While creating these pages, I've taken some pains to get the facts right. But be
aware that some of the statements in these pages are opinions, rather than
facts, and may be open to dispute. Experts can study the same physical evidence
and draw very different conclusions.
- Physical evidence from the period is very slight. In the area
of armor, there exists only a few Norse helmets,
and a few Norse mail shirts. Do any of them represent a typical item,
used by everyone? Or do they represent the special, the unique,
used only by a powerful chieftain who received a special burial?
Or were they ceremonial, and never used in battle?
- Much of the period literature was written down centuries after the events
being described took place. The people writing this material lived in a
different time with a different culture and different religion, and they may
have been inimical to the practices being described. In other cases, the writer may
have been glorifying a golden age of the past. Additionally, the writings may
have been further distorted by copying and recopying the manuscripts, and by editing and
combining and abridging. How much of what remains is factual? How much
distortion of the author's original intent has occurred over the centuries?
How much was later fabricated out of whole cloth to enhance the original story?
- English translations of the period literature
are suspect. Two different translators may render the same old Norse verse in
very different ways. Was one bowdlerized? In several cases, when I've looked the old Norse
my limited knowledge of the language), I could see how either translation
could be valid. Which (if either) was the original author's intent?
Throughout these pages, I've tried to present the opinions that
represent the consensus of the experts. Sometimes, I've presented
a dissenting opinion, instead, when that one made more sense to
me that the consensus.
So beware, gentle browser: many of the opinions and conclusions presented in these pages are furiously debated by the experts,
and alternative interpretations do exist.