The Online 
Medieval and Classical Library


The Last Tidings Of Biorn The Champion
Of The Broadwickers.

Online Medieval and Classical Library Release #33

There was a man named Gudleif, the son of Gunnlaug the Wealthy of Streamfirth, the brother of Thorfin, from whom are come the Sturlungs. Gudleif was much of a seafarer, and he owned a big ship of burden, and Thorolf, the son of Loft-o'-th'-Ere, owned another, whenas they fought with Gyrd, son of Earl Sigvaldi; at which fight Gyrd lost his eye.

But late in the days of King Olaf the Holy, Gudleif went a merchant voyage west to Dublin, and when he sailed from the west he was minded for Iceland, and he sailed round Ireland by the west, and fell in with gales from east and north-east, and so drove a long way west into the main and south-westward withal, so that they saw nought of land; by then was the summer pretty far spent, and therefore they made many vows, that they might escape from out the main.

But so it befell at last that they were ware of land; a great land it was, but they knew nought what land. Then such rede took Gudleif and his crew, that they should sail unto land, for they thought it ill to have to do any more with the main sea; and so then they got them good haven.

And when they had been there a little while, men came to meet them whereof none knew aught, though they deemed somewhat that they spake in the Erse tongue. At last they came in such throngs that they made many hundreds, and they laid hands on them all, and bound them, and drove them up into the country, and they were brought to a certain mote and were doomed thereat. And this they came to know, that some would that they should be slain, and othersome that they should be allotted to the countryfolk, and be their slaves.

And so, while these matters are in debate, they see a company of men come riding, and a banner borne over the company, and it seemed to them that there should be some great man amongst these; and so as that company drew nigh, they saw under the banner a man riding, big and like a great chief of aspect, but much stricken in years, and hoary withal; and all they who were there before, worshipped that man, and greeted him as their lord, and they soon found that all counsels and awards were brought whereas he was.

So this man sent for Gudleif and his folk, and whenas they came before him, he spake to them in the tongue of the Northmen, and asked them whence of lands they were. They said that they were Icelanders for the more part. So the man asked who the Icelanders might be.

Then Gudleif stood forth before the man, and greeted him in worthy wise, and he took his greeting well, and asked whence of Iceland he was. And he told him, of Burgfirth. Then asked he whence of Burgfirth he was, and Gudleif told him. After that he asked him closely concerning each and all of the mightiest men of Burgfirth and Broadfirth, and amidst this speech he asked concerning Snorri the Priest, and his sister Thurid of Frodiswater, and most of all of the youngling Kiartan, who in those days was gotten to be goodman of Frodis-water.

But now meanwhile the folk of that land were crying out in another place that some counsel should be taken concerning the ship's crew; so the big man went away from them, and called to him by name twelve of his own men, and they sat talking a long while, and thereafter went to the man-mote.

Then the big man said to Gudleif and his folk: "We people of the country have talked your matter over somewhat, and they have given the whole thing up to my ruling; and I for my part will give you leave to go your ways whithersoever ye will; and though ye may well deem that the summer wears late now, yet will I counsel you to get you gone hence, for here dwelleth a folk untrusty and ill to deal with, and they deem their laws to be already broken of you."

Gudleif says: "What shall we say concerning this, if it befall us to come back to the land of our kin, as to who has given us our freedom?"

He answered- "That will I not tell you; for I should be ill- content that any of my kin or my foster-brethren should make such a voyage hither as ye would have made, had I not been here for your avail; and now withal," says he, "my days have come so far, that on any day it may be looked for that eld shall stride over my head; yea, and though I live yet awhile, yet are there here men mightier than I, who will have little will to give peace to outland men; albeit they be not abiding nearby whereas ye have now come."

Then this man let make their ship ready for sea and abode with them till the wind was fair for sailing; and or ever he and Gudleif parted, he drew a gold ring from off his arm, and gave it into Gudleif's hand, and therewithal a good sword, and then spake to Gudleif: "If it befall thee to come back to thy fosterland, then shalt thou deliver this sword to that Kiartan, the goodman at Frodiswater; but the ring to Thurid his mother."

Then said Gudleif: "And what shall we say concerning the sender of these good things to them?"

He answered: "Say that he sends them who was a greater friend of the goodwife of Frodiswater than of the Priest of Holyfell, her brother; but and if any shall deem that they know thereby who owned these fair things, tell them this my word withal, that I forbid one and all to go seek me, for this land lacks all peace, unless to such as it may befall to come aland in such lucky wise as ye have done; the land also is wide, and harbours are ill to find therein, and in all places trouble and war await outland men, unless it befall them as it has now befallen you."

Thereafter they parted. Gudleif and his men put to sea, and made Ireland late in the autumn, and abode in Dublin through the winter. But the next summer Gudleif sailed to Iceland, and delivered the goodly gifts there, and all men held it for true that this must have been Biorn the Broadwick Champion; but no other true token have men thereof other, than these even now told.