According to the thirteenth-century Icelandic Heimskringla, before the Viking Rollo became the first ruler of Normandy and of the Normans – the people who later conquered much of England, Ireland, and Sicily – he was known as Hrolf Ganger, or Rolf the Walker. Why the son of Earl Rognvald (Eysteinsson) – the legendary Norwegian nobleman and friend of King Harald Fairhair – ended up creating a powerful ducal dynasty in the early tenth century on the coast of modern-day France is less known because it may have involved his older brother Einar – who at the behest of their father sailed to the Orkneys from their home in Møre (western Norway) and established his own dynastic earldom enduring centuries.
Accounts conflict as to why Ketill (Björnsson) Flatnose, a Viking chieftain from Romsdal and the father of his “tall and portly” yet wisely regal second daughter, Aud the Deepminded, left Norway for the Hebrides (Suðreyjar) in the years of Harald Fairhair’s rise to power.
Harald I Fairhair (Harald Hårfagre, c. 850-c.932) the legendary and handsome heir to the Vestfold (Oslo) branch of the long-lasting Yngling dynasty, was ten years old when he became king following his father Halfdan the Black’s accidental death.
The twelfth-century Gesta Danorum (Deeds of the Danes) by Zealand scribe Saxo Grammaticus chronicles ancient hostilities between Vikings and Finnish tribes living between the Arctic and Baltic seas. However, the earliest relatively verifiable account of the Second Swedish Crusade against the Tavastians – a people who lived beyond the southwest Finns proper (Egentliga Finnar) region of Turku – appears in the anonymous fourteenth-century Erik Chronicle (Erikskrönikan).
The legendary Battle of Clontarf at Dublin (Ath Cliath) in 1014 – instigated in part by the king of that realm, Sigtrygg Silkbeard Olafsson (c. 970-1042) – is known for fracturing Viking rule in Ireland but a litany of noblemen and kings on both sides were slain there – including Ireland’s elder high king Brian Boru.