Monday, March 26, 2018

Fact or Myth, it depends on which site you choose for your research—Tricia McGill

Find all my books and where to buy here on my BWL Author page.

My next book due out later this year is set in two time zones, the Viking era, circa 850 AD, and the present day. It is not a time-travel but more a reincarnation story, hence the different times. The original idea for this book came from a friend, I confess, but we share this interest in Vikings, and the idea of lovers though time intrigued me.

Why I keep returning to the Viking era I have no idea. They just seem to fascinate me. Because they didn’t leave a lot of written history in the early days, so much that has been written about them is based on what has been garnered from the excavation sites around Scandinavia, Britain and elsewhere. Of course every new book has to be researched, especially when you are returning to a subject such as the Vikings. During my research for this book, I found out facts unknown to me before.

Fact one—Norse weddings. These it seems were extravagant affairs, and planned well in advance.   So much tradition was tied in with the ceremony, partly to please their gods and partly to please the families of both parties. A lot of haggling went on between relatives of the bride and groom. Considering the Vikings gained a reputation of being a coldblooded lot of invaders who ransacked and ravaged their way through life their respect for the treatment of women was one of the reasons so much haggling went on. Marriage was a way to control sexual activity and reproduction in the community. Both important to them, as marriage was the heart of family structure in their culture, a fact that surprised me.

Weddings were held on a Friday, the sacred day for Frigga the goddess of marriage, and the proceedings generally lasted up to a week. Family and friends often travelled far to the wedding hence accommodation had to be provided for them, which took planning, not to mention the provision of food and drink for all these guests. A special ale was drunk by the bride and groom during the ceremony so this had to be brewed in advance.

The couple were separated before the big day and for the bride this entailed being stripped of old clothing and any symbols of her virginity, the main one being her ‘kransen’, a gilt circlet. This was handed down through generations of daughters. The bride wore a crown during the ceremony. Apparently the Norse women were not worried too much about the bridal gown but more about their hair, which indicated her sexual allure, and therefore was kept long and flowing. This crown was an elaborate article, decorated with silver and rock crystals, crosses and even leaves.

The bridegroom also didn’t worry too much about his outfit, but might carry a symbol of Thor to indicate his mastery of the universe. This symbol also ensured a fruitful marriage. It seems this was their main consideration, producing offspring. Sometimes the religious ceremony began with a sacrifice, probably to the gods of fertility. A poor hapless goat might be slaughtered and his blood collected, and then sprinkled on the happy couple, so ensuring the pleasure of the gods. Another fact that surprised me was to learn that the couple traditionally exchanged rings during the ceremony.
Find lots more on Viking wedding rituals here.

Fact two—Vikings were good seamstresses. Their thread was usually the same texture as the woven cloth they were stitching together. I have always wondered how their clothes were made, as when you see pictures of them, either during everyday activities or in battle, it is obvious their outfits must be stitched by someone.  They were pretty handy with a needle, actually using different stitches for differing fabric thicknesses, such as silk, wool or leather. Because their traders travelled far and wide bringing back silks and treasures from perhaps Byzantium, Cordoba or Alexandria they were never short of fabrics to work with. A coin dug up in Jorvik (York) that was from a town near the Himalayas signifies how far they travelled. Anything about the Vikings’ decorating of their garments technique is sketchy but they possibly liked gold thread.  

My thanks to this site for the above information: 

Fact three—Viking burials. A lot has been written about how the warriors and chieftains were buried with their slaves, all their weapons and jewellery etc. and how they were sent off to Valhalla in their flaming ships, but I was more interested in learning how the ordinary folk were sent on their way.   It seems that most were cremated on a funeral pyre, and then their ashes buried. Some of the wealthier would have been buried along with a wagon, perhaps for transport to wherever they were going in the afterlife. Not a lot is written about the lower classes so we are left to presume they were cremated along with any meagre possession they might have treasured.

Find more here:

If, like me, you enjoy learning new facts then have fun, as I do, while exploring the wonderful WWW. And, if like me you are fascinated by the Vikings or reincarnation, then keep an eye out for my next release, Powerful Destiny.

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