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The Saga of the Earls of Orkney and Skaldic Poetry

With our guest Dr. Judith Jesch, Professor of Viking Studies at the University of Nottingham in England.

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In this episode we traverse a lot of Viking ground. Dr. Jesch is a scholar who has written on several aspects of the Viking Age over a long and distinguished career, from women and the Nordic diaspora to poetry and the runes. We talk to her about the influence Vikings had on the various areas where they travelled and settled, the difference between Skaldic and Eddic poetry, and what a Viking Age poetry performance looked and sounded like. We discuss the transition from oral to written culture and the amazing ability to commit things to memory that the Vikings possessed.

Dr. Jesch’s latest project is a new translation of Orkneyinga saga, the saga of the earls of Orkney, so we query her about that as well. Interesting stuff, as not many people know much about Viking activity in the isles off Scotland.

We delve into pop culture a bit, likening Viking surprise attacks to an episode of Family Guy, and also discover that The Last Kingdom movie Seven Kings Must Die should really have been named Two Kings and Five Earls Must Die.

Watch the full podcast to find out where in the Viking Age she’d go if she had a time machine and why The Lord of the Rings doesn’t hold as much fascination for her today as it did when she was a teenager.

Thank you so much Dr. Jesch for a fun conversation!

An audio-only version of this interview is available here on our Substack and also on Apple Podcasts and Spotify.

You can read more about her on her University of Nottingham page.

Purchase the books we mention in the episode. You won’t regret it!

Women in the Viking Age and The Viking Diaspora

Vikingology Podcast
Vikingology Podcast
Vikingology Podcast