Eagle Hill Masthead

Journal of the North Altantic
    JONA Home
    Aim and Scope
    Board of Editors
    Editorial Workflow
    Publication Charges

Other Eagle Hill Journals
    Northeastern Naturalist
    Southeastern Naturalist
    Caribbean Naturalist
    Neotropical Naturalist
    Urban Naturalist
    Prairie Naturalist
    Eastern Paleontologist

Eagle Hill Institute Home

About Journal of the North Atlantic


Gaelic Bards and Norwegian Rigs
Gavin Parsons

Journal of the North Atlantic, Special Volume 4 (2013): 26–34

Full-text pdf (Accessible only to subscribers.To subscribe click here.)


Site by Bennett Web & Design Co.
G. Parsons 2013 Journal of the North Atlantic Special Volume 4 26 Stone Carvings The main source of evidence for the birlinn is the medieval stone carvings. The most detailed image of a birlinn is on a panel in a wall-tomb in St Clement’s church in Rodel, Harris, which was erected for Alasdair Crotach, chief of the MacLeods in 1528. (Fig. 1) The vessel has been created in stone in such detail that its relationship to the Viking ship is easily recognized. Arne Emil Christensen (2006) has described how the rigging and the general hull shape of the 16th-century Rodel bìrlinn, show the same characteristics as the ninth-century Norse ships that were excavated from the burial mounds at Gokstad and Oseberg. The main difference is the stern, which is straight to accommodate the rudder rather than the graceful curve seen on the Viking ships, which carried a steering oar mounted on the right-hand (starboard) side. A Common Tradition It is accepted by maritime archaeologists that the bìrlinn comes from the same boat-building tradition as the Viking ships. Ole Crumlin Pedersen (2010) has shown the close connection between boatbuilding traditions around the North Sea in the early Middle Ages; he showed how the “clinker” method of ship building was developed at various locations in this area. In a clinker-built boat. each strake or plank overlaps the one below it and is fastened through that overlap by a nail passed through from the outside and clenched or “clinked” on the inside over a disc of metal known as a “rove”. In this tradition, the vessel is begun by laying a keel Gaelic Bards and Norwegian Rigs Gavin Parsons* Abstract - The birlinn or West Highland galley has been used frequently as an image on clan crests, and appears on more than eighty medieval gravestones in the west of Scotland, yet not a single example of the ship itself remains or has been discovered, and definite information on its dimensions and construction is scarce. Some information about the bìrlinn can be gleaned from Gaelic poetry from the period 1300–1760, from oral tradition, stories, and also from land charters, estate papers, and accounts. The bìrlinn as seen on gravestone carvings appears to be closely related to the Viking ship, and my intention in this paper is to compare the West Highland vessel with the Norse vessel, using information from the square sail tradition still extant in Norway, to interpret information from the Gaelic bards. As well as increasing our practical knowledge of the bìrlinn, I hope to increase understanding of its important place in Gaelic heritage and illuminate links between Norse and Gaelic culture during the Middle Ages. Across the Sólundarhaf: Connections between Scotland and the Nordic World Selected Papers from the Inaugural St. Magnus Conference 2011 Journal of the North Atlantic *Sabhal Mòr, Ostaig Isle of Skye, IV43 8QS; sm00gp@uhi.ac.uk. 2013 Special Volume 4:26–34 Figure 1. Birlinn on the tomb of Alasdair Crotach, Rodel, Isle of Harris. Photograph © RCAHMS Licensor (www.rcahms.gov.uk). G. Parsons 2013 Journal of the North Atlantic Special Volume 4 27 and attaching a stempost and a sternpost—all the vessels discovered from the Iron Age and the Middle Ages are “double-enders” or pointed at both ends. The hull is then built up from the keel; the first plank (the garboard strake) is nailed to the keel and then each successive plank is clenched to the previous one. In the Norse tradition, the garboard strake is fastened on to the keel at a steep angle adding to the depth of the keel. The planks above then turn outward to form the hull shape proper before turning upward to the gunwale (Fig. 2). The earliest clinker-boat find is that of the 4thcentury ships discovered at Nydam in the south of Jutland (Pedersen 2010:65–67). The best preserved of the Nydam ships was built of oak, with a keel, stem, stern, and side rudder. It was built for rowing, and the planks were fastened with iron rivets. Then there is a superb example of a 7th-century clinker vessel from a grave mound at Sutton Hoo in East Anglia. There was no sign of a mast or a sail with this ship, which had places for 40 oars, but the hullshape shows a similar development to the 9th-century Viking ships excavated at Gokstad and Oseberg (Evans 1986), although without the projecting keel. The similarity of hull-shape and construction with Scandinavian finds strengthens the argument for common, or at least parallel, boat traditions around the North Sea. We might ask, though, were the same boat construction techniques and designs used on the west side of Britain, and particularly, were they used in the Hebrides? Historians have tended to assume that the Gaels did not have wooden boats before the Vikings arrived in the eighth century; so far, there is no material evidence at all. However, there is manuscript evidence from Ireland of sea voyages made before the Viking period. The Imramma describe voyages made by monks during the 6th–8th centuries, in curachs—boats made of hide stretched over a framework of laths. (Marcus 1980). In his biography of St. Columba, who arrived in Scotland in 543, Adomnan tells of ships made of hide (Sharpe 1995). He also refers to wooden boats being built in Iona, without giving any further information (Sharpe 1995:201). In the Irish Brehon Laws, which date at least as far back as the 7th century, and probably futher, three types of vessel are named: curach, barque, and lerlong (F. Kelly, School of Celtic Studies, Dublin Institute of Advanced Studies, Dublin, Ireland, 2008 pers. comm.). The largest of these, the lerlong, was possibly a wooden vessel, but again we have no further information. Raiders from Parallel Cultures Whatever types of boats the Gaels were using in the Figure 2. Clinker-built boat. Photograph © Fergus Walker. first few centuries AD, they G. Parsons 2013 Journal of the North Atlantic Special Volume 4 28 were using them in a very similar way to the Vikings, who appeared on the western ocean a few centuries later. G.J. Marcus (1980), in his book The Conquest of the North Atlantic, describes how the Irish Gaels repeatedly raided the western coasts of Britain in Roman times. He points out that the Gaelic curach played a part not unlike the Viking longship from the end of the 8th century. “Like the longship, the curach was a swift and handy craft, admirably adapted to this kind of roving warfare” (Marcus 1980:8). Speaking of the Gaels and their curachs coming over to Britain, the Welsh monk Gildas wrote, in the mid- 6th century “Scotti emergent certatim de curucis” (“Gaels came swarming ashore from their curachs”; Marcus 1980:8). So it seems that the Gaels and the Vikings had very similar ways—using fast seaworthy craft to carry out raids on other peoples. There is a wealth of evidence from place names, from personal names, from the Norse sagas, and other sources to show that the Norse had power in the Hebrides, and that their language was spoken widely, particularly in Lewis. Despite this evidence, as Donald Archie MacDonald (1984:277) has explained, there is scarcely any awareness in Gaelic oral tradition that Norse people settled in the islands. Most of the stories collected tell of attacks from the sea by Vikings and how they were repelled, or the invaders slaughtered. There are, however, tales of Somerled, the progenitor of Clan Donald, ending the rule of the Norse in Argyll. Somerled and the Lordship of the Isles In the history of Clan Donald as it is told from tradition in the books of Clan Ranald (Kennedy and MacBain 1892:155) and in oral tradition from Alasdair Cameron (Camshron 1963), it was Somerled MacGilleBrìde who led the Gaels in the defeat of the ruling Norsemen in Argyll. After winning Argyll, Somerled went to battle twice against his brotherin- law Godfrey of Mann. What was particularly interesting about these two battles was, according to the Chronicle of the Kings of Man (Broderick 1973:18), that they were fought at sea. In the year 1156, Somerled came with a force of 80 ships and on the night of Epiphany, fought a sea battle. In Clan Donald tradition, this battle was fought somewhere off the coast of Islay, possibly in the Sound of Islay. The Chronicle tells us that two years later Somerled sailed to the Isle of Man with 53 ships and soundly defeated Godfrey in a second battle. According to these sources then, Somerled had sufficient naval strength to make war against a Norse fleet and to defeat them. How was this possible? Did his ships have some kind of advantage over the Norse ships? It has been suggested that Somerled’s ships were smaller versions of Norse ships but with the rudder hung on the sternpost instead of on one side of the stern and it was this that gave him the advantage in these two battles (e.g., Clark 1993:17). However, there is no solid evidence of Somerled’s ships having a stern rudder. John Marsden (2000:83) in his book Somerled and the emergence of Gaelic Scotland argues that a seal, dating from 1292 and showing a ship with a stern rudder, was used by Angus of Islay, and that this seal is said to be a copy of an earlier one struck by his grandfather Ranald in 1176 to commemorate the 1156 battle. However, in a ship with banks of oars, there is far more turning force available from the oars than from any kind of rudder, so it is hard to see how a stern rudder would have given Somerled the advantage. The fact that the vessels depicted on the gravestones from the 13th–15th century show a similarity to the earlier Viking ships adds weight to the argument that Somerled’s ships were of this lineage. They could have been smaller, and thus more maneuverable, than Godfrey’s large ships, if the latter were similar to the post-Viking-age Norwegian warships. Despite the supposed expulsion of Norse rule from the islands, it seems as though Somerled’s descendents, who later formed the Lordship of the Isles, Dougall in particular, had close dealings with the Norwegian king, and many island chiefs supported King Hakon’s ill-fated expedition of 1263 that had aimed to confirm the Norwegian king as overlord of the Western Isles. Praise of Norsemen can be found in song for many centuries after this important event. Though no wreck of a birlinn has yet been found, the stone carvings supply valuable evidence and this can be added to by what we might call “literary archaeology”—delving into the song tradition for information about boats. The MacSween Poem The earliest and most interesting song which praises Norse sea skills is the MacSween Poem from the 16th-century collection known as the Book of the Dean of Lismore. The poem was written early in the 14th century by Arthur Dall MacGurcaigh, who used a spelling based on Scots of that period. A scholarly work of reconstruction has been done on the poem by Donald Meek (1997), and through this work, we are able to gain an understanding of the Gaels’ way of thinking during the time the poem was written— the period directly after the end of Norse rule over the Hebrides between 1263 and 1310 (Meek 1997:22). The poem tells of the fleet being put together by Eòin MacSween to regain Castle Sween in Knapdale. What is particularly interesting about the poem G. Parsons 2013 Journal of the North Atlantic Special Volume 4 29 is that it is written to praise Eòin MacSween, but there is a place for his ships in this praise. Donald Meek (1997) has put forward the theory that the Norse king Hakon Hakonsson’s fleet which appeared in the islands in 1263 had a big effect, and heightened the heroic image of the Norse in the islands, even though they “lost” in the skirmish known as the Battle of Largs. This proposal makes sense of the warriors on board MacSween’s fleet being described as “Norsemen and Noble Stewards”. Meek (1997) also draws attention to how close the description of the fleet in this poem is to two descriptions of Scandinavian fleets from the Middle Ages. One from about 1040 in the Encomium Emmae Reginae describes the Viking armada of Cnut, King of England, Denmark, and Norway preparing to sail, and another describes the fleet of Svein, father of Cnut, as it was leaving to invade England in 1013. Meek (1997:15) suggests that MacGurcaigh was working within a mixed Gall-Gael cultural environment “in which a pattern for the description of a fleet based on Viking prototypes, was part of bilingual currency.” The MacSween poem gives us very little information on the actual ships. We hear how well the bows of the ships were decorated, that they had speckled sails, and that they had high beds for the women in the “bower-houses” of the fleet. We do not know how much of this description is accurate and how much is due to the poet following a stylized pattern. Praise Poetry There is evidence in Gaelic songs from the end of the Middle Ages onward that bìrlinns, or at any rate ships, had become an important part of the praise that the bards bestowed on chiefs and other nobles. John MacInnes, widely acknowledged as the foremost authority on Gaelic oral tradition, says that it is generally recognized that much oral poetry worldwide is panegyric in nature, consisting of the praise of heroes, armies, and victories (MacInnes 2007:84). He also explains that “the Scottish Gaelic bards developed a rhetoric in which ‘personal panegyric’ and ‘nature panegyric’ are combined, sometimes through territorial styles and titles, in the same system. In that system, men feature as warriors, hunters and horsemen, owners and riders of fine steeds, and masters of splendid ships” (MacInnes 2007:91). An example of this type of panegyric is Òran do Dhomhnall Gorm Òg (a song to Young Donald Gorm) by the 17th-century MacDonald poet Iain Lom. The subject of the song is described as handsome, heroic, beautifully dressed, carrying the best of weapons. He is also a skilled bowman and a valiant helmsman. To make the comparison with the Vikings in this sense, although Hakon Hakonson’s fleet of 1263 would have fulfilled many of the heroic characteristics required of the Gaelic noble, it seems as though these qualities were no longer important among the Norse, who were to a great degree pacified by the legal systems and other civic developments brought in by King Magnus Lagabøter in the late thirteenth century (Helle 2001). The Birlinn of Clanranald The epic sea poem Birlinn Chlann Raghnaill was written by Alasdair MacMhaighstir Alasdair around 1760 and is regarded by many as the finest work of one of Gaeldom’s finest poets. The poem, which runs to over 560 lines, describes the voyage of Clan Ranald’s Birlinn from North Uist to Carrick Fergus, and includes the blessing of the ship, blessing of weaponry, a rowing section, the calling of suitable crew members to the various sailing positions, and culminates with the voyage itself, through a storm of fabulous intensity. In this part, my intention is to illustrate the sections of the poem which deal with the work of sailing the bìrlinn by examining the same sailing positions which are used on the traditional Åfjord boats of Trøndelag in central Norway and also on the Viking ship replicas which have been built at the Viking Ship Museum at Roskilde in Denmark. The Åfjord boats are clinker-built double-enders, which along with the superficially similar Nordland boat, are perhaps the best-studied Norwegian boats from the square-sail tradition. The hull shows a steep sheer line leading to a high stem and sternpost (Fig. 3). The shape and the fact that the garboard (lowest) plank is almost vertical, effectively extending the depth of the keel, display their Viking heritage. These boats have been built in Trøndelag since the beginning of the 19th century, and the largest were used for cod fishing in the Lofoten islands. Fishermen from around the Trondheimsfjord would make the 600-mile voyage to the north in January, staying in huts on the islands during the season which lasted until April. The Åfjord boats use a square sail hung from a yard on a single mast, and though this type, built from sawn timber rather than cleaved timber, dates only from around 200 years ago, the master boatbuilder Einar Borgfjord, who has an extensive knowledge of building and sailing these boats, has little doubt that “they are part of a tradition which has continued without a break from the Viking age” (Borgfjord 2009). The Åfjord boats continued to make the voyage to Lofoten under sail until after the First World War, so when there was a revival of interest in the boats in the 1980s, there were still a few old men alive who had sailed them in their youth and could impart G. Parsons 2013 Journal of the North Atlantic Special Volume 4 30 their knowledge, thereby keeping the tradition unbroken. That there was a blockage in one of shallow channels of the Roskilde fjord in Denmark was long known to the fishermen of the area, but in 1959, it was realized that this blockage consisted of five Viking- age ships which had been purposely sunk in the 11th century, to close off the most direct channel up the fjord. The wrecks were numbered Skuldelev 1 to Skuldelev 6 (The wreck originally numbered 4 is part of Skuldelev 2). The ships were excavated in 1962, and after conservation work, the wrecks were reassembled in the Viking Ship Museum at Roskilde. At the same time, the joiners at the museum began to develop their skills in Viking-age boatbuilding and to construct replicas of each of the wrecks. By the time Birlinn Chlann Raghnaill was written around 1760, the age of the birlinn had passed, but Alasdair MacMhaighstir Alasdair had taken part in the the Jacobite rising of 1745 and was emphatically part of the old Gaelic way of life, which had been declining but which was brought to an end essentially by the Hanoverian forces at Culloden in 1746 and by Acts of the Westminster Parliament shortly afterwards. In his sea-poem, MacMhaighstir Alasdair is looking back to a heroic age, when nobles were praised, among other things, for their maritime skills. The vessel described has, as far as can be ascertained, sixteen oars and a square-sail on a single mast. The sailing positions described are: the steersman, a rigging man, a sheetman, a tackman, a halyard man, a look-out man, a bailing man, and two men to haul on the “back-sail ropes”. To get an opinion on the descriptions of sailing, I spoke to Vegard Heide (Rissa, Trøndelag, Norway, 2009 pers. comm.), who was the sailing instructor at Fosen Folkehøgskole and was considered to be among the most experienced of square-sail sailors in Norway. Vegard took a look through the poem (in English translation) and said that it was obvious to him that the poet had at least a basic knowledge of how such a vessel was sailed, and that there was much in the poem that reminded him of the sailing methods used in the Åfjord boats. I will examine, then, the work of each member of the crew as described by MacMhaighstir Alasdair and will then compare that description with the same work on board the Åfjord boats and on the Viking replicas at Roskilde. The version of the poem used is that published by Aonghas MacLeod in the book Sàr Òrain (1933) An stiùireadair (the steersman) The Steersman needs to be, as we might imagine, Eirmseach, foighidneach, gun ghriobhag ri uchd tùilinn (sure, patient, without panic in the face of a Figure 3. Åfjords boat. Photograph © Fergus Walker. G. Parsons 2013 Journal of the North Atlantic Special Volume 4 31 t-abhsadh, i chur stad air (for fear that if the shout comes to slacken, it needs to be let go in an instant). The halyard, then, is only made fast with a slip knot gabhail uime daingeann, seòlta le lùb-ruithe so that it can run na still le crònan bhàrr na cnaige (off the pin without any delay). In the Åfjord tradition, the halyard downhaul is held round a single pin with the end tucked behind the part under strain. It can be released by a sharp tug. Fear-sgòide (The sheet man; Fig. 5) The sheet is the rope leading from the aft corner of the sail, and the man hauling on this would definitely need to be “strong in the fore-arm” as a considerable force is required to tension the sheet of such a large sail. On the larger Åfjord boats, it can often be the work of three men to tighten a sheet, as there are no labor-saving devices on these boats. It is possible of course that a system of blocks was used to increase purchase, but we have no evidence of this. stormy sea), qualities which would surely be appreciated in any helmsman. His requirements are given in detail: he is to keep the birlinn on course Gun dad luasgain (without deviation) despite bàrr sùmaidean mara a thèid air fuaradh leatha (crests of sea-swells that will take her off course). If he must, the steersman will keep the bìrlinn tight to windward, but without sailing so close to the wind that it begins to come on the lee side and causes the luff (leading edge) to shake. To avoid “luffing” he steers off the wind, “letting her run, taking the wind full in her sail.” When sailing the Åfjord boats along with the old-timers, the Norwegian boat expert Jon Godal tells how they would tell him not to sail too close to the wind: “You need to keep off the wind so that you can get some speed on her—or else, you won’t make any progress!” (Eldjarn and Godal 1988:161) Fear air calpa na tàirne (A man on the halyard; Fig. 4) The halyard is the rope used to raise or lower the yard, from which the sail is attached. The English term shows the original meaning of “haul-yard”, which is exactly what it is in a square-sailed ship. If one man was to raise a yard he would need to be, as described in Birlinn Clann Raghnaill, extremely Snaomanach fuasgailteach, sgairteil (well proportioned and robust). Einar Borgfjord, the boatbuilder, and expert on these boats stated in conversation that you can “pretty well raise the sail by yourself on the (Åfjord) fembøring (50 foot in length), but at over 2 m in height, broad and steady, Einar easily fulfils the requirements. Wallace Clark describes two men heaving on the halyard to raise the sail and yard on the Aileach, Colin Mudie’s fortyfoot- long interpretation of a 16-oared birlinn (Clark 1993). Maybe the man in charge of the halyard on Clanranald’s bìrlinn could call on others to assist, and so was not alone in his efforts. The halyard is not tied around a belaying pin, but .air eagal, nuair sgairtear an Figure 4. The halyard man. Photograph © Gavin Parsons. G. Parsons 2013 Journal of the North Atlantic Special Volume 4 32 Figure 5. The sheet-man. Photograph © Fergus Walker. Figure 6. The tack of the sail secured on the windward gunwale. Photograph © Gavin Parsons. G. Parsons 2013 Journal of the North Atlantic Special Volume 4 33 Fear-cluaise (The tackman; Figs. 6, 7) The tack (Gaelic cluas) is the forward lower corner of a sail, and so the “fear-cluaise” or tack-man is in charge of that corner. On the Norwegian Åfjord and Norland boats, the equivalent position is the halskar, who has responsibility for everything forward of the mast. We can imagine that the fear-cluaise on the birlinn has similar responsibilities. Unlike a fore-and–aft sail where the tack is not moved, the tack of a square sail is secured near the bow of the ship at a position that depends on the direction of the wind. When the wind is from the port side, the tack of the sail is made fast on the starboard side, and when the wind is from the starboard side, the tack is made fast on the port side. When the ship “tacks” or crosses the direction of the wind, the tack of a square sail is hauled aft and the aft corner (clew) is carried forward, bringing the yard and sail to the other side of the mast. The clew (aft corner) is then secured to become the new tack (forward corner). The tack-man, who corresponds directly to the halskar in the Norwegian tradition, needs to shift the tack forward or aft according to the direction of the wind on the sail. This procedure is described in the second verse of dh’òrdaicheadh air leth fearcluais. The closer to the wind the ship is sailing, the farther forward the tack must be made fast to a belaying pin (Gaelic urracag) set in a hole through the gunwale. On the Åfjord boats, there are three possible holes in the gunwale (named fremste, remma, and keipen) and this layout is also the case in Skuldelev 3, the only one of the Skuldelev ships which has the gunwale intact (Crumlin-Pedersen, and Olsen 2002). The Gaelic word urracag is derived by Henderson (1910:149) from Old Norse urga, originally meaning the corner of a sail. This, however, is not strictly the meaning given in the Norrøn Ordbok (dictionary of Old Norse), which gives reip-ende (end of a rope) (Heggstad 1975). This term might correspond to urve, meaning a loop of rope. While verse two seems to correspond exactly with practical experience on the Åfjord boats, verse three is slightly more difficult to interpret. The sense here is of a hurried drawing down of the tack. Ma chì e an aonrais ag èirigh/ Teachd le osnaich/ Lomadh e gu gramail, treunmhor/Sìos gu stoc i (If he sees a storm arising/Coming with sighing/Let him bare it / Down to the/gunwale) If the sail is being referred to here, though i (it, feminine) refers grammatically back to cluas, it could be a movement known on the Åfjord boats as halsing . This technique is particularly used on the smaller boats. If a gust approaches, the halskar, who is sitting on the gunwale, can reduce the effect of the gust, by grasping the luff (forward edge) in both hands and hauling sharply down and back thus letting part of the wind go to the lee (wrong) side of the sail. The halskar can perform the halsing when he sees it appropriate, rather than waiting from an order from the helmsman, since the halskar has total responsibility forward of the mast. According to Jon Godal, halsing can only be done on the smaller boats (Eldjarn and Godal 1988:158), but Einar Borgfjord (2009) says that it can be done on a 50-foot fembøring. Figure 7. The tack-man. Photograph © Gavin Parsons. G. Parsons 2013 Journal of the North Atlantic Special Volume 4 34 MacInnes, J. 2007 The Gaelic hero tales (pp. 64–81 of Gaelic panegyric verse). Pp. 82–94, In J. Beach, O. Hand, F. MacDonald, M.A. Mulhearn, and J. Weston (Eds.). Oral Performance and Culture: Scottish Life and Society. John Donald, Edinburgh, UK. 615 pp. MacLeod, A. 1933. Sàr Òrain. An Comunn Gaidhealach, Glasgow, UK. 232 pp. Marcus, G.J. 1980. The Conquest of the North Atlantic. Boydell Press, Woodbridge, Suffolk, UK. 224 pp. Marsden, J. 2000. Somerled and the Emergence of Gaelic Scotland. Tuckwell Press, East Linton, UK. 180 pp. . Meek, D.E. 1997 “Norsemen and Noble Stewards”: The MacSween poem in the Book of the Dean of Lismore. Cambrian Medieval Studies 34:1–49. Pedersen, O.C. 2010. Archaeology and the Sea in Scandinavia and Britain: A Personal Account. Viking Ship Museum/Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, Roskilde, Denmark. 184 pp. Sharpe, R. 1995. Adomnan of Iona: Life of St Columba. Penguin, Middlesex, UK. 406 pp. Each sailing task related in Birlinn Chlann Raghnaill can be matched with the tasks on the Norwegian traditional boat. The comparison shows that the Åfjord boat, which almost certainly belongs to a tradition unbroken from the Viking period, is sailed in a similar fashion to the vessel described in Birlinn Chlann Raghnaill. This similarity, along with other evidence of closely connected traditions of boat building around the North Sea, suggests that the Åfjord boats continue a tradition of which the West Highland birlinn was a part. We can also see from the praise-poetry that the image of the birlinn has been of primary importance in the culture of the Gael, and that the heroic culture continued into the eighteenth century, long after the parallel Norse culture had been pacified. Literature Cited Borgfjord, E. 2009. Interview by the author with Einar Borgfjord, Stadsbygd, Trøndelag, Norway (23 March 2009). Broderick, G.B. 1973. Chronicle of the Kings of Mann and the Isles. G. Broderick, Edinburgh, UK. 87 pp. Camshron, A. 1963. Sgeulachd mu dheidhinn Shomhairle Mhòir a' sabaid an aghaidh nan Lochlannach anns a' Mhorbhairne. Available online at http://www.tobarandualchais. co.uk/gd/fullrecord/37245/1. 11 March 2011. Christensen, A.E. 2006. Viking Ships and Hebridean Galleys. Pp. 14–15, In Vikings and Scotland. Report of a Conference organized by the Royal Society of Edinburgh (21 Sept 2006) 44 pp. Clark, W. 1993. The Lord of the Isles Voyage The Leinster Leader Naas, County Kildare, Ireland. 171 pp. Crumlin-Pedersen, O. and O. Olsen (Eds.). 2002. The Skuldelev Ships I: Topography, Archaeology, History, Conservation, and Display. Ships and Boats of the North 4.1. The Viking Ship Museum, Roskilde, Denmark. Eldjarn, G., and Godal, J. 1988 Norlandsbåten og Åfjordsbåten, Dei Gamle forsto mykje Bind I, Kjellands forlag, Lesja, Norway. 261 pp. Evans, A.C. 1986. The Sutton Hoo Ship Burial. British Museum Publications, London, UK. 127 pp. Heggstad, L. 1975 Norrøn Ordbok. Samlaget, Oslo, Norway. 518 pp. Helle, K. 2001. Gulating og Gulatings Lova. Skald, Leikanger, Norway. 240 pp. Henderson, G. 1910. Norse Influence on Gaelic Scotland. Maclehose and Sons, Glasgow, UK. 420 pp. Kennedy, J., and A. MacBain (Eds.). 1892. Reliquiæ Celticæ, Texts, Papers, and Studies in Gaelic Literature and Philology Left by the Rev Alexander Cameron. Northern Counties Newspaper and Prints and Publishing Company Ltd, Inverness, UK. 661 pp. MacDonald, D.A. 1984. The Vikings in Gaelic oral tradition. Pp. 265–279, In The Northern and Western Isles in the Viking World. A. Fenton and H. Palsson (Eds.). John Donald, Edinburgh, UK. 347 pp.