Medieval Icelandic Sagas
The Saga of Hord
14th century, Old Norse.
Hord broke into Soti’s barrow and found the dead Viking sitting in the prow of a ship, surrounded by all his treasure.
'Hord broke into Soti’s barrow,’ said Quintin, ‘and found the dead Viking sitting in the prow of a ship.'
'A ship burial,' said Miranda.
'Yes, but he was very much alive,' said Quintin as he peered into the book.
Soti leapt up and ran at Hord,’ he read.
There was a tough encounter in which Hord was greatly outmatched. Soti took hold of him so hard that Hord’s flesh was bunched up into ridges. Quintin looked up from the book. 'They have quite a tussle together before Hord defeats Soti and lays his ghost. And steals all his treasure! But the point is that the dead are not just spirits in these sagas. They really live on, and still in bodies that can be fought with and beheaded.
'Its almost,’ said Quintin, thoughtfully, ‘as though there was a vague memory – or perhaps not such a vague memory – that a deceased person had once been believed to live again in a body when they died, in the pagan times that these Christian authors wrote about, and they allowed their imaginations to run wild a bit.