The Viking era is usually said to be roughly from 793 AD to 1066 AD, ie from the first Viking raid on the monastery at Lindisfarne to the Battle of Stamford Bridge when the last Viking king, Harald Hardraada, lost his bid for the English throne. When I first started writing this series, I knew I couldn’t cover all that time and I had to decide which parts to base my stories on. So I made a chart of all the events that were known to have happened from 750 AD onwards, and discovered that the years between 850 and 900 AD were jam-packed with possibilities. At that time, the Swedes were heading east and south down the Russian rivers, the Danes (and others) were raiding and conquering in Britain and Europe, the Norwegians established a kingdom in Ireland and started settling on Iceland, and there were internal power struggles in Scandinavia too. This gave me a rich historical tapestry from which to choose events that my characters could be part of.
Christina here. Today I continue the tale of my recent journey to Iceland. (You can find Part I here):-
A trip to Iceland would not be complete without a visit to two special places – Thingvellir (Þingvellir) and the Geysers. We drove south east to Thingvellir first, the place where the Vikings held their annual meetings (Alþingi) to dispense justice and decide on laws. It's a natural rock formation, a bit like a canyon with an amazing waterfall – Öxarárfoss – on one side. In a spectacular setting up on a hill overlooking a huge lake nearby, the waterfall came as a complete surprise. It’s hidden away among the rock formations that form two curtain walls, like fortifications on a castle. Views over the surrounding landscape are out of this world. There is a large grassy plateau below, where the Vikings taking part in the Alþingi would have raised their tents and camped out. When we were there, the place was incredibly windy and I nearly froze to death as the rocks acted like a wind tunnel. It was so cold!
Things improved at our next destination, the famous geyser Strokkur which wasn’t all that far away. The whole area smelled like rotten eggs because of the sulphur in the water, but it was fascinating to see the geyser erupt every five to seven minutes without warning. It was the only one at present, as another one nearby is dormant right now. All around were little smoking springs, as if the brown soil itself was smouldering. There were also pools of various sizes, beautiful and very inviting, but at 80-100 degrees extremely dangerous! You can’t even stick your hand in or your skin would burn off. Strokkur was not as big as I had imagined it, but still impressive and I’m so glad I got to see it.