2012 SMUHA Guizer Jarl - Kevin Adamson
Bjorn 'Holdfast' Brynjolfson (Bjorn of Mousa)
Bjorn Brynjolfson was born about 890AD and was raised by his Nobleman father Brynjolf Bjornson in Aurland, Norway. His story is told in the Icelandic Saga of Egil Skallagrimsson. Bjorn was well travelled on Viking Expeditions and built up a good reputation as a trader. On his travels he earned himself the nickname of 'Holdfast' due to his stubborn nature and ability to make profitable transactions.

It was a name he was to live up to one summer, when in North-fjord attending a feast, Bjorn's eye fell upon a fine maiden. When he enquired as to who she was and of what family, he was told that her name was Thora Lace-hand and that she was the sister of Thorir Hroaldsson, who King Harald Fairhair had entrusted the early upbringing of his favourite son Erik, later to become Erik Bloodaxe.

Bjorn courted Thora and asked for her hand in marriage but Thorir refused Bjorn's request and on this they parted company. However during Thorir's absence in the autumn Bjorn assembled men, prepared a ship and sailed to North-fjord. He persuaded Thora to sail back with him to Aurland where they stayed for the winter and made plans to marry. Bjorn's father was strongly against the union and wished Thora to her brother with whom she had a long friendship. Bjorn being stubborn would not let her go and Thora remained in Aurland like a daughter of Brynjolf's.

When spring came Bjorn discussed his predicament with his father and requested he make available to him a warship and crew. Brynjolf was troubled by the prospect of allowing his son to roam with a fully rigged
warship, for fear of Bjorn causing trouble for
his family. He instead provided a Merchant
ship and crew with cargoes to export to Dublin, in the hope that while Bjorn was away he could make amends with Thorir.
Bjorn and Thora bade his mother farewell and set sail for Dublin. During the voyage they encountered poor weather and were battered by stormy seas. A few days into the voyage, sailing down the east side of Shetland and still plagued by bad weather, the ship became damaged and they were forced to make for Mousa.

Upon reaching Mousa the crew transferred their cargo to the only shelter available, the Pictish Broch there, thought to have been constructed around 100BC. It is probable Bjorn ordered the central space to be covered from the elements using the ships tent's to make a comfortable dwelling for his Bride to be. Bjorn and Thora were married on Mousa and during their time at the Broch it is rumoured that Bjorn carved a rune or possibily a star symbol on one of the stones in the walls.

If Bjorn did make such a carving however, it is yet be found although Vikings have left tokens of their presence in various other locations. Maes-Howe in Orkney is an example where one such rune tells how 'Ingeborg the Fair' rested there after long wanderings, another tells of someone 'in search of the fairest of women', and one tells of a shipwreck, blaming the captain for the negligent loss of their ship.

Thora made a home as best she could in the cold stones of the Broch and felt safe within the thick walls. They must have stayed on the island all summer as it is written that shortly before winter a ship arrived from Orkney with news that King Harald Fairhair had instructed Jarl Sigurd Eysteinsson the Powerfull of Orkney that Bjorn was to be killed whenever found. The same orders were sent to the Western Isles of Scotland and to Dublin, but Bjorn and Thora stayed all winter in the Broch of Mousa.
When spring came again, and with repairs to his ship now complete, Bjorn set sail for Iceland and with a fair southerly wind reached Borgarfjord. Upon landing they were introduced to a man named Skallagrim (Bald Grim) who had been brought up in Norway with Thorir. He also knew Bjorn's father and extended his welcome and help to the son of and old friend and sister of his foster brother. Bjorn of course did not tell Skallagrim how he and Thora had left Norway. During the summer there Thora gave birth to a daughter who was named Asgerdr.
Bjorn had to face up to his situation however, when a ship arrived from Norway in the autumn and the truth of how Bjorn had run away with Thora without the consent of Thorir became known. That Thorir was greatly enraged by their exodus was made clear to Skallagrim, and he was invited to make a ruling on Bjorn's fate.

Skallagrim's young son Thorolf, backed by many others, argued to his father that he should not lay charge against Bjorn as he had initially extended him his welcome. Skallagrim agreed and allowed Bjorn, Thora and his ships crew to stay under his protection during the winter. Thorolf was given the task of caring for Bjorn and helping him to right his wrong doings. During this time Bjorn and Thorolf became good friends and the pair decided that Bjorn would sail back to Norway the following year to make amends with Thorir.

Thorolf made his father aware of Bjorn's decision to return to Norway and decided to assist him. Skallagrim gave him men for the journey and when Bjorn was ready to depart, Skallagrim's wife Bera requested that his daughter Asgerdr be left behind as her foster child. Bjorn agreed and the girl was left to be brought up with Skallagrim's family.

Upon Bjorn and Thora's return to Norway a meeting was held at Sognefjord where Thorir gave his sister all the property to which she was entitled, and extended her and Bjorn his full friendship. Brynjolf was also present, they held a reconciliation festival and Bjorn and Thora returned to Aurland.

In later years their Iceland born daughter Asgerdr married Thorold Skallagrimsson but he was killed in England at the battle of Brunaburgh fighting on the side of King Athelstan. She later married his younger brother Egil of whom the Saga of Egil Skallagrimsson is written.
When preparations for the voyage were complete Bjorn took a boat with twelve men and rowed to where Thora was staying with his mother and other women. Bjorn again persuaded her to come with with him, telling his mother of his plans. Not wishing any further upset between Bjorn and his father, his mother forbade the women present to tell anyone of Thora's departure.
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