From Norway Re: Vikings

scotty macfly

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Wow! Everything they found was preserved beautifully. Snow shoes for horses? Never heard of that before. That was really cool Ard. Thanks for posting it.
 

Lewis Chessman

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I think more likely what we'd call ponies given what is known about the diminutive Norman cavalry mounts. Smaller animals would fare better in the cold climate, loosing less heat, too.
Yes, thanks Ard, terrific to read. Climate change has one positive at least! The article mentions Otzi from the Tyrolean mountains, a fascinating find. The man's body was tatoo'd with what are thought to be medicinal pressure/acupuncture points. He died of arrow wounds and is thought to have been trying to escape his pursuers when he collapsed high in the mountains - well worth a wee Google.

What struck me with this article were the parallels with past life on my home island of Lewis, once part of the Norse empire. There is still the old postman's route across Monteach a Loin, a bad, boggy moor, marked by small standing stones and cairns so as to be visible when snow covers the track, much as described in the article.

There the seasons dictated the lifestyle. Peat would be cut into slabs in April when the dry easterly winds would soon dry and harden them up and the kids would scour the moor for grouse or gull eggs. Come May the young girls were sent out to the higher pastures to tend the cattle. This kept the beasts out of the vegetable gardens and the boys (largely) away from the girls. The men and boys would fish for herring, salmon and sea trout as the seasons changed and the wind-dried peats would be brought home in summer and stacked carefully, the outer layer keeping those beneath dry for winter fuel. Every homestead would have a walled-in willow grove to provide withies for crab and lobster pots, baskets and much more. I can imaging life in Norway was very similar when the two cultures came together.

Whilst many places in Lewis retain their older Gaelic name, sites of economic or strategic importance often have a Norse name to this day. An old keeper once pointed to a nearby hill called Coduin. "It's named after the Norse god Odin'' he informed me. Fantastic to hold such knowledge about the land around you, passed on by word of mouth, generation to generation over a thousand years.
I once asked him what Monteach a Loin meant? "Well," he said, "'Monteach' means 'a boggy place'".
"And 'a Loin'? " I asked.
"Really f**king!" he replied!
 
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