AFTER the death of his father, Ivar did not become the Hersir of Gotland
before the Thing, or assembly, of the people had ratified his
hersirship; for though it was hereditary, no one could rule without the
consent of the Thingmen, who could, when occasion became necessary,
deprive a man of his dignity and of his hersirship, for the Hersir had
to obey the laws as well as the humblest man of the land, and the
greatest power of the land was the Thing.

Before assuming the dignity of Hersir, and consequently that of High
Priest of Gotland, Ivar made a sacrifice before the people, and
according to ancient custom, he killed a ram, reddening his hands in its
blood, and then declared the godship of Hjorvard to be his; after this
ceremony he was to rule over the sacrifices at Dampstadir.

He remained at home waiting till the “arvel,” or inheritance feast, of
his father had taken place, for he could not get his inheritance before
that time. According to ancient custom, the inheritance feast had to be
made during the year in which the person died for whom the inheritance
feast was made, and the man who gave it could not occupy the high seat
of him from whom he inherited until the “arvel” was drunk. Hjorvard,
being of Odin’s family and a powerful Hersir, the feast was to be of
great splendor. Ivar and his kinsmen decided that it should take place
ten months after Hjorvard’s burning journey. Ivar sent ships and
messengers all over the Viking lands to bid high-born men and kinsmen to
come and make the feast with him, and arrange that all possible honor
should be paid to Hjorvard, his father.

According to ancient laws, the high seat of Hjorvard was to remain
vacant until the “arvel” should take place. When warriors gathered into
the hall, the empty high seat of the departed Hersir and great Viking
chief reminded them of their absent friend, who had so many times drunk
with them, and with whom they had gone to war and won victory and
wealth. In the evenings the scalds, who had been with him in all his
fights, recited before the assembled guests the great deeds he had
accomplished, and which they had seen as they looked upon the contending
foemen from the shield-burg, or wall of shields, that surrounded them
and the standards. They told of many fatal combats between champion and
champion, or between ship and ship that had grappled each other, and how
Hjorvard had twice, during his life, cleared of warriors the decks of
two ships.

Things followed the even tenor of their way in Dampstadir. Sigrlin
continued to superintend the estate, as she had done in her husband’s
time when he was on Viking expeditions. Ivar helped her, and saw that
the ships were kept in perfect order and well tarred and painted, and
that new ones were built. The slaves, dressed in their white woollen
coarse stuff, with short cropped hair, were busy with the different
tasks assigned to them, and the free servants attended to their work.

Ivar himself superintended the cultivation of the lands, for he was a
good husbandman, and sometimes was seen forging a sword, or
superintending the construction of a ship. As a pastime, he often played
chess with the old land defenders of his father, or went hawking, but
above all, he loved to sit on Hjorvard’s mound; from there he
contemplated the sea. The paths which every ship had made, ploughing its
way, were unseen, and for this reason one of the figurative names given
to the sea by the Norsemen was the Unseen Path.

One day, as Ivar was seated with Hjalmar on the mound of Hjovard, and
was in one of his meditative moods, he said: “After all, Hjalmar, a man
is not utterly unhappy, even though he be in ill health; some are happy
in sons or in daughters, some in kinsmen, some in much wealth, some in
good deeds, and some in friends. To his friend a man should be a friend,
to him and to his friend, but no man should be the friend of his enemy’s
friend. If thou hast a friend whom thou trustest well, and if thou wilt
get good from him, thou must blend thoughts with him, and go often and
meet him. Be never the first to forsake the company of thy friends;
sorrow eats the heart of him who cannot tell all his mind to one. I was
young once, I travelled, and missed my way. When I met another man I
thought myself wealthy. Man is the delight of man. The fir tree withers
that stands on a fenced field; neither bark nor foliage shelters it.
Thus is a man whom no one loves. Why should he live long? Brand is
kindled from brand, till it is burned out. Fire is kindled from fire. A
man gets knowledge by talking with man. It is long out of one’s way to
go to one you do not like, though he lives near by; but to a good friend
there are short paths, though he be far off. I came much too early to
many places, and too late to some; the ale was drunk, or it was
unbrewed. An unwelcome man seldom finds the ale ready.”

Then he added: “A homestead is best, though it be small; for a man is at
home there, though he have but two goats and a straw-thatched house. We
contemplate many a humble dwelling from here; in many of these happiness
and joy are to be found—more so, almost always, than in the halls of the
wealthy. The fire and the sight of the sun are the best things among the
sons of men; then his good health and a blameless life, if he can keep

Ivar had taken great pains that nothing should be wanting to make the
“arvel” of his father more famous than any one that had taken place in
the Norseland within the memory of man. He had had two large festive
halls built for a great number of guests who were coming. Nothing had
been spared to give wide-spread fame to the arvel, which was to last two

Several great Hersirs had sent word to him that they were coming to make
the arvel with him, and so arrange that as much honor as possible should
be paid to Hjorvard, his father. The Hersirs of Svithjod, Gardariki,
Holmgard, Fyen, and Zeeland were to be among the guests.

A fortnight before the time that had been decided for the arvel, the
people who lived the farthest began to arrive, for they wanted to make
sure that no contrary winds or other obstacle should cause their
absence. The day appointed for the beginning of the feast, every guest
was present.

It was according to ancient custom that when an “arvel” was held after
the death of Hersirs and high-born men, he who gave it and was to
receive the inheritance should sit on the step in front of the high seat
of the deceased until the horn, called Bragi’s horn, was brought in,
when he had to rise, take the horn, make a vow, and drain it to the
bottom. After this he was to be led to the high seat of his deceased
kinsman, and was then the owner of the inheritance.

Before taking his inheritance, in presence of all the assembled guests,
Ivar seated himself on the steps leading to the high seat of Hjorvard,
his father. On the first evening many horns were filled and drunk to the
memory of the departed kinsman. The second night the horns to Odin,
Njord, and Frey were drunk, after which the horn to Bragi was filled,
and over it vows were made. The scene was very impressive. Vow after vow
was sworn by prominent men to accomplish some great deeds that would be
known all over the northern lands.

Then Ivar rose and made the vow that, within two years, he would avenge
the death of his father, or die in the attempt, closing with “So help
me, Odin, Njord, and Frey.” After this oath, his kinsmen led him into
the high seat of Hjorvard, his father, and thenceforth he was entitled
to his father’s inheritance.

After the feast was over, Ivar gave costly gifts to all the prominent
men who had come to help him by their presence, and minor ones to those
less prominent who had come with them, and all departed with many
protestations of friendship, declaring that it was the greatest
inheritance feast they had ever seen.

A short time after Ivar had given his inheritance feast, another death
in the family took place. As he was drinking with his men, a messenger
came to him with the news that Ingimund, one of his uncles, living in
the eastern part of the island, on the shore of a bay to-day called
Tangvide, had died suddenly in his high seat. The death of Ingimund
caused great sorrow among all the people, for he was much beloved, and
many went to him for advice, for he had an excellent knowledge of the
laws. The sorrow about his death was the greater, because he had not
thrown himself down from some high cliff, from whence he would have gone
to Valhalla, as he had never been fated by the Nornir to die on the
battle-field and by weapons. He had intended to do so, and had often
said that he did not want to die in bed, for it was the custom for
warriors overtaken by old age to die by throwing themselves from cliffs,
and going to Odin, thus showing that they were not afraid of death.

Ivar and many of the people of Dampstadir made ready to go to the
funeral of Ingimund. When they reached his home, a large mortuary
chamber of solid timber was made, and a cairn thrown over it, leaving
the entrance to the chamber free.

Great preparations were made for the journey of Ingimund to Hel, the
world of the dead who had not died in arms, or sought Valhalla of
themselves. After Ivar’s arrival, the sons of Ingimund came to him and
said: “Thou art the head of our kinsmen, and thou knowest that it is the
custom from immemorial time when a man does not die by weapons to make
him ready for his journey to Hel. We ask of thee to put the Hel-shoes on
the feet of our dead father, for, as thou knowest, the ancient faith
that has come down to us tells us that such shoes should go to Hel with
the man that takes that journey. Therefore we will dress Ingimund
splendidly, for when a man dresses well when he goes out of our world,
and is a long time in dressing, he is said to prepare himself for Hel.”

Ivar answered: “I will put and tie the Hel-shoes on Ingimund’s feet, as
you ask me.”

The shoes were put on. After he had tied them, Ivar said: “I know not
how to tie Hel-shoes if these are unfastened on the journey to Hel.”

Then he asked the people to see if they were well tied. After looking at
them, those that were present said: “Well done, Ivar; these shoes cannot
possibly be untied, and the journey of Ingimund to Hel will be without

The body of Ingimund was dressed superbly. He was clad in his war
apparel: he had on his gold chain-armor, and wore his helmet; his
ornamented shield was laid on his breast, and his sword by his side; his
rings and bracelets of gold were on his hands and arms, and thus he was
laid on a bed in the mortuary chamber. At his feet and at his head were
put several beautiful Roman and Greek bronze vases; some exquisitely
beautiful Grecian cups of glass, ornamented with fine paintings; a
Samian vase; a Roman sieve of bronze; a pair of tweezers of gold; a fine
bone-comb, and other objects, among which were several coins of
Diocletian, who was Roman emperor at the time. Then, as the chamber was
closed, all present wished Ingimund a happy journey to Hel; and to this
day the stranger sees, as he sails along the eastern shores of Gotland,
among the large cairns that overlook the sea, that of Ingimund.

STARKAD, who had given the mortal wound to Hjorvard, feared Ivar’s
enmity, and that of his kinsmen and foster-brothers, and wished to pay
“weregild,” or indemnity, for his death. He had heard of the vow of
Ivar, and knew that sooner or later he would avenge the death of his
father, for there was a saying, that there was a wolf’s mind in a son.
Accordingly, he sent a man called Nidud, a great warrior, to Dampstadir,
to offer Ivar indemnity.

When Nidud came to the banqueting hall, the men were seated on the
benches round the fires, drinking their beloved beer, mead, and ale. On
his arrival all became silent, for the warriors knew that great news was
to be told. Ivar bade Nidud to sit on the second high seat, and it was
not long before the silence was interrupted by the rising of Nidud, who,
in a chilling voice, said: “Starkad has sent me here to thee, Ivar, with
costly presents, and I have ridden through the length of Gotland to bid
thee, and also thy foster-brothers, to his hall, and to the benches
facing the tables. Come all, with your eagle-beaked helmets, to get
honor and large gifts, helmets and shields, swords and saxes,
chain-armor, horses, and costly garments, gold and silver, and large
estates. Thou, Ivar, will get indemnity for thy father’s death, and be
reconciled to Starkad.”

Ivar wondered if Starkad had a wolf’s mind, and meant, cunningly and
treacherously, to attack him with an overwhelming host if he came with
but few men. He answered: “I and my foster-brothers own seven halls full
of swords; their hilts are of gold, and their scabbards are ornamented
also with gold. Our swords and saxes are the sharpest, our ‘brynjas’ are
the whitest and brightest, our arrows are the fleetest, our spears the
surest, our horses the best; we have no lack of gold and silver, for our
treasures are among the greatest in the northern lands.”

Nidud replied: “Here is the message and invitation in writing which
Starkad sends thee, Ivar. It is written in mystic runes;” and he handed
a stick on which the invitation had been written.

Then Ivar read the message, and turning his head to his foster-brothers
said to them in a low voice: “I shall not accept his invitation and the
indemnity he offers to me.”

“I wonder at his offer,” replied Hjalmar. “He has seldom done this
before, for he is of a miserly mind. Let us confer together alone.” So
Ivar told Nidud they would give him an answer the next day; and, bidding
his champions to entertain Nidud and his men until he came back, left
the hall with his foster-brother.

“I am surprised at the costly things Starkad has sent thee,” said
Sigurd. “But among them I noticed a ring with a wolf’s hair attached to
it. I think some one warns thee and us that he has a wolf’s mind towards
us, and means treachery.”

“It must be some woman who loves us,” replied Ivar. “Whom do we know
among women in Starkad’s realm? Let us try and recall.”

After a silence which lasted some time, during which the two
foster-brothers remained plunged in thought, Hjalmar said: “Herborg the
Lovely must have tied this wolf’s hair there,” pointing to the ring.
“She is his sister, and thinks well of us all.”

“I am sure she loves thee, Hjalmar,” said Ivar.

“I think not,” replied his foster-brother; “but I believe she likes us
very much, and has for us the greatest friendship. It is just like a
woman—kind-hearted, noble in friendship, and true to the end of life.”

Then they looked carefully at the “kelfi,” or stick, upon which runic
messages were carved or written, when suddenly they discovered that some
of the letters had been changed with a great deal of skill. Then they
inspected most minutely every letter, and found that with the invitation
there was also a warning for Ivar not to come, or if he came, to bring
many warriors and champions with him.

In the meantime, Nidud, and the men who had come with him, and the
champions of Ivar drank merrily, Nidud praising highly the gifts the
champions were to receive when they came to visit Starkad.

Sigrlin was not long in hearing of the invitation of Starkad, and the
following morning she came to Ivar just as he was making ready to go to
the banqueting hall, and said to him: “Ivar, I had a dream last night
which I am going to tell thee. It is a warning of the gods, and thou
must not go.”

“What was the dream, mother?” Ivar inquired.

“It seemed to me thy sheets burned in fire, and that a mighty flame
burst through thy house.”

“Here lie linen clothes, for which thou carest little; they will soon
burn,” answered Ivar. “This is where thou didst see sheets burning.”

“But,” Sigrlin continued, “I thought a white bear had come in here. He
broke through the walls; he shook his paws so that we were frightened;
he caught many of us in his grasp, so that we were helpless, and there
was a great struggle amongst us to be free from him.”

“That,” said Ivar, “is a storm that will arise, and soon become violent,
and thy white bear will prove a rain-storm from the east.”

“I thought an eagle flew in here,” persisted Sigrlin, “through the
length of the house; it bespattered us with blood. That forebode, I
thought, a heavy fight. It was the shape of Starkad.”

“We kill cattle speedily when we see blood; it often means oxen when we
dream of eagles,” replied Ivar, reassuringly.

“I fancied I saw a gallows made for thee, and that thou wert going to
hang thereon. I thought I buried thee alive. I saw also a bloody sword
drawn out of thy body; a spear, I thought, had pierced thy side; wolves
howled at both its ends. It is sad to tell of such a dream to such a son
as thou art; but thou art all I have in the world, and I think our own
Disirs, or family spirits, warn us of danger, Ivar.”

“They were dogs that ran, instead of wolves; they were barking loudly.”

“It seemed to me that a river ran through the length of the house,
roaring in anger, rushing over the benches, bruising the feet of thy
foster-brothers; the water spared nothing. This forebode something, I am
sure. It seemed to me, also, that dead women came hither this night;
they bade thee to come quickly to them and their benches. This must
forebode something. I say again, that I fear that the guardian spirits
of our family have abandoned thee, and that they are to be faithless to

“Mother, be not afraid,” returned Ivar, earnestly. “Dreams are not
always warnings from the gods, though I must say that what thou tellest
me is strange; but thou knowest well that no one can escape his fate,
and what the Nornir have decreed must take place.”

Then they separated, and Ivar went to the hall, his mother following him
soon afterwards, and found there the messengers waiting for his answer
to the invitation of Starkad.

The hall was filled with guests, and the ale was passed round. A hush
fell upon the throng as Ivar entered, and in the midst of expectant
attention, anxious looks, and profound silence, he said, with a voice
loud, but full of emotion: “Nidud, and you men who have come with him,
go and tell Starkad, your lord, that I have vowed at the arvel of my
father, in presence of my kinsmen and kinswomen, and of the high-born of
the land, and of the men of great renown who came from Gaul, Britain,
and the remotest countries where Norsemen have settled, that I would
within two years avenge the death of Hjorvard, my father, or perish in
the attempt. Tell him, also, that my foster-brothers and my kinsmen will
avenge his death and mine if I fall. Tell Starkad that there is no
weregild large enough to indemnify me for the death of my father, and
that when he slew him, he slew one of the bravest and most high-minded
of men. Tell him that the time of revenge is soon coming.”

“Well answered, my son,” shouted Sigrlin at the top of her voice; “the
kinsmen of Hjorvard are not all dead yet, and Starkad will find it out.”

These utterances were received with loud assent on the part of Ivar’s
followers present, and with mortification and chagrin by the messengers
of Starkad, who immediately took their departure.

AFTER the departure of the messengers of Starkad, Ivar summoned a Thing,
at which it was resolved that war should be declared against Starkad the
following spring. Then Ivar sent word of his intention far and wide, to
all his kinsmen, and called on all his tributary chiefs to be ready to
join him in the expedition. The war arrows were forwarded by messengers,
who carried them on fully-manned ships, by night and by day, or on the
high roads. The law was, that if a man neglected to carry the arrow he
became an outlaw; if the messenger came to where a woman lived alone,
she was bound to procure ships, food, and men, if she could, if not the
arrow was to be carried onward; if a man remained seated quietly after
he had received the arrow, and paid no attention to it, he was outlawed.

Messengers, who were the highest-born men of the land, were sent to
Starkad to tell him that Ivar and a large host would advance against him
the following spring, and to choose, as he was the challenged man,
according to ancient custom, the battle-field where the conflict should
take place, and to “enhazel,” or stake out with hazel poles, the field.

Starkad sent word back that he had chosen a battle-field near his burg,
which was in the southern part of the peninsula of Jutland. Then Starkad
himself sent out the war arrow, and summoned men from all his realm, and
all the chiefs who paid him tribute. Every male from fifteen years of
age was under obligation to come, and every horse three years old was to
be drafted.

On both sides the time was thenceforward employed in making
preparations, and in the spring Ivar set sail with a very large fleet
for the place appointed as the field of battle. On the day of his
departure from Dampstadir he said: “The dark ravens have awakened early
this morning; thus of yore screamed the hawks of Gun the Valkyria before
chiefs were death-fated; then the birds of Odin, Hugin and Munin, came
to tell him of the fray, so that he should make Valhalla ready.”

Many champions came to join the standards of Starkad. Among the foremost
was Atli the Valiant, who had come with a great host—Svein, Gnepi the
Old, Gard, Brand, Teit, Hjalti, Storkud. In his body-guard were the
champions Borgar, Barri and Toki. Ubi the Frisian was one of the
foremost and most renowned of warriors, and many others who were
destined to perform great deeds of valor on the battle-field came also.

The Hersirs who had also come with a great host were Tryggvy and Alrek,
both very skilled with their swords, and Stein, and Styr the Strong.

Among the Amazons who had come to Starkad were Heid and Visma, each of
whom had come with a numerous host. Visma carried the standard of
Starkad. With her were the champions Kari and Milva. Many Vends, a
people living on the southeastern shores of the Baltic, were in her
following. They were easily recognized, for they had long swords and
elongated, narrow shields. She herself was a superb woman of twenty-five
summers, with long, fair hair floating from under her golden helmet,
reaching far below her waist, and resting on the back of her horse. Her
sword was of the best and sharpest. She had accustomed herself from her
childhood so well to the use of shield and sword and chain-armor, that
she was one of the foremost in horsemanship and in the handling of
weapons, and the champions who could successfully compete with her were
very few. She always rode a magnificent white charger.

Heid had also come with many renowned champions. She was twenty-eight
years old, above medium height, full chested, her limbs of splendid
proportions. Her hair was of the color of ripened wheat, and glossy,
and, like Visma’s, fell far below her waist. She rode a superb black
steed, and when under helmet and chain-armor, and with shield and sword,
was the perfect ideal of a shield-maiden.

Many great chiefs had joined Ivar’s standard. He had gathered men from
many realms—from all over Svithjod, Gotland, from the shores of the
Cattegat, from Gautaland, from many herads of the present Norway, and
even men of Norse ancestry from Britain and Gaul.

Of the foremost champions of Ivar were Hersir Ali the Brave, and Storkud
the Old, who had travelled far and wide, and had fought under many
Hersirs during their lives; Rognvald the Tall; Ragnar, who was the
greatest of all his champions, and who was always foremost at the point
of the wedge; Thrond and Thorir; Helgi the White; Half; Erling the
Snake-eyed; Holmstein, and Einar.

The great champions of Svithjod were Aki, Eyvind and Egil.

The Hersirs who had come with hosts of their own were Hrani, Svein the
Reaper, Soknarsoti, Hrolf the Woman-loving, Dag the Stout, Gerdar the
Glad, Glum the Fearless, Saxi the Plunderer, and many other champions
who were eager to show their prowess.

Among the shield-maidens, or Amazons, was Vejborg. A great host and many
chiefs and champions followed her. Vejborg was the personification of a
fury; she was extremely beautiful, had an exquisite figure, light blue
eyes, flaxen hair. Her eyes when under the excitement of battle seemed
to throw fire, and she looked superb under helmet and chain-armor. Her
horse was of a dark chestnut color.

Great, indeed, was the assemblage of warriors on both sides. On the side
of Ivar were thirty-three “Fylkings,” or legions, and five thousand men
were in each Fylking.

On the side of Starkad were twenty-six Fylkings, with a less number of
men than Ivar had in each Fylking.

When they had reached the neighborhood of the chosen battle-field, they
pitched their war tents and slept during the night.

The host of Starkad lay likewise in their tents, not far off, while
Starkad went alone to consult his mother, who was a woman of great
experience and wisdom. He told her that there would be not less than two
to one against him.

She replied: “I would have reared thee in my wool chest if I had been
certain that thou wouldst live forever. Better is it to die with honor
than to live in shame. Take this standard, which I have made with my
best skill, and which I believe will be victorious for those before whom
it is carried.”

The standard, covered with exquisite handiwork, was in the shape of a
raven, and when the wind blew on it, it seemed as if the raven spread
his wings. Starkad became very angry at his mother’s words, and left her
and did not take her standard.

The belligerents arranged their hosts in battle array, and much thought
and skill were required. Part of the host on each side was arranged in
wedge shape.

Bruni was considered very wise, and arranged the host of Starkad. On the
apex of the wedge, or array, he put the shield-maiden Heid with her
standard. With her were one hundred champions who were all berserks.
They formed the shield-burg; among these were the scalds Eivind and
Amund. On one of the other points of the wedge he put Visma with her
standard and powerful following; on the other wing was Toki. The
standards were carried in front of him. There were many great champions
with him; among them were Alfar and Alfarin, sons of Gandalf the Hersir,
who had been in the body-guard of Starkad’s father.

Herlief was considered the wisest in the host of Ivar, and Ivar bade him
arrange his host in battle order, and to assign to each man the standard
under which he was to fight.

At the apex of the wedge he placed the shield-maiden Vejborg with one
hundred berserks, who guarded her standard and formed the shield-burg,
and among these were the most valiant men of the land.

In front of the standards of the host of Ivar stood Adils the Gay, from
Upsalir; he was not in the Fylkings. With him were the champions
Sigvaldi, who had come with eleven ships; Tryggvy and Tvividil, each of
whom had come with twelve dragon-ships; Lœsir, who had only one skeid, a
most beautiful and formidable craft, entirely manned by berserks; Eirik,
from Helsing, who had come with a large dragon-ship, manned also by
berserks. Besides these great champions, there were others of equal
valor. Among them were Thorkel the Stubborn, Thorlief the Overbearing,
Hadd the Hard.

When all the preparations for the conflict were ready, Ivar sent Herlief
to see how Starkad had drawn up his host, and how many men he had, and
to stake the battle-field with him. Herlief reported that Starkad also
had drawn up most of his men in wedge shape.

Starkad, in his turn, sent Bruni to see how Ivar had arranged his men.

When the hosts were ready for battle, Visma said to her champions: “Make
your weapons ready, and thou, Eivind, ride to the host of Ivar the
Gotlander, and challenge him to battle.”

Eivind did so, and, according to the custom, sent an arrow over the
host, and shouted to them: “Odin owns you all.”

Then Ivar sent Alrek towards the host of Starkad, and he threw a spear
into the host, and shouted also: “Odin owns you all.”

Both sides had the war-horn sounded and the red shields raised, and gave
their war-cries. Then Ivar said: “If Odin does not want to grant me
victory, as he has always done before, may he let me fall in the battle
with all my host, and all the men who fall on this battle-field I give
to Odin.”

The arrays met, and the battle from the first raged fiercely. Soon the
champion Ubi the Frisian advanced in front of the host of Ivar, and
attacked the apex of the array of Vejborg, and first of all the champion
Rognvald. The single combat ended by Rognvald’s fall, and then Ubi
rushed at Tryggvy and gave him his death-wound. When the sons of Alrek
saw Ubi’s furious rush into the host, they sought him out, but he slew
them both, and then every one retreated before him.

Meantime Hjalti, a champion of Starkad, attacked Ivar, and the contest
lasted long, but finally Ivar with a blow of his sword gave him his
death-wound. Then the champion Gnepi the Old met Ivar, and they fiercely
attacked each other; but at last Gnepi too fell, pierced with many
wounds, but displaying great courage to the end.

Then Ivar seeing the havoc made by Ubi, and fearful that his host would
become demoralized by such an onslaught, said to Sigmund, his
foster-brother, “Thou hadst better ride to Vejborg and tell her how
matters stand.” Vejborg, when apprised of the great danger that menaced
Ivar, made a terrible onset on Starkad’s host. First she attacked the
champion Barri, dealing him blow after blow, and so quickly that he
could only protect himself with his shield, and this only for a time,
for one of her lightning strokes soon cleft his shield, and giving him a
wound that disabled him, she left him. Then Styr the Strong met her.
They attacked each other with great fierceness, but the throng of
warriors was so great that they were separated against their will.
Finally, after slaying Toki and several other champions whose hard fate
placed them in her path, and after exhibiting the greatest valor, she
fell herself under the sword of the champion Hjalti. After her fall,
great events happened in a short time, first one array, then another,
getting the upper hand. Hundreds of men on either side were doomed never
to return home, and great was the host which was to enter Valhalla.

When the evening came, the white shields were raised and the truce
proclaimed. The combatants went to their tents and dressed their wounds.

Early the following morning the conflict was renewed. After the battle
had raged fiercely for a season, Ivar attacked the apex of the array of
Starkad. His father’s sword Hrotti shone like fire, and he cut down the
host of Starkad like saplings. Neither helmet, chain-armor, nor shield
could withstand his blows. He went through the host with his
foster-brothers, and slew all those who were in his way. The
shield-maiden Heid, seeing the appalling death of men in the array of
Starkad, rushed towards Ivar. Many men engaged in single combat stopped
by common accord to see the conflict. Her fiery steed, white with froth,
seemed to enjoy the fray. Heid’s hair was loose and dishevelled, and
swung to and fro, following the motion of her body; her eyes seemed to
send out flashes of fire; lightning seemed to spring from her sword as
it struck that of Ivar. Never in his life had Ivar been so hard pressed,
but finally the pressure of other combatants separated them.

Ubi the Frisian advanced before the host of Ivar, and all retraced their
steps before him, so deadly were his blows. When the archers recognized
him, they said, “We will not shoot elsewhere, but let us all aim our
arrows at this man for a while, for we will never get the victory until
he is dead.” The most skilled archers began to shoot at Ubi, and he fell
at last, but not before twenty-five arrows had been sent into his body,
and not before he had slain six champions, severely wounded eleven
others, and killed sixteen Sviar and Gotlanders, that stood in front of
the ranks.

After the death of Ubi, the host of Ivar made a fierce attack on the
host of Starkad, and nothing could resist them. When Starkad saw this
great slaughter of his men, he urged his host not to let one man
overcome all, such valiant and proud men as they were. He shouted,
“Where is Storkud, who until now has always borne the shield of

Storkud, who was near, answered: “We will try to gain a victory; though
where Ivar is, a man may be fully tried.”

He rushed to the front, towards Ivar; a fierce fight ensued, and Storkud
fell. Great, indeed, was the slaughter of men.

When Heid the shield-maiden saw so many valiant men fall, she rushed
forward, and however valiant and skilful a man was in the handling of
his sword, he was almost sure to meet his death while fighting against

Ivar entreated his men to take her alive, but she would not be taken,
and fell fighting furiously. As she fell, Ivar sang: “Sunk to the ground
is Heid the shield-maiden. The Sviar have slain her, and with her many
of her champions. She was more at home in the fight than talking with a
wooer, or going to the bridal bench with bridesmaids.”

When Starkad looked over the wing Heid commanded, and saw how it had
diminished, he sang: “Many were we when we drank the mead; now we are
fewer, when we should be more. I do not see one among my men who can
carry a shield and meet Ivar’s host; nevertheless I will carry a shield
with what is left of my men, and go and fight the Gotlanders and their

Then he advanced towards the host of Ivar, and at last the decisive
conflict took place. Both sides fought with the greatest fury. The field
of battle where the swords met appeared like a lurid sheet of fire, and
after the most heroic struggle Starkad fell with his standard.

When Ivar saw that the standard of Starkad had fallen, he knew that he
was dead; he had the horns blown, the peace shield raised, and shouted
an order that the battle stop. When the host of Starkad became aware
that he had been slain, the combat ceased, and Ivar offered truce to
them all, which was accepted. Several chiefs became his vassals, and
promised to pay him tribute every year, and send men to his standards
when needed, Ivar putting his foot on their necks as a sign that he had
become their ruler.

After the battle a search was made for Starkad, and his body was found
under a heap of slain. He was buried with his sword Tyrfing, and a mound
was raised over him.

Ivar took the ships belonging to Starkad, had them dragged ashore, and
built on their decks great pyres. Upon these he placed the bodies of his
champions that had fallen, and he and those who were present threw into
the burning flames gold and silver and costly weapons to do them honor.

* * * * *

Hervor was the only daughter of Starkad by Helga, daughter of Agnar the
berserk. When her father fell she was only ten years old. When Helga
gave birth to Hervor, most people thought she ought to be exposed, and
said that she would not have the character of a woman if she was like
the kinsmen of her father, who all had been men of bad repute. She
constantly practised riding on horseback, shooting with bows, the
handling of swords and shields, and all kinds of athletic games. When
she had grown up she became a shield-maiden, and loved to be under
helmet and chain-armor far better than being occupied in sewing or
embroidering. From the age of fifteen she was wont to say that the kin
of Starkad had not all perished, and she thought to avenge her father’s
death. She was tall and strong, and of fair complexion; her long, silky
hair was of the color of red gold, and the people said that it was like
the hair of Sif, the wife of the god Thor.

When Hervor was twenty, she longed to have Tyrfing, the sword of her
father, which had been laid in his mound with him. Tyrfing was sharper
than any other sword, and when it was drawn from its scabbard, rays of
light sprang from its blade; it was a most famous sword, and had been in
the possession of the family of Starkad and kept as an heirloom for many

One spring Hervor left her home all alone, dressed as a man, and engaged
herself on board of a Viking ship, whose commander and crew had no other
home than their vessel. Afterwards they sailed and plundered in many
places, until at last their leader died, and the men appointed Hervor to
rule over them.

They sailed for the place where her father and his fallen warriors had
been buried, and reached it towards evening, and anchored their ship in
a bay, and remained on board that day. After sunset they saw large fires
moving to and fro over the mounds, for the island was a great burial
place. These fires were will-o’-the-wisps, but the people believed they
were supernatural fires. The crew were full of dread, and said that they
never would go ashore in the evening.

The following day, late in the afternoon, Hervor landed. At sunset the
crew thought they heard hollow noises on the island. After a diligent
search, Hervor recognized the mound of her father, for it stood high
among others, also from the inscription on the memorial stone. As she
came near it, she sang: “Awake, Starkad! Hervor, thy daughter, wants to
rouse thee. Yield to me the sharp sword Tyrfing, which the Dvergar
forged in the days of yore for Vikar, thy kinsman.” Then she said in a
louder voice: “Einar, Hrani, Hervard, and all warriors that were slain
with my father, I awaken you all from beneath the mounds under which you
rest—you who are clad in helmet and chain-armor, and with shields, sharp
swords, and reddened spears. Much have you increased the mould under
which you lie. I call you all to let me have the sharp sword Tyrfing.”

Then she opened the mound of her father, and, entering the mortuary
chamber, she took Tyrfing, and sailed home. After this her sole object
in life was to avenge the death of Starkad. The following year she
assembled a great host, and made war against Ivar, but perished in the
battle, after performing prodigies of prowess and valor.

Shortly after the events just spoken of, Ivar and all the high-born men
of Gotland received from Yngvi, the Hersir of Svithjod, an invitation to
attend and participate in the great athletic games, “idrottir,” that
were to take place the following spring for the championship of the
Norselands; for, like the Spartans, the Norsemen thought highly of all
games and exercises that give strength and suppleness to the body.

Ivar sent back word by the messengers that he was coming, and that he
and the Gotlanders would compete in the different games with those who
strove for the championship, also to try to wrest it from those who held
it. Then he sent word all over the island, instructing his people to
practise the games with great zeal and energy.

AFTER the departure of the messengers of the Hersir of Svithjod, as was
usual at that time of the year, a great Thing, or assembly of the
people, took place. As the date drew near, Ivar sent the Thing arrow to
all the Thingmen over the island, to call them to the Thing place to
punish those who had violated the laws, and to settle other matters and

Accordingly the Thingmen journeyed to Dampstadir, either on horseback or
in ships, each Hauld or Bondi taking with him a large retinue of
followers, according to his wealth and rank. The person of every
Thingman was holy. If any one attempted to disturb them on their way to
or from the Thing, he was declared an outlaw.

The multitude came without their weapons, for on the Thing plain perfect
peace must reign, and any one breaking it by insults or otherwise was
accounted without the pale of the law. It was the same as if he had
violated the temple peace. He was regarded as a wolf in the sanctuary,
an outlaw, or “nithing,” in all holy or inhabited places, until he had
made reparation for his crime.

The Thing plain where the people met was not far from the temple, and
was so holy that it could not be sullied by bloodshed arising from
blood-feud or any impurity. The Thing, from the time it was opened until
it was dissolved, was under the protection of the gods.

In the centre of the Thing plain was the court, a large circle which was
surrounded by hazel poles supporting ropes. These ropes were called
“vebonds,” or sacred bands. Inside the circle sat those who were to
judge the case brought before the Thing. No judge when once within these
holy precincts was allowed to leave, neither could an outsider enter

Before the opening of the Thing, according to ancient custom, Ivar
sacrificed a large bull in the temple, in the presence of the people,
and filled the sacred bowl that stood on the altar with its blood.
Afterwards he took the oath ring which stood upon the altar, and over
which men were to take their oaths, and dipped and reddened it with the
consecrated blood, and then put it on his arm; and then he, with the
Hersirs and Thingmen, made their way to the Thing plain, and took their
places in the court, which stood upon an eminence, from which all who
were assembled could see them and all that took place within the sacred

Ivar then made known the boundaries of the Thing, reciting in a loud
voice the following formulary: “With laws shall our land be built, and
not be laid waste by lawlessness; but he who will not allow others the
benefit of the laws shall not enjoy them himself.”

A murmur of assent greeted the last words of the sentence, for the
Norsemen were, above all, a law-abiding people. And as obligatory, he
recited the declaration of peace by first saying, “I establish peace
among all men here.”

Then every Thingman that was to judge, or any man who had to perform
legal duties, took an oath upon the ring, and said: “I call those
present to witness that I take oath on the ring, according to law, to
defend or prosecute this case; and give the evidence, verdict, or
judgment which I know to be the most true and right and lawful; so help
me Frey, Njord, and Odin.”

The first case brought before the Thing was that of a Hauld who had
wounded a man in a fit of anger.

“Thou knowest well,” said Ivar, “that the higher a man is in station,
the greater is the indemnity to be paid by him for breaking the law; he
who is of high birth ought to set the example. The judgment of the court
is, that thou shalt pay for the wound thou hast inflicted six rings of
gold, each ring weighing twelve aurar, which is six times the amount a
freeman should pay for the same offence, or half more than a Bondi.”

A man was next brought up for stealing while on a trading voyage. This
class of thieves were called “gauntlet-thieves.” All the crew of the
vessel was present. “Thou knowest the law,” said Ivar. “It is, that thy
head shall be shaved and tarred, and eider-down or feathers put upon it.
Then the crew shall make a road for thee and stand on both sides, and
thou shalt run to the woods if thou canst. Every one shall throw a stick
or a stone after thee, and whoever does not throw shall pay a fine of
nine ortugar.”

The thief was tarred and feathered; a road was made for him between the
sailors; he ran as fast as he could, but he had hardly reached the end
of the road that had been made for him when he fell exhausted, badly

A Bondi came before the court, and declared that he had killed two
robbers who tried to defend themselves. “Well hast thou done, for these
men were unholy, and thou hast no indemnity to pay for their lives,” was
the verdict.

Then a man was brought up who had committed burglary and had been caught
with arms upon him. “Thou knowest the laws,” said Ivar again; “thou art
an outlaw and shalt die. Men like thyself the land does not want.”

A case was next brought up in which a man was supposed to have committed
murder. One of the champions of Hjorvard, named Asgrim, had been slain,
and the people who were there were unable to tell who was the slayer;
but it was suspected that a man by the name of Asmund had done the deed,
though he denied the accusation vehemently. It had been decided at a
preceding Thing, by the kinsmen of Asgrim, that Asmund should take an
oath at the following autumn Thing, which was the one now taking place.

Then Ivar took from his arm the oath ring, and, in presence of the
Thingmen and of the multitude, Asmund named two witnesses, as was
required by law, saying: “I choose Thorvald and Olaf as witness that I
take an oath upon the temple ring that I did not redden point and edge
of any sword where Asgrim was slain. I know this oath to be most true,
so help me Odin, Frey, and Njord.”

A man was brought up that had been caught stealing food; he proved that
he had stolen to sustain life, and that he had gone to several
households to try to get work, but could not get it. Witnesses came
forward to testify that he had come to their houses in search of work,
but they had none to give him. “Go thy way,” said Ivar; “for though the
law is that no man shall steal from another, nevertheless it also
declares that the man who gets no work to live by, and steals food to
save his life, shall not be punished.”

One man was brought before the Thing who had been caught stealing for
the third time. “Thou art irredeemable,” said Ivar. “Thieving is born in
thee, and the law of the land is that a man caught three times stealing
must be hanged; for thou art a born thief, and must pay the penalty of
the law; for the land cannot be burdened with men like thee.”

On the fourth day a very important case regarding an inheritance came
before the court. There was a bitter feeling between the parties. Angry
words followed each other; the litigants in the heat of passion lost
their heads, and, to the utter astonishment of every one, had weapons
hidden under their cloaks, and suddenly the Thing ground was covered
with blood. A great uproar arose; the multitude was horror-stricken;
such a thing had never happened before at Dampstadir. The men who had
committed this great offence were outlawed, and had to flee for their

Ivar declared that the plain was desecrated by the blood of hate, and
consequently no holier than any other ground, and that no Thing could
ever take place there again.

Then Ivar with the Thingmen chose another Thing field, after which they
made preparations to sail for Upsalir.

SIGRLIN was extremely desirous that Ivar should appear at the games and
before the daughters of the Hersir of Svithjod as befitted his rank and
wealth. For several months she had been preparing his outfit. Ivar
himself wanted to have his best apparel and weapons, for men who went to
the games or to the Thing wore their finest garments and arms. When
everything was ready, and before they were packed, his mother called him
and asked him to look at his outfit.

First she showed him the cloaks, or rather mantles; these were made of
woven stuffs that had come from the Caspian, and were very costly. They
were worn over the shoulders, and only by men of high birth; they were
similar in shape to the _paludamentum_, or military cloak of the Romans,
or the _chlamys_ of the Greeks; they were a mark of dignity and honor,
and were fastened with most costly brooches. They were of variegated
hues—green, red, blue, scarlet, and purple—and bordered with a wide
braid of different colors, or with a kind of lace; these mantles were
the handsomest and most costly part of Ivar’s outfit. The Norsemen took
great pride in them. There were also rain and dust cloaks.

The silk and linen underwear, such as vests, undershirts, drawers; silk,
linen, and woollen shirts, were like ours, but without collars attached
to them. Those of wool were of varied patterns and colors. Kirtles were
also plentiful; they were longer than the shirts, were of silk, linen,
and wool. These were put over the shirts, and worn next to the
chain-armor, and extended somewhat below it. There were also many pairs
of trousers; these were of wool, almost tight-fitting, socks and legs in
one piece.

Ivar thanked his mother for all the care she had taken in selecting his
outfit, which could not be more elaborate and costly. He himself chose
the weapons he was to take with him, for there was nothing of which the
Vikings were more proud than their arms. His were unrivalled for beauty
and quality. The chain-armor suits, or “brynjas,” were marvels of
workmanship, and one of them was of gold; the blades of his swords and
saxes were all beautifully damascened, and their hilts were
gold-ornamented, and their scabbards also ornamented with gold; his
shields were gold-rimmed, and adorned with superb designs, representing
warlike deeds of great Vikings.

There was a rich assortment of leather belts, with buckles of gold,
inlaid with precious stones. Some of these buckles were enamelled in
red, green, blue, and black. The Norsemen excelled in the art of
enamelling. A large collection of brooches for fastening his mantles
were in a special box.

His toilet-box contained combs, ear-picks, and tweezers of gold.

But the gems in jewellery were the fastenings of his chain-armor. These
were of bronze, covered with a sheet of gold of exquisite _repoussé_

One of the fastenings had a rosette in the centre, surrounded by nine
heads, but the other circle was of a richness of design in which the
artist had displayed his greatest skill and taste. In that were four
rosettes at equal distance from each other; between each of these was a
figure of a man in a sitting posture, which perhaps represented Ægir,
the god of the sea. Each figure was surrounded by fishes, ducks of
different sizes, etc.

His riding accoutrements could not be excelled for beauty: the stirrups
were of silver, inlaid with gold; the spurs were of solid gold,
ornamented with exquisite filigree work; the bridle was a gilt-bronze

All those who were to go with him were also to dress with great
magnificence, and their riding gear and weapons were to vie with those
of the richest men of the land.

* * * * *

The fleet of dragon-ships which took Ivar and his retinue to Svithjod
were the finest ships of Gotland, and no handsomer ones could be seen in
the Viking lands. Their red-burnished gold dragons glowed as fire when
the sun shone upon them, and some of them were so much ornamented that
their entire hulls seemed to be of gold. They carried handsome striped
sails of different colors, red and blue stripes predominating. Their
pennants and standards were gold-embroidered. The shields that were to
hang outside, along the gunwales, had gold rims, and were painted in
yellow and black, or red and white, so that their effect, as they lay
side by side, overlapping each other, was very striking.

Fifteen provision ships followed the fleet. Two of these carried some
superb horses which Ivar intended as a present for the Hersir of
Svithjod, for Gotland was celebrated for its breed of horses. Among the
horses were thoroughbred stallions of dark chestnut color. Ivar was to
present him, also, with a new dragon-ship sheeted with thin gold above
the water-line.

Hjalmar, Sigurd, and Sigmund had joined Ivar, each with a handsome

After an uneventful voyage, the fleet sighted the shores of Svithjod,
and soon afterwards arrived opposite the fjord leading to Lake Malar.
The fastest vessels let down their sails, cast anchor, and waited for
those lagging behind; and when they had come in sight of each other, the
shields were hung outside of the gunwales of every vessel. The peace
shields were hoisted, and the standards of the different Vikings were
seen floating gracefully on the breeze. The fleet remained at anchor for
the night, and next morning the horns were sounded for the anchors to be
raised and to move forward. The wind was fair and fresh, and as the
ships sailed they passed by many small hamlets nestling in nooks along
the picturesque shore. Slaves in their white garments were seen tilling
the soil, or cutting down trees that were to be used in the construction
of houses or vessels. The harvest had taken place, and rye, barley, and
oats were still stacked in the field. Everything was peaceful, but
behind these hills and these forests lived the Sviar, or the Sueones of
the Romans and their kindred, the bravest and most daring people the
Roman Empire had ever come in contact with.

The fjord leading towards Lake Malar had, in those days, about the same
appearance as to-day. Their granite walls protected them against the
daughters of Ægir and Ran. Island after island lined the coast and the
entrance of the fjord, and the shores were clad in many places with
woods and forests of gigantic oak and pine, and some which witnessed the
scenes I describe are still to be seen here and there. When evening
came, the horns sounded for the vessels to cast anchor for the night.

The following morning, at dawn of day, the ships were again under way.
The voyage drew towards its end, Lake Malar was entered, the old town of
Sigtuna came in sight, and soon afterwards they cast anchor for the last

Then Ivar, two of his uncles, his three foster-brothers, and the men of
high birth who had followed him, left their ships and landed. All were
splendidly attired. Ivar wore over his shoulders a superb red cloak, and
his followers likewise. These cloaks were so long that their swords
could not be seen under them. They mounted their horses, which had been
sent ashore. They rode slowly along, with their hawks resting on their
shoulders or on their wrists. Ivar’s hawk was called Habrok, and was
very famous on account of its skill in catching large birds and hares.

Every man in that retinue looked every inch a warrior; their mustaches,
which only high-born men could wear, gave them a martial appearance;
their hair hung gracefully on their necks from under their shining,
bright helmets. Ivar wore a golden helmet.

The watchmen in the towers at Upsalir had seen Ivar and his following
coming, and told Yngvi of their approach, saying to him: “There glitter
in the sunshine, helmets, splendid shields and chain-armor, axes and
spears. The men look very valiant. Those must be some of thy guests, and
from their bearing they are high born.”

The people watched them as they rode towards Upsalir. When they arrived
in front of the gate they stopped, and after it was opened they entered
the large square, or town, and went to the great banqueting hall,
dismounted near the door, and then went in.

Yngvi was seated on his high seat, and received Ivar and his kinsmen and
warriors with great courtesy, and bade him be seated, as a mark of
honor, in the second high seat. Yngvi was of medium height; he wore a
long, flowing, white beard, for he was of that age when Hersirs wore
beards, instead of a moustache; he had deep blue eyes and a benevolent
countenance, and was clad in a long, flowing robe of great beauty,
embroidered all over with gold. He looked at Ivar intently for a while.
What were his thoughts nobody could tell; but probably he was trying to
read the character of the son of Hjorvard, his kinsman. He, perhaps,
also thought that one of his daughters would make a good match by
marrying the son of Hjorvard.

Ivar was tall and strong; his physique, under the constant training of
athletic games, was superb. His features were regular, his cheeks rather
prominent; his nose was aquiline, his eyes of a most beautiful deep
blue, and, when looking at you, seemed to search your innermost
thoughts; and his long hair was fair and silky.

In the evening there was great feasting and drinking, but the daughters
of the Hersir of Svithjod did not make their appearance.

* * * * *

Wonderful, indeed, was Upsalir, and it was not strange that its fame
extended far and wide, for it was the most beautiful burg in all the
northern lands. The buildings and houses that faced the immense
quadrangle which they surrounded made an extraordinary sight; there were
houses with wooden walls that had stood the storms of centuries, some of
which, it was believed, had been built by Frey himself. What
immense-sized oaks and fir trees had been used in the construction of
these buildings! The timbers had become so hardened on account of the
resin having been absorbed by the fibres of the wood, that they seemed
indestructible. Gold and silver had not been spared in the inside
ornamentation of many of these structures; the best architects and
artists of those days had been employed in their construction,
ornamentation, and carvings. Many of these houses looked very weird and
fantastic, and were of the same style of architecture as those of
Dampstadir, but of an earlier date.

Among those structures stood one finer than all the others; this was the
great banqueting hall, famed all over the Norselands on account of its
splendor, size, and peculiar outside ornamentation of gargoyles. The two
doors leading into the interior were marvellous specimens of carving.
The door-jambs represented the different ceremonies attending the
funeral of Baldr, according to Norse belief, and a heavy gold knocker
adorned each door.

The hall itself was superb; the walls were adorned with carvings, and
represented a sacrifice made to Odin, and many other religious subjects.
Shields hung all along the walls, and these were all adorned with gold,
and with beautiful designs, many telling of the great deeds of the
heroes of the race. They had been collected by each successive ruler of
Svithjod, or had been given to them as presents by the most renowned
smiths of the day. Tapestries hung where there was no carving, and these
had been chiefly embroidered by the daughters and wives of the Hersirs
who had ruled over Upsalir. Here was a tapestry representing ships
gliding over the water with their gold-ornamented dragons; another
represented a body of men dressed in war costume, ready to land. Many
were hunting scenes with dogs or hawks.

The collection of Grecian glass gathered by different rulers, such as
bowls, cups, beakers, and drinking horns, was exquisite. There were
goblets with Greek inscriptions upon them; a beautiful bowl of glass, of
sapphire color, was partly encircled with a delicate open silver work,
showing the color of the glass behind. All these objects illustrated the
great taste and refinement of those who had collected them, and told of
the high civilization of those times in the North. There were numbers of
Roman and Greek bronze vessels of most graceful forms, showing the Roman
and Greek art at its best in that particular branch of industry. Some of
these vessels were fluted on the sides, and the fastenings of the
handles represented winged women’s heads, lions, or other graceful
figures. Upon one of these vases was a Latin inscription in letters of
silver. Roman and Greek statuettes of bronze, of men and women, were
scattered here and there.

But the objects which Yngvi prized more than any others were a
collection of Roman coins anterior to Augustus, of the time of the
republic; these had been coined by patrician families, and showed that
the Sviar made voyages to the Mediterranean, and incursions along its
shores, long before our era. As Yngvi showed them to Ivar, he said:
“Many of our kinsmen have been buried on the Mediterranean, for in the
time of the Etruscan they traded there, and their graves are seen to
this day in that country, and can be easily recognized, for they are
exactly like those found in the Norselands.”

Among the valuable objects from the North were two large and superb
drinking horns, made of bands of gold, with figures in _repoussé_ work,
having strange mythical representations, among which were three-headed
men, shields, swords, horned men, men on horseback, stars, pigs, snakes,
fishes, deer, and other animals. Each of these horns weighed between
seven and eight pounds. There were other vessels of silver, with
beautiful _repoussé_ work in gold near the rim, representing deer,
birds, and animals, which were of Greek or Roman origin.

In this hall the most sumptuous entertainments were given, but only on
great occasions, or when mighty chiefs came on a visit, or when a
wedding took place. Then the scalds recited in the evening, by the light
of heavy wax candles, the deeds of the forefathers and the great
warriors of the race, or the old and wise taught wisdom to those who
were around them. The high seats were of gold. Above the high seat of
Yngvi hung his sword, with the peace bands round it; under it were his
helmet and shield.

Not far from Upsalir were the “idrottir” grounds, or athletic fields, a
place famed all over the North. The name idrottir was applied to all
bodily and mental exercises. Men practised there all kinds of games and
gymnastic exercises.

The most important championship games took place in the spring, before
men left upon Viking expeditions, and in the autumn when they had
returned home. Old and young were equally eager for these contests. When
a ship was at anchor near the shore, the crew always landed to play
games; no opportunity was ever lost when the occasion allowed them to
practise. To gain the championship of the herad was considered a great
honor, but a still greater one was to gain that of several herads, when
many men were pitted against each other. But the contest that was to
take place for the championship of all the Norselands was on a far
greater scale, and was to be a memorable occasion in the lives of those
who were to become contestants.