On Ragnar Hairy-Trousers

 

I was pretty pleased to find out today that Ragnar Lodbrok, the main character in the TV show Vikings, is based on a real person whose name meant Ragnar "Hairy-Trousers" or "Shaggy-Breeches". His wife, also depicted, made him a pair of pants made from animal skin with a magical protection. As long as he wore these pants no blade could kill him. And no blade did kill him. He was pushed into a pit of snakes and died.

Skara Brae

Visited the 5,000 year old Neolithic village of Skara Brae yesterday. It's all here — the hearths, beds and dressers and water pits and built- in bookshelves and other storage nooks — just like they left it. In the background you can see the 17th-century laird's house. The local laird at the time of the storm was the one to discover the ancient houses after a big storm blew all the sand away. I can't imagine finding this in my back yard.

We have now visited two Broch sites. These are Iron Age settlements, 2,000 years old, built by the Picts. They were once large towers surrounded my smaller dwellings. Now they look like this.

Broch of Gurness. Once this tower was a lot taller, 33 ft probably.

These towers didn’t seem to do much to protect the Picts. The Vikings came in the 8th and 9th Century and not much of the Pictish culture survived after that point. It was either a wholesale massacre or they were enslaved. There are many ruins of Norse settlements here in Orkney. We visited the Brogh of Birsay yesterday. It’s on a tidal island and for a long time they thought it was the seat of Orkney’s most beloved of Earls, Thorfinn the Mighty. 

Doorway of of the tower. Broch of Gurness.

There are many ruins of Norse settlements here in Orkney. We visited the Brogh of Birsay yesterday. It’s on a tidal island and for a long time they thought it was the seat of Orkney’s most beloved of Earls, Thorfinn the Mighty. It can be frustrating with archaeology because you really can’t say much of anything with certainty, but it can be fun to engage in creative speculation. A Viking sauna? Why not?

Our archaeologists guide thinks this is ridiculously unfounded. I love it.

Kirbuster Farm Museum

Thanks to the Kirbuster's unwillingness to upgrade their home, this room remains much like it was in the 1600s, which is probably not a whole lot different than the way it would have appeared 400 years before that. It has all the makings of a Viking longhouse. Fire place in the center with hole in the ceiling. Peat fire. Livestock housed in the kitchen.

Whalebone gate

Drying fish

Peat Fire

Heather broom

wool

Viking age shelving 

Eurythmics music video "Here Comes the Rain Again" was shot here at Kirbuster Farm.

The Vanishing Island of Eynhallow and once-home of the Finfolk.