Friday, 3 October 2014

The draugr

Draugr (plural draugar) is the Old Norse word for zombie, and they feature reasonably frequently in Viking sagas.  I bet you didn't know the Viking sagas have zombies in them.  Well, you do now.  You're welcome.  

Draugar differ from your typical modern zombie in that they make a conscious choice to remain animate after death, and they retain some of their original personality and consciousness.  Usually the draugr was a nasty or unpopular person who plagued the community when they were alive, and continued to do so after death out of spite and general malice.  The draugr would "live" in its grave or burial mound and roam around at night killing people and livestock.  Like any good zombie, the draugr tended to eat its victims.

Tolkien fans may remember the barrow-wight from Lord of the Rings; this is basically a draugr.

I don't have any interesting sculptural stuff to show you today, but I have something better: here is Tony Robinson explaining why our ancestors thought a corpse could sometimes come back to life.  He mostly talks about beliefs from the UK, but most of what he's saying applies to Scandinavia as well.





This is without question the coolest thing I've seen all week and I cannot recommend it highly enough.