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Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The Saga of Burnt Niall souvenir sheet from Iceland

One thousand years have elapsed since the historic events recounted in "The Saga of Burnt Niall" took place at Bergthorshvoll in the south of Iceland.

The saga deals with the process of blood feuds in the Icelandic Free State where minor insults to one's honor could lead to destructive and prolonged bloodshed. In the saga 100 armed men attack the farm as a part of a cycle of killing and vengeance. Niall, widely esteemed as a lawyer and a sage, his wife Bergthora, their three sons and servants were all burned alive. Niall's son-in-law, Kari Solmundarson, managed to escape undetected from the fire and take his revenge on the arsonists. In spite of extensive archeological research at Bergthorshvoll no signs have been found of the burning.

Njals saga is the longest and most highly developed of the sagas of Icelanders. It is often considered the peak of the saga tradition. The souvenir sheet depicts some of the events that took place at the burning.