Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Icelanders

     Viking is an overused term, but figure collectors and wargamers love it anyways.  The people of Njal's Saga were mostly landowners and farmers concerned with earning a living from their land.  Young men, such as Njal's sons Grim and Helgi, spent a few seasons as crew on a boat, presumably raiding.  However, most of the Icelanders were settlers seeking cheap land far from the increasingly centralized and autocratic rulers of Norway and Denmark in the tenth and eleventh centuries.

Njal was a prominent landowner, lawyer and judge who over the course of fifty years gets entangled in a web of vengeance and violence that proved inescapable.  His oldest son, Skarphedin, was a renowned fighter, and supposedly capable of jumping 18 feet across a river with his battleaxe.  These next two figures are Gripping Beast's character figures of Njal and Skarphedin. 



Njal's Saga is set exactly at the time in which Icelanders voted to convert to Christianity from paganism.  This was accomplished somewhat peacefully, though a few killings did occur in both directions.  Wizards, seers and berserkers make their appearances in Njal's Saga.   





One weapon often described in the Sagas, but rarely depicted on miniatures, is the rock.  During sea-borne battles, rocks are frequently mentioned, presumably obtained from the bottom of the ship where some were probably stored as ballast.  Among the Icelanders, swords and armor were expensive and less frequent so rocks were a ready made missile weapon.  These are Wargames Factory unarmored Bondi converted to rock throwers with a few bits from my backyard. 






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