the dictionary of norse mythology


SIEGFRIED animals, they contained ancient weapons, chariots, jewelry, ornaments, food, and utensils—all the necessities for the comfort of the dead in the after-life. In Sutton Hoo, in East Anglia, England, the remains of an 80-foot ship were uncovered along with treasures but no bones of the dead. It is thought that the hero may have disappeared at sea, or per-haps he had been given a Christian burial while his treasures were buried according to a more ancient pagan custom. The Sutton Hoo ship dates from the seventh century. Other graves found in East Anglia were the tombs of humble people, including children who were buried with toylike ships. In early English literature the account in Beowulf recorded about a.d. 1000 describes the voyage of Skyld, first king of the Danes, on his funeral ship.The ship was so important in Norse culture that it was carried as a symbol in processions long after Christianity had become established. Medieval crafts-men built mock ships symbols of life and of death and of the journey in between to be carried in reli-gious processions. So beautiful and elaborate were these ships that eventually they were made collapsi-ble to be folded up and stored inside the church until the next procession. It is thought that this medieval practice may have influenced the description of SKID-BLADNIR, the marvelous ship made for the god frey. Skinbladnir could be shrunk and folded to fit inside a pouch when not in use.

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