Sagas Blog

Ref:The Sagas of the Icelanders, Penguin Classics

Egil's Saga

This saga documents the life of Egil Skallagrimson, a volatile and poetic Norseman. He travels extensively throughout the Viking world and becomes involved in schemes, fights, feuds, duels and politics.

Early Norwegian Kings

As a prelude to Egil, the story of Skallagrim gives us quite an impressive history of how Harald Fairhair came to be King of Norway and the interreactions that led to the settlement of Iceland. Egil's own history parallels that of King Erik Bloodaxe and King Haakon I.

Battle at Wen Heath

During his travels, Egil and his brother Thorolf ally themselves with Athelstan, King of England. Athelstan is beset in the north by King Olaf of Scotland who happens to be a descendant of Ragnar Hairy Pants. The English king gathers an army to repel the invaders. They meet at the battle of Wen Heath, also known as the Battle of Brunanburh. At this point in time little information is known about the details of the battle or indeed about the location of it.
Egil's Saga however, gives us some tantalizing clues.
The tactics of the battle are detailed with a Norse point of view and we learn that the battle site was marked out beforehand. It was on a large plain between a river and a forest. We also learn there were fortresses north AND south of the battlefield.
During the battle, Egil's brother Thorolf was killed. He was buried with full ceremony at the battlesite and in traditional Viking style, fully armed with many grave goods. He is wearing two gold arm rings.
Another interesting fact about the battle site comes from one of Egil's poems. He states: I piled body mounds west of where the poles marked the battlefield.
There is a lot of supposition on the location of Wen Heath. The mystery remains unsolved.


Through other sources the following dates are fact:
Harald Fairhair ruled from AD 872 to AD 930.
Erik Bloodaxe 931-933.
Haakon I 933-961.
Battle of Brunanburh AD 937.
Based on this dating we can now place fairly accurate timelines on Egil's adventures.