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The 3 swords on the rock

The monument “Sverd i fjell” – swords in the rock – erected in 1983 to commemorate the Battle of Hafrsfjord in 872 AD.

Designed by local sculptor Fritz Røed based on the model of 3 Viking swords found in different places in Norway.

The swords are stuck in the stone, never to be used again. Symbol of peace.

The sword in the middle represents the victorious Viking king Harald Hårfagre – Harald Fairhair – who, according to the Snørre saga, promises himself not to cut his hair and beard until he conquers the entire kingdom of Norway.

Harald Hårfagre is considered the first king of Norway.

The current king is also called Harald, V (fifth).

The Gyda Saga

In the 8th century there is no unified Norwegian kingdom.

The few people – the Vikings – live mainly from agriculture, scattered on farms.

However, there are some institutions that bring together villages and regions. One of the most important of these institutions is the Thing – Ting = Res (Publica).

During the meetings of the Thing (Ting), laws are established, transgressors are punished, networks and alliances of power and trade are formed.

Norway, before the unification of 872 AD. it is divided between different tribal chiefs.

Gyda is the daughter of Chieftain Eirik of Hordaland.

Harald, as a teenager, falls in love with Gyda and sends his men to ask her in marriage.

Gyda is probably a bit snobbish because she says no.

She doesn’t want to marry a petty king, but the king of all Norway.

The Battle of Hafrsfjord

So Harald prepares for war.

He appoints a new count every time he conquers new territory and the local farmers must now pay taxes to him.

Eventually, Harald gathers a fleet of ships and prepares to face the rest of his enemies in Hafrsjord.

Two gigantic armies meet and the battle is long and hard.

In the end Harald wins and becomes king of the entire country.

Now Harald takes a nice bath to wash the blood off him, cuts his beard and hair that haven’t been combed for 10 years and dresses as a groom.

Curiosity: Hårfagre means Beautiful Hair, but is it true or is it a Viking joke? Let’s remember that people didn’t wash much at the time.

How did it go with love?

Harald Hårfagre, washed, shaved and crowned Viking king, goes to Gyda.

And she says YES…(I wonder if Gyda had the power of choice…?)

They get married and have many children.

But the Saga continues and tells us that Harald also marries other women and has other children.

The average lifespan in the Viking era was 40 years but Harald Hårfagre was an exception and died of old age after 60 years of reign.

More information about Harald Hårfagre

His name is actually Harald Halvdanson.

King from approx. 872 – to approx. 932.

The father’s name is Halvdan Svarte (Svarte = the black one) perhaps due to his black hair.

One of his sons is Eirik Blodøks (Blodøks = bloody axe). Also known as Erik I Haraldsson the Bloody, king of Norway and the English province of Northumbria with York as its capital.