“Gunnlöð,” Anders Zorn, 1893, WikiArt.

Part 1: Thorolf’s Thingstead

Around roaring fires of Thorolf’s thingstead
Chieftains gathered, cattle roasted, brewed
Ale filled drinking horns, kinfolk and noble
Warriors, high-minded thoughts to build Knarr,
Ocean-going longship, artisans of wood and
Iron, axe and fire-hammer wielders, rope and
Linen sail makers, men and women of working
Skills agreed, build sailing ship, new fortunes
Sought, next summer to distant Iceland sail.

Wealth of gold and silver, rings and jewels,
All agreed to first pillage Albion Christian
Treasure hordes, hail of arrows, sword and
Spear, they quickly fell, Norse glories abound,
Work-wages plunder gave, coins brighten eyes,
Families fed, fostered farmers winter work,
First snow skiffs, furs and fires, dowries
Offered, maidens wedded, bonding rites, by
Crackling fires rounding mothers made.

Legend tells, dreamer amongst them dwelled,
Brithe, wearer of gold arm ring for sighted
Wisdom told. “Build not one but two Knarr
Ships, families, livestock equally divided,”
In lofty song advised. “Sail by days of two
Or three, to Isles of Shetland and Faroese
Sheep, avoid raging storms or all of Thorolf’s
Clan will drown.” By smoky fires she spoke,
Her mind alighted on spirited ocean clouds.

During mid-winter feast, chieftains argued
Strength of Brithe’s visions, few had heard
Rumors this Shetland Isle, ships blown off
Course for Iceland, decision made, build
Two ships, one straight to Iceland bound,
Second sail as Brithe dreamed to Isle of
Sheep, like Viking warrior’s fighting Albion
Foes, two-prong attack, hail of arrows, then
Charge with thrusting swords and spears.

Next is “Part 2: Knarr Shipbuilding.”

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