“beardlessness, the sagas suggest, was not a desirable attribute. In the Saga of Burnt Njal, the eponymous hero is mocked as a ‘beardless old man’ (Old-Beardless) and his children as ‘little dung-beards’ (Dung-beardlings).” My editor once told me that I have a ‘marauding beard’. I’ve never been able to decide whether she meant that theContinue reading “The Marauding Beard”
The September issue of BBC History Magazine is still on news-stands, featuring my article on forgotten battles of the Viking Age. I was delighted to make it onto the cover: Here’s an extract from the pre-publication draft:
But what does it mean for a story to be ‘true’?
Scandinavians traditionally do rather well at the Winter Olympics – for perhaps obvious reasons – but their Viking ancestors would have been no stranger to some of the delights of Sochi. Skis were used and valued in the North. Earl Rognvald I of Orkney boasted that (among several other skills) he could ‘glide on skis’,Continue reading “Vikings in Russia”
Several years ago I worked at the Tower of London. Spending long periods of time within a building of such age, I would often start to wonder about how the area would have looked before the castle was built. Every morning I would pass the remains of Roman walls at Tower Bridge station, walls thatContinue reading “The Vikings are coming …”