Ketil Trout (Iceland)

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Ketil Thorkelsson, better known by his nickname Ketil Trout (in Old Norse, Ketill hængr) or Ketil Salmon was a Norwegian military commander (hersir) of the late ninth century who settled in Iceland around 900 CE. He appears in Egils saga, the Landnámabók, and other Icelandic sources.[1]


Ketil was the son of Thorkel of Namdalen, Jarl of Namdalen, and Hrafnhild, daughter of Ketil Trout of Hrafnista. Ketil was a man of great wealth and a close friend and kinsman of Thorolf Kveldulfsson and his brother Skallagrim.[a][3][4][5]

When he heard that King Harald (Harald hårfagre) was launching an attack against Thorolf, Ketil was among the latter's allies who set out to support him. They arrived too late, and when the expedition arrived Thorolf had already been slain. In retaliation for Thorolf's death, Ketil gathered sixty warriors and raided Torgar,[b] home of Harek and Hrærek (the sons of Hildirid), who had slandered Thorolf to the king, and had contested the claim to Torgar with Thorolf.[3] The Torgar estate had passed from Brynjolf (Ketil's non-blood related uncle[c]), to Bard the White Brynjolfsson (Ketil's first cousin). Bard bequeathed the estate to Thorolf and gave no share to his half-brothers, the sons of Hildirid, whom he considered bastards.[7]

The sycophantic brothers were favorites of the king, and had prevailed on King Harald to confiscate Torgar from Tholf and give it to them.[8] but the brothers did not cease maligning Thorolf's character. In a raid the brothers were killed and their property looted. Afterwards, Ketil loaded his allies, family and possessions onto two large longships and set sail for Iceland. They settled for the first winter on the eastern bank of the river Ytri-Rangá, but later moved eastwards and took land between "Þjórsá and Markarfljót from fell to firth, and made his home at Hof (Hofi) ".[3]

With his wife Ingunn, Ketil had several children, including Storolf, Herjolf, Helgi, Vestar, and Hrafn Hængsson, the last of whom was one of the first Lawspeakers.[9]

See also[edit]

Explanatory notes[edit]

  1. ^ Ketil Trout of Hrafnista and Kveldulf were first cousins (the former's father Hallbjorn Half-Troll and the latter's mother Hallbera being siblings,[2] Hence Hrafnhild Ketilsdottir was to Thorolf Kveldulfsson second cousin, and Ketil Trout to him was second cousin once removed.
  2. ^ Torgar has been identified as Torget in present-day Brønnøy, Nordland, Norway
  3. ^ Brynjolf was husband of Helga Ketilsdottir of Hrafnista.[6]


  1. ^ translation by W. C. Green (1893). "Egil's Saga, Chapter XXII - Death of Thorolf Kveldulfsson". Retrieved November 1, 2019.
  2. ^ Pálsson & Edwards 1976, Egil's Saga, Chapter I, pp. 21
  3. ^ a b c Pálsson & Edwards 1976, Egil's Saga, Chapter XXIII, pp. 62–63
  4. ^ Scudder 2000, Chap. XXIII, p. 37
  5. ^ "Torolv Kveldulvsson". Norsk biografisk leksikon. Retrieved November 1, 2019.
  6. ^ Pálsson & Edwards 1976, Egil's Saga, Chapter XVII, p. 29–31
  7. ^ Pálsson & Edwards 1976, Egil's Saga, Chapter IX, pp. 35–37
  8. ^ Pálsson & Edwards 1976, Egil's Saga, Chapter XVI-XVII, p. 49
  9. ^ translation by W. C. Green (1893). "Egil's Saga. Chapter XXIII - The slaying of Hildirida's sons". Retrieved November 1, 2019.
  • Pálsson, Hermann; 2dwards, Paul (1976). Egil's Saga. London: Penguin Classics.
  • Scudder, Bernard (2000) [1997]. "XXIII". In Örnólfur Thorsson (ed.). Egil's Saga. The Sagas of Icelanders: A Selection. Smiley, Jane (preface), Kellogg, Robert (Introduction). New York: Viking. pp. 3–184. ISBN 9979929308.

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