November was an interesting time with a visit to Norway and a cruise around the coastline going far north to the Arctic Circle and beyond.

The visit made me more aware of the difficulties the people of Norway experience with day to day living and how much the people rely on the ferries and boats for their supplies.

Contrary to what we are brought up to believe the Vikings were primarily farmers and fishermen, and relied on the land and sea for their survival and they would go raiding after a bad harvest. Only a few Norsemen were Vikings at any one time, but most were or had been Vikings some of the time.

After a period of time the raiding parties turned into more of an invasion as they saw how rich and fertile the land was and how much wealth there was to be taken.  From the North East came the Danes and from the North West the Norwegians.

Our Norwegian Vikings has many a battle to win the lands, and ruled over Mann for a great number of years, with fertile land and many a fair maiden they settled and had children from these Celtic Women, and became a part of the landscape.  Around the island is evidence of this, from the early pagan ritual of ship burial to a semi Christian burial with grave markers which were full of Norse traditions and runes.  Finally the Celtic knots mixed with the stories from the sagas started to take over as grave markers and left such a legacy for us today.

These stones can be seen in many churches around the island with one of the best group of ‘crosses’ in a shelter at Maughold church in the north of the island.