A Dedication to the Franks

Although my focus on history is usually centred on my native country of Scotland and the British Isles, I wish to explore the history of one of the Teutonic tribes from Continental Europe. The reason for this is that I have more recently felt drawn towards Continental Germanic spirituality as opposed to the Norse or Anglo-Saxon paths, particularly with regards to the tribe known as the ‘Franks’, who settled in what is now Flanders and the Netherlands as foederati; landed mercenaries hired by the Romans to defend their territory from other Teutonic tribes. The Franks went on to conquer Gaul and gave their name to France, and it is from them that the Franconian peoples are descended, namely the Dutch, Flemish and Afrikaners.

My own clan is descended from one of the Flemish families that participated in William the Bastard’s conquest of England and who were later invited to Scotland by David I in the 12th Century. Though the Franks were some of the main participants in abandoning their spiritual heritage in favour of the poison of Judeo-Christianity and spreading the disease to other tribes, they also had a reputation for ferocity and bravery and are an example of the archetype of the barbarian who fought against civilization only to succumb to its lure (as did many other Teutonic tribes during the ‘Folk-Wandering’ or ‘Migration Period’).

The Franks began as a confederation of smaller tribes who lived East of the Rhine, and coalesced into a singular ethnic entity in order to stand together against the Romans to the West. They were initially like most other barbarian tribes, described by the Romans as lacking armour and carrying swords, shields and the francisca, a type of throwing axe which was invented by the Franks and could bounce back when it hit the ground, potentially killing a foe from behind if you missed him on the initial throw. However, they do have their own origin history and are said to be descended from Trojans, which means that they may have had the same origin as the other Ten Lost Tribes of Israel and migrated to Western Germany.

francisca

Francisca, the tribal weapon of the Franks, note the curved head

The founder of their ruling dynasty, Merovech, was said to descend from a water god, possibly a Teutonic equivalent of Neptune. The confederation of tribes, led by the Cherusci and including the Bructeri and Sicambres, inflicted a crushing defeat upon the Romans at the Battle of Teutoburg Forest in 9AD. The Roman general Varus thought that he had secured the fealty of Arman, chief of the Cherusci, and accepted his invitation to pass through Teutoburg Forest with his army and retinue. The Romans were ambushed and slaughtered; the whole event was so traumatic to the Romans that Augustus subsequently went mad and they never again attempted to conquer the Germans, although they still raided their lands.

Between the 3rd and 5th Centuries AD, the Roman Empire was beginning to weaken and the Franks were frequently crossing the Rhine and invading the borderlands. Initially, the Romans had been able to repel them and return the favour; however, by this point civil war and reluctance to join the military among the Roman populace meant that they could no longer keep the Franks at bay and eventually they struck a deal with them. Several of the tribes would be settled on the other side of the Rhine in Toxandria (and areas which straddles both Flanders and the Netherlands) in exchange for military service, becoming known as the ‘Salian Franks’ (meaning ‘paid Franks’).

Thus, the Romans made allies of their enemies and the Franks became foderati, a system which eventually led to the Fall of the Roman Empire by allowing foreign warlords to take control of the army and carve up the empire among themselves. Though the Salian Franks were initially helpful in repelling invaders, and even participated in defeating the Huns and their allies at the Battle of Chalons, they began to adopt a more predatory attitude towards the weakening Romans, and so they broke their allegiance and pushed West until they reached the Somme under Chlodio. The exposure to Roman tactics and mass produced weapons and armour made them a more effective fighting force, and they simply decided to use this against the Romans when they became dissatisfied with their pay.

Eventually, the Franks on both sides of the Rhine were united under Childeric and his son, Clovis, through a combination of subjugating and assassinating rival chieftains. Clovis also conquered most of Gaul and put an end to the last vestige of Roman authority at Soissons. His Burgundian wife, Clotide, was a devout Catholic, and attempted incessantly to convert her husband, even causing the death of their first son through forced baptism. However, he was finally won over after gaining a victory against the Alemanni (another tribe from Western Germany) at the Battle of Tolbiac.

The story goes that Clovis was losing the battle and prayed to the Christian god rather than his own for victory, which he then achieved. To him, this proved the superiority of Christianity and he converted to Catholicism, despite the fact that the Catholics within his kingdom were outnumbered by both pagans and Arian Christians. Even more so, in the 7th Century Irish missionaries had to establish monasteries in Gaul in order to have more of an influence on the rural population, which was still largely pagan. This was the beginning of the gradual submission of the Teutonic tribes to the Catholic Church, which was one of the only things that united the Franks after the kingdom fell apart upon Clovis’ death.

clovis

The extent of the Frankish realm under Clovis

As was part of the Salic Law, Clovis’ kingdom was divided among his sons. This, however, only led to instability and the four kingdoms began to fight amongst themselves. Though the Frankish kingdom was eventually united again under Chlothar the Great in 613, they began to suffer raids from other tribes outside of the kingdom and were eventually faced with the Islamic invasion in the early 8th Century. The Muslims had conquered Spain and were now marching into France, but were defeated at the decisive Battle of Tours by the king’s regent, Charles Martel, in 732, halting any further Islamic advance into Europe.

Unfortunately, at this point the Merovingian dynasty was weaker than before and the kings were reliant on their generals. Eventually, the last Merovingian king was overthrown by Pepin the Short, who established a new dynasty and campaigned against the Basques as well as the Muslims. He also established Frankish vassal kingdoms in Spain, which eventually enabled the Reconquista and the eventual expulsion of Muslims and Jews from Spain. However, his son has been given more fame as a result of his conquests.

The Frankish king known as ‘Charlemagne’ (‘Charles the Great’) is one of the most famous and infamous rulers of the Dark Ages. While he managed to expand the Frankish domain well beyond its former territory, he was also a ruthless despot and Catholic fanatic, which is why he is also known as ‘Karl the Saxon Slayer’. He is remembered among Wotanists as the tormentor of the Saxons in Germany and for the defeat and subsequent forced conversion of their leader, Widukind. He oversaw the felling of oaks dedicated to Thonar (Thor) and the various ‘Irminsuls’ (sacred poles representing the axis of the universe) in Germany.

However, despite helping to spread to Judeo-Christian virus to the other German tribes, he outlawed usury and defeated the Turkic Avar Empire in modern Hungary, neutralizing them as a threat to Western Europe. He may be most famous for helping Pope Adrian I by conquering the hostile Kingdom of Lombardy and for assisting Pope Leo III against his enemies in Rome, for which he was coronated as ‘Holy Roman Emperor’ by the pope. Thus, he is a divisive figure who represents both an effective monarch and a religious bigot, the builder of a hegemony that included much of Western Europe under one god and one king.

After Charlemagne’s death, his kingdom was inherited by his son, Louis, whose kingdom was then split among his three sons when he died. The resulting divisions were never again united, and the three kingdoms lay the foundations for the modern countries of France, Germany and Italy. Though France solidified into a centralized kingdom, Germany and Italy were governed as the Holy Roman Empire, a loose coalition of various duchies and city-states that swore fealty to the successors of Charlemagne.

By this time, the Latin -derived French language had become the tongue of the Western Franks and German the that of the Eastern Franks, although their native language persisted in the Frankish heartlands of Flanders and the Netherlands. Though these territories were claimed by either the French king or the Holy Roman Emperor, as trading centres they soon gained more power and influence and functioned largely independently of the kings they were supposedly ruled by. The Franconian peoples not only ventured to nearby Britain, but also became explorers and traders in the form of the Dutch Empire between the 16th and 20th Centuries, as well as the Boer colonies of South Africa.

Despite their noble origins and past conquests, the Franconians are not a numerous people, and are at risk of being outnumbered in their homelands by mass immigration from Islamic and African nations and are facing gradual genocide in South Africa. As a descendant of the Franks, I wish to invoke our brave ancestors and our gods to guide us in these dark times. The Franks are remembered as one of the foremost barbarian tribes who brought the might of Rome to its knees, and I am confident that the heroic spirit of those tribes can rise up again in their descendants to fight against the Modern Rome; the EU and the various globalist power structures that strangle our folk with the rope of Modern civilization.

Wodan, id est furor!

Wulf Willemson

To be an ‘Aryan’

The word ‘Aryan’ is one that has been misunderstood and abused for almost a century, conjuring up images of the concept of ‘Herrenvolk’ (“Master Race”) as understood by the German National Socialists and is sadly synonymous to many with the idea of White racial superiority. This consigns the definition of this ancient word into a brief period of history in which it was utilized by a particular political regime. Conceptually, the word has longer been understood in a way similar to Nietzsche’s idea of the ‘ubermensch’ (“superman”), which is based more on spiritual evolution than specifically that of biological races. The word ‘Aryan’ comes from the Sanskrit term ‘arya’, meaning ‘noble’ and is a description not only of particular ethnic groups, but also the code of behaviour that this entails. To be ‘noble’ meant to engage in respectful discourse with one’s allies and to be unyielding and deadly to your enemies.

Other ideas related to this general concept include having respect for those of a lower class than you and not to take advantage of them as well as engaging in physical, mental and spiritual fitness. It is where we derive the word ‘aristocrat’ from, and indeed, this sort of behaviour was to be expected of the ruling classes in Ancient Europe. In India, the concept of nobility is associated with ‘rajas’ energy, meaning activities which include physical action, mental acumen and moral judgement as well as creation and destruction. The Japanese term for this sort of person is ‘samurai’, and the behaviour associated with this title was a warrior ethic, and represents their cultural conception of the same sort of person as an Aryan in Europe as well as in Central and South Asia.

There did at one point exist an ‘Aryan race’, who inhabited the areas just mentioned, and it is unclear from where specifically they originated (although it is possible that they originally came from Siberia). However, there has since been significant changes in the racial make-up of Eurasia that no such race exists today as distinct from other races. It is true that the characteristics of Aryan behaviour are most associated with those of European descent. However, much of this has to do with the fact that the concept of an ‘Aryan’ is specific to the Indo-European peoples, and just as the Japanese have their concept of the samurai, other cultures have different definitions for what they would consider to be noble.

The homeland of the Aryan race is something which has been much debated, with answers ranging from Central Asia to India, Turkey or even Europe. However, I wish to focus more on what the word ‘Aryan’ means today. In one sense, it refers to a shared culture from Ireland to India and is reflected in the Indo-European languages which are spoken in these parts of the world. Ireland and Iran both mean “land of the Aryans” and their influence is felt both on a linguistic and spiritual level, as many of the deities of the Indo-European pantheons appear to have a shared origin. The names of Agni of the Vedic pantheon and Ingvi (another name for Frey) both come from a word related to the word ‘ignite’ and are associated with fire. The Celtic god ‘Lugos’ has a shared meaning as ‘Loki’ and both have a meaning similar to ‘light’, which pertains to lightning. Today, the Indo-European peoples do not constitute one race, but rather two or three. In Asia, the Iranic peoples are a mixture of Aryan as well as Arabic and Turkic elements, while in India there is significant admixture between Aryans and Dravidians. In Europe, the White race carries a legacy of ancient mixing between Aryans and earlier Neanderthals and Cro-Magnons.

Leaving aside the question of the ‘racial’ Aryan, much of the focus within the Indo-European cultures is now on the ‘spiritual’ Aryan. While in India the terms ‘Aryan’ and ‘mleccha’ were ethnic designations, they also denoted certain types of behaviour. The term ‘mleccha’ has a similar meaning to ‘barbarian’ and was used to describe non-Aryan peoples in India. It usually referred to people who were considered to be generally uncouth, ignorant or rude. This may have had more to do with their behaviour than racial differences. In this way, even a White person can be a ‘mleccha’ while someone of another race may exhibit more ‘Aryan’ characteristics. What constitutes Aryan behaviour can be compared to the concept of ‘classiness’, meaning someone who is well-spoken, well-mannered and attractive. To be wise in speech and slow to anger are virtues which were essential to the warrior classes of Ancient Eurasia in order to maintain order in society. The noblemen were expected to protect and defend their folk, while the noblewomen would have acted as managers of their community. During Kali Yuga (‘Iron Age’ or ‘Dark Age’ which is now ending), the kshatriyas (the Sanskrit term for nobles) are said to levy unfair taxes and abuse their folk through violence and coercion, which reflects the state of things when an Aryan society is run by mlecchas. Our warriors have lost their sense of honour, and now is the time to bring it back.

To act as an Aryan entails mindfulness, honesty and clarity towards others, and to advancing in your own efforts while not interfering with those of others (unless they are harmful to one’s folk). Physical fitness is key to achieving mental clarity and spiritual contentment, and discipline with regards to diet and exercise is essential to better yourself in these ways. The art of self-defence is the mark of a warrior and is also integral to the idea of acting as an Aryan. This is distinct from violence, which is inflicting harm upon others when they have not done so to you, and such behaviour brings great shame to one who considers himself an Aryan. Having a good relationship with your ancestors and the gods (or whichever cosmic forces you happen to believe in) is attained through dutiful action and striving to better oneself.An Aryan will never back down but may know when he has been defeated and first looks for a peaceful solution before engaging in self-defence.

Creativity is another way to challenge yourself, as folk with mostly rajas energy are very energetic and imaginative. Something that must be kept in mind is that becoming an Aryan is a progressive process, you don’t simply decide to become Aryan and behave accordingly. The cultivation of one’s person is a skill that takes practice, as most of us have simply been brought up as ‘mlecchas’, due to the sick and decaying nature of our society. Therefore, it takes time to gradually work on yourself and make the changes that are needed to help you achieve your best. Cleaning up your personal bad habits and unappealing aspects of yourself have a wider impact on the world around you, as you will radiate attractive energy that others will wish to emulate. With the ancient wisdom of our forefathers and the gods on our side, we can restore Aryan culture and rescue our race from extinction.

Wulf Willelmson

An ethnographic history of Scotland, Part II: The Germanic tribes

In recent years, the peoples of Britain have been steadily divided along national lines for political purposes, and a dichotomy has been presented between ‘Celtic’ Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and ‘Anglo-Saxon’ England; which has been used to strengthen a false nationalism, not based on race, but on the extent of state authority. Yet history shows this simplification to be untrue, particularly in Scotland where the (mostly) Germanic English tongue is dominant today. This actually reflects a process that has been occurring in Britain for thousands of years, as the cultural influences from either the Atlantic (the West coast of France, Spain and Portugal) or Nordic (Scandinavia and the Low Countries) peoples have competed for dominance at various points in history. Last time, we looked at the Celtic tribes in Scotland, who represent a time of Atlantic supremacy. Today in Scotland, Nordic culture reigns supreme and this process began with the Roman invasion.

By the dawn of the First Century AD, the Roman army consisted of legionaries from Italy supported by auxiliary troops from the provinces of the empire. Most of the auxiliaries stationed in Britain were from Batavia in what is now the Netherlands, who mingled with the local population. Later on , as the Romans themselves grew weary of fighting for their leaders due to systemic corruption (sound familiar?) and the increasing occurrence of civil war, they came to rely on ‘foederates’, Germanic warriors enlisted from the borders of the empire who fought for the Romans in exchange for land within the empire. This proved to be their undoing, as the foederati generals became so powerful that they could simply rely on their loyal warriors to carve themselves kingdoms within the decaying empire.

Things happened a little differently in Britain, as the Roman armies had already left out of frustration with trying to maintain the difficult province by the time the empire started to crumble. The Romano-British were beset by raids from the Picts and Gaels (who the Romans called ‘Scoti’, from whom the Scots derive their name and is related to the word ‘Scythian’), so they decided to use the Roman tactic of recruiting Germanic foederati to fight them; as the Romanized Britons had become dependent on the Roman soldiers and were mostly unable to respond effectively with their own militias. The British tyrant ‘Vortigern’ recruited two leaders from Jutland (mainland Denmark) named Hengest and Horsa (both names meaning ‘horse’) and their warbands to defend the Britons against these invaders, in exchange for land in the South-East of Britain. Despite their success, the Romano-British nobles feared these heathen warriors and wanted them out of Britain. Vortigern tried to convince them to leave, but since he had given them his word that they could stay (and also married Hengest’s daughter and thus, to them they were family) they saw this as oathbreaking and reacted by making war on the Britons. They successfully conquered the South-East, and soon many other Germanic tribes from Angeln ( in Schleswig) and Saxony settled on the East coast. These tribes became what are today known as the Anglo-Saxons.

Throughout the 5th and 6th Centuries, the Anglo-Saxons had little to do with Scotland. An ambitious warlord named ‘Ida’ is said to have taken control of Bamburgh on the Northumberland coast and founded the kingdom of Bernicia. Though this region lay close to Scotland’s modern border, during this time they were more concerned with fighting the Britons (and each other) to the South. This was to change at the dawn of the 7th Century with the rise of a ruthless Bernician king named ‘Aethelfrith’. Intent on expanding the borders of Bernicia, he campaigned against his neighbours to the South and extended his hegemony into Scotland. He came to blows with another powerful warlord in Scotland at the time, Aidan MacGabran, King of Dal Riada (the Gaelic part of Scotland). They met at a place called ‘Degsastan’ somewhere in the Scottish Borders, and a battle ensued in which Aethelfrith would emerge the victor; which set the course for Anglo-Saxon domination in Scotland over the next century, having gained a foothold in the Borders region.

After Aethelfrith’s death, his kingdom was taken by his enemy, Edwin of Deira (Yorkshire), whose own kingdom fell apart upon his death. Aethelfrith’s son, Oswald, then became king of Bernicia and went on the unite the kingdoms of Bernicia and Deira to form what became known as ‘Northumbria’. Irish annals record a ‘siege of Etain (Edinburgh)’ in 638 during Oswald’s reign, which, while not mentioning who was involved, suggests that he managed to conquer the British kingdom of Gododdin (Lothian); which brought the realm of Northumbria to the borders of the Picts. After his death, he was succeeded by his younger brother, Oswy, who then became the most powerful king of Northumbria. He campaigned as far West as Galloway and as far North as Angus, and all of the most powerful kingdoms in Scotland and England paid tribute to him. After his death, his son, Egfrith, managed to reinforce his kingdom’s authority by defeating the Picts at the Battle of Two Rivers near Perth in 671. However, another Pictish rebellion 14 years later convinced Egfrith to launch an ill-advised mounted campaign once again into Southern Pictland, only to be defeated and killed at the Battle of Nechtansmere, probably at Dunnichen in Angus.

The Picts had shaken off the yoke of Northumbrian servitude once and for all, never again would the Anglo-Saxons march North of the Forth until the reign of Aethelstan of Wessex in the 10th Century, and so their territory was restricted to the South-East. The Picts then became the dominant power in Scotland during the 8th Century, gaining submission from the Gaels of Dal Riada and the Britons of Strathclyde. This was not to last, however, as all of the peoples of Britain would feel the fury of the Norsemen at the end of the 8th Century. The Norsemen were the last wave of Germanic heathen folk to invade Britain, as they began their raids first on Lindisfarne in 793, then on the Northern and Western Isles in 794. In subsequent years they settled on Shetland and Orkney as bases from which to launch further raids rather than sailing all the way from Norway. By the middle of the 9th Century, they had also colonized the Hebrides, mingling with the local Gaels (for some reason, no trace of Pictish culture survives from the Isles after this period, possibly because the local Picts were outnumbered by Norse settlers, which was not the case on the Gaelic Inner Hebrides).

It was during this time that the Jarl of Orkney, Sigurth the Mighty, launched campaigns onto the Scottish mainland, conquering Caithness and Sutherland (which was ‘southern land’ from an Orcadian perspective). His forays into Ross and Moray brought him to blows with the reigning Pictish king and his kinsmen, who were wiped out by Sigurth’s armies (though it was the Picts who had the last laugh, as the captured head of the Pictish king’s teeth rubbed against Sigurth’s leg, which became an infected wound and he died). This threw the Pictish kingdoms into civil war, shattering their collective power in Scotland. From the struggle for power emerged Kenneth MacAlpin, king of Dal Riada (which was previously under Pictish control), who defeated his rivals in battle and became King of the Picts. Though still dependent on the support of the Pictish nobles, this marked the beginning of Gaelic supremacy in Scotland.

Norse settlement continued throughout this period, as Norse-Gaels from Ireland, led by Olaf the White, sacked the Strathclyde Briton’s stronghold of Dumbarton, forcing the Britons to relocate their centre of power to Govan further inland. These ‘foreign Gaels’ subsequently settled in Galloway. From this point on, however, favour began to swing in favour of the Scottish Gaels who, by the 10th Century, had annexed Lothian form Northumbria. By this time, their kingdom was centred at Scone and was known as ‘Alba’ in Gaelic and ‘Scotland’ in English and they shared power with the kings of Moray (also Gaelic), though this sometimes led to fighting between the two. It was at this point that the Picts ceased to form a distinct entity and disappeared from history following ‘Gaelicization’. The new unified kingdom then became threatened by the Saxon king Aethelstan, who gained submission from Constantine II following an invasion of Scotland. An attempt to regain power by the Scots, Strathclyde Britons and the Norse-Gaels of Dublin met with defeat at the Battle of Brunanburh in 934. However, Aethelstan’s power had still been sufficiently weakened by the long campaign, and the young kingdom of Scotland was able to survive.

In the 11th Century, Gaelic dominance in Scotland reached its peak, as Strathclyde and the Borders region were annexed during the reign of Malcolm Canmore. However, his reign also signalled the beginning of the decline for Gaelic culture, as Malcolm’s second wife was of the House of Wessex (whose family had fled to Scotland following the Norman invasion) and it was likely under her influence that English became the language of the Scottish court. Though the Scottish nobles tried to reverse this process by supporting Malcolm’s brother, Donald, and his claim to the throne after Malcolm’s death, it was too late. Malcolm’s sons had fled to England and were supported by the Norman king, Henry II. Despite the regime change imposed on England by William the Bastard in 1066, the hybrid Anglo-Norman culture was simply imported to Scotland by Malcolm’s sons after they returned to Scotland and overthrew their uncle with English support, particularly David I.

It was he who founded the burghs of Scotland and imposed ecclesiastical reform that brought the Church of Scotland in line with the rest of Catholic Europe. He stripped the kingdoms of Moray and Galloway of their remaining autonomy and invited Norman and Flemish knights from England and gave them the land and titles that he had taken from the displaced nobles. It was also during his reign that Edinburgh became the capital. David’s successor, William, spent much of his reign launching failed campaigns into Northumberland in an attempt to annex the region. It was not to be though, and so under his successor, Alexander II, Scotland’s border became fixed to what it is today (with the exception of Berwick, which would change hands over the centuries). Alexander was focused on a more realistic acquisition, the Hebrides.

While the Hebrides had formed their own kingdom with the Isle of Man, they had recently come under Norwegian domination, as the Northern Isles had been for two centuries. Alexander died on his way to the Hebrides to begin his campaign, but the fight was taken up by this son, Alexander III, who managed to drive away the army of the Norwegian king, Haakon the Old, at the Battle of Largs in 1263. Haakon retreated to Orkney and died there and his son, Magnus VI, had no interest in reasserting his father’s claim; and so he ceded the Hebrides to Scotland and acknowledged Scottish authority over Caithness, which had also been disputed. From this point, Gaelic culture became dominant in the Hebrides, while the Northern Isles still belonged to Norway (for now). As Norse culture in Scotland went into retreat, Germanic culture still found room for expansion in the Lowlands, as the dichotomy between the Gaelic Highlands and Germanic Lowlands would become a feature of later centuries.

The Celtic and Germanic peoples had a lot in common, they all worshipped Wotan as the chief god in heathen times (though they obviously had different names for him) and they also practised a mixed economy of pastoralism and agriculture supplemented by some hunting traditions. There were, however, noticeable differences; not just linguistic, but also cultural. In general, the Teutons tended to focus on the solar solstices and equinoxes as the most important times of the year, while their Celtic counterparts placed more emphasis on lunar festivals, though these were all present in both cultures. This displayed a heavier emphasis on agriculture by the Norse and Anglo-Saxons and pastoralism by the Picts, Gaels and Britons. To the Celts, cattle were considered the most sacred animals, while the Teutons held more reverence for the boar (cattle-raiding was not a feature of Germanic culture). There were also differences in political structures; while the Celtic peoples retained a more decentralized tribal structure, the Anglo-Saxons had been influenced by the military hierarchy of the Romans, and so the loyalty of the warband to their leader was more important than loyalty to their tribe. Though Anglo-Saxon kings were much more answerable to their folk than the later Norman kings (who saw the folk as mere ‘subjects’), this meant that Anglo-Saxon kingdoms were more centralized and homogeneous, unlike the complex system of high kings and sub-kings present in Scotland and Ireland.

There were also differences in their styles of warfare; Germanic warriors preferred to meet their foe on the open battlefield most of the time, in contrast to the heavy reliance on skirmishes and ambushing by the Celtic peoples. The main formation of Germanic armies was the shieldwall, which placed more emphasis on teamwork than the Celtic preference to fight for individual glory (although there is evidence that the Picts adopted the shieldwall and used it against the Northumbrians at the Battle of Nechtansmere). Germanic swords, shields and spearheads also tended to be larger than those used by Celtic warriors and they seem to have utilized more armour in the form of mail shirts and iron helmets, which could be very richly decorated. The Teutons also had light cavalry, but they were primarily infantrymen; and so the Norse became famous for their skills with the axe and, because of the increasing reliance on armour from the 10th Century onwards, chose to forego the shield and used much larger axes wielded with two hands (a style which was adopted not only by the Anglo-Saxons, but also by the Irish and Hebrideans). Yet the warrior culture of all these diverse peoples was the same, they all celebrated their victories in the mead hall and treasured honour and loyalty as the highest virtues. They are sister-cultures which compliment each other well, and it is a shame that they are sometimes seen as antithetical to one another.

To be continued…

Wulf Willelmson