9th January is Raud the Strong`s Day. or Rauðr inn rammi
Raud was a Norse Seidr Priest who, in the late 10th century refused to convert to Christianity.
His story and his deeds are found in a number of Sagas. The first one is Oddr Snorrason an Icelandic Benedictine monk from around the late 12th century, the second is from the the Heimskringla (The Chronicle of the Kings of Norway) by Snorri Sturluson (early 13th century)
‘There was a bonde, by name Raud the Strong, who dwelt in Godey in Salten fjord. Raud was a very rich man, who had many house servants; and likewise was a powerful man, who had many Fins in his service when he wanted them. Raud was a great idolater, and very skillful in witchcraft,….‘ (Heimskringla – chapter 5- 85-87)
The last is a Saga that mixes Snorri’s history with other from Sagas and tales from the early 14th century. However, all of the Sagas agree on the basic frame of the story.
King Olaf Tryggvason of Norway ( 995 to 1000 CE) had demanded that the all of his citizens should be baptised into the Christian faith.
While many reluctantly agreed under fear of torture and execution, Raud did not.
Raud was also a respected sea-farer, and has a long ship that was known as the ‘The Dragon’ or ‘The Serpent’ . This ship had a large Dragon head carved into it’s bow.
When Raud refused he escaped from Tryggvason, by taking his long ship and out running Tryggvason. Raid made his way back to his own settlement in Gylling and Haering, part of the Godey Isles .
Tryggvason sailed under cover of darkness to Godey and seized Raud from his bed. When Raud would not agree to convert, Tryggvason executed Raud by making him swallow a snake or serpent.
But the serpent would not go in, so Tryggvason ordered that a horn and red hot iron be used to force the serpent in. Eventually the serpent was forced down into Rauds stomach where it ate it’s way out and killed him .
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote about Tryggvason and Raud the Strong in his Tales of a Wayside Inn (1863), Part First, The Musician’s Tale; The Saga of King Olaf X. Raud the Strong.
Far north in the Salten Fiord
By rapine, fire and sword
Lives the Viking, Raud the Strong;
All the Godoe Isles belong
To him and his heathen horde…
With rites that we both abhor
He worships Odin and Thor
So it cannot yet be said
That all the old gods are dead
And the warlocks are no more…
The reason for his execution was that Raud had refused to give up ‘Asatru‘, a belief in the ancient gods of Scandinavia .
After his execution Tryggvason confiscated all of Raud`s land and wealth, including his distinctive Dragon/ Serpent headed long ship.
According to legend, this is how the Viking long boats got their distinctive shape.
So on the 9th January many followers of the Heathen (Asatru) faith will show their respect and honour Raud by raising a horn in his honour.
The legend of Raud also lives on in an historical play, Ragnhilds Drøm, that is performed around the 9th near Godøy
All images and words unless otherwise stated are copyright to © Shullie H Porter 2014- 2021