Poems from the Norse-lands
At Stamford Bridge – The Lost Saga of Bergþórr
York had now surrendered,
Hardrada’s army controlled that land,
He demanded food and hostages;
Before continuing his campaign.
Three-hundred ships of Norsemen
Had come to fight the English there;
To claim the crown that Harold wore
When Edward died without an heir.
Tostig Godwinson, brother of the new crowned king,
Joined his forces with the Norse,
He had wanted that same prize,
But in the contest he had lost.
While William Duke of Normandy,
Another claimant for the throne-
Was assembling his great army,
For a decisive battle, yet to come.
Agreement for the hostages,
Stamford Bridge – was the selected place.
And Hardrada, confident that Harold was far away,
Left large troops and armour, at their Riccall base.
Their deployment at Battle Flats,
Again was not the best;
Some on east bank of the Derwent,
Others were on the west.
But Harold drove his troops at speed,
To reach there in four days;
And took the Norsemen by surprise,
They were totally unprepared.
Those on the west bank suffered first,
Some escaping by the bridge,
Others tried to form a shield-wall,
But without armour – all were killed.
It was then that Bergþórr, took his stand,
Alone he blocked the bridge,
This Dane axe swung a thousand times
And took many English heads.
Again and again they tried to pass,
But they fell, while where Bergþórr stood;
His mighty axe cut through the air,
The Derwent, ran red with their blood.
Then one earl on the English side,
Saw a way to kill the large invader,
He put spear-men in half-barrels tubs,
That floated down the river.
Their war spears took him through the balls,
And pierced his fighting heart,
And Bergþórr (although unnamed by some)
Went to his final rest amongst the Gods.
They trampled on his broken body,
Attacked the Norsemen’s final stand,
And although ‘Orre’s Storm’ came to their rescue,
They were outnumbered three to one.
Hardrada and Tostig fell;
Harold took the day.
Of the three-hundred ships that came there,
Only twenty-four ships sailed away.
But Harold’s victory would be short lived,
For William, also came,
And within three weeks of his victory;
He would also fall amongst the slain.
© Fingleton (novembre 2016) (Löst Viking)
Historical Note: Battle of Stamford Bridge, East Riding, Yorkshire, England, on 25th September 1066. Battle of Hastings, 14th October 1066.
Bergþórr, has never been named in any of the sagas until now.