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Badstofa

The living room in old icelandic farms.

Bajuvarer

Bajrare, a south germanic people that lived in Beumen. During the roman times Bayern belonged to provinces Raetia and Noricum and was populated by roman celts. Bajuvarerna immigrated in the 3:d century and founded a state under Agilofingerna.

Balder

Balder is the son of Odin, his only offspring with his wife Frigg. He was supposed to inherit Asgård and rule over the other gods in the spirit off his father, Odin. He was believed to be extremely handsome and he has given his name to several swedish flowers (like balderbrå) in praise to his beauty.

As the asa gods attacked ' Vanerna' in Asgård and thereafter broke their oath to the giant which helped them to build their defense wall Balder started to get bad dreams. Odin, concerned over his sons well being, rides down to Hel, the land of the dead, where he wakes up a prophet. The prophet tells Odin that Balder is going to die and that Hel is preparing a feast for his arrival.

At this news Frigg send a message to all living beings in the world where she demands of them to take an oath not to harm Balder in any way. As a result Balder gets invunerable against ordinary weapons and the other gods begins to practice their skills in throwing the javelin on him and shot at him with their bows and arrows.

Unfortunately, Loke, a giant, do not like this new order in Asgård. Disguised as an old woman he visits Frigg and learns from her that the misteltoe is the one living thing on earth which hasn't taken the oath (as it was believed to be a part of the oak tree). Learning this he makes an arrow out of a misteltoe and pays a visit to the blind asa god Höder. He places the arrow in Höders hands and helps him to aim at Loke, and Loke dies.

Balder, his horse and his wife which died of a broken heart, was placed in his ship Ringhorne together with a lot of firewood. Odin places his ring 'Dröpner' on the dead mans arm whereafter he whispers something in the dead gods ear.

The ship is put on fire and a giantess, Hyrrokin, pushes the ship out in to the water where it floats away. Balders souls wanders of to Hel, the land of the dead.

Frigg sends the god Hermod to Hel in order to see if there is some way to get Balder back from the dead. He comes back and can tell Frigg that if every living being in the world cries over the loss of Balder the godess of Hel is prepared to let go of balder and bring him back to the living. Hearing this Loke takes the shape of the old woman, Tack, which refuses to crie over Balder. Therefore Balder must stay among the dead.

To get his revenge, Odin breeds the son Våle with the giantess Rind. Våle slayes Höder only one day old.

Unfortunately for Loke he cannot keep his mouth shut and at a feast at the seagod Ägir he tells the other gods of his involvement in the death of Balder. He is hunted down and is caught after having tried to escape in the form of a salmon in Frånånge river. He is put across three blocks of stone tied with his own son's (Nare) intestines. above his head a poisonous snake is placed. Lokes wife, Sigyn, sits by his side and holds a bowl over his head to collect the venom from the snake. But when the bowl is full and sigyn has to empty it, Loke turns in agony on the stone and the whole world shakes (earth quakes!).

The above story about Balders death comes in many variations. In one of them Höder is the sole slayer of Balder, Loke takes no part in the story.

Short facts:

Wife: Nanna
Children: Forsete
Main features: Beautyfull, Wise, only legitimate son to odin and thus the only heir to Valhall.
Lives: Breidablick
Other names: -

Balders dreams

A late edda poem about Odins visit to 'tre tursars moder', the dead oracle in Hel (Land of the dead) that Odin consulted regarding Balders nightmares. In early handwritten material this poem is referred to as 'Vegtamskvida' (only 14 verses long). In this poem Odin appears as the vanderer 'Vägvan'. In the 14:th and 15:th century the poem was rewritten with a cryptic prolog in Edda style by an icelandic priest. This version, 'Forspjallsljod', was considered genuine for a long time.

Balders Hage

According to Fridtjof the braves saga, a farm located at Sognefjorden in Norway. The farm lay straight across Fridjofs farm in Framnäs. Only women had access to this farm and on it there was a temple with statues of the gods that was worshipped, with Balder as the prime god. Among men only the kings was allowed to visit. The story is believed to be pure fiction and reconstruction from the 13:th century.

Balk

Beam or larger wooden stick with runic inscriptions. In modern swedish 'Balk' usually refers to a lareg beam of some sort of material.

Balk can also refer to larger portion of a law text (hence the swedish juridical term: 'balk'). Examples of such laws are: Kristnubalken, Manshelgisbalken, Mansdråpsbalken. It can also refer to an enumerated list of names in a poem (Vikarsbalken).

Bakåkrapjäsen

A sun wheel decorated bronze coating to a ritual drum made of wood. The drum 'skin' was made of bronze, like a gong, decorated with concentric circles of flames. It was found in late 18:th century in Balkåkra, a village in south of Skåne in sweden (near the town Ystad). The drum was probably not manufactured in Sweden, rather imported from the Donau area in early bronzeage (1500 years BC).

Balle

A master of rune inscriptions, lived in 11:th century. He whad red hair and came from Björksta in Västmanland. His brother was named Knut. Balle started his career as an aprentice to Livsten but soon devleoped his own style. In Västmanland Balles signed rune stones in Fläckebo and Litle Kyringe. In Södermanland he has signed stones in Brunnsberg, Klippinge and Årby. In Uppland 15 (Örsunda, Furby, Mysinge, Hemsta, Gidsmarken, Viggby, KUngs-Husby, Litslena, Ullstämma, Löt, Ågersta, Ramby, Amnö, Östra Dalby, Tjursåker). He is also considered to be the master behind 20 unsigned runestones in Sörmland and Uppland. Balles stones was allways marked with a large beautyfull leaf cross, and at times he was handy with his verse: "Här stånde / sten mellan gårdar; / Ristningen tyde den / runkunnig är / om breda stavar / som Balle ristat". A short translation should render something like: 'Here standing, stone between farms, inscription read, by those (who) understands (runes), wide staffs that Balle made'.

Balsberget

A 60 meters high cliff with caves, situated in north east of skåne (about 10 kilometers north west of Kristianstad). B. was once the home of robbers. The name porpbably refers to 'Bålberget', a mountain used to light fires on in order to warn people in case of danger.

Balther

The name on the Visigothic peoples royal family. Alariks fmilyname was Baltha. The name may have conections with the name of the old norse god Balder (son of Odin).

Bambergsskrinet

Also names 'The holy Kunnigundas box'. It is made in the 11:th century and comes from Bambergs Cathedral. It is ornamented with (among other things) plates made of bronze and elk horn over kernel of oak. The box i propably made in southern scandinavia. It is made in so called 'Mammen' style. Nowadays it can be seen in Bayerisches National museum, Münich.

Bandamannasagan

A saga about a icelandic family. This saga was written in mid 12:th century. It's about Ofeig Ospaksson at Reykir and his son Odd on Mel in outer Midfjordsdalen and how they cheated the local chiefs that had united against them.

Basileios I

Basileios the first was an east roman emperor that hads his regency from 867 to 886. After having murdered some of his oponents he could finally take on the throne. Is supposed to have made decent job.

Basileios II

Basileios the second. Ruled byzantium between 976-1025, one of the best east roman rulers. He fought long and cruel wars against the bulgarians, wars that led to the destruction of the Bulgarian country.

Basilica

A rectangualar building with three or five naves whre the centre nave is higher than the naves on either side.

Bastubad

See Sauna bathing

(The)Bayeux Tapestry

The Bayeux tapestry is a 70 meter long and 50 centiemeter wide tapstry made of linnen. It is emborided with multicoloured wool. It has 72 pictured scenes about the fight between Harald Godwinson and vilhelm the conqueror and their quest for the English throne. The scenes end with the battle of Hastings, in 1066, a battle where Wilhelm the conqueror defeated Harald of England. Along the upper and lower sides a small strip is formed with pictures of animals and scenery from the Aesop fable. The tapestry is first mentioned in 1476 when it was put up once a year as decoration in the Bayeux cathedral. In 1730 a frenchman wrote down the oral tradition that the tapestry had been embroided by the wife to Wilhelm the conqueror, Matilda. The tapestry has been on display in Paris in 1803. The tapestry can have been ordered by Wilhelms halfbrother Odo, a person pictured several times in tapestry, he was also bishop in Bayeux. The tapestry gives a detailed viwe of the military equipment, strategys and techniques used in the battles. The tapestry is dated to the end of the 11:th century. Nowadays it is stored in the former bishop palace in Bayeux.

Beda venerabilis

Monk and principal fo the convent school in the convent of Jarrow in North umbria (Yorkshire). He has written about the anglo saxon peoples history in his 'Historia Ecclesiastica'. This is considered to be one of the most important works on this subject.

Beowulf

Ancient English poem about the hero Beowulf. The manuscript consists of 3182 rows and is from around the year 1000. The author of the poem is unknown. The plots is staged somewhere in Denmark with a people called geatas. The young Beowulf travels with a couple of men over the sea in order to help the Danish kins in his battle against the unknown entity 'Grendel'.Beowulf kills Grendel and Grendels mother. Beowulfs is then royally rewarded. Beowulf is elceted to king and rules for over fifty years whereafter he is mortally wounded in a battle against a dragon. The peoms contains a lot of common germanic saga material, Battles between geatas and Svear, franker and frisians is mentioned. The dating of the original has been set to be somewhere around 700-900. THe icelander G. Thorkelin published the poem for the first time in 1815.

Berd'a

A small trading town in Azerbadjan. Berda was invaded by the Rus in 943 and the events has been described by Ibn Miskawayh that probably wrote down what he heard from eyewitnesses. The book is named 'The book about the experiences of people'.

Berenzanj

Berenzanj is an island located at the mouth of the river Dnjepr in the black sea. This is where the only rune stone in Russia has been found. The text says: 'Grane gjorde denna stenkista efter Karl sin bolagman', with a free translation: Grane made this grave chamber after Karl, his associate'.

Bergen

Bergen i located in Hordaland, Norway. It is town with a large and important harbour. It was founded in about yearr 1000. It got city rights in 1070. Several years of archaelogical diggings in the harbour area (Bryggen) have rsulted several large findings. The most important of these findings are the large collections of wooden sticks that has been found, sticks containing messages and notes from every day life written with runes.

Bifrost

The bridges that joins Asgård with earth. Can also be seen as the rainbow. Heimdals house is located at this bridge.

Birka

Birka was major trading place located on the small Island of Björkö in lake Mälaren. During excavations one has found deeep culture layers and a ancient defense barrier (also known as 'fornborg').

Birka was surrounded with thick walls of soil. The wall had several openings. Several graveyards has also been found, the largest one has as many as 16000 graves (name hemlanden, placed outside the city wall).

The arliest excavations tooks place in th 17:th century and was carried out by one of the first Swedish antiquariens, Johan Hadorph. DUring the 19:th ceuntry largers excavations took plac. One the biger graves on the graveyard 'Hemlanden' was dug out by Alexander Seton in 1820. A more detailed and planned excavatiosn took place in 1871 by Hjalmar Stolpe who got there in his hunt for Amber. He worked for nearly 20 years and he examined over 1100 graves and more than 4500 square meters of the black sooil. His findings are among the most important in the Swedish museum of history. The artifacts found in the grave has been described by Holger Arbman in a publication printed int he 1940:ies. This publication was complemented in 1980:ies. No texts about Stolpes diggings has yet been produced.

Arbman and Greta Arwidsson made some smaller excavatiosn themselves during 1930-40. THese diggings where made in and close by the city wall.

Björn Ambosiani and Birgit Arrhenius examined a small bridge int the harbour area of the black soil, this was done 1969-71. Their examination improved our view of the layers and the time differences between the layers. Their findings was published in a report in 1973. Arrhenius continued her work with several smaller diggings at Ormknös and the city wall. Amborisani made several digging between 1990-95 in the black soil.

Birka was first mentioned in conjuction with Ansgars first visit to Sweden in 829-830. The city was then of importance and had probalby been around since the 8:th century. SIgtuna took over Birkas role as trading center in the area aorund the end of the 10:th century.

The localisation of Birka has been the subject of debate. Several researchers, wih local patriotic tinted glasses, has tried to place Birka in placess as diverse as Åland and Vreta Kloster in Västergötland. However, a written source the sime (Written by Adam of Bremen) has a detailed travel description, written in 1070, to Birka and Sigtuna.

The landway form Denamrk to Birka went through Skara, therefrom through Östergötland upto around Tälje. If you travelled by sea between Hedeby and Birka it would be a five day trip under favourable weather conditions.

Björkö has been identified as the location for Birka since the middle ages. Bjökö is also the only place where artifacts and graves has been found in such a number that it can count for being of the size attributed. The sheer volume of artifacts, the number of graves gives a clue to the size of the population. It has been estimated to be around 700-1000 people.

The 1100 examined graves are of different types. About half of them have unburtn corpses placed in coffins or chambers. The rest of them arefire graves, traditionally layed out in small hills of soil, or placed in stone settings. The chamber and coffins graves are seldomly marked and they are ususally placed in small groups in direct connection with the black soil. They have few counterparts in the rest of the Mälar area. It is therefore believed that the people burried belongs to a foreign part of the population, or maybe a mass of people distinguishing themselves in terms of religion beliefs or social statue.

The role thath Birka has played for northern europe has been the subject for great discussion. Birka seemed to have been an important international trading place as it has acted as a support point for the trade between northern Europe, Asia and the middle east. The traditional contacts between east and west travelling over the mediteranean sea had been (according to many sources) been broken by the arabic conquest of the areas south and east of the sea. Eruope then tried to find new trading routes to the east, and found one over the baltic sea down through the rivers and to black sea. Birka then became an important trading place. BIrkas role for tranferring silver from the west, slaves and swords to the east can not be neglected. This role has been shown to be of importance during the late 9:th century and the 10:th century. Before this Birka was at the end point, together wid Staraja-Ladoga, of the trading routes from Rheinland. Birka was also a major local trading place. In part as a service community with craftsmen of different sorts, import (salt, glas, metals) and collection place for the local goods (Iron, fur and so on) on their way to the markets in western europe.

Birsay

A small island among the Orkney Islands. it is located north west of the main Island. It is from this Island various Nordic rulers have run the Orkney and Shetland Islands. Acheological diggings have revealed a large number of viking long houses collected in a small village. The remains of the small church that Thorfinn the mighty built after a pilgrimage to Rome has been found here. Remains after a bishop palace has also been found here.

Bishop

During theearly times of the chistian era int he north several bishops where given the responsibility t the spread the word. They didn't have any given Biscopates where to do their work. The early missionaires where by neccesity bishops as they where the only ones allowed to form new churches and appoint new priests.

So called hird bishops where common in Norway, often comming from England. Several biscopates where established in the nordic country when the christian faith was somewhat established. Among them where:

Most the years mentioned are aproximate, it is harsd to give exact datings to some of the biscopates. From 1103 the nordic churches was ruled from Lund where the archbishop was installed.

Blot

The name of the traditional heathen sacrifices in the prechristian era.

According to Snorre Sturlaussson (Heimskringla) (A very rough translation):

'All farmers gathered at the holy place and they brought their own supplies which they shared during the whole celebration. At the celebration all men must own beer. There where also all kind's of slaughtered cattle and to that also horses. All the blood from the slaughter was collected and called for 'hlaut'. There where also 'hlauttenar' which served as brooms and was used to splash the blood on the surroundings. All of the meat was coocked for the people. There should also be fires with kettles over them in the middle of the court. Around the fire drinkings horns, full of beer, where carried. The one who held the celebration, and also was the chief, should then bless the food and all the beer. Thereafter it was time to drink a full horn for Odin (for victory and power for the king), a full horn for Njord anda full horn for Frey. It was also custom to drink a full horn for Brage and thereafter for their friends, both dead and alive.'

A more full account for the heathen traditions can be found in Snorre Sturlausson:s 'Heimskringla'.

Blotgode

The word 'Blotgode' refers to the heathen priest which performed the different rituals associated with the hathen feast 'blot'.

Normally the 'Blotgode' also was a chief with power apart from his fucntion as a religious leader.

At 'disarblot', a special feast in the Olds Norse Tradition, the different religious rituals where performed by a female priest called 'Blotgydja'.

Blotgydja

See Blotgode

Brage

Brage is the god of poetry. Some evidence says that Brage is Odins son begat with the giant Suttungs Daughter Gunnlöd, the guardian of the mead which is said to enhance the capabilities of the poets.

Brage is wise and have a long beard. He is also witty and speaks in rhymes. He is married to Idun and father of many children. Under the famous feast at the seagod Ägir he is accused of being a coward by the giant Loke.

Short facts:

Wife: Idun
Children: Considered to be the adoptive father of all poets.
Main features: Poet
Lives: -
Other names: -

Bronze

Bronze is a metallic alloy composed of cupper and Tin in proportions varying between 80-95 percent cupper (Cu) to 5-20 percent tin (Sn). Other trace elements like sulphur (S) and lead (Pb). Bronze melts (depending a bit on the proportions of the compounds) between 900-1000 degrees celsius. It conducts electricity and heat well. B. is relatively hard and brittle but it is also strong and resistant towards corrosion. Tin is usually found in Cassiterite ore (SnO2, tin dioxide).

It is believed that man discovered the metall Cupper well before the actual use of Bronze. Cupper, however, is highly unsuitable for tool making as it is way to soft and relatively weak. Nevertheless cupper was used in its own right for tool manufacturing for quite a few years. Cupper can be hardened with techniques not unlike those used to produce steel. However cutting tools made of cupper is still not especially good as cupper, even after a hardening still is pretty soft.

With time (in the aegean area, 2800 BC) man discovered that mixes with other compounds changed the properties of the cupper. The first bronze alloys found usually consists of Cupper and Zinc (Zn), Arsenic (As), Nickel (Ni) or Antimony (Sb). All of these material is, to put it midly, poisonous, so the work environment can't have been to great for the smiths. However, from 2500 (Aegean area) and onwards most alloys are used from tin and cupper. Cupper is still pure poison, but much less lethal than for example As.

The development of Bronze and the associated technology for casting and metallworks in general catapulted the society in to a new era. New weapons and defensive systems evolved rapidly. New tools (axes, knifes and others) was developed and perfected thus having a profound effect on different craftmanships like shipbuilding (carpentry) and farming.

In the nordic countries the Bronze age lasted between 1800-500 bc.

Byggver

Byggver is the god of beer (yep, we do have a god for beer!). He is not mentioned in any higher degree in the eddaes. He is supposed to have been at the feat at Ägir where he was abused by Loke, which among other things called him 'insignifcant'.

Short facts:

Wife: Beyla
Children: -
Main features: Guardian of the mead
Lives: -
Other names: -

Bysan

See: Byzantium

Byzantium

The byzantium empire is usually defined as the east roman part of the roman empire after the splite between east and west rome in 395. The nordic people usually called Byzantium for 'Greece'. The center of the byzantium empire was located in Constantinople. Geographically the empire streched out in the east part of the mediterranean, with natural borders in the rivers Eufrat and Tigris.

The byzantium empires kept it's classical culture and it evolved art of considerable importance for the western art development. A university was founded during the guardian rule of Mikael the third. Byzantium was at it's peak during the viking age, and constantinople was an important market place for the Vikings. During this time the Byzantium empire expanded it's influence, culturally as well as politically. The Byzantium church was married to the orthodox, and missionaris carried out their work among the slavic people.

Ravenna was the center of power in Itlay for the Byzantine empire. In the east th Muslims where fought and Emperor Nikeforos Fokas (from 963 to 969) had as goal to crush the Muslims in Asia. Emperor Johannes Tzimiskes (from 969 through 976) went out to free the holy places in early crusades.

The evidence for connection between Sweden and Byzantium consists of numerous Runestones and several written sources within the Byzantium empire. The earliest written mentioning of the nordic people in conjuction with Byzans in writings is the Annales of Bertinianni. It's a small note about a people called 'Svear' that visited emperor Ludvig in Ingelhiem on their way to Constantinople. In the north numerous rune stones mention the travels and losses made in Gårdarike and Greece. Some of them had been lost when thy served in the byzantian emperors life guard (they where called Väringar). Maybe it was one of these that made the rune inscriptions in the Pireus Lion, and in the Hagia Sofia Church. Another rune stone has been found in Berezanj, on the route between Scandinavia and Byzantium. In the north several artefacts connected to Byzantium has been found. Among the more famous ones are the Dagmar cross. The Nestors chronicle tells us a bit about the Viking achievements in the Byzantine empire. Among them are the mentioning of an attacks against Constantinople in 866 and 907. These where followed by a peace treaty between the king of the Rus (Oleg) and the Byzantine emperors Leo and Alexander in 911. Another wign of scandinavian influence is the fact that the emperor Konstantin Porfyrogenetos name one of the river Dnjeprs rapids after the Scandinavian name Aifur.

Last edited: Author: Editor: Stable:
Sunday, 11-Jan-2009 22:14:32 CET
Joakim Hansson
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