If the freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.

- George Washington

Saturday, 8 August 2009

It's Denmark

A decision has been made. Denmark it is. Reasons:
  • Never been there
  • Chance to go abroad on the bike (never done that)
  • Chance to use the Channel Tunnel (never done that either)
  • Interest in runes, and Dark Ages history generally
  • Offer from a local to show me the best bits
  • Chance to meet new people (although this is a bit of an aventure too, as I have no idea if they are middle-aged sprocket-polishers or Hell's Angels wannabees intent on shooting rivals using my bike as the getaway vehicle - but the bikes-only dedicated year-round campsite sounds promising)
  • European beer, in quantities.
And hell, it's an adventure. Why not? Some day I'll be too old for all this stuff.

I now have a new tent!


  1. Sounds like a good call to me. Have Pan, will travel...

    Internet gamers, though - you're probably safe on the mass-murdering of civilians front, but possibly not from having to play online Risk!

    But seriously, respect to the guys for making the offer. Hope it's as good as it sounds and you can come back having learned all the true names of the Futhark (preferably without having to trade an eye and three nights hanging on an ash tree to do so).

  2. I even said to Anna that if the Pan throws its teddy out of the pram before I leave, I will do it on the XT. Slower, and with less luggage, but a sight more biker cred! Well done recognising the difference between the Futhark and the Futhorc! Although would that be the Elder or Younger Futhark?

    It's a great offer, and I am sure it will work out OK. If it doesn't, I shall just leave early and meander back to Blighty, calling in at a lot of places I have never been to before, so win/win, I think.

  3. Student of the classics, me - I loved all the old Norse Eddas. Translated, of course.
    Elder Futhark for outright power and mysticism, Younger for more subtlety and extended characters post 8th-century and roughly contiguous with going a-Viking, futhorc if you'd like to go with the Anglo-Saxon variant. (For anyone else who wants a very potted history of runic languages)!
    Really does sound like a good trip - I'm quite envious! Any idea when you'll be off?

  4. Looks like the middle of September, although I am still waiting for approval of my days from work. They are dragging their heels, which I consider a bit off, since I have worked right through Summer for them!

    Can't decide between going Harwich-Esbjerg (more money than I haven't got, but two days extra in Dk) and Dover-Calais (cheaper, but a ride through some of the most congested motorways in Yurp).

    I did a course in Old Norse as part of my English degree back on 72. I loved it, although I didn't have time to get into the language, which would have improved the experience no end. Like you did, it was all in translation. I did a bit of work on some English runes as well, which meant research into all the euro stuff, and rumour has it that there are quite a few in Dk, so that's on the list of Things To See. I loved the sagas and the eddas and all. I'm sure I heard of a hero who was famed for his long sea journeys, name of Harald Hardarss or similar, but for the life of me I can't find anything about him on the Web. Was I dreaming it?

  5. You wouldn't be thinking of Harald Sigurdsson Hardrada (Hard Ruler), by any chance? Invaded England in 1066, just before Willy the Conk did, and was thrashed at the Battle of Stamford Bridge (Yorkshire, not Chelsea!). Often described as the last of the Viking Kings and famously fond of his banner "Land-Destroyer". I don't recall him described as being a great seafarer, but he did spend a lot of time in exile fighting in the Balkans, Sicily, Turkey - must've got there somehow!

  6. No, it wasn't Harald Hardrada - he's too well-known. The forename I have made up; it could easily have been Erik or Sigurd, or anything else. It was in the textbook I had (it's all coming back now), in one of the footnotes. I paraphrase:

    1 His cousin, Sigurd Sagawritersson, made many journeys to the New World by longship, and was known by the nickname Hardarss. The derivation of this nomenclature is unknown.

    It'll turn up one day!

    By the way, I used to live in Stamford Bridge. There was a field on the higher land above the river on the SW (i.e. English) side, called Battle Flatts. It had been farmland since 1066, and presumably for long before that. Barratts built a housing estate on it when I lived there (about 1980-ish) and they turned up literally thousands of arrow-heads, sword-hilts, and all sorts of bits and bobs. I think they were all sent to York Museum. If you read the accounts of the battle, the Vikings broke across the bridge (still a pub on the site called The Swordsman) and the battle took place immediately on the English side, so it all fits.

    I miss living in England. There's plenty of history around me in Wales, but in England it's 'my' history, if that makes sense.

  7. Didn't really think it would be, in all honesty! Although I'm not so sure he'd qualify as well-known to a vast proportion of the population these days, given how few school-leavers can correctly identify Hitler or Churchill...
    Still, having lived on the very doorstep of the battle, I'd imagine you know the story better than I do!
    There's some interesting stuff on
    Google under hardarss. "Interesting" in the sense of illiterate and obscene, that is. Not in the sense of helpful, though, sadly.
    Could be time to dust off the Vinland Sagas: seems the most likely starting place...but let us know if you remember, I'm curious now!

  8. I'll have to find what the book was - not sure I still have it. I can see the page, and the footnote it was in, but I have no idea what happened to the book. I'll be sure to let you know if I find out! Perhaps someone in Denmark will know :)


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