18th June 2017
IN THE FOOTSTEPS OF AUD THE DEEP-MINDED
Composing Song of Aud the Deep-Minded last year was an exciting process. Having grown up in Lerwick, Shetland, where the all-male Up-Helly-Aa festival is celebrated annually, I’d long wondered how women of the viking era spent their lives. An international research journey led me to Aud’s story, and after learning about this incredible female Viking, I wanted to see for myself the land she chose as home. On 28th May 2017 I settled into an Air Iceland flight from Aberdeen to Reykjavik and the leaflet by my knees foretold of adventure ahead.
On landing in Reykjavik there was just time to plot a route before hitting gravel roads towards West Iceland.
Campervan turned out to be the perfect mode of transport for exploring this wild country.
On Wednesday 31st May 2017 my pilgrimage began in Budardalar with a visit to the Leifsbúð Culture House. Here I encountered information about the Laxdæla saga in which Aud features.
A twenty minute drive north then took me to Krosshólaborg where a stone cross memorial to Aud was established by the women of Dalir in 1965.
Nearby I discovered fertile Hvammur where Aud created her farm during the late ninth century.
Then came the most challenging stage of the journey on a road which is best tackled by tractor. Dagverdarnes was the place where Aud and her crew ate breakfast so it was a compulsory and beautiful stop on my journey.
After eating dinner where Aud ate breakfast there was just time before bed to visit the final place name associated with our Viking heroine. Kambsnes beckoned, where Aud lost her comb.
On Thursday 1st June 2017 a two hour drive south to Reykjavik delivered me to the NonfictioNOW conference at the University of Iceland where I gave a Huslestur (Roundtable) paper on Shetland songwriting, complete with musical illustration.
The weekend in Reykjavik culminated in a Blyde Lasses concert at Hannesarholt on Sunday 4th June. Thanks to Ragnheidur Jonsdottir’s wonderful hospitality, Frances Wilkins and I enjoyed a day’s rehearsal before debuting Song of Aud the Deep-Minded in the perfect Icelandic setting. I was thrilled that our concert was attended by Vilborg Davíðsdóttir who’d helped with my composition and who has written three novels based on Aud’s life. It was also an honour to have Tone Holte of Lyra far Nord in the audience. She had performed music about Aud in Hannesarholt just days before our concert. The spirit of this Viking woman filled the room on a very special Sunday and I hope we can collaborate on future projects to bring Aud’s life to public attention.