
Scandinavian names of places in England, put it beyond all doubt that a
Scandinavian population must have been far more diffused, and have taken
much deeper root there, than in any other foreign land.

The popular language of the north of England is particularly remarkable
for its agreement with the dialects found in the peninsula of Jutland.
Several words which are common to the north of England and Jutland, are
not to be found elsewhere. For instance, in the north of England, the
shafts of the carts used there are called _limmers_, a word clearly of
the same origin as the Jutlandish _liem_, a broom; both being derived
from the old Scandinavian _limi_, which signifies _boughs_, _branches_.
But it is the broad pronunciation in particular that makes the
resemblance so surprising. Thus, for instance, we have in the north of
England, _sty’an_ (_Dan._, Steen; _Eng._, a stone), _yen_ (_Dan._, een;
_Eng._, one), welt (_Dan._, vælte; _Eng._, to upset), _swelt_ (_Dan._,
vansmægte; _Eng._, overcome with heat and exercise), _maw_ (_Dan._,
Mave; _Eng._, stomach), _lowe_ (_Dan._, Lue; _Eng._, flame), _donse_
(_Dan._, dandse; _Eng._, dance), _fey_ (_Dan._, feie; _Eng._, to sweep),
_ouse_ (_Dan._, Oxe; _Eng._, ox), _roun_ (_Dan._, Rogn; _Eng._, spawn or
roe of fishes), _war and war_ (_Dan._, værre og værre; _Eng._, worse and
worse); with many others of the same kind, which are pure Jutlandish.

On the whole, of all the Danish dialects the Jutland approaches nearest
to the English. The West Jutlander uses the article _æ_ before words
like the English “the,” although the Danish language in other provinces
does not recognise such an article; and the broad open _w_, which the
natives of Funen and Zealand can, after the greatest difficulty, only
pronounce with tolerable correctness, is as easy for the Jutlander as
for the Englishman. Many Danish words pronounced in Jutlandish become
purely English; as, for instance, _foul_ (_Eng._, fowl; _Dan._, Fugl),
_kow_ (_Eng._, cow; _Dan._, Ko), _fued_ (_Eng._, food; _Dan._, Fod),
_stued_ (_Eng._, stood; _Dan._, stod), _drown_ (_Eng._, drown; _Dan._,
drukne); besides many others. Many words are even quite common to
Jutland and England; such as the Jutlandish _forenoun_ and _atternoun_
(_Eng._, forenoon and afternoon; _Dan._, Formiddag and Eftermiddag),
_stalker_ (_Eng._, stalker; _Dan._, en Stork), _kok_ (_Eng._, cock;
_Dan._, en Hane), _want_ (_Eng._, to want; _Dan._, mangle, behöve).

This affords a very important proof of the close connection which must
have anciently subsisted between Jutland and England. Although it may be
doubtful to what extent the Jutes had tracts specially assigned to them
for their settlements in the south of England (as in Kent and the Isle
of Wight, at the time of the Anglo-Saxon conquest in the fifth century),
it is, at all events, quite certain that, both at that time and at a
later period, a number of Jutes settled on the east coast of England,
and particularly in the more northern districts. Jutland lies nearer to
England than any other part of Scandinavia. The Limfjord, which in
remote ages was a roadstead for the Vikings’ ships, and afterwards the
rendezvous of Saint Canute’s fleet when he intended to reconquer
England, certainly dispatched numerous Vikings’ barks to the British
coasts. In legends still existing in Jutland, the old connections with
England, and the wars there, are not forgotten; nay, in some places the
people tell of battles fought with the English in Jutland itself: of
which ancient names of places likewise bear witness, as in the
neighbourhood of Holstebro, “Angelandsmoor” (Angelandsmosen), with the
adjacent “Prince Angel’s barrow” (Prinds Angels Höi), which is
surrounded with a number of tumuli. The remembrance of the same old
connections with England still resounds in the Jutlandish and other
ancient Scandinavian ballads, or heroic songs, in which the scene is
frequently laid on the “engelandish strand.”

The near relationship of the north Englishmen with the Danes and their
Scandinavian brothers is reflected both in popular songs and in the
folk-lore. It is well known that the old Northmen were in a high degree
lovers of minstrelsy. The Scandinavian kings were generally accompanied
on their Viking expeditions by bards, who encouraged and cheered the
champions with songs respecting the exploits of former times, and about
every glorious deed that had been performed during the expeditions.
These historical epics passed from mouth to mouth, and from generation
to generation. Nor did the Scandinavian conqueror in foreign lands
disdain to be celebrated by the bards of his native country. Canute the
Great, who was himself a poet, placed the Scandinavian bard high in his
hall; and numerous lays, which are still partly preserved in the Sagas,
sounded his fame over the north. After the warlike life of heathenism
had ceased, the poetical and historical talent of the people expressed
itself in ballads and heroic songs, which, during the middle ages,
succeeded the lays of the ancient bards. The old ballad, in its
characteristic form, belongs peculiarly to the countries of Scandinavia;
and it is very remarkable that the corresponding English ballads, which
often, both in their prevailing tone and in their form—as, for instance,
with regard to the burthen—betray a surprising similarity with the
Scandinavian, are in England found exclusively in the north. They are,
however, heard still more frequently in the Scotch Lowlands, whither
great immigrations of Northmen also took place. In the north of England
a very peculiar kind of song for two voices was also formerly heard, and
which the English themselves ascribed to the Danes.

It is more difficult to adduce pure Scandinavian remains of popular
superstitions, as in this respect the Teutonic races have so very much
in common; and consequently one is afraid to draw too strong conclusions
from the striking agreement usually shown in the phantoms of the
imagination among north Englishmen and their Scandinavian kinsmen. Yet
it deserves to be mentioned that the Scandinavian name _Nök_ (a
river-sprite), is not yet forgotten in Yorkshire; although some by
“Nick” or “Oud-Nick” erroneously imagine the devil to be meant, instead
of the water-sprite. Many little tricks performed by the _nix_ (_Dan._,
nisse, a brownîe) are known there, as well as in Scandinavia. Once, in
England, the conversation happening to turn on these little beings, I
related our Scandinavian legend about a peasant who was plagued and
teazed in all possible ways by a _nisse_ or brownîe, till at last he
could bear it no longer, and determined to _flit_ (move house) to
another place. When he had conveyed almost all his goods to the new
house, and was just driving thither with the last load, he accidently
turned round, and whom did he see? Why, the brownîe with his red cap,
who sat quietly on the top of the load, and nodded familiarly to him,
with the words, “Now we flit.” One of the persons present immediately
expressed a lively surprise on hearing a legend related as Danish, and
that, too, almost word for word, which he had often heard in Lancashire
in his youth. The word _flit_ was, and still is, used there by the
common people.

A natural result of the long-continued and extensive dominion of the
Danes in the north of England is, that they also are classed with the
invisible mystical beings, which, in the imagination of the people,
haunt that district. In certain places among the remote mountains of the
north-west, people still fancy that they hear on the evening breeze
tones as of strings played upon, and melancholy lays in a foreign
tongue. Often, too, even when nobody hears anything unusual, the animals
prick up their ears as if in astonishment. It is “the Danish boy,” who
sadly sings the old bardic lays over the barrows of his once mighty
forefathers.

                               ----------

                              SECTION IX.

      The Outrages of the Danes.—The Danes and Normans.—Influence
                        of the Danes in England.

It is thus shown, by numerous and incontestable proofs, that the Danes
held dominion in England for a short period, and that they also
exercised, in conjunction with the Normans, so important and lasting an
influence for centuries before and after the time of Canute the Great,
at all events in that portion of England lying to the north of Watlinga
Stræt, that even a great part of the population there may be safely
assumed to be of Danish extraction. Nevertheless, the generally received
opinion in England on this subject is expressed in the following passage
in a brief History of Denmark lately published in London (“Edda, or the
Tales of a Grandmother”), which states that after the suppression of the
Danish power in England, “_Both nations [the Danes and English]
separated soon after, and in a few years the Danish supremacy had
vanished like a vision of the night; so little did it leave any traces
in England, or produce any important political benefits to Denmark._”

It would, however, have been extremely astonishing, nay, utterly
inexplicable, if great effects had not manifested themselves in Denmark
from the expeditions towards the west, and from the complete conquest of
a country like England, which, in regard both to religious and political
development, stood so far above Scandinavia. History, also, sufficiently
shows of what great importance the conquest of England was, not only for
Denmark, but for the whole Scandinavian North. The Christianity of
Scandinavia arose, indeed, out of the smoking ruins of the English
churches and convents. Scandinavian kings and warriors were frequently
baptized during their Viking expeditions; and it was English priests who
proclaimed the doctrines of Christianity on the plains of Denmark and in
the rocky valleys of Sweden and Norway. Many of the first bishops in the
North were of English extraction, and even the style of the
ecclesiastical edifices attested the powerful influence of wealthy
England. The more advanced cultivation of science and art in general
which prevailed there, communicated itself in many directions to the
countries of Scandinavia; where it certainly contributed, just as much
as the great emigrations, to weaken heathenism, and thus, both in a
religious and political point of view, to found a new and better order
of things.

But for whatever benefits Denmark and the North received in this manner
from England, they did not fail to yield a full equivalent. It cannot
reasonably be reproached to the Danes exclusively that, in order to
obtain settlements in England, they made their way with fire and sword,
for this was no more than all other conquerors, and particularly the
Romans and Anglo-Saxons, had done before them. With regard to bloodshed,
and acts of violence and destruction, the Anglo-Saxon conquest of
England exceeded rather than fell short of the Danish. It annihilated
the civilization which had been so widely disseminated there by the
Romans, and subjugated or expelled the older inhabitants in the most
frightful manner. It is the circumstance of the Danish expeditions
having taken place at a far later time, when the monks wrote chronicles,
and when on the whole history was more circumstantial, that has alone
contributed to place the Danish expeditions in so prominent and so
hateful a light.

But even the present age, with its severe views, is scarcely justified
in condemning unconditionally the Scandinavian sea-king, who was not
instigated solely, or even chiefly, by a savage desire of plunder or
murder, but who valued deeds of arms, a glorious name, and the joys of
Valhalla, more than his life, and who therefore “went to death with a
laugh.” Even with him religion was a spur to his achievements in
Christian lands. He was combating for his own gods, in whom in general
he certainly believed as firmly as most of the Christians of that time
did in Christ. The ideas, too, which then prevailed respecting conquest,
slaughter, and rapine, were altogether different from ours. If the
heathen Viking regarded it as an honour to acquire lands and booty by
his sword, the same thought was also cherished not only by the early
Christians, but throughout the middle ages; when Christian citizens,
noblemen, and princes contended in mortal combat, with fire and sword,
for the possession of estates and lands. The Christian Anglo-Saxons of
those times felt no hesitation in secretly massacring the Danes who had
settled in England; and as many of these had been converted, one
Christian thus murdered another! To dismember general history into a
number of unconnected events, and then to pass judgment upon these
separately according to our moral feelings, would be an infamous act,
and more difficult to defend before the tribunal of morality than
perhaps all the expeditions of the heathen Danish Vikings put together.
Such a method of proceeding would lead to the most confined views of
history that can possibly be imagined. No correct conception can be
formed of any part of the history of the world if it be not examined in
its due connection, whereby both causes and effects become perceptible.
Many events, which the moralist would otherwise condemn, find in this
manner both excuse and defence in the superior historical necessity that
produced them. Viewed in this light, violent devastations, which have
for a time, perhaps, arrested the progressive development of a people,
will appear to have ultimately founded and educed purer and more
wholesome manners and customs. Severe shocks are now and then as useful
for the general welfare of a nation as a violent fit of sickness for the
health of an individual, or storms for the purification of an oppressive
atmosphere.

The germ of a higher civilization was first implanted in the rude and
warlike tribes, which then predominated throughout Europe, by the Greeks
and Romans. The bold expeditions of the latter, in particular,
introduced the arts and sciences into the countries north of the Alps;
and it was from the south that even the Christian religion began its
progress. But before Christianity could take firm root among the
European tribes, before a really Christian state could be founded, it
was necessary that an immense revolution should take place. Heathenism
and barbarism then collected all their strength in order to destroy
Roman power and Roman civilization. The Roman Empire, and with it almost
all the older states, was overthrown by the vast national migrations;
and a new and different population, with which a fresh civilization was
to begin, spread itself over Europe. It was these migrations that
brought the Anglo-Saxons into England, after they had abandoned their
ancient habitations on the south and south-west shores of the Baltic;
whence they were expelled by the advancing Slavonic tribes of the Wends,
or Vandals.

Contemporaneously with the diffusion of Christianity in the south and
west of Europe, larger Christian states gradually arose. Charlemagne had
already, about the year 800, founded an immense kingdom; and, in order
to strengthen it both against inward disturbances and outward attacks,
had established apparently durable institutions. But as it was too often
necessary, in those early times, to force Christianity on the people by
dint of arms, without seeking any real support for it in their
convictions and belief—a circumstance that rendered prevalent a very
great moral relaxation, and even wickedness—they were thus induced to
regard the political institutions which sprang from it as something
foreign, which neither proceeded from themselves, nor possessed any
intrinsic strength. Both Church and State tottered. The whole structure
of Christian communities was in its weak and early childhood; and it was
not till the people had been convinced of its necessity, by their
calamities and sufferings, that Christianity was able to gain a really
firm footing.

The Christian States were now attacked at once and on all sides by the
enemies of Christianity, the Mahometans and heathens. The Saracens,
towards the south; the Magyars, or Madjarers, the forefathers of the
Hungarians, towards the east; and the Northmen towards the north and
west, all invaded the Christian States. Europe long groaned under this
terrible scourge. Meanwhile, however, separate States grew stronger in
this combat with their exterior enemies; whilst great tribes of the
latter settled in the conquered districts, adopted Christianity, and
mingled with the natives. The destructive expeditions which for a time
indeed retarded, in certain directions, the commencements of
civilization, ended by exhausting all the strength of heathenism, in
preparing a complete victory for Christianity, and in producing in
Church and State a vigour hitherto unknown in those lands which had long
embraced the Christian faith. It was now that a period was put to the
throes which had given birth to a new and Christian Europe. The
descendants of the lawless Vikings became the most zealous champions of
Christianity. The Normans, who by degrees had raised themselves to be
the ruling people in several of the western and southern States of
Europe, and had thus brought a new and wholesome power to the helm,
broke many a doughty lance with the Mahometans and heathens. In these
crusades the knight was now accompanied by the troubadour, as the Viking
formerly had been by the bard or scald. It was among the Normans in
particular that the knightly and feudal system developed itself, which
was of such decided importance throughout the middle ages, and the
forerunner of the freer and more advanced state of society of modern
times.

Under the name of “Normans” are included all those swarms of Swedes,
Norwegians, and Danes, which, from the close of the eighth until far
into the eleventh century, either laid waste or settled on the eastern
and southern coasts of the Baltic, as well as the coasts of the west and
south of Europe. “Norman” signifies neither more nor less than a man
from the north. The Danish conquest of England was therefore just as
fully Normanic as the conquest, by the Norwegians and Danes, of a part
of France, called, after them, Normandy. Hence there was a natural
reason why the Danish conquerors, and Svend Tveskjæg in particular,
concluded an alliance with the dukes of Normandy, in order that they
might find a reception among these kinsmen in case they should not be
able to make themselves masters of England; and hence, in like manner,
Canute the Great obtained the more readily the hand of Emma, the
daughter of a Norman (and consequently nearly related) duke. But between
the above-mentioned conquests there was this difference, that the Danish
conquest of England, together with the Norwegian conquests in Scotland
and Ireland, was of far greater extent, and of quite a different and
more extensive importance for the British Isles, than the
Norwegian-Danish conquest of so small a district as Normandy was for
France. Whilst the Northmen principally brought thither only a number of
powerful chiefs, who, at the expense of the natives, constituted
themselves into an imperious feudal nobility, and who afterwards for the
most part went over with William the Conqueror into England, in search
of still greater feudal possessions, the Danish expeditions to and
conquest of England were, on the contrary, the means of bringing an
entirely new population into a very considerable portion, perhaps even
the half, of that kingdom.

All accounts attest what proud and energetic men the Norwegian-Danish
Normans were who settled in Normandy, and who afterwards became the
progenitors and founders of the English nobility. The chronicles of that
time cannot sufficiently praise their bravery and contempt of death,
whilst at the same time they highly extol their chivalric spirit. In but
a short time after their settlement in France they had readily acquired
its politer manners; and not only these, but that higher mental
cultivation which then raised the southern countries above those of the
far north. It was a distinguishing trait of the Normans that they very
quickly accommodated themselves to the manners and customs of the
countries where they settled; nay, even sometimes quite forgot their
Scandinavian mother tongue, without, however, losing their original and
characteristic Scandinavian stamp. But what the Normans in particular,
with all their French refinement, did not lose, was the ancient
Scandinavian feeling of freedom and independence. The descendants of
those powerful chiefs who had quitted the hearths of their forefathers
because they would not suffer themselves to be enslaved by kings—and who
on their arrival in Normandy, when the question was put to them, “What
title does your chief bear?” are said to have answered, “None, we are
all equal”—continued steadily to maintain their freedom against the
Norman dukes, and not least so against the despotic William the
Conqueror, even after he had distributed among them the rich estates of
conquered England. The later English nobility, whose power and influence
William’s conquest had thus founded, did not in any way degenerate from
their Norman forefathers. From the earliest period of the middle ages
the English barons were the stoutest protectors and defenders of freedom
against ambitious kings; and it is also their respect for the proper
liberties of the people that has alone insured to them the quiet
possession of the power which they still continue to retain. The English
nobility have in several other ways preserved to the present time traces
of their ancient origin. Thus among the English aristocracy we not only
find the old Scandinavian title of Jarl, or Earl, which in the North
itself has given way to the German one of Graf, or Greve, but a Northman
will easily discover many characteristic traits that remind him of his
own ancestors. It is truly remarkable that the love of bodily exercises,
games, hunting, and horse-racing, not to mention the predilection for
daring sea voyages so strongly prevalent amongst them, was likewise
manifested, according to the Sagas or legends, by the rich and powerful
in Iceland, and the rest of the Scandinavian fatherlands.

Under these circumstances it would, indeed, have been in the highest
degree surprising if the Danish-Norwegian Normans, who conquered England
at the same period that their near kinsmen, the Norwegian-Danish
Normans, conquered Normandy, who had migrated from the north for the
selfsame reasons as these kinsmen, and who were subject to the same
virtues and vices—if these Normans in England alone, I say, should have
been barbarous “robbers and plunderers,” trampling on and destroying all
that was “great and good,” whilst their brothers in Normandy
distinguished themselves by an early civilization, and particularly by a
lively feeling for poetry and for a further development both of social
and political life. It must be remembered that the Danish-Norwegian
Normans, who made conquests in England, did not go thither in one great
body, but in small divisions, which only by degrees, and in the course
of about three centuries, settled themselves in the districts inhabited
by the Anglo-Saxons; and that, though far less numerous than the latter,
they were not only able firmly to maintain their position among them,
but at length even to expel them from a great part of the country
north-east of Watling-Stræt. For this proves that the new Scandinavian
inhabitants of England, along with greater physical strength and more
martial prowess than the Anglo-Saxons possessed, must have been soon
able to acquire that skill in the employments of peace, as well as that
higher polish and refinement, which in the long run could alone insure
them the superiority and preponderance which they enjoyed over the
Anglo-Saxons, not only in the rural districts, but in many towns of the
north of England; and secure for them such an influence as they obtained
in England’s best and greatest city, even London itself.

Further, that those Northmen, who by the Danish conquests became the
progenitors of a great part, probably as much as half, of the present
population of England, were just as brave men, and just as great lovers
of liberty, as their Norman brethern, the ancestors of the English
nobility; and that they played a part not much inferior to theirs in the
development of England’s freedom and greatness, a closer examination
will probably place in a clearer light.

                               ----------

                               SECTION X.

                        Commerce and Navigation.

The Northmen, who in ancient times sailed to foreign shores, were far
from always being Vikings, bent only on rapine and plunder, and the
conquest of new possessions. They were very often peaceful merchants.
The remote situation of Scandinavia, and the dangers which the natives
of more southern countries pictured to themselves as attendant upon a
voyage to that _ultima Thule_ and its heathenish inhabitants, must in
ancient days, when navigation was very limited, have deterred foreign
merchants from visiting it regularly, and bartering their wares. The
Scandinavian tribes, on the contrary, were at that time almost the only
seamen. From the want of all that belonged to the exterior comforts and
conveniences of life in Scandinavia, the business of a merchant who
bartered the products of the north and south, and who brought home with
him a knowledge of distant and unknown lands, must early have become a
profitable, and, from the dangers connected with it, an honourable
profession. The trading voyages of the merchant were not, indeed, held
in such esteem as those of the Vikings; yet from the most ancient times
certain established customs were observed in the north for the
protection of merchant vessels; and the merchant who, as was frequently
the case, had distinguished himself by warlike qualities and shrewdness
of understanding, was neither despised in the company of Vikings, nor in
the King’s hall. Even chiefs of royal descent did not regard it as
anything dishonourable to exercise the mercantile profession. Already,
in the most ancient times, a number of trading places were scattered
round the north, and large annual fairs were held. Once a year the ships
of the merchants assembled together from the whole of Scandinavia,
perhaps even from the other nearest situated countries, in the Sound of
Haleyri, or, as it is now called, Elsinore. Booths were erected along
the shore; foreign wares were bartered for fish, hides, and valuable
furs; whilst various games, and all sorts of merry-making, took place.

During the Roman dominion in England, and probably even in far earlier
times, a tolerably brisk commerce appears to have been kept up between
England and the countries of Scandinavia, especially Jutland,
Vendsyssel, and the districts round the Limfjord; where also, as a
consequence of this, genuine Roman antiquities have been dug up at
various times. After the conquest of England by the Jutes, the Angles,
and the Saxons, and still more after the Danes and Norwegians had begun
to settle there, this intercourse became still more frequent. We may
safely assert that, so early as the close of the ninth and beginning of
the tenth century, a very brisk trade must have existed between England
and the North. The Scandinavian element was then so well established,
that not only did Scandinavian kings reign, and coin money, in the north
of England, but even that extremely important old Saxon city,
“North-weorig,” which lay in the very heart of England, was called by
the Saxon kings themselves, on their coins, by the foreign name of
“Deorabui” (Deoraby, Dyreby, Derby); although this name, according to
the English chroniclers’ own statements, was first given to it by the
immigrant Danes. Some will even recognise Derby in the name of “Doribi,”
which stands on a coin of King Ethelwulf of the middle of the ninth
century (837-857). At all events it is a certain and remarkable proof of
the early and wide-extended influence of the Scandinavian settlers, even
in places far in the interior of the country, that “Deorabui” appears
repeatedly on coins of King Athelstane (924-940), and of his immediate
successors. It was this same Athelstane who is said to have visited
Scandinavia, where he learned the language; and who afterwards educated
at his court Hagen Adelsteen, the law-giver, who subsequently became the
first Christian king in Norway. This fact also indicates the wide-spread
and peaceful connection between England and the North, which not long
afterwards induced the Norwegian King’s son, Olaf Trygvesön, in his
treaty of peace with the English king, Ethelred, whose lands he had long
harried, expressly to stipulate for certain rights and privileges in
favour of the Scandinavian merchant ships in the English harbours.

Even in Alfred the Great’s time (A.D. 900) the seas and lands of
Scandinavia were but very little known to the Anglo-Saxons; for which
reason Alfred, chiefly with a view to trade and commerce, sent Ulfsten
and the Norwegian Ottar on voyages of discovery to the Baltic, and along
the coast of Norway to the White Sea. That according to the laws of his
country an Anglo-Saxon merchant obtained the rank and title of Thane, or
Chief, when he had thrice crossed the sea in his own ship, sufficiently
attests how desirous the Anglo-Saxon kings were to awaken among their
subjects, by means of large rewards, a desire for such voyages.
Subsequently, however, during the expeditions of the Vikings and
Normans, when the dangers attending long voyages had become still
greater than before for the Anglo-Saxons, owing to the perfectly
overwhelming force of the Northmen at sea, the trade, with Scandinavia
at least, must have continued to remain in the hands of the Scandinavian
merchants; who, as we learn from the Sagas, were continually making
voyages, as well from Denmark, Sweden, and Norway, as from the still
more distant Iceland, to England, and the other countries of the West.
Wherever the Normans had won new settlements, Scandinavian merchants
likewise established themselves in order to maintain a steady connection
with their ancient home. It is for this simple reason that we find in
those times so many Danes and Norwegians settled in the most important
trading places, not only in England (in London, Southwark, Derby,
Grimsby, York, Whitby, and other towns), but also, as we shall see in
the sequel, in Ireland and in Normandy, where the city of “Ruda,” or
Rouen, is spoken of as an important place of trade often visited by the
Northmen.

The Scandinavian merchant vessels brought not only the wares of
Scandinavia to the British Islands and other countries of the West; they
likewise brought merchandise from the remote East. From the most ancient
times, indeed, the Northmen had maintained connections with the eastern
countries; which was a natural consequence of their having emigrated
thence into the North, and left friends behind them there. By means of
these connections, metals otherwise totally unknown in the North, and
especially gold, were certainly brought thither at a very early period
from the mountains of the East. Subsequently, in the fifth and sixth
centuries, when fresh migrations from the East had taken place, a closer
connection was opened with the eastern Roman Empire, and particularly
with Constantinople, so that coins of that empire, and other valuables,
began to be circulated in the North. After the Scandinavian colonists,
too, had conquered kingdoms for themselves in the countries which now
form modern Russia, and taken possession of the city of Novgorod, a
regular commercial _route_ appears to have been opened, through Russia,
between Constantinople and the North, by which the Varangians passed,
who entered as body-guards into the service of the Emperors of the East.
But as far as regards trade, Novgorod and the Scandinavian colonists in
Russia promoted a connection with Asia, which was of far greater extent
and importance.

Before the passage to the East Indies by sea was discovered, and
particularly before the Genoese and Venetians began to trade in the
Black Sea and on the coasts of Asia, the main road from Arabia and the
countries round the Caspian Sea to the Baltic and Scandinavia, lay
through Russia, along the great rivers. To judge from the Oriental coins
found both in Russia and in the Scandinavian countries, this commercial
road must have been used from the eighth until far in the eleventh
century, when it was broken up by internal disturbances in Asia, and by
contemporary revolutions in Russia and the North. The road ran either
from Transoxana (in Turan) to the countries north of the Caspian Sea,
whence the merchandise was then brought along the river Volga to the
Baltic; or else from Khorasan (in Iran), through Armenia, to the Black
Sea; whence the Khazars and other people again conveyed it up the rivers
farther towards the North. How considerable this trade must have been
may be seen from the numerous hints in the Sagas, as well as from the
still-existing Arabian accounts of merchants who in those days visited
the coasts of the Baltic for the sake of trade, where considerable
trading places, such as Sleswick and many others, are mentioned; but
still more than all these, from the very great number of Arabian coins
that have been dug up both in Russia and Scandinavia. In Sweden, and
particularly in the island of Gothland, such an immense quantity of
these has been found at various times, that in Stockholm alone above
twenty thousand pieces have been preserved, presenting more than a
thousand different dies, and coined in about seventy towns in the
eastern and northern districts of the dominions of the Caliphs.
Five-sixths of them were coined by Samanidic Caliphs. Together with the
coins, a great mass of ornaments has been dug up, consisting of rings
and other articles in silver, which are distinguished by a peculiar
workmanship. On the whole, it appears that silver first came by this way
into the North, where it was not generally circulated before the ninth
and tenth centuries, and consequently at the time when the trade with
Arabia was in full activity.

These discoveries of Arabian coins in the north of Europe, but which are
confined to the shores of the Baltic, the German Ocean, and the Irish
Sea, undoubtedly prove that Scandinavia, and particularly the countries
on its eastern coasts, together with the islands of Gothland, Öland, and
Bornholm, must have been the principal depôt for Arabian merchandise. It
was the trade with the East that originally gave considerable importance
to the city of Visby in Gothland; and it was subsequently the Russian
trade that made Visby, in conjunction with Novgorod, important members
of the German Hanseatic league. As long as the Arabian trade flourished,
Gothland was the centre of a very animated traffic. Even now an almost
incredible number of German, Hungarian, and particularly Anglo-Saxon
coins, of the tenth and eleventh centuries, is dug up in the island. The
collection of coins in Stockholm comprises an assortment of Anglo-Saxon
coins, mostly the product of these discoveries, which, for extent and
completeness, surpasses the greatest collections of the sort even in
London and England.

The important and extensive commercial intercourse between Scandinavia
and England, to which this so decidedly points, can also be traced in
England itself. Oriental or Arabian coins, struck in the countries near
the Caspian Sea, are dug up both in England and Ireland in conjunction
with the very same kind of peculiar silver rings, and other ornaments of
the same metal, that are also found with the Arabian coins in
Scandinavia and Russia; nay, they are sometimes dug up, as in Cuerdale,
in conjunction with coins of Danish-Norwegian kings and jarls; a fact
which still further confirms the opinion that they were brought over to
the British Isles by the Northmen. This connection with Arabia through
the countries of Scandinavia may probably have brought to England, as
well as to the North, such a mass of silver as enabled the Anglo-Saxon
kings to mint that surprising number of silver coins, which appears at
once in such forcible contrast to the want of silver in the preceding
centuries. The ancient Britons had little or no silver before the Roman
conquest. The Romans, who had large silver mines in Spain, certainly
brought silver money with them into the British Islands; but after the
overthrow of their dominion, a want of silver again prevailed, and
continued, as the coins show, until far into the eighth and ninth
centuries. Silver was consequently introduced into England and
Scandinavia, generally speaking, about the same time; and there is
undoubtedly far greater probability that it was brought into these
countries in the same way—that is, from Asia through Russia—than that it
should have come into England through the Moors in Spain; of whose
caliphs there are very rarely any coins found in England, and between
whom and the English the intercourse at that period seems to have been
but very limited. In the treasure found at Cuerdale the rings and other
silver ornaments were for the most part broken, and twisted, or even
melted, together. Something similar has been observed in the treasure
trove in the countries round the Baltic, and in Russia. This clearly
proves that silver, as an article of commerce, was brought from Asia to
the North, where it was melted and converted into ornaments and coins.

As long as the Norman expeditions lasted, and on the whole as long as
the Scandinavian supremacy at sea sufficed to protect the Scandinavian
merchants and their ships, they continued to make voyages on their own
account to the countries colonized by the Northmen. Thus the Anglo-Saxon
coins dug up in the island of Gothland indicate a brisk and
uninterrupted commerce between Scandinavia and England from the time of
the Anglo-Saxon king Edgar (959-975) down to the death of Edward the
Confessor and the Norman conquest (1066). But from that time, and
particularly after the year 1100, there is a remarkable decrease in the
Anglo-Saxon coins found in Gothland; which is a natural result of the
interruption of the previous connection, through the hostile relations
that ensued between the descendants of William the Conqueror and the
Scandinavian kings, who steadily continued to claim the crown of
England. Later in the middle ages the countries of Scandinavia fell more
and more under the commercial yoke of the German Hanse Towns; whilst in
England, on the contrary, a freer and healthier state of commerce was
continually developing itself. The Danish king, Canute the Great, made
it a point of the utmost importance to conclude commercial treaties with
various foreign nations; and the Scandinavian merchants settled in
England essentially contributed to make these leagues profitable. Old
authors expressly notice the influence of these merchants on British
trade. We also find evidence of it not only in their great number, and
the weight they possessed in several English towns,—especially London,
where they had their own churches, markets, and courts of law, and
where, as before stated, they even at times decided the election of a
king, as in the case of Harald Harefoot,—but also in the names of money
afterwards retained in the English language, as “March” and “Ora,” from
the Scandinavian “Mark” and “Ore.” It was a natural consequence that
commerce should at the same time make great progress, as the numerous
Scandinavian settlers in England, and the Danish conquest, had infused a
new and hitherto unknown life into everything relating to navigation,
without which no animated trade could have flourished in the British
Islands.

The ancient Britons were by no means a seafaring people. They appear to
have confined themselves to short coasting voyages between the islands,
and over the Irish and English channels. They had, therefore, no fleet
to protect their coasts from the attacks of the Romans. Their vessels
consisted either of the trunks of trees hollowed out, or of small frail
boats formed of interwoven branches, or wicker-work, covered with hides.
The Celtic nations have, on the whole, never been remarkable for their
love of the sea, or of a seafaring life. On the contrary, they seem to
have derived from nature a decided antipathy to it; and even to the
present day it is very striking to observe how unwillingly their
descendants venture out to sea. They prefer, under all circumstances, a
landsman’s life, even in remote and barren mountain tracts; nay, their
disinclination for everything relating to a seaman’s life is carried so
far that they neglect, in a way almost incredible, the rich fisheries on
the western coast of Scotland, and on the greater part of the coasts of
Ireland; although, in the last-named country especially, famine carries
off the inhabitants in shoals. In those villages where fishing is
carried on to any extent, the inhabitants are in general descended from
immigrant foreigners. Thus it is said that the fishermen on the west
coast of Ireland are descended from Spaniards; and, to judge from their
appearance, the assertion finds some confirmation.

Nor were the Anglo-Saxons a seafaring people, in the proper sense of the
term. They comprised, it is true, Jutes, Angles, and Frisians; but the
Saxons were the most numerous, and the Saxon disposition has always
clung to a life ashore. It was natural, however, that the art of
navigation should gradually develop itself among the Anglo-Saxons as
they advanced in civilization and refinement. But how little they were
at home on the sea, even in the time of Alfred the Great, is shown by
the feeble resistance they were able to offer to the Danes. It is true
that Alfred had large ships of war built in order to protect the coasts;
but he was obliged to man them, in part at least, with Frisians. We are
further told that these ships were much larger than those of the Danes.
Yet the history of the tenth and eleventh centuries affords no proof
that these ships were able in the long run to prevent the conquests of
the Danes, or that they served to increase the Anglo-Saxon skill in
seamanship.

Even the Greeks and Romans, however much they distinguished themselves
in other ways, as in literature and art, did not make any remarkable
progress in seamanship. Their navigation chiefly consisted of trips
along the coast or voyages across the Mediterranean; and if an
adventurer was now and then bold enough to pass the Pillars of Hercules,
or Straits of Gibraltar, out into the Atlantic Ocean, in order to sail
along the west coast of Europe to the British Isles, or countries still
farther north, it was regarded as a great exploit. Regular voyages
thither were scarcely known; nor do the Greek and Roman ships appear to
have been well adapted to keep the sea in the wide and stormy Atlantic.

It was reserved for a land washed by the waters of that ocean—the
Scandinavian North—to build the first large “sea-going” ships, capable
not merely of successfully conveying, in calm weather, and under
favourable circumstances, a solitary daring navigator over the Atlantic,
but of affording, in spite of storm and tempest, a secure passage over
its enormous waves. It is only by duly considering how much experience
and talent must have been exerted, and, above all, how many calculations
must have been made previous to the building of such a vessel, and
before the art could be acquired of steering it with safety through
breakers and in storms, that we shall perceive how much it redounds to
the honour of Scandinavia to have made these great and most important
advances; which, by founding modern navigation, by extending commercial
intercourse to a degree before unknown, and by thus uniting parts of the
globe which were previously separated, may be said in a manner to have
changed the face of the world.

Even before the time when the Danes conquered England, the Northmen had
long possessed large and splendid sea-going ships. The Norwegians, in
particular, were then constantly making voyages across the Atlantic, to
the Shetland Isles, Iceland, and Greenland; nay, they undoubtedly
reached the continent of America several times; of which Scandinavian
and German historical traditions, as well as internal probabilities,
bear witness. For, first, it was a natural consequence that a people who
could navigate the dangerous and ice-bound sea that surrounds the coast
of Greenland, and who could establish considerable colonies both in
north and south Greenland—traces of which are still preserved by runic
inscriptions, ruins of churches, and the foundations of numerous
houses—should also be able to sail to the coast of America, the
navigation to which was always attended with less danger. And, again, it
would have been very strange if the Northmen, who sailed without a
compass, should always have succeeded in reaching Greenland, and never
have been driven by storms to the neighbouring coast of America. It was,
besides, just in this manner, according to the statements of history,
that America was first discovered. It is quite another matter whether
traces of these early visits of the Scandinavians could really be still
found in America, which there is good reason to doubt.

The above-mentioned voyages, in the ninth and tenth centuries, are
sufficient proofs of the excellence of the Scandinavian ships. It is
not, therefore, to be regarded as pure exaggeration if the Sagas use
strong expressions in celebrating the war-ships of that time,
particularly the galleys, or, as they were called, long ships; and
amongst others that magnificent royal vessel “Ormen hin Lange” (the long
snake), which bore the Norwegian king, Olaf Trygvesön, in the celebrated
sea-fight of Svöldr (near Greifswald) in the year 1000. These long ships
were also called “Dragons,” because the stems were frequently ornamented
with carved, and even gilded, images of dragons; or else were beheld
there figures of vultures, lions, and other animals, ornamented with
gold. These long ships had sometimes crews of several hundred men.
Other, and partly smaller, ships had different names, such as “snekken,”
“barden,” “skeiden,” “karven,” “barken,” and several others. Both
Scandinavian and English chronicles dwell on the description of the
splendour with which the fleets of the Danish conquerors, Svend and
Canute, were adorned. Magnificent images glittered on the prows; the
sails were worked, or embroidered, with gold; the ropes were of a purple
colour; and on the top of the gilded masts sat curiously-carved images
of birds, which spread out their wings to the breeze.

[Illustration: [++] Sailing Ship]

With the exception of very imperfect representations carved on rocks and
runic stones, there are no images left in the countries of Scandinavia
of these ships of the olden time. But the celebrated tapestry at Bayeux,
in Normandy, on which the conquest of England by the Normans is
depicted, is a contemporary evidence of the appearance of the Normanic
ships; and the accompanying woodcut taken from it, representing probably
the ship in which William the Conqueror himself sailed, will clearly
prove how splendid they really must have been. Both this and the rest of
the Norman ships in the tapestry perfectly agree with the contemporary
Danish and Norwegian ships, just as we know them from the Sagas, even to
the shields hung out along the bulwarks. This, however, is nothing more
than what one might naturally expect, since the Normans and Danes, on
the conquest of Normandy, must have brought such ships with them, as
well as that art of ship-building which they afterwards carried to
greater perfection. For this, however, they found no models in the
wretched vessels of the Franks and Bretons. But their steady connection
with the Scandinavian fatherlands, at all events through the Danes and
Norwegians in England, communicated to them those improvements in the
form and arrangement of ships which the very extensive ship-building of
the Northmen, and their long and uninterrupted voyages to Iceland and
Greenland, must gradually have produced. That influence on maritime
affairs, which, on the whole, was exercised by the Scandinavian settlers
in Normandy, showed itself also in the circumstance that Scandinavian
names of ships, together with other maritime terms, passed into the
Romance language; as, for instance, _flotte_ (_Dan._, Flaade; _Eng._,
fleet), _verec_ (_Dan._, Vrag; _Eng._, wreck), _bord_ (_Dan._,
Skibsborde, Rand; _Eng._, ship-board), _windas_ (_Dan._, Vinde, Spil;
_Eng._, windlass) _mast_ (_Dan._, Mast; _Eng._, mast), _sigler_ (_Dan._,
Seile; _Eng._, sails), _esturman_ (_Dan._, Styrmand; _Eng._, steersman),
_eschiper_ (_Old Northern_, skipa; _Eng._, equip), from which are
derived the now commonly used French words, _équiper_, _équipage_, (and
with us Danes likewise, eqvipere, Eqvipage-mester; _Eng._, master of
ordnance.)

As a consequence of the Danish-Norwegian immigrations, the art of
ship-building must also have necessarily developed itself in a similar
manner in England, on whose eastern and north-western coasts the
descendants of the Vikings had everywhere spread themselves, both by the
sea and on the rivers. Christianity certainly put an end to the life of
the Viking. “Söhaner” (sea-cocks) were no longer to be found, who
scorned “to sleep by the corner of the hearth, or under sooty beams.”
But the Vikings’ spirit was not therefore dead. The Scandinavian
colonists could never entirely degenerate from their fathers, who had
joyfully “ridden on the backs of the waves,” and who in the icy sea, and
on the Atlantic Ocean, had greeted the storm only as a welcome friend,
which assisted the oars and speeded the merry passage. Among the Vikings
were many like the Danish chief made prisoner by King Athelstane at the
siege of York in 927. The King treated him well, and retained him in his
hall more as an equal than a prisoner. But in a few days the chief fled
and put out again to sea; for it was, the chronicle adds, just as
impossible for him to live on land “as for the fish to live out of the
water.” The immediate descendants of such men, for whom a seafaring life
was a necessity of their very nature, must have continued to dash
through the water, particularly when, as in England, they were settled
near seas and rivers. During all the internal dissensions and foreign
wars that occupied England in the first centuries after the conquest by
William the Norman—and which ended by binding more firmly together the
various Celtic, Teutonic, and Scandinavian races which composed its
population—the maritime affairs of the English were no longer confined,
as in more ancient times, only to commerce with the nearest neighbouring
countries. Through the mother countries of Scandinavia, and especially
Norway, they continued during the early part of the middle ages to
maintain a lively intercourse with the distant Scandinavian republics in
Iceland and Greenland. But when, in the thirteenth century, the
independence of these republics was overthrown, and they were placed as
tributary countries under the Norwegian crown, the free trade that had
previously flourished became much more restricted. The consequence of
this was, that the navigation to Greenland from the north decreased more
and more, until, in the fifteenth century, when the Scandinavian
population of Greenland had been annihilated by sickness and by the
assaults of the natives, it entirely ceased. What also much contributed
to this was, that the trade which the Northmen themselves carried on
with Iceland became gradually, and in the fifteenth century was almost
entirely, although illegally, transferred to the English, who under the
guidance of their Scandinavian kinsmen had found their way thither. Hull
and Bristol—which latter place is named as early as the twelfth century
as the port for ships from Norway (and Iceland?)—were the two English
harbours whence this trade with Iceland was carried on. There are even
some who think that Christopher Columbus during his stay in these
harbours, through conversations with Iceland navigators, and possibly by
a voyage to Iceland itself, obtained information of the ancient voyages
of the Northmen to Greenland and America; and that he was thus first
completely confirmed in his opinion, that a large and unknown continent
must lie in the far west, across the Atlantic Ocean. But even if this
supposition be unfounded, or destitute as yet of certain historical
proof, may it not at least be probable that Columbus had heard in some
other way of the Northmen’s former voyages to Greenland; and that this
might have had some influence on the resolution he afterwards formed to
set out across the Atlantic on a voyage of discovery towards the west?

But under any circumstances, the regular voyages of the English to
Iceland were certainly connected with the subsequent complete discovery
of the New World. They had served to make them familiar with more
extensive voyages on the open ocean, and thus essentially contributed to
foster that daring Viking spirit, which they had inherited from their
Scandinavian forefathers, and which in process of time was to become so
important in cementing the connection between the Old and the New World.
No sooner was the latter a second time discovered than the Vikings’
spirit again strongly displayed itself in a renewed form among the
English people. There was the same lofty tranquillity, the same daring
and contempt of danger, that characterised the Vikings of ancient times.
But the English seaman had now more experience and knowledge, and quite
other means were at his disposal than had ever before existed. He
therefore entered on his first voyage to the New World with undaunted
courage, and not only soon became familiar with that ocean which his
Scandinavian forefathers had ploughed in the remote days of antiquity,
but also opened a way to new lands over seas before unknown. Thus was
established that maritime supremacy which has been one of the most
important props of the wealth and power of England.

The first accidental discovery of America by bold adventurers from the
remote north took place so early, and under such peculiar circumstances,
that neither Scandinavia nor the rest of the world derived any use or
benefit from it. After a transient glimpse, the golden treasure again
sank beneath the waves. It lay, nevertheless, in the dispensations of
Providence, that the descendants of those Scandinavian adventurers
should bear an essential part in raising the re-discovered treasure, and
in making it productive for mankind. And had not the Scandinavians, by
their numerous settlements in the British Islands, engrafted on the
population a skill in seamanship before unknown, together with a daring
spirit of enterprise, England, in spite of its fertility, its wealth,
and its favourable maritime situation, would scarcely have succeeded in
solving such a problem as that of closely knitting together lands
separated from each other by the Atlantic in all its breadth and
vastness.

                               ----------

                              SECTION XI.

                          Art and Literature.

At the period when the Danes were making their conquests in the West,
art and literature did not occupy any very high position in Europe. The
severe shock which the fall of the Roman Empire had given to all the
more elevated pursuits was still far from being overcome. Christian art
was in its childhood, and groped its way with weak attempts, and
imitations of Roman models; whilst literature, confined for the most
part to one-sided theological inquiries, or to the inditing of dry and
annalistic chronicles, could scarcely be said to deserve the name.

It was, however, a natural result of the long-continued domiciliation of
the Romans in France and England, where they founded so many and such
important works, and where Christianity was adopted at a comparatively
early period, that a taste for art and literature should develop itself
in no mean degree in those countries; particularly in comparison of the
far North, where the Romans had never ruled, and where the darkness of
heathenism still rested on the people.

Nevertheless we should be grievously mistaken if we imagined that the
Scandinavian people was at that time entirely unfitted for the ennobling
occupations of art and literature. It has been before stated that the
Northmen early distinguished themselves not only by an extraordinary
skill, for those times, in the art of ship-building, but that they had
also developed, previously to the conquest of England, a taste, in some
respects peculiar, in the manufacture of their ornaments, domestic
utensils, and weapons, and which had principally sprung from
characteristic imitations of the Roman and Arabian articles of commerce
brought into the North. The Scandinavian antiquities that are dug up,
belonging to the older period, or what is called “the age of bronze,” as
well as those of the latest times of heathenism, or “the iron age,” may
on the whole, with regard to form and workmanship, be even ranked with
contemporary objects of a similar kind manufactured in England, France,
or Germany. The Sagas, moreover, state that the carving of images was
sometimes very skilfully practised in the North; and the English
chronicles, which depict in such glowing colours the splendidly-carved
figures on the prows of the Danish or Scandinavian vessels, confirm the
truth of these statements. In Olaf Paas’ Hall, at Hjarderholdt, in
Iceland, the walls were even adorned with whole rows of carvings,
representing the ancient gods, and their exploits. On the other hand
there could naturally as yet be no possibility of erecting such
buildings in the North as those which the spirit of Christianity had
already produced in other countries.

But no sooner were the Normans from Denmark and Norway settled in
Normandy, and converted to Christianity, than they began to manifest a
lively desire to erect splendid buildings, and particularly churches and
monasteries. Scarcely had the first violent revolutions in that country
been brought to a close when there sprang up such a number of great
architectural works among the Normans, that Normandy can still show more
such monuments of art, of the eleventh century, than any other district
of France. After William’s conquest of England, the Normans also founded
there a somewhat peculiar style of building, which, though only a branch
of the Byzantine-Gothic, or a further development of the older Saxon,
constantly bears in England the name of “Norman.”

Previous to the Norman conquest, the Danes settled in England were
naturally unable to influence, in a like degree, the style of English
architectural works. Their sway there was both too short and too
unsettled for such a purpose: not to mention that the Danes had still
much to learn from the Anglo-Saxons in the art of building; for the
latter had long been Christians, and were besides settled in a country
possessing abundant remains of the magnificent architectural works of
the Romans. Nevertheless it is not incredible that several of the many
churches and convents then and subsequently erected by Danish princes
and chiefs, and especially in the northern parts of England, but which
are now for the most part either rebuilt, or have entirely disappeared,
may have borne the stamp of their Scandinavian origin. We are led to
this opinion by the ruling inclination manifested by the ancient
Northmen to let their own conceptions pierce through, even in their
imitations of foreign objects. Numerous and contemporary evidences in
England itself also sufficiently prove to what a remarkable extent the
Danes must have devoted themselves to peaceful occupations, long before
the Norman conquest. In these, indeed, which relate to only a single
branch of art, the Anglo-Saxons were their teachers; still they will
show that the Danes were neither wanting in a natural capacity for art,
nor in faculty or will for its further development.

It has been stated before that the Danes, previously to the conquest of
England, were unacquainted with the art of coining money. At most they
only imitated the Byzantine coins by fabricating the (so-called)
“_Bracteates_,” which, however, were stamped only on one side, and were
for the most part used merely as ornaments. But the art of coining was
very ancient in England. It was customary among the Anglo-Saxons for the
coiners to put their names on the coins struck by them. The quantity of
Anglo-Saxon coins that has in the course of time been found and
examined, has afforded an opportunity for inspecting and comparing a
considerable number of names of coiners in England, especially from the
eighth and ninth centuries until far into the thirteenth. About Edward
the First’s time, the names of the coiners were no longer suffered to
occupy so conspicuous a place on the coins as previously.

In the eighth and ninth centuries the names of these coiners are purely
Anglo-Saxon. But in the tenth century, and especially after the year
950, pure Danish or Scandinavian names begin to appear; for instance,
Thurmod, Grim, under King Edgar (959-975); Rafn, Thurstan, under King
Edward (975-978); Ingolf, Hafgrim, and others. These Scandinavian names
are more particularly found on coins minted in the northern part of
England, or at all events in the districts that were early occupied by
the Danes to the north-east of Watlinga Stræt. But under King Ethelred
the Second (979-1013), who contended so long with Svend Tveskjæg and
Canute the Great (and consequently, therefore, before the conquest of
England by the Danes was completed), such a number of Scandinavian
coiners arose all at once, in consequence of the rapidly-increasing
power of the Danes, that the names of forty or fifty may be pointed out
on coins of Ethelred alone that have been found in different parts of
England. During the Danish dominion, Scandinavian names naturally appear
no less frequently on the coins of Canute the Great and Harald Harefoot;
nay, even after the fall of the Danish power, they are to be met with,
in almost the same number as before, on coins of the Anglo-Saxon king,
Edward the Confessor (+ A.D. 1066).

The following table exhibits, from the coins themselves, a list of fifty
names of Danish-Norwegian coiners in England that appear most frequently
from 979 to 1066; or in that period which embraced, as well as
immediately preceded and followed, the Danish dominion; together with
the names of the places in which the respective coins were minted. We
must remember, besides, that there must have been several coiners of the
same name at one and the same time. Thus, for instance, we find coins of
Ethelred bearing the name of “As-” or “Oscytel,” though minted in cities
so far distant from one another as Exeter, London, Cambridge, Leicester,
and York. Again, as it is nowhere stated that “Arncytel,” for instance,
who was coiner in York under King Ethelred, was the same man as Edward
the Confessor’s coiner in that city, it is clear that the fifty names
here given might very easily have belonged to ninety or a hundred
different persons; yet they are but a selection from a greater number.
The same difficulty, however, occurs with these names as in the previous
consideration of the Scandinavian names of places and of the popular
language; namely, that owing to the great similarity between the Saxon
and Scandinavian tribes in ancient times, it is often almost impossible
to decide with certainty what is exclusively Saxon and what
Scandinavian. But at all events, the annexed list contains, at most,
hardly more than a couple of names that might have been current in Saxon
England before the Danish conquests.


FIFTY NAMES OF DANISH-NORWEGIAN COINERS IN ENGLAND IN THE YEARS
  979-1066, CHIEFLY FROM HILDEBRAND’S “ANGLO-SAXON COINS IN THE ROYAL
  SWEDISH COLLECTION OF COINS FOUND ON SWEDISH GROUND.” (Stockholm,
  1846. 4to.)

 ┌────────────────┬────────────┬────────────┬────────────┬────────────┐
 │                │Ethelred    │Canute      │Harald      │Edward      │
 │                │  (979-1013)│  (+1035)   │  (+1040)   │  Confessor │
 │                │            │            │            │  (+1066)   │
 ├────────────────┼────────────┼────────────┼────────────┼────────────┤
 │Arncytel        │York        │York        │            │York        │
 │Arngrim         │            │York        │York        │York        │
 │Arnkil          │            │            │York,       │            │
 │                │            │            │  Stamford  │            │
 │Arnthor         │York        │            │            │            │
 │Ascil           │London      │            │            │            │
 │As, or Oscytel  │Exeter,     │            │            │            │
 │                │  London,   │            │            │            │
 │                │  Cambridge,│            │            │            │
 │                │   York,    │            │            │            │
 │                │  Leicester │            │            │            │
 │As, or Oslac    │            │London,     │            │            │
 │                │            │  Lincoln,  │            │            │
 │                │            │  Norwich   │            │            │
 │Auti            │            │            │            │London,     │
 │                │            │            │            │  Lincoln   │
 │Beorn (Björn)   │            │York        │York        │York        │
 │Cetel           │Exeter, York│Exeter, York│            │York        │
 │Colgrim         │Lincoln,    │Lincoln,    │Lincoln,    │Lincoln,    │
 │                │  York      │  York      │  York      │  York      │
 │Dreng           │Lincoln     │Lincoln     │            │            │
 │Eilaf           │York        │            │            │            │
 │Eistan          │            │            │Winchester  │            │
 │Escer           │Stamford    │            │Stamford    │            │
 │Grim            │Lincoln,    │Shrewsbury  │            │            │
 │                │  Thetford  │            │            │            │
 │Grimcytel       │            │Lincoln     │            │            │
 │Hardacnut       │            │            │Lincoln     │            │
 │Huscarl         │            │            │            │Leicester   │
 │Iric            │            │London      │            │            │
 │Jelmer (Hjalmar)│            │            │            │Lincoln     │
 │Justan, or      │            │Lincoln     │            │            │
 │  Justegen      │            │            │            │            │
 │Northman        │            │            │Lewes       │            │
 │Othgrim         │Lincoln,    │York        │            │Lincoln     │
 │                │  York      │            │            │            │
 │Othin           │            │York        │York        │York        │
 │Oustman, or     │            │York        │Winchester  │            │
 │  Ustman        │            │            │            │            │
 │Rœfen (Ravn)    │            │York        │            │            │
 │Rœienhold       │Lincoln     │            │            │            │
 │Siafuel, Sœfuhel│            │            │            │York        │
 │Scula           │            │Exeter, York│York        │York        │
 │Stgncil (Stekil)│Lincoln     │            │            │            │
 │Styrcar,        │Lincoln,    │York        │            │            │
 │  Stirceir      │  York      │            │            │            │
 │Sumerled        │Deptford,   │Lincoln,    │Lincoln     │Lincoln     │
 │                │  Nottingham,│  Norwich   │            │            │
 │                │  York,     │            │            │            │
 │                │  Lincoln   │            │            │            │
 │Swan            │            │York        │            │            │
 │Swarti          │            │Leicester,  │            │            │
 │                │            │  Lincoln   │            │            │
 │Swartgar        │York,       │            │            │            │
 │                │  Stamford  │            │            │            │
 │Sweartabrand    │            │Lincoln     │Lincoln     │            │
 │Swegen          │London,     │Leicester   │            │            │
 │                │  Leicester │            │            │            │
 │Thor            │            │            │            │York        │
 │Thorald         │Leicester   │            │            │            │
 │Thorcetel       │Torksey,    │London,     │            │            │
 │                │  Lincoln   │  Torksey   │            │            │
 │Thorstan        │York        │York,       │            │Norwich     │
 │                │            │  Stamford  │            │            │
 │Thorulf         │Chester,    │            │Stamford    │            │
 │                │  York      │            │            │            │
 │Thurcil         │            │            │            │Wilton      │
 │Thurgrim        │            │York        │York        │York        │
 │Ulfcetel        │York,       │London,     │            │York        │
 │                │  Lincoln,  │  Lincoln   │            │            │
 │                │  Norwich   │            │            │            │
 │Valrefenn       │            │            │Lincoln     │Lincoln     │
 │Widfara         │            │            │Ipswich     │            │
 │Winterfugl      │            │            │            │York        │
 │Wintrieda       │York        │            │            │            │
 └────────────────┴────────────┴────────────┴────────────┴────────────┘


Although this list cannot make any pretensions to completeness, still it
will prove, even in its present form, that these Scandinavian names
exist on coins from places in the most distant parts of England, both
south and north of Watlinga-Stræt; as well as from those most
essentially Anglo-Saxon cities, Exeter, Winchester, Wilton, Lewes, and
London. From this last circumstance, some might, perhaps, contend that
Scandinavian names were frequently borne by Anglo-Saxons, who in one way
or another were related to the Danes; and in this respect one might cite
the instance of the Anglo-Saxon Earl Godwin, whose sons—possibly by a
Danish wife—were called Harald and Svend; and it might consequently be
argued, that the proof adduced from these Scandinavian names of the
Danish capacity for skill in art is not sufficiently conclusive.

It cannot of course be denied that the Anglo-Saxons, in whose veins
there was a mixture of Scandinavian blood, sometimes bore Scandinavian
names. But as a rule, the names that have been cited must have belonged
to Danes or Northmen, and their immediate descendants. It is well known
that the Danes were settled everywhere in England, even in the southern
cities, particularly those just cited; and that, too, in considerable
numbers: as, for instance, in Exeter, where in later times there was a
St. Olave’s Church; in Winchester, which obtained a Scandinavian
“Husting;” not to speak of London. This alone affords a natural
explanation why Scandinavian coiners should be found in the south of
England; but we should further observe, that those names of coiners
about which there might be most doubt are found to the north-east of
Watlinga-Stræt. The preceding tabular view will clearly prove that they
occur especially in the old Danish part of England, in the five Danish
fortified towns, and in York. The two cities, Lincoln and York, which,
according to the statements of history, had, in the eleventh century, a
very numerous, if not preponderating, Scandinavian population, are
remarkable for having the greatest number of coiners with Scandinavian
names. Some of these names are so peculiarly Scandinavian, that we
cannot without difficulty assume them to have been borne at that time by
Anglo-Saxons. Such are “Othin” (_Anglo-Saxon_, Woden) and “Thor;” names
that did not sound well in the ears of Christians: also “Northman” and
“Ustman,” or “Östman,” by which the Anglo-Saxons designated the
Norwegians and Danes, who came from the North and East. “Östman,”
especially, was an appellation commonly given by the inhabitants of the
British Isles in those times to the Scandinavian tribes that dwelt to
the east of them.

Among other names, those of “Colgrim” and “Valrefenn” may be noticed as
frequently appearing, and as peculiar to Lincolnshire, a district
occupied in such great numbers by the Danes. Names of birds appear on
the whole to have been often assumed in the old Danish part of England.
Thus in York we find a “Ræfn,” or “Ravn” (Raven); “Siafucl,” “Sæfuhel,”
or “Söfugl” (Seafowl); “Swan” or “Svane” (Swan); and “Winterfugl”
(Winterfowl). Strangely enough, there also appears a “Sumrfugl”
(Summer-fowl) as the name of a coiner, who minted coins for the
Danish-Norwegian king Magnus the Good, in Odensee; and as English
coiners were at that time employed in Denmark, this Sommerfugl perhaps
came over from the north of England. It was, indeed, quite natural that
Denmark and the rest of the North should procure their earliest coiners
from Danish North England, where there were plenty of them of
Scandinavian origin. The English names found on the oldest Scandinavian
coins (of the first half of the eleventh century) are consequently by no
means universally Anglo-Saxon, but often Scandinavian; as Svein,
Thorbaern (Thorbjörn), Ketil, Thorkil, Othin, Thorstein, Thurgod, Thord,
and others. It is remarkable, that the names of “Sumerled” and
“Winterled,” answering to those of Sommerfugl and Winterfugl, were also
found at that time in York. Another remarkable name is that of “Widfara”
(the far-travelled), which seems to indicate either that its bearer had
come from a great distance, or had made long voyages.

These Scandinavian names, which, as I have said, are just as frequent on
coins minted immediately after, as on those struck during, or just
previously to, the Danish-English kings’ dominion, by no means cease
with Edward the Confessor (+ 1066). During Harald Godvinsön’s short
reign, we further meet with Outhgrim, Snaebeorn (or Snéebjörn),
Spraceling (Sprakeleg), Thurcil, Ulfcetel, &c.; nay, even after the
Norman conquest, and as long as it was customary to place the coiners’
names on the coins, Scandinavian names may be recognised. Thus, under
William the Conqueror (+ 1087) we find Colsvegen, Thor, Thurgrim, Jestan
(Jostein or Eistein, Justan and Justegen), Siword, Thorstan; under Henry
the First (1100-1135), Chitel (Ketil), Runcebi (Rynkeby), Spracheling,
Winterled; under Stephen (+ 1154), Ericus, Siward, and Svein; and under
Henry the Second (+ 1189), Achetil (Asketil), Colbrand, Elaf, Raven,
Svein, Thurstan, and others. A great number of these names appear in
connection with towns in the north of England; and we have thus a new
and instructive proof that the remarkable influence of the Danish
element in England, and especially in the northern part, before the
Norman conquest, was not entirely lost _after_ that conquest had long
been completely effected.

Considering the distant period in which the Danish conquests in England
fall, it is fortunate that we can obtain so many palpable evidences of
the state of domestic civilization as these coins afford; and more will
assuredly follow from the discovery of others hitherto unknown. These
coins prove much, and justify us in inferring still more. They place, as
it were, before our eyes, the earnestness with which the Danish Vikings,
and the rest of the colonists in England, must have applied themselves
shortly after their settlement, to rival the Saxons in art, and to
retrieve what they had neglected in this respect. In like manner, there
is every reason to believe that they must have devoted themselves with
no less zeal to other peaceful occupations which they had already
cultivated in their own native homes; and that thus they must have also
preserved and cherished in England, both in war and peace, that love for
poetry and history, which flourished in the homes of their ancient
forefathers, and which, on the whole, harmonized so completely with the
heroic life of the olden times in the North. It was not natural that the
deep desire which filled the Northman to enjoy posthumous fame in
chronicles, and in the songs of the poets—which left him no peace at
home, but drove him out to sea on daring expeditions—should immediately
desert him because he had removed to a foreign soil. It is expressly
related of the Normans that they cherished eloquence and poetry in a
high degree, and that they were accustomed to entertain their guests
with songs and legends. Scandinavian bards, especially from Iceland,
continued to visit the Scandinavian colonists in France, as well as in
the British Isles. As court-minstrels, they were in constant attendance
upon the Scandinavian princes in Scotland, Ireland, and England. Their
office partly was, to entertain the warriors with lays of past exploits
in the North; and, partly, to accompany the chiefs on their warlike
expeditions; that they might, as eye-witnesses, be able to sing their
heroic deeds, and by these lays convey to the North a knowledge of what
passed among the Scandinavian colonists in the western regions. When we
add that the Scandinavian kings, as, for instance, Canute the Great
himself, practised at times the art of poetry, it will be easily
perceived in what high honour the bard and his lays must have been held.

But it lay in the nature of things that a pure Scandinavian poetry could
not grow up either among the Normans in France, or their Danish kinsmen
in England. For the development of such a poetry it was necessary that
they should preserve their Scandinavian nationality intact. But it is
well known, that a foreign education and refinement soon caused them to
abandon their belief in Odin, as well as many of the habits and customs
which they had inherited from their forefathers. Of the change that took
place in them nothing bears stronger evidence than their mother tongue,
which, by degrees, lost more and more of its characteristics, and at
length passed entirely into the modern French and English languages.

The old predilection for poetry which the Normans brought with them from
the North, was reflected in many ways in their foreign refinement. Of
all France, Normandy was the country where most historical and warlike
songs were heard. The Normans sang them in battle, and derived from them
a sort of inspiration. Before the battle of Hastings, William the
Conqueror’s bard, Taillefer, recited songs about Charlemagne, Roland,
and others, to the Norman host, to cheer and enliven the warriors after
the old Scandinavian fashion; just as Thormod Kolbrunaskjald, before the
battle of Stiklestad, in Norway, (1030), sang the far-famed Bjarkemaal.
When the poetry of the Troubadours of Provence began to spread itself
throughout France, it found another home in Normandy; where it so
peculiarly developed itself, that the French troubadour poetry is
generally divided into two principal kinds, the “Provençal” and the
“Norman.” Even in Italy, where the Normans conquered fresh kingdoms,
their peculiar poetry had a perceptible and important influence on the
development of the art.

In England, likewise, there arose, partly as a consequence of the Danish
and Norman conquests, a particular kind of composition which, in
England, is called Anglo-Danish and Anglo-Norman. That all poems of this
sort were written by Danes or Normans, I do not venture to assert. All
that is meant is, that they were partly produced by the Danish and
Norman wars; and that, partly, they were the expressions of the new
adventurous and knightly spirit, which, through the Danish-Normanic
conquests, became prevalent in England. Some of the most celebrated of
them are romances about “Beowulf,” “Havelock the Dane,” and “Guy, Earl
of Warwick.” In the oldest romances, which are composed of the same
mythic materials as our Scandinavian Edda songs, and some of the Sagas
or legends, adventurous combats against dragons, serpents, and similar
plagues, are celebrated; whereas, in the later romances of the age of
chivalry, warriors are sung who had fallen in love with beautiful
damsels far above them in birth or rank, and whose hand and heart they
could acquire only by a series of brilliant adventures and exploits.
Valour, which before was exerted for the welfare of all, and for the
honour that accompanied it, now obtained a new object and a new reward,
and that was—love. The heathen poems of the Scandinavian North are all
conceived in the selfsame spirit; and it is therefore not altogether
unreasonable, perhaps, to recognise in this striking agreement traces of
a Scandinavian influence on English compositions. In later times, and
down to the middle ages, this influence is still more clearly apparent
in the before-mentioned ballads, or popular songs (p. 89), which are
only to be found in the northern, or old Danish, part of England, and
which betray such a striking likeness to our Scandinavian national
ballads.

The Danes in England do not appear to have occupied themselves with any
compositions that can be properly called historical; at all events all
remains of such composition have disappeared. It is related of the
contemporary Normans in France, that, down to the days of William the
Conqueror, they devoted themselves more to war than to reading and
writing. This, however, is not surprising, since even the Anglo-Saxon
clergy in Alfred the Great’s time, according to that monarch’s own
statement, were so ignorant and so unaccustomed to literary occupations,
that exceedingly few of them could read the daily prayers in English,
much less translate a Latin letter. Even if we should admit that the
Danes in England, by reason of their earlier and more extended
settlements there, had somewhat better opportunities for study than the
Normans in Normandy, still there is not sufficient ground to suppose
that they wrote any other chronicles than such dry annals as some few
monks, and other learned men of that time, composed. The reason of this
seems partly to have been because they preferred preserving the
remembrance of important events in historical lays; and partly, because
neither their national nor political development could proceed in a
foreign land with such freedom from all admixture, and in such
tranquillity, as to allow of more important historical works, and
especially in their mother tongue, being produced among them.

In Iceland, on the contrary, where a great number of the most powerful
and shrewdest of the heathens of Norway sought, after the year 870, a
refuge against spiritual and political oppression, and where they
founded a republic which retained its independence for centuries, the
Scandinavian spirit obtained a free field. Not only did the old bardic
lays, and the remembrance of the deeds of former times, continue to live
among the Icelandic people, but new bards arose in numbers, who,
spreading themselves over the whole north of Europe, returned “with
their breasts full of Sagas.” There also speedily arose in Iceland,
immediately after the Viking expeditions, and altogether independently
of any external influence, an historical Saga literature in the old
Scandinavian tongue, which, viewed by itself, is, from its simplicity
and elevation, extremely remarkable, but which, when compared with the
contemporary dry Latin monkish chronicles and annals in the rest of
Europe, is truly astonishing. The Edda songs, the purely historical
Sagas, the historical novels, and other peculiarly bold and original
productions of the Icelandic literature, in an age when the European
mind was singularly contracted, form, in the intellectual world,
manifestations of the same thorough individual freedom, which stamped
itself on the arms, endeavours, and whole life of the heathen Northman.

                               ----------

                              SECTION XII.

                Ecclesiastical and Secular Aristocracy.

The supposition that the Danes in England devoted themselves to study
both earlier, and to a greater extent, than the Normans in France, is
not founded only on loose conjectures. The English chronicles of the
earlier middle ages contain traces of the Danes having not unfrequently
entered into the English Church, in which they sometimes obtained the
highest preferment. On this point we still possess an important source
of information, which has, besides, the advantage of being for the most
part contemporary with the events and circumstances which it elucidates.
This consists of a considerable quantity of letters and diplomas issued
by kings, bishops, and other leading men in England, from about the year
600 to 1066. These documents, which have lately been collected and
published by a gentleman celebrated for historical research, Mr. J. M.
Kemble, (under the title of “Codex Diplomaticus Ævi Saxonici,” vol.
i.-vi., London, 1839-1848, 8vo.) more especially regard the southern and
midland parts of England, as unfortunately the greater part of the
letters relating to the north of England are lost. Nevertheless, those
that remain, taken in conjunction with the chronicles, afford valuable
information, both respecting the Danish clergy in the south-east of
England, and their diffusion throughout that country.

In the centre of the east coast of England, in Lincolnshire, and near
the Wash, stood in the Anglo-Saxon times the large and famous convent of
Croyland, or Crowland, dedicated to St. Guthlac. It was built upon an
island, and so protected on the land side by the vast morasses which in
those times covered the districts nearest the Wash, that it was a sort
of natural fortress. According to the chronicles of the convent,
compiled by one of the abbots in the eleventh century, it was governed,
shortly after the year 800, by an abbot of the name of Sivard; in whose
time there is also mentioned in the convent a priest (presbyter) named
“Turstan,” and a monk “Eskil” (Askillus monachus). In the same ancient
chronicle are also recorded several deeds of gift, which possibly, with
regard to the rights conveyed to the convent, may have been forgeries of
the times, but which, at all events, so far as regards the names of
persons and places mentioned in them, must be perfectly correct and
trustworthy; since incorrectness in these particulars would have easily
led to the discovery of the intended frauds. These deeds mention,
between the years 800 and 868, amongst the benefactors of the convent,
three viscounts in Lincolnshire, “Thorold” (or Thurold), “Norman,” and
“Sivard;” and also “Grymketil” and “Asketellus” (or Asketil), who was
cook to the Mercian king Viglaf. Lastly there appear (particularly in
the year 833) the following names of places:—Langtoft, Asuuiktoft,
Gernthorp, Holbeck, Pyncebek, Laithorp, Badby, and Kyrkeby.

The names of persons in the convent, and of places about it, here cited
are all, perhaps, or at most with a single exception, of undoubted
Danish or Scandinavian origin. They not only prove that, even long
before the treaty between Alfred the Great and the Viking King Gudrum or
Gorm, which in the year 879 secured to the Danes their conquests on the
south-east coast of England, and therefore, more than one hundred and
fifty years before Canute the Great’s time, the Danes really had such a
footing round the Wash that they could give their villages Danish names,
and were governed by their own chiefs; but they likewise indicate the
remarkable fact, that at least a great number of these Danes must have
been already Christians, since they had villages with churches (Kyrkeby)
and gave landed property to a convent, in which we find both Danish
monks (Eskil and Thurstan), and a Danish abbot (Sivard.) It was about
the same time that the Jutland king, Harald Klag, was baptized, together
with his whole suite, during a sojourn with the Emperor Ludvig, at
Ingelheim, near Mayence, in the year 826. This christening of Danish men
abroad, in Germany and England, was the beginning of the subsequent
introduction of Christianity into the Scandinavian North.

The genuineness of the above-mentioned Scandinavian names is placed
beyond all doubt by the circumstance that similar names appear in other
documents connected with the history of Croyland at the same period, or
the ninth century. In the year 867, swarms of Danish-Norwegian Vikings
landed on the east coast of England, and the Christians who then lived
there, whether Danes or Anglo-Saxons, as well as their churches and
convents, suffered from the ferocity of these heathens. After a great
battle in Lincolnshire, in which, however, the heathens lost three of
their kings, whom they buried in a place afterwards called “Trekyngham”
(the three kings’ home), they marched against Croyland. In vain did the
Christians seek to arrest their progress. In a battle near the convent
many of the Christians fell, and amongst them “Toli” or “Tule,” who had
previously been a knight, but who had now entered the cloisters of
Croyland. The Vikings stormed the convent, and committed a terrible
massacre. Their king, “Oskytyl,” cut down the abbot before the altar;
after which the convent was plundered and destroyed. The Danish Viking
Jarl Sidroc, or Sigtryg, saved a boy called Turgar (Thorgeir) from this
massacre, who afterwards escaped to the neighbouring convent of Ely, and
gave an account, which is still preserved, of this terrible devastation.
Meanwhile, however, the convent of Ely, as well as that of Medehamstede
(Peterborough), was plundered and destroyed by the Vikings.

Amongst the monks then killed in Croyland, we may cite from the
chronicle, the prior, Asker, and the friars Grimketulus (Grimketil) and
Agamundus (Amund); and among the few saved, Sveinus or Svend:—names
which, not less than Tule and Thorgeir, indicate a Danish origin. Men of
Danish extraction continued in the following centuries to play a
considerable part in the history of this and of the neighbouring
convents. A Dane named “Thurstan” is said to have rebuilt that of Ely;
and another man of Danish family, “Turketul” (Thorketil), certainly
rebuilt Croyland. Thorketil, who (it is stated) was nearly related to
the royal Saxon family, had previously distinguished himself both as a
warrior and statesman. In the battle of Brunanborg he commanded the
citizens of London who were in Athelstane’s army, and during a long
series of years was chancellor to several kings. Subsequently, however,
he took the vows of the convent, and governed Croyland with honour, as
abbot, till his death in the year 975.

It is, indeed, very striking to observe how many abbots of Danish origin
governed the convent of Croyland from the ninth to the twelfth century.
Sivard and Thorketil have been already mentioned. Thorketil was
succeeded by two of his relations, both named Egelrik; and after the
death of the last of these in 992, followed an abbot with the pure
Danish or Scandinavian name of “Oscytel.” This Asketil had long been
prior of Croyland before he became its abbot, which he continued to be
till his death in the year 1005. To what extent Asketil’s immediate
successors were Danes is at least very uncertain, as they have
Anglo-Saxon names. During the invasions of the Danish kings, however,
the convent was at times suspected of being in league with the Danes.
Canute the Great is said to have presented a chalice, and his son
Hardicanute his coronation mantle, to Croyland. Other Danes also made
similar gifts to that convent. In the year 1053 it again had an abbot
with the Danish name of Ulfketil (Wulketulus); and, what is very
significant, after the Norman conquest, the swampy districts round it
became places of refuge for the Danes and Anglo-Saxons who had in vain
fought the last battle for freedom against the victorious and advancing
Norman conquerors. One of the chief leaders in this battle was the Jarl
Valthiof, a son of the far-famed Danish Jarl, Sivard Digre (_Eng._
Sivard the Stout) of Northumberland. Valthiof, it is expressly stated,
was one of Croyland’s best benefactors and protectors. Subsequently he
made his peace with William, but was at last executed by that monarch’s
directions, and immediately buried at Winchester. Nevertheless the abbot
Ulfketil, together with his monks, obtained permission to convey
Valthiof’s body to Croyland, where many miracles were soon performed at
the shrine of the innocent and murdered martyr of freedom. Exasperated
probably by this, as well as by the refuge which their opponents found
in and about Croyland, the Normans inflicted many calamities on it, and
at length deposed the abbot Ulfketil. He was succeeded by an Englishman
with the Scandinavian name of “Ingulf,” to whom we are indebted for
having indited the ancient chronicles of the convent.

The close connection of Croyland with the Danes, as well as its Danish
monks and abbots, was a natural consequence of the convent’s being
situated in Lincolnshire, a part of England which was pretty nearly the
earliest and most numerously occupied by them. Satisfactory reasons
certainly exist even to justify us in calling this convent peculiarly a
Danish one. In consequence of its size and importance, it is highly
probable that it was one of the principal places whence the Danish
settlers in England derived their civilization. In this manner Croyland
answers in England to the convent of Bec in Normandy (from the Danish
Bæk, a small rivulet), founded by the Northmen, and afterwards very
celebrated; which also seems to have been one of the most important
nurseries for the diffusion of a higher Christian and intellectual
cultivation among the Scandinavian colonists in Normandy.

The very remarkable evidence which the history of Croyland affords of
the Christianity of the Danes in England so early as the ninth century,
is, however, by no means solitary. Before the treaty concluded between
Gorm (Gudrum) and Alfred in the year 879, the former had already been
converted, and received at his baptism the name of Athelstane. In a
somewhat later treaty concluded by the same King Gorm with Alfred’s
successor Edward, it is assumed that there must long have been
Christians among the Danes settled in East Anglia, and that they had at
all events allowed the ecclesiastical institutions to exist unmolested
among them. In the year 890 there was in Northumberland a king called
Guthred (Gutfred, Godfred?), a son of the Danish king Hardicanute, of
whom it is stated that he extended the bishopric of Durham, and
conferred on it considerable rights and privileges, which even at the
present day distinguish that see above all others in England. The coins
of Danish-Norwegian kings minted in the north of England in the ninth
and first half of the tenth century (as mentioned at p. 49), also
indicate an early conversion to Christianity; as they show both the
cross, and frequently also parts of the Christian legend: “Dominus,
dominus, omnipotens rex mirabilia fecit;” or, “The Lord, the Lord, the
Almighty King, hath performed wonderful things.”

About the year 940, Christianity must, on the whole, have had a firm
footing among the Northumbrian Danes. It would otherwise be inexplicable
how, in the wars which Edmund waged at that time with the Danish king
Anlaf, or Olaf, in Northumberland, even the Archbishop of York,
“Wulfstan,” should have sided with the Danes against the Anglo-Saxons.
Wulfstan subsequently, in the year 943, negotiated a peace between Olaf
and Edmund, whereby the latter ceded the country east of Watlinga-Stræt
to Olaf. In this treaty a great man, of Danish extraction, took part on
the Anglo-Saxon side; namely, Odo, Archbishop of Canterbury, whose
father was a Dane who had fought in the host of the Vikings against
Alfred the Great. One might almost be led to believe that Wulfstan
himself was of Danish origin, and that his name was only the Anglo-Saxon
form of the Scandinavian “Ulfsteen.” For under King Edmund’s successor,
Edred, we again find the Archbishop, together with his clergy, paying
homage to the Danish king’s son, Erik (son of Harald Blaatand?),
although he had shortly before, in common with the Northumbrians, taken
an oath of fidelity to the Anglo-Saxon king. After the murder of Erik,
King Edred caused the Archbishop to be deposed and thrown into prison;
but afterwards gave him the bishopric of Dorchester, though far removed
from the Danish possessions.

Another argument in favour of the Danish extraction of Bishop Wulfstan
(or Ulfsteen) is, that several of his successors in the archbishopric
were undoubtedly Danish; which shows that in those days such men were
chiefly elevated to that dignity, as, through their common descent and
kinsmanship, possessed an influence over the Danish population in
Northumberland; where, also, there was doubtless a great body of Danish
clergy. Contemporary with Abbot Thorketil, a certain “Oscetel,” or
Osketil, is also named as churchwarden (circeværd) in the King’s
letters-patent in the year 949; probably the same Osketil who, between
the years 955 and 970, constantly signed the King’s letters as
Archbishop of York. As Odo, the Danish Archbishop of Canterbury, lived
long after Osketil had become Archbishop of York, we are thus presented,
half a century before the reign of Canute the Great, with the singular
spectacle of the two chief ecclesiastics of England, the Archbishops of
Canterbury and York, being both of Danish extraction. Oscytel’s
successor in the archiepiscopal see of York was also a Danish man,
although he bore the Anglo-Saxon name of Oswald. He was both nearly
related to Oscytel (his “nepos”), and, moreover, a brother’s son of
Archbishop Odo; consequently descended in a direct line from the Danish
Viking, Odo’s father. This Archbishop Oswald published some laws for the
Northumbrian clergy which are still extant, and in which, according to
Danish custom, fines are computed in _marks_ and _öre_; whilst in the
rest of England they were reckoned in pounds and shillings.

As these facts lead us to suppose that, at that time, a great part of
the inferior clergy in England must have been of Danish extraction, and
particularly in Danish North and East England; it thus becomes still
clearer that the English priests or missionaries, with Scandinavian
names—as, for instance, Eskild, Grimkild, and Sigurd—who went over to
Scandinavia in the tenth century for the purpose of converting the
heathens, were, as their names show, of Danish origin, and undoubtedly
natives of the Danish part of England. Sprung from Scandinavian
families, which, though settled in a foreign land, could scarcely have
so soon forgotten their mother tongue, or the customs which they had
inherited, they could enter with greater safety than other priests on
their dangerous proselytizing travels in the heathen North; where, also,
from their familiarity with the Scandinavian language, they were
manifestly best suited successfully to prepare the entrance of
Christianity.

The rapid accession of the Danes to the highest ecclesiastical offices
in England must satisfactorily convince every impartial person how
carefully we should discriminate between the Danish or Scandinavian
Vikings, who, only for a certain period, robbed and plundered, and the
Danish colonists, who, from the beginning of the ninth century were
settled down—particularly in the east and north of England—as peaceful
Christian citizens; and whose sons soon became sufficiently accomplished
and respected to fill the highest places among the already powerful
ecclesiastical aristocracy of England. Nor should it be forgotten, that
the Danes in England, who, though fewer in number than the natives, yet
aimed at the supreme authority, were early obliged to apply themselves
to study, and to permit their sons to enter the clerical order; for, the
greater the influence they could acquire among the clergy, who at that
time held a very large share of power, the stronger and more secure
would their position become in the land of their adoption.

After having had, at least, three archbishops of Danish family during
the tenth century, it is not surprising that in the following one the
English clergy had lost a great deal of their horror for the Danes, and
were so willing to do homage to the Danish conqueror, Canute the Great,
in preference to any prince of Anglo-Saxon descent. Nor did Canute
betray their confidence. He conformed to their manners, and built
churches and convents, whilst his followers imitated his example. Under
such a state of things the English clergy must have become still more
mixed with Danes. In Canute’s time the royal letters are signed by the
abbots “Oscytel” (1020-1023) and “Siuuard” (in Abingdon, Berkshire); as
also by “Grimkytel,” bishop in Essex; and under Hardicanute, by “Sivard”
and “Grimkytel” as well as by the _diaconus_ Thurkil. Even long after
the fall of the Danish power, as, for instance, in Edward the
Confessor’s time, we still meet with many high dignitaries of the
church, with Scandinavian names; such as the abbots Sivard, Sihtric, Uvi
or Ove, abbot of St. Edmundsbury, in East Anglia, and Brand; who was
also abbot of a convent on the east coast, namely Peterborough, close to
Croyland. We further have Sitric, chaplain to the Bishop of Dorchester,
and lastly the Kentish bishop, Siward. William the Conqueror’s Doomsday
Book likewise mentions several such Danish clergymen; for instance, in
the old Danish city of Lincoln, the priests “Siuuard” and Aldene or
Haldan. In St. Edmundsbury there was still later (1157) a Danish abbot
named Hugo.

The secular nobility, or chiefs, were closely connected with the high
church dignitaries of that time. The royal letters before mentioned also
show, that whilst the Danes succeeded in placing men of their own race
amongst the highest clergy in England, they likewise procured admittance
into the ranks of the nobility, and even into the suite that surrounded
the Anglo-Saxon kings themselves. This happened not only from the Danish
chiefs frequently entering the service of the Anglo-Saxon kings, and
often marrying among the Anglo-Saxon aristocracy; but still more from
the circumstance, that certain districts became in time so strongly
occupied by the Danes, as to fall under Danish chieftains; and
consequently the Anglo-Saxon kings, inasmuch as they held dominion over
such districts, were compelled to take these chiefs into their court and
councils. History informs us that the Danish kings Halvdan and Gudrum
divided the districts they had conquered in Northumbria and East Anglia
among their followers, and thus formed there, at an early period, a
resident and wealthy Danish aristocracy.

It has been before shown that, so early as the ninth century,
Lincolnshire had had at least three Shire-greves (Sheriffs), or earls of
the shire, of Danish or Scandinavian extraction; viz., Thurold, Norman,
and Sivard. In the ninth century, indeed, as well as in the first part
of the tenth, the Danish possessions in England were almost entirely
independent of the Anglo-Saxon kings. It was at this period that the
Danish-Norwegian kings in the districts north-east of Watlinga-Stræt
minted, as independent sovereigns, the many coins before described.
There could not, consequently, have then existed in the courts of the
Anglo-Saxon monarchs so many Danish chiefs, or vassals, as when those
monarchs subsequently began to acquire dominion over the previously more
independent Danish kingdoms. Thus, among the regular followers of King
Athelstane (925-941), who subdued the Danish kingdoms in England, we
find, even before his successful expeditions into the North, not a few
Danish-Norwegian chiefs, who signed diplomas in conjunction with him,
and particularly during the years 929 to 931; namely, besides the Thane
“Syeweard” (his minister), the Jarls Urm, Gudrum, Healden or Halfdene,
Inhwær (Ingvard), Rengwald, Hadder, Haward, Scule, and Gunner. This may,
perhaps, partly confirm the statement of the chronicles, that Athelstane
availed himself of Danish warriors to suppress rebellion in his kingdom.
It is expressly stated that, at the battle of Brunanborg (treated of at
p. 34), there were Scandinavian warriors in his army; and, among the
rest, two Iceland brothers, namely, Thorolf, who fell in the battle, and
the bard, or scald, Egil Skallegrimsen, who stayed for some time with
King Athelstane, by whom he was presented with rich gifts for his lays.
It is by no means improbable that Egil entertained, with his songs, the
Scandinavian chiefs then at King Athelstane’s court.

Between the years 940 and 960, several of the above-named Jarls, as
Gunner, Scule, Haldan, and Urm, together with Grim and the chiefs, or
ministers, Thurkytel and Thurmod, continued to sign the Anglo-Saxon
letters-patent, in conjunction with their countrymen or relatives, the
Abbot Thurcytel, and Oscytel, Archbishop of York. At this time the Latin
title “dux” varies alternately with the Scandinavian title of Jarl,
which the Anglo-Saxons called “Eorl.”

With King Edgar’s reign (959-975) began a fortunate epoch for the Danish
dominion in England. Edgar himself was educated among the Danes in East
Anglia, under the care of his relative, Alfwena, dowager queen of the
converted Viking king, Gudrum, or Gorm. Hence he had early conceived
such a partiality for the Danes, that during his reign he was accused of
showing too much favour to those foreigners at the expense of the
natives. It was in his time that the two highest ecclesiastics in
England, the archbishops of Canterbury and York, were men of Danish
extraction; and to judge from the diplomas issued by him, he must
certainly have been served by several Scandinavians; for instance (959),
by the Jarl Oscytel, and by the Thanes (or ministers) Ulfkytel, Rold,
and Thurkytel. Thored, or Thured, a son of the before-mentioned Danish
jarl, Gunner, is likewise named in the chronicles as one of Edgar’s most
trusted chiefs.

The Scandinavian, or Danish aristocracy had now gradually taken such
deep root in England, that Ethelred the Second, who can scarcely have
favoured the Danes, since he was repeatedly forced by their kings, Svend
and Canute, to fly his kingdom, was even unable to remove the Danish
chiefs from about his person, and to put in their places Anglo-Saxons of
unmixed descent. In the first years of his reign there were in his
suite, as the letters-patent show, several chiefs with Scandinavian
names; as the Jarl Nordman, and the thanes Ulfkytel, Siweard, Wolfeby,
and Styr, as well as the knights (milites) Ulfkytel and Thurcytel;
whence it is clear that there must have been several chiefs of the same
name at one and the same time in his court, and particularly of the
names of Ulfkytel and Siweard. Nay, Ethelred himself was united, in
first marriage, with a queen of Danish descent; namely, Elfleda, a
daughter of the Danish chief Thured, Jarl Gunner’s son. By this at least
semi-Danish queen, he had several children, and amongst them a son, who
afterwards became the renowned Edmund Ironsides. According to the
chronicles, many powerful Danes had now obtained large fiefs even in the
southern and western parts of England; as, for instance, the Jarl
Paling, who was married to Gunhilde, a sister of the Danish king, Svend
Tveskjæg, and who had extensive fiefs in Devonshire. This Paling, or
Palne, however, to judge from the name, was probably the celebrated
Scandinavian hero Palnetoke, whose possessions are said to have lain in
that district.

The Danes were now so spread over the whole of England, that the Danish
invaders were sure of finding support in almost every corner of it; and
Ethelred consequently saw that, if their power was not crushed at once,
the Anglo-Saxon dominion was threatened with imminent ruin. But it was
too late. The secret massacre planned by him in the year 1002 was far
from sufficing to annihilate, even in South England, the numerous traces
of Danish influence; and to North England, as is well known, it did not
extend. Even after the slaughter, we continue to find in the royal
letters-patent nearly the same Scandinavian names of chiefs as before:
such as Siward, Styr, Ulfkytel, Nordman, and the knights Ulfkytel and
Thurkytel. The Icelandic scald, or bard, Gunlaug Ormstunge, also
remained some time afterwards with Ethelred, just as Egil Skallegrimsen
had before resided at the court of King Edgar, a monarch favourably
disposed towards the Danes. The old chronicles also mention a powerful
chief of Danish extraction who was in Ethelred’s army after the
massacre. This was Thorketil, surnamed Myrehoved (Ant-head); and,
according to the same chronicles, a Dane named Ulfketil Snilling,
sheriff or earl in East Anglia, was even married to Ethelred’s own
daughter Ulfhilde!

Thus, even before the conquest by Canute the Great, Danish families had
frequently ingrafted themselves on the families of the Anglo-Saxon
nobility; nay, even on the royal family itself. After that conquest the
line of demarcation between the Danes and Anglo-Saxons cannot have been
so strongly drawn as is generally imagined. Thus the descriptions given
in the Sagas of the bold chiefs of the heathen North, as being also
shrewd, amiable, and eloquent men, gain more and more credibility; and
we cannot help admiring the ability and manliness which enabled the
heathen Danish chiefs, and their immediate Christian successors, to
maintain their difficult position against a hostile aristocracy, and, in
spite of it, gradually to extend their power in the very midst of
Anglo-Saxon England. Nay, they not only maintained their ground as the
equals of the Anglo-Saxons, but soon became their superiors. The
weakness and depravity of the Anglo-Saxon nobles under the reign of
Ethelred were the best proof that their day was past. Faintheartedness,
bordering very closely on cowardice, want of union, treachery, and every
other vice, reigned no less among the chiefs than among their
dependents. Luxury and effeminacy had usurped the place of the old
Anglo-Saxon simplicity and vigour. Scarcely any great men appeared among
them, notwithstanding the urgent need that there was for such
characters. Even the greatest of their few warriors, Edmund Ironsides,
was, as we have seen, of Danish descent on the mother’s side.

We may almost say that England was the spoil of the Danes before Canute
came over and seized the sceptre. What a contrast does Canute the Great,
with his proud jarls and chiefs, present to the weak Anglo-Saxons! What
vigour was at once developed in the government! What bravery was
displayed in the field!

Canute the conqueror must, from motives of gratitude alone, if not for
other reasons, have rewarded his Danes, and especially his chiefs, with
landed estates, large fiefs, and lucrative posts of honour. He divided
all England into four earldoms (Jarledömmer):—Wessex, the most Saxon
part of England, he himself took, as being the most dangerous and
hostile district. Mercia, or the middle part of England, which was half
Saxon and half Danish, he gave to Edrik Streon, who was in favour with
the mixed population there, possibly because, as the proverb runs, he
wore his cloak on both shoulders. The Danish districts of Northumbria
and East Anglia he assigned to his companion in arms, the Norwegian
jarl, Erik, and the Danish jarl, Thorkil the Tall. Thorkil, meanwhile,
had married King Ethelred’s daughter, Ulfhilde, after her first husband,
Ulfkytel, had fallen in the battle of Ashingdon. A number of smaller
fiefs in different parts of England were made over, in a similar way, to
Danish warriors of lower rank. Canute increased, moreover, the number of
his guards of Scandinavian Huskarle, or _Thingmen_, of whom his
forefathers had already availed themselves; and drew up for them a
special code of laws, of such severity, that even the king himself could
not infringe them with impunity. These Huskarle, or body-guards, being
thus totally separated from the English by a peculiar system of law,
became, in consequence, a really firm support for the kings. This
Huskarle law, called Witherlagsretten, remained in force in the Danish
court long after Canute’s time.

The letters-patent issued by Canute show him surrounded by a great
number of Danish or Norwegian chieftains. Among the signatures we find
the names of men celebrated in history, such as “Thurkil hoga,” “Yric,”
or “Iric,” jarls in East Anglia and Northumberland; Ulf, Canute’s
brother-in-law, and father of King Svend Estridsen of Denmark; and also
Hacun, a sister’s son of Canute, and for a long time jarl in
Worcestershire. All of these met a tragical fate. Thorkil and Erik had
to wander in exile; Ulf was killed by Canute’s order in Roeskilde; and
Hagen, after many vicissitudes of fortune, perished on a voyage to
Norway, where Canute had appointed him Stadtholder. Besides these we
find named the jarl Eglaf or Ælaf (probably the leader of the
_Thingmen_), Eilif Thorgilson, the jarls Haldenne (“princeps regis”),
Ranig (Rane), Thrym, Siuard, Suuegen, Svend (1026), Tosti (1026),
Sihtric, and others. Among the Thanes (ministri), appear Aslac, Tobi,
Acun (Hagen), Boui (Bue), Toui, Siward, Haldan, Thurstan, Thord,
Hastin(g), Broðor, Tofig, and several others; and among the knights
(milites), Thord, Thirkil, Thrim, Broðor, Tokig, Ulf, and Siward.
Several of Canute’s chieftains, according to the genuine old
Scandinavian custom, had surnames, mostly taken from their personal
appearance; as, besides “Thurcyl hoga,” we find Thurcyl hwita (white),
Thurcyl blaca (black), Thoui hwita, Toui reada (red), and Haldan scarpæ
(Halfdan the Sharp). A letter dated in the year 1033, is signed among
others, by the chiefs: Jarl Siward, Osgod Clapa, Toui Pruda, Thurcyl,
Harald, Thord, Halfden, Rold, Swane, Orm, Ulfkitel, Ketel, Gamal, and
Orm; and as the document relates to some land in Yorkshire, it is
probable that many of these Danish chieftains dwelt in that old Danish
district. A powerful Dane, named Ulf, a son of Thorald, is named as of
York in Canute’s time. He gave many estates to the cathedral there,
together with a carved horn, by way of conveyance or title-deed, which
is still preserved in the cathedral under the name of “Ulph’s horn,” or
“the Danish horn.” This Ulf is possibly the knight of that name before
mentioned. A similar horn is said to have been given by Canute the
Great, with some landed property, to the family of Pusey, of Berkshire.

Under Canute’s immediate successor, Harald Harefoot, as well as under
Hardicanute, the power and grandeur of the Danish chieftains continued
steadily to increase. Many besides those just mentioned are spoken of in
letters of Hardicanute’s reign; and above all the celebrated Danish jarl
Siward, surnamed Digre, who in the year 1040 became jarl in
Northumberland. We also meet with the jarl Thuri; the thanes Urki,
Atsere (Adzer), and Thurgils; the knight Ækig (Aage); and, in the
chronicles, Styr and Thrand. Lastly, Osgod Clapa, and Toui Pruda are
mentioned in the history of Hardicanute, but on a mournful occasion. It
was at the marriage festival which Osgod Clapa made for his daughter and
Toui Pruda, that Hardicanute had a stroke of apoplexy, from which he
never recovered. Some, therefore, are of opinion that the marriage did
not take place at Lambeth (see p. 20,) but at Clapham (Clapa-ham, or
Clapa’s home), in Surrey, to the south of Kennington, which now forms
part of London.

As long as their supremacy lasted, the Danes must naturally have behaved
as conquerors in the land which they had subdued. Their innate love of
splendour and profusion found ample nourishment, whilst at the same time
their pride was flattered, by the subjugation of the Anglo-Saxons. The
old English chroniclers complain bitterly of the severe humiliations
which the natives were compelled to endure. If, for instance,
Anglo-Saxons met a Dane upon a bridge, they were obliged to stand still,
and make low bows; nay, even if they were on horseback, they must
dismount, and wait till the Dane had passed. At the same time the
Anglo-Saxon nobility gradually lost the many fiefs and lucrative posts
of honour which had formerly been in their possession, but which were
now transferred to their powerful conquerors. But what really injured
the Anglo-Saxon aristocracy more than anything else, was the wise and
conciliatory policy of Canute the Great, which, by extinguishing the
hatred between the Anglo-Saxons and Danes, amalgamated the aristocracy
of the two nations to such a degree that the Anglo-Saxon nobility at
length existed only in name, having become by imperceptible degrees more
than half Danish. A contrary method of proceeding, a violent and
sanguinary oppression of the Anglo-Saxon aristocracy, would, perhaps, in
some respects, have been more serviceable to them, as it would have
inflamed their hatred, and provoked them to a desperate resistance; and
would thus have incited them to keep themselves free from the intrusion
of all foreign admixture.

As the matter stood, the Danish power apparently gave way to the
Anglo-Saxon dominion; but, in reality, it was little more than the name
that was changed. It is said, indeed, that the new Anglo-Saxon king,
Edward the Confessor, some years after his accession (in 1048), expelled
the great Danish chiefs and their descendants from his court, and drove
them into exile; as, for instance, Osgod Clapa, sheriff of Middlesex,
and Asbjörn, a brother of King Svend Estridsen of Denmark, whose second
brother Björn, a jarl in the west of England, had shortly before been
killed by the jarl Svend Godvinsön. He also banished Canute the Great’s
niece, Gunhilde. By her first marriage with her cousin, Hagen Jarl,
Stadtholder of Norway, Gunhilde had a daughter named Bothilde; by her
second with Harald, a son of Thorkil the Tall, who also succeeded to the
Stadtholdership, she had two sons, Hemming and Thorkil. Gunhilde went
into exile with her sons by way of Bruges in Flanders, and thence to her
relatives in Denmark.

Nevertheless the signatures to Edward’s letters-patent prove that this
king, alleged to have been so favourably disposed towards the
Anglo-Saxons, must have had many chiefs of Danish extraction about his
person, even after this expulsion of the Danes; nay, even to the day of
his death. We need not look for them among the “Huskarle,” or
body-guards, alone, amongst whom are named Thurstan and Urk; for
Huskarle with Scandinavian names are mentioned at a still later period
in England; and we find, under William the Conqueror (1071), Eylif
Huscarl, and, even in 1230, Roger Huscarl. Even in King Edward’s suite,
and occupying considerable offices, were such men as “Atsere Swerte
(Adser the black), Atsur röda (Adser the red), Eiglaf (Eylif), Guðmund,
Ulfketil, Thord, Siward, Thurstan, Harold, Turi, Yrc (Erik), Anschitil
(Osketil), Tofi, Neuetofig, Esgar, Ingold, Tosti, Thorgils, Wagen, Ulf
Tofis sune, Askyl Toke’s sune, Jaulf Malte’s sune.” Also the knights
Esbern (Asbjörn) and Siward, together with several others, the greater
part of whose names appear in letters that were issued after the
expulsion of the Danes in 1048. Many of the royal fiefs were still in
the hands of Danes. Jarl Siward Digre governed the extensive district of
Northumberland with the same power and influence as before, till his
death in the year 1055. Somersetshire, lying far towards the west in the
Saxon part of England, had a sheriff (vice-comes) named “Touid,” or
“Tofig,” who can scarcely have been an Anglo-Saxon. We find a person
named “Toli” filling the same high office in East Anglia; as well as in
Huntingdonshire a “Tuli;” in Hamptonshire, a “Norman;” in Lincolnshire a
“Marlesuuein.” Northmen, or at least chiefs of Scandinavian origin,
filled the highest posts at Edward’s court. Between the years 1060 and
1066, a letter mentions the following royal chiefs, or “Hofsinder:”
“Jaulf, Agamund, Ulf, Wegga (Viggo), Locar (Loke), and Hacun.” In one of
Edward’s letters, dated 1062, the following names appear:—“Esgarus,
regiæ procurator aulæ;” “Bundinus, regis palatinus;” “Adzurus, regis
dapifer;” “Esbernus princeps;” “Siwardus princeps;” “Hesbernus regis
consanguineus.” These are all pure Danish names, viz., Esgar, or Asgier,
Bonde, Adser, Asbjörn, and Sivard. The different Latin titles here given
to Esgar, Bonde, and Adser, are translated in contemporary letters by
one and the same word, “steallere” or “stalre.” The dignity of “Staller”
was also, as is well known, an established one in the courts of the
Scandinavian kings, at all events after the time of Canute the Great.
The Staller was superintendent of the court, or a sort of High Steward,
and attended the “Thing” meetings for the king, but more particularly in
cases which concerned the court. From an English diploma, dated
1060-1066, and signed by “Esegar steallere,” “Bondig steallere,” and
“Roulf steallere,” we see that there were several “Stallers” at the same
time in England; which certainly arose from the Stallers being also the
king’s commissaries.

The last-named, “Roulf steallere,” is probably the Ralph so much in
favour with King Edward, and who was a son of Edward’s sister and a
Norman nobleman. Another Staller of Norman descent is mentioned in
letters of the years 1044 and 1065, namely, Roldburtus, or Rodbertus,
son of Winwarc. Indeed Norman names begin to be frequent in Edward’s
letters-patent; for, as a consequence of the favour which he bore
towards the Normans, many of whom he gradually placed in the highest
posts of honour in England, there quickly grew up by the side of the
pure Danish elements, what may be called a half-Danish or
half-Scandinavian influence from Normandy, which was soon to supplant
the Danish power, as well as annihilate once for all the apparent
dominion of the Anglo-Saxons in England. Thus Edward’s reign was clearly
only a state of transition from the Danish to the Norman dominion; a
national Anglo-Saxon reign it could not well be called.

How, indeed, should Edward have been able to maintain, or rather to
reinstate upon the throne of England a purely national Anglo-Saxon line,
after it had long been broken by the Danes? Edward’s own race may, in a
manner, be said to show how weak and irretrievably declining was the
Anglo-Saxon element. Edward himself was a son of the Norman princess,
Emma, and thus brother-in-law to the Danish jarl, Thorkil the Tall, who
had married his sister Ulfhilde, widow of the Danish jarl Ulfketil
Snilling; he was half-brother to his predecessor on the throne, the
Danish king Hardicanute; and he was married to Editha, daughter of Jarl
Godwin, by his second wife, Gyda, who, being a daughter of the Jarl
Thorkil Sprakaleg, nephew of the Danish king Harald Blaatand, was of
Danish descent. Godwin, moreover, in his first marriage, is said to have
espoused a Danish woman, a daughter of Svend Tveskjsæg, and sister to
Canute the Great. Thus Edward the Confessor’s queen, Editha, and her
well-known brothers Svend, Harald, Gurth, and Toste, who, both during
and after Edward’s reign, played a highly remarkable part in English
history, were on the mother’s side of Danish extraction, of which the
Scandinavian names of Godwin’s sons bear sufficient evidence. It was
partly also in consideration of this Scandinavian kinsmanship that Toste
sought assistance in Denmark and Norway against his brother, King
Harald; and that afterwards (in the year 1066), both Toste’s son, Skule,
and Harald’s son, Edmund, fled to Scandinavia—the former through Orkney
to Norway, the latter straight to Denmark—after their fathers had
fallen, within a short period, in the battles of Stamford Bridge and
Hastings. It is remarkable enough that Godwin’s race should return to,
and even flourish in, that same Scandinavian North whence, on the
mother’s side, it had sprung. Toste’s son, Skule, married in Norway
Gudrun, a daughter of Harald Haardraade’s sister, and became by her the
progenitor of so mighty a race, both of jarls and kings, that their
branches extended over the whole of Scandinavia.

[Illustration: [++] Gravestone: Magnus]

During the last period of the declining house of the Anglo-Saxon kings,
we further meet with the Scandinavian names of Guttorm, Hagen, and
Magnus. The name of Magnus, borne by King Harald Godvinsön’s youngest
son, was introduced into Norway through a mistake. It is related that a
son having been born one night to King Olaf (Saint Olaf), no one dared
to awake the King and inform him of it. The child, however, being very
weakly, the priest Sighvat Skjaldt took upon himself to baptize it, and
called it Magnus, after “the best man in the world,” Karl Magnus, or
Charlemagne; probably in the belief that the Latin word _magnus_, which
was only the Emperor Charles’ surname, was a real name. The boy grew up,
and afterwards became king of Norway, where he was usually called
“Magnus the Good.” Magnus’s grave is said to have been discovered in St.
John’s Church, in the town of Lewes, in Sussex. In the new church, which
has lately been built on the site of the old one, has been preserved,
and built into the wall, the monumental stone, which bears the following
inscription:—

    “Clauditur hic miles Danorum regia proles; Mangnus nome(n) ei Mangne
    nota progeniei. Deponens Mangnum, se moribus induit agnum P(re)pete
    p(ro) vita fit parvulus arnacorita.”

Or, “Here lies a warrior (or knight) of the royal Danish race; his name,
Mangnus, is the mark of his great descent. Laying aside his greatness he
adopted the habits of a lamb, and exchanged his busy life for that of a
simple hermit.”

That this Magnus, “of the royal Danish race,” was the son of the Harald
Godvinsön lately mentioned (whose mother Gyda, it is true, was of the
Danish royal family) is, however, a mere conjecture. An older legend
states that he was a Danish chief, or commander, taken prisoner by the
English in a sanguinary battle near Lewes, and who, being well treated,
afterwards laid aside his sword, and became a hermit at that place. (See
Lower, in “Transactions of the British Archæological Association at its
second Congress at Winchester,” pp. 307-310.) It may, perhaps, be most
probable that he was one of those scions of the Danish aristocracy that
remained in the south of England after the Norman conquest had
overthrown the supremacy of the Danish chiefs in that part.

It was in the south of England, where William the Conqueror first
established his power, that the Norman nobility obtained their earliest
possessions. In the midland and northern districts, on the contrary, it
was neither easy to subdue the country, nor to annihilate entirely the
Danish aristocracy, which had completely coalesced with the essentially
Danish population. Long after the conquest, therefore, the Danish chiefs
continued to preserve their independence, or at least their influence,
in those parts. A remarkable instance of this, though taken only from a
single district, is afforded by William’s own “Domesday-Book,” drawn up
about twenty years after the conquest. In this, under the head of
Lincolnshire, are mentioned the great persons who possessed the right of
administering justice on their estates, together with other privileges
belonging to noblemen, such as sacam and socam, and Tol and Thiam; and
among them are found “Harald Jarl; the Jarl Waltef (Valthjof); Radulf
Jarl; Merlesuen; Turgot; Tochi, son of Outi; Stori (Styr); Radulf
“stalre;” Rolf, son of Sceldeware; Harold ”stalre;“ “Siuuard barn;” Achi
(Aage), son of Sivard; Azer, son of Sualena; Outi, son of Azer; Tori,
son of Rold; Toli, son of Alsi; Azer, son of Burg; “Uluuard uuite;” Ulf;
Haminc (Hemming); Bardt; Suan, son of Suane.” Now even if it be certain
that several of these chiefs were Normans, particularly since the Norman
names at that time still preserved their primitive Scandinavian form,
yet it is clear that most of them were Danish-English. It is to be
regretted that Domesday-Book does not comprise the ancient
Northumberland, as that district would certainly have afforded more
names of Danish chieftains than even the old Danish Lincolnshire; for
the Danish aristocracy were never driven out or entirely subdued in
those parts; but rather must have amalgamated in the course of time with
their countrymen, the Norman nobility, until the latter by degrees
gained the ascendancy. This is at once shown by the notorious fact that
neither William the Conqueror, nor his immediate successors, obtained
such mastery over the north of England and its Danish population, as
over the rest of that country; since the inhabitants of the north
fought, with the bravery inherited from their forefathers, for their
Danish chiefs, and for their peculiar, and partly Danish, institutions,
manners, and customs.

                               ----------

                             SECTION XIII.

          The Danelag.—Holmgang, or Duel.—Jury.—The Feeling of
                                Freedom.

The Anglo-Saxons were the teachers of the Danes in several ways; above
all they made them Christians, and thus communicated to them a new and
higher civilization. The Danes in England reaped advantage from the
civilization of the Anglo-Saxons, just as the Anglo-Saxons themselves
had once begun their own, by building on that refinement which their
predecessors, the Romans, had disseminated in England.

But as the Anglo-Saxons did not become Romans, because they adopted and
remodelled the Roman civilization; nor the Normans in Normandy
Frenchmen, because after their settlement in France they soon assumed
many of the French manners and customs; so neither did the Danes in
England become Anglo-Saxons, however much they might have been indebted
to them for their civilization. The Normans in France retained, in spite
of their Christianity and French refinement, the characteristic stamp of
their Scandinavian origin, which afterwards caused them to play quite a
peculiar part in history. In like manner the Danes in England, amidst
the refinements of the Anglo-Saxons, undoubtedly preserved many of their
Scandinavian characteristics, which did not disappear without leaving
visible and very remarkable traces. But the Scandinavian spirit stamped
itself, though perhaps only apparently, in a somewhat different manner
on the Norman race in Normandy, and on the Danes in England.

Among the Normans in France the Scandinavian spirit worked, so to speak,
only outwardly, in magnificent conquests, of which the chief theatres
were England, Italy, and Sicily. Chivalry and feudalism, with their
crusades, communicated a new impulse to it; but, internally, it effected
comparatively little for France. It did not manifest itself in Normandy
by forming political institutions capable of supplanting the oldest and
most essential French laws and constitutions; nor, indeed, are we able
to point out with exactness what really Scandinavian customs the Normans
established in that country. Yet it can scarcely be doubted that they
introduced there trial by jury, as well as trial by battle, and other
Scandinavian legal institutions.

In England, on the other hand, the northern character showed itself so
far outwardly active as to exercise a vast and unmistakable influence on
her commerce and navigation, and on the bold and adventurous spirit of
enterprise among her people; which, though at a much later period than
the conquests of the Normans, has nevertheless extended her dominion
over every sea. But in England it has also been internally a living and
guiding spirit, in the formation of her judicial and political
institutions. It is an incontrovertible and notorious fact, which has,
however, hardly been sufficiently insisted upon, that about half of
England—the so-called “Danelag,” or community of the Danes—was for
centuries subject to Danish laws; that these laws existed even after the
Norman conquest; and that they did not pass into the general or common
law of England, till the successors of William the Conqueror at last
united into a whole the various discordant parts into which England had
been previously divided. When we remember that the Normans long retained
a predilection for old Scandinavian institutions and forms of
judicature, it seems highly probable that the Danish laws, which had for
so long a period prevailed in England, did not disappear under their
sway without the new laws, which they established, deriving from the old
a particular colour, and certain Scandinavian stamp. A further
examination of this point will scarcely be superfluous, as it will
enable us to judge how far those are right who, in company with one of
England’s most celebrated statesmen (Sir R. Peel, in a speech in
Parliament), are proud that “the Danes tried in vain to overthrow the
institutions of England, instead of securing them;” and then reproach
the Danes that, on the whole, they did not, after all their devastating
expeditions, establish anything new, great, and durable.

The population of the heathen North, as was the case everywhere else at
that period, was divided into serfs and freemen. Even after the
introduction of Christianity, many centuries elapsed in all countries
before thraldom was abolished, and the worth of man, as man, generally
recognised. The serf was always regarded more as an animal than as a
human being. The freeman, on the contrary, enjoyed a high degree of
civil liberty. He was not only uncontrolled master in his own house, and
among his nearest dependents, but likewise exercised an important
influence on the management of the public concerns of his own district
and of his country. He took part in the decision of law cases in the
“Thing,” and gave his vote at the great “Thing,” where the election of a
monarch, war, treaties of peace, and other important matters, came under
consideration. Scandinavia was, besides, in ancient times, divided into
a number of small kingdoms; and the smaller these were, so much the
greater was the individual freeman’s power and importance.

The old inhabitants of the North entertained, therefore, a sincere
affection for those institutions which gratified their proud feeling of
freedom. Personal participation in the administration of justice, at a
time when written laws did not exist, must have made every freeman a
lawyer and a zealous defender of existing institutions, especially so
far as regarded the main point, namely, the freedom they ensured. A
general knowledge of the laws was still further promoted by the innate
love of the Northmen for disputes and law-suits. Respect for the law was
speedily carried to such an extent, and in the administration of justice
at the _Things_ old established customs and usages were so strictly
observed, that the slightest formal flaw was sufficient to ensure the
rejection even of the most important cause. How deeply rooted the old
national law was, is best shown by the fact that the Roman law, which
had been adopted in the greater part of Europe, could never gain the
supremacy in the countries of Scandinavia. The present Scandinavian law
is by no means the offspring of any foreign code, but is founded on, and
independently developed from, the law which already existed in the North
in the days of heathenism.

The powerful warriors, who in those remote times emigrated from the
North, were, for the most part, men no less high-spirited and fond of
freedom than their fathers before them. The old chronicles state, that
among the warriors who came over to England with the conquerors Svend
and Canute, there was not a single serf. The history of Iceland shows,
even at an earlier period, that most of the colonists who went thither
were descendants of kings, jarls, and other of the most powerful freemen
of the North. These emigrants did not leave their paternal home because
they were dissatisfied with their ancient hereditary rights and
liberties, but because those rights and liberties were gradually
threatened with restriction, and even annihilation, by ambitious and
absolute monarchs. It was this that led them to undertake the conquest
of foreign lands, and thus to acquire a freedom which might indemnify
them for what they had been compelled to relinquish.

It is therefore no wonder that the Scandinavian colonists introduced
their national laws, which had always proved the surest defence of their
liberties, at once and completely both into countries previously
uninhabited, and into those from which the ancient inhabitants were
expelled by their invasions. This was the case, for instance, in
Greenland, the Faroe Isles, the Shetland Isles, and the Orkneys. But
with regard to freedom they even went still further than in Scandinavia,
and sometimes abolished the regal power, whose caprices and dangers they
had learned to appreciate and fear, and founded republics in its place.
Even in countries like France and England, where a large and civilized
population, possessing a complete system of national law, previously
existed—and where the Scandinavian colonists, till they became strong
enough to assume the authority of masters, were for a long time inferior
both in numbers and power—they adhered immovably to their ancient legal
customs, and caused them to be observed, in spite of Christianity, and
of that foreign civilization which they themselves soon adopted. But it
was at the same time a natural result of this state of things, that they
were neither able to introduce into such countries _all_ the ancient
legal usages of Scandinavia, nor, generally speaking, _any_ law of a
comprehensive character, without adapting it to the peculiar situation
which they, as conquerors and strangers, now occupied in regard to the
natives and their existing institutions.

A strong proof, not only of the affection of the Danes for their
Scandinavian institutions, but of the complete settlement of that people
in England at a very early period, is, that in the beginning of the
tenth century, and consequently more than a hundred years before the
time of Canute the Great, they had already established their own laws on
the east coast of England, notwithstanding that Christianity, as before
stated, had gained a footing amongst them. It appears, from the
remarkable treaty concluded at that time between Kings Edward and
Gudrum, that the Danes settled in East Anglia, and on the eastern coast
of England, were not only placed on an equal footing with the English
with regard to legal rights, but that it was also determined how
disputes between the English and Danes should be decided, and what fine
each people should pay for certain crimes. Thus the English were to pay
“_wite_,” or fines, according to the English law, in pounds and
shillings; whilst the Danes were to make compensation for “_lah-slit_”
(i. e., _infraction of the law_, from the old Norsk, _lög_, law, and
_slita_, to rend in two, break), according to the Danish law, in “marks”
and “ores.”

About the same time the chronicles testify that the “five burghs”
occupied by the Danes in the heart of England, together with large
districts both in the east and north, were subject to Danish laws. The
Anglo-Saxon king Edgar (959-975) says, in a passage of his laws (cap.
12), which shows his partiality for the Danes, “Then will I that with
the Danes such good laws stand as they may best choose, and as I have
ever permitted to them, and will permit so long as life shall last me,
for their fidelity, which they have ever shown me.” He likewise says in
the next chapter, where mention is made of a fixed punishment: “Let the
Danes chuse, according to their laws, what punishment they will adopt.”

From this state of things, it happened that four different sorts of law
were in force in four different parts of the kingdom. Farthest towards
the west, where the remnant of the ancient Britons dwelt, the Welsh law
was in force; among the West Saxons, the West-Saxon law; in Mercia, the
Mercian law; and in the so-called Danelag, or country to the north-east
of Watlinga-Stræt, the Danish law. Of these four systems of law, the
Danish, beyond comparison, most prevailed. Its decrees were in later
times constantly recognised, not only by Ethelred (not to speak of the
Danish kings), but by Edward the Confessor and William the Conqueror,
whose laws usually treat of the “Danes-law” (Dene-lahe), with its fines,
or “_lah-slit_,” in marks and ores. Even in the laws promulgated by
Henry the First (1100-1135), it is stated (vi. § 1), that England is
divided into three parts, Wessex, Mercia, and the province of the Danes.
(“Regnum Anglie trifariam dividitur in regno Britannie, in Westsexiam,
et Mircenos, et Danorum provinciam.”) And it is further said (§ 2), that
the law of England falls into three parts, according to the above
division, viz., the West Saxon, the Mercian, and the Danish law, or
Denelaga. (“Legis eciam Anglice trina est particio, ad superiorem modum;
alia enim Westsexie, alia Mircena, alia Denelaga est.”)

A cursory view of these different laws will soon show, both that
Scandinavian words and juridical terms were employed in the _Danelag_,
and that by degrees, but mostly in the time of Canute the Great and
William the Conqueror, they were introduced into the common laws of
England: as, for instance, “hor-qwene” (Hoerquinde; _Eng._, adultress),
“nam,” “halsfang,” “heimillborch,” (Hjemmelborg), “husting,” and others.
For the rest, it is natural that most traces of the old Scandinavian
institutions should be found in the districts to the north-east of
Watlinga-Stræt.

The Danes settled there had from the beginning several chiefs with the
title of king, who were for the most part independent of the Anglo-Saxon
kings, and reigned by means of their jarls and the chiefs to whom they
had portioned out the conquered land. These numerous small kingdoms were
afterwards subdued by the Anglo-Saxons, and converted into Earldoms. A
peculiar sort of Danish chiefs or Udallers (“_holdas_,” from the old
Norsk _hölldr_), is mentioned in East Anglia, who, like the Norwegian
“Höldar,” or “Odelsmænd,” held their properties by a perfectly free
tenure. It is probable that the original Udallers were the chief
leaders, or generals, of the Danish conquerors settled in East Anglia.
From the fines fixed for the murder of such “holdas,” it is plain that
they held a very high rank. The old Scandinavian name for a peasant,
“_Bonda_,” was also disseminated in the north of England. There, as in
Scandinavia, the peasants undoubtedly constituted the pith of the landed
proprietary. The names of places in the north of England beginning or
ending with _garth_ (or _Gaard_), such as Watgarth (_Vadegaard_, on the
river Tees), Grassgarth, Hall Garth, Garthorpe, Garthwaite, and others,
show that the peasants, as in Scandinavia, were settled in _Gaarde_, or
farms, which belonged indeed to the before-mentioned “_holdas_”
(“_Odelsmænd_”), or other feudal lords; but which nevertheless seem, in
some degree, to have been the property of the peasants, on condition of
their paying certain rents to their feudal lords, and binding themselves
to contribute to the defence of the country. Other landed proprietors,
or agriculturists, with pure Scandinavian names, appear in Cheshire
under the appellation of “_drenghs_” or _Drenge_.

The Danes and Norwegians in North England settled their disputes and
arranged their public affairs at the _Things_, according to Scandinavian
custom. The present village of Thingwall (or the _Thing-fields_), in
Cheshire, was a place of meeting for the _Thing_; and not only bore the
same name as the old chief _Thing_ place in Iceland, but also as the old
Scandinavian _Thing_ places, “Dingwall,” in the north of Scotland;
“Tingwall,” in the Shetland Isles; and “Tynewald,” or “Tingwall,” in the
Isle of Man. There were incontestably in the Danish parts of England
certain larger or common Thing-meetings for the several districts, which
were superior to the _Things_ of separate ones; and it may even be a
question whether traces of them are not to be found in the division into
_Ridings_, at present used only in Yorkshire, but which formerly
prevailed also in Lincolnshire. Originally these divisions had not the
name of _reding_ or _riding_, which they did not obtain till later, and
undoubtedly through a misconception. Yorkshire is at the present time
divided into the North, East, and West Ridings; and, according to
Domesday-Book, Lincolnshire also was (about the year 1080) divided into
Nort-treding, Westreding, and Sudtreding; consequently, like Yorkshire,
into three parts. These divisions were called by the Anglo-Saxons
“Þriding,” or “Thriting.” Now, as they were foreign to the Anglo-Saxons,
whose historians did not even know how to explain their origin, and as
they also appear exclusively in the two most Danish districts in
England, it is surely not unreasonable to seek their origin in
Scandinavian institutions, in which a simple and natural explanation of
them may certainly be found. In Scandinavia, and particularly in the
south of Norway, provinces or Fylker (petty kingdoms), were not only
divided into halves (hálfur) and fourths (fjórðjungar), but also into
thirds, or _Tredinger_ (Þriðjungar), which completely answer to the
North-English “thrithing.” It was, moreover, precisely to the
_Tredings-things_ that all disputed causes were referred from the
smaller district _Things_.

It is more doubtful whether we may ascribe to the Danes alone the
introduction of the word “Wapentake” (_Vaabentag_), as the peculiar
designation for a district. In the northern counties of England, viz.,
Northamptonshire, Nottinghamshire, Lincolnshire, and Yorkshire, this
term is still used instead of the customary one of “Hundred.” Yet there
is some probability that it may have been derived from the circumstance
that the Danes, like the ancient inhabitants of the North in general,
elected their chiefs, and signified their assent to any proposition at
the _Things_, by Vaabentag, or Vaabenlarm (sound, or clang of arms).
Vaabentag (Wapentake) might thus have become the name of a small
district, having its own chief and its own _Thing_. A law of King
Ethelred’s (see Thorpe, _Leges et Instit. Anglo-Sax._, Glossary,
_Lahman_), which seems to have been promulgated only for the five Danish
burghs, and the rest of the Danish part of England, orders that there
shall be in every Wapentake a _Gemot_ or _Thing_. It is at all events
very remarkable, that the division into Wapentakes should exist only in
old Danish North England.

In the towns occupied by the Danes, as in the five burghs—or, if Chester
and York be included, in the “seven cities”—there was certainly a Danish
_Thing_, as well as in the rural districts. The English word
_by-law_—still used to denote municipal or corporate law, which is
neither more nor less than the Danish “_By-Lov_,” and which,
consequently, must have retained its name ever since the times of the
Danes—shows at once that they must at least have had some share in
developing the system of judicature in the English cities. It is,
besides, well known that there was in remote times a Scandinavian
“husting” in Sheppey, London, and Winchester, as well as York and
Lincoln, and consequently in places south of Watlinga-Stræt. Of the
seven cities before mentioned, only York and Lincoln are with certainty
known to have had “hustings;” but nevertheless, it can scarcely be
doubted that there must have been similar _Things_ in the other five
cities. I may add, that the tribunals existing in them are called, in
the Anglo-Saxon text of Ethelred’s laws for the five burghs just alluded
to, “_Gethingd_”—a word which bears an undeniable resemblance to the
Scandinavian _Thing_; whilst in Anglo-Saxon such courts were called
“_Gemot_.”

According to old English records, the Danish laws in force in the Danish
part of England, though in several respects strikingly similar to the
Anglo-Saxon laws, differed from them in many points. It is not, indeed,
clearly determined in what these differences and resemblances consisted;
but it is at all events certain that the dissimilarity cannot have been
confined merely to the difference before mentioned in the amount of the
fines, nor to the mode of calculating them; which, as previously stated,
was in marks and ores in the Danish part of England, and in pounds and
shillings in the Anglo-Saxon districts.

In law-suits among the Anglo-Saxons, the usual kinds of proof were by
oath, by witnesses, by cojurors, and by the ordeal of hot iron, or the
judgment of God. It was at an early period also customary, in the
heathen North, to use by way of proof oaths, cojurors, and witnesses;
but instead of the ordeal by hot iron, which was first introduced under
Christianity, the old Northmen had quite a different way of deciding
their legal disputes, and one which agreed better with their martial
spirit, namely, by duel. By some this method was also considered a
peculiar kind of God’s judgment; but it should rather, perhaps, be
regarded as the subjecting of the original feud, or quarrel, to certain
settled forms. This sort of combat was called “_holmgang_,” because the
duel generally took place on a small island, or _holm_, where it was
conducted according to fixed laws. Both plaintiff and defendant had the
right of challenging their adversary. Although this mode of deciding
legal disputes might easily be, and indeed sometimes was, abused by
evildoers—who did not scruple to take advantage of the weakness and want
of warlike skill in others, in order to obtain possession of their
estates—still it was far more in favour in the North than the proofs by
oath and cojurors. The Normans carried it with them into Normandy; and
there can scarcely be a doubt that the Danes and Normans, long before
the Norman conquest of England—nay, long before Canute the Great’s
time—introduced it into the _Danelag_ in the north of England; where, at
least, the word “_Holmgang_,” in its pure Scandinavian meaning, was in
use for many generations.

But a peculiar, and in its results highly important, judicial
institution prevailed in the North, namely “_Næfn_,” “_Næfninger_”
(Nævninger); or, as it has been called in later times in English,
“Jury.” According to the most ancient Danish laws the accuser had a
right, particularly in important criminal causes, to select from among
the people a certain number of jurors (Nævninger), who, after taking an
oath, were to condemn or acquit the accused; and judgment was not
pronounced till they had given their verdict. The accuser’s choice of
jurors was limited by law to owners of landed property who were not
related to him; neither were they to be inimically disposed towards the
accused, who had the right of challenging any of them. The decision of
the jury was declared according to the majority of votes. In some
districts at least, as for instance in Scania (Skaane), the accused was
allowed, if the decision of the jury was against him, to appeal to the
ordeal by red-hot iron, which, after the introduction of Christianity,
became an important mode of proof in the North. But after the abolition
of that ordeal in Denmark (in 1218), and after the heathen mode of
duelling, or _holmgang_, had been abolished by Christianity, and
superseded by the institution of juries, this last method of trial
played an important part, and became popular with the people because it
afforded them a participation in the administration of justice, and at
the same time secured their civil liberties. Nevertheless trial by jury
was at length obliged to yield to newer forms of law in Scandinavia; and
just in proportion as the ancient freedom of the people was lost, the
political institutions which had originated from it also disappeared.

England, as is well known, is the only country that, in spite of all
commotions, has preserved trial by jury down to modern times. But it is
a matter of much dispute to what people may be more particularly
ascribed the honour of introducing an institution which has not only for
many centuries been of much service to freedom in England, but which has
also been transplanted in later times into many other countries, and is
now on the point of being disseminated over all that part of Europe
which may be called free. Many learned men assert that trial by jury was
unknown to the Anglo-Saxons, and maintain that its proper home was the
Scandinavian North, whence it was carried by the Northmen into Normandy,
and from that country into England by means of the conquest. Others
again assert almost the direct contrary; maintaining, that the tradition
which ascribes the introduction of juries to the Anglo-Saxon king,
Alfred the Great, though it does not speak the literal truth in deriving
the institution merely from that monarch, is still thus far deserving of
credence, that trial by jury was known and used by the Anglo-Saxons long
before the Norman conquest. These persons are of opinion, that the Danes
and Normans even set aside the jury for the barbarous _Holmgang_, or
duel, until in the course of time that venerable relic of ancient Saxon
freedom again obtained the ascendancy. In order to prove this, they
point especially to a passage in one of Ethelred’s laws (Ethelred, iii.
§ 3), which ordains “that every Wapentake shall have its _Thing_;” and
“that a 'Gemot’ be held in every Wapentake, and the XII senior Thanes go
out, and the reeve with them, and swear on the relic that is given to
them in hand, that they will accuse no innocent man, nor conceal any
guilty one.” Further (§ 13): “And let doom stand where Thanes are of one
voice; if they disagree let that stand which VIII of them say; and let
those who are outvoted pay, each of them, VI half-marks.” To these
passages may be added another, also of Ethelred’s time (Ordinance
respecting the Dun-Setas, § 3), wherein it is ordered that: “XII lahmen
shall explain the law to the Wealas and English, VI English, and VI
Wealas. Let them forfeit all they possess if they explain it wrongly; or
clear themselves that they knew no better.”

That a jury is here spoken of is beyond all doubt. But a highly
remarkable circumstance has been too much overlooked, namely, that
Ethelred’s above-mentioned regulation as to the composition of the jury
is contained only in the law just cited; which, according to the opinion
of its latest English editor, was intended only for the Five Burghs and
the surrounding Danish districts. (“_The document of Ethelred, above
referred to, seems, in a great measure, to have been published for the
sake of the Five Burgs._”—Thorpe.) That it cannot have been intended for
the Anglo-Saxon part of England may be immediately seen from the
circumstance that all the fines mentioned in it are, without exception,
fixed, according to Danish custom, in _marks_ and _ores_, or _öre_, and
not, after the Anglo-Saxon custom, in pounds and shillings. In this
concise law, moreover, we find several Danish legal terms which were not
in use in the south of England; for instance, “lahcop” (Old Norsk,
“lögkaup”); “wit-word” (Old N., “vitorð”); and “thrinna XII,” or “trende
Tylvter Eed” (i. e. three twelves oath). With respect also to the “XII
lahmen,” or, as they are called in Latin, “lagemanni” (Old Norsk,
lögmaðr), mentioned in Ethelred’s time, it has long been agreed in
England that they must have been originally instituted by the Danes.
(Thorpe says: “_The institution was most probably of Danish origin, as
we generally meet with them in the Danish portion of the country._”)
They were constantly twelve in number, and it can scarcely admit of a
doubt that their functions were the same as those of “the twelve eldest
Thanes” before mentioned, and that consequently they were regular
jurymen. We see, moreover, from Domesday-Book, which mentions
“Lagemanni” only in the Danish portion of North England, viz., in
Cambridge, Stamford, Lincoln, and Chester, that they were Thanes, or at
least equal to Thanes in rank and privileges. Among other things,
jurisdiction (sacam and socam) was conceded to them over their
inferiors, or subjects. In the old Danish city of Lincoln the names are
recited of those who were previously Lahmen, and of those who remained
so when Domesday-Book was compiled. These names, which are partly pure
Danish—as, for instance, Hardecnut, Ulf, son of Suertebrand, Walrauen,
Siuuard, Aldene (Haldan), and others—prove that sons frequently
succeeded their fathers in the office of Lah-man (for instance,
“Suardinc loco Hardecnut patris sui. Sortebrand loco Ulf patris sui.
Agemund loco Walrauen patris sui. Godvinus fil. Brictric”).

For the rest, since we might search the old Saxon laws in vain for any
other certain traces of jurymen besides these, and as special care must
be taken not to confound jurymen with cojurors, it becomes quite clear,
first, that those authors who conclude, from the above often-quoted
passages of Ethelred’s law, that the English jury is of Anglo-Saxon
origin, are in error; and secondly, that their opponents have not taken
a quite impartial view of the matter when they ascribe the introduction
of the jury into England to the conquest by William of Normandy. For it
must now be regarded as a point quite decided that THE EARLIEST POSITIVE
TRACES OF A JURY IN ENGLAND APPEAR IN THE DANELAG, AMONG THE DANES
ESTABLISHED THERE, and that, long before William the Conqueror’s time,
they had brought over from their old home the Scandinavian _Nævn_, or
jury, into the districts north-east of Watlinga-Stræt, colonized by
them, just as their kinsmen and brothers introduced that powerful
safeguard of popular freedom into Iceland and Normandy. It would,
indeed, have been quite inexplicable that the Danes should have given up
their peculiar Scandinavian _Nævn_ in a country like England, where the
Danish law obtained by degrees so extensive a footing that, during the
reign of the first Norman kings, it was still in force in one-half of
the kingdom.

The provisions in Ethelred’s law, so frequently cited, respecting the
force of the majority of votes in the verdict of the jury, also betray a
likeness, which can scarcely have been accidental, to the regulations of
the _Nævn_, or jury, at that time observed in Denmark. According to the
most ancient Danish laws, the outvoted jurymen were also to pay fines.
For the rest, there is this peculiarity in the jury of the Danish part
of England, that from the time of Ethelred it was no longer chosen by
the complainant, as was originally the case in Denmark, but by the
court, or by the sheriff of the district (“gerefa”); which was a
considerable step gained towards security against partiality. The choice
of jurymen was, besides, still more limited in England than in Denmark.
Instead of landed proprietors in general, the twelve eldest Thanes alone
were eligible; whence it followed that the jurymen were not only fixed,
but also obtained, as a reward for their labour, a certain rank, with
the rights and income attached to it. This more aristocratical form of
the jury undoubtedly sprang from the circumstance that the Danes had
entered the northern and eastern districts of England as lords and
conquerors. They could not, consequently, appoint as jurors native
Anglo-Saxons, unacquainted with the customs of the Danish law courts;
nor would they, assuredly, have permitted a conquered people to take a
part in verdicts affecting themselves and their Scandinavian brethern.
The consequence was, that they chose from among themselves men of
consideration, and acquainted with the law, to conduct the
administration of justice. It is very remarkable that a later
development of the law in Denmark produced a similar change in the jury,
the jurors not being chosen for a single cause, but for a period. In
Jutland even “_Sandemænd_,” or jurors appointed by the crown, were
instituted, who seem to have answered to the before-mentioned _Lag-men_,
or _Lahmen_, in the north of England. Eight landed proprietors were
selected in every district by the king, and discharged the office of
jurymen for life, unless they forfeited it by some misdemeanour.

Not the least trace is to be found in the old English laws and
chronicles that the Danish laws in force in the Danelag were more
barbarous than the contemporary Anglo-Saxon ones in the south of
England. On the contrary, the fact lately mentioned, that the beneficial
change in the composition and working powers of the jury, which had long
been in force in Danish North England, was in far later times adopted in
Norman England, seems rather to attest, in no slight degree, the
superiority of the laws of the Danelag. On the whole, the Danish kings
in England, and particularly Canute the Great, seem to have been
excellent lawgivers. Canute’s laws respecting the limitation of capital
punishment, the right of every man to hunt on his own land, and others,
evince a mildness and humanity scarcely to be expected in those rude
times.

From what has been said, it appears that the Danish part of England
must, in William the Conqueror’s time, have had just as many old Danish
popular institutions as Normandy, nay, doubtless still more. It is,
therefore, no wonder that William and his Normans were highly partial to
the Danish laws then in force in England. Immediately after he assumed
the reins of government, he commanded that these laws should be in force
throughout the kingdom, and consequently even in the purely Anglo-Saxon
districts, as both his own forefathers, and those of almost all his
barons, had been Northmen, who had formerly emigrated from Norway. But
in an assembly held at London in the fourth year of his reign, he
suffered himself to be persuaded, by the urgent entreaties of the
leading men among the Anglo-Saxons, to restore the laws of Edward the
Confessor in the districts in which they had before prevailed.
Nevertheless, the Anglo-Saxon laws gradually gave place to the
Scandinavian institutions in force in the north of England. Thus duel,
under the name of “trial by battle,” came to be considered throughout
England as lawful proof in judicial suits; an evident result of the bold
and chivalrous spirit of the new Norman lords. This kind of proof
caused, however, much disturbance in England, and at length, though
tardily, grew out of use. It was not formally abolished by law till the
year 1818, after a prosecutor had challenged his adversary to trial by
battle; a proceeding which even the legal tribunals were obliged to
acknowledge that the law, taken in its strictest sense, fully authorised
him in adopting. It is, however, remarkable enough that the proof by
duel, which in Scandinavia itself was abolished on the introduction of
Christianity, should have maintained its ground for several centuries in
England, which had long been Christianized. We might even say that down
to the present times it has everywhere left perceptible traces in
Europe. For what are duels but trials by battle, or sort of judgment of
God? They were, however, much disseminated by chivalry, in the
development of which the warlike Normans took so considerable a part.
The ancient _holmgang_ was, as we have seen, called, both in Normandy
and England, “duel.”

The institution of the jury (“Nævninger,” or “Nævn”), before mentioned
as originally Scandinavian, was established throughout England by the
Normans in such a manner that it has maintained its place to our times.
Under the first Norman kings we find traces of a more general employment
of the jury, which was previously confined to the Danish part of
England, where it continued to exist after the conquest by William.
When, in the following century, _holmgang_ or trial by battle, began, in
spite of the limitations it had undergone, to become too grievous in
England, a law was published in 1164, that a jury of twelve knights,
chosen by four knights of the district, should be substituted in its
place. Thus at its first general establishment in England the jury had
much the same form as it possessed in earlier times in the Danish part
of the kingdom. The provision that the jury should be composed of
knights soon fell to the ground. Subsequently, after the ordeal by
red-hot iron, or the judgment of God, had been abolished (in the year
1219), it was appointed, in the reign of Henry the Third, that the
accused, who might previously have liberated himself by that ordeal,
should submit his case to the decision of twelve _Nævninger_, or
jurymen. In this manner an influence was secured to the jury in England,
which has since been continually increasing; trial by jury having
become, as it were, the central point of the judicial system in that
country. The English themselves, with just reason, regard the jury as a
wise and happy institution, which has much contributed to develope the
excellence of the national character, and to maintain the free
constitution of their country. What is more, foreigners pass the same
judgment on it; and it especially deserves to be remembered, that at the
present moment, after the introduction of popular freedom into the
Scandinavian North, its people are seeking to re-establish the native
_Nævn_, or jury, which formerly crossed the seas with the conquerors of
England and Normandy, and which has victoriously stood the trial of
centuries in those countries.

We have already seen it proved, from contemporary laws, that the germ of
at least one of England’s freest and most important institutions was to
be found, as early as the ninth century, among the numerous Danes and
Norwegians settled in that country, to whose successors and kinsmen may
be justly ascribed the honour of further developing the institution of
trial by jury. In like manner contemporary chronicles bear witness that
these Danish and Norwegian settlements in many ways essentially
contributed to promote political liberty and the spirit of freedom.
According to that remarkable document, Domesday-Book, there was, about
twenty years after the Norman conquest, a greater number of independent
landed proprietors, if not, in the strictest sense of the word,
freeholders, in the districts occupied by the Danes, and under the
Danelag, than in the other, or Anglo-Saxon, part of England. The smaller
Anglo-Saxon agriculturists were frequently serfs, though, for the most
part, perhaps, leaseholders, or holding other subordinate situations;
whilst the Danish settlers, being conquerors, were mostly freemen, and,
in general, proprietors of the soil. Domesday-Book mentions, under the
name of “Sochmanni,” a numerous class of landowners, or peasants, in the
Danish districts north-east of Watlinga-Stræt, who, to the south of that
line, and even then only just upon the borders of it, are rarely to be
found, (viz., in Buckinghamshire, 19, and in Surrey, 9). It also
mentions a great number of freemen in those districts, or, as they are
called in Latin, “liberi homines.” Neither _Sochmanni_ nor _liberi
homines_ seem, however, to have been freeholders, in the present sense
of that term. They certainly stood in a sort of feudal relation to a
superior lord; but in such a manner that the “Sochmanni” may be best
compared with our present hereditary lessees. Their farms passed by
inheritance to their sons, they paying certain rents, and performing
certain feudal duties; but the feudal lord had no power to dispose of
the property as he pleased.

The counties occupied by the Danes and Norwegians, viz., Northumberland,
Durham, Westmoreland, Cumberland, and Lancashire, are not mentioned in
Domesday-Book. In the other fifteen counties to the north and east of
Watlinga-Stræt, the “Sochmanni” and “liberi homines” are summed up as
follows (see Turner’s “History of the Anglo-Saxons”):—

                     Essex        Sochmanni     343

                                    liberi      306
                                   homines

                     Suffolk      Sochmanni   1,014

                                    liberi    8,012
                                   homines

                     Norfolk      Sochmanni   5,521

                                    liberi    4,981
                                   homines

                     Cambridge    Sochmanni     245

                     Hertford         "          57

                     Bedford          "          88

                     Northampton      "         915

                     Huntingdon       "          23

                     Rutland          "           2

                     Leicester        "       1,716

                     Derby            "         127

                     Nottingham       "       1,565

                     Lincoln          "      11,322

                     Yorkshire        "         438

                     Cheshire,        "          54
                     drenches

                                             ——————

                                    Total    36,729

                                             ——————

The so-called “freemen” (liberi homines), who, it may be assumed, most
resembled our freeholders, seem from this to have been principally
confined to Essex (306) and the ancient East Anglia, or Norfolk and
Suffolk (together, 12,993). “Sochmanni” were also very numerous in these
three counties (together, 6878); yet they appear in the greatest numbers
in the old Danish Lincolnshire, which alone had 11,322. In the other
districts round the Danish five burghs, they were also pretty numerous:
in Leicestershire, 1716; and in Nottinghamshire, 1565. The number of
these independent landowners was consequently greatest in the districts
earliest occupied by the Danes, where they naturally sprung up from the
Danish chiefs’ parcelling out the soil to their victorious warriors.
That the large county of York had not more than about 440 _Sochmanni_
can hardly be used by way of counter-proof; partly because Yorkshire had
been terribly exhausted in the wars of William the Conqueror, which took
place before Domesday-Book was compiled; and partly because it is clear
that Yorkshire is not so fully described in that document as the more
southern counties. Lastly, it is remarkable that extremely few serfs are
mentioned in the districts north-east of Watlinga-Stræt, in comparison
of the many that are recorded in the south and south-west of England.

English authors admit that the Danish settlers in England bestowed a
great benefit on the country, in a political point of view, by the
introduction of a numerous class of independent peasantry, who formed a
striking contrast to the oppressed Anglo-Saxon commonalty. (“The Danes
seem to have planted in the colonies they occupied a numerous race of
freemen, and their counties seem to have been well peopled.”—Turner.)
But unfortunately the number of Danish-Norwegian freeholders and freemen
at that time in England cannot now be given more closely than by the
above sum of 36,729, which is evidently too low, and in every respect
highly inaccurate.

It is, however, large enough to strengthen and throw light upon the
statements of the chronicles, that the descendants of the Danes and
Norwegians in the country to the north-east of Watlinga-Stræt,
especially distinguished themselves by a lively feeling of freedom and
independence. From the time of their very first settlement, they
desperately resisted every chief who attempted to deprive them of their
rights as free and independent men. It was, indeed, but reasonable that
they should, with persevering boldness, defend in a foreign land that
freedom for the sake of which they had abandoned their Scandinavian
homes. Their severest and most perilous struggle for liberty naturally
took place after the destruction of the Danish power under Hardicanute
(1042): although the extensive Danish tract north of the Humber still
retained its Danish jarl, Siward.

But on Siward’s death (1055), his son, Valthjof (Waltheof), was too
young to govern that important district, which was therefore made over
to Toste Godvinsön, who afterwards fell at Stamford Bridge. Toste ruled
with despotic power, set aside the laws of Canute the Great, and levied
taxes which were contrary to the people’s ancient rights. The
Northumbrians therefore deposed him at a _Thing_, and expelled him in
1064. When Toste’s brother, Harald, afterwards endeavoured to effect a
reconciliation, on the condition that Toste should be reinstated in the
earldom, the Northumbrians unanimously rejected the proposal. “We were
born and bred up in freedom,” they exclaimed; “a proud and ambitious
chief we will not endure, for we have learnt from our fathers either to
live like freemen or to die.”

When, two years afterwards, William began to conquer England, and to
parcel it out among his warriors, it was chiefly the inhabitants of the
old Danish districts who opposed him with all the energy of despair. The
successors of the Danes and Norwegians, under ordinary circumstances,
would have joined their kinsmen the Normans; especially as they gave out
that one of their objects in coming to England was to avenge their
Danish and Norwegian relatives, secretly massacred by Ethelred. But the
Normans aimed at nothing less than the abolition of the free tenure of
estates, and the complete establishment of a feudal constitution; a mode
of proceeding which, by depriving the previously independent man of his
right to house and land, and transferring it to powerful nobles, shook
the very foundation of freedom. The descendants of the Danes turned from
them, therefore, with disgust, and now no longer hesitated to enter into
an alliance with the equally oppressed Anglo-Saxons; for the common
danger made both races forget their ancient animosities. Many of the
Anglo-Saxon chiefs and warriors who had been defeated by William in the
west and south-west of England, fled towards the north, and prepared, in
conjunction with the inhabitants of that district, to venture everything
in self-defence.

It was not till the year 1068 that the Normans succeeded, after a severe
contest, in taking Oxford, Warwick, and the old Danish burghs Leicester,
Derby, Nottingham, Lincoln, and York. In these places, but especially in
Lincoln and York, the Normans were obliged to build strong
fortifications, for fear of the people of Scandinavian descent, who
abounded both in the towns and in the adjacent rural districts. But what
the Normans chiefly apprehended was, attacks from the Danes who, there
was good reason to suppose, might come over with their fleets to the
assistance of their countrymen in the north of England.

Meantime, whilst the remains of the united Anglo-Saxon and
Danish-Norwegian armies had withdrawn to the mountains of
Northumberland, where they often surprised and killed whole detachments
of Norman troops, numerous fugitives and messengers repaired to King
Svend in Denmark, to implore him, in the name of his English friends,
and in that of freedom, to assist them against William the Conqueror.
Svend sent his brother Asbjörn, and his sons Harald and Canute, over
with a fleet, who, after a vain attempt to land at Sandwich, entered the
Humber, in the year 1069. The Northumbrians, and the rest of the
aggrieved inhabitants, both Northmen and Anglo-Saxons, flocked gladly
together under the Danish banner. Edgar, who had been chosen king by the
Anglo-Saxons, Valthjof (Waltheof), a son of the old Northumbrian jarl
Siward, and many other fugitives, joined the Danish host. York was
taken, the Normans put to flight, and their fortifications levelled with
the ground. In these encounters Waltheof gained great honour for courage
and bravery.

But the joy of victory was only of short duration. William, who had
sworn in his anger to lay all Northumberland waste, knew how to avert by
persuasion, cunning, and bribery, the danger that threatened him from
Denmark. The Danish fleet went home in the spring; and William retook
York, and extended his dominion in Northumberland; where his progress
was marked by slaughter, incendiarism, and rapine. The unfortunate
inhabitants fled to the forests and morasses; their last place of refuge
was the marshes near the Wash. Moved by the cries of complaint which
continually reached him from England, the Danish king Svend again sent a
number of vessels, which appeared in the Humber in the year 1074. But
these were not able to render any effectual assistance. Waltheof, whom
William, in order to conciliate the Northumbrians, had appointed Jarl in
his father’s earldom, fell under the axe of the executioner on suspicion
of being concerned in this naval expedition; and fresh devastations
promoted William’s dominion over Northumberland, which was so terribly
harassed that large districts were left without houses or human
inhabitants.

The forests of the north of England now became the last refuge of
numberless outlaws, who would not submit to the ferocious conqueror,
preferring a free and merry life in the green woods; where they united
together, and defied William’s powerful armies and severe laws. They had
secret connections among the people, who saw in them the last defenders
of their ancient freedom. Among the leaders of these outlaws, who, long
after William’s time, continued to wander about in the English forests,
but who were most numerous in the north of England, we meet with
Scandinavian names, such as Sweyn, and Sihtrik; and in the legends and
songs which have preserved the remembrance of them, are found
Scandinavian traits of character, such as the story of William of
Cloudesley, who shot the apple from his son’s head. It is the identical
legend related in our old Sagas of the Scandinavian hero, Palnatoke.

The last gleam of any well-founded hope of deliverance shone upon the
successors of the Anglo-Saxons and Danish-Norwegians in the north of
England, when, in the year 1085, the Danish king Canute, afterwards
called the Saint, assembled a powerful fleet in the Liimfjord, in order
to release England from the Conqueror’s yoke, and if possible to seat
himself on the throne. Sixty Norwegian vessels had joined Canute’s
fleet. William, on his side, made great preparations in order to resist
the expected attack. Danegelt was again collected for the defence of the
kingdom against the Danes. The inhabitants of Scandinavian descent in
the north of England were compelled to alter their dress, and to cut off
their long beards, that the Danes might not thereby recognise their
kinsmen. The coasts were occupied by soldiers, who erected strong
defences; whilst William at the same time endeavoured, by means of
secret envoys and bribery, to sow disunion in the Danish fleet. Canute’s
progress was impeded by unfortunate circumstances; the fleet separated,
and a mutiny broke out, which ended in the murder of Canute at Odensee,
in the year 1086. No further attempt was made by Denmark to conquer
England; for the expedition said to have been prepared by King Erik Lam
in the year 1138 was, at all events, a very poor and unsuccessful one.
Thus the Northmen in England, being no longer able to obtain support
from Denmark or Norway, were forced to submit to the Norman dominion.

Nevertheless, in spite of the terrible devastations by which William
coerced the north of England, “the half-Saxon half-Danish population of
these districts” (says the French historian, Thierry) “long continued to
preserve their old feeling of independence and their ancient indomitable
pride. The Norman kings who succeeded the Conqueror dwelt with perfect
safety in the southern districts, but did not venture north of the
Humber without some fear; and a chronicler, who lived at the close of
the twelfth century, assures us that they never visited that part of the
kingdom without being accompanied by a strong army.”

Although no very great number of Northmen, or men of Scandinavian
extraction, could have remained in Normandy after William’s conquest of
England, and after the Norman expeditions into Italy, yet even these
few, as we have before stated, were subsequently able to impart to the
popular spirit in Normandy a peculiar Scandinavian colouring. The Norman
knights distinguished themselves from the effeminate, dreaming, and
excitable knights of the south of France, not only by a greater
inclination for adventures and a bolder martial spirit, but also by a
genuine Scandinavian sedateness and an all-subduing perseverance. The
old Scandinavian feeling of freedom revealed itself, even in the middle
ages, in the cities of Normandy, which were long the seats of a
democratic spirit and of republican movements. According to William the
Conqueror’s own statement, the ancient Normans, and, above all, their
Scandinavian forefathers, were, in a high degree, quarrelsome and
litigious; and, even to this day, Normandy is remarkable, above all
other provinces of France, for the great number of law-suits which
annually take place in it. Frenchmen themselves have remarked that their
most skilful and persevering seamen are to be found among the
inhabitants of Dieppe, and that the most celebrated admirals of France
have been natives of Normandy.

If such was the influence of the Normans in France, were not the Danes
and Norwegians, who had been settled for centuries in England, in a
still better position to fix a lasting stamp upon the life and character
of the people; more particularly as the Danish-Norwegian elements
continued, long after the Norman conquest, to exercise a very
considerable influence in England? We may truly assert that the
Scandinavian spirit is still clearly to be discerned, not merely in
separate districts, but throughout England. The love of the English for
bold adventures, especially at sea, their unshaken calmness in the
greatest dangers, their apparent coolness during the most violent
emotions, and their proud feeling of freedom, are surely not to be
ascribed exclusively to the Normans. These qualities must, in a great
degree, be attributed to the English, as the descendants of those Danish
and Norwegian warriors who sought dangers on unknown seas; who looked
death steadily in the face, come in whatever shape it might; who gloried
in the feeling that their countenances should not betray the passions
which fermented in their breasts; and who prized liberty far more than
life.

It deserves at least to be mentioned, as affording a remarkable analogy
to Normandy, that England’s most celebrated and successful admiral,
Nelson, bore a genuine Scandinavian name (Nielsen, with the
characteristic Scandinavian termination of _son_, or _sön_). He was,
besides, a native of one of the districts early colonized by the Danes,
having been born in the town of Burnham-thorpe, in Norfolk, or East
Anglia. In fact, the perceptible difference of character still actually
found between the people in old Saxon South England and in the more
northern old Danish districts, is very remarkable. The southern
Englishman is softer and more compliant. The northern Englishman is of a
firmness of character, bordering on the hard and severe, and possesses
an unusually strong feeling of freedom. The Yorkshireman is well known
in England as a hasty and touchy, but determined and independent,
character. Great political movements have therefore not only found
reception and encouragement among the population of the north of
England; but this population, from the interest it takes in the progress
of public affairs, and from its love of freedom, has played a leading
part in the great internal revolutions which mark the recent political
history of England. Public men regard it as a great honour to represent
the northern districts of England in Parliament (for instance, the West
Riding of Yorkshire), merely from the intelligent political character of
the voters; and it is certainly through the adherence of the lovers of
freedom in the north, that Cobden has been able to struggle so
successfully for the promotion of free trade, for financial reform, and
for similar liberal measures. That this spirit of liberty in the north
of England is chiefly derived from the old Scandinavian colonists is by
no means merely the partial assertion of a Dane. The celebrated English
writer, Sir E. Bulwer Lytton, who, in his “Harold,” has successfully
begun to awaken the attention of his countrymen to a juster view of the
Danish conquest, says in a note appended to that work: “It might be easy
to show, were this the place, that though the Anglo-Saxons never lost
their love of liberty, yet that the victories which gradually regained
liberty from the gripe of the Anglo-Norman kings were achieved by the
Anglo-Norman aristocracy. And even to this day, the few rare descendants
of that race (whatever their political faction) will generally exhibit
that impatience of despotic influence, and that disdain of corruption,
which characterize the homely bonders of Norway, in whom we may still
recognise the sturdy likeness of our fathers; while it is also
remarkable that the modern inhabitants of those portions of the kingdom
originally peopled by the Danes, are, irrespectively of mere party
divisions, noted for their intolerance of all oppression, and their
resolute independence of character; to wit, Yorkshire, Norfolk,
Cumberland, and large districts in the Scottish lowlands.”

It would be impossible to deny that the Danes and Norwegians settled in
England before the arrival of the Normans not only essentially
contributed to the preservation of popular liberty—which, through the
weakness and effeminacy of the Anglo-Saxons, was threatened with
destruction—but that they also laid the foundation of its further
development, and powerfully contributed to its complete establishment.
We need, therefore, be no longer surprised that memorials of the Danes
are mixed up with England’s freest and most liberal institutions; and
that to the present day, for instance, the place whence the candidates
for a seat in Parliament address the electors, bears, throughout
England, the pure Danish name “_husting_.”

                               ----------

                              SECTION XIV.

    General View.—Anglo-Saxon and Danish-Norman England.—Sympathies
                   for Denmark.—The Dane in England.

The various kinds of Danish and Danish-Norwegian memorials which I have
alluded to, such as names of places, coins, and peculiarities of
language (not to mention contemporary letters-patent and laws), afford
so many incontrovertible proofs that the Danish influence in England was
neither of short duration, nor, on the whole, of a transient nature.
Future and more successful investigations and comparisons, more
particularly in England itself, will undoubtedly much extend the circle
of known Danish memorials existing there. So much, however, is already
placed beyond all doubt, that in no country out of the present homes of
the Scandinavian race have its colonists left such various, such
considerable, and such clear traces of their existence, as the Danes,
especially, have left in England. The Scandinavian spirit has not ruled
with so much power in any other, still less in any greater, European
kingdom; nor been able to retain so powerful a dominion for such a
length of time.

The Danes, and their successors the Normans, did not content themselves
with the temporary overthrow of the Anglo-Saxon dominion; they
annihilated it for ever. In this the Danes may be said to have been more
active than the Normans. They not only gradually settled themselves
under their own laws and their own chiefs, in half of England, but
spread themselves over the whole of it. In the time of Alfred the Great,
they once held all England in subjection; and at an early period
obtained places amongst the highest ecclesiastical and secular
aristocracy of the country. In the tenth century, the Anglo-Saxon king
Edgar favoured the Danes so much, that during his reign the Danish power
had an opportunity to consolidate and extend itself. Even the
Anglo-Saxon royal family became mixed with Danish blood. Among the
Anglo-Saxons, both high and low, weakness and proneness to vice went on
continually increasing; whilst the Danish dominion, prepared by two
centuries of independent Viking expeditions, and by the subsequent
settlements of the Northmen, established itself completely, as soon as
the sea kings and wandering Vikings were succeeded by Danish monarchs
with considerable fleets at their command.

All England yielded to the conqueror Canute, and under his wise,
powerful, and just administration, enjoyed that tranquillity and
happiness of which it had long felt the want. The Anglo-Saxons and Danes
now became more amalgamated. But Canute’s sons wanted their father’s
ability and strength of purpose. The old dissensions and quarrels broke
out afresh; whilst violent internal disturbances in the newly
Christianized Scandinavian North, where the Viking spirit became
extinguished, deprived the Danes in England of the succour necessary in
their contests with the natives. The Danish power in England fell, but
left the population completely mixed and saturated with Danish elements.
The Anglo-Saxon royal race, as it was called, was now half Danish. The
higher clergy and nobility were connected by the closest ties of
relationship with the Danes and their chiefs, in whose hands several of
the most important fiefs remained. The Danes had acquired considerable
influence in many of the largest cities; and in about half of England
the majority of the population was of Danish extraction, and possessed
Danish laws and other Danish characteristics. The Danes who, naturally
enough, could not forget that they had been absolute masters in that
conquered land, obeyed unwillingly a king of another race, though they
had not the power to place one of their own race upon the throne. The
unmixed Saxon population, on the other hand, could not endure that the
royal sceptre should continue to be borne, in the once independent
country of their forefathers, by foreign conquerors from Denmark, whose
power, besides, seemed at that time on the wane. Inward dissensions
increased; the kings were too feeble to maintain efficiently their
difficult position; and the power falling more and more out of the hands
of the degenerate Anglo-Saxons, passed over to the stronger Danes and
their Norman kinsmen.

With an unmixed population, England would have been able to maintain
herself united and powerful in the hour of danger, and when threatened
by foreign conquerors. But split and divided as she now was among
different races contending for the mastery, real unanimity was
impossible; and, in case of a powerful attack from without, dissolution
was inevitable. Through the Danish expeditions, the Danish
colonizations, and finally through the fall of the Danish supremacy, it
became practicable for William of Normandy to conquer England with an
army of only 60,000 men. Had not those events prepared the way, it would
be inconceivable that with such a force a foreign conqueror should have
been able to subdue a country so extensive, so well peopled, and so
favoured by nature; still less that he should have succeeded in
retaining such a conquest for any length of time. William won the battle
of Hastings, which decided the fate of England, only because Harald
Godvinsön’s Anglo-Saxon army entered the field weakened and exhausted by
the sanguinary battle of Stamford Bridge. This was fought against the
Norwegian king, Harald Haardraade, and the discontented Scandinavians in
the north of England, who wanted to re-establish a king of their own
race on the English throne.

The Danish-Norwegian settlements, and the Danish dominion in England, by
subduing for a time the political power of the Anglo-Saxons, had not
only prepared the way for the first victory of the Normans, but also for
the future progress and establishment of the Norman power in England,
and especially for the ultimate triumph of the Norman popular spirit
over the remains of the ancient Saxon nationality. The Danes, by
expelling the Anglo-Saxons from the northern and eastern parts of
England, as well as by mixing with them in the south, had by degrees
undermined their national independence and their popular
characteristics, and had thus prepared an entrance for the Scandinavian
spirit, which was so nearly allied to the Norman, into a great, if not
the greater, portion of the English population. The bold and chivalrous
spirit of the Norman aristocracy, their love of daring adventures, and
their lofty feeling of freedom, completely agreed with the
characteristics of the Scandinavians settled in England at an earlier
period. The Normans found among the Scandinavian population of England,
and particularly the Danish portion of it, several of those free
institutions already in full force which they themselves, with much
advantage to liberty, afterwards extended to the whole country.

Thus the conquest of England by Danish Normans, undoubtedly prepared,
or, more properly speaking, was the indispensable and necessary
foundation of the subsequent French-Norman conquest; and it may
therefore be justly called the first act of that great historical drama,
“The Norman Conquest,” of which William of Normandy’s conquest is only
the concluding act.

But many will undoubtedly ask, was the Norman conquest, on the whole,
beneficial to England? Would it not have been better had the Anglo-Saxon
nationality been permitted to develope itself, instead of being arrested
by such violent devastations and by such bloodshed as the Danish-Norman
expeditions occasioned? And is it not a proof of the nobleness of the
Anglo-Saxon nationality, that it has since prevailed so preponderantly
in England?

On this point let us hear a learned and impartial Englishman. The latest
and most celebrated Anglo-Saxon historian, Mr. Kemble, says, in his
preface to the before-mentioned Collection of Anglo-Saxon
Diplomas:—“With the close of the fourth volume of this work we arrive at
the reign of Harald, and the Norman conquest of England; an event which
our contemporary forefathers could only regard as deplorable, but which
we must look back upon with gratitude and pride, as the remote origin of
our own peculiar character and power. It is hardly possible to compare
the signatures to the charters contained respectively in this and in the
previous volumes, without seeing how widely a foreign element had become
predominant. The Scandinavians of Ingwar, Guðorm, Swegen, and Cnut,
successively prepared the way for the descendants of other Scandinavians
under William; and the Saxon national character, like the national
dynasty, was too weak to offer a successful resistance. Defeated, yet
still holding a portion of its domain with unabated perseverance,
yielding somewhat in one place, to break out with unshaken obstinacy at
another, it accommodated itself partially to the peculiar habits of each
successive invader; till, after the closing scene of the great drama
commenced at Hastings, it ceased to exist as a national character, and
the beaten, ruined, and demoralized Anglo-Saxon, found himself launched
in a new career of honour, and rising into all the might and dignity of
an Englishman. Let us reflect that defeats upon the Thames and Avon were
probably necessary preliminaries to victories upon the Sutlej.”

The weakness and degeneracy of the Anglo-Saxon national character
contained the seeds of its decay. It has long since been agreed that, in
an historical view, we ought not to complain that the degenerate, though
highly-civilized, Romans in Britain were compelled to make way for the
rude Anglo-Saxons, since the latter brought with them the germ of a new
and higher development. In like manner we can hardly regret that the
degenerate, but to a certain degree civilized, Anglo-Saxons, were in
turn expelled by the more powerful, but ruder Danes; since these also
were to prepare, and lay the foundation of a new and more flourishing
state of society. Under the reign of Ethelred the Second, the supremacy
of the Anglo-Saxons had already passed away. As a people, they sank
entirely, and left only a part of their civilization and of their
institutions to their successors in dominion, the Danes and Normans. The
transition took place amidst the same shocks and the same bloodshed
which still mark every important and radical revolution in the history
of nations. The Danish-Norman, or perhaps more properly, the
Scandinavian national character, usurped the place of the Anglo-Saxon.
It was certainly built upon the foundation laid by the Anglo-Saxons, but
it must be observed that it has made greater progress in all respects.
To it especially is owing the development in England of a maritime skill
before unknown, of a bold and manly spirit of enterprise, and of a
political liberty, which, by preserving a balance between the freedom of
the nobles and of the rest of the people, has long ensured to England a
powerful and comparatively peaceful and fortunate existence.

The Englishman is justly proud of his native land, of its internal
freedom, and external greatness. But when he extols his country in
respect only of its being “Anglo-Saxon,” or praises the merits of the
Anglo-Saxons and Norman-French, whilst he unconditionally condemns the
Danish expeditions and settlements, as having been merely devastating
and destructive, he commits both an historical error and an evident
injustice. The Anglo-Saxons performed their share in the civilization of
England, and the Norman-French did still more; but it ought not to be
forgotten—and least of all by Englishmen, who are so nearly related to
the Danes—that the latter also very essentially contributed to win
freedom and greatness for England, and that this freedom, and this
greatness, are in no slight degree sealed with Danish blood. From at
least the Danish-Normanic conquest (about the year 1000), the
Danish-Normanic, or Scandinavian, national character has been the
prevailing and leading one in England’s history, and so it certainly
continues to be at the present day.

A perceptible and very remarkable evidence of this is the sympathy which
the English people in general feel for the North, the ancient home of
their fathers, and particularly for Denmark. The Englishman himself will
generally aver, with a sort of pride, that he derives his descent from
the North. A Dane travelling in England will everywhere find an
unusually cordial reception. He will in general be regarded more as a
countryman than as a foreigner, merely because he is a Dane. He will
discover that the English, instead of having forgotten their kinsmen
beyond the sea, with whom they were formerly united, feel themselves
attracted to them by the ties of blood and friendship. He will
continually hear complaints of the deplorable attitude which the policy
of England assumed with regard to Denmark at the commencement of the
present century; and he will adopt the conviction that in this mistaken
policy, the people themselves, at least, were not to blame. He will at
times be induced to forget that he is at a distance from his native land
and from his nearest relatives; for the highly-striking agreement
between the character of the English and that of their Scandinavian
kinsmen causes a Dane to imagine that he is still among his own friends,
in the home which he has long since left. It was certainly also
something more than mere accident that, during the last war in Denmark,
the Danish cause nowhere, out of the North itself, awakened such general
sympathy among the people, nor found so many bold champions, both in
speeches and publications, as in England. May we not in these facts
trace the effects of near relationship, and perceive the ties of blood?

It should not pass altogether unnoticed that the sympathies of the
English for Denmark, and their fraternal feeling towards the Danish
people, have increased in proportion as they have been obliged to
acknowledge that the Danes of modern times still know how to defend
their independence, liberty, and honour, with the bravery inherited from
their forefathers. Not to speak of the last contest, so glorious for
Denmark, it is particularly the battle in Copenhagen Roads, the 2nd of
April, 1801, which has maintained in England the ancient fame of Danish
valour. The English regard this action not only as one of Nelson’s
greatest triumphs, but as one of their most glorious naval battles,
particularly on account of the sturdy resistance which they encountered.
On Nelson’s monument in Westminster Abbey, on which his most glorious
battles are recorded, that of Copenhagen is named first. Nelson himself
describes the action as the bloodiest and most desperate he had ever
beheld. That he is correct in this respect, and that he has not extolled
the bravery of our nation merely to enhance his own, we Danes, at least,
cannot doubt, since we cannot even admit that the battle must be
unconditionally regarded as lost by us.

For the rest, it is remarkable how frequently the English confound the
battle in Copenhagen Roads in 1801 with the carrying off of our fleet in
1807, and place these two entirely distinct events under one and the
same head. The English historians have endeavoured gradually to conceal
the dishonour attaching to the robbery of our fleet in 1807; and this
has even been carried to such an extent, that the rising generation but
too often reckons that ignominious act amongst Nelson’s triumphs. They
imagine that the surrender of our fleet was the result of the battle in
the Roads; and yet Nelson had fallen two years before, at the battle of
Trafalgar, in 1805. Fortunately for his honour, he was thus spared from
partaking in the robbery of the fleet of a nearly-related people, with
whom England was at peace.

But this is not the only error which the Dane must correct when he hears
in England the name of Nelson extolled at the expense of Denmark and of
historical truth. Yet he will find it difficult to refute another
similar mistake, namely, a firm belief in Nelson’s “_complete victory_”
in the battle of 1801. It is just as unshaken an article of faith among
the British people that Nelson then gained a brilliant victory, as it is
an acknowledged certainty, founded on fact, that at all events the
battle was neither won by the English nor lost by the Danes. Nay it is
certain that almost the whole of Nelson’s fleet would have been
destroyed, or taken, if the Crown Prince of Denmark—for fear of engaging
in a lengthened war with England, and from other purely political
reasons, as well as, it must also be observed, at Nelson’s own
request—had not put a stop to the battle. Curiously enough, in two of
the finest poems which the English and Danish people can produce,
Campbell’s “Battle of the Baltic,” and Hertz’s “Slaget paa Rheden,” the
combat is represented in each as honourable to the respective nations.

Not long since, a Dane in England was led into a warm argument
respecting the disputed result of this battle; when the master of the
house suddenly recollected that an old invalid, who looked after the
boats on the canals in the garden, had served under Nelson. He called
out to him that “here was a Dane, and that he had certainly seen that
sort of folks before.” “Yes, master,” answered the honest tar, “but on
that day the Danes made it much hotter than we liked.”

This terminated the dispute. The time, however, in the order of Nature,
cannot be far distant when the Dane in England may look in vain for such
support from men who were present at the battle. He must then be
contented to state his opinion, without the least hope of its carrying
any weight; though he can, at all events, console himself with the
reflection that, when the conversation turns on the mutual relations
between England and Denmark, the latter may point to conquests of a very
different, as well as far more important and altogether undisputed kind.

In the long series of brilliant victories, won not only by the Danish
sword, but by the Danish national character in England, and which, by
the conquest of that country, essentially contributed to found there a
greatness and a power before unknown, the Danish people possess
memorials so proud and brilliant, that they may be reckoned among the
most beautiful ornaments in that glorious wreath which from time
immemorial encircles the Danish name. We may safely leave them by the
side of the best and most imposing memorials of most other nations.

------------------------------------------------------------------------



                                  THE
                        NORWEGIANS IN SCOTLAND.

                               ----------

                               SECTION I.

  Nature of Scotland.—The Highlands and Lowlands.—Population.—Original
                              Inhabitants.

None of the seas of Europe are so rough and stormy as that which washes
its northern and north-western coasts. Even in Jutland the effects of
the cold north-west wind which sweeps down from the icy sea between
Norway, Iceland, and Scotland, are severely felt. Along its west coast,
for a distance of several miles inland, there are no woods, but only low
stunted oak bushes, which in many places scarcely rise above the tall
heather. Still farther eastward, and even in Funen and Zealand, which
the north-west wind does not reach till it has passed over considerable
tracts of land, it has such an influence on the woods, that in their
western outskirts the trees are bent, and as it were scorched or
blighted at the top. The North Sea, whose surges, breaking on the coast
of Jutland, are heard even in calm weather far in the interior, rises to
a fearful height during a storm. It would long since have washed over
Jutland, and perhaps the whole of Denmark, if Nature had not placed
sand-banks or shoals along the coast, as a sort of bulwark, against
which the highest waves break harmlessly.

The North Sea is, however, an enclosed one, and little more than a bay
of the Atlantic. Its swell is not so great, nor its storms so violent,
as those of the open sea beyond, towards the north and west; where the
Atlantic breaks on one side against Greenland and North America, and on
the other against Norway, Scotland, and Ireland. The sand-banks and
shoals which form a sufficient defence for Jutland against the North
Sea, would there scarcely be able to resist the open and agitated ocean.
On the extreme north-western coasts of Europe, the Atlantic has
completely washed away the earth and sand; the bare cliffs, which often
rise to a considerable height, alone remain, and still defy the fury of
the waves. These rocky coasts, with their numerous towering and ragged
crags, with their many and deeply-indented fiords, convey an idea of the
power and greatness of the sea as striking as it is true. Everywhere
outside lie rocky islands, which, like outposts, stop the advancing
waves, and only allow them, if with increased speed, yet with diminished
power, to approach the land through narrow channels, or sounds. During
violent storms some of the islands are flooded by the sea, which, as it
rolls forwards, strives to overtop the cliffs; whence it glides back,
again to repeat the same vain attempt. The firm, rocky, isle-bound
coasts of Norway, Scotland, and Ireland, are evidently for Europe what
the sand-banks and shoals of Jutland are for Denmark.

It is natural, therefore, that those countries which in the
north-westernmost part of Europe lie farthest out towards the Atlantic
Ocean—such as the Scandinavian Peninsula, Scotland, Ireland, and part of
England—should have their highest and wildest mountains and cliffs
towards the west, and in the neighbourhood of the sea. This is more
clearly seen the farther we proceed northwards: namely, in the
Scandinavian Peninsula and in Scotland.

In Norway the rocks often rise almost perpendicularly out of the sea. In
the neighbourhood of the coast they reach a considerable height, and
then sink gradually towards the east, until they lose themselves in the
broad and comparatively low valleys of Sweden. Whole rows of islands lie
scattered along the west coast of Norway, round which the sea often
whirls in impetuous eddies. On the coast itself, where the land is most
exposed to the bleak sea winds, such extensive forests are not to be
seen as in the interior of the country; nor do any fertilizing streams
wind their way through the short and narrow valleys. It is only here and
there that the water from the rocky springs or melted snows, leaps,
after a short course, over the edge of the cliff into the open sea, or
into the deep fiords with which the coasts are everywhere indented. The
greatest rivers in Norway take a more eastern course, and often make
their way from the Norwegian highlands through the richly-wooded
lowlands of Sweden to the Baltic. In Sweden the coasts are neither so
steep nor so indented as in Norway. The waves of the enclosed and
comparatively quiet Baltic do not require to be resisted like those of
the Atlantic Ocean.

Very similar features are found in Scotland. The whole of the northern
and western coast lying towards the Atlantic is wild and rocky, with
numerous islands, deep firths, and steep shores; behind which, rock
towers upon rock, as if to form an impenetrable barrier against the sea.
The country is almost without forests, the streams and the valleys are
of small extent, and fertility consequently very limited. But by degrees
the rocks sink down towards the south-east and east, till they terminate
in the broad, well-watered, and fertile coast districts along the North
Sea; which, on account of their inconsiderable elevation, are called the
Lowlands of Scotland. Thus the Highlands answer very nearly to Norway,
and the Lowlands to Sweden. But as the Scandinavian Peninsula is larger
than Scotland, so also are its natural features on the whole on a
grander scale. The rocks of Norway are mountains of primitive granite,
which in some places rise to a height of 8000 feet, and of which large
ranges are covered with eternal snow and ice. Scotland, on the contrary,
has transition rocks, whose highest peak, Ben Nevis, which is only
somewhat more than 4300 feet above the sea, is not even always covered
with snow. Nor can the Scottish Lowlands be compared as to extent to the
Swedish valleys, with their immense forests and their large rivers and
lakes. Nevertheless the natural features of Scotland are in their way no
less beautiful than those of the Scandinavian Peninsula. The sea, which
indents the coasts on all sides; the well-cultivated, and partly also
well-wooded plains, which, particularly towards the mountain districts,
undulate in hill and dale; and lastly the Highland itself, with its many
streams, waterfalls, firths, and lakes, afford the richest and most
magnificent variety. To these features may be added a milder climate,
and in the Lowlands a far richer fertility, than in Norway and Sweden;
which have considerably contributed to give the landscapes of Scotland,
even in the wildest districts of the Highlands, a somewhat softer tinge
than is found in the high Scandinavian North.

A very marked difference exists between the Scottish Highlands and
Lowlands, not only with regard to the nature of the country, but also to
the original descent and the characteristics of the present population.
The Lowlands, which are the seat of a highly-developed agricultural,
domestic, and manufacturing industry, are inhabited by a strong and
laborious people, speaking a peculiar dialect of the English language,
and descended partly from the Celtic Scots, but more particularly from
immigrant Anglo-Saxons, Danes, Norwegians, Normans, and Flemings.
Commerce and trade, carried on by means of canals, railways, steamships,
and similar easy means of communication, thrive vigorously in large and
wealthy cities.

The Highlands, on the contrary, which only a century ago were almost
inaccessible from the land side, have scarcely a large town. Rocks and
heaths are found instead of the fruitful fields of the Lowlands. With
the exception of a few districts farthest towards the north-east, where
the soil is more fertile, there are only seen in the valleys, along the
firths, and by the sea, small fields of barley and oats, which would not
yield the most scanty subsistence to the poor inhabitants if the rocks
did not afford pasture for cattle and numerous flocks of sheep; and if
the sea, the firths, which abound with fish, as well as the rivers and
lakes, did not contribute some part of their riches. The hardy Highland
Scots, a great part of whom do not understand, or at all events do not
speak English, but still commonly use the Celtic or Gaelic tongue, live
here thinly scattered in poor and low peat cabins, which it is often
difficult to distinguish from the surrounding rocks. The Highlanders in
the districts farthest towards the west and north have preserved their
language and other national characteristics purest; for farther towards
the Lowlands, a more modern civilization has gradually forced its way
forwards, in spite of the mountains. The old warlike dress which
formerly distinguished the Highlander, particularly so long as clanship
was in full vigour, has, since the annihilation of that system, become
every day more rare. The kilt, or short skirt, has almost entirely given
place to more modern clothing; the tartan plaid alone is still seen
wrapped in the old fashion round the shoulders of the Highlander.

In our days the various tribes of the Highland and Lowland populations
live in peaceful union under one and the same government. But during
several centuries Scotland was the theatre of the most sanguinary
contests between the Celtic Highlanders and the Teutonic Lowlanders. The
former, who were animated with an inveterate hatred of the Lowlanders,
continually made hostile incursions into the Lowlands, and, after
burning and ravaging the country, retired with cattle and other booty to
their mountains, whither they knew well the Lowlanders durst not follow
them. The exasperation and hatred of the Highlanders were not entirely
without foundation. In ancient times they had been sole masters in
Scotland, from the Cheviot Hills to the Orkneys and the Shetland Isles,
and from the Atlantic Ocean to the North Sea; and they had retained this
mastery even long after their kinsmen, the Britons in England, had been
compelled to yield to the Romans and Anglo-Saxons.

The celebrated Roman commander, Agricola, had, it is true, in the first
century after the birth of Christ, made his way so far into the Lowlands
that, as a defence against the Highlanders—the much-dreaded Caledonians,
or Picts—he constructed a wall with a deep ditch before it, from the
Firth of Forth to that of Clyde, in the low tract through which the
Glasgow Canal has since been conducted. The Romans even extended their
conquests farther northwards, as far as Burghead on the Moray Firth, to
which place they formed regular high roads. But they were not able to
defend themselves against the persevering attacks of the Caledonians, or
Picts, and were soon obliged to retreat to the south of the Cheviot
Hills; where the great wall, with its many towers and deep ditches,
which they had built from the Solway Firth to the River Tyne, became
their chief defence against the harassing inroads of the Highland
warriors. But this wall also was surmounted by the Picts, whose courage
and daring increased in proportion as the power of the Romans, both at
home and abroad, was rapidly waning. At last the Picts destroyed the
wall, and after the fall of the Roman dominion, made incursions into
England, where neither the descendants of the Romans, nor the Britons,
found any means to repel them. It was not till the Anglo-Saxon conquest
of England that the Picts were again compelled to fly towards the north
over the Cheviot Hills, where they found sufficient employment in
defending their own homes.

For, whilst they were spreading themselves over the rich plains of the
north of England, a foreign, though nearly related, Celtic people, the
Scots from Ireland, had taken possession of their south-western frontier
districts. Hence they spread themselves to such a degree over the
Lowlands that both these and the Highlands, though the latter were
almost entirely independent of the Scottish sovereigns, were called by
one name, Scotland. After many battles the older Pictish inhabitants
were, about the year 900, entirely amalgamated with the Scots in the
Lowlands. Meanwhile a storm had gathered which threatened no less danger
to the Scots in the Lowlands, than to their kinsmen, the Picts, in the
Highlands. The dominion of the Celts, which had long before ceased in
other and more accessible lands, was no longer to find a sure place of
refuge even in Scotland, though its coasts were protected by the stormy
Northern Sea, and its interior filled with rocks and warlike men.

                               ----------

                              SECTION II.

      The Anglo-Saxons.—The Danes and Norwegians.—Effects of their
                              Expeditions.

The same want of unity and the same internal disputes which had brought
ruin on the Celts in other places, prepared the way for foreign
conquerors in Scotland. An indomitable fate decreed that the newer and
higher civilization of Christianity should here, as in the rest of
Europe, be founded and promoted by a Teutonic people. But though the
Anglo-Saxons had conquered almost all England, they were not able, by
their own power, to subdue the Celts in Scotland. The Anglo-Saxon kings
undertook, indeed, several expeditions against that country, in which
they were at times pretty successful; but they were not able to hold
steady possession even of the Lowlands. Subsequently, however, the
Anglo-Saxons wandered by degrees, and in a more peaceful manner, from
the northernmost parts of England over the Scottish border, and
established themselves both in the towns and in the rural districts. The
number of these emigrants appears to have increased very considerably
after the conquests of the Danes and Norwegians in the midland and
northern districts of England in the ninth and tenth centuries, when a
great part of the Anglo-Saxons were driven from their old dwellings, and
obliged to fly towards the north. Saxon institutions may even have been
introduced into the Lowlands in the tenth and eleventh centuries, after
an expedition of the Anglo-Saxon king Edgar. But the rocky highlands of
the interior constantly defied all conquest; and the northern and
western coasts, together with the surrounding islands, could be subdued
only by considerable fleets, which the Anglo-Saxons did not possess.

But what in this respect the Anglo-Saxons were obliged to leave undone,
was for the most part accomplished by the warlike and shrewd men of the
Scandinavian North, who were then masters of the sea. Even from the
oldest times, connections, both of a warlike and peaceful nature, had
existed between Scotland and the opposite shores of Scandinavia. The old
Sagas, for instance, bear witness that the Danish king Frode’s daughter,
Ulfhilde, was married to “the founder of the Scottish kingdom;” and that
the Danish prince Amleth (Hamlet) married the Scotch queen, Hermuntrude.
From Denmark, moreover, and particularly from Jutland, many colonists
afterwards emigrated to the Scotch Lowlands, whose coasts were, besides,
plundered by the Danish Vikings.

The Danish colonists, even in the north of England, were much mixed with
Norwegians, and this was still more the case in the Scottish Lowlands.
The more north the districts lay, the farther were they removed from
Denmark, and the nearer did they approach Norway; whilst the features of
the country much more resembled the Norwegian fiords, valleys, and
rocks. Whilst, therefore, the Scandinavian colonists in the Lowlands
were of Norwegian-Danish descent, the Highlands and islands farthest
towards the north and west, were conquered, and in part peopled, by
Norwegians only. This happened about the same time as the Danish
conquests and settlements in England. The Norwegians founded kingdoms on
the northern and western coasts of Scotland, which existed for centuries
after the destruction of the Danish power in England. They introduced
their own manners, customs, and laws, and gave Norwegian names to the
places colonized by them. They appear not unfrequently to have married
native Celts; at least it is often stated that Norwegian chiefs married
daughters of the Celtic, or Pictish, and Scotch aristocracy, whose pure
nationality and power were thus gradually broken down. The unfortunate
Celts were now in a painful position. The Celtic Scots in the Lowlands
were pressed upon by the Anglo-Saxons and Northmen, whilst the Pictish
Highlanders were assailed both from the Lowlands and from the Norwegian
kingdoms in the west and north. The most essential result of the
Norwegian conquests and settlements in the Scotch Highlands was, that
the Northmen, in conjunction with the Norwegian-Danish colonists in the
Lowlands, and with the Anglo-Saxons who dwelt there, overthrew the
Celtic dominion, and, like the Danes in England, prepared the way for
the eventual triumph of the Norman spirit and Norman institutions. In
the Lowlands this took place in the twelfth century, but much later in
the Highlands and surrounding islands.

As a close union was thus effected between the long-separated Highlands
and Lowlands, and a higher and more widely-diffused civilization
introduced among the people in both, it may justly be asserted that the
Norwegian conquests in the Highlands, and the Norwegian-Danish
settlements in the Lowlands, were particularly fortunate for Scotland.
It must always, indeed, be a subject of regret that so brave, and in
many respects so noble, a people as the Caledonians and their
descendants, should be exterminated. Who can observe without a feeling
of sadness how the last feeble remnants of Scotland’s ancient masters,
after having been expelled from the glorious Lowlands, cannot even now
find rest among the barren rocks, and in the few arable valleys of the
Highlands, but are obliged, year after year, in increasing numbers, to
seek another home farther west, in the new world beyond the Atlantic?
But, viewing the matter as it regards enlightenment and civilization, no
charge can be reasonably brought against the Norwegians or Northmen, for
having co-operated in Scotland to expel a people whose brethern and
kinsmen had in every country which they occupied shown themselves
incapable of adopting the new and milder manners of Christianity; and
who, once before subdued by the Romans, had been compelled to yield to
the fresher and more powerful Teutonic tribes of the Franks and
Anglo-Saxon.

No small portion of the present population of Scotland, both in the
Lowlands and on the remotest coasts and isles of the Highlands, is
undoubtedly descended from the Northmen, and particularly from the
Norwegians. Both the Norwegians and Danes, wherever they established
themselves, introduced their Scandinavian customs, and preserved, in all
circumstances, the fundamental traits of their national character. It
becomes, therefore, probable that the Norwegian settlers in Scotland
must, in certain districts at least, have exercised a vast influence on
the development of the more modern life of the Scotch people, and on
their national character. This is indeed actually and visibly the case.
Yet, although the Norwegian kingdoms on the coasts of Scotland subsisted
long after the downfall of the Danish power in England, still the
effects of the Norwegian conquests in Scotland were far from being so
great, or so universally felt there, as the results of the Danish
conquests were in England. The Norwegian language was completely
supplanted in the Hebrides by old Celtic or Gaelic; and on the Shetland
Isles, the Orkneys, and the north coast of Scotland, by English. The
Norwegian laws and institutions either entirely disappeared in these
parts, or were formed anew after quite different models. Not even in the
purely Norwegian Orkneys and Shetland Isles, though they remained united
with Norway and Denmark until far in the fifteenth century, could the
inhabitants maintain the ancient freedom which they had inherited from
their forefathers. The free tenure of land, or right of “Udal,” was, for
the most part, annihilated by the most shameful oppression. Established
on many small, poor, and widely-separated islands, the Norwegians in
Scotland could neither obtain such influence for their laws and
institutions, nor concert so united and powerful a resistance against
oppression, as their more fortunate Danish kinsmen in the open, rich,
and densely-peopled plains of northern England.

In spite of the acknowledged fact that the Norwegians were the most
numerous of all the Scandinavian colonists in Scotland, we constantly
hear Norwegian achievements and Norwegian memorials referred to “the
Danes.” Under this common appellation are also generally included, as in
England, Norwegians and Swedes. The causes of this must probably be
sought in the long dominion of Denmark over Norway, in the brisker and
more uninterrupted communication which Scotland maintained with Denmark,
in comparison with any other part of the North, and lastly, in the
reciprocal marriages between the ancient Scotch and Danish royal
families, which in former times contributed, in no small degree, to bind
the Scotch and Danish people together. But the preponderance of the
Danish name must also be attributed to the pre-eminent power of the
Danes in ancient times, and in the early middle ages; and, of course,
more particularly to that supreme dominion which they had so gloriously
won for themselves in the neighbouring country—England.

                               ----------

                              SECTION III.

          The Lowlands.—Population.—Language.—Norwegian-Danish
                            Names of Places.

The boundaries between Scotland and England were anciently very
unsettled. After the time of the Romans, the Anglo-Saxon and Danish
kings speedily extended their dominion over the Cheviot Hills, and
frequently to the Firths of Clyde and Forth; whilst considerable tracts
of the north of England, particularly in the north-western districts,
were sometimes united with the Scotch Lowlands, or with kingdoms which
existed there. Until England and Scotland were at length united under
one crown, the north of England was almost uninterruptedly the theatre
of the bitterest border warfare. The blood of many thousands of bold
warriors has been spilt on that land which now teems with the blessings
of wealth and peace.

Part of this old border land, or the most southern part of the present
Scotland, from the Cheviot Hills to the narrow neck of land between the
Firths of Clyde and Forth,—a tract of about sixty English miles—has not
a much more mountainous character than the north of England. The hills
undulate in the same gentle forms; and it is only here and there that a
single rugged mountain shows its heath-covered or bare and peaked top.
Large and well-cultivated plains alternate with charming valleys, which
are frequently narrow, and so fertile that in some places creeping
plants, bushes, and trees, almost entirely conceal the rivulets that
wind through them.

The Highlands extend themselves from the Firth of Clyde to the
north-west and north; whilst the Lowlands take a direction from the
Firth of Forth along the eastern border of the Highlands, and by the
coasts of the North Sea. To the Firth of Tay, and northwards to the
Grampian Hills, the Lowlands are not very broad or extensive, whilst the
Highland mountains nearly approach the seashore. It is not till we have
crossed the Grampian Hills that those large level plains open upon us
which comprehend the north-easternmost part of Scotland, particularly
the present Aberdeenshire. From these less-wooded plains we turn towards
the north-west into the fertile and well-wooded Moray; whence a
transition again takes place to the Highlands, which begin in the
adjoining shire of Inverness. At this extreme point the Lowlands have,
as it were, exhausted all their splendour and abundance. Down towards
the coast the land is filled with gently-sloping hills, and intersected
by rivers, whose rapid currents remind one of the neighbourhood of the
mountains. At a distance from the coast the land rises, the tops of the
mountains become barer and sharper, the valleys have a greater depth,
and the roaring of the streams over fragments of rock is heard more
distinctly. The mountains, as they rise from the Lowlands to the
Highlands, afford in a still higher degree than the more southern border
mountains, the most enchanting prospects over the coasts and sea. It is
with difficulty that the spectator tears himself from the view of the
charms of the Lowlands, to bury himself in the dark mountains that rise
so solemn and menacing before him.

Throughout the Lowlands, the people, both in personal appearance and
character, very much resemble the inhabitants of the north of England.
This is particularly the case with the inhabitants of the southern
borders, between the Cheviot Hills and the Firths of Clyde and Forth.
The same light-coloured hair and the same frame of body, which, in the
north of England, remind us of the people’s descent from the
Scandinavians, indicate here also considerable immigrations of that
people into the southern part of Scotland, and thence farther up along
the east coast. According to a very common saying here, even the
language of the Lowlands is so much like that of Scandinavia, that
Lowland seamen wrecked on the coasts of Jutland and Norway have been
able to converse without difficulty in their mother tongue with the
common people there. This is undoubtedly a great exaggeration; but this
much is certain, that the popular language in the Lowlands contains a
still greater number of Scandinavian words and phrases than even the
dialect of the north of England. We must not unhesitatingly believe that
the Saxon language did not extend itself from the north of England to
the Scotch Lowlands till after it had been mixed with Danish; although
the remote situation of the latter, so high towards the north, was
certainly far more adapted to preserve the old Danish forms of words
than that of north England, which was more exposed to the operation of
newer fashions. But the Danish or Scandinavian elements in the popular
language of the Lowlands are too considerable to admit of such a
supposition, not to speak of the Scandinavian appearance of the
inhabitants. These necessarily indicate Scandinavian immigrations; and,
to judge from the present popular language, we might be easily tempted
to believe that a far greater number of Northmen had settled in the
Scottish Lowlands than in the middle and northern districts of England.
We might, consequently, also expect to meet with a proportionately
greater number of Scandinavian names of places in the Lowlands than in
England.

But this is very far from being the case. Extremely few places with
Scandinavian names are to be found in the Scotch Lowlands; and even
those few are confined, almost without exception, to the old border land
between the Cheviot Hills and the Firths of Clyde and Forth, and to the
counties nearest the English border. Dumfriesshire, lying directly north
of Cumberland and the Solway Firth, forms the central point of such
places. Northumberland and Durham, the two north-easternmost counties of
England, contain but a scanty number of them; and consequently must have
possessed, in early times at least, no very numerous Scandinavian
population. Cumberland, on the contrary, was early remarkable for such a
population; whence it will appear natural enough that the first
Scandinavian colonists in the Scotch border lands preferred to settle in
the neighbourhood of that county. On the south-easternmost coast of
Scotland, they would not only have been separated from their countrymen
in the north of England by two intervening counties, but also divided by
a broad sea from their kinsmen in Denmark and Norway. Such a situation
would have been much more exposed and dangerous for them than the
opposite coast, where they had in their neighbourhood the counties of
Cumberland and Westmoreland, inhabited by the Northmen, as well as the
Scandinavian colonies in Ireland and the Isle of Man.

The Scandinavian population in Dumfriesshire evidently appears to have
emigrated from Cumberland over the Liddle and Esk into the plains which
spread themselves westward of those rivers; at least the names of places
there have the very same character as in Cumberland. Not only are the
mountains called “fell” (Fjeld) and “rigg” (Ryg), as is also the case in
the other border lands, but, what is more peculiar to Dumfriesshire, the
terminations of “thwaite,” “beck,” and “garth,” not to mention “by,” or
“bie,” are transplanted hither from Cumberland: as, Thornythwaite,
Twathwaites, Robiethwaite, Murraythwaite, Helbeck, Greenbeck, Botchbeck,
Torbeck, Stonybeck, Waterbeck, Hartsgarth, Tundergarth, Applegarth,
Locherby, Alby, Middlebie, Dunnaby, Wysebie, Perceby, Denbie, Newby,
Milby, Warmanbie, Sorbie, Canoby, and others.

These Scandinavian names of places are chiefly met with between the
rivers Esk and Nith. Various authors have also endeavoured to show that
the fishermen on the Nith have to the present day characteristic and
original Scandinavian terms for their tackle and modes of fishing:—for
instance, “pocknet,” Icelandic _pokanet_; “leister,” or “lister,”
Icelandic _ljóstr_, Danish _Lyster_; “haaving,” Norwegian _haave_,
_i.e._, to draw small nets in the water, &c., &c. Somewhat east of the
river, and north of the town of Dumfries, lies the parish of “Tinwald,”
a name undoubtedly identical with Thingvall, or Tingvold; which, as the
appropriate Scandinavian term for places where the _Thing_ was held, is
found in other districts of the British Isles colonized by the Northmen.
And it was, indeed, natural that the Scandinavian colonists in the
south-east of Scotland should fix their chief _Thing_ place in the
district most peopled by them.

From Dumfriesshire the Scandinavian names of places branch off as it
were in an arch towards the west and east. Some few appear at intervals
towards the west, as in Kircudbright (Begbie, Cogarth), in Wigton
(Sorby, Killiness), in Ayr (opposite little Cumbray, Crosby, Sterby,
Bushby, and Magby), and also in Lanark (Bushby, close to the south-west
of Glasgow). Towards the east, some few are met with in Roxburgh, as,
for instance, on the borders of Cumberland, “Corby,” and
“Stonegarthside,” and on the frontier of Northumberland several in
_haugh_ (Höi, a hill) and _holm_. But on the whole only a few in _by_
are still to be found on the borders between Berwick and Haddington
(such as Humbie, Blegbie, and Pockbie). Towards Glasgow and Edinburgh
the mountains are no longer called “fell” and “rigg.” The Scandinavian
names of places cease entirely in these districts; and only the
Scandinavian word “fjörðr,” or Fjord, is heard here, as well as farther
towards the north in the names of fiords (or firths) namely: Firth of
Forth, Firth of Clyde, Firth of Tay, Moray Firth, and Dornoch Firth.

In the Lowlands, the number of Scandinavian names of places is quite
insignificant when compared with the original Celtic, or even with the
Anglo-Saxon names. Whence we may conclude that though a considerable
immigration of Northmen into the Lowlands undoubtedly took place, it
must have occurred under circumstances which prevented them from being
sufficiently powerful to change the original names of places. We must,
in particular, assume that the immigration took place much later than
the Danish conquests in England; and on the whole we shall not be far
from the truth in asserting, that as the Danish conquests in England
must have driven many Anglo-Saxons into Scotland, so also the subsequent
Norman conquest must have compelled many Danes and Norwegians, settled
in the north of England, to cross the Scottish border.

According to this view, most of the Scandinavian settlements in the
middle and northern parts of the Lowlands are to be referred at the
earliest to the close of the eleventh century; and at so late a period
an entire change of the ancient names of places then existing there,
could not, of course, be effected.

                               ----------

                              SECTION IV.

      Traditions concerning “the Danes.”—The Southern and Northern
                 Lowlands.—Danish Memorials.—Burghead.

We cannot venture to conclude, from the few Scandinavian names of places
found in the Lowlands, that the immigrant Scandinavian population was
but inconsiderable; nor can we presume to infer either the extent or the
period of the immigration from the numberless traditions respecting the
Danes preserved throughout that district. For, although the Lowlands
were far from being conquered by the Danes and Norwegians so early as
England was, still the number of alleged Danish memorials, even of a
remote age, is proportionately as great in the former as in the latter
country. Tradition has gradually ascribed almost all the memorials
existing in the Lowlands which are of any importance to “the Danes;”
nay, even the learned have, down to the present day, been too much
inclined to recognise traces of the _bloody Danes_ in the much more
ancient Pictish, Roman, and Scottish monuments.

The traditions about the Danes have much the same character in the
Lowlands as in England. They depict in vivid and touching traits the
misery of the people and of the country under the repeated attacks of
the wild sons of the sea, whose arrival, departure, and whole conduct,
were as variable as the wind. When large bands of Vikings had landed,
and the Scots had assembled an army to oppose them, it would sometimes
happen that in the morning, when all was ready for the attack, the
foreign ravagers were sought for in vain. In the darkness of the night
they had taken the opportunity secretly to re-embark, and rumour soon
announced to the army that the Vikings had again landed in quite a
different part of the country, where they were spreading death and
desolation. The Lowlander tells with horror of the many innocent women
and children, not to speak of the numbers of brave men, who were
slaughtered; of the churches, convents, and towns, that were destroyed
by fire; and of the numerous herds of cattle and flocks of sheep, which,
together with valuables of all sorts were carried off to the ships of
the Vikings.

Although the Vikings are renowned in England for drunkenness and other
kinds of dissipation, yet in Scotland tradition still more highly
magnifies the inclination of the Danes for intoxicating liquors, and
particularly for ale. It is also a general belief among the common
people throughout Scotland and Ireland that the Danes brewed their
strong ale from heather; a tradition which probably arose from the
circumstance that in ancient times the Northmen spiced their ale with
herbs; as, for instance, in Denmark with Dutch myrtle, or sweet willow
(_Dan._, Porse), which grows in marshy heaths.

For the rest, there can be no doubt that the Scotch stories about the
drunkenness of the Danes were a good deal multiplied in far later times,
at the period, namely, when the Princess Anne, a sister of Christian the
Fourth, was married to the Scotch king James the Sixth, or James the
First of England. Queen Anne was accompanied to Scotland by several
Danish noblemen, who introduced at court, and among its hangers-on, the
same carousing and revelling which at that time prevailed in far too
high a degree at the court of Denmark. Burns, in his poem of “_The
Whistle_,” celebrates an ebony whistle still preserved in the family of
Ferguson of Craigdarrock, which is said to have originally belonged to
one of Queen Anne’s Danish courtiers.

This Dane, who, even among his own countrymen, had the reputation of a
great drinker, challenged the Scotch to drink with him for a wager, and
promised the whistle to him who could drink him under the table. At the
same time he produced evidence to show that in all his many drinking
bouts at various northern courts in Russia and Germany, he had never
been vanquished. However, after drinking three consecutive days and
nights with Sir Robert Lawrie of Maxwelton, the Dane fell under the
table, and Sir Robert gained the whistle. Sir Robert’s son afterwards
lost it again at a similar drinking bout with Walter Riddel of
Glenriddel, from whose descendants it passed in the same way into the
family which now possesses it.

But as a contrast to the many naturally exaggerated tales about the
excesses committed by the Danes both in earlier and later times, it is
refreshing to meet with romantic traditions about Danish warriors, whose
bravery and comeliness could win the hearts of Scottish maidens, even
whilst the curses of the Scots were heaped on “the Danish Vikings.” A
Danish warrior had been carried off by the Scots during an expedition
into Morayshire, and imprisoned in a strong tower, where a speedy death
awaited him. But the daughter of the lord of the castle, who had fallen
in love with him, and found a requital of her affection, opened his
prison door one night, and fled with him. When morning came the lord of
the castle set off in pursuit of the fugitives, and overtook them on the
banks of the river Findhorn, which runs through Morayshire. The lovers,
who were both on one horse, attempted to swim the river; but the jaded
animal could not make head against the stream, and the fugitive couple
found a watery grave in the depths of the Findhorn. Near Dalsie, in
Nairnshire, is a small sequestered valley on the banks of the Findhorn,
inclosed by smooth sloping banks, overgrown with weeping birches. In the
midst of this charming spot is seen a grave composed of stones heaped
up, at one end of which stands a tall monumental slab, ornamented with
carvings of a cross and other antique figures. This slab, the people
say, is a monument to the unfortunate lady.

There is nothing intrinsically improbable in this tradition, since
history testifies that the daughters of Scottish kings married
Norwegian-Danish kings; whilst they, or at all events their countrymen,
were making war in Scotland. In the beginning of the tenth century, the
Scotch king, Constantine the Third, in conjunction with the more
northern Anglo-Saxons, beat the Danes, who had passed over from Dublin
under Reginald and Godfrey O’Ivar (Godfred Ivarsön), in a great battle
near the Clyde. Although Constantine, during nearly the whole of his
reign, had to fight against Danish and Norwegian Vikings, yet he gave
his daughter in marriage to Anlaf, or Olaf, king of the Danes in Dublin
and Northumberland; nay, he even fought with Olaf and his
Danish-Norwegian army against the Anglo-Saxons at the battle of
Brunanborg. Sigurd, Jarl of the Orkneys, was also married to a daughter
of the Scotch king, Malcolm the Second (1003-1033), although he had made
devastating incursions and conquests in Malcolm’s lands.

The attacks of the Norwegians and Danes on the Scottish Lowlands were so
continuous that out of seven monarchs who reigned over the Scots from
863 to 961, or about a century, three are related to have fallen whilst
fighting against the Danes. These monarchs are, however, said to have
purchased decisive victories with their blood. If we compare the
unsuccessful expeditions of the Northmen into the Scottish Lowlands with
the great conquests made by the Danes in England, we shall not wonder
that the inhabitants of the former country relate with a sort of pride
the many victories of their forefathers over “the Danes;” nor shall we
be surprised that the popular traditions, which point out the ancient
battle fields, scarcely admit even the possibility of the Danes having
been victorious.

In the southern and middle Lowlands (to the south of the Grampian Hills)
the Firths of Forth and Tay afforded excellent landing places for the
ancient Vikings. Many battles, therefore, were fought in their
neighbourhood. In the vicinity of a rampart called “_the Danes’ dyke_,”
in the parish of Crail, close to Fifeness, and between the firths just
mentioned, the Scotch king Constantine, Kenneth’s son, is said to have
fallen in a battle against the Danes in 881. Forteviot, or Abernethy,
the ancient capital of the Picts, which the Vikings often tried to
plunder, lay in the innermost part of the Firth of Tay. The defence of
this place, by King Donald the Fourth, in 961, cost him his life. Near
Redgorton, in Perthshire, is a farm called “Denmark;” close to which are
to be seen remains of intrenchments, besides tumuli, and monumental
stones, said to originate from a defeat suffered by the Danes at this
spot.

The most famous battle in these parts is, however, related to have taken
place on the northern shore of the mouth of the Firth of Tay. In the
reign of Malcolm the Second, after the Danes had already made themselves
masters of England, the attacks of the Vikings began to assume a more
dangerous character. A number of them landed in the Bay of Lunan, in
Forfarshire, whence they plundered and laid waste the country for many
miles around. But to the east of Dundee, near Barry, they encountered a
Scotch army, which defeated them, and compelled them to make a retreat,
during which they were again repeatedly beaten. Even to the present day
tradition points out a line of Danish monuments extending from Barry to
Aberlemno, in the neighbourhood of which place the last battles were
fought, and where human bones of a remarkable size are said to have been
often found in the tumuli. At Camuston, not far from Barry, stands a
stone cross called “Camus Cross,” on which are carved various kneeling
figures in an attitude of prayer. According to the statements of the
common people the cross was erected in memory of the Danish general
Camus, who fell at this spot. At Kirkbuddo were formerly seen the
remains of a Danish camp called “_Norway dikes_.” In the parish of
Inverkeilor, and near the farm called “Denmark,” traces of Danish
ramparts are also to be found; and at Aberlemno, Murphy, and many other
places, are seen sculptured monuments, said to have been erected in
commemoration of the before-mentioned fortunate victories over the
Danes.

It is of course by no means incredible that a great battle may have been
fought between the Scots and the Scandinavian Vikings in this district,
and at about the time mentioned. But it is perfectly clear that most of
the Danish monuments before noticed have no connection whatever with
this frequently-mentioned battle. The name _Camus_ is not at all a
Scandinavian one; and it is, besides, not only certain that the village
of Camuston was, in more ancient times, called “Cambestowne,” but also
that there are several similar names of places in the Lowlands, which
are most correctly derived from the old Celtic language. The sculptured
monuments in question have not, in fact, the least appearance of having
been erected after any battle. In a splendid work lately published (P.
Chalmers, “The Ancient Sculptured Monuments of the County of Angus,”
Edinburgh, 1848, folio), are to be found correct delineations of a
number of stones of the same kind, which are spread over Perthshire,
Forfarshire, Kincardineshire, and Aberdeenshire; and still more are to
be met with along the coasts of the northern Lowlands and north-eastern
Highlands. One, near St. Vigean, in Forfarshire, has an ancient Celtic
inscription; but, with this exception, no inscriptions are found upon
them. They are usually ornamented on one side with a cross and various
fantastic scrolls and ornaments, and on the other with biblical
representations, such as Adam and Eve at the tree of knowledge, Daniel
in the lion’s den, Samson with the jawbone of an ass, &c. Sometimes all
sorts of strange figures are found on them, such as crescents, sceptres,
mirrors, combs, and other articles; as well as serpents, lions,
elephants, horses, dogs, stags, elks, sphinxes, &c. On some stones we
find representations of the chase, with huntsmen, hornblowers, stags,
and hounds. The carving is for the most part executed with much skill,
and the whole style of the work seems referrible to the tenth or
eleventh century. It is beyond all doubt that these stones cannot be
ascribed to the Danish or Norwegian settlers, though several authors
have asserted the contrary. They are evidently Christian-Scotch
monuments, and have been erected with a very different aim from that
ascribed to them: some, probably, as boundary stones of landed
possessions and hunting-grounds; others as monumental stones to deceased
persons.

One of the Aberlemno stones—a rare exception to the rest—which stands
close by the church, represents on one side a battle, in which both foot
and horse are engaged, and in which a bird attacks a man wearing a
helmet, who tries in vain to cover himself with his shield. (See the
annexed woodcut.) Above is seen a mirror, and one of those inexplicable
figures which appear so frequently on stones of this kind. But in this
there is the peculiarity, that the figure intersected by the cross-bar
with the sceptres (?) at each end, is square, whilst in other instances
it is generally in the form of a crescent. On the back of the stone is
carved a cross covered with the finest scrolls and ornaments, and
surrounded by fantastic figures of animals interlaced together. The
height of the stone is about six feet. This monument might possibly have
been erected after a victory; but it still remains uncertain, whether
after a victory over the Danes. At all events, the stone is Scotch, and
not Scandinavian.

[Illustration: [++] Aberlemno Stone]

[Illustration: [++] Aberlemno Stone: Reverse]

The case is much the same with most of the so-called “Danish” forts,
camps, stone circles, and bauta stones; which are in general of Pictish
or Celtic origin. Had they really been erected by the Danes and
Norwegians, those nations must evidently have held confirmed dominion in
these parts for a length of time; but it is well known that, in the
early period in which these monuments were raised, they can be regarded
as masters, in the south and central Lowlands, only at very short and
far-distant intervals.

North of the Grampian Hills, and particularly in the district of Moray
(the “Mærhæfi” of the Sagas), the Norwegians and the Danes, it is true,
firmly established themselves for a somewhat longer period of time. In
the beginning of the eleventh century, for instance, they defeated the
Scots in a great battle near Kinloss, took the towns of Elgin and Nairn,
whose garrisons they put to the sword, and afterwards settled themselves
on the sea coast. But the kingdoms which they founded were speedily
destroyed without leaving any remarkable traces behind them; so that,
even in this district, we cannot place implicit reliance upon the many
different stories about the Danish monuments. According to a common and
not improbable tradition, the district of Moray, and the present
Aberdeenshire, were the theatres on which the last battles between the
Danish Vikings and the Scots were fought. Thus it is said that, in the
reign of Malcolm the Second, the Danes, after the battle of Kinloss,
suffered a great defeat at Mortlach in Banffshire, where Malcolm, as a
thank-offering to God, caused a convent to be built. This, again, was
partly the cause of Mortlach’s becoming the seat of a bishop. Popular
tradition states that the Scottish leader vowed during the battle to add
to the church in Mortlach as much as the length of his spear if he
succeeded in driving away the Danes. An ancient sculptured stone near
the church is mentioned as pointing out the Danish leader’s grave; and
the skulls of three Danish chiefs are still shown, built into the north
wall of the church, as a perpetual memorial. A similar tradition is
preserved about the church of Gamrie, also in Banffshire. The Earl of
Buchan vowed, in the heat of the battle, to build a church to St. John,
to replace that which the Danes had destroyed, if he gained the victory
over them. Three of the sacrilegious Danish chiefs, by whose command the
church had been desecrated, were found upon the field of battle, and in
a description of the church lately published we read as follows:—“I have
seen their skulls grinning horrid and hollow in the wall where they had
been fixed, inside the church, directly east of the pulpit, and where
they have remained in their prison house 800 years!”

It is further stated that, on account of the repeated defeats which the
Danes and Norwegians had suffered in the Scotch Lowlands, King Svend
Tvskjæg sent, in the year 1012, his son Canute, who afterwards became
king of England, with a large fleet and army to the northern part of the
Lowlands. Canute landed on the coast of Buchan (Aberdeenshire), near the
Castle of Slaines, in the parish of Cruden (or Crudane). Here a very
fierce battle was fought, which can scarcely have been favourable to the
Danes, since a treaty was afterwards concluded between them and the
Scotch, according to which the Danes were to evacuate the fortress
called “Burghead,” in Moray, then occupied by them, as well as the rest
of their possessions in the kingdom of Scotland. According to the same
treaty the field of battle was to be consecrated by a bishop as a
burial-place for the Danes who had fallen on it, and a chapel was to be
built there in which masses should be continually sung for their souls.
In this neighbourhood also there was certainly, at one time, a chapel
dedicated to the Norwegian saint, Olave; but the ruins of this chapel,
as well as the old churchyard, have since been destroyed by quicksands.
The wind, however, by blowing away the sand, still brings, at times, the
fragile bones of the Danes to the light of day.

Straight out of the town of Forres, in Nairnshire, stands a stone nearly
twenty feet high, on one side of which is seen a large and handsome
cross, and under it some indistinct human figures. On the other side is
carved a number of horsemen and people on foot, evidently representing
an execution on a great scale; several bodies are seen, and by the side
of them the dissevered heads. The sculpture is executed with the
greatest care, and displays some very tasteful ornaments, which,
however, are now partly effaced through the action of time on the soft
stone. The pillar is commonly called “Svenós stone,” and tradition
relates that it was erected to commemorate the treaty of peace concluded
between Svend Tveskjæg and King Malcolm, and the expulsion of the Danes
from the coasts of Moray. But the sculptures at present existing on the
stone do not in the slightest degree represent anything of the kind. The
stone belongs to the same class of monuments as the sculptured Scotch
stones before described, which are so numerous in the Lowlands, and in
the north-eastern Highlands, particularly Inverness-shire, Ross-shire,
and Cromartyshire.

One of the few places in the Lowlands, which may with reason be assumed
to have preserved considerable traces of the Danish expeditions, lies in
the neighbourhood of the towns of Forres and Elgin. It is a promontory
which projects in a north-western direction almost a mile into the sea.
Towards its head its steep craggy shores are from eighty to a hundred
feet high. This extreme point, which incloses a small harbour, and which
presents a level surface on its top, where the fishing village of
“Burghead” is situated, was formerly separated from the main land by
three immense parallel ramparts, fifteen to twenty feet high, with cross
ramparts lying between, as well as deep and broad ditches, of which
there are still considerable remains. That the Romans had a fortress
here (said to have been named “Ultima Ptoroton”) was clearly proved
several years ago, when a Roman well, which is still used, was
discovered cut in the rock. But for Vikings, like the Norwegians and
Danes, this place afforded a still better refuge than for the Romans.
Towards the land side, which is in some degree barren and uninhabited,
they could easily defend themselves; and from the sea, the Scots could
attack them only by entering the harbour, where the well-equipped
vessels of the Northmen of course prevented their landing. In all
probability, therefore, the Norwegians and Danes still further fortified
this important point, and gave it, perhaps, its present name. Tradition,
at least, relates that the Danes, after taking Nairn, isolated the town
or fortress, and called it “Borgen” (the castle); in which account it is
very probable that the names of Nairn and the neighbouring Burghead have
been confounded. The latter place gradually gained such importance that
it was the last stronghold the Danes possessed in the Lowlands.

It is therefore clear that the Danes, or rather the Norwegians and
Danes, have scarcely a right to claim many of the numberless monuments
in the Lowlands which both the learned and unlearned ascribe to them. In
fact, the whole eastern coast of Scotland, from the Cheviot Hills to
Moray Firth, is entirely destitute of characteristic and undoubted
Scandinavian monuments. It must, however, be remembered, that the actual
Scandinavian immigrations into the Lowlands certainly took place after
the Norman conquest of England; or, at all events, at so late a period
that the Northmen could not remould the Scotch names of places into
Scandinavian forms. Nor is it strange that the Scandinavian colonists in
the Lowlands, who at the close of the eleventh century had long been
Christians, and influenced by the civilization prevailing in England,
should neither have erected such monuments as stone circles, bauta
stones, cairns, and barrows, which presuppose a state of heathenism
among a people, nor have impressed their characteristics generally on
that district by means of peculiar memorials. For at that time they
played a subordinate part there, and afterwards gradually became very
much mixed with Celts, Anglo-Saxons, and subsequently even with Normans.

The very circumstance, however, that so large a tract of land as the
Scottish Lowlands lay out of the path of the Scandinavian conquerors
during the ninth, tenth, and first half of the eleventh centuries, was
the cause not only that the Danes were able to direct all their power
with more effect against England, but also that the Norwegians could
more easily subdue the Orkneys and the Shetland Isles, the Hebrides, and
various tracts in the northern and western Highlands. In these districts
much more perceptible traces of the Norwegian settlers, and of the
results which they produced, are still preserved, than in the Lowlands
of the in general transient devastations of the Danes and Norwegians.

                               ----------

                               SECTION V.

                 The Orkneys and Shetland Isles—Natural
                   Features.—Population.—Oppression.

We might expect that the most northern isles of Scotland, which lie
exposed in a stormy sea, should possess the same wild and mountainous
character as the Faroe Isles and Iceland. Such a belief gains strength
when, for the first time, in passing from Scotland, we obtain a view of
the southern Orkneys, especially the considerable mountain heights of
the Isle of Hay. Indeed Hay obtained its name (originally “Haey,” or the
high island) from the old Northmen, on account of the mountains which
distinguish it from the rest of the Orkneys; for on sailing farther
northwards, past Hay and the adjacent South Ronaldshay (formerly
“Rögnvaldsey”), we soon discover that the Orkneys are in general flat
and sandy, although with cliff-bound coasts. Their heath-covered hills
scarce deserve the name of mountains, though here and there called by
the inhabitants “fjolds,” or Fjelde (mountain rocks). The islands are
destitute of wood, and exhibit frequent ling moors and desert tracts of
heath. But there is also much, and by no means unfertile, cornland to be
found; and an improved system of agriculture has made such advances,
that the stranger is sometimes surprised, in these distant isles, by the
sight of luxuriant fields of wheat.

The waves of the sea, and the powerful currents, have intersected the
Orkneys with innumerable winding bays, or sounds. Besides Mainland, the
chief island (first called by the Norwegians “Hrossey,” and afterwards
“Meginland,” or the continent), the archipelago includes a great number
of islands of different sizes, which spread themselves in a north-east
direction from the north coast of Scotland. The farthest of the Orkneys
is Fairhill, or Fair Isle (formerly “Friðarey”). It lies almost midway
between the Orkneys and the Shetland Islands, in the midst of the rapid
current now called Sumburg Roost, but which the Norwegians in former
times called Dynröst (from “röst,” a maelstrom, or whirlpool); whence,
again, the most southern promontory of the Shetland Islands has obtained
the name of Dunrossness (Dynrasternes). The Shetland archipelago (the
old Northern “Hjaltland,” “Hjatland,” or “Hetland”), like that of the
Orkneys, forms a long-extended line, but differs from it in consisting
principally of one large island, Mainland (“Meginland”), surrounded by a
great number of proportionately small and insignificant ones.

The most southern point of Dunrossness, on Mainland, forms the
promontory of Sumburg Head (“Sunnbœjar-höfði”), which, however, is of no
very great height; indeed the highest mountain in Shetland is only about
fifteen hundred feet above the sea. Although the Shetland Islands, with
regard to mountains, are not to be compared with the Faroe Isles, still
they exhibit a sort of transition from the flatter Orkneys to the
mountainous character of the Faroe group. Before the coasts of Shetland
stand many high and ragged rocks, called “stacks” (old Norsk, “stackr”).
The coasts themselves are steeper, and the mountains larger than in the
Orkneys. On the other hand, however, the valleys are both longer and
broader than the mountain valleys of the Faroe Islands. Heath and
moorland abound, whilst the corn-fields are small, and the corn harvest
in general very uncertain and difficult to gather. Fishing is the most
important source of profit for the inhabitants.

The Orkneys and the Shetland Isles were, as is well known, completely
colonized by Norwegians in the ninth and tenth centuries. They were,
however, known and inhabited much earlier. It is possible that the
Shetland Islands were the “ultima Thule” spoken of by Roman authors in
the first centuries after Christ; but it is certain that the Romans at
that time knew the Orkneys by the name of “Orcades:” whence it appears
that the primitive root _Ork_, in the later Norwegian name of the
islands, is very ancient, and probably of Celtic origin. Before the
arrival of the Norwegians, both the Orkneys and the Shetland Islands
seem to have been inhabited by the same Pictish or Celtic race that was
settled in the rest of Scotland. Of these older inhabitants memorials
still exist in different kinds of antiquities of stone and bronze that
are dug out of the earth, as well as in numerous ruins of castles, or
Pictish towers, originally built of flag-stones laid together, without
any cement of loam or mortar. There are also cairns and stone circles;
the most prominent amongst which are the “Stones of Stennis,” on each
side of Brogar Bridge, in Orkney. They are, like Stonehenge and Abury
circle in England, surrounded with ditches and ramparts of earth; and,
after Stonehenge, must be regarded as amongst the largest stone circles
in the British Islands. The immense masses of erect stones are
remarkable evidences both of the strength and of the religious
enthusiasm of the old Celtic inhabitants; and it is no wonder that they
made in ancient times such an impression on the Norwegians, on their
arrival at these islands, as to induce them to call the promontory on
which the largest circle stands “Steinsnes” (Stones-naze) and the
adjoining firth, “Steinsnesfjördr” (Stones-naze Firth, now Loch of
Stennis).

No sooner had the Scandinavian Vikings settled themselves, in the ninth
century, securely in these islands, than they became a central point for
the Northmen’s expeditions not only to the British Islands, but also to
Iceland and Greenland. Thus when Floke Vilgerdesön, or “Ravnefloke,”
went on a voyage of discovery from Norway to Iceland, he landed on
Hjaltland, or Shetland, in a bay which obtained from him the name of
“Flokavágr.” This bay must probably be sought on the east coast of
Mainland, about Cat Firth (Kattarfjörðr); for in its neighbourhood lay
the Loch of Girlsta (originally “Geirhildarstaðir”), which is said to
have obtained its name from the circumstance of Floke’s daughter,
Geirhilde, having been drowned in it during her father’s short visit to
the country. By degrees the islands became the rendezvous of a great
number of discontented Norwegian emigrants, who, to avoid the new order
of things, had withdrawn themselves from their old paternal home, and
from this distant place of refuge continually harassed the coasts of
Norway.

This induced King Harald Haarfager to undertake an expedition against
the Orkneys and the Shetland Isles, as well as against the Hebrides, on
the west coast of Scotland; all of which he succeeded in subjugating. He
gave the Orkneys and the Shetland Isles, as an earldom under the crown
of Norway, to Ragnvald Möre-Jarl’s family. This family produced some
great men, who extended their dominion over large tracts in the adjacent
kingdom of Scotland. The islands continued, however, to be the resort of
many malcontent and fugitive Norwegians. The renowned Ganger-Rolf, the
founder of the royal Norman house, is said to have dwelt a long time on
them before he undertook his expedition against Normandy. When King Erik
Blodöxe, Harald Haarfager’s son, was driven with his queen, the
atrocious Gunhilde, from Norway, he fled to Orkney, whence he carried
devastation far and wide. Subsequently he obtained a kingdom in
Northumberland; but, after his fall, his sons again sought the Orkneys;
where they remained till they succeeded in obtaining the kingly power in
Norway. Snorre Sturlesön states, that after the fall of this dominion,
Gunhilde again fled to Orkney, where her daughter, Ragnhilde, had
married a member of the Earl’s family. Ragnhilde trod entirely in her
mother’s footsteps by occasioning dissension, and even murder, in the
family of the Earl. Somewhat later the Orkneys were visited for a time
by Kalf Arnesön, so well known in the more ancient history of Norway,
who, at the battle of Stiklestad in 1030, was one of the chief leaders
of the peasant army against King Olaf, the saint. He came to the Orkneys
just in time to take part in a severely-contested naval battle, fought
in the year 1046, near Rödebjerg (Rauðabjörg) in Pentland Firth, between
the Jarls Thorfin and Ragnvald Brusesön. Kalf supported Thorfin with six
long ships, and thus decided the victory in his favour.

The older history of the islands exhibits an almost uninterrupted series
of bloody combats between members of the Norwegian Jarl’s family. This,
however, did not prevent them from making violent inroads on the coasts
of Scotland and Ireland. Long after the Vikings’ mode of life had ceased
in the Scandinavian North, it continued to be preserved in these
islands. This was not only owing to their remote situation, opposite
hostile coasts, and to their characteristic independence, but also to
the population having inherited the old Viking spirit, and carefully
preserved the ancient Norwegian institutions. As long as Norwegian jarls
ruled, Norwegian laws, customs, and habits, as well as the Norwegian
language, were absolutely paramount in the islands. The connections
which the jarls and other powerful leaders maintained with Scotch and
Irish chiefs, and which often resulted in intermarriages between their
families, do not seem to have had much effect on the Scandinavian
national character of these island colonists. It was not till the
beginning of the fourteenth century, when the male line of the old
Norwegian jarls had become extinct, and when the Scotch Lord Saint
Clair, who had married a daughter of Magnus, the last jarl, had obtained
possession of the earldom, that the ancient liberties, customs, and
manners of the inhabitants, began to be seriously threatened; nor did it
suffice to protect the islands against the progress of Scottish
influence, that they continued to be under the supreme authority of
Norway. When, at length, the Danish-Norwegian king, Christian the First,
on the occasion of the marriage between his daughter Margaret, and the
Scotch king, James the Third, in the year 1469, pledged to Scotland the
Orkneys and the Shetland Isles as part of Margaret’s dowry, the last tie
was severed that bound those countries to their Scandinavian friends.
The Scottish kings and their successors, who also ascended the English
throne, acknowledged indeed the right of the Danish-Norwegian kings to
redeem the islands; but they continually found subterfuges to prevent
its being exercised. The lawful claims of redemption, repeatedly urged
by Denmark in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, were perfectly
fruitless. The islands were too important, and far too conveniently
situated with regard to Scotland, for Great Britain to give them up,
without being compelled by the last necessity. The undoubted right of
the Danish-Norwegian kings was forced to give way to the superior power
and political influence of the British sovereigns.

The conduct observed towards the Norwegian population of these islands
after their union with Scotland was quite as unjust as their separation
from Norway and Denmark, and assuredly far more revolting to all proper
feeling. A large part of the inhabitants had till then been in the free
possession of their lands as freeholders, or “udallers” (Odelsmænd), and
had likewise possessed their old Norwegian laws and privileges, which
should of course have been respected when the islands were pledged to
Scotland. But the Scotch nobles, who, partly as vassals, partly as royal
lessees, obtained the government of the islands, took care to destroy
all traces of the ancient liberties and Scandinavian characteristics of
the people. The resistance of the islanders was fruitless. In the year
1530 they took up arms under the command of their governor, Sir James
Sinclair, in order to oppose the appointment of a crown vassal over the
islands. The Earl of Caithness himself, who had been dispatched against
them, fell, with five hundred of his men, in a sanguinary action near
the “Stones of Stennis.” But though the islanders thus asserted their
rights for a short period, the Scotch regents soon afterwards succeeded
in establishing crown-vassals in the islands.

Among these vassals none has left behind him a more despised or hated
name than Earl Patrick Stuart, who from 1595 to 1608, or about thirteen
years, oppressed the islands in the most shameful manner. He violently
deprived the holders of allodial farms of their right of possession, and
converted almost all the freeholders into leaseholders. He arbitrarily
changed the weights and measures, so that the taxes and imposts became
intolerable. Law and justice were not to be procured, for the Earl’s
creatures everywhere occupied the judgment-seats. To appeal to Scotland
was no easy matter, as Lord Patrick’s soldiers guarded all the ferries.
In the Orkneys the Earl compelled the people to build him a strong
fortress at Kirkwall, and in Shetland another at Scalloway; from which
places armed men ranged over the country, to punish and overawe the
malcontents. The ruins of these castles form a still-existing memorial
of “the wicked Earl Patrick,” who, for his tyranny, was at length
recalled to Scotland, accused of high treason, and beheaded.

The Scottish kings, it is true, now promised the islanders that they
should have relief in their need, and that no vassal of the crown should
be placed over them. But this promise was not kept; and so far from the
islanders again recovering their lost freedom, the feudal system of
England and Scotland continued to take firmer root in the islands.
Oppression stalked on with regular and steady step until it arrived at
such a pitch that not only did the Norwegian laws and liberties
disappear, but the islands themselves, with some few exceptions, became
the private property of a few individuals. The successors of the mighty
Vikings, descended from kings and jarls of Norway and the North, who in
winter dwelt as chiefs, or at least as freemen, in roomy mansions,
whilst in the summer they gained glory and booty in their long ships,
are now in general obliged to content themselves with inhabiting as
leaseholders, or rather as annual tenants, a poor cottage on a small
piece of land, where, by hard labour, they are able to gain, at best, a
very frugal subsistence. Their dwellings, particularly in Shetland, are
of the most wretched description. The walls are formed of small unhewn
stones, with turf and sea-weed thrust into the interstices, and, instead
of a chimney, the smoke escapes by a hole in the roof. Within the house
there are generally sleeping-places in the thick stone wall; but men and
cattle live together in friendly harmony in the same apartment. The fire
burns freely on the floor, and envelopes all in a dense smoke. If the
people seek their living on the sea by fishing, it is usually in boats
belonging to the proprietor of the estate, who consequently receives a
large share of their profits. The condition of the common people in the
Orkneys, and in the Shetland Isles, is certainly not at all enviable,
even in comparison with that of their Scandinavian kinsmen on the poor
and more remote Faroe Islands and Iceland; although commerce is still
limited and oppressed there by a monopoly which was soon abolished in
the Orkneys and Shetland Isles after their separation from the united
Norwegian-Danish kingdoms. But in spite of all their calamities, the
inhabitants of the Faroe Isles and Iceland have for the most part
preserved to our times that freedom of landed property which they
inherited from their forefathers.

                               ----------

                              SECTION VI.

       Shetland.—The People.—Songs.—Sword-Dance.—Language.—Names
      of Places.—Tingwall.—Burg of Mousa.—Tumuli.—Bauta Stones.[9]

Footnote 9:

  Partly from S. Hibbert, P. A. Munch, and Chr. Plöyen.

If the present originally Norwegian population in the Orkneys and
Shetland Islands possessed, on the whole, any strongly-marked
Scandinavian characteristics, they would naturally occur most in the
islands farthest towards the north. But the oppressions and political
changes that have occurred there have done their work so thoroughly,
that even the Shetlanders no longer bear in their character and natural
disposition any strongly-marked feature of their Norwegian origin. The
only ones remaining are, perhaps, their love of the sea, and their skill
in contending with its dangers. Even their bodily frame has, through
many years of want and debasement, lost much of its strength and
nobleness. In the parish of Coningsburgh, in Mainland, precisely where
the largest and strongest-built people are to be found, the Scandinavian
population are said to have kept themselves most free from mixture. The
inclination for disputes and fighting amongst the people of Coningsburgh
is well known in Shetland. This trait is, at all events, more
Scandinavian than moroseness and want of hospitality to strangers, which
are almost unknown in the North, but which in the last century were
alleged to be vices of these same men of Coningsburgh. It was said that
they would not willingly give a traveller a night’s lodging, and that
directly at day-break they awoke him, saying:—“_Myrkin i livra; lurein i
liunga; timin i guestin i geungna_;” that is, “It is dark in the
smoke-hole, but it is light on the heath, and for the guest it is now
time to depart.” That this sentence, which was written down in the year
1774, consists of old Norwegian words, though in a corrupted form, is
quite evident.

The Shetlanders still retained, in the last century, many of the customs
of their Scandinavian forefathers. Thus surnames were given both to sons
and daughters, according to the genuine Scandinavian custom, from the
father’s Christian name. The eldest son, for instance, of Magnus
Anderson was called Anders Magnuson, and all the other sons had likewise
the surname of Magnuson; whilst the daughters, in like manner, were all
called Magnus-daughter, of course with different Christian names. Even
the Norwegian language is said to have been spoken at that time by some
few old persons in the most remote islands. The traditions and songs
handed down by their forefathers still lived among the people, whose
poets and poetical feeling have been celebrated from the earliest times.
It was customary to revive the memory of former days by festal
assemblies, in which the youth of both sexes danced to songs (“Visecks”)
and ballads, as they did in ancient times throughout the North, and as
is still the custom in the Faroe Isles. At Yule time (Christmas), which
was the chief festival, and the beginning of which was always announced
at daybreak by playing an ancient Norwegian melody, called “the
day-dawn” (_Dan._, Daggry), all kinds of merriment took place. A
favourite amusement was the so-called sword-dance, the origin of which
may be traced with sufficient certainty to the times of the heathens.
The Vikings were frequently very dexterous in playing with naked swords,
throwing several at once into the air without allowing them to fall to
the ground. This practice was easily converted into a dance, performed
by several men with drawn swords; and consisting of many windings and
figures calculated to develope a dexterous agility, which, in those
warlike times, must naturally have excited a lively interest among the
spectators. Later in the middle ages the sword-dance in the Shetland
Isles lost by degrees the wildness of its character, the number of
dancers being limited to seven, representing the Seven Champions of
Christendom, viz., St. James of Spain, St. Denis of France, St. Anthony
of Italy, St. David of Wales, St. Patrick of Ireland, St. Andrew of
Scotland, all under the command of St. George of England, who both
opened and closed the dance by reciting some English verses appropriate
to the occasion.

All this, however, is now much changed. In the farthest island towards
the west, that of Papa stour (“Papey stœrri,” the great Pap Island, in
contradistinction to the neighbouring Papa little, “Papey litla”), a
last shadow of the old warlike sword-dance is occasionally to be seen.
Instead, however, of being clothed in armour or shirts of mail, the
dancing knights have shirts of sackcloth; and, in place of huge swords,
they brandish straightened iron hoops, stripped from some herring-cask.
The old Norwegian songs are no longer heard. Of the ancient Norwegian
popular language the only remains are partly a few words, which,
however, appear conspicuously in the English dialect now used; and
partly a peculiarly sharp pronunciation, with a considerable rising and
sinking of the voice, not unlike the vulgar pronunciation in the Faroe
Isles. The old Norwegian words are particularly employed for certain
objects and implements which have been in use from time immemorial.

Thus, for instance, the hole through which the smoke escapes (_Dan._,
Lyre) in the roof of houses covered with flat turf (flaas) is sometimes
still called by the name of “livra” (in the Færoic language “ljowari”).
The high seat for the mistress of the house is called, in remote
districts, “hoy-saede” (_Dan._, Höisæde); her “bysmer,” which serves her
for weighing, exactly agrees, both in name and nature, with the “Bismer”
common in the North. The hand-mill, which is fast disappearing, is
called as in the Danish part of north England, “qvern.” The turf-spade,
called in the Faroe Isles “torvskjæri” (_Dan._, Törveskjærer), is here
named “tuysker.” The land-tax also, according to Scandinavian fashion,
is paid in “merk” and “ure” (Mark and Öre). The outlying fields are
called “hogan,” “hagan” (_Old Norsk_, “hagi,” an inclosed field). The
deep-sea fishery (_Dan._, Hav) is called “the haaf;” the fishing itself,
“haaf-fishing” (_Dan._, Havfiskerie); and the necessary lines, “tows”
(_Dan._, Touge). To the present day the Shetlanders use, in these
fisheries, boats imported from Norway, which are peculiarly suited, by
their construction, for the high seas and rapid currents on the coasts
of Shetland. The dress worn by the fishermen when out at sea bears a
striking resemblance to that of the Faroe men. The head is covered with
a cap knit in the form of a night-cap, and ornamented with the most
motley colours. They wear a coat of tanned sheep-skin, reaching down to
the knees, where it generally meets a pair of huge and capacious skin
boots, very carefully sewed. On land the Shetlanders use only a simple
kind of shoe called “rivlins,” consisting of a square piece of untanned
cow-hide, covering little more than the sole of the foot, and fastened
with a fishing-line or a strip of skin. The men of Faroe have similar
shoes, called “skegvar,” which, however, are far better made.

But what particularly reminds the Scandinavian traveller in Shetland of
finding himself in a country formerly altogether Norwegian, is the names
of places, all of which bear the impress of their Norwegian origin. This
remark applies to the names of the islands themselves, as well as to the
names of towns, farms, promontories, and bays existing in them. They, of
course, resemble, in a great degree, the old Scandinavian names of
places farther south, in Scotland and England. Thus, for instance, a
fiord is generally called “firth” (fjorðr); a creek “wick” (_Dan._,
Vig); a holm, or small island, “holm;” a promontory, or naze, “ness;” a
valley, “daill,” or “dale.” But it is peculiar to these districts, that
the forms of names of places which occur most frequently in the old
Danish part of the north of England, namely, those ending in _by_,
_thwaite_, and _thorpe_, are extremely rare in Shetland, and in the rest
of the old Norwegian possessions in Scotland. Of those in _by_, only a
few instances are to be found; those in _thwaite_ are still more rare;
and those in _thorpe_ are not to be met with at all. On the other hand,
these districts possess several Scandinavian names of places which are
also most frequently found in the old Norwegian colonies in the north
and west of Scotland, but which are perfectly unknown in the old Danish
part of the north of England. For instance, a small bay (_Dan._, Vaag)
is called “voe” (vágr); whence, on Mainland, we find “West-voe,” “Aiths
voe” (the bay by the tongue of land), “Lax-voe” (Lax, or Salmon-bay),
“Selia-voe” (sildavágr, the “Silde Vaag,” or herring-bay), “Hamna-voe”
(hafnarvágr, the Havne Vaag, or harbour bay), together with others. A
still smaller bay, navigable only by boats, is called “gjo,” or “goe”
(_Old Norsk_, gjá, an opening or cleft). For the rest, many farms have
names with such endings as _seter_ (Old Norsk, _setr_), _ster_ and _sta_
(Old Norsk, _staðr_, a place); and also _busta_, _buster_, and _bister_
(contracted from “bolstaðr,” a dwelling-place); whence, for instance,
Kirkbuster (formerly Kirkjubólstaðr); all of which names agree just as
well with those found in the Faroe Isles, Iceland, and the
mother-country, Norway, as the names of places in the north of England
ending in _by_, _thwaite_, and _thorpe_, agree with those in the
corresponding mother-country, Denmark. Although the difference between
the present traces of Danish colonization in England, and of Norwegian
in Scotland, is not considerable, still it may be recognised in this
manner. In consequence of the remote situation of the Shetland Isles,
the names of places, in spite of all revolutions, remain so much the
same, that the old political and religious institutions of the islands
are visible, as it were, through them. In the south part of Mainland
lies the farm of Howff, where in ancient times there was certainly a
“Hof,” or house of God; and far northwards, near Hillswick (formerly
Hildiswik), is the promontory of Torness (Þórsness), which probably once
had a Hof for the god Thor. Nor far from thence is the Lake Helgawater
(Helgavatn), or the holy water. Heathenism, however, lasted but a short
time in the islands. The Irish Christian priests (_Old N._, “Paper”)—the
memory of whom still lives in the names of the islands Papa (Papey), as
Papa stour (great) and Papa little—seem to have worked indefatigably;
insomuch that the Norwegian king Olaf Tryggvesön was able, at the close
of the tenth century, to introduce Christianity throughout the islands.
In place of the old god-houses there speedily arose a number of chapels
or small churches, consecrated to different saints: viz., to the
Norwegian saints, St. Sunifva (the daughter of an Irish king who
suffered shipwreck in Norway), St. Olaf, as well as, at a somewhat later
time, to St. Magnus, the patron saint of the Orkneys, after whom a great
bay on the north-west coast of Mainland is to the present day called St.
Magnus’ Bay. St. Magnus seems also to have been the patron, or rather
the chief saint, of Shetland; at least, the principal church in Shetland
is consecrated to him. This church did not stand in Lerwick, the present
chief town in Shetland, which has risen far later in the south-eastern
part of Mainland, on the site of an old sea-side town near Bressasound
(formerly “Breiðeyjarsund”). It lay about four miles to the north-west
of Lerwick, in the parish of Tingwall; where, as the name (Þingavöllr)
denotes, the chief _Thing_ of the islands was held for centuries, and
where, in heathen times, the chief place of sacrifice undoubtedly
existed. The parish of Tingwall comprises one of the prettiest and
best-cultivated valleys in Shetland. The old _Thing_ place is still to
be seen near the church, in a small holm, or island, in a lake,
connected with the land by a row of large stepping stones. Secure
against a sudden attack, here sat, when the island was free, the “foude”
(_Dan._, Foged), or magistrate, with his law-officers, whilst the
multitude of the common people stood round about on the shores of the
lake, and listened to what passed. Popular tradition says that the
church was at that time a free place, or sanctuary, so that a person
condemned to death was entitled to a pardon, if he could succeed in
running from the holm over the stones, and reaching the church without
being killed by the people. If this was really the case the commonalty
must consequently have had power to pardon a convicted person by
suffering him to escape into the church.

During the holding of the chief _Thing_, which in the olden times was
generally accompanied with great sacrificial offerings, as well as with
fairs and all sorts of merry-making, a multitude of persons always
assembled, and a great many tents and booths were erected, both at the
_Thing_ place itself and in the immediate vicinity. Hence it undoubtedly
arose that about three miles to the west of Tingwall, near a bay of the
sea, there was a collection of _Skaaler_, or wooden booths; whence the
present Scalloway (Skálavágr) which, next to Lerwick, is the most
important trading place in the islands.

In Mainland alone there were at least seven lesser _Things_, under the
jurisdiction of the chief _Thing_ in Tingwall. The names of five of
these are still preserved in Sandsthing (Sandsþing), Aithsthing
(Eiðsþing), Delting (Dalaþing), Lunziesting (Lundeiðisþing), and Nesting
(Nesþing); but the two other names, which are known from records,
Rauðarþing—probably the most northern parish, Northmavine—and Þveitaþing
(the most southern parish?), have disappeared. Special _Things_ were, of
course, also held on the larger islands, such as Yell (“Jali”) and Unst
(“Aumstr,” “Örmst”); but it is certainly very incorrect to infer, as
many persons do, from some stone circles near Baliasta, close by Unst,
that the chief _Thing_ of the islands was held there in the most ancient
times of heathenism.

These stone circles belong simply to low graves encircled by stones,
like those so frequently found in Norway, and whose date is of the
latest period of heathenism, or what is called the iron age. Skeletons
have been found in several similar graves in Shetland; and at different
times urns containing burnt bones and ashes have also been discovered,
together with other distinct traces of their having been burial-places.
For the rest, barrows or tumuli, bauta stones, runic inscriptions, and
similar monuments and antiquities of the heathen times, are by no means
frequently to be met with; the reason of which must naturally be sought
in the short duration of heathenism in these islands. The remains of
only a single insignificant runic stone, and that of the Christian æra,
have been discovered near Crosskirk, in the north of Mainland. The
numerous round towers, or castles, of loose flag-stones laid together,
which are often built on islands in lakes, and are called by many
“Danish burghs,” are, as before stated, of Pictish or Celtic origin.
They have no resemblance whatever to the old fortresses in the
Scandinavian North; whilst, on the other hand, buildings entirely
corresponding with them are to be found in the Celtic Highlands of
Scotland, and on the coasts of Ireland. The most that can be said is
that the Norwegians availed themselves of these buildings after their
conquests and settlements in these districts. Thus the remains of a
tower are to be seen on a holm in Burra Firth (Borgarfjörðr, or
Borgfjord, _i.e._ Castle fiord), in the west of Mainland, which may have
been inhabited in the beginning of the twelfth century by the chief
Thorbjörn, whom the Earls Magnus and Hakon attacked and killed in
“Borgarfjörðr.” The ground plan of the ruin (after Hibbert) shows how
the chambers were disposed in the thick stone wall.

[Illustration: [++] Tower: Burra Firth]

Another ancient Celtic tower, which tradition decidedly states to have
been occupied by Norwegians, and which, on that account, has a
particular interest for a Scandinavian, lies on the little island of
Mousa (the ancient “Mösey”), close to the sound that separates the
island from the south-eastern coast of Mainland. The tower is,
fortunately, the best preserved one of the kind in the British Islands.
It rises to the height of between forty and fifty feet, like an immense
and perfectly round stone pillar, but bulging out towards the middle.
Its appearance from without is quite plain, and no other opening can be
perceived in the wall than the entrance-door, which even originally was
so low that it was necessary to creep through it. To attack the tower,
even when the door stood open, was not easy, and the bulging of the wall
in the middle rendered the scaling of it almost impossible. The entire
tower is about fifty feet in diameter, and consists of two concentric
stone walls, the innermost of which encloses an open space of about
twenty feet wide. The two concentric walls are each five feet thick, and
stand at a distance of five feet from each other. The small space
between them formed the habitable part of the tower. From the open yard
we ascend a stone staircase, and, before we reach the top, seven
divisions or stories are passed, separated by large flag-stones, which
form a ceiling for one story and a floor for the next. In the different
compartments, which quite encircle the tower, are small square openings,
or air holes, one above the other, and looking out into the inner yard.
The annexed drawings and sections (taken from Hibbert’s description of
Shetland), which represent the tower in its evidently original state,
will serve to explain still more clearly the nature of this simple, yet
remarkable, building.

[Illustration: [++] Tower: Mousa]

[Illustration: [++] Tower: Mousa - Interior]

This tower appears to have stood deserted as early as the tenth century.
Whilst Harald Haarfager reigned in Norway, a distinguished Norwegian
Viking and merchant, Björn Brynjulfsön, carried off his beloved Thora
Roaldsdatter (Roalds-daughter) from the fiords. He brought her first to
his father’s house; but, as his father would not permit him to celebrate
his marriage there, he fled with her in the spring, on board his ship,
and sailed westwards. After suffering much from storms and heavy seas,
the couple landed at last on Mösey, and took up their temporary abode in
the castle there, whither they brought the whole of the ship’s cargo. In
“Möseyjarborg,” Björn celebrated his marriage with Thora, and dwelt
there through the winter. But next spring he learned that King Harald,
at the entreaty of Thora’s friends, had exiled him from Norway; and that
commands had even been sent by Harald to the jarls and chiefs in the
Orkneys, the Hebrides, and in Ireland, to put him to death. He therefore
again put to sea, and landed safely with his Thora in Iceland.

A few centuries later, the chief Erlend Junge fled from the Orkneys with
Margaret, mother of the Jarl Harald Maddadsön, who was as much
celebrated for her beauty as for her wantonness, and shut himself up
with her in “Möseyjarborg.” The Jarl Harald, who had opposed their
marriage, set out in pursuit of them, and blockaded the castle for a
long time, in order, if possible, to cut off their supply of provisions,
and thus compel them to surrender; for, by force, says the Saga, the
castle could scarcely be taken. But Harald at last became weary of the
siege, and concluded an agreement with Erlend that he should have
Margaret to wife on condition of swearing fealty to him as jarl.

This old and venerable tower has, therefore, not only been the scene of
sanguinary battles and deeds of cruelty, but its strong walls have also
afforded a secure asylum to sincere and all-sacrificing love.

                               ----------

                              SECTION VII

 The Orkneys.—“Þingavöllr.”—Monuments of the Olden Time.—Kirkwall.—St.
                             Magnus Church.

The Orkneys, on account of their greater fertility, and of their lying
nearer to Scotland, were in ancient times, as indeed they are at
present, of much more importance than the distant Shetland Isles. As the
chief seat of the Norwegian jarls, they formed the central point of the
Norwegian power in the north of Scotland. According to the Sagas, most
of the many Danes and Norwegians who settled on the islands to the north
of Scotland, resorted to the Orkneys; by which means, the jarls who
governed them were enabled easily to assemble large fleets, and to man
them with picked Scandinavian warriors. It was chiefly, therefore,
Norwegians from the Orkneys, who, under the command of the jarls of
Orkney, made such extensive conquests in the territories of the Scottish
kings.

Jarl Sigurd the Stout (_Dan._, Digre), who, as before mentioned, was
married to a daughter of the Scotch king, Malcolm the Second, and Jarl
Thorfin, his son by King Malcolm’s daughter, pre-eminently distinguished
themselves by bold Viking expeditions into the neighbouring countries,
and particularly by their conquests on the Scotch coast. They extended
these as far south as Moray; nay it is even said that at times they went
as low as to the Firth of Forth. Thorfin was the last of the jarls of
Orkney in whom the old Scandinavian Vikings’ spirit lived and stirred.
His power was greater than that of any of his predecessors or
successors; for he ruled, say the Sagas, over no fewer than eleven
earldoms (Jarledömmer) in Scotland, over all the Hebrides, and a large
kingdom in Ireland. But after the many warlike expeditions, raids, and
incendiarisms, in which he had played a part, he at length became
penitent, and undertook a journey through Denmark and Saxony to Rome,
where the pope gave him an indulgence for his sins. After his return, he
governed his kingdom peacefully till his death, which took place about
the year 1064. Notwithstanding that a new and Christian æra had
irresistibly established itself under this fierce Viking, the Orkneys
continued for more than a century after his death to foster men who were
Christians only in name, but in reality, both in their way of thinking
and conduct, were heathen Vikings. Svend Asleifsön, who, in the middle
of the twelfth century, lived on the little island of Gairsay
(Gareksey), close to the north-east side of Mainland, occupies a
prominent place among these Vikings. He was surrounded by a band of
eighty men, with whom in the winter he remained at home in his mansion,
living well on the booty that had been won. In the spring, after
seed-time, he set out with them on expeditions to the Scotch, English,
and Irish coasts. In the autumn he returned home for a short time, in
order to gather the corn into his barns; and then again set out and
harried the before-mentioned countries until the beginning of winter. On
one of these autumnal Viking expeditions he even took Dublin; but whilst
he fancied himself secure, the inhabitants suddenly fell upon and killed
him, together with a great number of his men, who defended themselves
with the utmost bravery.

In consequence of these important Viking expeditions, as well as of the
greater life and bustle which prevailed in the Orkneys, not only are
more historical accounts preserved of them than of the Shetland Isles,
but they likewise exhibit more conspicuously how the warlike spirit of
the Scandinavian population, when it began to be curbed by Christianity
and the abandonment of piratical expeditions, preyed upon itself, and
exhausted its strength in sanguinary internal conflicts. Memorials of
this are found on almost all the islands. In going from Shetland, the
first island made after passing Fairhill, and when approaching the
proper group of the Orkneys, namely, North Ronaldshay (“Rinansey”), was
the scene of a terrible revenge taken by Jarl Einar on King Harald
Haarfager’s son, Halfdan Haaleg (Long-legs), who had murdered Einar’s
father, Ragnvald Mörejarl, in Norway. Jarl Einar is said to have avenged
his father in the same manner as, according to the Saga, the sons of
Regner Lodbrog punished their father’s murderer, King Ella of
Northumberland; namely, by cutting a blood eagle on Halfdan’s back. At
Lopnes (“Laupandaness”), in the neighbouring island of Sanday
(“Sandey”), Jarl Einar Sigurdsön was killed in the following century
(the eleventh) by Thorkel Fostre, so called because he had brought up,
or fostered, Einar’s brother, subsequently the famed Thorfin Jarl. Not
long afterwards, Thorfin’s nephew, Jarl Ragnvald Brusesön, was killed by
the same Thorkel on Little Papa Island (“Papey”), to the north-west of
Sanday. Thorkel and Thorfin had previously surrounded and set fire to
the house, wherein the jarl was with his men. The jarl’s corpse was then
conveyed to and buried on the neighbouring isle of Papa Westray (“Papey
hin meiri,” the Great Pap Island), adjacent to Westray (“Vestrey”) and
the most northern of all the Orkneys. Thorkel Fletter, surnamed the
restless, was burnt in his house in Eday (“Eiðey”), in the twelfth
century; and in the year 1137 the Jarl Paal was surprised by Svend
Asleifsön on Rowsay (“Rolfsey”), and carried away prisoner to Athol, in
Scotland. About twenty years previously (1110) the celebrated jarl,
Magnus Erlendsön, was attacked and murdered by his kinsman, Jarl Hakon
Paalsön, on the adjacent island of Egilshay, (“Egilsey”). In honour of
Magnus, who was afterwards canonized, and became the patron saint of the
Orkneys, a church was built on Egilshay, which still exists, though in a
somewhat altered form.

Between the last-named islands and Mainland are the small isles Enhallow
(“Eyin helga,” the holy isle) and Wire (“Vigr”). On the latter Kolbein
Ruga had, in the twelfth century, a castle, the site of whose ramparts
can still be clearly distinguished. But Mainland itself is naturally the
island with which the most numerous and remarkable memorials of the
Norwegian dominion are associated. For centuries numberless Vikings’
fleets constantly rode at anchor in its bays and in the adjacent
straits; and almost every spot on the island is famous in the Orkneyinga
Saga as having been the residence of some distinguished man, or the
scene of some important historical event. The numerous Norwegian names
of places ending in _wall_ (vágr), _wick_, _firth_, _ness_, _buster_,
_toft_, _holm_, and so forth, which are everywhere met with in the
island, do not, however, merit particular consideration, since they
resemble those in the rest of the Orkneys and Shetland Isles; yet they
serve to establish that the Norwegians must have superseded here, no
less than in the other islands, the older Celtic population. We soon
discover that the vicinity of the Orkneys to Scotland, and their brisk
intercourse with that kingdom, as well as with England, have
contributed, both in Mainland and in the surrounding islands, to do away
with many of those names of places which are still found in Shetland as
witnesses of the old Norwegian judicial institutions. Thus we should
look in vain in Mainland for that “Þingavöllr,” or Tingvalla, which
anciently was the chief _Thing_ place of the island, as is expressly
mentioned in old records. We should be just as unsuccessful in finding
traces of the lesser _Things_, which, in Shetland, as we have seen, can
almost all be still pointed out in the names of places; and this
notwithstanding we know for a certainty that the Orkneys had a court of
justice in common with Shetland, till the year 1196 at least; from which
time Shetland was governed by its own laws. The same powerful Scottish
influence has likewise effaced in the Orkneys most of the few Norwegian
words, customs, and manners which still sustain a feeble existence in
the remote islands of Shetland. The Norwegian language, some vestiges of
which might be traced, in the last century, in the parish of Haray
(Herað), has left behind it only a peculiar singing pronunciation, and
some few characteristics in the English language now in use there; thus,
for instance, in addressing a person, the nominative and accusative
_thou_ and _thee_ are used, instead of _you_. The present language of
the Orkneys is almost a purer English than that of the Scotch Lowlands;
which is a natural consequence of English having begun at a later period
to be the ruling language in the islands. The present population of
Mainland, together with the other inhabitants of the Orkneys, has
undeniably preserved a certain Scandinavian appearance; and English
civilization has, among other things, both sharpened the people’s innate
inclination for a maritime life, and increased their coolness towards,
not to say ill-will and contempt for, the Gaelic Highlanders. On the
whole, however, Scandinavian characteristics are by no means conspicuous
among the people. English civilization, and Scotch-English institutions,
have been introduced to such a degree into Mainland, and thence into the
other islands, that a traveller would not know he was in the chief
country of the former mighty Norwegian jarls, unless he were able to
decipher the frequently transformed names of places; or, above all,
unless he had such a general knowledge of the island’s history and
antiquities that he could apprehend, and in some degree interpret, the
hints given by silent monuments of the brilliant but long-departed age
of heroes.

The memory of the warlike life of heathenism is conspicuously preserved
in Mainland by the many large barrows, or tumuli, which meet the eye on
all sides. It is, indeed, certain that several of these—viz., what are
called the “Picts’ houses,” which form in their interior stone chambers,
covered by small flag-stones laid over one another—must be ascribed to
the older inhabitants of the island; yet enough remain which we may with
good reason attribute to the Norwegians and Danes. They are not, like
those tumuli, or “cairns,” which are found most frequently in the north
of Scotland, a mass of small stones heaped together without any
filling-in of earth, but are formed, like our Scandinavian barrows, of
earth thrown up to a very considerable height. As in Scandinavia, they
are met with mostly on hills, and near the firths or seacoasts, whence
there is an uninterrupted view of the sea. To the ancient Northman it
was evidently an almost insufferable thought to be buried in a confined
or remote corner, where nobody could see his grave or be reminded of his
deeds. The greater chief a man was the more did he desire that his
“barrow” should lie high and uninclosed, so that it might be visible to
all who travelled by land and by sea. United with this desire to live in
the memory of posterity, the Viking certainly also indulged the secret
belief, that his spirit, or ghost, would at times arise from the barrow
to look out upon that beloved sea, and to refresh itself, after the
gloomy closeness of the grave, with the cool breezes which play upon its
bosom.

Some of the largest and most prominent barrows in the Orkneys are found
about the middle of Mainland. To the west of the deep fiord in the
middle of the east coast, (formerly Örreðfjord “Aurriaðfjördr,” _i. e._
Trout firth, but now called Firth), and cutting its way northwards far
into the land, is the before-mentioned Loch of Stennis, with its famous
old Celtic stone circles. But the largest of these, which lies on the
ridge of a naze, or promontory (from Old N. “Steinsness”), is
encompassed by twelve considerable, and partly perhaps Norwegian or
Scandinavian, barrows; amongst which two in particular, to the
north-east and north-west of the circle, are distinguished by their size
and circumference. As the Saga informs us that it was on Steinsnæs that
the chief, Einard Klining, at the instigation of Erik Blodöxe’s
daughter, Ragnhilde, killed her husband Jarl Haavard, it is not
impossible that one of the last-named large barrows may be the jarl’s
grave. At all events it is natural enough that the Norwegians should
have had a predilection for being buried on that lofty promontory, which
was regarded even by the earlier inhabitants of the island as a holy
place, and had been adorned by them with a truly imposing circle of
immense blocks of stone. Future excavations will doubtless more clearly
show which of the barrows are really Norwegian; but this much is
certain—that the naze, with the circle of stones and the surrounding
barrows, as well as the view of the three immense monumental stones,
placed erect in a semicircle on the opposite side of Loch Stennis,
afford a prospect not only interesting to the antiquarian, but which
must strike every beholder.

Here and there, on Mainland, we meet with graves of the heathen times,
which are not at all uncommon in the Orkneys and Shetland Isles. They
are, however, of much lower elevation than those previously mentioned,
and in general rise very little above the surface of the soil. In some
of these, as in Shetland, besides urns, containing burnt bones and
ashes, bodies have at times been found that have been buried without
being burnt; together with swords of the Scandinavian kind before
described, heads of lances, daggers, and knives; as well as bone combs,
bowl-formed brooches of brass, and various other ornaments, evidently of
Norwegian workmanship.

Just as the barrows, or grave hills, in Mainland, indicate by their
peculiar size that in the heathen times the island was the chosen place
of assembly for the mightiest men in the Orkneys and Shetland Isles, so
also do the monuments of the early middle ages show that it continued to
maintain its former pre-eminence after heathenism had ceased. Farthest
towards the north-west, in the parish of Birsay, (Birgisherað), are to
be seen considerable remains of the old castle, inhabited in the most
ancient times by the jarls. Near the coast lies the Island of Brough
(Burgh) of Birsay, on which also are seen traces of fortifications that
have served to protect the jarls’ castle on the side of the sea. In the
neighbourhood of this castle, Jarl Thorfin built a church, called Christ
Church, in which both he and Jarl Magnus were buried. The latter,
however, being afterwards canonized, his body was taken to Kirkwall. In
the twelfth century, Bishop Wilhelm, the first bishop of the Orkneys,
had his throne in this church. In Orphir (“Orfjara”), on the south coast
of the island, was another castle where the jarls usually dwelt, until,
together with the bishops, they fixed their abode at Kirkwall.

This town, which lies close to an excellent harbour, and opposite the
Island of Shapinsay, has for about seven hundred years been the capital
of the Orkneys and the Shetland Isles. It seems, however, to have
existed even earlier, as a village, or small trading place. Its name,
“Kirkjuvágr” (“Kirkevaag,” _Eng._ Church-bay), since corrupted into
Kirkwall, was derived from a church which stood there. The elevation of
the town to be the residence of jarls and bishops took place in the
twelfth century, after Jarl Ragnhild had built a large cathedral there,
to which he caused to be conveyed the body of St. Magnus, the patron
saint of the island, to whom the cathedral was consecrated. Thus the
body of the saint effected for the town what its excellent harbour had
not been able to accomplish. In the parish of St. Ola’, within the town,
there was formerly also a church consecrated to St. Olaf, the patron
saint of Norway, but it has long since been demolished.

The traveller cannot but dwell, when in Kirkwall, on the remembrance of
the departed splendour of the island, as he views the proud ruins of the
jarls’ castle, which, however, in its last form was not built till the
fifteenth century, and of the bishops’ castle, in which King Hakon
Hakonsön of Norway died on the 16th of December, 1263. But what is still
more striking to him who has leisure to examine it thoroughly, is the
magnificent Church of St. Magnus, incontestably the most glorious
monument of the time of the Norwegian dominion to be found in Scotland.
Only one other cathedral church in all Scotland, namely, St. Mungo’s, in
Glasgow, has in its most essential parts escaped perfectly uninjured
from the violent religious commotions produced by the Reformation. The
annexed sketch (partly after a drawing by Billings) will, at least,
better serve to convey an idea of the remarkable appearance of this
cathedral than any detailed description. Its length is 230 feet, its
breadth 55 feet, or, if the transepts be included in the measurement,
101 feet, and its height about 50 feet. The arched vaults of the nave
rest on 28 pillars, of which the four, in particular, that bear the
tower are distinguished by their size and tasteful forms.

According to the Orkneyinga Saga, Jarl Ragnvald, by the advice of his
father Kol, made a vow to St. Magnus that he would build a splendid
church in his honour, if he (Ragnvald) succeeded in gaining the mastery
over the islands. He obtained the dominion of them in the year 1137, and
immediately afterwards began to lay the foundation of St. Magnus’
Church. “At first,” says the Saga, “the work went on so rapidly that
subsequently there was not done near so much in four or five years. Kol
was the person who, in fact, defrayed the expenses of the building, and
determined how everything was to be. But by degrees, as the work
proceeded, the expenses became burthensome to the jarl, whose pecuniary
means were much exhausted. He therefore asked his father what he should
do? Kol advised him to alter the law by which, upon the death of the
owners, the jarls had hitherto succeeded to all the allodial land in the
islands, so that the heirs had to redeem it, which they found very hard.
The jarl, therefore, summoned the inhabitants to a _Thing_, and offered
to sell them their right of Udal, so that they should no longer be
obliged to redeem it. The matter was easily arranged on both sides. The
jarl obtained a mark for every acre throughout the islands, so that
there came in money enough for the building of the church, which is very
handsome.”

[Illustration: [++] St. Magnus’ Church]

History, however, as well as the building itself, teaches us that the
whole church, as it now stands, was by no means the work of Kol and
Ragnvald. For, first, it is known that the pillars farthest towards the
east and west, marked in the annexed ground plan with the faintest
shade, belong to additions made at a far later period (viz., as late as
the sixteenth century); and secondly, it is not even decided whether Kol
and Ragnvald built the whole of the remaining part of the church, the
transepts included, or whether they built only that part of the present
choir which, from the two eastern pillars of the tower, comprises the
six nearest pillars to the east, marked on the ground plan with the
darkest shade. Between this last-named portion of the choir, which is
undoubtedly the oldest part of the church, and the portion lying to the
west, whose pillars on the ground plan have a rather lighter shade,
there is a perceptible difference of style.

That zealous and skilful archæologist, Sir Henry Dryden, Bart., of
Canons Ashby, to whom I am indebted for the original of the following
ground plan, likewise did me the favour to give me, among several large
drawings, a very excellent, but here very reduced, section of that part
of the choir which is certainly known to have been built by Kol and
Ragnvald. The section is taken from the middle of the nave, and
represents a part of the northern side walls nearest to one of the
pillars of the tower. It enables us to form an idea of the very
considerable size of the church, and of the importance of Kol’s and
Ragnvald’s labours, as well as readily to perceive in what style the
church was originally built. This style, which in England is called the
Norman, was indeed already somewhat obsolete in more southern districts
at the time when St. Magnus’ Church was built; but it was quite natural
that, so far northwards, it should be retained somewhat longer,
especially as the architect was a native of the still more northern
country of Norway.

[Illustration: [++] St. Magnus’ Church - Floorplan]

[Illustration: [++] St. Magnus’ Church - Interior]

The next considerable portion of the cathedral which might possibly have
been built by Kol and Ragnvald, or at least about their time, and which
includes the transepts, the two western pillars of the tower, and the
six pillars (three on each side) farther towards the west, has, indeed,
like the very oldest part, round arches. But in these, as well as in the
whole architecture, a much later style is clearly visible. It is, as we
have said, doubtful whether this part of the church is also to be
ascribed to Kol and Ragnvald. “Supposing that it is (says Sir Henry
Dryden, in a letter accompanying the drawings), I explain the difference
of scale and workmanship thus. Ronald began a church on a _much_ smaller
scale than the present St. Magnus. He became short of money, alienated
seignorial rights in Orkney, got plenty of money, and went on with the
church on a larger scale, and with better workmen than before. But (adds
Sir Henry), though I spent eighteen weeks at the building, and have
thought over the thing many times, I cannot make out the history of the
building to my own satisfaction. There is no doubt that there is a great
deal of copying in it; _i. e._, of building at one time in the style of
an earlier one. In Scotland the semicircular arch is used in all styles,
down to the year 1600.” In the additions made to St. Magnus’ Church to
the east and west, in the sixteenth century, round arches are also found
between the chief pillars.

In the winter of 1263-1264 the body of the Norwegian king Hakon Hakonsön
was deposited in the cathedral; and somewhat more than twenty years
afterwards the Norwegian princess Margaret (the maid of Norway),
daughter of King Erik, the priest-hater, and of Margaret, daughter of
the Scotch King, Alexander the Third, was buried in it. Upon the death
of Alexander, her mother’s father, in 1289, Margaret, though only seven
years of age, became queen of Scotland, but died in Orkney on her
passage from Norway, in 1290. The cathedral naturally received the dust
of most of the Norwegian jarls, bishops, and other mighty men, so long
as the Norwegian dynasty lasted; but for their monuments we now seek in
vain. By the alterations and rebuilding in the interior of the church
they have all been long since destroyed.

For a Scandinavian, the church derives its greatest interest not only
from the fact that it was founded, and partly built, by a Norwegian
jarl, but more particularly from the circumstance that a Norwegian
chief, the layman Kol, is expressly stated to have been the person “who
was chiefly answerable for the building, and determined how everything
should be.” For we thus find on the British Islands, and far towards the
North, a manifestation of the same desire to build splendid churches and
convents, which farther southwards, as for instance in Normandy, so
vividly animated the Christian descendants of the emigrant Vikings. The
oldest part of St. Magnus’ Church will, on a close inspection, show not
a few resemblances to several of the nearly contemporary, but somewhat
older, Norman churches in Normandy.

                               ----------

                             SECTION VIII.

       Pentland Firth.—The Highlands.—Caithness.—Sutherland.—Fear
                             of the Danes.

The Orkneys are separated towards the south from the most northern part
of the Scotch Highlands by a firth about eight miles in breadth, called
Pentland Firth (_Old N._, Petlandfjörðr, the fiord of the land of the
Picts?). The maelstrom, or whirlpool, in this firth, where the currents
from the North Sea and Atlantic Ocean meet, is at least as violent and
dangerous as the “Röst,” so famed in ancient times, between the Orkneys
and Shetland. Even in calm weather the meeting currents raise the waves
to an astonishing height, so that at times the whole firth is one sheet
of white foam. If it happens that the current runs hard against the
wind, or if a severe storm blows, it would not be advisable for any
vessel to venture out into the firth. In the gales of winter,
particularly from the north-west, the sea rises to such a height where
the huge swell of the Atlantic is inclosed between the Orkneys and
Scotland, and beats against the coast with such force, that the foam is
driven far into the country, even over cliffs that stand more than four
hundred feet above the sea! The Island of Stroma (_Old N._,
“Straumsey”), which has obtained its name from the current, lies about
the middle of the firth; and by the eastern entrance of it are the
Islands of Pentlandskerries (_Old N._, “Petlandsker;” or _Danish_,
“Pentlandskjære;” _Eng._, sunken rocks off the Pentland Firth), near
which the waves form whirlpools that are still called by the inhabitants
“Swelchies” (or Svælg: _Old N._, “Svelgr;” _Eng._, gulf).

The old Sagas, indeed, expressly point out the dangers of the Pentland
Firth. Thus, when Olaf Trygvesön came from the West to the Orkneys with
the intention of Christianizing the islands, he was obliged to run into
the harbour of Asmundarvág (now Osmondwall) in the south of Hoy, because
Pentland Firth was not navigable; and on the return of King Hakon
Hakonsön from the Hebrides in 1263, one of his ships was lost in the
Röst, and another escaped only with the greatest difficulty.
Nevertheless the ancient Norwegians and Danes navigated this dangerous
firth regularly, and do not seem to have considered it as forming any
real boundary between the Orkneys and Scotland. At an early period the
Norwegians had settled themselves along the south coast of the Pentland
Firth, and founded colonies there which soon became so preponderatingly
Norwegian that they might almost be regarded as inseparable parts of the
Orkney jarldom. On this account the two most northern counties of
Scotland, both of which united originally bore the Gaelic name of
Catuibh, are still called after the original Norwegian forms,
“Caithness” (_Old N._, “Katanes,” the naze of Catuibh) and “Sutherland”
(_Old N._, Suðrland), or the land in the south; that is, as regards the
Orkneys. It would be perfectly inexplicable, in any other way, why the
north-western part of Scotland should be called the south land, or
Sutherland. It is, moreover, a remarkable proof of the Norwegian origin
of these names, that even the present Gaelic inhabitants do not adopt
them, but always call Sutherland, after the old fashion, “Catuibh.” For
the sake of distinction, however, they call Caithness “Gallaibh,” or the
stranger’s land, because so many Norwegians immigrated to, and settled
in, that county in preference to Sutherland.

The district of Caithness, or, as it was often called in ancient times,
“Næsset,” forms a real naze, shooting out into the sea in a
north-eastern direction. Its farthest point towards the north-east is
called Duncansby Head (formerly “Dungalsnýpa”), from the neighbouring
Duncansby (formerly “Dungalsbœr”). The broadest bay on the north coast
trends in between the promontories of Dunnet Head and Holburn Head; the
latter of which, by protecting Thurso Bay from western and north-western
gales, renders it a tolerably good harbour, in a place where good
harbours are scarce on this northern coast. Supposing, now, that we land
in the Bay of Thurso, by the town of that name, we soon discover the
outlet of the rivulet called Thurso Water (_Old N._, “Þorsá,” or
Thorsaa, Thor’s rivulet), which has given the easily-recognised
Scandinavian name both to the town and bay. The town and its immediate
environs afford a great number of Norwegian memorials. The Norwegian
king Eistein imprisoned the Orkney jarl Harald Maddadsön in Thurso
itself. Close to the eastern side of the town stands a more recent
monument, “Harald’s Tower,” erected over the body of Jarl Harald, who
fell there in a battle in 1190. Not far from thence is the mansion
called Murkle (formerly “Myrkhóll”), where, in the tenth century,
Ragnhilde, the daughter of Erik Blodöxe and of Gunhilde, caused her
husband, Jarl Arnfin, to be murdered. Immediately to the west of the
town, near Scrabster (“Skarabólstaðr”), are to be seen the ruins of the
palace formerly inhabited by the bishops of Caithness and Sutherland. In
the twelfth century Bishop Ion was blinded and mutilated there, at the
instigation of Jarl Harald. Five miles west of Scrabster, and close by a
foaming waterfall, stands the mansion of “Forss,” by the river Forss
Water. The rivulet called Thorsaa runs through a valley in ancient times
called Thorsdal (“Þórsdalr”), adjoining another valley “Kálfadalr,” or
Calf-dale (either the present Calder or Cuildal), in which Jarl Ragnvald
was attacked and killed by Thorbjörn Klærk. In the “Dales of Caithness”
(probably near Dale and Westdale, by Thurso Water) a battle was fought
in the tenth century between Jarls Ljot and Skule, in which the latter
fell.

Similar memorials present themselves everywhere on the promontory, with
the exception, however, of the most western and more mountainous part,
adjoining the frontiers of Sutherland. This district is still inhabited
by a Gaelic population, the remnant of the ancient inhabitants, as is
sufficiently testified both by the Gaelic names of places and the Gaelic
language of the people. In Caithness, as well as everywhere else in the
British Isles, it has been the fate of the Gaels or Celts to be driven
to the poor and mountainous districts, whilst more fortunate strangers
have taken possession of the fertile plains. The whole of the northern
and eastern part of Caithness is a rather flat and open country, over
which the sea wind sweeps freely without being intercepted by woods.
Fertile and well-cultivated arable land is mingled with heaths, marshes,
and small lakes. Wherever the soil is capable of cultivation, both on
the coasts and in the interior, a great number of undoubted Norwegian
names of places are still found scattered about, of the selfsame form as
those in Orkney and the Shetland Isles: as, for instance, those ending
in _toft_ (as Aschantoft, Thurdystoft, formerly “Þorðarþupt”) _seter_
(“setr”), _busta_, _buster_, or _best_ (originally “bolstaðr”); but
particularly in ster (staðr). The bays, which are mostly small and
narrow, are generally called _goe_ (from “gjá,” an opening). The larger
ones are called _wick_ (Viig); whence the town of Wick, the most
important hamlet in Caithness, derives its name; but they are never
called, as in the islands lately mentioned, _wall_ (“Vágr,” or “Vaag”).
Here and there a mighty barrow lifts its head, and sometimes—as, for
instance, near Barrowston, parish of Reay—so extremely near the coast of
Pentland Firth, that the spray washes over it. In general we shall not
be mistaken in imagining that we have found in such barrows the last
resting-places of the daring Vikings, who, not even in death, could
endure to be far separated from the foaming maelstrom.

At times the common people dig up in these mounds pieces of swords and
various kinds of ornaments, especially the peculiar bowl-formed
brooches, of a sort of brass, which are very frequently discovered in
the Scandinavian North, and particularly in the Norwegian and Swedish
graves of the times of the Vikings. These are never found in England;
and in Scotland they are discovered only in the Orkneys and Sutherland,
as well as in some of the Western Islands, where the Norwegians also
settled.

[Illustration: [++] Brooch]

Tall bauta stones are to be seen in several places in Caithness, to
which some legend about “the Danes” is generally attached; they now
stand in a leaning position, as if mourning over the departed times of
the heroic age. A monument of a somewhat later period, according to
tradition that of a Danish princess, who suffered shipwreck on the
coast, was also formerly to be found in a churchyard near Ulbster.
Danish fortifications, consisting partly of square towers, once existed
along the coast, principally near the navigable inlets; but these also
have now, for the most part, disappeared.

With several intervals, Caithness was subject to Norwegian jarls until
some time in the fourteenth century, or for about as long a period as
Orkney and the Shetland Isles. After that time, however, it does not
seem to have been oppressed to such a degree as those islands; which
circumstance, in conjunction with the originally great number of
Norwegian settlements in the country, is the cause that even in the
present day we are not referred only to inanimate memorials of the
ancient Norwegian population. The present living inhabitants bear a
decided and unmistakable impress of their Norwegian descent. The
language in the plains of Caithness, and in the open valleys, is the
same dialect of the English as is spoken in Orkney and the Shetland
Isles, because the transitions from Norwegian to English have been the
same. The people have in some parts, as in the parish of Wick, pure
Scandinavian names: Ronald (Ragnvald), Harold, Swanson (Svendsen),
Manson (Magnuson), and others; and their tall and personable figures, as
well as their light hair and broad faces, render them a striking
contrast to the shorter and more swarthy Highlanders. As the descendants
of an old Gaelic and of an old Norwegian population adjoin one another
in Caithness, we have an excellent opportunity of observing, on a small
scale, how the Norwegians and Danes have actually implanted in the
British Isles a more seafaring spirit and greater nautical skill. Even
to the present day the Gael, in Caithness, as well as throughout the
Highlands, has a decided aversion to the sea, nay, a downright fear of
its dangers. It is pretty well known that in general, and except on the
most urgent necessity, one should not venture out into the Pentland
Firth in boats steered and rowed by Gaels or Highlanders; for, in the
event of a storm, all steady command is speedily lost, and gives place
to anxious irresolution. The descendants of the old Norwegians, on the
contrary, who are familiar with the sea from childhood, and amongst whom
lies Wick, the most important fishing station in Scotland, show
themselves precisely in the hour of danger the worthy sons of their
forefathers, the ancient Vikings. It is only the man at the helm who
speaks, and he gives his orders in a few decisive words. He is
punctually obeyed, and the misfortune is said to be rare, if his
coolness, joined to his knowledge of the sea and its currents, do not
gain the victory over the violence of the storm and the turbulence of
the billows. This seafaring population of Caithness do not, like the
Highlanders, disdain to resort to fishing, in order to bring home the
riches of the sea. As their soil, moreover, is by no means barren, and
as they have naturally greater activity and more inclination to work
than the Highlanders, as well as, through their English dialect, greater
facility in their traffic with the more southern districts, it is not to
be wondered at that the prosperity of Caithness manifests a great and
constant progress. We may even justly assert that the descendants of the
Norwegians in Caithness are in a far more fortunate situation than their
kinsmen in the Orkneys and Shetland Isles.

In ancient times, a Norwegian population speaking its native language,
was undoubtedly spread over the whole eastern coast of Caithness, as
well as over several districts of Sutherland. But the English language,
which in our times has superseded the Norwegian, ceases to be the common
language of Caithness immediately to the south of the parish of Wick. A
line drawn from Clyth Ness, in a north-western direction to the
before-mentioned mansion of Forss to the west of Thurso, will indicate,
as near as may be, the boundary between Gaelic and English. If, however,
we travel southwards from the parish of Wick, through the parish of
Latheron, where the common language is already Gaelic, we, nevertheless,
pass a great many villages and farms bearing Norwegian names; as, for
instance, Lybster and Forse (by a waterfall). The mountains here begin
to be higher, and to stand closer and closer together towards the sea.
At length, after passing the deep valley of Berrydale (_Old N._,
“Berudalr”), and the beautiful wood-crowned banks of its river, we
ascend the steep mountain ridge called “the Ord of Caithness,” which
runs boldly out into the sea, and forms a natural boundary between the
narrow projecting promontory of Caithness and the broader Sutherland.

The first large valley in Sutherland to the south of this mountain ridge
is Helmsdale, which is watered by a river of no mean size. That
Helmsdale is a Norwegian name (in the Sagas “Hjalmundsdalr”) is at once
evident from the present Gaelic inhabitants calling the valley in pure
Gaelic, “Strath Ullie,” or with a strange confusion of language, Strath
Helmsdale; for as Strath signifies in Gaelic a valley or dale, the word
_dale_ is added both at the beginning and end. It is a similar
repetition which we so often hear when the “Orkney Isles” are spoken of,
in the original language “Orknö,” but which, translated as now used, is
Orknö Öerne (or the “Orkney-islands-islands”). Along Helmsdale River
several places are met with whose original Norwegian names are still to
be discerned; as, for instance, Eilderabol, Gilaboll, Dviaboll, and
Leiraboll. All these have the ending _bol_, which is peculiar to a
number of Norwegian names of places in Sutherland and in some of the
Hebrides; but which, in Caithness, the Orkneys, and Shetland Isles, as
well as in Lewis and several of the Hebrides, appears in the longer form
of “bolstaðr.” To the north-west of Helmsdale are the vales of Kildonan,
which run up as far as the Vale of Strathmore in Caithness. Here, it is
supposed, on the frontiers of Caithness and Sutherland, lay
“Eisteinsdalr,” so famed in history as the spot where the Scotch king
William encamped in the year 1198. It is, however, very uncertain
whether “Easterdale” in Strathmore be in any way connected with the name
of Eisteinsdal.

On leaving Helmsdale the coast opens, and fertile and beautiful fields
begin to expand themselves. Past Midgarty and Wester Gartie (the middle
and western Gaard, or farm, from _Old N_. “garðr”?) the road runs along
the shore of the Bay of Dornoch (an arm of the “Breidifjördr,” or broad
firth mentioned in the Sagas, in which the Moray Firth is also included)
to the little village of Brora, which is built on a considerable river,
and where for a long period the only large bridge in Sutherland was to
be found. It was possibly from this circumstance that the Norwegians
gave the village its name (“Brúrá,” the bridge rivulet). A river in
Iceland is also still called Brúrá, from a bridge which crosses it. The
ancient seat of the Earls of Sutherland, Dunrobin (Robin’s tower, from
_dun_, a tower), lies on the seashore, in the neighbourhood of Brora,
surrounded by fine corn-fields and considerable tracts of woodland. The
latter, however, were planted at a recent period. In the background rise
considerable mountains, covered with heath. In this place, so highly
favoured by nature both as regards scenery and fertility, the Norwegian
jarls who ruled over Sutherland undoubtedly had one of their chief
residences; as, for instance, Sigurd Jarl, a brother of Ragnvald
Möre-Jarl, Sigurd the Stout (+ 1014), and his son Thorfin (+ about
1064). Norwegian antiquities, like those discovered in Caithness, are
found in graves near Dunrobin, particularly the well-known bowl-formed
brooches or buckles. In the neighbourhood several places with Norwegian
names can be pointed out; for instance, just south of Dunrobin, in the
fertile valley by the river Fleet, Mickle Torboll and Little Torboll
(from _Thor_ and _bol_); and on the coast, Skelbo, Skibo, and Embo (from
_bol_, or perhaps more correctly from _bœr_, _bö_). Sigurd, the first
conqueror of Sutherland, is said to have extended his dominion as far as
Ekkjalsbakke. As _bakki_ in the ancient language signifies the bank of a
river, there cannot be the least doubt that Ekkjal is the river Oykill,
which still forms the southern boundary of Sutherland. Sigurd himself is
said to have been interred at Ekkjalsbakke. He gained the victory in a
foray over the Scotch jarl Melbrigd, and cut off his head, which, in the
overweening pride of his triumph, he hung to his saddle; but a sharp
tooth that projected from the head chafed his leg, and caused a wound
which proved his death. On different parts of the banks of the Oykill
numerous barrows are seen, indicating the many battles that have been
fought in ancient times on the frontiers of Sutherland. But nobody is
able to point out the barrow of Sigurd Jarl; the tradition relating to
it has vanished with the Norwegian population.

For the rest, names of places prove that the Norwegians had also settled
themselves along the coast to the south of the Oykill. On the narrow
naze called Tarbet Ness, between Dornoch and Cromarty Firths, are the
villages of Arboll and Wanby, as well as the town of Tain, whose Gaelic
name, “Bailed Dhuich” (or St. Duthus’ Town), shows at once that “Tain”
must be of foreign origin. Tain is, moreover, a corruption of “Þing,” a
_Thing_; and in like manner the somewhat considerable town of Dingwall,
at the extremity of Cromarty Firth, was originally called “Þingavöllr,”
or _Thingwalla_; whence the remarkable fact is evident, that the
Norwegians were once sufficiently numerous in these districts to have
both an inferior _Thing_ (Tain) and a superior one (Dingwall). Dingwall,
like Tain, besides its original Norwegian name, has also the Gaelic one
of Inverphaeron. As the Norwegians, therefore, must have permanently
possessed considerable tracts in these districts, it is clear that their
settlements on the east coast of Scotland must have extended quite down
to Inverness-shire and Moray. The before-mentioned stronghold of
Burghead in Moray, which the Northmen maintained to the last extremity,
lies pretty close to the east of Cromarty Firth, the inlet to Dingwall.

As the Norwegian language and other Norwegian characteristics have given
way to the Gaelic tongue, manners, and customs, in the former Norwegian
districts on the north coast of Scotland, from Clyth Ness in Caithness
to Dingwall on the Firth of Cromarty, we can scarcely be surprised that
the north coast of Sutherland, whose rocks and heaths offered much fewer
allurements to the Norwegians than the fertile valleys and plains of the
east coast, and which were therefore far less colonized by them, should
have preserved distinct traces of these foreign conquerors only in a few
names of places. A remarkable instance of the Gaelic language having
expelled the Norwegian is to be found immediately on the borders of
Caithness, in the valley of Halladale. In a river there are two
waterfalls, of which the uppermost is called Forsinard, and the lower
one Forsindin. In both these names the Norwegian “Fors” is not to be
mistaken; but Gaelic terminations have in later times been added by the
Gaels, so that Forsinard now signifies the upper Fors, and Forsindin the
under, or lower, Fors. Halladale is likewise frequently called by the
additional Gaelic name of Strath—“Strath Halladale.”

This much, however, is clear, that the whole of the north and west coast
of Sutherland was once colonized by Norwegians. Besides various names of
places west of Halladale, which likewise end in _dale_, such as
Armadale, Swordale, and Torrisdale, it is surprising that we should
still meet with pure Norwegian names on four of the largest firths of
the north-west of Sutherland; viz., on the north coast the “Kyle of
Tongue” (from “túnga,” a tongue of land, a naze), together with the
adjoining village, Kirkiboll (Kirkebolet); further, Loch Eriboll, with
the large farm of Eriboll (the _bol_ on the Eir, or tongue of land, from
the _Old N._ “eyri”); the Kyle of Durness, or Dyrnæs, with the _bol_, or
dwelling, of Crossboll; and lastly, on the west coast, not far from Cape
Wrath, Loch Laxford (Laxfjorden, or the Salmon Firth; _Old N._,
“Laxafjörðr”). “Loch” is the Gaelic name for a lake or firth, and
consequently, in Loch Laxford, expresses tautologically the existence of
a fiord or firth; just as the name “valley” is twice expressed in Strath
Helmsdale and Strath Halladale. The last three of the above-mentioned
firths seem to have been of much importance to the Norwegians. There is
an excellent harbour in Loch Eriboll, which is still frequented by
numerous ships. The neighbourhood round Loch Durnes afforded excellent
opportunities for hunting the deer, particularly on Durnæs itself, which
extends between Loch Durnes and the Atlantic up to Cape Wrath (_Old N._,
“Hvarf”), and which, still later in the middle ages, was celebrated for
its excellent deer. Loch Laxford, which obtained its name from the
salmon (Lax) in the river and at its mouth, is commonly known to the
present day as one of the rivers in Scotland most abounding with that
fish. Several isolated rocks in the sea by the coast of Sutherland are
called, as in the Shetland Isles, “stacks;” and in several names of
islands we meet with the Scandinavian _sker_ or _skjær_; such as
Skerroar (Skjæröerne, the rock islands); and in Loch Eriboll, Dhusker,
Skerron, and others. A little island near the middle of the west coast
is called Calva (_Old N._, “Kálfey,” or the Calf Island), a name
frequently given by the Northmen to small islands that lay in the
neighbourhood of a larger one (for instance, the Calf of Man). For the
rest, Calva is one of the last decidedly recognisable Scandinavian names
of places on the west coast of Sutherland. The real Norwegian population
evidently ceased at Laxfjord. Norwegian names of places are scarcely to
be found on the coasts of the Highlands to the south of Sutherland. The
country there was so wild, rocky, and remote, that foreign conquerors
could only with the greatest difficulty have maintained a position
against the Highlanders, who were always prepared to make sudden and
dangerous attacks from the mountains in the interior. Aware of this, the
Norwegians seem to have limited themselves, on the western shores of the
Highlands, chiefly to the levying of provisions along the coast, and to
the plundering of cattle and other property. Round about the mouths of
the Highland firths are still to be seen the remains of old castles,
which the Scotch kings, and particularly Alexander the Second, are said
to have built, in order to prevent “the Danes” from making these
devastating descents.

The memory of the conquests and predatory incursions of the Norwegians,
or “Danes,” is still preserved in a remarkable degree among the poorer
classes in Sutherland, as well as in the rest of the Scottish Highlands.
Numberless traditions are in circulation respecting the levying of
provisions by “the Danes;” and barrows, or cairns, are not unfrequently
pointed out, in which a Scandinavian prince, or king’s son, killed by
the natives whilst on some Viking expedition, is said to be buried.
Besides the usual cruelties ascribed to the Danes in the traditions of
the Lowlands, and of England, they are here accused, into the bargain,
of having burnt the forests, and thus caused that want of wood which
acts so injuriously on the climate of the Highlands. In proof of this it
is adduced that roots and trunks of trees, sometimes perceptibly
scorched, are discovered in the turf-bogs of the Highlands. It is not
considered that similar discoveries are very common in other countries,
as, for instance, in Denmark itself; where trunks of trees, especially
firs, have been dug up, precisely as in the Scotch Highlands. They are
the produce of vegetative processes in the pre-historical times; and the
apparent scorching has been produced either by accidental fires, or
more, probably, by the simple mode of felling trees in use among the
aboriginal inhabitants of Europe; who, like certain savage tribes at the
present day, for want of metal tools, were obliged to burn the trunks of
trees which they wished to fell.

By way of amends, the Danes have now and then the honour of being
regarded in the Highlands as having been the teachers of the natives.
One of the first jarls of the Orkneys was, according to the legends,
called by the name of Torf Einar, because he was the first who caused
turf to be dug on a point of land (Torfnæs) in Scotland. This
promontory, probably the present Tarbet Ness, was at all events either
in Caithness or Sutherland; and it is certainly a remarkable
coincidence, that the common people of that district still relate that
“the Danes” taught them to burn turf. We likewise hear at times that
“the Danes” taught the use of hand querns, or hand-mills; nay, even that
the favourite national instrument of the Highlanders, the bagpipes, was
originally introduced by the Danes. In short, if anything, whether good
or bad, be of doubtful origin, it is frequently attributed to “the
Danes.”

But it is peculiar to the north-western and most remote districts of the
Highlands, that the common people still harbour no small degree of dread
lest “the Danes” should return, and repeat their cruel devastations.
About thirty years ago (according to J. Loch, “An Account of the
Improvements on the Estate of the Marquis of Stafford,” London, 1820,
8vo.), English engineers were employed in measuring all the heights in
Sutherland. This caused much sensation among the natives, who thought
that these engineers were sent by the Danes to make maps and plans of
the country, previously to the arrival of the Danish army. They imagined
that the king of Denmark had an old feud with the Mackays, and that he
was now coming to take a sanguinary revenge on the whole clan.

During my stay in Sutherland I had repeated occasion to convince myself
not only that the fear of the Danes has not yet died away there, but
also that tradition has connected with them things with which they had
nothing whatever to do.

Close outside the town of Dornoch, on the east coast of Sutherland,
there stands a stone pillar in an open field, which is simply the
remains of one of those crosses so frequently erected, in Roman Catholic
times, in market-places. As a matter of course, the arms of the jarls of
Sutherland are carved on one side of the stone, and on the other are the
arms of the town—a horse-shoe. Tradition, however, will have it that the
pillar was erected in remembrance of a battle fought on this spot, in
which the Jarl of Sutherland commanded against “the Danes.” In the heat
of the battle, while the Jarl was engaged in personal combat with the
Danish chief, his sword broke; but in this desperate situation he was
lucky enough to lay hold of a horse-shoe that accidentally lay near him,
with which he succeeded in killing his adversary. The horse-shoe is said
to have been adopted in the arms of the town in remembrance of this
feat. In the cathedral church of Dornoch is a carved stone monument of
the middle ages, representing one of the ancient bishops who once
resided in Dornoch. He also is said to have fallen in the same battle,
but my authority, the person who showed me over the church, added:—“I am
proud to tell that the Danes were defeated.”

Having employed myself in examining, among other things, the many
so-called “Danish” or Pictish towers on the west and north-west coast of
Sutherland, the common people were led to believe that the Danes wished
to regain possession of the country, and with that view intended to
rebuild the ruined castles on the coasts. The report spread very
rapidly, and was soon magnified into the news that the Danish fleet was
lying outside the sunken rocks near the shore, and that I was merely
sent beforehand to survey the country round about; nay, that I was
actually the Danish King’s son himself, and had secretly landed. This
report, which preceded me very rapidly, had, among other effects, that
of making the poorer classes avoid, with the greatest care, mentioning
any traditions connected with defeats of the Danes, and especially with
the killing of any Dane in the district, lest they should occasion a
sanguinary vengeance when the Danish army landed. Their fears were
carried so far that my guide was often stopped by the natives, who
earnestly requested him in Gaelic not to lend a helping hand to the
enemies of the country by showing them the way; nor would they let him
go till he distinctly assured them that I was in possession of maps
correctly indicating old castles in the district which he himself had
not previously known. This, of course, did not contribute to allay their
fears; and it is literally true, that in several of the Gaelic villages,
particularly near the firths of Loch Inver and Kyle-Sku, we saw on our
departure old folks wring their hands in despair at the thought of the
terrible misfortunes which the Danes would now bring on their hitherto
peaceful country.

                               ----------

                              SECTION IX.

       The Hebrides.—The Northern Isles: Lewis and Harris; (Næs);
                      Skye.—Ossian’s Songs.—Iona.

The rocky western coast of the Highlands south of Sutherland was not, as
I before mentioned, permanently inhabited by the Norwegians. They had,
indeed, regular settlements on the west coast, but these were on the
islands. They were here secure from the sudden attacks of the Gaels, or
Highlanders, who, generally speaking, would scarcely have ventured out
on a sea which then swarmed with Vikings. The farther, therefore, the
islands were from the mainland, so much the more secure would the
Norwegian settlers be, and so much the greater, in effect, did their
colonies become. By degrees they settled themselves on all the islands
along the west coast, from Lewis to Man, which they called under one
name, “Suðreyjar,” or the southern islands, from their situation with
regard to the Orkneys and Shetland Isles. Sometimes, however, they did
not reckon Man among them, and then divided the rest of the islands into
two groups, in such a manner, that only the islands to the south of Mull
were called “Suðreyar,” whilst Mull itself, and the islands to the
north, obtained the name of “Norðreyar.” The Irish, and the rest of the
Gaels, on the contrary, after the conquest of the islands by the
Norwegians, called them “Inis Gâl” (the foreigners’ isles).

The most northern and largest of the northern isles was the extensive
one which forms the present Lewis and Harris (the “Ljóðhus” of the
Sagas). It is separated from Scotland by the broad, stormy, and troubled
channel called the Minch. The southern part of it only, or Harris, where
the mountains reach the height of between two and three thousand feet,
can be called mountainous, for the rest of the island is rather flat,
devoid of wood, and covered with heaths and moors. Some good arable land
is, however, to be met with here and there along the coasts. Even in
very early times this island was very densely inhabited by the Gaels, of
which, among other things, some immense rows of stones, near Callernish,
bear witness. In like manner, the Norwegians must, at a later date, have
had considerable colonies in it. On this head we must not, of course,
implicitly rely on the numerous traditions related by the common people
about the landing of “the Danes,” their rising power, and subsequent
overthrow. But, what is more certain, the names of not fewer than about
ten large lakes in the island still retain the Norwegian termination
_vat_ (“vatn,” Vand, water); and three of the largest are called Loch
Langavat (the long water). Several coves (Vige) in Harris are called
_vagh_ (“vagr”); as Groesavagh, Flodavagh; and in Lewis _wick_, as
Sandwich (Sandvig; _Eng._, Sand-bay), and Norwich (Nordvig; _Eng._
North-bay). To these may be added a great number of Norwegian names of
places ending in _stra_ or _sta_ (staðr, stead); as Little Scarristra,
Meickle Scarristra (Harris); Erista, Mangersta (Lewis); in _bost_
(bolstaðr), as, in Harris, Nisibost, Hagabost, Chillibost; and in Lewis,
Callbost, Habost, Luirbost, Crossbost, Melbost, Garrabost, and others
(in all about thirteen). Further, we find such names as Laxay (Laxá,
Laxaa; _Eng._, Salmon river), Laxdale, Nether Holm and Upper Holm, Tong
(túnga), &c. These Norwegian names of places are met with as well
towards the south and west as on the east coast, where they are most
numerous about Loch Seaforth (Sæfjörðr), and in the vicinity of the
little town of Stornoway. But they are chiefly concentrated at one
point, the most northern in the island, in a district which still
retains the pure Norwegian name of “Ness.”

On this Naze, or promontory, are the lakes Langavat and Steapavat; the
valleys Dibidale, Eorodale, North Dell, and South Dell; the manors and
towns Skegersta, Swainbost, Habost, Cross, and at the farthest extremity
Oreby or Eoropie (“Eyribœr,” the town on the Eir or Naze?); with the
adjacent headland of Raven, which may possibly have been called after
Odin’s sacred bird. At all events, there is good ground for assuming,
from these names of places, that the promontory had a pre-eminently
Norwegian population, which, indeed, is unmistakably apparent even at
the present day.

Throughout Harris and Lewis, for instance, the Gaelic inhabitants are
small, dark-haired, and in general very ugly. But no sooner do we arrive
at Ness, than we meet with people of an entirely different appearance.
Both the men and women have in general lighter hair, taller figures, and
far handsomer features. I visited several of their cabins, and found
myself surrounded by physiognomies so Norwegian, that I could have
fancied myself in Scandinavia itself, if the Gaelic language now spoken
by the people, and their wretched dwellings, had not reminded me that I
was in one of those poor districts in the north-west of Europe where the
Gaels or Celts are still allowed a scanty existence. The houses, as in
Shetland, and partly in Orkney, are built of turf and unhewn stones,
with a wretched straw or heather roof, held together by ropes laid
across the ridge of the house, and fastened with stones at the ends. The
houses are so low, that one may often see the children lie playing on
the side of the roof. The family and the cattle dwell in the same
apartment, and the fire, burning freely on the floor, fills the house
with a thick smoke, which slowly finds its way out of the hole in the
roof. The sleeping-places are, as usual, holes in the side walls.

It is but a little while ago that the inhabitants of the Naze, who are
said to have preserved faint traditions of their origin from Lochlin
(called also in Ireland, Lochlan), or the North, regarded themselves as
being of better descent than their neighbours the Gaels. The descendants
of the Norwegians seldom or never contracted marriage with natives of a
more southern part of the island, but formed among themselves a separate
community, distinguished even by a peculiar costume, entirely different
from the Highland Scotch dress. Although the inhabitants of Ness are
now, for the most part, clothed like the rest of the people of Lewis, I
was fortunate enough to see the dress of an old man of that district,
which had been preserved as a curiosity. It was of thick coarse woollen
stuff, of a brown colour, and consisted of a close-fitting jacket, sewn
in one piece, with a pair of short trousers, reaching only a little
below the knees. It was formerly customary with them not to cover the
head at all. In a carefully compiled Scotch and English guide book
(Anderson’s Guide, 1842) it is stated, that “The islanders of the
northern part of Lewis, with their long, matted, and uncombed hair,
which has never been restrained by hat or bonnet from flowing as freely
in the wind as their ponies’ manes, and their true Norwegian cast of
countenance, form living portraits of the ancient Norsemen. The other
inhabitants are chiefly of Celtic origin.” The difference between the
descendants of the Gaels and of the Norwegians is consequently so
apparent that it is as striking to a Scotchman or an Englishman as to a
Scandinavian.

It is said on the island that the inhabitants of Ness are more skilful
fishermen and better sailors than the rest of the men of Lewis. However
that may be, as a pretty numerous Norwegian population on it has long
kept itself unmixed and distinct from the Gaels, it is not improbable
that those men of Lewis who are related to have formerly harried
Shetland, until they were entirely defeated in a great battle in
Mainland, may have been inhabitants of Ness, who, after the custom of
the ancient Norwegians, went on expeditions beyond sea, either to gain
booty, or, more probably, to decide some old dispute by the sword. That
men of Lewis, of Gaelic descent, who have never liked the sea, but, on
the contrary, always feared it, should have ventured repeatedly, and in
great numbers, so far as Shetland, altogether exceeds belief.

On the coasts of Lewis and Harris are several small islands, with still
recognisable Norwegian names, such as Calvay (“Kálfey”), Pabbay
(“Papey”), Skarpa (Skarpey), Scalpay (Skalpey), together with the places
called Meathallybost, Bernera (Bjarnarey), and others. In the south-west
there are three large islands in a row; North Uist, Benbecula, and South
Uist (in the Sagas “Ivist”), where there are also evident traces of a
Norwegian population. A small island to the west of North Uist is called
Kirkibost (Kirkjubolstaðr); on Benbecula there are the lakes Loch
Ollevate and Langavat, as well as the _Vaage_, or inlets, Uskevagh,
Kenlerevagh, and Riavagh; and on South Uist there are likewise lakes and
inlets called _vat_ and _vagh_; to which may be added such names of
places as Frobast, Kirkidale, Hillisdale, and lastly, a mountain called
Heckla, probably from the well-known volcanic mountain in Iceland. In a
bay in the middle of South Uist are the islands Calvay and Pabbay. There
is still a great number of small isles on the coasts of these islands,
whose names in a greater or less degree all betray their Norwegian
origin; for instance, Grimsa (“Grimsey”), Barra (“Barey”), Lingay
(“Lyngey”), Hellesay (“Hellisey”), Eriskay (“Eiriksey”), and others. The
Norwegians must even have visited the little island of St. Kilda, which
lies about eighty miles west of Lewis; at least, two of the
often-mentioned and peculiarly Scandinavian bowl-formed brooches have
been discovered on the island; one of them I have seen in the
Andersonian Museum, in Glasgow. Similar brooches were also found, with a
skeleton, in the island of Sangay, between Harris and North Uist.

To the east of North and South Uist is the large island of Skye
(“Skið”), separated from the Highland mainland by a narrow sound
(“Skiðsund”). Between its more northern part and the mainland, where the
sea is broader, are the islands of Rona, Raasay (“Hrauneyjar”), Scalpa
(“Skálpey”), Pabba (“Papey”), and Longa (“Langey”). Skye, towards the
south, is remarkable for its numerous and lofty mountains, whose
beautiful forms are visible at a great distance. Towards the north the
island becomes gradually flatter and broader. In the west and north-west
parts it is indented by deep firths, round which are to be found the
most fertile districts in the island. The east coast, on the contrary,
is not so capable of cultivation, as it has large tracts of moorland
heath and sand. The Norwegians, therefore, advisedly chose to settle on
the western and north-western firths, which, besides being more fertile,
were not so exposed to the attacks of the Gaels as the eastern and
south-eastern coast, which very nearly approach the mainland. Not a few
Scandinavian names of places may be still clearly recognised near Loch
Snizort, such as Scuddeburgh, Skabost, Braebost, and, near a waterfall,
Forscachregin (the Norwegian _Fors_ with a Gaelic termination). By
Dungevan Loch are the inlets Kilmaluag and Altivaig, and the villages
Husabost, Collbost, and Nisabost. By Loch Bracadale (the “Vestrifjorðr”
of the Sagas) are Fors, Orbost, Collbost, and Eabost. By Loch Harporth,
Carabost; and by Loch Eynort, Husedalebeg and Husedalemore; which
latter, in a mixture of Norwegian and Gaelic, signify little and great
Huusdal (Housedale); and, with a similar mixture, Ghionaforsenary. A
little more inland is the valley of Tungadelebeg, where the Gaelic beg
(little) is added to the Norwegian Tungadal.

From the frequent Gaelic terminations and corruptions of the Norwegian
names, it is sufficiently evident that the Norwegian language has lost
its former dominion in the island, and that the Gaelic has resumed its
ancient pre-eminence. The western districts of Skye, as well as the
previously-mentioned Norderöer, or northern islands, from Lewis to
Barrahead (which last are often called under one name, “the Long
Island”), are precisely those places in the Highlands where the Gaelic
tongue is most unmixed, and where the greatest quantity of old Gaelic
traditions and songs still survives among the people. It was here also,
that a great number of the world-renowned songs of Ossian were first
composed. It is true we no longer hear the people sing them, but there
can nevertheless be scarcely any doubt, particularly if we regard the
perceptible traces of the ancient metre in the Gaelic texts, that the so
frequently and warmly disputed edition by Macpherson is really founded
on ancient songs, although these may have been somewhat altered by lapse
of time, and by a not very happy translation. They have quite a peculiar
interest for the Scandinavian North, from the striking agreement in tone
and spirit which they present to several of the songs of the Sagas and
Edda. These last, again, afford a strong proof of the genuineness of
those attributed to Ossian, since the songs of the Sagas and Edda, at
the time when Macpherson published his Ossian, were either not at all,
or but very imperfectly known, even in Scandinavia itself, not to speak
of other countries. The real age of Ossian’s songs is very uncertain,
and very difficult to discover; but this much is clear, that they
indicate a lively intercourse between Alba (Scotland) and Lochlin
(Scandinavia), long before the times of the Vikings, and previously to
all historical accounts of connections between those countries. We
cannot, however, venture to conclude from this that the Orkneys, or any
other part of Scotland, were at so early a period inhabited by a
Scandinavian people. That such a colonization should really have taken
place before the time of the Vikings, which began at the close of the
eighth century, there are not only wanting historical and archæological
proofs, but likewise all internal probability.

Mull (“Myl”) is the largest of the most southern Norderöer, or northern
islands, but it is not richest in memorials of the Northmen. In the
narrow strait or sound (“Mylarsund”) which separates the island from the
mainland, there lies straight before Tobermory, the most important place
in the island, the little island of Calve (“Mylarkálfr”); and somewhat
farther south of Tobermory, on a rivulet by the coast, are the ruins of
the palace of Aros (from “árós;” _Dan._, Aarhus, the mouth of the
rivulet or Aa), once frequently inhabited by the rulers of these
islands, called “Lords of the Isles.” Another river in Mull, well
stocked with fish, was formerly called Glenforsay (Monro, “Description
of the Western Isles,” 1594), from the Norwegian “forsá” (Fosaa; _Eng._,
Waterfall-river), to which the Gaelic _glen_ has since been added. With
the exception, perhaps, of Assapoll (from _-bol_), in the south-west,
the island has no Norwegian names of places. Of such names, however,
several are to be met with on the islands west of Mull, particularly on
Coll (“Kóln”), where we find Crossapull, Gisapoll (from _bol_), Arnabost
(-bolstaðr), and Balehough; and on Tiree, Tyrvist, together with
Kirkapoll, Heylipoll, Vassipoll, and Crossipoll. In the bay formed by
Mull, towards the west, are found many small islands with originally
Norwegian names, such as Ulva (“Ulfey”), together with Soriby, Gometra
(“Guðmundarey”), and Staffa (“Stafey”), so famed for its stalactic
caverns.

But of all the Hebrides, none is more renowned than Iona (Ithona, “the
Waves’ Island”), or Icolmkill, “the island with Columba’s cells,” which
lies in the open Atlantic, near the south-west point of Mull. It is not
distinguished either by size and fertility or by numerous and splendid
ruins; it is now but an inconsiderable island, with some few remains of
churches, conventual buildings, and ancient Christian sepulchral
monuments. But about thirteen centuries ago it was the light of the
western world; for, after St. Columba settled there, it became the
central point whence Christianity diffused itself towards the east and
north, over Scotland and the surrounding islands. Iona thus obtained
such repute for sanctity, that it was said that a deluge which was to
overwhelm Ireland, and the islands round about, would have no power to
inundate it. Tradition adds, that, for this reason, the ancient Irish,
Scotch, and Norwegian kings, besides many other chiefs and mighty men,
both at home and abroad, chose Iona as their place of burial; and that
at the commencement of the sixteenth century, no fewer than three
hundred and sixty splendid stone crosses, or tombstones, were still to
be found on the island, which, however, with some few exceptions, have
now entirely disappeared.

According to an old description of the island, by Dean Monro (1594),
there was to the north of the Scotch graves an inscription, which ran
thus:—“Tumulus regum Norwegie,” or, “the tombe of the Kings of Norroway,
in the quhilk tombe, as we find in our ancient Eriske cronickells, there
layes eight Kings of Norroway, and also we find in our Eriske
cronickells, that Coelus, King of Norroway, commandit his nobils to take
his bodey and burey it in Colmkill, if it chancit him to die in the
isles; bot he was so discomfitit, that ther remained not so many of his
army as wold burey him there.” By the kings of Norway here mentioned we
must of course understand only the kings of the Sudreyjar, or southern
islands, and the Irish kings of Norwegian descent. It is in itself very
probable that these kings often desired to be buried in Iona, where the
first bishops of the proper Sudreyjar, “the bishops of the isles,”
dwelt, and whose church of St. Mary was consequently the chief church in
the islands. The tombs of the kings, however, can at present scarcely be
pointed out with certainty; we only know that they must have been in the
large and still visible burial-place consecrated to St. Oran. On this
place there is likewise a little chapel consecrated to the same saint,
which, according to the opinion of some, is of Norwegian workmanship—a
point, however, which must be very doubtful.

In the chapel are to be seen the remains of a carved monument erected in
the year 1489 to Lachlan Mackinnon (Mac Fingon), and on it, underneath
the inscription, is a ship, which is still to be found in the family
arms of the Mackinnons, but which is said to have been originally the
heraldic bearing of the Norwegian kings in the Isle of Man.

[Illustration: [++] Monument - Boat Decoration]

The Island of Iona was of special importance in ancient times, not only
to Scotland, but to the Scandinavian North. From it Christianity was
assuredly disseminated among the Norwegians in the Sudreyjar, or
southern isles, the Orkneys, and the Shetland Isles; whence, again, it
was often carried by Vikings and merchants to Norway and Iceland. In the
latter place, where not a few men from the southern isles were among the
first colonists, there was even a church dedicated to St. Columba.
Whilst, therefore, heathen Norwegians plundered and destroyed the
churches and convents of Iona, the Christian Norwegians seem to have
respected its sanctity. The Sagas, which call it “Eyin helga” (the holy
island), state, that the Norwegian king, Magnus Barfod (Barefoot), when
in his first expedition to the Sudreyjar and Ireland, in the year 1097,
he came to “the holy island,” gave all the inhabitants a guaranty of
peace and security, and allowed them to retain their possessions. It is
also stated that “King Magnus opened the little Kolumkille Church, and
went therein; but that he directly locked the door again, and said that
no one should dare to enter; and since that time the church has never
been opened.”

                               ----------

                               SECTION X.

    The Sudreyjar, or Southern Isles.—Cantire.—Islay.—Man.—Names of
      Places.—Runic Stones.—Kings.—Battle of Largs.—“Lords of the
                        Isles.”—Tynwald in Man.

Iona was not always accounted one of the northern isles. Farther towards
the north, on the north-west coast of Mull, are the islands of
Treshinish, and among them a steep rocky island, called Cairnburg, which
is said to have formed, at all events at times, the boundary between the
northern and southern isles, or Sudreyjar. Cairnburg is accessible only
at one spot, and by its height above the sea it forms an important
stronghold, which in former times was often numerously garrisoned. The
Sagas, which call the island “Bjana,” or “Bjarnarborg,” state that it
was one of those strong fortresses in the southern isles, the surrender
of which was in vain demanded by King Alexander the Second of Scotland,
from the Norwegian tributary king, Ion Dungadson; and tradition still
tells that “the Danes” often fought for the possession of this important
place.

“The Sudreyjar” (in which, among the larger islands, were included
Colonsay, Oransay, Jura, Islay, Arran, Bute, the Cumbr Islands, and
likewise the Peninsula of Cantire) are, strictly speaking, far from
being so numerous as the northern islands; but in general they are
distinguished from these by a richer and more fertile soil, which is the
result of their more southern and more protected situation. This remark
applies particularly to the charming islands of Arran (“Hersey”), Bute
(“Bót”), and the Cumbr Isles (Kumreyar), which lie eastwards of the
Peninsula of Cantire (“Satiri”), at the mouth of the Firth of Clyde; and
which, together with the rocks, heaths, and moors of the Highlands,
possess the woods and corn-fields of the Lowlands. They also enjoy a
fine climate.

But although these last-mentioned islands were often under the dominion
of Norwegian kings and jarls, they do not appear to have been inhabited
by a settled Norwegian population; at all events, Norwegian names of
places have disappeared from them. It is probable that they lay somewhat
too near the hostile coasts of Scotland, and somewhat too far from the
larger Norwegian colonies, for Norwegian settlers steadily to maintain
upon them a position against the Gaels; nay, the Norwegian name,
“Kumreyar,” the Cumbr Islands, seems to indicate that Cimri or Gaels
dwelt upon them.

Names of places on the Peninsula of Cantire, on the contrary, where we
find Smerbys (from _by_), Killipol (from _bol_), Torrisdale, and the
pure Norwegian Skipness, but more particularly on the islands outside
the Peninsula, near the west coast of Argyle, indicate a very
considerable Norwegian colonization. Not only have several of the small
islands Norwegian names, as Scarba (“Skarpey”) and Lunga (“Langey”), but
the largest and most fertile of them, Islay (the “Il” of the Sagas),
which Dean Monro as early as 1594 found to be fruitful, full of good
pastures, abounding with large deer, having many forests, excellent
hunting, and a river called Laxay (the pure _Old N._ “Laxá”) in which
many salmon were caught (“_with ane water callit Laxay, whereupon maney
salmon are slaine_”), still exhibits various traces of decidedly
Norwegian settlements. On its east coast, as is usually the case with
the Hebrides lying nearest to Scotland, few or no Norwegian names of
places are found; but in the middle of the island is Nerby; by Loch
Indal, Lyrabolls, Scarabolls, Conisby, Nerabolls, and Elister; and by a
rivulet, Skeba (“Skipá;” _Dan._, “Skibeaaen,” or the ship rivulet);
whilst on the west side of the island we find Olista, Culaboll, &c. This
agrees very well with the accounts that the kings and jarls of the
Sudreyjar of Norwegian descent had one of their chief residences in
Islay; for it was quite natural that they should surround themselves
with countrymen on whose courage and fidelity they could rely. The
island abounds, moreover, in traditions and pretended memorials of “the
Danes.” Near the bay of Knoch are two large upright stones, called “the
two stones of Islay,” under which it is said that the Danish princess,
Yula, after whom the island is named, lies buried. In various parts of
the island are shown what are called “Danish” castles, encampments, and
fortifications. It is also stated (see Anderson’s Guide), that there is
a circular mound of earth on the island, with terrace-formed steps,
which may possibly have once been used by the Norwegians as a _Thing_
place, like a similar one in the Isle of Man.

The chief seat of the Norwegian power on the islands was, however, still
more southward than Islay, namely, the Isle of Man (the “Mön” of the
Sagas), which lies in the Irish Channel, to the south-west of Solway
Firth, about midway between the coasts of Cumberland and Ireland. A
peculiar dialect of the Gaelic tongue, called Manx, is spoken throughout
this island, and the inhabitants have in general the same appearance as
their Gaelic neighbours in Wales, Scotland, and Ireland. But no other of
the western islands affords so many and such incontestable proofs of its
having once had a very wide-spread Norwegian or Scandinavian population,
who spoke their own language, and who, through a long series of years,
must have been the predominant race.

The highest mountain in the island, which is about 2000 feet high, is
called “Sneafell” (_Norw._, Sneefjeld; _Eng._, Snow-mountain). On the
east side is the rivulet and town of “Laxey” (Laxaa); in the south-east
is the long naze, “Langness.” To these may be added the bay called Derby
Haven, which the Norwegians called “Rognvaldsvágr,” whence the
neighbouring Ronaldsway derived its name. There are also the inlets of
Perwick and Fleswick; the islands Calf of Man, Eye (Oë), and Holm, near
the town of Peel; and, lastly, the villages Colby, Greenaby, Dalby,
Kirby (Kirkeby), Sulby, and Iurby (formerly “Ivorby”—Ivarsby?), &c. The
proportionately large number of names of places ending in “by,” which
suddenly appear in Man, in contrast to the more northern islands, with
their pure Norwegian names of places ending in “bol” and
“bolstaðr,”—which, it must be observed, are not to be found on Man,—is a
sort of proof that it received some colonists from the neighbouring old
Danish Cumberland, by which means a mixed Norwegian-Danish population
arose in the island.

The antiquary is much surprised to find on Man not merely one, but
several of those runic stones, with genuine Scandinavian inscriptions,
which he may have sought for in vain in England and Scotland. The
different districts of the island contain altogether about thirty
ancient sculptured monuments or sepulchral crosses; and of these at
least thirteen have once had runic inscriptions, which in great part are
still preserved. It is remarkable enough that these runic inscriptions
are found exclusively in the more northern half of the island (at Kirk
Andreas, two; at Kirk Michael, four; at Kirk Braddan, one; and at Kirk
Onchan, five); whence we may, with some degree of probability, conclude
that, at the time when these runic stones were erected, the Scandinavian
language was the most prevalent one in the northern part of the island.
The chronicles, indeed, state that the Norwegian, Godred Crovan, who
conquered Man in the year 1077, retained the southern part of the island
for himself and his followers; but the before-mentioned runic stones are
certainly older than Godred’s conquest. The inscriptions on the stones
have hitherto been copied and explained only in a very imperfect manner;
but since casts in plaster have been taken of them, their interpretation
has become incomparably easier and more simple. I have myself closely
examined and compared them in two places (at Edinburgh, in the Museum of
the Society of Scottish Antiquaries, and at Canons Ashby, in England,
the seat of Sir Henry Dryden, Bart.); and I have since had an
opportunity to renew my examination of all of them, in conjunction with
the learned Norwegian professor, P. A. Munch, to whom I am indebted for
several very important hints relative to their correct interpretation
(amongst others that the rune ᚮ, which in most inscriptions signifies
_o_, must in these always be read as _b_).

[Illustration: [++] Stones - Runic Inscriptions]

The annexed cut, after a plaster cast, represents one of the finest and
best preserved runic stones in Man, namely, at Kirk Braddan, about the
middle of the island.

The stone is fifty-seven inches high, eight inches broad at the base,
and when the cross was whole, had a breadth of twelve inches at the top.
Both its broad and one of its narrow sides are ornamented with serpents
ingeniously interwoven, whilst the fourth side has the following runic
inscription:

    “Thurlabr Neaki risti krus thana aft Fiaks ... bruthur sun Jabrs.”

    (“Thorlaf Neaki erected this cross to Fiak ... brother, a son of
    Jabr.”)

Another extremely well-preserved monumental cross, on which are carved
various scrolls, animals, birds, and other things, such as horses, a
stag, cows (?), swine, &c., stands in Andreas churchyard, and has the
following inscription:—

    “Sandulf ein suarti raisti krus thana aftir Arin Biaurg kuinn sina.”

    (_i. e._, “Sandulf the Swarthy erected this cross to his wife
    Arnbjörg.”)

[Illustration: [++] Monument: Andreas Churchyard]

(The drawing of this monument, as well as those of the following
inscribed stones, is borrowed from W. Kinnebrook’s “Etchings of the
Runic Monuments in the Isle of Man,” London, 1841, 8vo. But the faulty
inscriptions in that book are here corrected.)

[Illustration: [++] Monument: Kirk Michael]

In the middle of the village of Kirk Michael, close to the northern
corner of the churchyard, is a stone not less richly sculptured than the
preceding one, with all sorts of figures of stags, dogs, serpents,
horses, horsemen, &c., which are placed round a large cross covered with
interlacings, or scrolls. The inscription on it runs thus:—

    “Jualfir sunr Thurulfs eins Rautha risti krus thana aft Frithu
    muthur sina.” (Or, “Joalf, son of Thorolf the Red, erected this
    cross to his mother Frida.”)

At the end of the inscription is carved the figure of a man (probably
Joalf), with a shield on his arm and a lance in his hand. (See the
annexed cut.)

The language of the inscriptions, as well as the Scandinavian names
which appear in them,—as Thorlaf, Arnbjörg, Frida, and particularly the
names compounded after the genuine Scandinavian fashion, as Sandulf the
Swarthy, and Thorolf the Red,—sufficiently prove that these monuments
were erected by Northmen, or Norwegians, to their relatives who had died
in the Isle of Man. A piece of runic stone in the wall of Michael’s
Church bears the name of Grim the Swarthy (“Grims ins Suarta”); and in
some similar fragments of inscriptions near Kirk Onchan we find the
names of Thurid (“Thurith raist runir,” _i. e._, Thurith engraved runes)
and Leif (“tra es Laifa fustra guthan son Ilan”). The well-known
Scandinavian name, Asketil, is also found on the remains of a runic
inscription in the museum in Douglas (“p. Askitil vilti i
trigu——aithsaara siin;” _i. e._, whom Asketil deceived in security,
contrary to his pledge of peace). At the same time, however, we may
infer from names like Neaki, Fjak, and Jabr, that the Northmen must,
when these inscriptions were written, have already mingled with the
original Gaelic inhabitants of Man. A stone at Kirk Michael, which is
ornamented with a finely sculptured cross, on the sides of which are
seen a stag, a dog, a harper, and two figures apparently in an attitude
of prayer, has a Norwegian inscription with purely Gaelic names, such as
Mal Lumkun and Mal Muru:—

    “Mal Lumkun raisti krus thana eftir Malmuru fustra sin...;” (_i.
    e._, “Mal Lumkun erected this cross to his foster father Malmor.”)

[Illustration: [++] Monument]

Some hitherto inexplicable fragments of inscriptions at Kirk Onchan may
also possibly contain Gaelic words. The Manx runic stones bear, both in
form and workmanship, a striking resemblance to the previously-mentioned
sculptured monuments in the Lowlands, and on the north-east coasts of
the Highlands. Yet several of the Manx stones exhibit certain
peculiarities; as, for instance, the singular scale-covered serpents
surrounded with interlacings, which do not appear in a similar form on
the Scotch monuments. But as these serpents and interlacings very much
agree with ornaments on different antiquities of the heathen times found
in Scandinavia, and, as the language of the runic stones is pure
Scandinavian, there is every reason to conclude that the splendid
specimens on Man were carved by Norwegians, who, though they imitated
the monuments in vogue in Scotland, frequently allowed their own
characteristically fantastic ideas to display themselves in peculiar
devices. This view is confirmed in a remarkable manner by a few Manx
runic inscriptions, the real interpretation of which was first given by
Professor Munch. On the stone at Kirk Michael, represented below, is the
following inscription:—

    “Mail Brigdi sunr Athakans smith raisti krus thana fur salu sini sin
    brukuin Gaut girthi thana auk ala i Mann.” _i. e._, “Malbrigd, son
    of Athakan (the) Smith, erected this cross for his soul.... Gaut
    made this (cross) and all on Man.”

According to this, Gaut, who, to judge from the name, was a Norwegian,
erected all the crosses which, it must be observed, were at that time on
Man. Another inscription perfectly agreeing with this, though taken from
a very much defaced and broken monument near Kirk Andreas, on which has
been carved a cross with many scrolls (delineated in Kinnebrook’s work,
No. 8), runs as follows:—

    “... thana af Ufaig fauthur sin in Gautr girthi sunr Biarnar ...”
    “(N. N. erected) this (cross) to his father Ufeig, but Gaut Björnsön
    made it.”

Gaut’s surname, here given, further proves his Norwegian, or
Scandinavian, descent. From the language and manner of writing in the
Manx inscriptions still extant, we may assume that, with the exception
perhaps of some few pieces at Kirk Michael (Mal Lumkun’s inscription)
and Kirk Onchan (Leif inscription), which, according to Professor
Munch’s opinion, are of a somewhat later period, all these inscriptions
were from the artist-hand of Gaut Björnsön. It is even probable that
several of the other sculptured stones in Man, which are not known to
have had inscriptions (particularly at Kirk Onchan, Kirk Braddan, and
Kirk Lonan; see Kinnebrook, Nos. 16, 17, 20, 22, 23), were carved by
Gaut, or at least by a Northman. At all events, they are somewhat
different from the corresponding stones in Scotland; and some of them
(Onchan, 20, and Braddan, 23) prove themselves to be genuine Norwegian
runic stones, by the same peculiar figures of dragons and serpents as on
those before described.

The circumstance that those sculptured monumental stones in Man, which
are Norwegian, have both runic writings and peculiar representations of
figures, certainly affords a strong corroboration of the opinion before
expressed, that the sculptured monuments, generally so finely executed,
which are found on the east coast of Scotland, are in fact, though
called “Danish,” not Scandinavian, but Scotch. As, on the other hand,
the runic stones in Man have expressly preserved the name of the person
who made them—the Norwegian skilled in runes, Gaut Björnsön, who
imitated and altered the Scotch models with great expertness and
taste—it is clear that the Norwegians in the remote Western Isles must
not be regarded, any more than their kinsmen in the Orkneys and in
England, as merely rude barbarians, living only for plunder, war, and
bloodshed, and having no feeling for anything higher and nobler. The
discovery of Gaut Björnsön’s name may be regarded as an instructive
addition to the proofs before adduced, that the cathedral in Kirkwall
was originally founded, and partly erected, by a Norwegian layman, the
chieftain Kol; as well as that there existed at the same time in England
a considerable number of Danish, or Scandinavian, coiners. Of the
latter, as we shall see, there were likewise several employed by the
Norwegian-Danish kings in Ireland. For the rest, these characteristic
Scandinavian runic writings suffice to show that, with regard to the
civilization then prevailing, the Norwegians or Danes settled in these
districts were by no means deficient in education. The Northmen on the
Isle of Man were, besides, at a very early period, Christians. Almost
all the Manx runic stones are ornamented with the Christian cross; and
on a defaced piece of such a monumental stone at Kirk Onchan we even
find the words Jesus Christ (“Jsu Krist”). From the language of the
inscriptions there is reason to suppose that they were for the most part
engraved in the eleventh century. We cannot, therefore, doubt that
Christianity must at that time have been already disseminated among the
Scandinavian population in the Isle of Man. There was a bishopric in the
island in very ancient times; and we learn from history, as well as from
the names of the bishops, that in the eleventh, twelfth, and thirteenth
centuries several of them were of Norwegian descent; for instance, in
1050-1065, Roolwer (Rolf?); 1077-1100, Aumond M’Olave; 1181-1190,
Reginald, or Ragnvald; 1203-1226, Reginald (son of a sister of King
Olaf, of Man); and his successor, John Ivarsön. Unfortunately there is a
gap in the chronicles of the bishops of Man from about the year 700 to
the year 1025. Had they been perfect, we should possibly have been able
to find Scandinavian bishops in the island even earlier than 1050.

The Norwegian monuments in the Isle of Man already mentioned are in
themselves numerous and considerable enough to convey an idea of the
power which the Norwegians must have possessed there. At all events, the
names of places and the runic stones contribute in a high degree to
strengthen and illustrate the assertion of the Chronicles, that
Norwegian kings and jarls held confirmed dominion in the Sudreyjar, or
southern isles. When, in the ninth century, the Norwegian king Harald
Haarfager succeeded in subjecting the Orkneys and the Sudreyjar, he is
said to have appointed a viceroy or jarl in Man. During the tenth and
eleventh centuries a long series of Norwegian kings ruled there, whose
descent is clearly shown by their names; _viz._, Godred (Gudröd),
Reginald (Ragnvald), Olave, Hacon, Harold, &c. In the eleventh century
the connection between these kings and the Norwegian or Scandinavian
kings of Dublin was so particularly close, that either the same, or at
all events nearly-related kings, reigned over both Man and Dublin.

The kings of Man were tributaries of Norway, and acknowledged the
supremacy of that country, although in reality they ruled
independently. At that time their dominion extended over the rest of
the Sudreyjar. But in the year 1077 the Norwegian, Godred Crovan,
succeeded in conquering Man, after a battle near “Scacafell,” or
Skyhill, in which King Fingal, a grandson of Sygtrig (Sigtryg), “King
of the Danes in Dublin,” fell, as well as Sygtrig Mac Olave, the
actual Danish king of Dublin. Godred Crovan now assumed the government
of the islands, and appears to have declared himself perfectly
independent of Norway. Subsequently he conquered Dublin also, as well
as the province of Leinster in Ireland. In order to maintain Norway’s
right of supremacy, the Norwegian king, Magnus Barfod, shortly
afterwards undertook an expedition to the west. He committed great
havoc along the firths of Scotland (“Skotlandsfirðir,” or the coasts
by the Caledonian Sea), and in the Sudreyjar, Man, Anglesey, and
Ireland, and regained the kingdom which his forefathers had possessed.
According to a treaty with the Scottish king Malcolm, all the islands
lying to the west of Scotland, which Magnus could approach with
sailing vessels, were to belong to Norway. King Magnus accordingly
caused his ship to be hauled over the narrow isthmus (Satíriseið)
which connects the peninsula of Cantire with the mainland, and which
to the present day is called by the Gaels “Tarbet” (a place over which
vessels can be dragged). The King himself sat at the helm, and thus
acquired the peninsula, besides all the Western Islands. Having
appointed his son Sigurd king of the Sudreyjar, he returned home to
Norway, where, with several of his followers, he adopted the dress
generally worn in the Western Isles. “They went about the streets with
bare legs, and wore short coats and cloaks; whence Magnus was called
by his men Barfod, or Barbeen” (Barefoot, or Barelegs), says the
Icelandic historian, Snorre Sturlesön, who, as is well known, lived in
the first half of the thirteenth century. It is remarkable enough that
this is the oldest account extant of the well-known Scotch Highland
dress, whose high antiquity is thus proved.

The Jarl Ottar, who after Magnus Barfod’s expedition was made governor
of Man, was expelled by the inhabitants of that island (“Manverjar”),
who chose in his place another jarl named Macmanus (or Magnusön). But a
civil war now broke out in the island, and as King Magnus Barfod fell in
Ireland in 1103, when on a fresh expedition to the Western Islands,
Godred Crovan’s family regained the Manx throne. It appears, however,
that they acknowledged the supremacy of Norway; at all events, the
previously distinct bishoprics of the Sudreyjar (founded in 838) and of
Man were united after Magnus Barfod’s expedition, and connected more
closely than ever with Norway, by being subjected to the archbishopric
of Trondhjem. From 1181 until 1334 the bishops of the Sudreyjar
(“Episcopi Sodorenses”) were consecrated by the Archbishop of Trondhjem.
In the year 1380 the bishopric of Man was again separated from that of
the other Sudreyjar; but the subsequent bishops of Man have retained to
the present day the old title of bishop of Sodor (and Man), taken
originally from Suðreyar.

About the same time that the proper Suðreyar were, with, regard to
ecclesiastical matters, united with Man, many of them were, as to
secular government, separated from that island; although, since the time
of Harald Haarfager, all had been governed by the same kings. Jarl
Somerled, who was related in various ways to the Norwegian chiefs on the
islands, had assumed the dominion of Cantire, Argyle, and Lorn (the
“Dalir i Skotlandsfirdi” of the Sagas). After a naval battle, in the
year 1156, with the Manx king, Godred Olavesön, Jarl Somerled compelled
Godred to resign to him all the Sudreyjar from Mull to Man, which
possessions afterwards remained in his family (“Dalverja-Ætt”). His
youngest son, Dugal, the founder of the family of the Mac Dougals of
Lorn, obtained Argyle and Lorn, whilst Cantire and the islands were
assigned to his eldest son Ragnvald, or Reginald. Meanwhile Godred
Crovan’s successors reigned over Man, and frequently, as it seems, over
the islands to the north of Mull likewise, and particularly Lewis. They
constantly sought to strengthen their diminished power by forming
alliances with royal families, and other powerful races in Ireland,
Scotland, and Norway. Thus King Harald Olafsön, whose father King Olaf
Godredsön had, in the year 1230, repaired to King Hakon Hakonsen in
Norway, and taken the oath of allegiance to him, married King Hakon’s
daughter Cecilie; but on the voyage home from Norway in 1248, the royal
couple perished in the dangerous Somburg Röst, to the south of Shetland,
together with the Manx bishop, Lawrence, and a numerous retinue of Manx
chiefs. Harald’s brother, King Ragnvald, was shortly afterwards murdered
by the knight Ivar, and was succeeded on the throne by his youngest
brother Magnus, who was the last of Godred Crovan’s descendants, and
above all the last Norwegian who filled the throne of Man.

The Scotch kings had long been aiming at the expulsion of the Norwegians
from the north and west of Scotland. Alexander the Second (1214-1249)
repeatedly sent ambassadors to King Hakon, in Norway, offering to
purchase the right of that kingdom to the Norwegian possessions in
Scotland; but as they did not succeed, Alexander declared that he would
not rest till he had planted his banner on the farthest point of the
Norwegian dominions in Scotland. But whilst he lay with part of his army
at the island of Kerrera (“Kjarbarey”), not far from Mull, he fell sick
and died, after which the army was disbanded. However, his successor,
Alexander the Third (1249-1289), zealously prosecuted the plan for the
expulsion of the Norwegians. The Scots having at length begun to ravage
the Sudreyjar, and particularly the Isle of Skye, with fire and sword,
King Hakon, when the tidings reached Norway, equipped a large fleet, and
issued orders for an expedition to avenge the attack that had been made
on his dominions.

Accordingly, in 1263, he sailed with a large and well-appointed force to
Elwick (“Ellidarvik”) on Shapinsay, in the Orkneys, and thence to
Ragnvaldsvaag (“Rögnvaldsvágr”) under South Ronaldshay, near Pentland
Firth. He had despatched several ships before him to the Sudreyjar,
whose crews devastated the coasts of Sutherland, particularly the
district around the firth of Durness (“Dyrnes”), where they destroyed a
castle and burnt more than twenty mansions. The King then sailed to the
before-mentioned isle of Kerrera, where he assembled his fleet,
consisting of about 200 ships. King Magnus from Man, and King Dugal from
the Sudreyjar, joined him there; but Ion, the other king of the
Sudreyjar, or, as he was called in Scotland, Ewen, was exempted by King
Hakon from fighting against the Scots. King Hakon permitted his men to
devastate the islands and coasts of the Firth of Clyde. Some of his
chiefs sailed up Loch Long (“Skipafjörðr”), and hauled their ships over
the narrow strip of land, called Tarbet, into Loch Lomond (“Lokulofni”),
whence they harried the surrounding district of Lennox (“Lofnach”).
Meanwhile verbal messages passed between the Norwegian and Scottish
kings, but without leading to any reconciliation. The time was thus
whiled away till late in the autumn, when King Hakon anchored with his
fleet under Cumbrey in the Clyde, opposite the hamlet of Largs. Here he
was assailed by such a furious storm, that his Norwegians, unacquainted
with the equinoctial gales on the west coast of Scotland, imagined that
the tempest had been evoked by witchcraft. Some of the King’s ships were
driven ashore near Largs, when the Scots immediately began to attack
them. As the Scotch king had in the meantime arrived on the spot with a
large army, a fierce battle took place on the plain near Largs (3rd of
October, 1263), in which the Norwegians, who were exhausted by their
endeavours to save their ships, and who on account of the storm could
not avail themselves of their whole force, were overpowered. King Hakon
then sailed with the remainder of his fleet round Cape Wrath to
“Goafjörðr” (undoubtedly the excellent harbour in Loch Eribol in
Sutherland), and after suffering much from violent storms and tempests,
at length again reached Ragnvaldsvaag in the Orkneys. He now prepared to
pass the winter in Kirkwall, where, however, he shortly afterwards died
(16th December, 1263).

The battle of Largs, the last combat in these western regions between
the kings of Scotland and Norway, was of a decisive character. The kings
in Sudreyjar and Man, who could now no longer venture to reckon upon
adequate protection from Norway, submitted to the dominion of the Scotch
king. King Magnus Hakonsön, of Norway, found it most advisable (1266) to
cede Norway’s supremacy over the Sudreyjar and Man to the Scottish crown
for the sum of 4000 marks sterling and a yearly tribute of 100 marks.
But the Scots did not obtain immediate possession of Man. King Magnus
died there in 1265, and was buried in the convent of Russin, near Derby
Haven (“Rögnvaldsvágr”), which one of his forefathers had founded, or at
all events enlarged, in 1134, and which already contained the bones of
several Norwegian kings, chiefs, and ecclesiastics (as, for instance, of
Bishop Reginald, + 1225; King Olave Godredsön, + 1237; and the chief
Gospatrick, + 1240). With Magnus the family of Godred Crovan became
extinct; but the powerful knight Ivar assumed the dominion of Man; and
it was not till the year 1270 that the Scots, who had landed in
Ragnvaldsvaag, succeeded, in a hard-fought battle, in killing Ivar,
together with a great number of the leading men of the island, who had
fought desperately for their independence.

Thus was terminated the actual Norwegian dominion over the Sudreyjar. As
the battle of Largs considerably contributed to this event, it is no
wonder that this battle, and above all King Hakon’s expedition, still
figure in Scottish traditions. On the battle-field near Largs—where
human bones, as well as “Danish axes” and swords, are often found—are
still to be seen two almost unique barrows or tumuli, the most
remarkable in Scotland, being about 25 feet high, and nearly 20 feet
broad at the top, in which the Norwegians and Scots who had been slain
are said to have been buried. One of the mounds, which stands just at
the back of the town, and close to the shore, is probably the grave of
the Norwegians; for the Sagas, whose accounts agree on the whole so
exactly with the localities that they must have been derived from
eye-witnesses, relate that King Hakon, the day after the battle, buried
his dead on the coast, in the neighbourhood of a church. The other mound
stands on the plain, a few thousand paces farther off. According to the
statements of the common people, on the day of the battle, blood flowed
instead of water in a little rivulet or beck that runs past “Killing
Craig.” A number of smaller barrows and scattered stones, formerly to be
seen on the plain, were likewise ascribed by tradition, though certainly
without reason, to the same battle. They undoubtedly belonged to a far
more ancient time; as is also the case with an excellent silver-gilt
brooch found near Hunterston, about three miles from Largs, which was at
once said to have been lost by some Norwegian who fled from the field of
battle. There is a short Scandinavian runic inscription scratched on the
back of it; but, from what has hitherto been deciphered, it would rather
seem to denote the name of a Scotchman than of a Norwegian. Professor
Munch reads, and certainly with good reason, as follows:—

    “Malbritha a dalk thana” ... or, “Melbrigd owns this brooch.”

In workmanship, moreover, it resembles the contemporary Irish and Scotch
more than Scandinavian ornaments.

The remembrance of this last expedition of the Norwegians is scarcely
less vivid in several of the harbours which King Hakon visited with his
fleet; as, for instance, Lamlash (“Melasey”), in Arran; Sanda (“Sandey”)
near the south point of Cantire, where are shown the remains of a chapel
and a churchyard, in which are said to repose the bones of many Danish
and Norwegian chiefs; also in Gigha (“Gúdey”); Kerrera (“Kjarbarey”),
with its “Danish” fort “Gylen;” and lastly, in Kyle Rhee (the King’s
Strait), and Kyle Akin (Hakon’s Strait?), in the straits between the
Isle of Skye and Lochalsh, on the coast of Ross-shire. According to a
tradition, which is, however, entirely without foundation, King Hakon,
in his flight from Largs, was attacked in this strait and killed,
together with a great number of his followers. With similar exaggeration
the Scots relate that all the Norwegians round about in the Sudreyjar
were killed after the battle of Largs. On one of the islands near Barra
was shown, not long since, and perhaps is even still, a heap of human
bones, as the remains of the last Danes murdered there. On Lewis there
is the following tradition—that when the Danes were quartered round
about in the island, and were very troublesome on account of their
oppressions, the Gaels laid a plan to murder them. The “fiery cross” was
circulated through the island, with this brief announcement: “marbhadh
ghach then a Bhuana;” that is, “every one shall kill his guest.” The
strangers, who had not time to assemble together, were thus murdered one
by one.

It cannot admit of a doubt that the Norwegians on the Sudreyjar, who for
centuries had taken fast root in the islands, and become mixed with the
families of the Scotch chiefs, could not thus disappear all at once
without leaving a trace behind them. In Lewis, as I have before proved,
vestiges of a Norwegian population still exist. The best refutation of
the tradition is, however, the circumstance that with the exception of
Man, the Sudreyjar continued to be governed by the same chiefs who had
ruled the islands under the Norwegian dominion; and who, being descended
from Somerled himself, were in a great degree of Norwegian extraction.
Somerled’s successors also continued, after the old fashion, to defy the
Scotch kings, who often sought in vain to subdue the bold “Lords of the
Isles,” so famed in song and legend. Sometimes they declared themselves
independent, and sometimes they were compelled to yield to the superior
force of the kings, and acknowledge them as their feudal lords; until at
length, but not before the sixteenth century, the power of these island
chieftains was entirely subdued. Even to the present day many Highland
clans assert that they are descended from the Danes, or Norwegians. This
much is at all events certain, that several clans have Scandinavian
blood in their veins, as appears clearly enough from the names of
Clan-Ranald (from Reginald or Ragnvald) and Clan-Dugal (from Dubhgall,
“the dark strangers,” the usual name for the Danes); both which clans,
it is expressly stated, are descended from Somerled. To these may be
added the clan of Macleod in Skye, whose chiefs still commonly bear the
pure Norwegian names of “Torquil” and “Tormod.”

But the enduring influence of the Norwegian dominion in the Sudreyjar is
best established by the fact that since the battle of Largs, the Isle of
Man, through all the vicissitudes of fate, and after passing by sale
into the possession of the English crown, has uninterruptedly retained
its peculiar position as a kingdom, having its own originally Norwegian
or Scandinavian constitution, and its annual assemblies on the identical
Thing-hill, Tynwald (or, as it was formerly called Tingualla,
“Þingavöllr”), from which, about a thousand years ago, the Norwegians
governed the Sudreyjar. Although the British Parliament makes laws for
England, Ireland, and Scotland, they are of no validity in the Isle of
Man, unless they are in accordance with the ancient laws and liberties
of the island, and, after being confirmed by its own Parliament, are
proclaimed from Tynwald Hill.

The Manx Parliament, whose origin is lost in the mists of remote
antiquity, but whose establishment is usually ascribed to the Danish
king Orry (Erik?), who settled in the island in the beginning of the
tenth century, consists of the three “estates” of the island: 1st, the
king, or superior lord; 2nd, the governor and council; 3rd, the
twenty-four representatives of the island (“Keys, or Taxiaxi”). The
upper house, or council, consists of the bishop, two superior judges
(“deemsters”), and six other of the highest officers in the island. The
representatives in “the house of Keys” fill up vacancies themselves, and
hold their seats for life, without being in any way responsible to the
people for their votes.

This aristocratic mode of election reminds one of the time of the
Norwegian conquest, when the Norwegians made themselves lords over the
natives. The _Thing_, or Tynwald Court, which can be assembled by the
governor at any time whatever, possesses, according to old Scandinavian
custom, both the judicial and the legislative power. The house of Keys
is the first, and the Council the second court of appeal for certain
causes, after they have been tried by the inferior courts in the island.
The Council can reject proposals for laws brought in by the house of
Keys, and the king again can reject the united proposals of both houses.
On the other hand, what all the three estates have agreed on becomes a
law (“a Tynwald act”); but it is not in force until it has been
proclaimed from Tynwald Hill.

This hill, which stands in the midst of a valley on the west coast of
the island, close to the northern side of the town of Peel, is said to
have been originally raised with earth taken from all the seventeen
parishes in the island. It forms four terraces, or steps, the lowest of
which is eight feet broad, the next six feet, the third four feet, and
the topmost six feet. There are three feet between every step, or
terrace, and the circumference of the hill is about 240 feet. It is
covered with green sward. (See Cumming. “The Isle of Man.” London,
1848.)

Once a year, on St. John the Baptist’s Day, the governor of Man,
attended by a military escort, sets out from Castle Town, and, together
with the Tynwald Court, attends divine service in St. John’s Chapel,
situated a few hundred paces from the hill. After the service, the whole
court repairs in solemn procession to the hill, whence all the laws that
have been passed in the course of the year are proclaimed in English and
Manx. The procession then returns to the chapel, where the laws are
signed and sealed.

Amongst all the Scandinavian Thing-hills, or Thing-walls (“Þingavellir”)
that can be traced in the old Danish part of England, in the Norwegian
part of Scotland, as well as in the Orkneys and Shetland Islands, and
which also formerly existed in Iceland, Norway, and throughout the
North, Tynwald in Man is the only one still in use.

It is, indeed, highly remarkable that the last remains of the old
Scandinavian _Thing_, which, for the protection of public liberty, was
held in the open air, in the presence of the assembled people, and
conducted by the people’s chiefs and representatives, are to be met with
not in the North itself, but in a little island far towards the west,
and in the midst of the British kingdom. The history of the Manx _Thing_
court remarkably illustrates that spirit of freedom and that political
ability which animated the men who in ancient times emigrated from
Norway and the rest of the Scandinavian North.

------------------------------------------------------------------------



                                  THE
                         NORWEGIANS IN IRELAND.

                               ----------

                               SECTION I.

  Nature and Population of Ireland.—The “Danish” Conquests.—Traditions
                about the “Danes.”—Political Movements.

Ireland may still be justly called the chief land of the ancient Celtic
tribes. Long after the Britons and Caledonians had been driven out by
the Romans and Anglo-Saxons, and obliged to fly to the remotest mountain
districts of the west, their Irish kinsmen retained firm possession of
the whole large and fertile country of Ireland. Subsequently, it is
true, the Irish also were compelled to give way before the conquests of
the Norwegians and English; yet they continued to inhabit the greater
part of the country in vastly superior numbers; and even in the
districts conquered by foreigners, which were mostly confined to the sea
coasts, they dwelt intermingled with the new immigrants. In spite of the
attempts of the English to subdue and annihilate the nationality of the
Irish, they continued to preserve throughout the middle ages their
ancient language and their characteristic manners and customs. With all
their power the English have not even been able to root out the Roman
Catholic religion, which to the present day forms the predominant church
of the Irish. It is only in later times that they have succeeded in
gaining a firmer footing in Ireland than they previously possessed. The
English language and customs are continually making greater progress
towards the west; and the Irish, who can no longer withstand England’s
power, seek in great numbers, like their kinsmen in Scotland, a new
asylum in America. The struggle is the more severe in proportion as the
Irish are more numerous than the Celtic population in Scotland and
England. The last violent throes of the once powerful and mighty Irish
nationality now fearfully agitate Ireland, which has been so long and so
severely tried by oppression, pestilence, and famine.

One of the most active causes of the misfortunes of Ireland and the
Irish is, however, the same that occasioned the ruin of the Celts in
England and Scotland; namely, that they could never sincerely unite
together. They have always abandoned themselves too much to eastern
indolence and quiet, regardless of the march of civilization, and
neglecting to avail themselves sufficiently of the rich resources
afforded by their native land. For, although it is true that there are
considerable tracts of boggy land in Ireland, and that many districts
are but little capable of cultivation, yet in the main Ireland is
exceedingly well adapted for agriculture. The neighbourhood of the
Atlantic produces mild breezes, which permit neither frost nor snow to
be of long duration, and consequently promote a rare and luxuriant
vegetation. In few countries do we behold so many creeping plants, and
such beautiful and verdant fields and pastures, as in Ireland, which,
from its green meadows, has obtained the appropriate name of “the
Emerald Isle.” The land is intersected by rivers partially navigable,
abounding in fish, and its coasts are washed by a sea—which not only
from its rich fisheries, but from the facilities which it affords to
navigation, particularly towards America—might, if properly used, become
an inexhaustible source of wealth.

From time immemorial Ireland was celebrated in the Scandinavian North
for its charming situation, its mild climate, and its fertility and
beauty. The “Kongespeil” (or “Mirror of Kings”), which was compiled in
Norway about the year 1200, says that “Ireland is almost the best of the
lands we are acquainted with, although no vines grow there.” The
Scandinavian Vikings and emigrants, who often contented themselves with
such poor countries as Greenland and the islands in the North Atlantic
Ocean, must therefore have especially turned their attention to “the
Emerald Isle,” particularly as it bordered very closely upon their
colonies in England and Scotland.

But to make conquests in Ireland, and to acquire by the sword alone
permanent settlements there, were no easy tasks. The remote situation of
Ireland, so far towards the west in the Atlantic Ocean, was of itself no
slight defence. With the exception of certain tracts, principally on the
east coast, the land is full of mountains, which everywhere afford
secure retreats from an invading enemy. In our days Ireland, the second
of the British Isles in point of magnitude, has a population of between
six and seven millions, chiefly of ancient Irish, or Celtic origin; and
in ancient times, when the Celts were entirely independent, and absolute
masters of the country, the population does not appear to have been much
less numerous. Ireland, moreover, distinguished itself by adopting
Christianity, together with its accompanying civilization, at a very
early period, which, however, was not able to put an end to the cruel
and sanguinary disputes that raged between the different tribes
composing its population. Thus the proportionately few and scattered
Norwegians, who could reach Ireland only by sea, and who could derive
assistance only from their countrymen settled upon the coasts of England
and Scotland, had to contend with a numerous, and by no means unwarlike
people, inhabiting an extensive and mountainous country. To obtain
assistance in the hour of need from their own Scandinavian home was, on
account of the great distance, a physical impossibility. When,
therefore, we consider that neither the Romans nor the Anglo-Saxons ever
obtained a footing in Ireland, although they had conquered the adjacent
country, England; and when we further reflect upon the immense power
exerted by the English in later times in order to subdue the Celtic
population of Ireland, and the many centuries which elapsed before they
even partially succeeded, we cannot help being surprised at the very
considerable Scandinavian settlements which, as early as the ninth
century, were formed in Ireland, and at the great influence which the
Norwegians, according to the concurring evidence of the Irish and
Scandinavian chronicles, must for more than three centuries have
exercised in all the most important places in the country.

On his first entrance into Ireland, a Scandinavian traveller will be
immediately reminded of the ancient dominion of his countrymen. It
cannot possibly escape his observation what a striking part the
Norwegians—or, as they are there exclusively called, the “Danes”—play in
the popular legends and traditions of Ireland. That, like the
north-western districts of Scotland, it should have best preserved the
popular life of ancient times with its songs and legends, must, it is
true, be ascribed to its remote situation. Everywhere, even far in the
interior of the country, we are shown Danish raths (mounds and
entrenchments), and among others the so-called “Danes-cast,” a long
ditch and rampart in Ulster. “Danish cooking-places” are also pointed
out, consisting of small circular spaces set round with stones, and
bearing traces of embers and burnings, some of which are met with
scattered about on heaths and moors. In the ancient copper mines in the
south of Ireland roundish stones with a dent round the middle are now
and then dug up, which it is evident were used in former times in
working the mines. These stones are called by the common people “Danes’
hammers.” In like manner they generally call most of the antiquities
that are dug up, whether weapons or ornaments, “Danish.” Tales
calculated to awaken horror of outrages of the Danes are connected with
all these pretended Danish memorials; and the farther we travel into the
remote western districts, the more terrible are the tales we hear of the
distress and cruel oppressions which the inhabitants endured under their
Danish conquerors. Nevertheless the Irishman has preserved, like the
Englishman, the remembrance of the Danes’ contempt of death, and
irresistible bravery. “That might even frighten a Dane,” says the
Irishman at times, when speaking of some desperate undertaking. A kind
of superstitious fear of the redoubted Danes seems in some places to
have seized the common people; at least it is an acknowledged fact, that
in several parts of the country they continue to frighten children with
“the Danes.”

Similar ideas about the Danes are to be met with even among the more
enlightened portion of the people. Not long ago, it was a firm belief
among many educated men in Ireland, that there were still families in
Denmark, who could not forget the dominion they had formerly exercised
in Ireland, and who bore a title derived from the large estates which
their forefathers had once conquered and possessed there. It was
likewise commonly supposed that the Danes had carried with them from
Ireland a great number of manuscripts, which were said to be preserved
in one of the large collections of books in Copenhagen; as if, forsooth,
it had been one of the chief aims of the bold and dangerous expeditions
of the ancient Norwegians at that remote period, to carry off scientific
treasures, and above all, manuscripts written in Irish, and,
consequently, in a language that was for the most part entirely
incomprehensible to them. In the last century in particular, and at the
beginning of the present one, the Irish literati attributed to the
Danes, or rather to the Norwegians, much to which, strictly speaking,
they could have no valid claim.

The remarkable round towers, whose stone walls are built in so
workmanlike a manner, and which are so evidently of Christian
origin—being erected both as belfries, and as places of security for the
clergy, and certainly _against_ the Scandinavian Vikings and
conquerors—were nevertheless proclaimed to be “Danish towers.” The large
stone rooms, or sepulchral chambers in cairns, that are found in several
places in Ireland, as at New Grange, and which have so striking an
agreement with the sepulchral chambers in the Scandinavian North and
other countries, dating from the pre-historical, and so-called stone
age, were also called “Danish;” although we know from the Sagas, as well
as from the Irish chronicles, that the “Danes,” or rather the Norwegian
Vikings, sometimes opened these sepulchres, in order to take out any
treasure that might have been buried in them by the natives. In several
other instances, the Irish were not disinclined at times to regard the
Norwegian conquests in a somewhat too favourable light.

Recently, however, they have gone to the opposite extreme. Everything
possible that is bad, but nothing whatever that is good, is ascribed to
the Scandinavian conquerors. In Ireland, as in Scotland and England, it
is at present the commonly received opinion that the Norwegian
conquerors did nothing but plunder and burn, and thus annihilated a very
considerable civilization, which had prevailed in Ireland for centuries
before the Norwegian expeditions. The “Danes” are, besides, accused of
subverting the independence of Ireland, and of being the sole cause of
her subsequently coming under the dominion of England. It is remarkable
enough, however, that the Irish appear entirely to forget that the fault
must be ascribed to themselves. They were so divided, and at such
variance with one another, that, in spite of their vast numbers and
boasted civilization, they could not unite to resist a mere handful of
Scandinavians, who came from a great distance across the sea, and still
less could they resist their powerful English conquerors.

This change in the opinions commonly received in Ireland concerning the
Danish conquests has been effected more particularly by the late
political movements. It is but little known in the Scandinavian North
that, since the Repeal agitation in Ireland, the Danish conquests and
the Danish name have been used as a constant and effective means of
agitating against England; yet such is actually the case.

When O’Connell stepped forward as the mouth-piece of Irish nationality,
to revive the ancient independence of Ireland, and if possible to
restore its Parliament, by means of a repeal of the Union, it was of
course important for him to awaken in his countrymen a feeling of
freedom. With this design, he looked to Ireland’s earlier history, and
particularly to the period when she formed an independent kingdom. But
that time was extremely remote. As early as the close of the twelfth
century the English had firmly established themselves in Ireland; and
the Danes before them had, for several centuries, held dominion over the
most important places in that country. Had O’Connell, therefore, wished
to dwell on the time of Ireland’s real independence, he must have
reverted to a period more than a thousand years ago. But he shrewdly
foresaw that the vast and uneducated mass of the people, whom he chiefly
wished to agitate, would not be able to follow him. He therefore chose
historical events that lay nearer, and of which the remembrance still
lived among the people; and, as his chief aim was to irritate the Irish
against the “Saxons” (or English) he laid great stress upon the glory
which the Irish had acquired in former combats against that people, as
well as against the “Danes,” who had preceded them in conquering
Ireland.

Nothing could have been better adapted to O’Connell’s object than the
traditions and exaggerated notions about the Danes, still so widely
diffused among the poorer classes in Ireland. O’Connell knew how to
flatter with dexterity the vanity and self-love of the Irish, by
representing how great a triumph they had achieved in former times, by
driving out the Danes, and annihilating a dominion founded with so much
bravery and wisdom. If he drew no direct conclusion from this, he let
it, however, be sufficiently seen, that as the Irish were formerly able
to expel their Danish conquerors, there was nothing to prevent them from
chasing the hated “Saxons” from their coasts. At one of his great
meetings, held on Tara Hill, where the ancient Irish kings were crowned
in the time of Ireland’s independence, he reminded his countrymen that
their forefathers had, in the year 978, gained on that spot a
considerable victory over the “Danes.”

On the coast about three miles to the north-east of Dublin, is the plain
of Clontarf, where, in the year 1014, a great battle was fought between
the “Danes” and the Irish. This battle, one of the most sanguinary in
all the wars of the Norwegians and Irish, was gained by the latter,
whose king Brian Boroimha (or Brian Boru) fell just as victory declared
for his army. A victory over the Danes like this must naturally always
occupy a prominent place in the historical reminiscences of the Irish;
and their historians throughout the middle ages, and down to our own
times, have accordingly dwelt with extreme complacency on the
description of the bravery of the Irish and of their king. But it did
not suffice O’Connell and his followers to adhere to historical
realities. They followed the chroniclers of a later period, by whom the
victory of Clontarf has been delineated in far too brilliant colours. In
songs, pamphlets, and speeches, the battle of Clontarf was now
represented as having completely annihilated the Danish power in
Ireland, and saved her independence and freedom. According to these
accounts, not a single Dane or Norwegian would seem to have remained in
Ireland after the battle. Brian Boroimha (Boru) was extolled to the
skies, as a martyr for the deliverance of his country from the yoke of
the oppressors. And in the intoxication of enthusiasm thus produced, his
portrait, together with a picture of the battle of Clontarf, was
distributed among the people in immense quantities, and at the very
lowest price. On the tickets of members of the Repeal Association, which
were ornamented with the names of the most important national triumphs
of the Irish, as well as with portraits of the victors, the battle of
Clontarf, and Brian Boru’s portrait, stood at the top.

When at length this representation of the battle of Clontarf, as one of
the most important fought by Ireland for liberty, had been so impressed
upon the common people that it seemed an event which had only recently
taken place—and which, at least in the lively imaginations of the Irish,
might possibly enough be repeated—O’Connell gave out that he would hold
a great repeal meeting on the plain of Clontarf. Everybody knew
beforehand that the real meaning of O’Connell’s speech was, that just as
the Irish, with Brian Boroimha at their head, had formerly defeated the
Danes on that very place, and thus saved Ireland’s freedom, so should
they now in like manner follow O’Connell (who, besides, gave himself out
for a descendant of Brian Boru[?]), and make every sacrifice to wrest
back their lost independence from English, or “Saxon,” ascendancy. The
English government, however, forbade the meeting, and indicted
O’Connell. But the same extravagant notions respecting the national
importance of the battle of Clontarf naturally continued to be generally
received; and that not only amongst the adherents of O’Connell, or “Old
Irelanders,” as they are called, but also among the members of a
political party, the “Young Irelanders,” which has arisen since, and
whose aim it is to sever the connection with England by open force. In
the seditious songs of both these parties the Danes and the English
generally share the same fate, as the war-cry, “The Saxon and the Dane,”
constantly forms the burthen of the songs. It is but very rarely that an
Irish repealer (for instance, Mr. Holmes) dares venture to express an
opinion that it would probably have been no detriment to Ireland if the
“Danes” had remained settled there. This, when explained, means that the
Danes would never have been so dangerous to the independence of Ireland
as the English have since become; and that the Irish, united with and
assisted by the Danes, would certainly have had a fleet capable of
resisting any attacks of their powerful English neighbours(?).

                               ----------

                              SECTION II.

 Irish and Scandinavian Records.—Finn Lochlannoch.—Dubh-Lochlannoch.—The
                         Names of the Provinces.

One of the many complaints made by the Irish against the Danes, and
particularly of late, is, that by destroying Irish civilization they
likewise choked the vigorous germs of a national literature, which, in
consequence of the early introduction of Christianity, had begun at a
very early period to take root among the Irish people. The existence of
a literature, particularly like the ancient Irish, in the vernacular
language of the country, must of course always afford a strong proof of
a certain degree of education among the people. During the late
political agitation in Ireland, the old Irish literature, of which
various remains are still preserved, was therefore extravagantly
extolled, with the view of proving how glorious and enlightened was the
age of Ireland’s long-vanished independence.

Whatever opinion may be formed of the remaining relics of this ancient
literature, which are mostly limited to chronicles in the form of
annals, and a few old songs, it is at all events agreed that they are of
very peculiar importance as regards a knowledge of the Norwegian and
Danish expeditions. It is true that the Scandinavian Sagas and
chronicles contain many accounts of the achievements of the Norwegians
in Ireland, both in war and peace; but the Irish records of them are
still more copious. The oldest Irish chronicles relate almost as much to
the battles of the Norwegians and Danes with the Irish, as to the
internal state of Ireland. A singular chronicle in Irish, of the close
of the eleventh century, about “the Wars of the Irish and the Northmen,”
was discovered a few years ago. It contains not only a complete account
of every battle between the Irish and Northmen, down to that of
Clontarf, but also various information respecting the settlements of the
Norwegians in Ireland, their mode of warfare, weapons, &c. That this
chronicle must have been composed not long after the battle of Clontarf,
is proved by the fact that it is referred to as an old record in another
Irish work, called “The Book of Leinster,” written in the first half of
the twelfth century. The above-named ancient chronicle—the publication
of which, by that distinguished Irish scholar, Dr. Todd, cannot be far
distant—will, in conjunction with the rest of the Irish accounts
relative to the Norwegian expeditions into Ireland, afford an excellent
opportunity for comparison with the narratives of our Scandinavian
Sagas. Meanwhile we have already sufficient information at hand to
compare the accounts of the conquerors and the conquered—a method by
which the historical truth will evidently come forth more clearly than
if we were obliged to adopt exclusively the one-sided statements of
either party.

The Irish accounts are, however, far from being always perfectly
trustworthy. They not only reflect the customary hatred and prejudices
of the Christians against the heathen Northmen, but frequently bear the
stamp of being derived from early poetical legends. They relate how
several Irish saints, as St. Columkill, St. Berchan, St. Kieran, and St.
Comgall, had long before predicted the coming of the Scandinavian
heathens and their barbarous proceedings. They likewise depict how
terribly the heathens devastated and plundered unhappy Ireland. People
were everywhere killed or maltreated; churches and convents were
plundered, burnt, and desecrated. Thus the heathen chief Turges’
(Thorgils’) wife, Odo, sat on the altar of the conventual church in
Clonmacnois, and on it, as on a throne received the homage of the
assembled people. At the same time the Danes everywhere endeavoured to
settle themselves in the country. They launched ships even on the lakes,
with which they coerced the people dwelling around their shores. In the
tenth century (continues the Irish scholar Duald Mac Firbis, in his
unpublished treatise respecting “The Fomorians and Lochlanns,” written
about A.D. 1650) “Erinn was filled with ships (or adventurers), viz.,
the ships of Birn, the ships of Odvin, the ships of Grifin (or Grisin),
the ships of Suatgar, the ships of Lagmann, the ships of Earbalbh, the
ships of Sitric (?), the ships of Buidin, the ships of Bernin, the ships
of the Crioslachs, the ships of Torberd Roe, the ships of Snimin, the
ships of Suainin, the ships of Barun, the ships of Mileadh Lua, the
ships of the Inghean Roe (Red Maiden). All the evils which befel Erinn
until then were as nothing; for the Galls spread themselves over all
Erinn, and they built Cahirs (Caers) and Cashels (or Castles), and they
showed respect to no one; and they used to kill her (Erinn’s) kings, and
carry her queens and noble ladies over the sea into bondage.

“A fleet the like of which was never seen, came with Jomar More,
grandson of Jomar, and his three sons, viz., Dubhgall, Cualladh, and
Aralt; and they took Inis Sibtonn in the harbour of Limerick, and forced
submission from the Galls who had come before.

“The Galls then ordered a king on every territory, a chief on every
chieftaincy, an abbot in every church, a bailiff in every town, a
soldier in every house, so that not one of the men of Erinn had power
over anything of his own from even the hen’s clutch to the hundred milch
cows. And they dared not show their kindness nor generosity to father,
mother, bishop, ollave, spiritual director, those in sickness nor
disease, nor to the infant one night old. If there was but one cow in
the possession of any one of the men of Erinn, her broth should be given
to the soldier the night that no milk could be procured from her. And an
image of gold, or silver, of Fionndruine (a carved ornament of white
metal) for the king’s rent every year, and the person who would not be
able to pay that should go himself into bondage, or have his nose cut
off.”

As the Irish chronicles give in this manner embellished and exaggerated
pictures of the victories and power of the Norwegians in Ireland, so
also they frequently depict the defeats of the “Danes” in colours that
are too vivid. The ancient chronicle before mentioned concerning “The
Wars of the Irish and the Northmen” states, for instance, that some time
before the battle of Clontarf a desperate conflict took place at
Glennmama, in the neighbourhood of Dublin, between the Irish king, Brian
Boroimha, and the Danes in Dublin; with which latter were united the
inhabitants of Leinster, who had shortly before entered “the Danish
precinct of Dublin.” King Brian was victorious in the battle; “_and then
there was not a threshing-spot from Howth to Brandon in Kerry without an
enslaved Dane threshing on it, nor a quern without a Danish woman
grinding on it_.”

Very different are the accounts given by the Scandinavian Sagas relative
to the Norwegians in Ireland. It was to be expected that the Irishman,
endowed with a southern vivacity, and at the same time thrown into deep
anxiety by the Norwegian expeditions, should have regarded them in quite
a different light from the tranquil Norwegian himself, who in the
conquests in Ireland beheld only a repetition of what was occurring at
the same time in so many other countries. The Scandinavian accounts are
in general shorter than the Irish, and confine themselves merely to the
relation of single events. Ireland is usually treated of incidentally,
nay almost accidentally. According to the Sagas, we should almost be
inclined to think that the dominion of the Norwegians in Ireland was
much less in extent and duration than was actually the case, so little
have the writers of them thought of magnifying their countrymen’s renown
at the expense of historical truth. What, therefore, the Sagas, and the
rest of the Scandinavian chronicles relate about Ireland is, for the
most part, very trustworthy, and at all events agrees with the
representations at that time current amongst the Irish themselves. It is
quite evident that the writers of the Sagas had either been in Ireland,
or at all events derived their knowledge from men who knew the country
well, either through Viking expeditions or trading voyages. The accuracy
with which different places in Ireland are described affords a very
remarkable proof of this. Thus the ancient seat of royalty “Teamor,” or
Tara, which is also celebrated for its delightful situation, is
mentioned in the “Kongespeil” under the name of “Themar;” and it is
added that “the people knew no finer city on the earth.” In the same
place it is further stated that the town and castle sunk suddenly into
the earth, because a king pronounced an unjust judgment—a tradition
common in Ireland to the present day.

Places in Ireland mentioned in the Sagas, but which formerly could not
be traced, have recently been pointed out by the aid of the Irish
records. The “Kongespeil” states, for instance, that Saint Diermitius
had a church on a small island, “Misdredan” or “Inisdredan,” in the lake
“Logherne.” This island is evidently “Inisdreckan” in Lough Erne, where
formerly St. Diermitius actually had a church. Subsequent transcribers
of the book have clearly enough transformed Inisdreckan into Inisdredan,
Misdredan, &c. The same has been the case with the celebrated King Brian
Boroimha’s castle, which, by a mistake in copying, is called in the
Sagas “Kanntaraborg” or “Kunjáttaborg,” instead of “Kanncaraborg.” Brian
Boroimha’s castle, so celebrated in the Irish songs and legends, was
called in Irish “Ceann-Caraidh” (pronounced Cancara), and was situated
on the river Shannon, not far from Limerick. To the Irish Cancara the
Norwegians, therefore, only added the Scandinavian termination “borg.”
Again, it is stated in the Sagas that one could sail from Reykjanæs in
Iceland to “Jöllduhlaup” in Ireland, in about eight days, or, according
to some readings, even in a much shorter time. Formerly this place was
sought on Lough Swilley, near Cape Malin, in the north of Ireland. But
Jöllduhlaup, which signifies “the course or breaking of the waves,” is
merely a translation into Icelandic of the Gaelic name “Corrybracan”
(Coire Breacain), whereby the Gaels denote a whirlpool between the
little island of Rathlin (or Raghrin) and the north-easternmost part of
Ireland (the county of Antrim). That the ancient Icelanders designated
this precise spot in Ireland is owing in all probability to the
circumstance that the island of Rathlin was in the olden times the chief
station in the passage from Ireland to Scotland, and as such the
rendezvous for a number of merchants and other travellers. Lastly,
Snorre Sturlesön relates that in the beginning of the eleventh century a
desperate naval battle was fought between the Orkney jarl Einar and the
Irish king “Konofögr,” in Ulfrek’s, or Ulfkel’s, Fiord, on the coast of
Ireland. The situation of this fiord, or firth, was entirely unknown
until it was lately discovered that in a document issued by the
English-Irish king John in the year 1210, the Firth Lough Larne, on the
east coast of Ireland, about fourteen miles north of Belfast, was at
that time still called “Wulvricheforð,” which agrees most accurately
with the Icelandic name “Ulfreksfjörðr.” By a remarkable coincidence, a
skeleton was dug up a little while previously just on the shores of
Lough Larne, together with a pretty large iron sword, having a short
guard and a large triangular pommel at the end of the hilt; the form of
which sword (as I shall prove) was not Irish, but pure Scandinavian,
like that of the swords used towards the close of heathenism in the
North. There is every probability that the skeleton and sword belong to
one of the Scandinavian warriors who fell in the above-mentioned battle,
and who was afterwards buried on the shore. Thus both the exhumed
antiquities, and the lost but re-discovered name of the place,
contribute to corroborate the credibility of Snorre Sturlesön’s account.

Both the Irish and the Scandinavian records agree that Norwegians and
Danes were settled in Ireland at a very early period. The Vikings are
said to have ravaged its coasts for the first time in the year 795; and
in the ninth century many of them were already settled in the country.
Amongst the men who, at the close of the ninth and beginning of the
tenth century, first colonized Iceland, several Irishmen, or rather
descendants of Norwegians settled in Ireland, are mentioned; as, for
instance, Thormod and Ketil Bufa, Haskel Hnokkan, who was descended from
the Irish king Kjarval, besides others. Intermarriages between the
Norwegians in Ireland and the native Irish seem to have taken place from
the very first; which explains the circumstance that many men in Iceland
bore at an early period Irish names, such as Kjaran and Niel or Njäll.

The Norwegians in Ireland, like their Danish kinsmen in England, were
obliged to begin by settling on the coasts; whence, both by warlike and
peaceful means, they gradually extended their dominion over the country.
Besides this continually-increasing and more peaceful colonization,
roving Scandinavian Vikings continued their attacks in different parts
of Ireland, whereby the power of the Irish was considerably weakened. A
pause took place, however, in the tenth century, both in the expeditions
of the Vikings, and in the progress of the Scandinavian settlements in
Ireland. It is even stated that for about forty years “the strangers”
(the Galls) were entirely driven out of the country; but this is
probably an exaggeration. This diminution of the power of the Norwegians
in Ireland occurred about the same time with the decrease of the Danish
power in England, and appears to have been produced by the same causes;
namely, internal commotions in the mother-country of Scandinavia, which
prevented the sending of such ample assistance as previously to the
colonists in the British Islands.

Subsequently, however, the Norwegian dominion in Ireland became doubly
powerful; and the Irish were so far from being able to expel the
strangers, that, notwithstanding the numerical inferiority of the
latter, they were often masters in the country. It was evidently
Norwegians rather than Danes who settled in Ireland, although not a few
of the latter were mixed with them. In later times all the Northmen in
Ireland are included under the common name of “Danes.” But the best and
oldest Irish chronicles distinguish, as it has been previously remarked,
between the light-haired “Finn-Lochlannoch,” or “Fionn-Lochlannaigh”
(the Norwegians), and the dark-haired “Dubh-Lochlannoch,” or
“Dubh-Lochlannaigh” (the Danes); or, what is the same, between Dubgall
(“Dubh-Ghoill”) and Finngall (“Fionn-Ghoill”). The above-mentioned
chronicle of “the Wars of the Irish and the Northmen,” which draws a
clear distinction between the Norwegians and Danes, expressly says that
the Danes were only one of those tribes that made expeditions of
conquest to Ireland. We even learn from the Irish chronicles that the
Norwegians and Danes often fought between themselves for the dominion in
Ireland. For instance, it is stated in the Irish annals in the year 845:
“the Dubhgalls (the Danes) came this year to Dublin, sabred the
Finngalls (the Norwegians), destroyed their fortresses, and carried away
many prisoners and much booty with them.” Similar intestine disputes are
mentioned in other places of the annals; yet, as might be expected, the
Danes appear still more frequently as fighting in alliance with the
Norwegians. On the flat shores in the middle of the eastern coast of
Ireland, between Dublin and Drogheda, which are called Finngall, or “the
strangers’ land” (from “finne,” a land, and “gall,” a stranger), and
which in ancient times were colonized chiefly by Norwegians, is a small
town called Baldoyle. In old documents this town is named “Balidubgail,”
the Dubhgalls’ or Danes’ town (“bal,” a town). We have thus an existing
proof that the Danes also were once actually settled in Ireland. The
Dubhgalls are likewise said to have settled in the districts nearest to
the south and west of Dublin.

For the rest, among the names of places in Ireland which remind us of
the Norwegian dominion, we must in particular specify the names of three
of Ireland’s four provinces, viz., Ulster (in Irish “Uladh”), Leinster
(Irish, “Laighin”), and Munster (Irish, “Mumha,” or “Mumhain”); in all
of which is added to the original Irish forms the Scandinavian or
Norwegian ending _staðr_, _ster_. It might even be a question whether
the name “Ireland” did not originally derive this form from the
Northmen. On this head we have, at all events, a choice only between the
Northmen and the Anglo-Saxons, for to the present day the Irish
themselves still call the country Eirinn or Eiri. The termination _land_
is entirely unknown in their language.

That the Northmen, and especially the Norwegians, should have been able
to give to the three most important provinces of Ireland the names which
they still bear, sufficiently indicates that they must have been settled
there in no inconsiderable numbers, or that they must at all events long
have ruled these districts, which is also confirmed by the statements of
the Irish chronicles. But in general we shall seek in vain among the
names of places in Ireland for traces of such an extensive Scandinavian
colonization as existed in the North of England. All circumstances
clearly show that the Northmen in Ireland were proportionately less
settled in the rural districts than in the towns. In consequence of the
remote situation of Ireland, its extent, and the magnitude of its
population, they were exposed in the rural districts, when at some
distance from the coast, to much more danger than in the towns, where
they could better assemble their forces behind ramparts and ditches. It
is a very striking circumstance that the chief strength of the
Norwegians lay precisely in those towns which have since continued to be
the greatest and most important in Ireland. The Norwegian dominion in
Ireland had quite a peculiar character, having been divided into several
small and scattered kingdoms, each comprised in a town, or even only
part of a town, with at most an inconsiderable adjacent tract of land.
That such kingdoms should subsist for several centuries, and even long
after the Danish dominion had ceased in England, is certainly one of the
most remarkable, and, with regard to the civilization of the Northmen,
most pregnant facts in the history of the Scandinavian emigrants.

                               ----------

                              SECTION III.

         Norwegian Kings.—Limerick.—Cork.—Waterford.—Reginald’s
                 Tower.—Dublin.—Thengmotha.—Oxmantown.


According to trustworthy historical evidence, the Norwegians and the
Danes, or the Ostmen, as they were called in Ireland (from having come
originally from the east), principally fixed their abodes in Dublin,
Waterford, and Limerick, where, as early as the ninth century, they had
founded peculiar Scandinavian kingdoms. They were also settled in
considerable numbers in Wexford, Cork, and several Irish cities, so that
they had possessed themselves, by degrees, of the best-situated places
in the east, south, and west of Ireland, both for navigation and for
intercourse with the rich countries of the interior.

The central point, however, of the real Norwegian power was the present
capital, Dublin. This considerable city, which is said to contain at
present more than three hundred thousand inhabitants, lies on both sides
of the river Liffey, near the spot where it discharges itself into the
Irish Channel. It is surrounded by a charming and fertile country.
Anciently, however, and especially before the arrival of the Norwegians
in Ireland, it seems to have been comparatively insignificant, both as
regards extent and population. Yet even at that time it was, probably by
means of its fortunate situation, and its connections with the
neighbouring countries, the most important place in Ireland, which, at
that early period, did not possess any very large towns. But as Dublin
and its vicinity was at all events one of the most attractive points on
the east coast of Ireland, some of the first Scandinavian kingdoms were
founded there. About the middle of the ninth century a celebrated
Norwegian Viking, Olaf the White, is said to have taken Dublin, and made
himself king of the city and district. After the death of Olaf in a
battle, two sons of King Harald Haarfager (Fair-hair), of Norway,
arrived there, namely, Thorgils, called by the Irish Turges, and Frode;
who, by means of the sword, likewise won for themselves thrones in
Dublin. Subsequently to them, again, as the Irish chronicles relate,
there landed three brothers, Olaf, Sigtryg, and Ivar, who became kings
in Dublin, Waterford, and Limerick. From that time Norwegian kings
reigned in those places, with but few interruptions, for full three
centuries.

There would certainly be some cause to doubt of so extensive a Norwegian
dominion in a country so remote as Ireland, as well as of the actual
existence of so striking a number of Scandinavian, and especially
Norwegian, kings of cities, if the names of a great number of them were
not preserved; and that, too, not so much in the chronicles of the
Norwegians themselves, as in those of the conquered Irish, who had no
reason to exaggerate in this respect. Several of the Norwegian kings
mentioned in the Irish chronicles are, besides, mentioned in
contemporary Anglo-Saxon and Scandinavian records; whence it becomes
doubly probable that the remainder of the Norwegian kings mentioned by
the Irish actually reigned in the places indicated.

As the Irish chronicles thus not only give the most detailed accounts
respecting the Norwegian kings in Ireland, but also the least partial
ones in favour of the Norwegians, I have annexed a list of kings
compiled by an Irish author from Irish records. We may see from this,
although it is scarcely complete, that the Scandinavian names of the
kings (such as Olaf, Ivar, Eistein, Sigtryg, Godfred or Gudröd (?),
Ragnvald, Torfin, Ottar, Broder, Eskil, Rörik, Harald, and Magnus)
appear in general clear and distinct through the somewhat altered Irish
forms, whilst a few names, such as Gluniarand (which in Irish signifies
Iron-Knee), Eachmargach, Maelnambo, and Gilalve, seem to be mere Irish
translations, or at all events purely Irish transformations, of
Scandinavian forms.

NORWEGIAN, OR SCANDINAVIAN, KINGS IN IRELAND.

(_From Lindsay, “The Coinage of Ireland,” Cork, 1839._)

A.—Kings of Dublin.

  Anlaf (Olaf), 853.
  Ifar (Ivar), 870.
  Ostinus (Eistein), 872.
  Godfred (Gudröd), 875.
  Sihtric (Sigtryg), 893.
  Sihtric, 896.
  Regnald (Ragnyald), 919.
  Godfred, 920.
  Anlaf, 934.
  Blacar (Blake), 941.
  Godfred, 948.
  Anlaf, 954.
  Godfred, 960.
  Anlaf, 962.
  Regnald.
  Gluniarand, 981.
  Sihtric (deposed), 989.
  Ifar, 993.
  Sihtric (again), 994.
  Anlaf, 1029.
  Sihtric, 1034.
  Anlaf, 1031.
  Ifar, 1050.
  Eachmargach, 1054.
  Maelnambo, 1064.
  Godred Crovan, 1066(?).
  Godfred Merenach, 1076.
  Gilalve, 1094.
  Torfin, 1109.
  Regnald, 1125.
  Godfred, 1147.
  Oicterus (Ottar), 1147.
  Broder, 1149.
  Askel, 1159.
  Roderick, 1171 till about 1200.

B.—Kings of Waterford.

  Sihtric, 853.
  Ifar, 983.
  Regnald, 1000.
  Sihtric, 1020.
  Regnald, 1023.
  Commuanus, 1036.

C.—Kings of Limerick.

  Ifar, 853, King of Dublin in the year 870.
  Ifar, 940.
  Olfin, 942.
  Harold O’Ifar.
  Magnus, 968.

More detailed accounts are wanting relative to the kings of Limerick and
Waterford during the eleventh and twelfth centuries; though it is
certain enough that they continued to reign there just as long as in
Dublin. Nor can we at present discover many apparent or recognisable
traces of the dominion of the Ostmen and their kings in the two places
just mentioned. Still Waterford appears to have derived its present name
from the Norwegians. The Irish called the town “Port Lairge;” to which
name, however, modern Irish scholars would ascribe a “Danish” origin, as
it is supposed to be derived from a Danish chief called Lairge,
mentioned in the Irish annals in the year 951. The Norwegians, on the
other hand called it “Veðrafjörðr,” the resemblance of which to
Waterford is not to be mistaken. Near the coast of this “fiord,” which
may have given name to the town, is still to be seen a monument, very
rare in Ireland, of the ancient Norwegians’ art of fortification,
namely, a round tower, said to have been erected in the year 1003 by the
reigning Norwegian king in Waterford, Regnald, or Reginald (Ragnvald),
and which to the present day is commonly called “Reginald’s Tower.”

This tower, which in Irish was also called “Dundory,” or the king’s
fortress, was afterwards used both as a fortress and a mint. After the
English conquest of Waterford, Earl Strongbow used it in the year 1171
as a secure dwelling-place; and, among other prisoners, for a long time
kept Reginald, the last king of the “Danes” in Waterford, imprisoned in
it. The tower afterwards underwent several changes, till, in the year
1819, it (or at least the exterior) was restored to its original form,
just as the following delineation of it (after Petrie) shows.

[Illustration: [++] Reginald’s Tower]

With regard to Dublin, however, the case is quite different. The series
of kings there from the year 853 until about 1200, and consequently for
almost three centuries and a half, is pretty complete. It was a natural
consequence of the considerable power and influence possessed by the
kings of Dublin, that their names were often mentioned in the chronicles
in connection with important events both in Ireland and in the
neighbouring countries. The Norwegian kings in Dublin knew how gradually
to strengthen and extend their power, not only by arms, but also by a
shrewd and able policy. They soon learnt how to avail themselves of the
intestine disputes by which the Irish tribes and chiefs were divided.
They joined one of the ruling parties, contracted marriage with the
daughters of Irish kings and chieftains, and on their side gave
Scandinavian women in wedlock to leading Irishmen. According to the old
Irish book called “the Book of Lecan,” the Irish king Congolaich
(934-954) had a son, Mortogh, by Radnalt, daughter of the Dublin king
Anlaf, or Olaf. At a somewhat later period a Norwegian king in Dublin,
named Anlaf, was married to an Irish woman, Dunlath, who was mother of
the Dublin king “Gluin-Jarainn” (Iron-Knee). Similar marriages between
Norwegian and Irish royal families are often mentioned; even King Brian
Boru, so adored by the Irish, was nearly related to the Norwegian kings.
He was father of Teige and Donogh, by Gormlaith, or Kormlöd, a daughter
of Morogh Mac Finn, king of Leinster. But Gormlaith was also married for
a long time to the Dublin king, Anlaf, by whom she had a son, afterwards
the celebrated king of Dublin, Sigtryg Silkeskjæg (Silk-beard); and thus
Brian Boru’s two sons Teige and Donogh—of whom Teige afterwards married
Mor, a daughter of the “Danish” king Eachmargach of Dublin—were
half-brothers of their father’s enemy, King Sigtryg. “The Book of
Leinster” says that Gormlaith was likewise mother of the Norwegian-Irish
king Amlaff Cuaran (Olaf Kvaran); whilst the Irish chronicler, Duald Mac
Firbis, mentions this same Olaf Kvaran as married to Sadhbh (Save), a
daughter of Brian Boru, and that even “at the time when the battle of
Clontarf took place.” After this we are better able to understand how it
happened that whole Irish tribes, with their kings at their head, so
often fought in union with the Norwegians and Danes; since we learn that
their mutual political interests were hound closer together by the ties
of relationship.

On the other hand, the Norwegian or Scandinavian kings of Dublin and
other parts of Ireland also constantly maintained connections, both of
friendship and relationship, with their countrymen in England and
Scotland, as well as in the mother countries of Scandinavia. It might,
indeed, sometimes happen that Scandinavian kings or Vikings, from Man or
the Orkneys, attacked, nay even conquered for a time, the Norwegian
kingdom of Dublin, particularly when the Norwegians in Ireland were at
variance with one another. But in general the Scandinavian colonists in
the British Isles appear to have stood or fallen with one another.
Numerous Scandinavian warriors from England, Scotland, and the
surrounding islands, fought now and then in conjunction with the
Norwegians settled in Ireland, against the native Irish. But the
Norwegian kings in Ireland frequently supported their friends in England
and Scotland against the Anglo-Saxons and the Highland Scots, and at
times won kingdoms there by force of arms. Mutual marriages, also, were
frequently made, whilst Scandinavian merchants and Vikings, for
instance, dwelt in Dublin at the court of the Norwegian kings. Thus the
Norwegian prince Olaf Tryggvesön, after having been christened at
Dublin, stayed there for some time with the Norwegian king Olaf Kvaran,
and married his sister Gyda.

Many accounts testify that the Norwegians in Ireland, at least in the
cities, and especially Dublin, were powerful enough to maintain their
language, and the rest of their Scandinavian characteristics, in spite
of the Irish. The Icelandic bards, Thorgils Orraskjald and Gunnlaug
Ormstunga, are expressly stated to have visited the court of the
Norwegian kings in Dublin in the tenth and eleventh centuries, where
they diverted the Scandinavian warriors with their national songs.
Ancient Irish manuscripts contain proofs not only of the peculiar
language, but also of the peculiar writing, of the Norwegians, or runes,
which in Irish were called “Ogham na Loochlannach” or “Gallogham” (the
Northmen’s, or strangers’, Ogham). Ogham was the name of a mode of
writing then used by the Irish. There are also some traces of
characteristic Scandinavian institutions among the Norwegians and Danes
in Ireland. In an Irish poem of the early middle ages, about the
Norwegian chief “Magnus the Great,” the Norwegians are called “the
people with the twelve counsellors.” This leads us to think that the
Norwegians, like the Danes in England, must have employed in their
judicial proceedings a sort of jury, consisting of twelve men of repute,
an institution so foreign and striking to the Irish, that they were led
to characterize the Norwegians by it. It is at least quite certain that
the Norwegians in Ireland, as the Irish chronicles admit, kept
themselves entirely separate from the Irish with regard to their
ecclesiastical institutions, and that they likewise had their own assize
place in Dublin, which bore the Scandinavian name _Thing_. A document of
the year 1258 conveys a gift of some ground in the suburbs of Dublin, in
“Thengmotha” (from “mote,” a meeting), which the Irish publisher of it
(the Rev. R. Butler) correctly explains by “the place of legal assembly
in the Danish times of Dublin.” The _Thing_ place, which seems to have
been not far from the present site of Dublin Castle, where the
Norwegians had erected a strong fortress, gave to the surrounding parish
of St. Andrew the surname of “de Thengmote.”

One of the chief causes that the Norwegians in the Irish cities
maintained uninterruptedly their Scandinavian characteristics, and
consequently their independent power likewise, was that they not only
lived in the midst of the Irish, but that, as Giraldus Cambrensis
expressly intimates, they erected in every city a town of their own,
surrounded with deep ditches and strong walls, which secured them
against the attacks of the natives. They built a rather extensive town
for themselves on the river Liffey, near the old city of Dublin, which
was strongly fortified with ditches and walls, and which, after the
Norwegians and Danes (or Ostmen) settled there, obtained the name of
Ostmantown (in Latin, “vicus,” or “villa Ostmannorum”), _i. e._ the
Eastmen’s town. Even the Irish chronicles, which attest that, as early
as the beginning of the tenth century, the Norwegians in Dublin had well
intrenched themselves with walls and ramparts, also state that in the
art of fortifying towns they were far superior to the Irish. Ostmantown
continued through the whole of the middle ages to form an entirely
separate part of Dublin, and the gates of the strong fortifications with
which it was surrounded were carefully closed every evening. The walls
were at length razed, and Ostmantown, or, as it was now corruptly
pronounced, “Oxmantown” (whence an Irish peer has obtained in modern
times the title of Lord Oxmantown), was completely incorporated with
Dublin. But to the present day the name of Oxmantown remains an
incontrovertible monument of an independent Norwegian town formerly
existing within the greatest and most considerable city of Ireland.

                               ----------

                              SECTION IV.

           Norwegian Names of Places, near Dublin.—Norwegian
            Burial—Places.—Norwegian Weapons and Ornaments.


The few Scandinavian names of places in Ireland are, with the exception
of the previously-mentioned provinces, confined to the coasts, and there
particularly to the names of islands and fiords. On the west coast there
are only two rather doubtful ones; namely, Enniskerry, an island (the
first part of which is the Irish _Inis_, an island, whilst the latter
part seems to include the Scandinavian name “_Sker_,” or _Skjær_, a
reef); and the harbour, Smerwick. Several places on rivers are still
called _Laxweir_, as for example on the Shannon near Limerick and
Killaloe, where salmon are caught in a net stretched across the river.
The word “Lax” (salmon) is unknown in the Irish language, but appears,
as we have seen, in several Scandinavian names of places in Scotland. On
the south coast, besides Waterford, we can mention at most only the Isle
of Dursey (Þorsey?) with the small adjoining island of Calf. The
greatest number of Scandinavian names appears on the east coast. In some
names of places situated on the finest fiords we may trace the
Scandinavian ending “fjörðr;” as, for instance, to the south of Dublin
in Wexford (in Irish, Loch Garman), and to the north of Dublin, in
Strangford and Carlingford (in Irish, Cuan Cairlinne). But in general,
all the names of places of Scandinavian origin, or with Scandinavian
terminations, are collected round Dublin as the central point.

At the southern entrance of the bay of Dublin is the Island of “Dalkey”
(in Irish, “Delg Inis”), and at the northern entrance the high and
rounded cape Howth (in Irish, “Ceann Fuaid,” or “Beann Edair”), which in
ancient letters is also called Hofda, Houete, and Houeth. This is
clearly the Scandinavian “höfud,” or “Hoved” (head), a name particularly
suited to the place. In the immediate neighbourhood is also the old
Danish town Baldoyle, and the district of Finngall, colonized by the
Norwegians. Directly north of Howth rises “Ireland’s-eye” (in Irish,
“Inis Eirinn” and “Inis Meic Ness-áin”); and still farther to the north
the islands of “Lambay” (in Irish, “Rachrainn”) and “Skerries,” or the
Skjære (reefs). Close to the west side of Dublin is the little town of
Leixlip, where there is a famed salmon-leap in the river Liffey. In old
Latin epistles the name of Laxleip is translated by “saltus salmonis,”
which is plainly neither more nor less than the old Norsk “lax-hlaup”
(_Dan._, Laxlöb; _Eng._, salmon-leap): which name reminds us again of
the salmon fishery, so highly cherished by the ancient Norwegians. It is
doubtful whether the county of Wicklow, which adjoins that of Dublin,
derived its name from the Norwegians; though it is not improbable that
it did, as in Irish it is called Inbhear Dea, but in old documents
Wykynglo, Wygyngelo, and Wykinlo, which remind us of the Scandinavian
Vig (Eng., _bay_) or Viking.

At all events the decidedly Scandinavian names of places around Dublin
sufficiently indicate the predominance of the ancient Norwegians and
Danes in that city. Discoveries made by excavations in and around Dublin
have also, in recent times, very remarkably contributed towards placing
this matter in a still clearer light.

In constructing a railway close by Kilmainham, now the most western part
of Dublin, the workmen some years ago laid bare a number of ancient
tombs. In these lay whole rows of skeletons, each in its own grave, and
by the side of them many kinds of iron weapons and ornaments.
Fortunately several of the specimens thus discovered were preserved,
principally for the museum of the Royal Irish Academy in Dublin; by
which means Irish archæologists had an opportunity of convincing
themselves that these antiquities must be a good deal older than the
English conquest of Ireland; yet that they are by no means of the kind
usually found in Ireland, and belonging to the period of the Irish iron
age. It is thus placed beyond all doubt, that they are not Irish
remains, but derived from the Norwegians and Danes at that time settled
in Ireland. The few illustrations here annexed will present to every
Scandinavian archæologist mere well-known objects, corresponding so
exactly with the antiquities of the iron age preserved in our
Scandinavian museums, that we might even believe them to have been made
by the same hands.

[Illustration: [++] Swords: Fig. 1 to Fig. 3.]

The swords (Figs. 1-3), which very much resemble the Scandinavian swords
found in England (described at p. 45,) are from twenty-four to
thirty-two inches long. Some have two edges, others only one. The pommel
and guard of the hilt are in several of them ornamented with very neatly
inlaid pieces of gold, silver, and other metals. On one of them some
engraved Latin letters have been found, which may also be seen on a
sword of the iron age in the Museum at Copenhagen. Even the old Irish
chronicles relate that the Norwegians placed inscriptions on their
swords. Thus an ancient Irish poem says: “Hither was brought, in the
sword sheath of Lochlan’s king, the Ogham across the sea. It was his own
hand that cut it.” It is most probable that by the Ogham writing is here
meant “the Norwegian’s Ogham,” or runes, with which, as our Sagas state,
the old Northmen’s swords were frequently ornamented.

[Illustration: [++] Scandinavian Antiquities, Fig. 1. to Fig. 12.]

[Illustration: [++] Sword: Irish Iron]

Several genuine Irish iron swords of that ancient period have been
discovered in Ireland at various times, both in the river Shannon and in
old Irish castle-yards, or on the sites of castles. They are much
smaller than the Norwegian swords, and in general want both the guard
and the large pommel at the end of the hilt, as the annexed figure of
those most frequently found shows. On the whole the Irish iron swords
are of an older and more imperfect kind, and very strikingly resemble
the bronze sword used in Ireland in the age of bronze. On placing the
short and ill-formed Irish sword by the side of the much larger, better,
and handsomer Norwegian one, we may almost say that we obtain, as it
were, a living image of the degenerate and miserably-equipped Irish
people in comparison with the strong and well-armed Norwegians.

The Norwegian warriors who found their last resting-place at Kilmainham,
were evidently buried with all their arms, from the renowned “Danish
battle-axe” (Fig. 4), and the lance (Figs. 5, 6)—which must have been
deposited with the entire shaft, since the ferrule (Fig. 7) has been
found—down to the shield. But as the last was mostly of wood, nothing
more remains of the whole shield than the large iron boss (Figs. 8, 9),
which was placed in the middle, and which served to protect the hand
which bore the shield.

Among all the things discovered at Kilmainham, scarcely any more
decidedly indicate their Norwegian, or Scandinavian, origin, than the
bowl-formed brooches (Figs. 10, 11), already mentioned when speaking of
the coasts of Scotland, and which are not found in any other part of
Ireland. There are also some very peculiar small bone buttons (Fig. 12),
having a small hole in the flat side, penetrating the button for some
way without entirely piercing through it. Buttons of this form have not
been before found in Ireland, though they are very well known in the
Scandinavian North. They are discovered in Sweden and Norway, in graves
of the period of the iron age, or times of the Vikings. It is highly
probable that in those times they served as men, or counters in some
game, as they are generally found, especially in Norway, collected
together in great numbers, and in conjunction with dice. To judge from
the holes in the bottom, they have certainly been used in a sort of game
of draughts; for, till late in the middle ages, nay, almost down to our
own times, the Icelanders were accustomed to furnish their boards with
small pivots, on which they placed the men, that they might not by any
accidental shaking of the table be mixed with one another, and the whole
game thus suddenly disturbed. The Irish also seem to have had a somewhat
similar mode of proceeding at that time, as among a great number of
things undoubtedly Irish, discovered at Dunshauglin, there was found a
bone button or knob, certainly a draughtsman, which, instead of a hole,
is furnished with a metal point at the bottom, by which it was evidently
intended to be fixed in the board. But for the Scandinavian Vikings, who
were so much at sea, and who, it seems, liked to while away the time by
playing draughts, such a precaution was doubly necessary, as the rolling
of the vessel would otherwise have thrown the draughtsmen together every
moment. It is remarkable that at Kilmainham, as well as in Scandinavia
itself, the draughtsmen are found deposited in the graves, by the side
of the arms and ornaments of the warriors. This affords an instructive
proof that the old Northmen must have been very fond of gaming; and
consequently that the picture drawn by Tacitus of the passion of the
ancient Germans for play, which at times even led them to gamble away
their personal freedom, might apply to their neighbours, the
Scandinavians.

We can scarcely err in referring the antiquities found at Kilmainham to
the ninth, or at latest to the tenth century. The mode of burial is
heathenish rather than Christian; and, as is known, the Norwegians
settled in Ireland were converted to Christianity in the tenth century
at latest, and probably still earlier. It is not at all probable that
the graves are to be attributed to an isolated band of heathen Vikings,
who came over at a later period, and who, after a battle, buried their
dead on the field. The great number of graves, and the careful manner in
which each is said to have been set or enclosed with stones, rather show
that they were made in all tranquillity by the Norwegians and Danes, who
at that time dwelt in Dublin, or its immediate neighbourhood, and who
probably had a common burial ground there. Scandinavians appear also to
have been buried in an adjoining churchyard, which at that time belonged
to a convent dedicated to St. Magnen, but which afterwards became the
burial-place for a hospital of the knights of the order of St. John,
founded at Kilmainham. It has at length become one of the largest
churchyards in Dublin. In corroboration of the conjecture that
Scandinavians were buried in it, it may be mentioned that a tall upright
stone with carved spiral ornaments stands there—a sort of monumental, or
bauta-stone, under which, several years ago, various coins were
discovered, minted by Norwegian kings in Ireland; and near them a
handsome two-edged iron sword, with a guard and a longish flat pommel.
Some have, indeed, thought that this sword must have belonged to
Murrough, a son of Brian Boru, or to Murrough’s son Turlough, as both
these warriors, having fallen in the battle of Clontarf, are said to
have been buried in this churchyard. This, however, is only a vague
conjecture; whilst it is quite certain that the above-mentioned sword
agrees most accurately in form with the many swords of the Vikings’
times found in the North. There is, therefore, reason to suppose, that
the sword was formerly deposited there with the body of a Norwegian
warrior; and this supposition is strengthened by the discovery of the
Norwegian-Irish coins.

Other old Norwegian, or Scandinavian burial-places, have been discovered
in the Phœnix Park, near Dublin, where a pair of bowl-formed brooches
were found near a skeleton. In making, a few years ago, some excavations
in Dublin itself, in “College Green,” which formerly lay outside the
city, the workmen met with several iron swords, axes, lances, arrows,
and shields, of the well-known Scandinavian forms. It is probable that
this also was a burial-place similar to that at Kilmainham. With the
exception of the burial-place on the coast of Lough Larne, the ancient
Ulfreksfjord, no other decidedly Norwegian graves are hitherto known to
have been discovered in Ireland.

Just as the proportionally numerous Norwegian graves near Dublin prove
that a considerable number of Norwegians must have been settled there,
so also do the peculiar form and workmanship of the antiquities that
have been discovered in them afford a fresh evidence of the superior
civilization which the Norwegians in and near Dublin must, for a good
while at least, have possessed in comparison with the Irish. The
antiquities hitherto spoken of only prove, indeed, that the Norwegians
and other Northmen were superior to the Irish with regard to arms and
martial prowess. But there are other Norwegian antiquities, originating
in Ireland, and found both in and out of that country, which also prove
that the Danes and Norwegians formerly settled there contributed, like
their kinsmen in England, by peaceful pursuits, to influence very
considerably the progress of civilization in Ireland.

                               ----------

                               SECTION V.

   Ancient Irish Christianity and Civilization.—Trade.—No Irish, but
        Norwegian Coins.—Sigtryg Silkeskjæg.—Norwegian Coiners.

Centuries before the introduction of Christianity into the Scandinavian
North (in the tenth and eleventh centuries)—nay, centuries before the
actual commencement of the Viking expeditions—the Irish people had been
Christianized. At a very early period numbers of churches and convents
were erected in Ireland, which was also celebrated for its many holy
men. It was a common saying that the Irish soil was so holy that neither
vipers, nor any other poisonous reptiles, could exist upon it. Numerous
priests set out from Ireland as missionaries to the islands lying to the
west of Scotland; nay, they even went as far as the Faroe Islands and
Iceland, long before those islands had been colonized. Thus, when the
Northmen first discovered Iceland (about the year 860), they found no
population there; but on “Papey,” in “Papyli,” and several places in the
east and south of the country, they found traces of “Papar,” or
Christian priests, who had left behind them croziers, bells, and Irish
books; whence they perceived that these priests were “Westmen,” or
Irishmen; for just as the Irish called the Scandinavians “Ostmen,”
because their home lay to the east of Ireland, so also did the
Scandinavians call the Irish “Westmen.” The most southern group of
islands near Iceland is called to the present day “Vestmannaeyjar” (the
Westman Isles), because, at the time of their colonization, a number of
Irish serfs, or Westmen, were put to death there for deceiving their
masters.

Not even the Norwegian expeditions into Ireland, and the destruction of
churches and convents by which they were accompanied, were able to
annihilate the influence of the Irish clergy on the diffusion of
Christianity in the north-western part of Europe. Not only were the
Norwegians and Danes settled in Ireland and the rest of the Western
Isles soon converted from heathenism by Irish monks and priests, but
Christianity was communicated through these converts to many of their
Scandinavian countrymen, who visited Ireland partly as Vikings and
partly as merchants. Thus the Norwegian king Olaf Tryggvesön was
baptized by an abbot on the Sylling Isles near Ireland, or, as other
Sagas state, “to the west over in Ireland;” whence we may probably
conclude that the Sylling Isles are not, as was before supposed, the
Scilly Isles near England, but the Skellig Isles on the south-west coast
of Ireland, on one of which there was at that time a celebrated abbey.
At all events, it is certain that Olaf Tryggvesön, during his long abode
with his brother-in-law, King Olaf Kvaran, in Dublin, must, by his
constant intercourse with the Irish Christians, have been strengthened
in his determination to christianize Norway. Another proof of the
influence of Christianity in Ireland on the North is, that an Irish
princess, Sunneva, was at a later period worshipped as a saint in
Norway. Her body is alleged to have been deposited in a large and
handsome shrine over the high altar in Christ Church, in Bergen, and on
the 8th of July the Norwegians celebrated an annual mass in her honour.
Even in Iceland there is a fiord, or firth, on the north-west coast,
called “Patreksfjorðr,” after St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland.

As we have before stated, the commencements of a national Irish
literature were also developed among the clergy at a very early period;
which, together with the numerous ecclesiastical buildings in Ireland,
prove that the Irish clergy of those times must have attained no mean
degree of civilization, and that with regard to education they must, in
certain respects, have been a great deal in advance of the heathen
Scandinavians. But not to speak of the Icelandic literature—which
developed itself in the remotest North immediately after the heathen
times, and contemporaneously with the Norwegian dominion in Ireland, and
which both in form and substance was undoubtedly far superior to the
Irish—there is reason enough to doubt whether the Irish people of that
time, although christianized, were really more educated or more advanced
in true civilization than the certainly too much decried heathen
Norwegians and their Scandinavian kinsmen. It is true, indeed, that the
Norwegian Vikings made their way with fire and sword, that they
destroyed a number of churches and convents in Ireland, and that in this
manner they often occasioned the most violent intestine commotions,
which for a time, at least, could not but tend to hinder the progressive
development of Christian civilization. But the Irish chronicles
themselves teach us that the Christian Irish acted precisely in the same
manner at the same period. In their mutual contentions they often burnt
ecclesiastical buildings, plundered the shrines of saints, and
maltreated the clergy, besides, as is well known, constantly
perpetrating amongst themselves the most horrible butchery. Lastly, in
Ireland, as in England, we must certainly distinguish between the
Vikings, who came to the country for the sake of war and plunder, and
the colonists, whose aim it was to obtain a new home in Ireland. The
latter brought with them not only great skill in the forging and
management of arms, as well as in building and navigating ships for
expeditions, both of war and trade, but likewise had their own runic
writing; and by the readiness with which they imbibed the newer
Christian civilization, soon acquired the ascendancy in the most
important Irish cities, so as to become perceptibly enough, not only the
equals, but the superiors of the Irish.

What particularly warrants us in doubting the alleged early and
extensive civilization of the Irish, is the very striking circumstance
that, previously to the arrival of the Norwegians, they do not appear to
have carried on any very great trade, or on the whole to have had any
very extensive intercourse with the rest of Europe. This appears
particularly from the fact that the Irish at that time (about the year
800) had not yet minted any coins of their own; although their Celtic
neighbours in Britain and Gaul had for centuries—that is, from about the
birth of Christ—minted a great number, mostly in imitation of Greek and
Roman coins. And though the Romans, Franks, and Anglo-Saxons, after
their conquests of France and England, had made very considerable
coinages in those countries, we do not even find in Ireland any trace of
the coins of these neighbouring people being brought over the sea in any
considerable quantity before the period mentioned. Yet in other
countries, where the minting of coins also came late into use—as, for
instance, in the Scandinavian North—so great a quantity of older foreign
coins, together with all sorts of foreign valuables, is continually dug
up as to show that even at a very early period active connections of
trade must have existed between the Northmen and more southern nations.
Neither Phenician nor Celtic coins are known to have been found in
Ireland, and discoveries even of Roman and the more ancient Anglo-Saxon
coins are very rare.

That Ireland should have remained for so long a period and to so great
an extent unconnected with the neighbouring nations, was undoubtedly
caused partly by its remote situation, partly by the indolence of the
Irish and the disinclination so general among the Celts to traverse the
sea, to which an old author (Giraldus Cambrensis) expressly alludes. It
must partly also be ascribed to the peculiar hostile position which the
Irish were obliged to assume towards the Romans, Anglo-Saxons, and
Franks; since these people having gradually conquered the Celtic
countries, France and England, naturally only awaited a favourable
opportunity to make themselves masters of Celtic Ireland also. According
to this we might even, perhaps, regard the isolation of Ireland as a
necessary system of self-defence adopted by the Irish.

But no sooner were the Norwegians and Danes settled in the chief cities
of Ireland, than Irish trade and navigation obtained an extent and
importance before unknown. An active commerce was opened with England
and Normandy through the numerous and influential Scandinavian merchants
settled in those countries, as well as, of course, with the mother
countries of Scandinavia. In Ireland, therefore, as well as in England,
Arabian coins, minted in countries near the Caspian Sea, are here and
there found buried, which have evidently been imported by Scandinavian
merchants. The Sagas mention regular trading voyages to Ireland from
Norway, and even from Iceland; where there was, for instance, a man
named Rafn, who was commonly called Rafn Hlimreksfarer (Eng., _Limerick
trader_), on account of his regular voyages to Limerick (Limerick being
called by the old Northmen, Hlimrek). The Sagas further mention, under
the head of Ireland, “Kaupmannaeyjar” (Eng., _the merchant islands_),
probably what are now called “Copeland Islands,” on the north-eastern
coast, where there may have been a sort of rendezvous for the ships of
Scandinavian merchants. The Icelandic and Norwegian ships brought fish,
hides, and valuable furs to the English and Irish coasts; whence, again,
they carried home costly stuffs and clothes, corn, honey, wine, and
other products of the south.

These accounts of the old Northmen, respecting their commerce in
Ireland, are far from being unsupported. The Welsh author, Giraldus
Cambrensis, who visited Ireland during the English conquest, whilst the
Ostmen were still living there in considerable numbers, says in plain
words that they had settled near the best harbours in Ireland, where
they built themselves towns, and that they had by no means come to the
country as enemies, but with the design of carrying on a peaceful trade.
He adds that for this reason the Irish chiefs, who clearly saw the
importance and advantages of commercial connections with other
countries, had not at first in any way opposed the establishment of
these foreign towns in their country; but that, after the Ostmen had
very much increased, and after their towns had become well fortified,
the old dissensions between them and the Irish revived.

In perfect accordance with this are the statements of the Irish
themselves respecting the many Scandinavian merchants in the towns of
the Ostmen. An old Irish manuscript relating to the battle of Clontarf
(“Cath Chluana Tarbh”) states that, after the battle, “no Danes were
left in the kingdom, except such a number of artisans and merchants in
Dublin, Waterford, Wexford, Cork, and Limerick, as could be easily
mastered at any time, should they dare to rebel; and these King Brian
very wisely permitted to remain in these seaport towns, for the purpose
of encouraging trade and traffic, as they possessed many ships, and were
experienced sailors.” Duald Mac Firbis also says in his chronicles that
in his time (1650) “most of the merchants in Dublin were the descendants
of the Norwegian-Irish king, Olaf Kvaran.”

That the Norwegians and Danes must really have possessed themselves of
the Irish trade, and given it a new impulse, clearly appears from the
circumstance that the Norwegian kings in Ireland were the first who
caused coins to be minted there. One of these coins, which formerly
belonged to the Timm’s collection in Copenhagen, but which is now in the
collection of M. von Römer, in Dresden, seems (according to the opinion
of that distinguished numismatologist C. J. Thomsen, of Copenhagen) to
have been minted by a Scandinavian king of Dublin, as early as the
eighth or ninth century. It is an imitation of the ancient Merovingian
coins, and has a remarkable inscription on the obverse, half in runes
and half in Latin letters, but which can scarcely be read otherwise than
“Cunut u Dieflio,” or, Canute in Dublin.

[Illustration: [++] Coin: Canute in Dublin]

The Old Northmen call Dublin “Dýflin,” whence the surrounding district
also obtained the name of “Dýflinarskiri,” as appears in the Sagas. This
legible inscription encircles the bust of a royal warrior, clad in scale
armour. On the reverse are seen the letters ENAE, and under them two
figures, both turning their faces upwards in the same direction, and
each extending a very large hand, whilst in their other hands, joined
together, they hold a ring, as if they were taking an oath on the holy
ring. They are, besides, represented as standing before, or sitting on,
an elevated platform (perhaps an altar?), under which is a mark (∾) like
the letter S placed on its side. These figures probably contain an
allusion to some treaty concluded between an Irish king and the
Scandinavian king Canute.

By the kindness of Mr. C. F. Herbst, of Copenhagen, I have been enabled
to give a woodcut of this silver coin, the only one of its kind, and
never before copied. The drawing was made from a cast taken in Dresden.
If the preceding explanation, which is certainly by no means
far-fetched, be the right one, we shall consequently have a proof that
other Scandinavian kings, besides Olaf the White, the first-mentioned in
the Sagas, reigned at a very early period in Dublin, if only for a short
time. But all the rest of the Norwegian coins minted in Ireland are of
the tenth, eleventh, and twelfth centuries. They are of silver, and
undoubtedly coined in various towns of Ireland besides Dublin, as in
Limerick, Cork, Waterford, and several other towns where the Ostmen had
settled.

The most remarkable of all are the Dublin coins, especially those with
the legend “Sihtric rex Dyfl,” or, Sigtryg king of Dublin. It is true
that there were several kings of Dublin of this name in the ninth,
tenth, and eleventh centuries; but the coins alluded to, to judge from
the impressions, all of which are imitations of contemporary Anglo-Saxon
dies, and especially of those of King Ethelred the Second, must for the
most part have belonged to Sigtryg, surnamed “Silkbeard,” who reigned in
Dublin at the close of the tenth and beginning of the eleventh century,
and who was one of those who fought the battle of Clontarf against Brian
Boru. It is very remarkable that on Sigtryg’s coins, as well as on
several of the Danish coins minted in the north of England, we find not
only the Latin title “Rex,” but also the Scandinavian “Cununc” (king),
as, for instance, on the annexed coin (in Mr. C. F. Herbst’s
collection), which has never before been copied:—

[Illustration: [++] Coin: Sigtryg King of Dublin]

On the obverse is the legend “Sihtric cunuic dyn,” or Sigtryg king of
Dublin; and on the reverse, “Byrhtmer mo on Vin;” whence we see that the
coiner had an Anglo-Saxon name, and was certainly an Anglo-Saxon,
particularly since he is said to have been “on Vin,” that is, of
Winchester. Among the coiners’ names on the Norwegian-Irish coins, we
meet, indeed, with several Scandinavian names, such as Stirbirn
(Styrbjörn), Azcetel (Asketil), Ivore (Ivar), Colbrand, Tole (Tule), and
Oadin (Odin?); whence we may reasonably conclude that the Norwegians in
Ireland soon learned to coin, and were not, therefore, always compelled
to avail themselves of foreign coiners. But most of Sigtryg’s coiners
were Anglo-Saxons; and not a few of his coins are, like that above
delineated, even struck by coiners in England; as, for instance, in
“Efrweec,” or “Eofer (wick)” (York), “Veced” (Watchet, in
Somersetshire), “Vilt” (Wilton), “Vint” (Winchester), and “Luni”
(London). This admits of two explanations; either that these comers at
Sigtryg’s request minted coins for him, or that Sigtryg, who at one time
was driven from his kingdom, resided in some at least of the above-named
places, and caused coins to be minted there(?). The origin of several
coins minted in Dublin about Sigtryg’s time by the Anglo-Saxon king
Ethelred the Second—as well as by the Danish-English king Canute the
Great, and which for the most part are struck by the same Dublin coiner,
Færemin, who minted most of Sigtryg’s own coins—is involved in no less
obscurity. Although history is silent, we might be almost tempted to
believe that Ethelred and Canute were acknowledged by Sigtryg as his
liege lords, or that possibly they ruled in Dublin for a short time; but
in weighing these probabilities it must be remembered that neither
Ethelred nor Canute calls himself on these coins king of Dublin, but
simply “Rex Anglorum,” or king of the English.

The great number and variety in which Sigtryg’s coins appear, and the
comparatively good stamp that distinguishes them from the rest of the
Norwegian-Irish coins, seem to show that the years of Sigtryg’s reign
must have been a period very favourable to Scandinavian trade and power
in Ireland. In later times the Norwegian-Irish coins became worse, as
the coiners did not confine themselves to imitating coins of the older
Norwegian-Irish kings, and of the later English kings, Canute the Great,
Hardicanute, Edward the Confessor, William the Conqueror, and others,
but even copied copies to such a degree that the stamp and inscriptions
of the original coins were very frequently not to be recognised. Of the
coins current in Ireland in the last half of the eleventh, and in the
whole of the twelfth, century, pretty large quantities have been dug up,
both in and out of Ireland, and particularly in the neighbouring Isle of
Man.

It must, however, be regarded as very doubtful how far this
deterioration of the coins affords any reasonable confirmation of the
justness of the usual conviction among the Irish, that after Sigtryg’s
time, or rather after his defeat in the battle of Clontarf, the power of
the Norwegians in Ireland was completely broken. For, in that case, we
might expect, among other things, that the victorious Irish kings,
during the long period of more than a hundred and fifty years, which
elapsed from the time of the battle of Clontarf until the English
conquest of Ireland, would have minted their own coins. But during the
whole of this period there are very few coins that can possibly be
regarded as having been minted for native Irish kings. For the rest, the
whole of the coins minted in Ireland, from the commencement of minting
there (at latest in 950) till the English conquest (1171), seem to owe
their existence exclusively to the kings and bishops of the Ostmen, who
ruled in the most important trading towns of Ireland[10].

Footnote 10:

  See Appendix, No. II.

                               ----------

                              SECTION VI.

  The Battle of Clontarf.—Power of the Ostmen after the Battle.—Their
      Churches and Bishops.—Their Land and Sea Forces.—The English
     Conquest.—Remains of the Ostmen.—Their Importance for Ireland.

The cause of the battle of Clontarf, so celebrated in song and legend,
or, as it is called in the Sagas, “Briánsbardagi” (Brian’s battle, after
King Brian, who fell in it in 1014), is not precisely known. All that we
are acquainted with is, that Brian, who was connected by very close ties
of relationship with the Norwegian royal family in Dublin, had long
availed himself of the assistance of the Norwegians to subdue other
Irish princes, until, at length, after gaining victories in that manner,
he came to a rupture with King Sigtryg of Dublin. The prospects of
Sigtryg, and of the Norwegian power in Ireland, seem really to have been
threatening enough; at least it is said that Scandinavian warriors
hastened in numbers to Sigtryg’s assistance from the Scandinavian
kingdoms in England, the Isle of Man, the Syder Isles, and Orkneys. From
the last, in particular, came Jarl Sigurd the Stout, with a chosen
force, in the midst of which waved a flag with the image of Odin’s holy
raven. Sigurd’s own mother had woven this raven, which, with fluttering
wings, had often before led the warriors to victory and glory.

This time, however, the raven was checked in its flight. After many of
the standard bearers had been killed, Sigurd Jarl himself took the flag
from the staff, and wrapt it about his body. He seemed to foresee, what
really happened shortly afterwards, that the raven-flag would be his
winding-sheet. The Norwegians were at length forced to give way, even if
the battle was not so entirely lost as the exaggerated Irish accounts
represent. The Scandinavian auxiliaries withdrew to their ships, and
King Sigtryg retired with the remnant of his army to Dublin.

But, as the Irish chronicles contain nothing about Sigtryg and his men
having been afterwards expelled from Dublin, or about the Norwegian
dominion there having been entirely destroyed, we cannot conclude from
them that the power of the Ostmen in the rest of the Irish cities was
annihilated in consequence of Sigtryg’s defeat in the battle of
Clontarf. It would, besides, have been singular enough if the power of
the Norwegians in Ireland had been perfectly destroyed so early as the
year 1014, since it was just after that time that the Northmen in the
neighbouring countries acquired their greatest power by means of their
victories. Instead of the Norwegian influence in Ireland having ceased,
we not only find, long after this battle, King Sigtryg of Dublin
fighting bravely with his Ostmen, though at times with varying fortune,
against several Irish kings and chiefs, but we further behold the Ostmen
displaying a very remarkable degree of strength and independence in
various places in Ireland.

About five-and-twenty years after the battle of Clontarf (say the Irish
chroniclers themselves), Sigtryg, king of the Ostmen in Dublin, and
Donat (Dunan), their bishop, built, in the middle of that city, the
church of the Holy Trinity, also called Christ Church. That the Ostmen
should then have founded one of the principal churches of Dublin, which
even lay without their own town (Ostmantown), in the very heart of
ancient Dublin, is highly significant. After the church was built,
Bishop Donat presented several relics to it, amongst which are mentioned
“pieces of the clothes of King Olaf the Saint.” The great respect in
which the name of the Norwegian Saint Olaf was held in Dublin is also
manifest from the circumstance that a church consecrated to St. Olave,
or, as the Irish common people gradually corrupted the name, to
“Tulloch” (compare the name of Tooley Street in London, corrupted from
St. Olave Street), was to be found there till at least far into the
sixteenth century. This church adjoined the northern end of Fishshamble
Street, near Wood-Quay; but originally, perhaps, it was just outside the
city.

In the same year (1038) that Christ Church was, partly through the
exertions of Bishop Donat, erected in Dublin, he likewise built the
chapel of St. Michael. Half a century later (1095) another “Ostman”
built Saint Michan’s Church in the “Ostmen’s” town in Dublin; and about
the same time the cathedral in Waterford, dedicated to the Holy Trinity,
was founded and erected by the Ostmen there.

The “Ostmen” in Ireland thus possessed not only their own churches, but
likewise, as the Irish records also mention, their own bishops, who were
consecrated in England by the archbishop of Canterbury; whilst the Irish
bishops were consecrated in Ireland itself by the Irish archbishop of
Armagh. The Dublin “Ostmen’s” first bishop Donat, or Dunan, died in the
year 1074, and was buried in Christ Church, to the erection of which he
had himself so considerably contributed. After him, by desire of the
Dublin king Godred, or Godfred, another “Ostman,” Patrick, was chosen
bishop of the Ostmen in Dublin, but perished by shipwreck on his voyage
home from Canterbury (1084). He was succeeded by the “Ostman” Donat
O’Haingly (+1095); whose cousin, Samuel O’Haingly, previously a monk in
the convent of St. Alban’s in England, afterwards filled the see of the
“Ostmen” in Dublin until the year 1121. His successor, Gregorius, was
the first of these Ostmen’s bishops in Dublin who was made archbishop.
This probably arose from the circumstance of the “Ostmen” in the other
Irish towns having in the meantime obtained bishops, who were now to
have a common superior in the Archbishop of Dublin. In the year 1096 the
“Ostmen” in Waterford are said to have obtained a bishop, Malchus, who
is stated to have been a native of Ireland. In the year 1136 Waterford
had an “Ostman” named Toste (Tuistius, or Tostius) for its bishop. A few
years later (1140) Gille, or Gilbert, the “Ostmen’s” bishop of Limerick,
died; after whom the “Ostmen” chose a certain Patrick. In the year 1151
the “Ostman” Harald, bishop of Limerick, died, and was succeeded by his
countryman Thorgils (“Thorgesius”). Twenty years previously (1131) the
death of the “Ostman” Everard, or Eberhard, abbot of the convent of St.
Mary, near Dublin, is mentioned; which confirms, what is indeed almost a
matter of course, that the Ostmen, who had their own churches and
bishops, must also have had their own convents partly filled with
Scandinavian monks and abbots. At length, in the year 1161, Gregorius,
archbishop of Dublin, died; and from his time until the present Dublin
has constantly been the seat of one of Ireland’s principal archbishops.
But precisely because this archbishopric was originally founded by
Ostmen, or foreigners, the archbishop of Dublin did not afterwards
become the primate of all Ireland, as, from the importance of Dublin, we
might otherwise have expected. That dignity, on the contrary, has
constantly been reserved for the genuine old Irish archbishopric of
Armagh, in the north-east of Ireland. Even Gregorius’ successor in the
archiepiscopal see is said to have been consecrated in Dublin by the
archbishop of Armagh. It has lately been discovered (compare P. Chalmers
in the Journal of the Brit. Archæol. Assoc., Oct., 1850, p. 323, &c.)
that these archbishops of Dublin not only administered their own
diocese, but, at least at times, acted as superintendents of the
Norwegian bishoprics in the Isle of Man and the Sudreyjar. There is a
letter of Pope Honorius of the beginning of the thirteenth century, from
which it appears that the archbishop of Dublin at that time consecrated
a bishop of Man and the Sudreyjar, a privilege which in more ancient
times belonged to the archbishops of York, and afterwards (from 1181 to
1334) to the archbishops of Trondhjem. It is quite certain that this was
a result of the lively intercourse which undoubtedly took place between
the successors of the Ostmen in Ireland and their near kinsmen in the
Norwegian kingdoms in Man and the Sudreyjar.

It was, above all, a very fortunate circumstance for the independence of
the Irish Ostmen that such powerful Norwegian kingdoms continued to
exist on the west coast of Scotland. From these they could usually
obtain assistance in their battles with the Irish; and by means of them
they also kept up a constant connection with their Norwegian fatherland.
That they were able to maintain their peculiar independent position in
Ireland for more than a century after the Danish dominion in England had
ceased to exist, was clearly not so much owing to their military skill
and compact force, in comparison with the internal dissensions and
perfect want of union among the Irish, as to the considerable wealth and
power which they constantly derived from their extensive trade and
navigation, and the influence which by such means they must necessarily
have exercised in Ireland. The Irish chronicles and pedigrees teach us
that friendly connections and reciprocal marriages increased more and
more between the Irish and the Ostmen, both in Ireland and Norway, so
that the Irish aristocracy became mixed in a considerable degree with
Norwegian blood. We also learn from the same documents that the Ostmen
and their kings constantly continued to ally themselves with Irish
princes, whose power they often essentially contributed to support. The
Irish king Konofögr gained a naval battle in Ulfreksfjord against Einar,
jarl of Orkney, because, as it is stated, the Norwegian Viking, Eyvind
Urarhorn, had joined the former with his ships. When King Magnus Barfod
of Norway undertook his expedition to Ireland, he concluded an alliance
with Myrjartak, King of Connaught (_O. N._, “Kunnáktir”), whose
daughter, Biadmynja, was married to Magnus Barfod’s son Sigurd. But when
Magnus fell in Ulster (in 1103), Sigurd abandoned Biadmynja. Yet the
connections formed in Ireland by Magnus through this expedition produced
important results for Norway. An Irishman named Harald Gille came
forward and passed himself off for a son of that monarch by an
Irishwoman; and after proving his descent by walking over red-hot iron,
actually became king of Norway, and left its throne as an inheritance to
his family.

The Ostmen settled in Dublin and other places in Ireland were more and
more induced to form connections with native Irish princes, nay, even
sometimes to submit to them, as the support which they derived from
their own country continually decreased during the eleventh and twelfth
centuries. Shortly after the battle of Clontarf, Christianity was
introduced into the Scandinavian North, and thus an end was put to the
Vikings’ expeditions, which had hitherto incessantly brought colonists
and auxiliary forces into Ireland. Even the reinforcements which the
Ostmen were able to obtain from their countrymen in Man, the Sudreyjar,
and the Orkneys, were naturally not so important as before; since on
these islands also Christianity gradually annihilated the bold Viking
spirit of the people.

Under such circumstances it is surprising that Godfred (or Godred)
Merenagh, king of the Ostmen in Dublin, had in the year 1095 a naval
force of not fewer than ninety ships in the harbour of Dublin; and that
the land forces of the Ostmen in that city were proportionately
powerful. The Irish chronicles mention many battles in the eleventh and
twelfth centuries in which the Dublin Ostmen brought numerous warriors
into the field, and in which they often suffered very considerable loss,
without, however, being entirely annihilated or driven out of the town.
Even in the year 1167, and consequently a hundred and fifty years after
the battle of Clontarf, a great meeting of the Irish people was held by
Athboy of Tlactga, at which, the Irish themselves say, _thousands_ of
the first Ostmen in Dublin were present.

That this account is not exaggerated, and that the number of Ostmen in
Dublin, as well as in the other Irish cities, was really very
considerable at the close of the twelfth century, is clearly shown by
the notorious fact, that when the English, under Earl Strongbow and
Miles de Cogan, obtained, in the years 1170 and 1171, a firm footing in
Ireland, the Ostmen in Dublin, Limerick, and Cork, were able to offer a
very powerful resistance. Respecting the conquest of Dublin by the
English we find the following statement in the “Dublin Annals” (by
O’Donovan):—

“The year 1170. The Danes of Dublin were treacherously slaughtered in
their own garrison by Mac Morough and the English; and they carried away
their cattle and their riches. Asgal, the son of Reginald, king of the
Danes in Dublin, fled from them.

“1171. A battle was fought at Dublin, between Miles de Cogan and Asgal,
son of Reginald, king of the Danes of Dublin. Many fell on both sides,
both of the English archers and of the Danes; among whom was Asgal
himself, and Hoan, a Dane from the Orkney Isles.”

On this occasion Asgal, or “Hasculph,” is said to have returned to the
city with sixty ships. His warriors, say the chronicles, were accoutred,
according to the usual custom of the Danes, in armour and coats of mail,
and had red circular shields bound with iron. But though these men were
“just as steeled in soul as in arms” (homines tam animis ferrei quam
armis), and though, as well as their brethern in Limerick and Cork, they
fought the fight of desperation in defence of their property and
liberties, yet they were not able to withstand the English. Thus these
new conquerors succeeded in annihilating the dominion of the Ostmen in
Ireland, or rather in the most important cities of that country, after
it had lasted above three hundred years.

Nevertheless we must not believe that the Ostmen were even now wholly
expelled from Ireland, or that their influence there was entirely at an
end. After the taking of Dublin by the English, so many Ostmen still
remained in the city that “the Galls of Dublin” continued to have their
own separate army, which even seems to have acted pretty independently
of the English conquerors. An Irish chronicle (Annals of the Four
Masters) states that Mulrony O’Keary, Lord of Carbury, was treacherously
slain by the “Dublin Ostmen” in the year 1174, and consequently some
years after the taking of Dublin. In the same year the English
themselves were forced to obtain the assistance of the “Dublin Ostmen”
against the Irish; and it is expressly stated that in a subsequent
attack of the Irish on this united Anglo-Norwegian army not far from
Dublin, there fell no fewer than “_four hundred_ Ostmen.” The
contemporary author, Giraldus Cambrensis, to whom we owe this account,
also speaks of the Ostmen, after the conquest of Ireland, as a peculiar
and decidedly separate people, who carried on trade and navigation
(“gens igitur hæc, quæ nunc Ostmannica gens vocatur,” &c).

Even more than a century afterwards we can still trace many Ostmen in
the chief cities of Ireland, where, it seems, they continued to preserve
those Scandinavian characteristics which distinguished them from the
Irish and English. In the year 1201 a verdict was pronounced by twelve
Irishmen, twelve Englishmen, and twelve Ostmen in Limerick, concerning
the lands, churches, and other property belonging to the church of
Limerick; which shows that the Ostmen were sufficiently numerous there
to be placed on an equal footing with the English and Irish. There is in
the Tower of London a document of the year 1283, issued by the English
king Edward I., ordering that the Ostmen in Waterford (“Custumanni,”
Oustumanni, Austumanni?) should, pursuant to King Henry the Second’s
ordinance, have, and be judged by, the same laws as the English settled
in Ireland, which clearly indicates that the Ostmen at that time still
formed a distinct and separate people. We might almost believe that the
Ostmen in Waterford had even refused to observe the English laws, or
that at least there was a doubt how far these laws could be applied to
them; since King Edward found it necessary to enforce Henry the Second’s
ordinance, and to enjoin his chief justice and magistrates in Ireland
that the three men named in the document should, “like other Ostmen in
Waterford,” be judged, and as far as possible (“quantum in vobis est”),
punished, according to the laws in force for Englishmen in Ireland. (See
the Latin document in the Appendix.) The striking historical account
that in the year 1263 the Irish applied to the Norwegian king Hakon
Hakonsön, then lying with his fleet on the south-west coast of Scotland,
for assistance against the English, will now no longer be inexplicable
or improbable; for it is placed beyond all doubt that amongst the Irish
who thus in vain implored King Hakon for help, there must have been a
number of the Ostmen still living in Ireland, who naturally continued to
maintain a connection with their countrymen in the Norwegian kingdoms on
the south-west coast of Scotland, until these kingdoms also were
destroyed in the middle ages.

But from this time forward the “Ostmen” do not play any prominent part
in the history of Ireland. Their political independence was annihilated;
and their national characteristics were not sufficiently supported by
fresh arrivals from the mother-country, to enable them in the long run
to maintain a distinct position in face of the rapidly advancing English
nationality. Their descendants continued, nevertheless, to dwell in
Ireland; where they gradually became amalgamated partly with the English
conquerors and partly with the native Irish. The Irish chronicles point
out various clans in Ireland which were either of Norwegian descent, or
at all events had been much mixed with Norwegian blood. In the annals
and pedigrees of the middle ages we also meet with both laymen and
clergy in Ireland bearing Scandinavian names. For instance, in Christ
Church in Dublin, built by the Norwegians, canons and monks are spoken
of in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries called “Harrold,” “Olof,”
“Siwird” (Sivard), “Regenald,” (Ragnvald) “Iwyr,” &c., names entirely
unknown in Ireland previously to the arrival of the Norwegians. The
often-mentioned Irish chronicler makes use of a highly remarkable
expression. In stating that most of the merchants’ families in Dublin in
his time (about the year 1650) were descendants of the Norwegian-Irish
king Olaf Kvaran, by Brian Boroihma’s (Boru’s) daughter Save, he adds:
“and the descendants of that Amlave Cuaran are still in Dublin opposing
the Gadelians of Erinn:” whence we clearly see that national
distinctions and national disputes between the descendants of the Irish
and of the Norwegians, were still very prominent only two hundred years
ago, or full six hundred years after the battle of Clontarf (1014).

Even to the present day we can follow, particularly in Leinster, the
last traces of the Ostmen through a similar series of peculiar family
names, which are by no means Irish, but clearly original Norwegian
names; for instance, Mac Hitteric or Shiteric (son of Sigtryg),
O’Bruadair (son of Broder), Mac Ragnall (son of Ragnvald), Roailb
(Rolf), Auleev (Olaf), Mánus (Magnus), and others. It is even asserted
that among the families of the Dublin merchants are still to be found
descendants of the old Norwegian merchants formerly so numerous in that
city. The names of families adduced in confirmation of this, as Harrold
(Harald), Iver (Ivar), Cotter or Mac Otter (Ottar), and others, which
are genuine Norwegian names, corroborate the assertion that Norwegian
families appear to have propagated themselves uninterruptedly in Dublin
down to our times, as living evidences of the dominion which their
forefathers once exercised there.

It is thus satisfactorily proved, by notorious facts of the most various
kinds, that for more than three hundred years the Norwegians lived
according to their own manners and customs, and under their own bishops
and kings, in the most important towns of Ireland, which they in part
ruled, down to the time of the English conquest (1170); that they were
the first who minted coins, and carried on any considerable trade and
navigation in Ireland; and lastly, that great numbers of their
descendants continued to reside in that country even after it had long
been conquered by the English. No impartial person, therefore, will be
able any longer to deny that the settlements of the Ostmen, although
commenced by the frequent demolition of churches and convents, were
ultimately in the most essential matters particularly fortunate for
Ireland; since, by introducing trade and navigation to an extent before
unknown, they opened for that sequestered country channels of animated
communication and intercourse with the rest of Europe and its
continually advancing civilization. The Irish towns occupied by the
Ostmen, which have continued to be the principal depots for foreign
merchandise, and consequently also the central points of intercourse
with foreign countries, may with justice be said to be indebted chiefly
to that people for their present greatness, wealth, and power.

Nor, on a larger historical survey, will it appear less evident that, as
the Norwegians first opened the way for peaceful connections between
Ireland and the rest of Europe, so they also facilitated the English
conquest. In consequence both of their frequent wars, and of their
frequent alliances with Irish kings, party feeling had rather increased
than diminished among the Irish chiefs; whilst numerous Irish families,
even the greatest in the land, had by degrees become so much mixed with
Norwegian blood, that the strength of the Irish as a nation was not a
little weakened and divided. This was particularly the case in those
districts of the east coast of Ireland where the English or Norman power
afterwards obtained its chief seat. Add to this that the Irish, through
the long dominion of the Norwegians in their chief towns, and the
advantages which they reaped from it, had become more and more
accustomed to behold with indifference the sway of strangers in their
country; a circumstance which contributed to the powerful support given
to the English on their first invasion of Ireland by several of the
native chiefs.

It may possibly be said that the Norwegians in Ireland, by thus
preparing the way for the Norman or English conquest, rendered a far
greater service to England than to subjugated Ireland. But all the
chronicles, it must be recollected, bear witness that the Irish were
neither strong enough to govern their own country independently, nor
capable of keeping pace with the advance of European civilization by
means of an active commerce. We have seen that even in later times the
same baleful and sanguinary spirit of dissension which weakened Ireland
in ancient days is yet scarcely extinct among the original Irish race.
It is manifest, therefore, that Ireland, which would otherwise have been
divided from the rest of Europe, and devastated by terrible intestine
contentions, has been much benefited by being united to so great and
powerful a country as England, which has both the ability and the will
to promote the true welfare of the Irish people. England will, by
degrees, employ the great advantages afforded by the excellent soil and
situation of Ireland, and thus conduct that country, torn as it is by
all possible distresses and misfortunes, to a happier existence.

                               ----------

                              SECTION VII.

    Conclusion.—Warlike and Peaceful Colonizations.—Resemblances and
                      Differences.—Before and Now.

Denmark and Norway, as is known, are not distinguished by any remarkable
extent of fertile and densely-populated country. The whole population in
both those kingdoms does not at present amount to three millions; and in
ancient times it scarcely seems to have been greater, even when the
southern portion of the present kingdom of Sweden still belonged to
Denmark.

Nevertheless, Denmark and Norway were able, in ancient times, to send
forth great multitudes of people to other countries. Not only were
Greenland, Iceland, the Shetland Isles, the Orkneys, and Faroe Isles,
colonized from Norway, but also considerable districts in Scotland and
Ireland. Many Norwegians, moreover, settled in England and Normandy. At
the same time Danes emigrated in great numbers to Normandy, North
Holland, and especially England, where they colonized, we may say, the
whole of the extensive district to the north of Watlinga-Stræt, or
almost half England.

We are not informed that Denmark and Norway were emptied of their
population in consequence of these great emigrations, or even that there
was any sensible want of inhabitants to supply agricultural labourers
and soldiers. In the immediately following centuries Denmark was
powerful enough to make the Baltic a Danish lake. We can hardly,
therefore, assume, like the monkish chronicles of antiquity, which
naturally breathe both fear and hatred of the Scandinavian heathens,
that the Norwegians and Danes were merely barbarous Vikings, who
procured themselves a footing in the western countries only through
brute force. On such grounds we should be perfectly unable to explain
satisfactorily how Denmark and Norway, with a proportionately small
population, should have been able (without becoming too depopulated) to
send out at once such a host of people as were evidently required to
take possession, by force of arms, of those rich western lands, and
also, it must be observed, to maintain their conquests for centuries.
If, instead of blindly following these partial and prejudiced
chroniclers, we adhere to what the traces of the nature and importance
of the Scandinavian emigrations clearly prove, namely, that from the
eighth to the twelfth century, and contemporary with the destructive
Viking expeditions, peaceful emigrations from the North constantly took
place—which, in reality, were just as effective, perhaps even more so,
than the purely warlike expeditions of conquest—this matter will be
placed in a far more probable and intelligible point of view. As we have
seen, sagacity and the arts of peace, together with navigation and
trade, in no slight degree assisted the Danes and Norwegians to procure
a footing in the British Islands, and especially in England and Ireland.
By perseverance and ability in the occupations of peace as well as war,
they were soon enabled to gain the ascendancy in the most important
seaport towns; whence, by means of various connections of trade,
friendship, and family alliances, they extended their influence and
dominion over the adjacent towns and districts. They gradually
multiplied themselves, and were joined by fresh immigrants; and thus the
foundations were almost imperceptibly laid of Scandinavian colonies,
which awaited only the coming of some bold military adventurer to appear
as independent, nay, even as dominant states. The great warriors to whom
history assigns the honour of the conquests in England and Ireland—and,
we may also add, Normandy—would scarcely have been able to obtain them
with the generally inferior numbers under their command, had not the
Scandinavian merchants, and other peaceful colonists, both opened the
way for them, and afterwards supported the conquests they had achieved.
It is, on the whole, obvious that the ancient Northmen possessed a very
great talent for colonization, which their kinsmen, the English of
modern times, seem to have inherited from them.

But as the Scandinavian colonies in the British Islands varied greatly
in importance, so also must the effects which they produced have been
somewhat different. In Ireland, as well as in Scotland, where the
Norwegians met with tribes who, in spite of their apparent Christianity,
stood rather below them in civilization, they kept themselves more apart
from the natives. In Ireland, especially, they dwelt in their own
strongly-fortified towns; where, until late in the middle ages, they
maintained their own characteristic language, manners, customs, and
laws. But in consequence of this, their Norwegian institutions had no
real influence on the development of the national life or institutions
of Ireland. At most they merely contributed to facilitate the
introduction and establishment of the analogous Anglo-Norman
institutions into the Irish cities. In England, on the contrary, where
the Scandinavian colonies were far more numerous and powerful than in
Scotland and Ireland, the Danish colonists certainly sought, after the
Scandinavian fashion, to maintain in the midst of a foreign country
their pure Danish laws, manners, and customs. Yet here the Danes, owing
to the superior civilization which prevailed among the earlier
Anglo-Saxon inhabitants of England, were soon influenced by their
language and culture, and became more and more amalgamated with them.
Nevertheless the Danes in England were sufficiently numerous and
independent to maintain the most important of their free Scandinavian
characteristics, which coalesced with, and by degrees visibly impressed
themselves upon, the more modern English manners and institutions.

The Danish colonies in England, and the Norwegian colonies in Scotland
and Ireland, had so far the same historical importance that they
essentially conduced to found a new life, both externally and
internally, in the British Islands, partly by extending trade and
navigation, partly by subduing, or at least weakening, the power of the
Anglo-Saxons, the Scotch, and the Irish, and thus in general preparing
for a kindred race (the Normans) the dominion over all these people. It
is well known that the Norman sway and the Norman spirit established
themselves in Scotland and Ireland far later than in England—a
circumstance chiefly owing to the conquests and settlements of the
Norwegians in those countries having been far less extensive and
important than the Danish conquests in England. Yet that the
Danish-Norman spirit predominating in England has been able to maintain
to our times its dominion in Scotland and Ireland also, is no slight
evidence of the excellent and solid manner in which the Norwegians must
originally have prepared the way.

I have shown that the memorials of the great exploits performed by the
Danes and Norwegians in the British Islands still appear as fresh and
vivid as if they were of modern date. In this respect, the national
pride of those nations will find complete gratification. Still, however,
it is possible that a general view of the mighty achievements of the
ancient Northmen in the western lands may awaken mingled feelings in
many a Scandinavian of the present day. The thought may involuntarily
arise in him of what the North _was_, when its victorious fleets
appeared in the north, south, east, and west, and when Scandinavians
exercised dominion far and wide, and what it _is now_—confined within
narrow boundaries, menaced from many quarters, and without any
preponderating influence on the state of Europe. Beyond the precincts of
the North, he will no longer hear his native language, which in former
times frequently resounded on foreign shores. The North was forced to
shed some of its best and noblest blood; and yet the Northman must now
be content, if he can succeed in tracing out, by means of a few words in
the popular language, by the names of towns and districts, or by
half-erased runic inscriptions on bauta stones, where it was that the
“Danish tongue” once prevailed, and where the barrows still rise which
cover the race that spoke it.

But such morbid complaints will necessarily vanish when the Scandinavian
considers how vividly the ancient power of his race has again displayed
itself to the world, and how mighty have been the results of the Norman
expeditions; but especially when he ponders on the notorious fact, that
the North sent out the flower of its youth and strength, not merely to
destroy and plunder, but rather to lay the foundations of a fresher life
in the western lands, and thus to impart a new and powerful impulse to
human civilization. In our times, besides, it is not chiefly in
conquests and the lustre of external greatness that the true happiness
and glory of a nation should be sought.

A people, which, like the Scandinavian, have preserved—together with the
memorials of former great achievements, and of conquests bringing
blessings in their train—enough of the character and courage of their
forefathers, not only to maintain the freedom and independence of their
country, but also, in comparison with other nations, an honourable place
in science and art, cannot justly be said to want either glory or
happiness.

------------------------------------------------------------------------



                              APPENDIX I.

                               ----------

                DOCUMENT OF EDWARD I., OF THE YEAR 1283,

            CONCERNING THE OSTMEN IN WATERFORD AND IRELAND.

  (_From a Register in the Tower of London; Patent Roll II. Edward I.
              Memb. 9. Communicated by Mr. Duffus Hardy._)

“Pro Custumannis[11] Waterfordi in Hibernia. Rex Justiciario suo
Hibernie et omnibus aliis Ballivis et fidelibus suis Hibernie ad quos,
&c., salutem. Quia per inspeccionem carte Domini Henrici Regis, filii
Imperatricis, quondam Domini Hibernie preavi nostri, nobis constat quod
Custumanni nostri Waterford legem Anglicorum in Hibernia habere et
secundum ipsam legem judicari et deduci debent. Vobis mandamus quod
Gillecrist Makgillemory, William Makgillemory, et Johannem Makgillemory,
et alios Custumannos de Civitate et Communitate Waterford, qui de
predictis Custumannis predicti domini regis preavi nostri originem
duxerunt legem Anglicorum in partibus illis juxta tenorem carte predicte
habere et eos secundum ipsam legem quantum in vobis est deduci faciatis,
donec aluid de consilio nostro inde duximus ordinandum. In cujus, &c.
... v. die Octobr.”

Footnote 11:

  This is undoubtedly an old fault in the way of writing or reading for
  “Oustumannis,” “Austumannis.” That the word is at all events meant to
  signify the Ostmen is also assumed in Sir John Davies’ “Reports” (fol.
  236).

                               ----------



                              APPENDIX II.

                               ----------

                  COINAGE OF THE NORWEGIANS IN DUBLIN.

                           (_See page 338._)

While this work was going through the press, a silver coin, forming an
entirely new and highly remarkable contribution to our knowledge of the
early Norwegian coinage in the capital of Ireland, was discovered among
the collection bequeathed by the late Mr. Devegge to the Royal Cabinet
of Coins in Copenhagen. It is represented in the annexed woodcut.

[Illustration: [++] Coin: Olaf in Dublin.]

The legend on the obverse is “_Oolaf i divielin_,” or “Olaf in Dublin.”
That on the reverse almost seems to be “_Oolafn me feci(t)_,” or “Olaf
made me;” in which case the coiner must have had the same Scandinavian
name as the king. However this may be, it is clear enough that the coin
owes its origin to a Norwegian or Scandinavian king Olaf in Dublin; and,
as the stamp shows, it must have been struck in the tenth century. It
thus forms a link between the runic coin of Canute in Dublin, and the
somewhat later coins of Sigtryg, before described. (See p. 338, _et
seq._)

A great number of coins have been mentioned as minted in Ireland by
Scandinavian kings named Olaf; but that above delineated is in reality
the first, and, as far as is known, the only one on which we can with
certainty read “Olaf in Dublin.”

Kings of that name are mentioned in the Irish chronicles in the years
853, 934, 954, 962, &c. (See the list of Norwegian Kings in Ireland, p.
317.)



              -------------------------------------------

       G. Woodfall & Son, Printers, Angel Court, Skinner Street.

------------------------------------------------------------------------


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                  BRADBURY AND EVANS, PRINTERS, WHITEFRIARS.



------------------------------------------------------------------------



      ● Transcriber’s Notes:
         ○ [++] indicates a caption added by the transcriber. (e.g.
           [Illustration: [++] COIN: CNUT.])
         ○ Missing or obscured punctuation was corrected.
         ○ Unbalanced quotation marks were left as the author intended.
         ○ Typographical errors were silently corrected.
         ○ A few words, which are hyphenated in the body of the book,
           are not hyphenated in chapter headings to avoid confusion.
         ○ Spelling and hyphenation were made consistent only when a
           predominant form was found in this book.





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