Translation of MA thesis: Bændr, sagnaritarar ok kirkjumenn. Saga er til þess. Zur Autorschaft der Hrafnistumannasögur
In my MA thesis on the authorship of the Hrafnistumannasögur (Ketils saga hængs, Gríms saga loðinkinna, Örvar-Odds saga, Áns saga bogsveigis), I worked on the genealogical connections between the Hrafnistumenn and the Icelandic elite in the 13th and 14th century.
Among the descendants are chieftains, bishops, monks and scholars with a remarkable literary output. In my thesis, more than a hundred descendants are named and described focusing on their literary activity. This should start off further research on the authorship, not only of the Fornaldarsögur, but of Old Norse literature in general by providing detailed information about the connections between texts, manuscripts, persons, places and collaborations (e.g., The North Icelandic Benedictine School).
At the 18th International Saga Conference 2022 I received encouraging support to publish my work in English, so more scholars can do future research on the authorship and the literary and maybe even social relevance of the Fornaldarsögur (and other genres). All of this and the continuing encouragement of my MA-thesis supervisor Prof. Dr. Rudolf Simek and PhD-thesis supervisor Prof. Dr. Kathrin Chlench-Priber led to the idea to translate and publish my text.
Thanks to the generosity of the Viking Society and the Research Support Fund I was able to finance the translation of my thesis from German to English by Angela Simek-Hall. The publication of Vikings, Half-Trolls and Saga-Authors. The Norwegian Hrafnistumenn and their Icelandic Descendants is planned for late 2023/early 2024 by a publisher in Vienna (Verlag Fassbaender) in the reputable series Studia Medievalia Septentrionalia, as Vol. 30.
In September, the Aveland History Group held a Viking Festival in Threekingham, Lincolnshire, as part of a five-year plan to move from village to village, highlighting a facet of the history and heritage of each place. The Viking Society’s contribution paid for a comprehensive lecture programme, meaning that all visitors could hear experts give a range of lectures for free on the Scandinavian forbears in this part of the Danelaw, as well as the extent of their activities further afield.
Over the two days, we offered a range of activities and materials – there were almost 300 enactors in costume and settled in a living history camp, where they engaged with the public on all aspects of their life in Viking times; Lindissi had kids making beads and smelting metal for decorative objects to wear; our archaeologists had kids digging in the dirt, unearthing pottery fragments and other treasures as they hit a wall (sadly more 17th century than Viking!) within the first hour of digging.
The Viking theme was selected because of the reference to two days of fighting at the Battle of Stow in 870 AD in Threekingham in the Crowland Chronicle. It is recorded that the Great Heathen Army met the Anglo Saxons and, after an initial defeat, were victorious on the second day, slaughtering all the enemy. Our introductory speaker on Friday night was able to provide some supporting context for this, with new research into the winter camps of Vikings at Torksey and Aldwark. With the archaeology test pit and opportunities for children to learn Viking battle techniques, experiential insights were delivered to a young audience, bringing history vividly to life.
The lecture programme explored the history of Viking activity, especially in the Danelaw. We learned about their innovation in boat building and textiles; how the gender roles were divided and the life of a heroine of the Anglo Saxon era. We also heard about the reach of the Norsemen, with some being represented in the Crusades a little over 200 years after the battle we commemorated. The Aveland History Group continues to work with other local history groups to create a legacy of community interest and participation in researching and learning more about our villages and their role in the broader sweep of British and world history. We have launched an electronic archive: www.avelandarchive.org.uk to collect memories and images from the area.
Graydon Jones of Folkingham took a few photos of the day, which you can enjoy here.
International Medieval Congress Leeds
Thanks to the Viking Society and the International Medieval Congress (IMC) Bursary Fund, I presented a paper and participated in a roundtable at the 2023 IMC, which took place at the University of Leeds, from 3-6 July.
IMC 2023’s special thematic strand of ‘Networks and Entanglements’ was particularly aligned with my PhD research which constructs, visualises, and quantifies the narrative networks of the Sturlubók redaction of Landnámabók. Here, I attended multiple panels dedicated to applying Social Network Analysis to medieval texts and had the unique opportunity to discuss the quantitative side of my project with historical network scholars who use similar approaches.
My paper entitled, ‘I’ll Make a Landnámsmaðr Out of You: A Social Network Analysis of primary, secondary, and dependent settlers in Iceland as portrayed in Landnámabók’ discussed how social hierarchies form and operate in the narrative networks of Sturlubók (i.e. networks constructed of the approximately 3,100 individuals in the text and roughly 8,100 relationships). This talk was well received by both Old Norse scholars and Digital Humanities scholars.
I also participated as an invited panellist in the session ‘Networked Middle Ages: Celebrating Social Network Scholarship in Medieval Studies – A Round Table Discussion’ sponsored by the Social Network Analysis Researchers of the Middle Ages (SNARMA). This roundtable introduced a forthcoming medieval Social Network Analysis volume to be published by Arc Humanities Press. Here, I discussed the chapter I will be contributing, which will be based on my IMC Leeds paper and PhD research.
Attending 2023 IMC Leeds has further strengthened my international academic network and provided valuable insights into how to apply a variety of digital approaches to medieval sources. I am grateful for VSNR for providing funding to make this opportunity possible and supporting my research throughout the course of my studies.