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The Draugr

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  Quote okamido Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Topic: The Draugr
    Posted: 27-Oct-2011 at 00:23
In the land of the Norse, few thing existed that could send a shiver up the spine of these hardy people. One such thing however, was the dreaded, Draugr. In the lore of the sagas, the Draugr was an undead warrior, with the desire to attack those that trespass aginst its barrow, and the ability to convert those who survive the attack, into a Druagr as well. In this fashion, they are quite similar to the current depiction of zombies in our current culture, spreading their curse. Unlike a zombie however, the Draugr possesses a semblance of human intelligence, as well as enormous strength, and a penchant for mystical abilities. These abilities could manifest themselves as shape-changing, control of the weather, and a loose aptitude for the telling of the future.
 
Mostly content to spend eternity in their barrow/ burial mound, guarding their wealth, the Draugr would sometimes venture into the outside world, wreaking havoc and instilling fear along the way. Some families, in order to confuse a dead loved-one who might return as a Draugr, would have a special door built into their homes, and then have it bricked up so the ghoul could not find its way in. This desire to return home was made manifest by an innate jealousy of what the living still possessed and to 'protect' that which the Draugr might still believe had belonged to them...their property. It became the custom for travelers at night to tap three times on the window or door of a hall/ home. Anything less would not be answered as the person on the otherside would be too frightened of the possible undead to respond. And if you did open your hall to the wrong 'individual'....you might be torn limb from limb, or disappear altogether as stated in the Flommana and Grettir's sagas.
 
As the Draugr was the bearer of supernatural strength, it was impossible for an ordinary hero to end its existence. The fact that an ordinary sword was unable to harm it as well, was another complicating matter. No, the only way to destroy a Draugr that was terrorizing a community, was to be a hero of mythic quality. One that had the ability to wrestle the Draugr to the ground. One that had the ability to travel to its barrow, retrieve a sword from within, and use it to decapitate the monster, thus completing only the first two stages of what at times, could be a complex ritual of destruction. Only then would the neighboring countryside be safe....at least until the next Draugr was disturbed.
 
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  Quote Chookie Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 27-Oct-2011 at 16:50
This reminds me of the Beowulf saga. Grendel was a Druagr??
For money you did what guns could not do.........
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  Quote Nick1986 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 27-Oct-2011 at 19:14
The description got me thinking of the Barrow-wights from Lord of the Rings. These were based on the Saxon equivalent of the European ghoul/zombie:

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  Quote okamido Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 27-Oct-2011 at 20:45
Originally posted by Chookie

This reminds me of the Beowulf saga. Grendel was a Druagr??
If one looks at it objectively, then yes, Grendel would most likely have been a Draugr. It is also interesting to not that Grettir's saga and the tale of Beowulf are fairly similar in their stories, if not outrights copies.
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  Quote Centrix Vigilis Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 27-Oct-2011 at 21:14
Very formidable opponents.
The only other known successful encounter.... aside from the possibility of the Grendel by Beowulf (tho there is no clear indication that Grendel and or his mother were zombie types of the modern penchant or Draugrs etc.)...was that by the legendary Wulfhere Ironband, in a deep cave in the side of the Needle, in the Bones of the Dead Mountains. Here he fought not one Draugr...but three.
 
An astonishing tale indeed.
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  Quote okamido Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 27-Oct-2011 at 21:20
Originally posted by Centrix Vigilis

Very formidable opponents.
The only other known successful encounter.... aside from the possibility of the Grendel by Beowulf (tho there is no clear indication that Grendel and or his mother were zombie types of the modern penchant or Draugrs etc.)...was that by the legendary Wulfhere Ironband, in a deep cave in the side of the Needle, in the Bones of the Dead Mountains. Here he fought not one Draugr...but three.
 
An astonishing tale indeed.
I had not heard this tale. Now I must find it as not to incur the Draugr's wrath. Wink
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  Quote Nick1986 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09-May-2012 at 19:12
I think this will interest SidThumbs Up
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  Quote Sidney Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10-May-2012 at 07:15
Cheers Nick.

The draugr weren't always dealt with in such heroic methods as magic sword wielding heroes venturing into the barrow. Sometimes just challenging them without fear, or digging up the original corpse and burning it, was enough to get rid of them.
Life was hard in the North. Most people were too busy subsisting on their farms to go chasing after the undead, unless the deceased was being really irritating.
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  Quote Centrix Vigilis Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10-May-2012 at 08:08
Originally posted by Sidney

Cheers Nick.

The draugr weren't always dealt with in such heroic methods as magic sword wielding heroes venturing into the barrow. Sometimes just challenging them without fear, or digging up the original corpse and burning it, was enough to get rid of them.
Life was hard in the North. Most people were too busy subsisting on their farms to go chasing after the undead, unless the deceased was being really irritating.
 
 
In that case Solomon Kane was your man. A Puritan witch hunter-vampire wacker-demon slayer-eradicator of devil worshippers-exorcist and defender of the true faith. Known for haunting graveyards and digging up the wicked who walked.  And... an all around badass when dealing with the dead or those that should have been. He'd give them a choice...when they didn't stop the nonsense...convert or be damned. If the latter then he'd shoot... stab...hack...throw holy water.....acid and or garlic juice and then....burn the hell out of the offending reprobates.
 
He had a real natural talent for it. The world could probably use a few more like him.
 
 
''1610

Gianluigi’s version of Solomon Kane’s last adventure sets him on a voyage to Greenland to help the survivors of a lost colony of Vikings in their struggle against a tribe of wolf-men. “La Corona di Asa” (“The Crown of Asa”) by Gianluigi Zuddas. ''

 
 
 
 
 
Close enough he might have made Iceland.


Edited by Centrix Vigilis - 10-May-2012 at 08:14
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  Quote Nick1986 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10-May-2012 at 19:25
Originally posted by Sidney

Cheers Nick.

The draugr weren't always dealt with in such heroic methods as magic sword wielding heroes venturing into the barrow. Sometimes just challenging them without fear, or digging up the original corpse and burning it, was enough to get rid of them.
Life was hard in the North. Most people were too busy subsisting on their farms to go chasing after the undead, unless the deceased was being really irritating.

The Slavs had a similar way of dealing with vampires: dig up and destroy the corpse
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  Quote Sidney Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10-May-2012 at 19:30
Busy Boy, old Solomon.

Edited by Sidney - 10-May-2012 at 19:31
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  Quote Sidney Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11-May-2012 at 10:29
From the Laxdaela Saga, written about 1245. It mainly concerns the life of Gudrun (973-1060), daughter of Osvif Helgason, her family, her husbands and her contemporaries in Iceland.

The saga includes two walking corpses (Hrapp & Hallbjorn, who are both ,curiously, Hebridians), two ghosts (one unknown and one a witch), and an account that could be about either (Thorkel and his men);

Hrapp ran a farm in Iceland, called Hrappstead. His father was Scottish, and his mother was from the Hebrides, where Hrapp had been born. He was a cruel and argumentative man, whom his neighbours detested. Hrapp died of old age in about 950, and was buried, as per his death bed orders, in an upright position, under the threshold of the farm’s living room. However his corpse would not rest, and he would wander the farm. His servants literally died of fright, and Hrappstead was abandoned. Sometime later his corpse was dug up and removed somewhere far from other farms and pastures and reburied. Hrapp’s son then took possession of the farm, but he went mad and died. Hrapp’s widow then took possession, but she refused to live there, and allowed a man called Thorstein the Black to take charge of it. In about 956 Thorstein was on a short sea voyage, but the boat was followed by a giant seal with human eyes. A storm arose and the boat sank, drowning Thorstein. Thorkel Fringe then inherited the farm, but he refused to live there, and it again fell derelict. In about 962 Olaf Peacock bought Hrappstead from Thorkel, and after living there a year encountered Hrapp, who was beginning to scare the farm hands. Olaf poked a spear at Hrapp, but Hrapp snapped the spear head off and sank into the ground. Olaf then found Hrapp’s burial place and dug him up. The corpse was found undecayed and grasping the spear head in its hand. The corpse was burnt, its ashes scattered at sea, and the hauntings then ceased.

Kotkel and Grima, with their two sons Hallbjorn Sleekstone-eye and Stigandi, lived in Iceland, but were originally from the Hebrides and used witchcraft and were great sorcerers. They were employed by people to cast spells, one of which, in about 995, killed a young boy. The boy’s family hunted down the witches and stoned them to death, except for Hallbjorn Sleekstone-eye who was drowned. When Hallbjorn’s body was washed ashore, he was buried, but soon after a cow from a farm near the burial place went missing. The farmer went looking for it, but encountered instead Hallbjorn. They grappled with each other, and eventually Hallbjorn sank into the ground. When the farmer returned home, the cow had been found, and Hallbjorn caused no more trouble.

In 1026 Thorkell Eyjolfsson was engaged in sailing along the Icelandic coast with a cargo of timber. One evening, Gudrun, who was Thokell’s wife, went to church at Helgafell. “And as she passed through the lich-gate she saw a ghost standing in front of her. The ghost leaned down towards her and said, “Grave news, Gudrun!” Gudrun replied, “Then be quiet about it, wretch!” and went on through the churchyard. There she saw Thorkell and all his men standing before the church, dripping with water. She thought the men had returned from their journey, went on into the church, and then returned home expecting to find her husband. He and his men were not there, and Gudrun later heard that Thorkell’s ship had been destroyed in a storm and all the crew drowned.

Gudrun later became very devout and would spend many hours praying in church, sometimes accompanied by her granddaughter Herdis. Herdis was one night visited by a woman wearing a woven cloak and a kerchief over her head. This woman implored to Herdis that Gudrun was disturbing her and causing her pain due to her prostrations and crying every night. She added that she didn’t appear to Gudrun because “I like you a little better…I could still get on with you if I didn’t feel there was so much wrong where Gudrun is concerned”. When Herdis told Gudrun this, Gudrun had the church-floor planks lifted where she would normally kneel, and found some bones buried there, “blue and evil-looking, and a brooch, and a large witch’s wand.” People realized that a sorceress must have been buried there and was being disturbed by Gudrun’s constant activity. The bones were removed, and reburied where people were least likely to pass by and disturb them.

Edited by Sidney - 11-May-2012 at 10:34
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  Quote Nick1986 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11-May-2012 at 19:20
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  Quote Sidney Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12-May-2012 at 20:09
More draugr from the sagas. Eyrbyggja Saga written c.1250, based in Iceland.

Thorolf Twist-Foot, his corpse and reincarnation;
About 995, Thorolf Twist-Foot, a cantankerous old farmer of Hvamm, Iceland, died one evening, sat in the high seat in the living room, after everyone else had gone to bed. He is left there all day until his son Arnkel arrived and has the corpse dragged away from the farm and buried. All is well while Arnkel is on the farm, but once he leaves it in the hands of his mother and goes to his own farm, Thorolf starts to cause trouble. Any beast or bird that went near the grave went insane or died, local oxen and sheep were found dead, and the farm shepherd was often chased by the corpse. One day this shepherd was found dead, every bone in his body broken and his skin all black. Thorolf would then appear in the farm or be heard at night sat astride the roof. His widow died of stress and the farm was abandoned. But Thorolf then started haunting the whole valley, chasing and killing many people, who would later be seen in his company. A year after Thorolf had died, Arnkel, his son, with the help of Thorodd of Karssted, dug up the corpse and found it undecayed, but very ugly. The corpse was taken further away, to a knoll by the sea, where it was reburied, and Arnkel had a high wall built across the knoll, to keep the corpse inside. The trouble then ceased for many years.
But sometime after Arnkel died, and Thorolf became trouble again, visiting farms along the coast, causing each one in turn to be abandoned out of fear. One of the farms belonged to Thorodd of Karsstad, so he decided to tackle the problem. Sometime after 1006 he went to the knoll, dug up Thorolf, and burnt the still undecayed but black and swollen corpse on the shore, allowing the ashes to scatter where they will. One of his cows then escaped from Karssted and lived on that shore, licking up the ashes, and being spotted with an unidentified bull. She returns to the farm and in the spring gives birth to a bullock. The bullock grows immensely large, and after five years runs amok on the farm and gores Thorodd to death, before disappearing into marsh land.

The farm of Frodriver, the walking dead hotel (and another Hebridean!)
In the summer of 1000 a Hebridean woman called Thorgunna arrived in Iceland, and worked as a farm hand at Frodriver, owned by Thorodd Tribute-Trader. She had some very fine bed linen, which the farmer’s wife wished to buy, but they were not for sale. Some weeks later a shower of blood falls on Frodriver and nowhere else, causing Thorgunna to be drenched and then fall ill. Believing she will die, she requests to be buried at Skalholt (a few days journey away), and her bed linen to be burnt. Thorgunna does die, but the farmer’s wife keeps the bedclothes for herself. The corpse is carried for a day until they reach a farm in the evening. They are refused shelter, but during the night the farm is disturbed by noises, and Thorgunna was found stark naked in the larder, removing food and preparing a meal, which she then laid out for her corpse carriers to eat. The rest of the journey passes without event, and the corpse is buried at Skalholt.
A few days later, back at Frodriver, the shepherd began to act strangely. He was irritable, avoided people and talked to himself. That winter he died and was buried, but his corpse was met by an elderly man called Thorir Wood-Leg on his way back from the privy. He was attacked, died of his injuries and was buried in the church. But he was later seen in the company of the shepherd. Six people grew ill and died, causing much fear.
One evening a seal’s head appeared rising up from the floor of the living room at Frodriver. Servants repeatedly hit it over the head, but this only made it rise higher. It seemed to be trying to reach the bed linen of Thorgunna, which was in the room, but Kjartan, the son of Thorodd, attacked the seal with a sledge hammer until he had hammered it back into the ground.
The next day Thorodd put to sea with his men, but they were all drowned. Thorodd and his men then turned up on the evening of their funeral feast and sat by the fire in the living room, dripping with water. They did this for a number of nights, until one evening not only did Thorodd and his men turn up, but also Thorir Wood-Leg and the six men who had died of illness, all of whom were covered in earth, which they started to throw at the drowned men. This happened every night throughout the Christmas season.
Then Thorir Wood-leg’s widow grew ill and died, followed by six more people. All these continued to haunt the farm.
Eventually Kjartan sought help from the local priest, who comes to Frodriver on Candlemas Eve. He orders the bed linen burnt, and then charges each of the dead in turn to leave the house because they are trespassing. Addressed in turn each corpse replies “I was here as long as people would let me”, or “I’ll go now and it seems I should have gone sooner”, or some such reluctant, yet quite accepting, answer. They all peacefully leave, and the hauntings stop.

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  Quote Centrix Vigilis Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12-May-2012 at 21:48
Yup they should have called in ole Soloman.
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  Quote Nick1986 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 13-May-2012 at 19:27
The draugr may have influenced early depictions of the vampire: they were hideous walking corpses who could transform into animals. Both tended to kill their own relatives and both could be defeated with iron:
http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=jDr51XX_YjEC&lpg=PA372&dq=draugr&pg=PA372#v=onepage&q&f=false
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  Quote Sidney Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 15-May-2012 at 17:22
Originally posted by Nick1986

The draugr may have influenced early depictions of the vampire: they were hideous walking corpses who could transform into animals. Both tended to kill their own relatives and both could be defeated with iron.


Well, they were walking corpses, and not a pleasant sight, but only two of the accounts suggest an animal might be a draugr in disguise (both were seals - the bull at Karrsted was not the draugr, but maybe a reincarnation), and none of them 'tend' to kill their relatives (in fact none of them are explicitly said to have done so). And none of them are actually defeated by iron (but what isn't defeated by iron, especially if it has a sharp edge?) Most are burnt or just told to get lost!
I need to read a few more accounts from original sources.
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  Quote Centrix Vigilis Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 15-May-2012 at 18:09
Seals are Irish mythologies not Norse that I have ken'd. Tho I remain ever willing to be corrected. Which then leads one to that gallant hero of renown in his day... dead now long forgotten. Wulfhere. An Islander of what would be Bornholm in the Baltic today...but the earth was different in those days.....
 
Remember your RE Howard......
 
Know, O prince, that between the years when the oceans drank Atlantis and the gleaming cities, and the years of the rise of the Sons of Aryas, there was an Age undreamed of, when shining kingdoms lay spread across the world like blue mantles beneath the stars - Nemedia, Ophir, Brythunia, Hyperborea, Zamora with its dark-haired women and towers of spider-haunted mystery, Zingara with its chivalry, Koth that bordered on the pastoral lands of Shem, Stygia with its shadow-guarded tombs, Hyrkania whose riders wore steel and silk and gold. But the proudest kingdom of the world was Aquilonia, reigning supreme in the dreaming west.
 
 
The draugr were his friends. Yet he required of them better then to haunt the lands and cause unrest. The greatest sin for a warrior is to let another, dead comrade, not rest in peace. He will sacrifice all.... his woman..... his children..... his kin...... his armor and weapons...all of whom would break his heart to lose. To ensure that they slam shields and ax's and great swords in the halls of their fathers.....drink copious Meade and bed wenches.
 
Why?
 
 
 
Then remember your RE Howard.......
 
 
 
What do I know of cultured ways, the gilt, the craft and the lie?
I, who was born in a naked land and bred in the open sky.
The subtle tongue, the sophist guile, they fail when the broadswords sing;
Rush in and die, dogs—
I was a man before I was a king.
 
 
Yepper.... that's a warrior. And if ya can not understand that... then ya can not understand nothing about them or the draugr.
 
 
 
"Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence"

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  Quote Sidney Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 15-May-2012 at 19:01
Yet despite the best efforts of all your heroes and warriors the draugr seem to have spread south, beyond Iceland, through Scotland and into Northern England and the Midlands.

William of Newburgh, who wrote a history of Britain, finished in 1198, mentions that he could have recorded many instances of the walking dead, but just chooses the following four accounts as illustration;

1. This tale William heard from his friends, and from Stephen the archdeacon of the area. In Buckinghamshire a man died and was buried. That night however his wife awoke to find herself being crushed under the weight of her husband, who had risen from the grave to visit her bedchamber and lie upon her. She was awakened the following night in like manner, and so, from fear of third occurrence, sat up awake with her companions on the next night. Her husband arrived again, but was driven off by shouts. He then visited his brothers in the same street, but they too repulsed him. The dead man then started to agitate the domestic beasts, and the whole street where he had lived would stay awake all night for fear that he would visit them. However, after a time he started to appear during the day, although not everyone was able to see him. Stephen, the archdeacon, was sought for help and he sent to the Bishop of Lincoln. On inquiry the Bishop found that such cases of the walking dead had occurred in England before, and that the solution was to dig up the corpse and burn it. The Bishop was reluctant to resort to this method, but did send a letter of absolution for the dead man and commanded that his corpse be dug up, the letter placed on his chest, and then reburied. Stephen did this, and the dead man was laid to rest. [This Stephen was Stephen de Swafeld, Archdeacon from c.1194-c.1203, the Bishop of Lincoln was Hugh de Avalon 1186-1200].

2. About the same time, in Berwick, Northumbria, a man who had been buried was often seen at night being pursued by a pack of dogs. The noise and sight caused terror, and people feared that his decaying corpse, running around the town, would cause a plague. His body was thus dug up and burnt, and his wanderings ceased, although a plague still ensued. This plague occurred in 1196.

3. William heard this from ‘religious men’. A few years ago a chaplain to a certain lady (unnamed) died and was buried in the monastery of Melrose, Scotland. He would rise from the grave at night, and wander and moan outside the monastery, particularly visiting his former mistress’s bedchamber. The friars were informed and kept vigil over the man’s grave. When he arose, he was attacked with an axe, causing him to flee back to the tomb. He was then dug up and burnt.

4. The final account came from an aged monk who had been present at the time. A criminal from York sought refuge in Castle Annan, Scotland. He died before receiving confession from the above referenced monk, and his corpse was seen at night being chased by a pack of dogs and spreading fear and plague. Two sons of a man who died from this plague resolved to bring an end to the terror, and dug up the corpse, tore out and destroyed the heart, and then burnt the body. The apparitions and the plague then ceased.

Another account of a walking corpse occurs in The Chronicle of Lanercost, completed in 1346;

5 .In 1296, near Paisley, Clydesdale, Scotland, a cleric died while under excommunication. But long after he was buried, his corpse started walking. It visited the house of Sir Duncan Delisle at noon, and when the knight’s men shot at him with arrows or thrust him with forks, the weapons would burn to ash. Anyone who tried to wrestle with him would be felled and battered, their bones broken. One evening the dead man appeared in the Delisle living room, striking out at those around him. While everyone else fled, the knight’s eldest son remained to fight the monster. But he was found dead the next morning.[The account ends there with no further details.]

Strange how most of the Icelandic draugr who initiated the troubles were Hebridean. And here we have three more from Scotland.

Edited by Sidney - 15-May-2012 at 19:02
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  Quote Sidney Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 15-May-2012 at 19:12
The Selkie were Irish, and Northern Scotland, so probably influenced Icelandic folklore.
http://echoes.devin.com/selkie/selkie.html

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