Thursday, September 26, 2013

Ringebu, History through Sagas, The Harolds; the Heimskringla. Snorre Sturlason.

History through Sagas.  Ringebu Stave Church.

Norwegian-Icelandic history comes to us largely through an intermediary who recorded the oral tradition, but with the authority of one born to the culture.  Meet Snorre Sturlason, Icelandic chieftain, poet, writer of sagas, 1179-1241 AD, information at; or, click on Translate on the main search page for Snorre Sturlason, to find the material in English.

Any trip to Norway benefits from some advance research about Snorre Sturlason and his work; and move then to what we think we know of

a) all the Kings that touched on or came from Norway, especially those named Harald, and
b) the Holy Roman Emperors pressing north from Europe and determining religious and political history. FN 1

Ringebu does an excellent job of history orientation, this small portion shows the detail provided. Guidebooks tend to repeat themselves, so take time at the site.  Meet the first reference to one of Snorre Sturlason's recording of a saga, the Heimskringla (Gutenberg version online), and the King who "introduced" (read compelled) Christianity in Norway in 1021, King Olav Haraldson, here the Gutenberg saga version.  Snorre, or Snorri,lived 995-1030.

The information at the gaate takes the place of a guide, since these churches close to the public on August 31 largely.

Archeology, tradition.  Coins were found under old foundations, showing broad trade activity in other parts of Europe.  For pre-Christian (Holy Roman Empire) and real/legendary/embroidered people in Norwegian traditional stories, meet the all-important Snorri Sturrelson.  Spellings vary.  Snorre, Snorri, Sturrelson, try several.  Runes: Do a search for the Elder Futhark, and the Younger Futhark, to see their appearance.  How to date them?

The Ringebu graveyard:  Ringebu graveyard sets aside a roofed place for the cast-offs, the gravemarkers where noone remains to tend the grave, a grave garage.  Stones untended are removed to the garage, or elsewhere, and the space reused. Look at the entire graveyard:  it looks relatively new.  Old stones are moved. 

Modern practicalities. 

Not all contemporary stones have a Christian motif at all.  A more universal butterfly-flora theme is on this, for John P. Ronningen who died in 1933.  With the force associated with Christianity once it got rolling after the first centuries, is it any wonder so much fell away. Did it?

The hold of Christianity is not certain.  Does the nondogmatic frame of mind on this stone reflect the survival of nature concepts of earlier traditions, and Celtic Christianity in Norway, before the takeover. See

The Holy Roman Empire view of Christianity found easy inroads, however, into Norse culture.  Elements of Christian belief are echoed in the Norse religion, scroll down at  These similarities between events in the lives of gods and the life of Jesus would make it easy to tell people this is what you believe already. Join us.  

FN 1.  Lens on Vikings

Norse Kings and the Holy Roman Empire. The importance of absorbing at least some of the sagas. Without that framework, this Scandinavian past can blur.  Our own schooling largely omits Scandinavia except for cavalier self-serving deprecations on Vikings written by the victors or, at the time, those besieged.
  •  Barbaric? No more than the rest of Europe at the time, with the peacefully trading Viking groups finally responding to barbarisms of the Holy Roman Empire swallowing up northern Europe, is that so. Barbaric only meant, in origin, not-Greek.  In that sense, we all are Barbaric. See discussion at  Note specifically and appropriately the cite to the barbarism of Charlemagne as a catalyst for the regions north to rise up and fight back.
  • PBS last night also named the Church, the version of the Holy Roman Emperors, as the greatest enemy of the Vikings. We should expect passive responses?  See the brand of crucible steel sword known as +ulfberh+t. Ulfberht for short, in Secrets of the Viking Sword,


No comments:

Post a Comment