The Ship in the Field

The Ship in the Field
By Joseph S. Hopkins and Haukur Þorgeirsson
RMN Newsletter, Vol.3 (2011)
Freja by John Bauer (1882–1918).
Introduction: The Vanir have been a topic addressed in previous issues of RMN Newsletter. The present article will carry this discussion into the field of archaeology, asking whether there is a connection between the Vanir and the stone ships and boat burials that dot the landscape of the pre-Christian North Germanic cultural sphere.
When we use retrospective methods, we are making use of evidence from one period to throw light on an earlier period. One area in which the use of such methods has a long history is when literary evidence preserved in 13th and 14th century Icelandic manuscripts is used to throw light on Scandinavian archaeological data from the pagan period.
Sometimes the success of this method is hard to argue with. Pictures of eight-legged horses on image stones in Gotland find a parallel in the Prose Edda’s account of Óðinn’s horse Sleipnir. Pictures of figures in a boat near a serpent are readily explained by the account of Þórr’s fishing expedition in Hymiskviða and the Prose Edda – even down to the detail, present in some of the images, that Þórr spyrndi við svá fast at hann hljóp báðum fótum gǫgnum skipit [‘braced himself with such force that he pushed both feet through the boat’].

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About Gaby F

lectora, estudiosa de la historia antigua, especialmente la mitología germánica, indoeuropea. ".
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