Olav: Life giver and taker. Day 15 of a Scandinavian pilgrimage

Life giver because – judging by the number of Olav wells and springs I’’ve  passed – the Viking strongman is responsible for most of the freshwater supplies in central Sweden .

I’m not saying he was egotistical or anything but surely he can’t have discovered them all himself.


I picture the Viking army  in a forest desperately seeking water in the heat that July brings here (Olavs last battle was on July 29).

“Good news, boss. Sven the Pathfinder has discovered another spring. The day is saved”

“That IS good news,” replies Olav.

“And does this spring, er,  have a name ?”

Cue general murmuring from the soldiers and shuffling of feet..

“Well it’s like this , Boss. Seeing as Sven discovered the spring…

“Again…” (from an unidentified voice at the back of the ranks)

“yeah, so like I was saying boss, seeing as we’ve called the other 140 springs after you , maybe , just maybe and I’m not married to this….maybe we could call this one Sven’s Spring?”

“Interesting.  Interesting idea,” says Olav as he picks up his War Axe.

“And what do YOU think we should call it, Sven ?”

“Erm…Olav’s Spring sounds good enough to me, Boss….”

“Well that’s very good of you, Sven…I must say it has a certain ring”

Olav  was responsible for taking many lives as well.

He fought alongside our own King Ethelred as a mercenary and the legend goes that  in order to dislodge the enemy encamped on London Bridge,  he pulled it down.

His cunning plan was to row his boats under the bridge , attach ropes to the supports and row away at speed .

In order to protect his men from missiles from above ,  he demanded that wooden shelters be built over the boats

“Where you going to find that much wood in London,” said the sceptical citizens of London

“Funny you should ask that,” says Olav

Days later his men attack, safe under their wooden canopies, leaving large numbers of the said citizens shivering in their  roofless homes

There is a theory that the nursery rhyme London Bridge is Falling Down is an echo of this 11th century carnage.



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