Sigrid’s Saga

Matt (l) and Vincent (r) from Valhalla overseeing the mash tun

Today we welcomed into our brewery Matt and Vincent from Valhalla, our battle brew-brothers for the new beer that will be launched at this years Jorvik Viking Festival. Stout of back and strong of arm were they as the hundreds of kilos of grain were piled into the mash tun for this specialist one-off brew. A brew that will become a Dark Mild called Sigrid’s Saga and sold at the Nine Realms bar in the centre of the main York viking camp on Pavement.

Brew complete, Matt (l) and Vincent (r) from Valhalla digging for victory

Brewed with a subtly smoked malt this dark mild will hit the bar at around 3.8% after being dry hopped with a special experimental hop. All in all this will be a stunning and highly drinkable ale fit for any viking’s drinking horn so keep your eyes peeled for its release during the Jorvik Viking Fest.

Keep your eyes out for this at the Jorvik Viking Festival

Who was Sigrid?

Sigrid the Haughty, also known as Sigríð Storråda (Sigrid Storråda in Swedish), is a queen appearing in Norse sagas as wife, first of Eric the Victorious of Sweden, then Sweyn Forkbeard of Denmark. Sigrid appears in many sagas composed generations after the events they describe, but there is no reliable evidence as to her existence as they describe her. The figure of Sigrid appears mainly in late Icelandic sagas, while more contemporary sources such as Thietmar of Merseburg and Adam of Bremen instead claim that Sweyn was married to a Polish princess, identified as ?wi?tos?awa. Snorri Sturluson gives conflicting information and in one place says that Sweyn was married to Sigrid and in another that he was married to a Gunhild of Wenden.

Heimskringla describes Sigrid as the beautiful but vengeful daughter of Skogul-Tosti, a powerful Swedish nobleman. As widow of Eric the Victorious, she held many great estates, and was living with her son Olav the Swede, when her foster-brother Harald Grenske, a king in Vestfold, sought her hand. She had him and another royal wooer, Vissavald of Gardarik, burned to death in a great hall following a feast to discourage other suitors. This episode earned her her byname.

Her hand was next sought by Olaf Tryggvasson, the king of Norway, but he would have required that she convert to Christianity. She told him to his face, “I will not part from the faith which my forefathers have kept before me”. In a rage, Olaf struck her with a glove, and Sigrid calmly told him, “This may some day be thy death”. Sigrid then proceeded to create a coalition of his enemies to bring about his downfall.

She allied Sweden with Denmark, marrying the widower Sweyn Forkbeard who had already been feuding with Olaf. Sweyn had sent his sister Tyri to marry the Wendish king Burislav, who had been the father of Sweyn’s first wife, Gunhild. Tyri fled and married Olaf, goading him into conflict with her brother, while Sigrid inflamed Sweyn against her former suitor. This shared animosity would lead to the Battle of Swold, in which Olaf fell. Snorri also claims that Estrid Svendsdatter was a paternal sister of Cnut the Great, and as a daughter of Sigrid was maternal sister to Olav the Swede, but in another place says that Estrid was a daughter of Gunhild of Wenden.