THOR THE WIND-RAISER AND THE EYRARLAND IMAGE
ISBN: 0 903521 52 0; xii + 177 pages with 35 b&w illustrations and coloured frontispiece; published 2001 by the Viking Society for Northern Research
The range of the Vikings' expansion is to no small extent due to the exploitation of wind-power. It is wind-power that allowed them to reach Newfoundland in the west and to sail the length of the Caspian in the east.
This book explores the superstitions of the Vikings about wind-raising and the gods believed to control the wind. There is good evidence that Thor was a deity regarded as having special powers in this respect: a passage from an Old Icelandic text tells us how he was thought of as doing this, whilst various objects found in the Viking area represent the god in the process of raising a wind and are to be regarded as 'wind-amulets'. A possible parallel to these from a Lithuanian source is discussed. Special attention is given to the well-known Eyrarland image found in northern Iceland. Detailed arguments confirm that this is indeed an image of Thor. Further, possible models for it are perhaps to be found amongst Egyptian antiquities. Amongst other things, the book incorporates a concise study of the Old Icelandic Rauðúlfs þáttr ok Rauðs.
The author, Richard Perkins, is Professor of Norse Studies at University College London.
' a remarkable treatise by virtue of the breadth and depth of scholarship that Richard Perkins displays ' Speculum