Vikings episode 2: Neil Oliver heads out from the Scandinavian homelands to Russia, Turkey and Ireland to trace the beginnings of a vast trading empire that handled Chinese silks as adeptly as Pictish slaves.
Neil discovers a world of ‘starry-eyed maidens‘ and Buddhist statues that are a world away from our British experience of axe-wielding warriors, although it turns out that there were quite a few of those as well.
Neil Oliver’s Vikings episode 2
A shield-maiden was a female warrior from Scandinavian folklore and mythology. It has long been debated whether shield-maidens were fictional or historical personages. The historical existence of shield-maidens is heavily debated. Scholars like Neil Price argue that they existed against scholars like Judith Jesch who cite a lack of evidence for trained or regular women warriors.
Shield-maidens are often mentioned in sagas such as Hervarar saga ok Heiðreks and in Gesta Danorum. They also appear in stories of other Germanic peoples: Goths, Cimbri, and Marcomanni. The mythical Valkyries may have been based on such shield-maidens.
Graves of female settlers containing weapons have been uncovered, but scholars do not agree how these should be interpreted. Norse immigrant graves in England and chemical analysis of the remains suggested a somewhat equal distribution of men and women, suggesting husbands and wives, while some of the women were buried with weapons.
In a tie-in special to the TV series Vikings, Neil Price showed that a 10th Century Birka-burial excavated in the 1970s containing a large number of weapons and the bones of two horses turned out to be the grave of a woman upon bone analysis by Anna Kjellström. In 2017, DNA analysis confirmed that the person was female, the so-called Birka female Viking warrior, but others, including scholar of the Vikings Judith Jesch, say that conclusion is premature.
Examples of shield-maidens mentioned by name in the Norse sagas include Brynhildr in the Vǫlsunga saga, Hervor in Hervarar saga ok Heiðreks, the Brynhildr of the Bósa saga ok Herrauðs, the Swedish princess Thornbjǫrg in Hrólfs saga Gautrekssonar, Princess Hed in Gesta Danorum, Visna in Gesta Danorum and Veborg in Gesta Danorum.
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This was really interesting and enjoyable. I can’t seem to find Episode 1. I’d love to watch it. Does anyone else know?
Sweet! Thank you!
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