Battle of Hjörungavágr

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Battle of Hjörungavágr
Olav Tryggvasons saga - Uvaeret Hjoerungavaag - H. Egedius.jpg
The hailstorm during the Battle of Hjörungavágr,
by Halfdan Egedius
Date Circa 986
Location Coast of Sunnmøre
Result Norwegian victory
Norway Jomsvikings
Commanders and leaders
Haakon Sigurdsson
Eric Haakonsson
Sweyn Haakonsson
Sigvaldi Strut-Haraldsson
Vagn Åkesson
Búi digri
180 ships 60 ships

The Battle of Hjörungavágr (Norwegian Slaget ved Hjørungavåg) is a semi-legendary naval battle that took place in the late 10th century between the Jarls of Lade and a Danish invasion fleet led by the fabled Jomsvikings. This battle played an important role in the struggle by Haakon Sigurdsson to unite his rule over Norway.


Haakon Sigurdsson ruled Norway as a vassal of King Harald Bluetooth of Denmark, but he was in reality an independent ruler. Haakon was a strong believer in the old Norse gods. When Harald Bluetooth attempted to force Christianity upon him around 975, Haakon broke his allegiance to Denmark.

Harald Bluetooth had suffered defeat from Otto II, Holy Roman Emperor. Haakon took advantage of the weakened position of the Danish king to make Norway independent of Denmark.

Hareidlandet in Møre og Romsdal
Storm in Hjørungavåg by Gerhard Munthe


The battle is described in the Norse kings' sagas—such as Heimskringla—as well as in Jómsvíkinga saga and Saxo Grammaticus' Gesta Danorum. Saxo Grammaticus estimated that the battle took place while Harald Bluetooth was still alive. Tradition has set the battle in 986. Those late literary accounts are fanciful but historians believe that they contain a kernel of truth.

Some contemporary skaldic poetry alludes to the battle, including verses by Þórðr Kolbeinsson and Tindr Hallkelsson. The battle was also the subject of later poems and sagas. Jómsvíkingadrápa by Bjarni Kolbeinsson honors the fallen Jomsvikings at the Battle of Hjörungavágr. Vellekla, composed by the Icelandic skald Einarr Helgason, speaks of the Battle of Hjörungavágr. Fagrskinna, contains a history of Norway with a heavy emphasis on battles, including the Battle of Hjörungavágr.[1]

Jómsvíkinga saga offers two mutually contradictory descriptions of the bay in which the battle took place. According to the first one, Hjorungavágr lies on the landward side of the island Hoð (now Hareidlandet, an island in Møre og Romsdal). According to the other, the bay is situated south of an island called Primsigð/Primsignd and north of an island called Horund. Both of these names are unknown today.[2]

See also[edit]


Other sources[edit]

  • Holmsen, Andreas Norges historie fra de eldste tider til 1660 (Oslo, 1961) Norwegian
  • Krag, Claus Aschehougs Norges historie, Vikingtid og rikssamling 800-1130 (Oslo, 1995) Norwegian
  • Näsström, Britt-Mari (2001) Blot - tro og offer i det førkristne Norden (Pax) ISBN 82-530-2146-1 Norwegian
  • Steinsland, Gro (2005) Norrøn religion. Myter, riter, samfunn (Pax) ISBN 82-530-2607-2 Norwegian
  • Fløtre, Odd Karstein (2009) Jomsvikingslaget i oppklarende lys ( ISBN 978-82-92055-34-2 Norwegian
  • Ottesen, Johan (2010) Slagstaden (Fotoarkivet) ISBN 978-82-93042-01-3 Norwegian

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 62°21′30″N 6°06′00″E / 62.35833°N 6.10000°E / 62.35833; 6.10000