8. Viking Congress 1977 – Århus, Denmark


24th -31st August.



Her Majesty Queen Margrethe II.

Organising Committee:

Hans Bekker-Nilsen, Ole Klindt-Jensen, Olaf Olsen.


Secretary: Lene Bateman.

National Representatives:







Delegates of the Congress:


Carl Johan Becker and Birgit Becker, København; Hans Bekker-Nielsen and Else Bekker-Nielsen, Odense; Mogens Bencard, Ribe; Kirsten Bendixen, København; Tage E. Christiansen, København; Ole Crumlin-Pedersen, Roskilde; P. V. Glob, København; Gillian Fellows Jensen, København; Jørgen Højgaard Jørgensen, København; Ole Klindt-Jensen and Tove Klindt-Jensen, Århus; Jonna Louis-Jensen, København; Niels Lund, København; Hans Jørgen Madsen, Århus; Olaf Olsen, Århus; Rikke Agnete Olsen, Århus; Thorkild Ramskou, København; Else Roesdahl, Århus; Claus Bech Skadhauge, Odense; Inge Skovgaard-Petersen, København; Christen Leif Vebæk and Mâliâraq Vebæk, København.


Sverri Dahl, Tórshavn; Jóhan Hendrik W. Poulsen, Tórshavn; Arne Thorsteinsson and Elisabeth Thorsteinsson, Tórshavn.


Jakob Benediktsson and Grethe Benediktsson, Reykjavík; Ólafía Einarsdóttir, København; Bjarni Einarsson and Sigrún Hermannsdóttir, Reykjavík; Gísli Gestsson and Guðrún Sigurðardóttir, Reykjavík; Bjarni Guðnason, Reykjavík; Ólafur Halldórsson and Aðalbjörg V. Karlsdóttir, Reykjavík; Jónas Kristjánsson and Sigríður Kristjánsdóttir, Reykjavík; Þór Magnússon, Reykjavík; Jón Steffensen, Reykjavík; Björn Þorsteinsson and Guðrún Guðmundsdóttir, Reykjavík.


Donnchadh Ó Corráin, Cork; Michael Dolley, Belfast; Breandán Ó Ríordáin, Dublin; Seán Sweeney and Valerie Sweeney, p.t. Tórshavn.


Egil Bakka, Bergen; Charlotte Blindheim, Oslo; Martin Blindheim, Oslo; Olav Bø, Oslo; Reidar Djupedal, Trondheim; Signe Horn Fuglesang, Oslo; Einar Haugen and Eva Lund Haugen, Oslo; Knut Helle, Bergen; Erla Bergendahl Hohler, Oslo; Erling Johansen, Fredrikstad; Sigrid Hillern Hansen Kaland, Bergen; Aslak Liestøl, Oslo; Sverre Marstrander, Oslo; Magne Oftedal and Eli Oftedal, Oslo; Kolbjørn Skaare, Oslo.


Bertil Almgren and Inga Almgren, Uppsala; Björn Ambrosiani, Stockholm; Kristina Ambrosiani, Stockholm; Birgit Arrhenius, Stockholm; Gösta Berg, Stockholm; Johan Callmer, Lund; Anne-Sofie Gräslund, Uppsala; Ingmar Jansson, Uppsala; Valter Jansson, Uppsala; Anna Larsson, Uppsala; Else Nordahl, Uppsala; Dag Strömbäck, Uppsala; Börje Tjäder, Uppsala.

United Kingdom

Michael Barnes, London; Alan Binns, Hull; Iain A. Crawford and Imogen Robinson, Cambridge; Stewart Cruden and Elizabeth Cruden, Edinburgh; Christine E. Fell, Nottingham; Peter Foote, London; James Graham-Campbell, London; Christopher Hohler, London; John R. Hunter, Bradford; Dafydd Kidd, London; Sean McGrail, Greenwich; Christopher D. Morris, Durham; Raymond Ian Page, Cambridge; Peter Sawyer and Mary Fraser Hay, Leeds; Alan Small, Dundee; Leslie E. Webster, London; David M. Wilson, London.


Sites, churches and museums in Århus, Venge, Viborg, Fyrkat, Aggersborg, Lindholm Høje and Samsø.


The Danish Research Council for the Humanities, the Tuborg Foundation, Den danske Provinsbank, Handelsbanken and Privatbanken; The Town Council of Århus, the Town Council of Viborg and its Cultural Committee, and the proprietors and editors of Skalk, and Aalborg historiske Museum.



Each Viking Congress conducts its proceedings in unique circumstances, and the publications that enshrine those proceedings have their consequent vagaries. As Editors of these Moesgård memorials we would not wish to be exceptional and we note that the present volume differs from its predecessors in two ways. On the one hand, it is the largest and most lavishly illustrated set of transactions ever to emerge from a Viking Congress; and on the other, it has taken longer to produce than any earlier collection. An artful sense of timing has, however, arranged for publication on the eve of the Ninth Viking Congress, to ensure that those who attend the gathering in the Isle of Man are not without guidance and pastime.


But in such an interval time takes its toll. We have deaths to recall, of members we would most unwillingly have seen resign. Ole Klindt-Jensen, Professor of Nordic Archaeology and European Prehistory in the University of Århus and senior member of the Moesgård Organising Committee, died on 13 June 1980; and Dag Strömbäck, Emeritus Professor of Nordic and Comparative Folklore in the University of Uppsala and doyen of the Viking Congress - he had attended all but one of them - died on 1 December 1978.


Hinn er sæll,

er sér um getr

lof ok líknstafi –

such were both Ole and Dag, and we gratefully dedicate this book to their memory.


 We have many obligations to acknowledge on behalf of Congress members: first to Her Majesty Queen Margrethe II for her gracious patronage; second to numerous organisations and institutions for their generous financial support, preeminently the Danish Research Council for the Humanities, the Tuborg Foundation, Den danske Provinsbank, Handelsbanken and Privatbanken; and third to the administrative and domestic staff of Moesgård and Unge Hjems Højskole.


Warmest thanks must further go to the Lord Mayor and Town Council of Århus, the Town Council of Viborg and in particular its Cultural Committee, and the proprietors and editors of Skalk, all of whom provided delightful hospitality; to the cooks and everyone responsible for the memorable spit-roast feast arranged by Aalborg historiske Museum; to the key-bearers and curators who welcomed us at churches, sites and collections in Århus, Venge, Viborg, Ålborg, Samsø, Roskilde, Ladby, Jelling, Åbenrå and Slesvig; and to the Congress members and other colleagues who gave us expert guidance at Viborg, Fyrkat, Aggersborg, Lindholm Høje, Ravning Enge, Samsø, Roskilde, Jelling, Schloss Gottorp, Hedeby, Danevirke and Ribe. Finally, we should record our special thanks to Lene Bate-man, the indefatigable secretary of the Congress, and to Ulla Engberg, the assistant secretary.


Without munificent subvention from the Research Council these Proceedings would not have appeared, and we must also express our gratitude to the Managing Directors of Odense University Press (Torkil Olsen, succeeded by Jørgen Thomsen) and their Board in giving the volume a place in the series of Mediaeval Scandinavia Supplements. We wish to thank Hans Langballe, who designed the format of the book, and Karen Bekker-Nielsen for help with proofreading and other editorial chores.


In editing the following papers we have endeavoured to see that each is internally consistent in its forms and references but we have not tried to impose one system overall.


26 May 1981


Hans Bekker-Nielsen, Peter Foote, Olaf Olsen


Prelude by Dag Strömbäck


Since I am the first chairman of a session after our host, Professor Klindt-Jensen, and since I am probably the senior member of the Congress, in terms both of personal antiquity and of membership, let me begin by saying that I am so happy to be here in Moesgård for the Eighth Viking Congress. It is an occasion I have been looking forward to for four years, ever since we left Dublin, although with some doubt as to my own capacity or, should I say, bouyancy. I hope I shall stay afloat!


We could say of the Viking Congress as Professor Ludvig Daae once said of a daring Norwegian enterprise: "It started as a speculation but ended as an institution."


It began in 1950 when a very restricted number of Danish, Icelandic, Norwegian and Swedish scholars - picked almost at random - were invited by the British Council and the University of Aberdeen to come to Shetland and Orkney for a meeting. I did not know much of Shetland and Orkney beyond what I had learnt from Orkneyinga saga and Hákonar saga Hákonarsonar. The prehistory, vast and immense, of the islands was quite unknown to me, and it became almost as fascinating as the remains of Viking farms and early medieval sites that we visited. Dr Curle and Dr Marwick were brilliant guides, but my most exciting personal experience on that occasion was to meet Professor Haakon Shetelig of Bergen in many informal hours of conversation and discussion. He was a wonderful man and a grand scholar, lively, witty and inciting, and with a charming bohemian touch in his way of living. I shall never forget the bottle of good wine under his hospital bed when I saw him for the last time in Bergen in 1953 when I came there for the Second Viking Congress. He still had his astonishing power to combine his knowledge of literary sources - those of classical antiquity as well as Germanic and Norse - with his archaeological wisdom. He was unforgettable.


That man opened our eyes to the importance of close collaboration between archaeologists and philologists. And this is precisely what has happened as the Viking Congress has gradually changed from a speculation to an institution. It has more and more become an occasion when philologists and archaeologists meet to exchange learning and ideas in the free and friendly spirit inaugurated by Haakon Shetelig in Shetland and Orkney in 1950.


I thought this opening session was the right time to recall Haakon Shetelig's name, and particularly because this year, 1977, marks the centenary of his birth. Great men are like great mountains: we do not appreciate their magnitude until we are at some distance from them.

Congress Diary:

Members foregathered at Unge Hjems Højskole near Moesgård on Wednesday, 24 August 1977, and the Congress was formally inaugurated next day at Moesgård. Three whole days, 25, 29 and 31 August, and the mornings of three more, 26, 27, and 30 August, were devoted to lectures and discussions. (All but five of the papers advertised or delivered are included in the present Proceedings, though not all under precisely the same title as they originally had, and Breandán Ó Ríordáin's contribution is now supplemented by independent reports from Elisabeth Okasha, G. R. Coope and Hilary Murray.)


The other days and half-days were spent on highly rewarding excursions to sites, churches and museums in Århus, Venge, Viborg, Fyrkat, Aggersborg, Lindholm Høje and Samsø. The Moesgård assembly formally ended on 31 August. Members then split into two parties and spent 1 September travelling to Sandbjerg in southern Jutland near the Danish-German border, one group by way of the Viking Ship Museum in Roskilde and the Ladby Ship on Fyn, the other by way of Jelling, Ravning Enge and Åbenrå. On 2 September members visited the Schloss Gottorp Museum, Hedeby and Danevirke, and they started homeward by way of Ribe on Saturday, 3 September.

Congress Proceedings:

Proceedings of the Eighth Viking Congress. Århus 24-31 August 1977. Ed. Hans Bekker-Nielsen, Peter Foote, Olaf Olsen. Odense 1981.


Prelude. By Dag Strömbäck 1
Was Vinland in Newfoundland? By Einar Haugen 3

The historical context of the first towns in northern and eastern Europe.

By Inge Skovgaard-Petersen



Birka - a planted town serving an increasing agricultural population.

By Björn Ambrosiani



Viking Age villages and "manors" in Denmark. Recent discoveries.

By C.J. Becker



Mints in Viking-Age Scandinavia. By Kolbjørn Skaare 37
Aspects of Viking Dublin. By Breandán Ó Ríordáin 43
Three inscribed objects from Christ Church Place, Dublin. By Elisabeth Okasha 45

Report on the coleoptera from an eleventh-century house at Christ Church

Place, Dublin. By G. R. Coope 



Houses and other structures from the Dublin excavations, 1962-1976;

a summary. By Hilary Murray



Introduction to Viking Århus. By H.J. Madsen 69

Crucifixion iconography in Viking Scandinavia. By Signe Horn Fuglesang

Anglo-Saxon saints in Old Norse sources and vice versa. By Christine E. Fell 95
Aggersborg in the Viking Age. By Else Roesdahl 107

Conquest and colonization: Scandinavians in the Danelaw and in Normandy.

By P. H. Sawyer



Scandinavian settlement in the Danelaw in the light of the place-names

of Denmark. By Gillian Fellows Jensen



The settlers: where do we get them from - and do we need them?

By Niels Lund



The palimpsest of Viking settlement on Man. By Michael Dolley 173
Names of lakes on the Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides. By Magne Oftedal 183
On the development of Faroese Settlements. By Arne Thorsteinsson 189

The conversion of Greenland in written sources. By Ólafur Halldórsson


The last hour of Hallfreðr vandræðaskáld as described in Hallfreðarsaga.

By Bjarni Einarsson



Viking and native in northern England. A case-study. By Christopher D. Morris 223

Recent excavations at the Brough of Birsay, Orkney. By John Hunter

and Christopher D. Morris



War or peace - Viking colonisation in the Northern and Western Isles

of Scotland reviewed. By Iain A. Crawford



Viking shipbuilding and seamanship. By Ole Crumlin-Pedersen 271
The ships of the vikings, were they "Viking ships"? By Alan Binns 287