If you’re like me you’ve imagined being her.
…Or Viking Queen, from time to time.
In this compelling novel, Nancy Marie Brown makes Valkyries and shield-maids real through her saga rich story imagining Bj585, the unknown warrior woman buried at Birka, Sweden between 913-980 A.D.as Hervor. Long thought to be the grave of a male Viking warrior she was buried in a highly crafted pagan chamber grave called a ‘house of the dead’.
“The Real Valkyrie is my attempt to lay a powerful myth to rest: The myth that Viking women stayed at home, keys on their belts, while Viking men, carrying swords, raided and traded from North American to Byzantium, Bagdad, and beyond.” – Nancy Marie Brown.
“In 2017, DNA tests revealed to the collective shock of many scholars that a Viking warrior in a high-status grave in Birka, Sweden was a woman.
In this gripping read, Brown weaves together archaeology, history, and literature to imagine her life and times, showing that Viking women had more power and agency than historians have imagined.
Brown uses science to link the Birka warrior, whom she names Hervor, to Viking trading towns and their great trade route east to Byzantium and beyond.
She imagines her life intersecting with larger-than-life but real women, including Queen Gunnhild Mother-of-Kings, the Viking leader known as The Red Girl, and Queen Olga of Kyiv.
Rather than holding the household keys, Viking women in history, law, saga, poetry, and myth carry weapons. These women brag, “As heroes, we were widely known—with keen spears we cut blood from bone.” – Anna Dís Ólafsdóttir.
“Of the eleven hundred burials excavated at Birka, more than half are cremations, most of them marked by mounds. Throughout Sweden, most people in the Viking Age were buried this way, their bodies and grave goods burned and then crushed. ..Another four hundred of Birka’s dead were buried simply, some in coffins, some without, with no grave goods other than items of clothing.
Only a hundred and eleven of Birka’s dead rated a death house like Hervor’s. Some were warriors. Some were traders Forty per cent were women- a number that might arise since the graves at Birka were c metal: male for weapons, female for jewellery. “
She was a Valkyrie and rode on the wind and the sea.
She practiced more with spear and shield and sword than at
Sewing or embroidery.
She was a woman hard through and through and a highly expert warrior.
She would do battle in the forefront of the most valiant warriors. Everyone marvelled at her matchless feats.
I am a shield-maid. I was in battle with the King of Gardarik and our weapons were red with blood.
As heroes we were widely known –with a keen spear we cut blood from bone.
Let’s ride out hard, with naked swords held high, away from here.
All the best!