9 July 2015

Research: In the Wake of the Vikings

What other way could I follow in the wake of a Viking longship except by cruising the Norwegian fjords? Ahem... well, that's my excuse and I'm sticking to it.

We were on a small ship of 550 passengers, a tad larger than the biggest dragon ships, granted, but its wraparound deck afforded fantastic views. And it was the views I'd gone for. I like to footfall the landscapes I'm intending to write about, and the majesty and drama of the fjords have to be experienced from the water.

This is an early morning glide along the Hardangerfjord heading towards Ulvik and Eidfjord. Even in June there was plenty of snow on the higher reaches, so in any fiction there'd be no moving grazing animals to higher pastures. The area is renown for its mild climate, its orchards growing 80% of Norway's fruit harvest. Mmm...

Atmosphere can be everything when writing fiction

The itinerary took us successively north, along the Sognefjord and into the Aurlandfjord, the Nordfjord and into glacier territory, and the Storfjord into the Sunnylvsfjord and the Geirangerfjord. Many of these are known to have been inhabited, if sparsely, long before the feared Norsemen launched their fabled ships.

Here we are heading inland along Gerangerfjord past the famous de Syv Sostre (the Seven Sisters), one of many sets of impressive waterfalls along the route: 

The "shrubs" are fully grown trees

We took one excursion off-ship, arcing across the high plateau from Vik in the Sognefjord to Flam in the Aurlandfjord. The scenery was breathtaking and alien to both the lush natural flora and the cultivated fruit farms by the fjords' edges. Cherries, anyone? Raspberries? Perhaps not here: 

Who would have expected bare-limbed deciduous trees on the banks of a still-frozen lake in June?

So what did I take from the landscape? The strata colours of the rocks; the warmth of the atmosphere despite the snow and ice; the noise and sheer volume of water in the falls creating rainbows in the sunshine; the surprising lack of a breeze; the even more surprising lack of birds in comparison to the UK. More than anything, the serenity. This, and more, is both noted and now filtering through my subconscious.

Other posts in this series:
Norway 2: Hopperstad Stave Church outside of Vik. Now I know where The Lord of the Rings drew its architecture.
Norway 3: Bergen's Bryggen and the Hanseatic Museum
Norway 4: Viking Ships Not From Norway - replicas that have sailed the seas.


  1. Quite the laziest way of conducting research that you've ever come up with, Linda. I like it. But... what exactly are you planning on writing?

    1. LOL! Perhaps a little something that has been bubbling on the backburner for many a year. We'll see.