I don’t live in the past—I only visit—and so can you!

From the Stereotypes of the Norsemen deliver us… VIII

The whole episode reeked of “The Lottery” or the original “Wicker Man.” The penultimate episode of the season is much more concerned with invented religious mumbo-jumbo than with the storyline that was set up in the last few episodes. The whole episode seems unnecessary and interrupts the flow of the series. And here Hirst and apologist justify his fleeting contact with the facts because of his devotion to drama. This episode lacked drama and facts!


Uppsala was an ancient religious center, so going on pilgrimage there actually makes a lot of sense!

Athelstan is wearing a proper penanular brooch on his cloak! No one else is, but at least he is!

At least in Icelandic mythology, waterfalls are holy places and constructed as such at places such as  Þingvellir. The waterfall in this episode seems unlike that which I have seen pictures of in the areas, but at least it was beautiful and dramatic!

Goats appear!

Athelstan wears a haversack!

Human sacrifice, though we are uncertain how the sacrifices were chosen, is a very probably event in the ancient Norse religion, at least if we believe the accounts of Christian—generally missionaries—visitors. I do doubt, however, if they were dressed in white this way. The robes were much too white merely to be undyed, so it was often another reference to purity that did arise until the nineteenth century.

Ragnar wears a period bracelet of wound metal!


If anyone can make turnshoes sound like jackboots as they walk along, I want to meet them!

Where exactly does Ragnar live? There is no sense of a long time for his odyssey to Uppsala, nor how he had to have sailed. Ragnar’s party just walks to the site. It reminded me a bit of Richard Widmark swimming from North Africa to Scandinavia in “The Long Ships”!

The strangely engineered eyepatch.

There is a great use of drums. Let us disregard that the very existence of drums at this time is controversial since none have been found for the Norse at this period of time.

Did my eyes deceive me? Buttons running down the middle of a dress? If I have to explain why this is inaccurate, I wonder why you’re even reading my ravings and rants!

Does the king’s “herald” wear big round earrings or was the scene just too fleeting and dark for me to get a good look?

The king’s cloak is made of fabric that was popular later, looking to a great extent as if Hirst had some fabric left over from his Elizabeth films.

The king’s chandelier-maker was about five centuries ahead of his time! The first chandeliers we know of were seen in the fourteenth century.

The power of the Norse kings is greatly misattributed and misrepresented. A king of this period ruled by permission of his people; he had no divine right of kings the way that Kings in the later middle ages had.

Concepts of modern monogamy seems stressed, whereas a man of the time could have several wives and concubines, and the women all apparently got along together!


Things change, but Upsala has little in common with the area today. The sacred site in Uppsalla is represented by a waterfall and a stave church. We have spoken earlier of waterfalls and their religious importance. But stave churches were intimately connected to Christianity, and there is little evidence that they predated the Conversion. In fact, they were descendants of post churches, which were the first churches in Scandinavia. Though their number was between 1000 and 2000, but they became outdated by the later medieval period.

The whole priesthood, vestments, appearance and ceremonies seem to owe a lot to Asian, Christian and classical faiths. And, as in earlier appearances, to the holy men of “300.” In fact, I assume that many of the ceremonies had to be invented.

The style of the braziers seem to owe more to later developments than the styles used during this period.

The tafl game—hnefatafl—seems to be run according to chess rules, but even that cannot be determined. The taflmen were of an unfamiliar shape, and there were far too many of them for the games with which I am familiar. Perhaps it was not meant to be any tafl game with which we are familiar.

With one episode in this series left, I have no idea what is being planned; if they are taking a leisurely rate of development, I cannot see why they did it without even knowing that a second season was going to be commissioned!

2 responses

  1. Louise Archer, a fellow Regia member, has noted that a German illustration from about this time shows a sleeveless underdress and notes, “it does make sense if linen is more valuable than wool to omit the sleeves which are not that necessary in an undergarment.” So move this from the incorrect to the uncertain category! Thanks, Louise!

    April 26, 2013 at 23:31

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    May 6, 2014 at 22:58

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