Aud the Deep-Minded

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For an earlier and more legendary Aud the Deep-Minded, see Auðr the Deep-Minded.
For other uses, see Aud (disambiguation).

Aud the Deep-Minded (Old Norse: Auðr djúpúðga Ketilsdóttir; Norwegian: Aud den djuptenkte, also known as Unn, Aud Ketilsdatter or Unnur Ketilsdottir[1]) (834–900 AD) was an early settler in Iceland.[2]

Biography[edit]

Aud was the second daughter of Ketill Flatnose, a Norwegian hersir, and Yngvid Ketilsdóttir, daughter of Ketill Wether, a hersir from Ringerike. Aud married Olaf the White (Oleif), son of King Ingjald, who had named himself King of Dublin after going on voyages to Britain and then conquering the shire of Dublin. They had a son named Thorstein the Red. After Oleif was killed in battle in Ireland, Aud and Thorstein journeyed to the Hebrides. Thorstein married there and had many children; he also became a great warrior king, conquering over half of Scotland; however, he was killed in battle after being betrayed by his people. Upon learning of the death of Thorstein, Aud, who was then at Caithness, commissioned a Knarr, a Viking era ship commonly built for Atlantic voyages. She had the ship built secretly in the forest, for unknown reasons. After its completion, Aud captained the ship to Orkney. There she married off one of her granddaughters, Groa, the daughter of Thorstein the Red, and then Aud captained the shil on its sail to Iceland.[3]

On her ship were twenty men, which were under her command, proving that she was respected, capable, independent and strong-willed. In addition to the crew, there were other men on her ship, prisoners from Viking raids near and around the British Isles. Aud gave these men their freedom once they were in Iceland, making them freed-men, a class between slave and free, where they were not owned, but did not have all the rights of a free man. She also gave them land to farm on and upon which they could make a living. One of these men so rewarded was Vifil, who was given Vifilsdal, part of Hvammur í Skeggjadal (commonly translated as "Hvamm"), the area in which Aud settled. When Aud arrived in Iceland, she claimed all the land in the Dales (Dalasýsla) between the Dagverdara and Skraumuhlaupsa. [4]

Unlike most other Icelandic settlers, Aud was a baptized and devout Christian, and is credited with bringing Christianity to Iceland. Aud erected crosses where she could pray on a prominent hill within her lands, now known as Krossholar hill, or Krosshólaborg.[5]

The cause of Aud's journeying has been debated. Other accounts note that Olaf the White (aka Olaf of Dublin and Olaf Guthfrithsson of Vestfold) returned to Norway in 871 (and thus was not killed in Ireland) to regain control of his father’s kingdom. Icelandic tradition states that Ketil Flatnose died in the Scottish Isles, and the collapse of his family’s fortune was complete with the slaying of Ketil’s grandson, Thorstein the Red. Upon the death of Aud’s son,Thorstein, “She felt, according to Laxdoela Saga, she did not have much chance of recovering her position”, and .. she commissioned a ship to be built secretly in the woods, and assembled her entire kin, her slaves and some of her family friends and led an expedition via Orkney and the Faroes to find a new life in her old age.[6]

Twevleth and thirteenth century Icelandic writers believed that their country had been colonized by Norwegians of noble birth who had been persecuted in Norway. The problem that dogged medieval Icelandic historiography was an understandable desire to avoid the charge that the country had been founded by a group of unruly Scottish Vikings. However, it is lo longer possible to dismiss these tales of Aud and her father Ketil as unverifiable oral traditions...as this Scottish tradition in Icelandic oral history is of far greater antiquity than the thirteenth century saga age. The National Meseum of Iclenad contains an impressive collection of somewhat debased penannular brooches and pins of undoubted Celtic provenance frm the ninth and tenth centuries which would fit well in the context of the Hebridean Gall-Gaedhil. [7]



Primary sources[edit]

Aud figures in several Norse sagas, including; Landnámabók, Njáls saga, Laxdæla saga, Eyrbyggja saga, Eiríks saga rauða and Grettis saga.

In popular culture[edit]

The original name of the character Anya Jenkins in Buffy the Vampire Slayer was Aud. Writer Drew Goddard said that this name was inspired by Aud the Deep-Minded.[citation needed]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Our Ancestors, Einar Kvaran, Lögberg-Heimskringla, November 23, 1990 p.4
  2. ^ Female Ideals and Their Roles in Icelandic Society (Jillian Zeppa, Professor Harbison. Viking Literature, 2006)
  3. ^ Chapter 5 - Unn goes to Iceland, A.D. 895 (The Laxdale Saga)
  4. ^ The Settlement of Dalasýsla (Eiríksstaðir Haukadal)
  5. ^ Krosshólaborg (Eiríksstaðir Haukadal)
  6. ^ Warlords and Holy Men, by Alfred P. Smith, Edinburgh University Press 2010, first published in 1984 by Edward Arnold Publishers, Ltd. p161
  7. ^ Warlords and Holy Men, by Alfred P. Smith, Edinburgh University Press 2010, first published in 1984 by Edward Arnold Publishers, Ltd. p163,165

Other sources[edit]

  • León, Vicki Outrageous Women of the Middle Ages ( John Wiley & Sons, 1998) ISBN 0-471-17004-6
  • Jones, Gwyn A History of the Vikings (London: Oxford Univ. Press, 1984)
  • Sigurðsson, Gísli The Medieval Icelandic Saga and Oral Tradition: A Discourse on Method (Cambridge, MA: Harvard U.P., 2004)
  • Jochens, Jenny Women in Old Norse Society (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1995)
  • Warlords and Holy Men, by Alfred P. Smith, Edinburgh University Press 2010, first published in 1984 by Edward Arnold Publishers, Ltd.