THE LEGEND OF BJÖRN IRONSIDE
Bjorn Ironside was a famous Viking leader who legends say ruled Sweden as the first king from the House of Munsö. He lived during the 9th century AD and his father was the legendary Ragnar Lodbrok. Ironside followed family tradition in raiding and he used his skills to trick his way into the Eternal City, which he promptly looted.
Like their father, the sons of Ragnar Lodbrok conducted raids around Europe. In The Saga of Ragnar Lodbrok and His Sons , it is stated that Bjorn Ironside and his brothers continued their father’s raiding activities, and terrorized the areas of England, Normandy, France, and Lombardy.
The Saga of Ragnar Lodbrok and His Sons mentions that “Bjorn Ironside got Uppsala and central Sweden and all the lands that belong to that,” Thus, it has been claimed that Bjorn was a king of Sweden, and the founder of the House of Munsö.
During the 18th century, a barrow was discovered on the island of Munsö and antiquarians claimed that it belonged to Bjorn, thus naming his dynasty after this island.
THE LEGEND OF FENRIR
One of the three children of Loki by a giantess (jötunn) named Angrboða, Fenrir plays an imperative, though short, role in Norse mythology. A wolf of remarkable size and strength, Fenrir has one major story recorded in the Norse sagas, yet this singular story paints a picture of bravery for one god and an omen of death for the rest of them. Fenrir, unfortunately for the Æsir and Vanir, turned out to be one of the many foreshadowing signs of the end of the Norse world: Ragnarök
Though the tales from the ancient Norse religion span centuries, this tale is the only one that mentions the pertinence of Fenrir's character. The wolf spent his life sealed away on an island far from other beings, kept in confinement until the fates of the gods could no longer be prevented. His story is an important one to be told, however, as his role is most the poignant of those of his fellow family members. It is his father Loki who will lead the jötunns and the forces of Niflheim against the Æsir during Ragnarök, and his sibling Jörmungandr whose thrashing will set Fenrir loose from Gleipnir. But it is Fenrir who will slay the chieftain of the gods himself, and for that, Fenrir will always be remembered.
LEGEND OF THE VEGVÍSIR
Although there is no certain knowledge of the Vegvisir’s origins and when it was used the first time, some people believe the symbol was used for navigational purposes by the Vikings.
Archeological findings revealed that the Vikings used a ‘sunstone’, a sun compass of sorts while they sailed around the world from North America to Far East. While the said sun compass does not look anything like the Vegvisir and/or have such markings on it, it might be the inspiration behind the symbol according to some experts.
It is believed that the eight Viking rune staves comprising the Vegvisir could be representing the cardinal (North, South, West, East) and intercardinal directions (Northwest, Northeast, Southwest, Southeast).
Some people believe that a nail placed right in the middle of the Vegvisir would tell of directions (through its shadow’s position at certain times of day) and help the Vikings navigate the seas.
On a side note, in some legends, it is mentioned that the Vegvisir would be drawn on Viking ships to help them find their way back and come back home safely.
Today, the Vegvisir is used as symbol of Icelandic culture while people of Asatru faith also use it to identify themselves and as a symbol of spiritual guidance.
LEGEND OF RAGNAR LODBROK
Ragnar Lothbrok was a Danish Viking warlord and a renowned hero of Norse history who lived in the 9th century. The legendary Viking, who was also the king of Denmark and Sweden, was also known as Ragnar Sigurdsson as he was told to be Danish King Sigurd Ring’s son (or Hring) in some accounts.
Both the name Ragnar and the nickname “Lothbrok”, which must not be confused with a surname, had many variations in the accounts of the age. Sometimes his name could be written as Regnar or Regner whereas his nickname/epithet could be written as Lodbrok or Lodbrog.
Ragnar’s epithet Lothbrok could be interpreted as “hairy breeches” in the Old Norse language.It could also mean “dirty breeches” according to some.
The epithet is believed to be derived from the breeches he wore while fighting a poison-breathing serpent (or a dragon according to some accounts) in one of the sagas featuring Ragnar Lothbrok.
LEGEND OF THE SHIELD-MAIDEN LAGERTHA
Lagertha was a member of Norwegian King Siward’s court/household. After Frø, Sweden’s king of the time, attacked and invaded Norway, he killed Siward and put the royal women in his family in a brothel to humiliate them. Upon getting the news about his grandfather’s demise and what Frø did to his family, Ragnar Lothbrok came to avenge Siward and rescue the women.
Impressed with her courage, Ragnar courted her from afar. Lagertha feigned interest and Ragnar arrived to seek her hand, bidding his companions wait in the Gaular valley. He was set upon by a bear and a great hound which Lagertha had guarding her home, but killed the bear with his spear and choked the hound to death. Thus he won the hand of Lagertha. According to Saxo, Ragnar had a son with her, Fridleif, as well as two daughters, whose names are not recorded.
After returning to Denmark to fight a civil war, Ragnar (who, according to Saxo, was still annoyed that Lagertha had set beasts against him) divorced Lagertha in order to marry Thora Borgarhjört (Þóra Borgarhjǫrtr), daughter of King Herald (Herrauðr) of Sweden. He won the hand of his new love after numerous adventures, but upon returning to Denmark was again faced with a civil war. Ragnar sent to Norway for support, and Lagertha, who still loved him, came to his aid with 120 ships, according to Saxo. When at the height of the battle, Ragnar's son Siward was wounded, Lagertha saved the day for Ragnar with a counter-attack.
Lagertha, who had a matchless spirit though a delicate frame, covered by her splendid bravery the inclination of the soldiers to waver. For she made a sally about, and flew round to the rear of the enemy, taking them unawares, and thus turned the panic of her friends into the camp of the enemy.
Lagertha was a brave and fierce woman who will always be remembered as an amazing Shield-Maiden.