Sigurd @1014retold Battle of Clontarf 1014 Twitter Retelling
  • Title - Jarl (Earl) of the Orkney Isles
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Sigurd the Stout, Earl of Orkney Islands, powerful Norse leader and an ally of Sitric.

The Orkney Islands, while small and seemingly marginal in a modern context, were of huge strategic importance to the Norse who sailed the trade routes from Scandinavia to Britain and Ireland – the routes by which the Viking empire grew.

In 1014 the ruler of the Orkneys was a Jarl or Earl named Sigurd, a man well connected to the Norse royal family and overlord of a territory which grew extremely wealthy through it’s importance as a supply base for trade ships and raiders.

Connected both by blood and shared ambitions to the Norse rulers of Dublin, Sigurd was duly visited by Sitric Silkbeard and recruited as an ally to fight with the Dublin and Leinster forces against Brian Boru.

His price appears to have been the same as Brodir’s – the spoils of war and the hand of Sitric’s mother Gormlaith – a combination which could potentially have enabled him to extend his power and influence to a massive degree.

Whatever the deal, it seems to have been sufficiently compelling, since Sigurd was indeed to arrive in Clontarf to do battle on Sitric’s side.

The best known legend of Sigurd tells of a magical raven banner, woven by his mother, which had the power of granting victory to the side which bore it into battle, but guaranteed the death of the individual who actually carried it.

As the fighting at Clontarf became fiercer, and the outcome less certain, Sigurd’s men appear to have lost their faith in the banner’s magic, or in Sigurd’s leadership, and he was forced finally to carry it himself.