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Stefan's Florilegium


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Iceland-msg - 1/8/17


History and culture of Iceland.


NOTE: See also the files: Norse-msg, pst-Vik-Norse-msg, Norse-food-art, N-drink-ves-msg, ships-msg, Greenland-msg, Norse-games-art, fd-Norse-msg, names-Norse-msg, fish-skin-tan-msg, stockfish-msg.





This file is a collection of various messages having a common theme that I have collected from my reading of the various computer networks. Some messages date back to 1989, some may be as recent as yesterday.


This file is part of a collection of files called Stefan's Florilegium. These files are available on the Internet at: http://www.florilegium.org


I have done a limited amount of editing. Messages having to do with separate topics were sometimes split into different files and sometimes extraneous information was removed. For instance, the message IDs were removed to save space and remove clutter.


The comments made in these messages are not necessarily my viewpoints. I make no claims as to the accuracy of the information given by the individual authors.


Please respect the time and efforts of those who have written these messages. The copyright status of these messages is unclear at this time. If information is published from these messages, please give credit to the originator(s).


Thank you,

   Mark S. Harris                  AKA:  THLord Stefan li Rous

                                         Stefan at florilegium.org



Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

From: DDFr at Midway.UChicago.edu (David Friedman)

Subject: Re: The Status of Myrkfaelen, is it really ruled by Aethelmarc?

Organization: University of Chicago Law School

Date: Fri, 23 Jun 1995 14:42:11 GMT


E. F. MORRILL asks Orlando:

> Pretty much though out the span of time that the majority of us play,

> "everyone" was in Fealty or "owed" something to someone else. Times of

> Kings and Queens and Knights doing "great deeds". Romance. The "good" things.

> I have never understood Myrkfaelen's stand on this issue.


Iceland, according to the Icelanders' account, was settled by refugees from

the forcible unification of Norway under King Harald Haarfagr. From the

settlement of Iceland in about 870 until the end of Icelandic independence

in about 1263, Iceland owed allegiance to no king. The internal political

system was not feudal in the ordinary sense; thingmen were associated with

chieftains, but were free to change their tie to any other chieftain that

would have them. With the exception of some Icelanders who chose to become

retainers of foreign kings (usually the king of Norway), virtually nobody

in Iceland was in fealty to anyone.


Your picture of medieval history apparently leaves out one of its most

interesting societies (and, incidentally, one that produced some of the

best literature of the middle ages). That is no reason why other people

should do the same. Popular views of the middle ages (kings and queens and

knights in shining armor) may be a good starting point for people in the

SCA, but surely one of the points of what we are doing is to go deeper into

the real middle ages, not just stay with the hollywood version. The sagas

are, at least in my view, better literature than the chansons de geste, and

their heroes and heroines more interesting people. Myrkfaelinn deserves

credit for trying to model their group on a very real and (as your posting

suggests) too little known part of the middle ages.


> Is MYRK willing to accept than maybe someday there may be a

> King or Prince who would expouse the ideas I put forth? Someone who would

> not accept the "status-quo" and, according to their beliefs and

> convictions, rule?


Many years ago, Marion of Edwinstowe commented that my one qualification

for the throne was that I already knew that being king and thirty-five

cents would get you a ride on the MTA. If a king tries to follow the policy

you outlined, and if Myrkfaelinn then is the Myrkfaelinn I have known, he

will learn that lesson. Anyone who believes that SCA kings "rule" in any

strong sense of that term is, in my view, not qualified for the job.



DDFr at Midway.UChicago.Edu



From: harpa at ismennt.is (Harpa Hreinsdottir)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Web-pages about Egil's saga

Date: 3 Apr 1996 16:44:03 -0000

Organization: Islenska menntanetid


You can now read about the viking and poet Egill Skalla-Grimsson in

English. Students at a comprehensive school in Iceland have made some

web-pages about Egil's saga and translated them into English.  They can

be seen at:




or just go to http://rvik.ismennt.is/~harpa/forn

and choose the English version.



                                             Harpa Hreinsdottir

                                             harpa at ismennt.is



From: DDFr at Best.com (David Friedman)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: Help with Icelandic personna

Date: Fri, 18 Oct 1996 00:48:50 -0800

Organization: School of Law, Santa Clara University


In article <546l9d$p7 at binky.axionet.com>, Lithium <lithium at axionet.com> wrote:


> I have recently joined the sca and would like to try to make my personna

> Icelandic do to my ethnic background. I unfortuatly have no living

> Icelandic relatives left and am finding anything about medieval iceland

> particularly hard to find. If you have any ideas where i would find some

> info I would be very grateful.


Congratulations, you have the world's most fun to research persona. The

Icelandic sagas give a very realistic picture of the society, they are good

reading, they were written in period, and a fair number of them are

currently in print in English translations, often in paperback. Good

examples are Egil Saga, Njal Saga, Laxdaela Saga, Gisli Saga, ...  .


A good modern historian of saga period Iceland is Jesse Byock, who has

published several books.


If you are curious about the legal system, take a look at my article on

"Private Production and Enforcement of Law," reachable from my academic web

page at:







From: gunnora at bga.com (Gunnora Hallakarva)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: Help with Icelandic personna

Date: 19 Oct 1996 20:27:35 GMT


In article <546l9d$p7 at binky.axionet.com>, lithium at axionet.com says...


> I have recently joined the sca and would like to try to make my personna

>Icelandic do to my ethnic background. I unfortuatly have no living

>Icelandic relatives left and am finding anything about medieval iceland

>particularly hard to find. If you have any ideas where i would find some

>info I would be very grateful.

>Colleen Gordondottir.


Try the following:


Byock, Jesse. Feud in the Icelandic Saga.  Berkeley: U of California Press.  1982.


Byock, Jesse.  Medieval Iceland: Society, Sagas and Power.  Berkeley: U of California Press.  1988.


Dennis, Andrew, Peter Foote and Richard Perkins, trans.  Laws of Early Iceland:

Gragas. Vol I.  Winnipeg: U of Manitoba Press.  1980.


Frank, Roberta.  "Marriage in Twelfth- and Thirteenth-Century Iceland." Viator 4 (1973): 473-484.


Fry, Donald K. Norse Sagas Translated into English: A Bibliography.  New York:  AMS Press. 1980.


Gelsinger, Bruce.  Icelandic Enterprise: Commerce and Economy in the Middle Ages. Columbia: U of S. Carolina Press.  1981.


Hastrup, Kirsten.  Culture and History in Medieval iceland: An Anthropological Analysis of Structure and Change.  Oxford: Clarendon.  1985.


Jacobsen, Grethe.  "The Position of Women in Scandinavia During the Viking Period."  MA Thesis.  U of Wisconsin.  1978.


Jochens, Jenny M.  "The Church and Sexuality in Medieval Iceland."  Journal of Medieval History 6 (1980): 377-392.


Jochens, Jenny M.  "The Medieval Icelandic Heroine: Fact or Fiction?"  Viator 17 (1986): 35-50.


These books and articles are a start.  There are tons of books on the topic, many of which are unfortunately not in English.  Post e-mail direct to me if you need more guidance in your literature search.


Gunnora Hallakarva




From: DDFr at Best.com (David Friedman)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: Help with Icelandic personna

Date: Sat, 19 Oct 1996 23:46:54 -0800

Organization: School of Law, Santa Clara University


gunnora at bga.com (Gunnora Hallakarva) wrote:

> Gelsinger, Bruce.  Icelandic Enterprise: Commerce and Economy in the

> Middle Ages. Columbia: U of S. Carolina Press.  1981.


The economic analysis in the book is dreadful. See my review in _History of

Political Economy_ when the book came out.





Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

From: bq676 at torfree.net (Kristine E. Maitland)

Subject: Re: Help with Icelandic personna

Organization: Toronto Free-Net

Date: Tue, 22 Oct 1996 17:23:40 GMT


Gunnora Hallakarva (gunnora at bga.com) wrote:

: lithium at axionet.com says...

: > I have recently joined the sca and would like to try to make my personna

: >Icelandic do to my ethnic background. I unfortuatly have no living

: >Icelandic relatives left and am finding anything about medieval iceland

: >particularly hard to find. If you have any ideas where i would find some

: >info I would be very grateful.

: >

: >Colleen Gordondottir.


: Try the following:

(excellent booklist deleted)


Or you can get the handbook for Eoforwic's icelandic assembly (the Canton

of Eoforwic held an Icelandic event a couple of years ago).  Mistress

Nicolaa! Are there any spare copies still roaming around in Ealdormere?

If not, drop me a line, Colleen and we'll see about you getting MY copy.


la rosa nera



bq676 at torfree.net



Date: Tue, 12 Jan 1999 01:22:25 -0000

From: <nannar at isholf.is>

Subject: Re: SC - food and hospitality


Christine A Seelye-King <mermayde at juno.com> said:

>> Not much bread and porridge, as most grain had to be imported (the

>>only grain grown with any success in Iceland is barley, and that was

>>mostly used for ale).

>This is contrary to what I have read.  The reasoning being that much more

>value could be had from cooked barley than from ale.  (It would certainly

>go farther.)  Hmm.


Yes, but this is the Vikings, remember? They probably considered greater

value to be had from ale ... the alternative was to import the ale (which

was also done) and go without it six months of the year (ships only sailed

to Iceland in the summer months; that is why guest were sometimes invited to

spend the whole winter). Anyway, every source I´ve consulted says barley was

cultivated to make ale and bread. In that order.


>>The old Norse poem Hávamál, which I was made to learn by heart at a

>>very tender age, largely deals with the theme of hospitality - what

>>hospitality to offer a guest, and how to accept it.

>OOh! Would you be able to re-create it (in English) for us here?  I

>would love to have it!  Many thanks in advance,

>Mistress Christianna MacGrain


A translation by W.H.Auden is to be found at this site (it pretty much gets

the meaning of the original but lacks its haunting beauty):




"The herd knows its homing time,

And leaves the grazing ground:

But the glutton never knows how much

His belly is able to hold."

(from Hávamál)





Date: Mon, 11 Jan 1999 19:19:14 -0800

From: david friedman <ddfr at best.com>

Subject: Re: SC - food and hospitality


At 6:44 PM -0500 1/11/99, Christine A Seelye-King wrote:




>>The old Norse poem H·vam·l, which I was made to learn by heart at a

>>very tender age, largely deals with the theme of hospitality - what

>>hospitality to offer a guest, and how to accept it.

>OOh! Would you be able to re-create it (in English) for us here?  I

>would love to have it!  


Havamal is part of the Elder Edda, readily available in English translation.


"Shun not the mead but drink in measure;

Speak to the point or be still."






Date: Wed, 24 Feb 1999 00:30:01 -0000

From: "=?iso-8859-1?Q?Nanna_R=F6gnvaldard=F3ttir?=" <nannar at isholf.is>

Subject: Re: SC -  "bog butter"


>I thought I was the only one questioning the hair in the butter.  I have had

>dairy goat herds in the past and have never had a problem with hair in the

>milk. Just wash the udders properly and strain the milk before you make butter

>or cheese. Your milk is free of any imperfections. I can't imagine anyone not

>being clever enough to figure this out for themselves.


I´ve no idea how clever the old Icelanders were. What I know is they had to

keep - and milk - their cows in cramped, windowless, dark, stuffy hovels

made of stone and sod, lit only by by meagre and flickering tallow or fish

liver oil lanterns. And the shaggy, long-haired ewes were milked out in the

fields in all kinds of weather, often far from any source of water (I can

personally attest to the fact that you can´t handle Icelandic sheep, in

early summer at least, when they are shedding their old coat of wool,

without wool hairs clinging to everything, in particular to your hands). I

believe most people strained their milk through horsehair sieves, but they

seem not to have caught everything. And some were too poor to afford even

such a basic utensil. But given the general low standards of cleanliness and

hygiene of my countrymen at the time (commented upon by European visitors

from the 16th century onwards), I´d say a few hairs in the butter would have

been the least of their worries.





Date: Wed, 7 Jul 1999 18:32:34 -0000

From: "=?iso-8859-1?Q?Nanna_R=F6gnvaldard=F3ttir?=" <nannar at isholf.is>

Subject: Re: SC - exposure of children


Phlip wrote:

>"Exposure of children" is a polite phrase describing taking an unwanted

>child (female, too many other kids, deformed, bastard, politically

>undesirable bloodlines, whatever) and leaving it out in the woods to die

>without shedding its blood, shedding the blood of a relative being an

>undesirable thing in most cultures.


In Iceland at least, the most common reason seems to have been fear of

overpopulation - the babies that were left to die mostly belonged to the

poor, or to slaves. The father, or the master, had absolute control over the

fate of his child, but according to Christian beliefs, the child itself had

a right to life. But the Icelandic Christians seem to have been swayed by

economic arguments - both regarding exposure and the eating of horsemeat.

This is from The Saga of Ólafur Tryggvason (sorry, can´t find the English

translation just now so I´ll just translate loosely myself):


"Those men who have been the greatest opponents of Christianisation will

hardly find it easy to understand how it can be combined to feed every child

that is born, both to poor men and rich, but at the same time forbid and

deny as food something that used to be very important for the common people"

(i.e. horsemeat).


>There is always the "possibility" of rescue, which salves some folks'

>fragile consciences. The theme of abandoned children being rescued is a very

>important one across many of our cultures- look at Moses and Romulus and

>Remus, for example.


Yes, there are a few examples of this in the Icelandic sagas also. Usually,

however, these wretched souls turned into fearsome ghosts and sought revenge

on their parents, or on innocent travellers that happened to pass the place

where the children had been abandoned.





Date: Wed, 7 Jul 1999 09:01:58 -0000

From: "=?iso-8859-1?Q?Nanna_R=F6gnvaldard=F3ttir?=" <nannar at isholf.is>

Subject: Re: SC - Horsemeat, was Re: "cruel food"-


Ras asks:

><< we are celebrating 1000 years of Christianity next year anyway >>



You mean, why celebrate at all, or why celebrate next year when scholars

know we probably got the date wrong? The second one is easy - 1000 is a nice

round number, and generations of Icelanders have believed it to be the

correct year.


If you are asking - why celebrate at all - leaving religious issues aside,

well, the Christianisation of Iceland is one of the major events in our

history, it laid the ground for structural changes in our society, and

besides it happened in a pretty unique manner. Is there another instance

when a whole nation decides, without the use of force and without much

prelude, to abandon its traditional belief and accept a new faith?


The decision to convert was, according to what Ari fró›i ?orgilsson wrote in

the Book of the Icelanders, made by ?orgeir (Thorgeir) Ljósvetningago›i, a

pagan chieftain who also held the position of Law Speaker – the only public

office in the Icelandic Commonwealth. He lay down under his pelt and uttered

no word for two days. At the end of this period, he called together the

Althing (this happened at ?ingvellir, when the Althing was in session) and

stipulated that Icelanders should be baptised in the Christian faith, to

avoid conflict and strife. (They were, however, allowed to worship pagan

gods secretly and practice ancient customs, such as the exposure of children

and the eating of horse meat.)


So, what I personally will be celebrating next year is not the anniversary

of Christianisation, but the fact that we Icelanders have always chosen the

peaceful solution. (Well, mostly.)





From the Norse Folk List -

Date: Tue, 4 Jan 2000 15:58:10 -0000

From: nanna at idunn.is (Nanna Rognvaldardottir)

Subject: Re: Names with Norse Origin


> Also, if you have a friend going to Iceland, have 'em procure a phone

>book. ;>


Or you could check the Icelandic online phone book at:



(search by first name, middle name or last name - if you type a fairly

common last name such as Helgason or Bjarnad—ttir into the Kenninafn field

and leave the others blank, you should get a long list of first names to

study - then you can ask me if they are Saga period or more recent)


or the National register at:



(chose Nafn einstaklings and search by first name, or first and last



>While not everything in the Icelandic phone book is a Viking Age

>name, I"d be willing to bet that 75% or so of them are.


More or less, yes. While my own name is an çsatrœ godess name that probably

wasn't used as a given name until the 18th century, my children, my parents,

my siblings, my nephews and nieces all bear names from the Saga period,

little changed except that names now ending in -ur used to end in -r. Male

names in the family are Ršgnvaldur, Hjalti, Eir’kur, Ing—lfur, Þ—rir, Oddur,

Bergur, Bjarni - the females are Sigr’Ýur, ValgerÝur, GuÝrœn, Helga,

Svava, çsd’s.


Nanna Ršgnvaldard—ttir



Date: Fri, 11 Feb 2000 13:31:02 -0000

From: nanna at idunn.is (Nanna Rognvaldardottir)

Subject: Re: SC - honeymoon sites


Ras wrote:

> You do realize, Nanna, that you are making it extremely difficult for Elysant

> and I to decide between France and Iceland for a honey moon? :-0


Oh, I do, I do - but unless you are planning a very short engagement, the

testicle season will be long over. [see organ-meats-msg - Stefan]


But if you travel with Icelandair to France, you can have a 3-day stopover

at no extra cost ...


>Go to Iceland ... in the winter ...

>I just read an account of someone who just came back

>from Iceland and they raved about the hospitality, the

>hot spas, the cuisine and the wonderfully romantic

>idea of sharing body warmth ... need I say more?



All of that would apply for a summer visit also, not least the need for

sharing body warmth - anything above 17 degrees C (62 deg F) for three days

in a row is considered a major heatwawe around here. And then there is the

midnight sun. And a certain museum I'm not mentioning.





From: Bob Hurley <bhurley at charter.net>

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: Iceland

Date: Sat, 08 Apr 2000 23:09:57 -0400


ASLAAN2 wrote:

> If you know of any, could you please point me to resourses for developing a

> female Icelandic persona of any time in period?  My thanks in advance.

> Lady Stefana


This is a good starting place:



which is an online source for the sagas, many of which were about Icelanders.


Thorgrim inn islendingr



From: dirkviking at aol.com (DirkViking)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: Iceland

Date: 09 Apr 2000 21:23:50 GMT


You might try

_Women in Old Norse Society_

by Jenny Jochens

ISBN 0-8014-8520-7


She leans pretty heavily on Iceland.



Date: Wed, 25 Oct 2000 04:24:09 -0000

From: "=?iso-8859-1?Q?Nanna_R=F6gnvaldard=F3ttir?=" <nannar at isholf.is>

Subject: Re: SC - Clean Vikings -- OT


>Iceland has bath-houses

>using volcanic hot springs that have been in continuous use

>since the Settlement. Now where is this documented? *sigh*


Huh? Is the lady saying that we have bath-houses that have been in

continuous use since the Settlement? If so, I'd dearly love directions to

find one of them. If she means that the hot springs have been used for

bathing since the Settlement, well, some of them were used then, and are

used now, but I'm not too sure about the continuous use. For washing and

sometimes cooking, yes. For bathing - well ...


She also says, in the article referred to:

>In Iceland where natural hot springs are common, the naturally heated

>water was incorporated into the bath-house.


This could easily be understood as if most farms had a bath-house heated

with water from hot springs. I'm not saying there weren't any but offhand, I

can't recall any such bath-house mentioned in the Sagas. Sure, a house was

probably built around Snorralaug in Reykholt and a few other hot springs but

that was not the norm. There was a bath-house (or bathroom, probably a sauna

of sorts) at most farms but it was usually heated by firewood. Later, when

wood became scarce, the bathroom was the only heated room in the farmhouse

and people began sleeping there. Later still, almost all fuel (mostly peat

and dung, at that point) had to be used for cooking and people stopped

bathing, more or less - but the "bathroom" kept its name (ba?stofa). For

centuries, the main sleeping/living/dining/working room of the Icelandic

farm went by the name of bathroom. My mother was born in a "ba?stofa" in



Yes, the old Icelanders probably bathed a lot, as did the Vikings (saturday

is still called "laugardagur" (bath day) in Icelandic). And they probably

used natural hot springs when available. But relatively few Icelandic farms

have a hot spring of suitable temperature close by the farmhouse, so these

naturally heated bath-houses couldn't have been that common, really.





Date: Sun, 7 Jan 2001 02:40:43 EST

From: Gerekr at aol.com

Subject: SC - Norse news - Gragas II at last


Please pass this info to anyone you know who has a SERIOUS interest in

things Norse -- volume II of the Laws of Early Iceland (Gragas), from the

University of Manitoba Press, is now available!!  We've been waiting

(impatiently!) since 1985 or so, #1 was published in 1980.


The nice man at the press wrote -- "we've finally updated our website, so

if you know of anyone/groups who might be interested, they can check

under New Books at

     http://www.umanitoba.ca/uofmpress "


Gerek who got it for Christmas, and Chimene who managed a surprise for a

change, 8-)!!



Date: Wed, 21 Feb 2001 09:39:09 -0000

From: "Nanna Rognvaldardottir" <nanna at idunn.is>

Subject: SC - Travels in Iceland?]


'Lainie wrote:

>> A friend is going to Iceland, does anybody have suggestions of cool

>> things to see or do there?


Depends on a lot of things. Is the friend coming here now, or next month, or

later? How many days is he planning to stay? Does he want to travel a lot,

or stay mostly in ReykjavÌk? Does he want information on the ReykjavÌk

nightlife, which I understand is pretty cool? (couldn't help there myself

but I've got a resident expert on that). Or does he just want to know about

museums and such?


>> I found the Icelandic Tourist board, and a site on Icelandic archeology

>> (http://www.mnh.si.edu/vikings/voyage/subset/iceland/archeo.html) but other

>> than that, information seems rather scarce.


>> Suggestions?


Unfortunately, the National Museum (www.natmus.is/English/index.htm) is

still mostly closed for renovation (should have reopened last year but

didn't). Then of course there is our one real national treasure, the old

manuscripts at the ¡rni Magn˙sson Institute (try www.am.hi.is) - I think

there is an exhibition just now of manuscripts and documents connected to

the discovery of Greenland and Vinland (America).


fiingvellir, site of the old parliament for 868 years (until 1798) and a sort

of national shrine - no old buildings or anything like that but a beautiful

place and the center of Icelandic history.


Then there are the usual tourist places like Gullfoss (waterfall) and Geysir

(famous hot spring which was more or less dormant for most of the 20th

century but has been very active since the earthquakes last summer) - and if

the friend is an outdoor type, there is no end to the possibilities.


The weather is - unpredictable. At all times. There have been times this

winter when Iceland was the warmest spot north of the Alps (here in

ReykjavÌk, we are currently experiencing the first snow of the winter); in

the North (my birthplace), snow in July is not unheard of.


If there is anything specific this person wants to know, he is welcome to

email me at nannar at isholf.is.





Date: Wed, 21 Feb 2001 09:16:03 -0800

From: david friedman <ddfr at best.com>

Subject: Re: SC - Travels in Iceland?]


>Then of course there is our one real national treasure, the old

>manuscripts at the ¡rni Magn˙sson Institute (try www.am.hi.is)


The manuscripts are great, but your national treasure isn't the

manuscripts, it's what was written in them.


Men die, Horses die,

(and parchment eventually dies too, although it takes longer)


I hope they get the museum opened again. My favorite thing in it, on

a long ago visit, was a case full of hacksilver. Museums, for some

reason, are unwilling to let you take their jewellery apart to see

how it is made, so it is nice when someone else has done it for you.

- --





From: "=?iso-8859-1?Q?Nanna_R=F6gnvaldard=F3ttir?=" <nannar at isholf.is>

To: <sca-cooks at ansteorra.org>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] Summer starts WHEN?

Date: Tue, 5 Jun 2001 06:08:05 -0000


Here in Iceland, Summer starts on the first Thursday after April 18th, and

has done so for at least 1000 years. But then, the old Icelandic calendar

has only two seasons. The first day of summer is an official holiday, with

parades and outdoor celebrations which usually have to be moved inside

because of snow or bad weather.





From: "Nanna Rognvaldardottir" <nanna at idunn.is>

To: <sca-cooks at ansteorra.org>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] Summer starts WHEN?

Date: Wed, 6 Jun 2001 09:32:32 -0000


Stefan asked:

> Did these celebrations used to be done outdoors? If so, does this change

> to doing them indoors mean:

> a) The climate has changed

> or

> b) There are now larger buildings such that large group activities can

> now be held inside instead of outside

> or

> c) Modern Icelanders have become more comfort conscious?

> or

> d) Even if this date has always started Summer, it wasn't celebrated

> the way it is now?


All of the above are true but the correct answer is d).


Icelanders used to be much wiser than this, they celebrated indoors, by

serving feasts, playing games and giving gifts - the custom of giving a

sumargjaf predates Christmas gifts in Iceland by several centuries. This was

done in the home; larger celebrations began in the late 19th century and the

parades and such in the 1920s.


This day is also the first day of the month of Harpa and since Harpa was

personified as a young girl, she was especially celebrated by young men -

how, I'm not quite sure. It is said to be a good omen if winter and summer

"freeze together" - that is, if the temperature drops below freezing in the

night before the first day of summer. Also, when you see the first summer

moon, you should keep silent until someone speaks to you.  Whatever he says

(or "answers into the summer moon") can then be taken as a kind of omen or






From: "=?iso-8859-1?Q?Nanna_R=F6gnvaldard=F3ttir?=" <nannar at isholf.is>

To: <sca-cooks at ansteorra.org>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] Iceland & Scotland - what to get?

Date: Thu, 7 Jun 2001 01:14:57 -0000


From: Ginny Claphan <mizginny at yahoo.com>

>My parents will be traveling to Iceland (Klefavik, Reykjavik) and Scotland

>(Glasgow, Iona, Edinburgh) on vacation for the next 2 weeks. What would be

>interesting food/drink-related items to bring back for me that could fit in

>a suitcase?


That depends. Will they go straight back home from Iceland or are they going

to Iceland first, then Scotland? If they are going straight to the US, then

there is skyr (various types, and no, I'm not suggesting that yogurt with

Pop-Rocks; not one of the Icelandic Dairy Association's brighter ideas, I

think), cheeses (especially mysuostur, brown whey cheese), rye flatbread

(with or without Iceland moss), perhaps a bag of Iceland moss, hverabrau=F0

(dark rye bread baked overnight in hot earth close to a geyser), smoked lamb

(Icelandic livestock is completely free of BSE and foot and mouth, but I'm

still not sure if you can import it to the US), smoked salmon and trout,

various types of dried fish (har=F0fiskur), a bag of s=FApujurtir, "soupherbs"

(various mixed vegetables and herbs) for the traditional Icelandic lamb soup

(recipe can be obtained from me), some dried wild herbs, and several other

things, like reindeer pate and lumpfish caviar.


If they are going to Scotland before going back, it gets more complicated.

The herbs are OK, of course. The dried fish will keep but frankly, I

wouldn't want to keep dried fish - even well wrapped - with my clothes for a


Ask them to bring at least a mini-bottle of Black Death. (Some rotten shark

would go well with it but I doubt the US Customs would like it.) So I'm not

really sure what to suggest. A horn spoon carved with a traditional pattern,

perhaps. A traditional wooden lidded bowl (askur) is rather too expensive.

An Icelandic crepe pan, which is really the best pan for making very thin

crepes. If you want cookbooks, there are a couple of small recipe booklets

available (although I would, quite frankly, recommend waiting for my own

book, which is scheduled for November. It does have American measurements,

at least.)


That is all I can think of now. I can also point you at the best places to

buy these things - do you know at what hotel your parents will be staying?





Subject: [Ansteorra] Another Web Resource for icelandic Mss and Documents

Date: Thu, 01 Nov 2001 09:35:54 -0600

From: "Christie Ward" <val_org at hotmail.com>

To: <ansteorra at ansteorra.org>


I thiought I'd forward along this tidbit that came to the Norsefolk list

(and before that from the Atlantean list).  I think it will be a useful

resource not only for those interested in Norse literature, but also the

calligraphers and illuminators out there.








The National and University Library of Iceland has partnered with Cornell

University to bring Saganet to the Web. This impressive digitization project

will feature 380,000 manuscript pages and 145,000 printed pages of Old

Icelandic literature and critical works published before 1900.


The site offers "the full range of Icelandic family sagas" as well as

Germanic/Nordic mythology, the history of Norwegian kings, and tales  of

European chivalry. Users can search or browse the collection, and  there is

a large amount of help documentation for those who need more  assistance

getting used to the interface.


It is perhaps needless to say that the site is available in both  English

and Icelandic, though the texts and cataloging records are  only in

Icelandic. We had difficulties using the site with Netscape  on a Mac

platform but no problems with Internet Explorer.



Date: Mon, 30 Mar 2009 09:20:24 -0700

From: David Friedman <ddfr at daviddfriedman.com>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] Salt in Iceland (was Honey butter)

To: Cooks within the SCA <sca-cooks at lists.ansteorra.org>


<<< If I recall correctly Iceland is a volcanic island on the north

Atlantic mid oceanic rift. >>>


As I like to put it, the majority of Iceland is in Europe, the

majority of Icelanders are Americans. Geologically speaking.


David Friedman




Date: Mon, 30 Mar 2009 13:52:25 EDT

From: euriol at ptd.net

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] Salt in Iceland (was Honey butter)

To: Cooks within the SCA <sca-cooks at lists.ansteorra.org>


I had a chance this past weekend to glance at a research paper on Icelandic Skyr & Mysa (curds & whey) and I think this was mentioned in the paper (I've asked the author for a copy that I might be able to read it cover to cover).


If I'm remember right from the paper, it was the scarcity of wood that made the harvesting of the salt impractical in Iceland.




--- Original Message ---

Was written:

<<< I _think_ the places where salt tends to be harvested from salt water  are

places where there are shallow bays and a lot of sunshine; places  like

Southern Spain and India. I also believe Northern Europe tends to  see

more mined salt, and I'm not sure Iceland is one of the centers  for that. >>>


If I recall correctly Iceland is a volcanic island on the north Atlantic mid

oceanic rift.  Mined salt comes from sedimentary deposits.



mka Daniel C. Phelps, P.G. (Professional Geologist)



Date: Tue, 15 Apr 2008 14:49:54 -0500 (CDT)

From: jenne at fiedlerfamily.net

Subject: [SCA-AS] [Fwd: TMR 08.03.05 Gronlie,        Islendingabok-Kristni

        Saga (Davis)]

To: "Arts and Sciences in the SCA"

        <artssciences at lists.gallowglass.org>,      ekas at localhost


This may be of interest to those in the Viking area:

---------------------------- Original Message ----------------------------

Subject: TMR 08.03.05 Gronlie, Islendingabok-Kristni Saga (Davis)

From:    "The Medieval Review" <tmrl at indiana.edu>

Date:    Fri, March 7, 2008 4:06 pm

To:      tmr-l at indiana.edu

       bmr-l at brynmawr.edu



Gronlie, Sian, trans. "Islendingabok--Kristni Saga "The Book of

Icelanders"--"The Story of Conversion"". London: Viking Society for

Northern Research, University College London, 2006. Pp. xlix, 97.

ISBN-13: 978-0-903521-71-0 (pb).


   Reviewed by Craig R. Davis

       Smith College, Northampton, MA

       cradavis at email.smith.edu


"Islendingabok," "The Book of Icelanders," was written between

the years 1122-33 by Ari Thorgilsson (ca. 1068-1148). It is the first

extant text in vernacular Old Icelandic and contains the earliest

account of the settlement of Iceland by Norse people after the year

870 and their foundation ca. 930 of an island-wide government based

upon assemblies of chieftains and their followers, rather than the

rule of kings. It also offers the first Icelandic witness to the

further settlement of Greenland and discovery of the New World in the

late tenth century. Ari's focus, however, is the formal conversion of

his fellow-countrymen to Christianity in 999 or 1000 at the annual

"Althingi," "National Assembly," and their subsequent

Christianization under native bishops. His account is "quite unique"

(xvi) in medieval historiography for the clarity with which he

specifies the direct personal communications he received from several

long-lived informants, who remembered their baptism as children or

were born soon after the turn of the millennium. His models were

possibly Bede's "Eccesiastical History of the Nation of Angles"

or Adam of Bremen's "History of the Archbishops of Hamburg-

Bremen", but unlike those authors, Ari concentrates rather narrowly

upon the secular and political aspects of the change of faith, with

minimal reference to affairs of the Church abroad or even its interest

in earlier missions to Iceland. Gronlie argues that Ari's book about

"the Icelanders" (the first use of that collective designation)

suggests that his work should be interpreted not as a national or

ecclesiastical history per se, although it contains elements of both

genres. Rather, "Islendingabok" represents a distinctively new

kind of "constitutional history," where the author follows closely the

development of a legal system in which challenges and changes to its

operation form the author's "main structuring device" (xxviii).


Even though Ari is proud to trace the lineage of leading families back

to their distinguished origins in Norway and favors the victory of the

Christian party, the sense of affinity he expresses in

"Islendingabok" is neither dynastic nor ethnic nor even

religious, like other national histories he might have used as models.

Instead, Ari describes a polity of competitive leaders whose identity

as a group is defined by their participation in the legislative and

judicial processes of the Althing, an institution that enjoys its

authority and bestows its benefits for peace by their collective

assent. Respect for the Althing was a principle honored in the breach,

of course, never threatened more dramatically than during the crisis

engendered by attempts to evangelize Iceland, when the Christian and

pagan parties renounced their community of laws. Gronlie thus

implicitly follows Vilhjalmur Stefansson (1939) and Richard Tomasson

(1980) in finding the constitution of the Icelandic Commonwealth as

described by Ari in "Islendingabok" the first attempt to create a

new nation on new principles in the "New World." In fact, the gorge at

Thingvellir where the Althing met, the "Almannagja" depicted in

an aerial photo on the cover of the book, is the cleft of the Mid-

Atlantic Ridge separating Europe and America. Iceland's attempt to

maintain this oligarchic form of representative government failed in

the century after Ari wrote when the Althing submitted to the

Norwegian crown in 1262-64 and lost its independence as a law-making

body until the twentieth century.


For a more religious perspective on the evangelization of Iceland, one

that draws upon traditions from other parts of the country than the

southwest, we must turn to a source most scholars believe was composed

in the mid-thirteenth century, when the Althing was seriously weakened

by the violence and factionalism that would soon initiate its demise.

The anonymous author of "Kristni Saga", "The Story of

Conversion," is also much more heavily influenced by European

traditions of hagiography with their stress upon pagan resistance and

persecution of missionaries. The author illustrates the violent

reaction provoked by the missions more dramatically than any other

source, yielding a total "body count" of eighteen, plus some memorably

abusive language (xxxviii). The author of "Kristni Saga" further

uses miracles to dramatize the conversion of key leaders and God's

protection of the missionaries. Many of these stories serve

simultaneously to display the potency of "Christian rites--

ecclesiastical chant, the sign of the cross and the use of incense"

(xxxvix)--over the power of pagan incantations, skaldic poetry and

sacrifice to the old gods. Episodes are sometimes constructed

symbolically, as when the pagan champion Kjartan is submerged three

times in his swimming match against King Olafr Tryggvason in Norway,

then given a cloak by the king, in a distinct foreshadowing of his

later baptism and robing at that Christian monarch's instance.

Iceland's history is thus bifurcated into chronologically balanced

before-and-after halves of about 130 years apiece, in which three

preparatory missions by Thorvaldr, Stefnir, and Thangbrandr pivot upon

the momentous Althing of 999-1000, followed by the consecration of the

first bishop Isleifr and the establishment of sees at Skalaholt in the

south in 1082 and Holar in the north in 1106.


Even with this strong ecclesiastical bias, however, "Kristni

Saga" differs from other medieval missionary narratives by

including many pagan poems from the conversion era. These verses are

full of poetic circumlocutions or "kennings" based upon myths of

the old gods; they depict popular pagan divinities like Thor smashing

the ships of hapless preachers, whose own God is nowhere to be found:


Before the bell's keeper [= the priest Thangbrandr] (bonds [=


destroyed the beach's falcon [= his ship])

the slayer of giantess-son [= Thor]

broke the ox of seagull's place [= ship].

Christ was not watching, when

the wave-raven [= ship] drank at the prows [= sank].

Small guard I think God held

&#8212;if any&#8212;over Gylfi's reindeer [= ship]. (44)


Gronlie comments: "These verses are forceful enough to need watering

down within the Christian prose: when describing the shipwrecks, the

author feels compelled to add that Stefnir's ship was 'not much

damaged' and that Thangbrandr's was later 'repaired'. The voice given

to paganism here, perhaps even its own voice, is unique to Old

Icelandic literature" (xli). One reason for the inclusion of this

pagan perspective may be that many thirteenth-century Icelandic

readers of "Kristni Saga" would have been able to trace their own

family histories back to leading figures of various persuasions during

the crisis of conversion, so that the author is careful to depict in

his otherwise polarized narrative many unbelievers of good sense and

good will: "Then the heathens thronged together fully armed and it

came very close to them fighting, and yet there were some who wished

to prevent trouble, even though they were not Christians" (48). The

author also seems to harbor a sneaking regard for some of the more

hostile figures, like the pagan poetess Steinunn, at least for her

talent and colorful personality. There is also a touch of dry humor: a

few pagans accept baptism cheerfully enough once it becomes clear they

can be immersed in nearby hot springs rather than cold water (50).


And the violence depicted in the saga, while serious and sectarian, is

still not so very impressive by continental standards. We find no

martyrdoms, no relapses, no backlash apostasies, but rather faults on

both sides. The vengefulness and rapine of some Christian missionaries

like Thorvaldr and Thangbrandr are explicitly disapproved by other

figures. These men kill in response to highly implausible libels--such

as that Thorvaldr fathered nine children on Fridrekr, an insult

charitably shrugged off by that foreign priest himself. The

missionaries are outlawed from Iceland "not because of their faith,"

but for homicide (xliii). Hjalti Skeggjason receives the lesser three-

year outlawry for "blasphemy," a category of crime the pagans learned

from the Christians and managed to prosecute only with great

difficulty. Hjalti had uttered a satirical quip at no less solemn a

place than the Law-Rock, where legal judgments were pronounced and

changes of law proclaimed: "I don't wish to bark at [= criticize] the

gods; / It seems to me Freyja's a bitch" (44). The author thus views

the conversion very much as did Ari before him, more as a secular

conflict than a confrontation between the forces of good and evil.

When Olafr Tryggvason is angry at the treatment of his agent

Thangbrandr, the king's Christian Icelandic friends Gizurr the White

and Hjalti himself point out that the Saxon bishop's killing of their

fellow-countrymen was something that self-respecting Icelanders could

hardly be expected to put up with from a foreigner (46). They offer to

go and try themselves. Indeed, a certain amount of national pride and

"anxiety about Norwegian intervention" in the affairs of his country

may be the reason the author of "Kristni Saga" seeks to separate

the evangelization of Iceland as much as possible from the political

interests of the king of Norway. The king's mission is shown as

counter-productive. In fact, the author begins his account with a list

of "godar," "priest-chieftains," from the pre-Christian era and

stresses that the first initiatives to preach the gospel in Iceland

came from native Icelanders rather than foreign kings or prelates. The

author finishes his account with the deaths of the Icelandic

missionaries Thorvaldr and Stefnir, completely ignoring the fate of

the Saxon Thangbrandr, and concludes with the triumphant progress of

the early church in his country without any reference to outside

interests at all, except that Icelandic bishops encouraged by popular

acclaim go abroad to receive their "pallia": "The conversion

effort is firmly attributed to Icelandic chieftains: they are among

the first to be converted and the first church-builders, they provide

the first two bishops of Iceland and "most men of high rank," the

author tells us, "were educated and ordained priests even though they

were chieftains" [53]...["Kristni Saga"] is a fitting tribute to

the success of those chieftains who negotiated the political threat

from Norway and brought Iceland into the Christian world" (xliv-v).


In addition to a full and informative introduction, summarized here,

Gronlie offers a close, clear translation into Modern English,

surprisingly detailed and useful notes to the translated text which

coordinate persons and events with references to them in other

sources, a full up-to-date bibliography of modern scholarship in both

English and Icelandic, a chronology, map, and index of persons and

place-names. At least for scholars whose access to and fluency in

reading Modern Icelandic scholarship is limited, this slim volume

offers an invaluable starting point for all further study of these

texts and the period of medieval North Atlantic history they treat.


-- Jenne Heise / Jadwiga Zajaczkowa

jenne at fiedlerfamily.net



Date: Fri, 29 Jan 2010 12:05:25 -0600

From: "Terry Decker" <t.d.decker at att.net>

To: "Cooks within the SCA" <sca-cooks at lists.ansteorra.org>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] Sagas and Gragas-OT


I suspect this is the source being referenced for the Gray Goose Laws.


Dennis, Andrew, Foote, Peter, and Perkins, Richard, Laws of Early Iceland:

Gragas, the Codex Regius of Gragas with material from other manuscripts, 2

volumes; University of Manitoba Press, 1980-2000.


The laws were oral from 930 to 1117, when they were codified.  The written

law appeared in 1118 and were used until  supplanted in 1271 by the Norse

laws. The laws and the information contained in them would probably have

been applicable only to Iceland and one would need to seek out other sources

to determine commonalities between the Scandinavian cultures.




<the end>

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