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A Viking in the Sun

A Viking in the Sun

Harald Hardrada, the Mediterranean, and the Nordic World, between the late Viking Age and the Eve of the Crusades

Symposium 1: Textual and Material Sources and their Performativity (Reykholt, Iceland, 29-31 May 2023)


The first symposium of the project was hosted by the Snorrastofa Cultural and Medieval research Centre in Reykholt, Iceland. It was an especially suitable location to start the project because Snorrastofa is built on the site of Snorri Sturluson’s main residence. Snorri Sturluson (d. 1241 at Reikholt, where he was murdered) was Iceland’s greatest medieval writer, poet, scholar, stateman, but also the author of the most extensive medieval account of Harald’s Mediterranean encounters. Snorri had ancestors from both his maternal and paternal side who accompanied Harald in the Mediterranean, and integrated in his work attributed to Harald’s court and even to Harald himself.


Kringlublaðið [the Kringla leaf] is a vellum manuscript leaf, dated c. 1260, the only one to survive from a manuscript called Kringla that was destroyed in the 1728 great fire of Copenhagen.

This was the foundational event of the project by exploring the range of textual and material sources on Harald’s presence in the Mediterranean and its legacy, and by experimenting with creative responses too.

Please find below some images from the symposium and its programme.




Monday 29 May

17:00 Departure from BSÍ – Reykjavík Bus Terminal

18.30–19.00: Arrival in Reykholt

19.00–21.00: Dinner

21.00-21.30:  James Cave:

Recitations from Snorri Sturluson’s Harald Saga in Norse and English.

Tuesday 30 May

07.00: Breakfast

9.00: Registration

9.30: OPENING OF THE SYMPOSIUM (The Library of Snorrastofa):

  • Welcome by Bergur Thorgeirsson, Director of Snorrastofa, Cultural and Medieval Centre in Reykholt
  • Welcome and practical information by Gianluca Raccagni, University of Edinburgh, Chair of the international network A “Viking” in the Sun

10.00-10.45: KEYNOTE LECTURE

David Abulafia (University of Cambridge): The Black Sea and the Viking road to Byzantium

10.45–11.15: Coffee Break


  • Sverrir Jakobsson (University of Iceland): King Harald of Varangia and the Great Game of the eleventh century
  • Jan Alexander van Nahl (University of Iceland): “You have managed everything in the worst possible way” – Anthropological findings on the Old Norse sagas of Harald Sigurdsson
  • Carina Damm (Leipzig University): Haraldr the ‘Far-Traveller’? Following the víðfǫrla to Serkland

12.45–14.00: Lunch


  • Yannis Souraitis (University of Edinburgh): At the emperor’s service: Harald Hardrada in Byzantine sources
  • Harriet Clark (University of Nottingham): The Sicilian Campaign: The Making of a King
  • Marek Jankowiak (University of Oxford): A Viking and the Crescent: Harald Hardrada’s Islamic encounters

15.30–16:00: Coffee Break


  • Glaire Anderson (University of Edinburgh): On Visualising Islamic-Viking Age Encounters: Material Evidence and Visual Culture Perspectives
  • Svein Harald Gullbekk (Museum of Cultural History in Oslo): Harald Sigurdsson / Harald Hardrade and His Coinage Revisited


Supriya Nagarajan and James Cave: Field of Broken Ice: Creative Responses to the World of Harad’s Saga

19.00–20.00: Reception Sponsored by the municipality of Borgarbyggð (in the Exhibition under the Church). Bergur Þorgeirsson: An introduction to the Snorrastofa.

20.00–22.00: Gala dinner at Fosshótel Dining Hall

Wednesday 31 May 

07.00: Breakfast

08.30–9:30: Business Meeting of The International Network A “Viking” in the Sun (Library)


  • Caitlin Ellis (Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies): A changed man? Souvenirs, sovereignty and the Mediterranean in Scandinavia
  • Lisa Mahoney (DePaul University): St. Olaf and the Painted Legacy of Harald Hardrada

11.00: Checkout from Hotel

11.30–12:20: Lunch

12.30: Departure from Reykholt to the waterfall Hraunfossar and the national park Thingvellir, the site of the Icelandic parliament from 930 to 1798. Also, a visit to a museum at the site.

17.00: Arrival in Reykjavík











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