Færeyinga Saga Explained

The Færeyinga Saga, the Norse saga of Faroemen, is the story of how the Faroes were converted to Christianity and became a part of the Kingdom of Norway.[1]

Summary

It was written in Iceland shortly after 1200. The author is unknown and the original manuscript is lost to history, but passages of the original manuscript have been copied in other sagas, especially in three manuscripts: Ólafs saga Tryggvasonar, Flateyjarbók, and a manuscript registered as AM 62 fol.

The different sagas differ somewhat on the first settlement of Faroe. Historians have understood from the beginning of Færeyinga Saga in Flateyjarbók that Grímur Kamban settled in Faroe when Harald Hårfagre was king of Norway. This does not correspond with the writings of Dicuil.

However, the version from Ólafs saga Tryggvasonar does correspond with the writings of Dicuil. The opening text is as follows:

There was a man named Grímr Kamban; He first settled in Faroe. But in the days of Harold Fairhair many men fled before the king’s overbearing.

The first man to settle in Faroe is, according to this text, Grímr Kamban, a man with a Norse first name and an Irish last name. This suggests that he might come from settlements to the south in the British Isles. He most probably was not Norwegian.

The text says that many men fled from Norway when Harald Hårfagre was king there. But it also says that the isles were settled before that (possibly for hundreds of years, although most historians do not think so).

The Norwegians who fled from Harald Hårfagre must have known about the isles before leaving Norway. If Grímr Kamban settled some time before, this could explain the Norwegians knowing about Faroe.

According to Dicuil, Irish monks (papar) lived in Faroe before Vikings came from Norway.

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Related reading

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Notes and References

  1. http://home.netcom.com/~kyamazak/myth/faroese/faereyinga-saga-origins-e.htm The History of the Making of the Saga (Faroese Ballads)