Christmas in Iceland - 15.12.1940, Blaðsíða 16

Christmas in Iceland - 15.12.1940, Blaðsíða 16
SHORT BUT GRUESOME In a desperate effort to infuse some know- ledge of Iceland’s interesting of somewhat wierd history into the heads of our “Men-of- the-Polar-Bear-Sign”, the following stories have been extracted from the turbulent pages of Iceland’s history books. They are specially chosen, and though they have of necessity been considerably shorten- ed, they are calculated to be of a calibre not easily forgotten. I think you will agree with the Editorial Staff of “Christmas in Iceland —1940” as regards this — after you’ve read them! Human Sacrifices. Generally bulls or white horses were given as sacrifices, but in cases of greater moment nobler offerings were employed to appease the offending Gods. Before the shrine of Kialarnes, for instance, there was a deep pit of well, the Blotkellda, in which human victims were drowned. In Western Iceland, the Blotstein, (stone of sacrifice), still remains. It is of an oval form, somewhat shrap above, and over this the miserable victims had their backs broken before they were slain! Magic Arts. This was forbidden in the Old Icelandic Laws. Those convicted were tied up in a sack, stoned to death, burnt, and their ashes were then cast into the sea. The reason assigned for this mode of punishment was that their spectre might not disturb the living. 14 That the practise of magic was detested so wholeheartedly is shown clearly in the story regarding a chieftan, one Harold Haarfager, who burnt his son, together with the whole society to which he belonged, for such an offence. Escape of Gissur. In the year 1253 there was raging in Ice- land a bloody fued between the various chiefs. One of them Gissur had his house surrounded one night by 40 armed men. They forc- ing their way into the house when they were repelled by Gissur. Afraid lest the neighbours should come to Gissurs assistance if they re- mained long the raiders set fire to the house. Gissur’s wife, trusting to the respect due to her sex, tried to escape but was throw back into the flames and perished. Gissur meanwhile took refuge in a detac- hed part of the building which from the mode of its construction escaped the ravages of the fire. In the room their was a large vessel full of sour milk, (the usual beverage of the country at that time — something like “skyr”) in which he hid himself. When the fire subsided his enemies searched the places and even wounded him several times with their spears when they prodded into the sour milk. They failed to find him and persuaded that he had perished in the ruins of his home, left the district. Thus Gissur — the individual the raid was specially intended for — escapedwith his life CHRISTMAS IN ICELAND


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