Archive for the ‘Saga History’ Category

I have learned about an event in January that is really fun and is soooo Norwegian, the 105th annual “Norge Ski Jump Tournament” in Fox River Grove, Illinois. The Junior Olympic Qualifier K70 tournament will be held on Saturday January 30, with other jumps to be held on Sunday.

Three Norwegian jumpers will be in attendance, as well as jumpers from Finland, Poland, Russia and the USA. Check out their website at www.norgeskiclub.com for more information.

I’ll be there covering the event, and I’ll post my pictures and a story here. If you have ever been to Oslo Norway and seen the jump at Holmenkollen you’ll know that the Oslo jump stands out on the hillside and can be seen from all over the Norwegian capital. The Oslo jump is impressive and also has a great Ski Jump Museum that is currently closed while the jump is being renovated, but will reopen by summer of 2010. I had the pleasure of visiting the museum with a family friend who had jumped as a youth back in the 50’s. He commented several times about how much the equipment had changed.

The Chicago Friends of Vesterheim Committee is pleased to announce that their next event will take place on Saturday, March 20, 2010 at the Park Ridge Country Club in Park Ridge, IL. A Nordic Marketplace will be held from 9:30 a.m. until 12:30 p.m. followed by a Luncheon and Program. The event is by invitation only, but for more information contact the museum.

The sponsors of this site have announced the upcoming “Vinland Seminar” to be held at North Park University in Chicago on October 15-17 2010. The seminar will bring together prominent scholars in Viking Norway history, the Vinland Sagas, and Viking DNA. The seminar will also offer discussions about the history of the Chicago Norwegian and Scandinavian communities, local tours and other activities. More information will be available soon.

If you have an event open to the public that has a Norwegian or Scandinavian flavor let me know and I try to get the word out on this site.

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If the Viking Ship in Geneva could talk (sometimes I do think she talks to me when I’m near her) she would say, “Thank you for the attention, it is good to see my friends.“ Members of the Friends of the Viking Ship came out on a nice Saturday to get the ship ready for it’s winter hibernation. Before winter starts the FoVS team make sure that leaves, dust and other accumulated debris on and around the ship is picked up and removed. Even though the ship enjoys a covered “Quonset” like hut, as its home, she is still exposed to the elements and requires some additional cleaning and protection from the wind and blowing snow.


Andrew Woods and David Nordin (photo: P. Straw)


Lorraine Straw and Margaret Selakovick (photo: P. Straw)


Ken Nordan and Bruce Andresen, working on the temporary building. (photo: P. Straw)

Lorraine and Perry Straw brought coffee and scones for our enjoyment and Bruce Andresen brought his building skills and tools. While we worked, the ship had its usual Saturday visitors, a couple were “in the area” riding their motorcycle, and wanted to visit. I know the ship enjoyed the day and is looking forward to next season. Every year more people, including families, travelers and school children visit on advertised open house Saturdays and prearranged weekday visits. This past year several groups from Norway have made special arrangements to stop for a nice tour and history lesson about the ship.

Ken Nordan
Contributing Editor

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Our good friend Svein Ludvigsen and his brother-in-law Herulf came to vist the Norwegian community in Chicago this week. Svein represented the county of Troms in the Norwegian Parliament and was the Vice President of the Norwegian Lagting from 1997 to 2001, he was also the Minister of Fisheries and Coastal Affairs and is currently the Governor of Troms.

Svein is a golf enthusiast and along with many of his friends here in Chicago (including Don Hoganson) spent several days out on the links perfecting his stroke. A few years ago Svein invited many of us to his home near Tromsø for a day of golf and several days of fun in his far northern community.

I’m not much of a golfer but I do enjoy history and in particular Norwegian and Viking history. Svein and Herulf have been the guests of Lowell and Helen Olberg and the Olbergs suggested that we meet Svein and Herulf at “The Viking”, a ship anchored in a park in Geneva, Illinois. This ship is open by appointment. For tour fees and information check here.

For those of you not familiar with this ship:

The Viking was built at Christen Christensen’s Framnes Shipyard in Sandefjord, Norway in 1892. It was copied after the ancient Viking ship Gokstad that had been excavated in 1880. The Gokstad has been called the most beautiful ship ever built.

The Viking is approximately 76 feet long, 17 feet wide, and 6.5 feet high from the bottom of the keel to the gunwale. Clinker built, its planks are fastened together with thousands of iron rivets. In 1893 the Viking sailed from Norway to Chicago, via the Erie Canal and the Great Lakes, and became one of the greatest attractions at the World’s Columbian Exposition. It could be see for many years in Lincoln Park near the zoo and has been recently declared one of ten most endangered historic sites in Illinois by “Landmarks Illinois”, a statewide historic preservation advocacy group. For more information please contact the Friends of the Viking Ship.

Lorraine explains to our guests some of the history of the ship.

Lorraine explains to our guests some of the history of the ship.

Svein enjoys studying history and very much enjoys ancient Norsk writings and literature. Lorraine Straw was our tour guide at the Viking Ship and she gave us the grand tour including a peek at some of the plans the group has for adding new interpretive signs, a loudspeaker system and a new fund raising drive to preserve the rivets that hold the ship together. Many of the artifacts from the ship are not located at the park but are instead housed at the Museum of Science and Industry. Two shields from the ship can be seen at the Norsk Museum in Norway, Illinois. (See the article on this site for more info on that museum.)

Lorraine points out repairs made to the ship.

Lorraine points out repairs made to the ship.

Side Rudder

Side Rudder

Later that evening Svein spoke of the passion that Lorraine showed for the ship and commended her spirit for the preservation effort and all of the volunteers that that put work into the site.

Each time I visit the Viking it reminds me of my childhood and the trips we took to Chicago passing the Viking in Lincoln park and my father telling us “there is your heritage, your great-great grandfathers were Vikings and those were the ships they sailed.”

Ken Nordan
Contributing Editor

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After having been available only as a high priced import, we can now offer this beautiful, hardbound “encyclopedia” about the Vikings, their society and politics, as well as the Viking roots of the Norwegian nation, at an unbeatable price. Order directly from our website. Click HERE to purchase.

Viking NorwayAbout the book:
Born out of years of research into one of the most exciting times in North European history by one of Norway’s foremost experts in the field, Viking Norway is the first book of its kind. Not only does it re-examine the outbreak of the viking age, but it also gives the reader a broad introduction to the subject. Read about Leif Ericsson’s discovery of America, “Vikings” at the 1893 Chicago World Fair, Viking martial arts, the ancient norse political (Thing) system – learn about the viking ship – the revolutionary innovation that enabled the vikings to traverse the great oceans, explore, trade and establish themselves as successful, feared and sought after warriros all across the known world.


For further information and ordering, please write to info@sagapublishers.com

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A name that few have heard, is Thormod Torfæus. Yet he is arguably one of the most important links we have to knowledge about our ancient past. In June 2009, there will be an international Torfæus-seminar in Iceland featuring some of Europe´s foremost experts on Torfæus and his time. And since the publication of his impressive work Historia Rerum Norvegicarum (originally published in 1711) in modern Norwegian last year, people are beginning to take notice. Here is a short biographical piece, written by Torgrim Titlestad for his book Viking Norway, where he gives a brief outline of who this man was, and why he is so important to those of us with an interest in our ancient history.

Thormod Torfaeus was born on a small island close to Reykjavík, the modern capital of Iceland. From an early age in Iceland he received a thorough classical education in Latin and completed his studies at the University of Copenhagen. The Danish king, Frederick III, who devoted himself to studying the Norse past, soon became aware of the young and talented Icelander. The king hired him to collect old Norse manuscripts for his royal collection in Copenhagen and asked him to translate the old sagas. From 1686 the king engaged Torfaeus to write a Norwegian history, the first and longest one ever to be written in a foreign language, Latin. Torfaeus spent about 30 years on this project and published 4 volumes in 1711, under the title Historia rerum Norvegicarum. He also published several other books on Norse matters and was the first modern professional historian to write a comprehensive history of Norway, based on the study and use of old Norse, Latin and Greek documents and books. Writing on this history in 1711 Torfaeus declared: the warrior-like Norwegians were fulfilled by committing great deeds, not by collecting written evidence. The Icelanders, however, indulged in recording them – until the Norwegians tried to take over Iceland in the 13th century. Then the Icelanders grew tired and saddened by reporting on Norwegian heroes. Until then, as regards the history of Norway, this situation had created a unique opportunity in the cultural history of the world: one people (Norwegians) created history, another people (Icelanders) recorded and even made world literature out of it.

Through his works learned men and women in the world for the first time were given the opportunity of studying the sagas from the Norse past – and his concept of Scandinavian history influenced the European understanding of this northern European region for a long time to come. He was highly appraised by contemporary historians and frequently cited by scholars until the end of the 18th century. With knowledge and use of Latin diminishing, Torfaeus disappeared from the arena of the historians.

In 2008 his Historia rerum Norvegicarum finally appeared in modern Norwegian, and an English translation is under way. He spent most of his life on his farm in Karmøy in Rogaland, with frequent trips to academia in Copenhagen where he held the position of a professor at the university. He also established the first Norwegian philological institution – or historical institute – on Karmøy, which has become one of the historical ‘roots’ of the University in Stavanger that was founded in 2005. His work does not of course meet modern scholarly standards, but even today his publications are of great value as he presents ‘all’ the sagas in a kind of chronological, panoramic perspective, as a sort of Reader’s Digest of the sagas. Torfaeus represents the modern breakthrough in using the sagas as source material for the history of the Vikings.

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