The Living Quarters
In the living quarters, you can study everyday life and handicrafts. It’s as though the Vikings have just gone out for a walk and may return at any minute. There are artisans here, too, working on various traditional crafts. Here you are allowed to touch and feel the objects, textiles, furs, and skins – welcome to a living museum.
The Feast Hall
The chieftain’s feast hall is a majestic sight with its wood carvings and ceiling darkened by soot. The chieftain was responsible for offering at least three sacrifices throughout the year, where food and drink were a major part of the event. Long tables and benches surround the fireplace. The High Seat is centrally located, not far from the original site. Many of the most important finds at Borg were made in this particular room.
Yggdrasil — the Barn
This large room was a barn and stable during the Viking Age. It now houses a permanent mythology exhibition. At the heart of the Viking world, we find the ash tree Yggdrasil whose roots extended to Åsgard, the world of the gods; Midgard, the world of humans; and Utgard, the world of chaos. At each of these roots, there was a well. At the exhibition, you can learn about Mimir’s Well, where Odin sacrificed an eye in return for wisdom; and Urd’s Well, where the Goddesses of Fate spin the fate of man. All around the world lies the Midgard Snake, biting its own tail.
Mythology of the Vikings
Asgard, Midgard and Jotunheim
In Norse Mythology the cosmos is build-up of several “heims”. The easiest way to explain the location of these “heims” is by using a circler model: The innermost circle represents Asgard, the home of the gods and where Yggdrasil is located. The second circle is called Midgard where humans live. The third and furthest out circle is called “Utgard” also known as Jotunheim, this is the home of the Jotuns.
Yggdrasil is a giant ash tree with branches that stretch all the way into the heavens. The world and all the “heims” rests on Yggdrasil’s massive roots.
Aesir and Vanir
The Norse gods are split in to two kindred: the Aesir and the Vanir. The Aesir and Vanir currently live in a peaceful and prosperous society, however it was not always like this. In the beginning the two groups of gods were in constant war against each other. They were at war for so long they grew tired of it and entered a time of peace that still lasts. Out of the two groups of gods the Aesir are the most numerous. Some famous Aesir are Odin, Freya, Balder, Thor and Heimdall. Among the Vanir we have the gods Njord, Frey and Freya. Freya is mentioned as both an Aesir and a Vanir as she is the daughter of Njord. Here at Borg the most important god is the chieftain of all other gods, his name is Odin.
The Jotuns are creatures that are often seen as the direct opposite of the Aesir, they live in Jotunheim that stretches along the edge of the world. Jotuns are often described as large, wild, and brutal creatures, but they are also capable of kindness. They are often associated with the natural elements such as frost, cold and winter. There are several stories of gods and Jotuns intermingle, marry, or produce offspring. One such meeting is very important here at Borg. Odin and the Jotun woman Skade is said to have had a very erotic relationship that resulted in a child called Sæming. Sæming became the forefather of the Jarl family at Lade in Trondheim. Olaf Tvennumbruni and his family are also said to have been descendants of Odin and Skade. Olaf Tvennumbruni was the chieftain in Lofot, the island that we today call Vestvågøy. He was said to be a Hamram, a shape changer, perhaps this ability came from his godly blood.
This is the story of how Odin gained the wisdom of Mime when he sacrificed his right eye to Mimes well.
A long, long time ago there was a Jotun called Mime. Mime was the wises creature that lived, and he would often give his wisdom and advice to the gods. One day Mime was killed and beheaded, and Odin who did not want to lose this source of wisdom used Seid (magic) to preserve Mimes head. He placed the head in a well that was above one of Yggdrasil’s roots. The well was so dubbed “Mimes Well”. Mime’s head was still alive, and Odin would often visit the head and ask for advice. While the head was in the well its blood started to mix with the water giving any creature that drank from the well the same wisdom that Mime had. Odin wanted to drink from this well and claim such wisdom for himself and asked Mime if he could drink for the wells water. Mime replied, “Give me your right eye and you shall be allowed to drink from my water.”. Odin ripped out his own eye and presented it for Mime and was given permission to drink from the water. And thus, achieved the same wisdom possessed by Mime.
Odin’s hall, Valhalla is the biggest hall in all of Asgard, and the hall were great warriors go after falling in combat. In Odin’s hall they sat, ate and drank. Valhalla is not only a feast hall. In the poem “Grimnesmål” Valhalla is described as such: The roof is made up of golden shields that is held up by walls of spears. The hall is lit up by burning swords hanging on the walls and the benches are covered in chainmail. The hall has 540 doors that can fit 800 men each.
In Viking Age, honour was an important concept. Where you ended up in the realm of the dead had to do with how honourable life you had lived. If you died on the battlefield as a heroic warrior, you ended up in Valhalla. Here you could fight, drink, and eat as much as you wanted. Valhalla was therefore an important inspiration for warriors. If you lacked honour, you did not enter Valhalla, but rather had to travel to Helheim where you would sit in front of Hel.
Honour was not just a concept for warriors, it was extremely important in everyday life. If you lost your reputation and honour, this was seen as worse than death. Loss of honour could happen in several ways: If you showed disloyalty to your chief and clan, you could lose honour. If you did not take revenge for the atrocities committed against you or your family, then you also lost honour. Murders committed against your loved ones led to a loss of honour but killing to correct an offense brought you back glory. Honour in the Viking Age determined your reputation in society and where you ended up in the realm of the dead.
Huginn and Muninn
Huginn and Muninn are Odin’s ravens. They fly out into the world every morning from Valhalla to gather information and look upon the happenings of the world. Huginn means “thought”, he is the observer that inform Muninn of what he finds. Muninn means “memory”, he remembers all that he hears or see and processes the information. Without Muninn all the world’s history will be lost. Odin says in the poem “Grimnesmål” that he fears to lose Huginn, but he fears more for Muninn. The raven’s travels around the world and collect all the information they come over. They are in a way Odin’s eyes.
Beer and Mead
Today, many people know that the Vikings drank mead, but perhaps not that mead was not an everyday drink. Mead is a honey wine that was used in connection with feasts, blots, and other celebrations. It was a drink for the wealthy. Mead is often described in stories about gods having a feast, such as when Tor went to Jotunheim to borrow the largest cauldron that existed in all worlds. Here, enough mead was to be brewed for all the guests at the feast.
Beer, on the other hand, was a different type of drink, and important to the Vikings. It was a cheaper drink that was easier to make. Beer was probably a drink that everyone drank, both children and adults. It was easier to use barley to brew beer than to bake bread. Water could be dangerous to drink in Viking Age because it could contain bacteria. Brewed beer on the other hand, had nutrients and less harmful bacteria. Beer was possibly a drink that went with all meals in the Viking Age, but it probably had a lower alcohol content for the children who drank it.