Entries by philipewen

Inland Vikings

During the time of the Vikings and long after, the only way to travel around Scandinavia was by boat. Thick forests or high mountains made overland travel extremely difficult if not impossible. Thus, Viking Age settlements tended to be around coastal areas. Indeed, the most popularly accepted explanation for the word “Viking”, is that it […]

Gamla Uppsala

In the novel “Three Kings – One Throne”, the travellers spend some time in Gamla (Old) Uppsala. Today it is a village five kilometres north of the modern day city of Uppsala. There is dispute about the origin of the name “Uppsala”, but the Icelandic 13th Century writer Snorre Sturluson stated that it meant the […]

The tragic tale of Saint Olof, patron saint of Norway

Olof Haraldsson became king of Norway at the age of twenty in 1015 and was to rule for only thirteen years before he was deposed in 1028. He was a remarkable traveller. Even before his accession to the throne he raided Estonia in 1008 and later England in 1014, in support of King Ethelred, helping […]


It was a surprise for me to discover the extent to which the Viking economy depended on slavery. Scandinavia was under-populated and there was a huge demand for cheap manual labour. Slaves provided the workforce to replace the strong young men when they went off each year to raid and plunder abroad. Slaves worked on […]

The Sami

  [dropcap] T [/dropcap]he derivation of the name “Sami” is disputed, but today it is the term used to describe the people who have inhabited Arctic Europe for at least 5,000 years. The term “Lapp” is no longer used as it is considered pejorative. The Sami live in an area across northern Norway, Sweden, Finland […]

Viking ships & sailors

Ships and the sailors – the secret of Viking success The origins of Scandinavian ships and seamanship go back many centuries. Transport by sea was by far the easiest and in some places, the only possible method of moving goods and people. In the case of Sweden, travel over land through vast tracts of forest […]

Finn’s Fate Background: A Norse Story

This story is about a journey. It charts the long odyssey of three brothers as they travel to make their fortunes and meet their fates. The brothers’ mother belonged to an ethnic group called the Sami. These incredibly hardy people once roamed all over the north of Europe following the reindeer which at first they […]

Three Kings – One Throne – why did I write this book?

I found the experience of writing my first novel, “Finn’s Fate”, very fulfilling and the challenge of trying to sell it quite exciting.  I had published several books before; all of them co-authored school text books, but creating and telling a story based in a period of history which I found fascinating was new to […]

Finn’s Fate – Why did I write this book?

[dropcap style=”font-size: 60px; color: #9b9b9b;”] O [/dropcap]n 4th March 2010 I broke my arm while climbing a tree. A silly thing to do and I paid for it by not being able to enjoy the outdoor pursuits which are important to me, for a very long time. Because of the severity of the fracture, I […]

Rune Stone Story 2

Every rune stone has a story. This one has been placed in the park in front of the old university building in Uppsala, Sweden. Usually rune stones were erected as memorials to dead warriors, seamen or traders. This thousand year-old stone is very unusual as it was carved for a Viking Sea captain, Vigmund, while […]