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The Sources:

Andreas Heusler & Fr. Ranke (transl.):
"Die Geschichte von Hord dem Geächteten"
in: "Fünf Geschichten von Ächtern und Blutrache"
Thule vol.VIII, Jena, 1922

Fernando Guerrero:
"Stranded in Midgardr - Draugar Folklore in Old Norse Sources"
Oslo, 2003

Hilda Roderick Ellis:
"The Road to Hell - a Study of the Conception of the Dead in Old Norse Literature"
New York, 1968

Peter Erasmus Müller:
"Sagaenbibliothek des Skandinavischen Altherthum"
Berlin, 1816

The Case:

This is what we find in the "Hardar saga og Holmverja". I will try to concentrate on the relevant part:

The foster brothers Hard and Geir have come from Island to Norway. After an incident in which one of the king's men is killed by one of them, they seem to be in a bit of a spot, so they make their way to Gautland to visit the Jarl Harald. The Jarl has a son called Hroar. On Jul-night Hroar takes an oath that he is going to break into the barrow-grave of Soti the Viking, an evil man who seemed to have been a bit of a sorcerer. Hard and Geir also take an oath that they will go with him.

When spring is there they set out on their ride to find Soti's barrow. In the woods they meet a man called Björn. He gives them a special sword that they should use to break into the barrow. It takes them five days to clear the dirt and remove the beams but they finally make it to the door. Which as we know is on the top of the grave. There is a terrible stench and two men spontaneously drop dead. Everyone is scared and Hard is the only one that is brave enough to venture into the grave.

Once inside the barrow, Hard asks Geir to come down as well and bring him some fire and a candle. Hard finds a door and breaks it down. An earthquake follows and a horrible stench comes out. Inside the room is a viking ship, and the undead Soti is sitting in the bow. There also is a great treasure. Soti and Hard start fighting and the dead viking seems to be winning. But then Hard tells Geir to lite the candle. The sight of the light means the end for Soti. Hard and Geir take the treasure and that is the end of this chapter.

The Date:

According to Professor Peter Erasmus Müller this story dates back to the 10th Century. I am happy to take his word for it and am not going to disagree.

The Place:

Gautland (or Götland) is now called Götaland and it is the most Southern region of Sweden.

Possible Follow-up:

You could start with finding yourself a copy of the "Hardar saga og Holmverja". Apart from that German translation, I have also used a version in the original language. This helps a lot if you want to check the correct names of persons and places.

Allow me to remind me you that most of the people in these old Saga have been real people like you or me. Often their names can also be found in other Saga or in different papers like the famous "Landnamabok".

And, in case you want to find out all there is to know about the "Draugr" and the "Haugbui", I think you could do worse than reading the studies I have mentioned bove, written by H.R. Ellis and Fernando Guerrero.

© 2014 by Rob Brautigam - NL - Last changed November 2014

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