Friday, 4 April 2014

Swords in Rock and Harald Fairhair

The "Swords in Rock" monument seems to be an everlasting motif in the online Viking communities. I took this picture this evening just an hour before sunset. Spring is coming to Norway – now the days are longer than the nights – but only a week ago the weather still was grey, as shown in the photo below. 

Swords in Rock monument

"Swords in Rock" is a sculpture made by Fritz Røed. It is placed in Møllebukta (the Miller's Bay), which is a very popular recreation area in Stavanger. I often take an evening stroll along the seaside in Miller's Bay, experiencing the nature and the historical surroundings.

The Miller's Bay and the monument lie at the bottom of Hafrsfjord, where the famous King Harald Fairhair won a great battle in 872 AD. Having defeated a lot of petty kings supported by the Danes, he is regarded as the king who united Norway into one kingdom.

Harald Fairhair
Could Harald Fairhair have
looked like this?
King Harald Fairhair had several wives and fathered a lot of sons, who after his death fought among themselves for supremacy. Eric Bloodaxe were among the sons, and so was Hakon the Good, who was fostered by King Æthelstan in England. Coming home from England, Hakon defeated Eirik Bloodaxe, his brother, who fled to Northumbria where he later became king. After a few years Eirik's sons took revenge and killed Hakon the Good in a fierce battle on the West Coast of Norway.

Among Eirik Bloodaxe's sons, Harald Greycloak was the most prominent, and he is a major figure in "The Viking Series" (in which "The Slayer Rune" and "The Lethal Oath" are the first books, and Sigurd (who is later to be called Sigve The Awful) is the main character).

In the books, set a hundred years after the Battle of Hafrsfjord, the descendents of Harald Fairhair still fight over lands and power, and Sigve the Awful finds himself squeezed in the middle between Harald Greycloak and Godred Bjornson, another of Fairhair's powerful grandsons.

At this time in history, the Norwegian kings had close relations to the kings in England, Denmark, Sweden, and Russia, and Sigve the Awful, who becomes a great warrior and swordsman, will in the Viking Series soon have his hands full in the struggles between the mighty kings. Exactly how Sigve will manoeuvre in these struggles are among the things I ponder when I stroll along the beaches in Hafrsfjord watching the Swords in Rock sculpture.

In the first two books, young Sigurd is still trying to find his place in his Viking world. A task that becomes very complicated when he falls in love with the mysterious thrall girl Yljali.

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