It’s not often that I add new Heroes of Norse Proliferation to this shining (but sadly virtual) hall, which is probably because I’m a rather uninspired individual, but every once in a while motivation strikes and I bother to add a newcomer to the ranks of the mighty. This time the honor goes to Eleanor Rosamund Barraclough, associate professor of medieval history and literature in the department of history at Durham University in merry olde England.
Barraclough’s book, Beyond the Northlands, was released last year, and thanks to my tendency to be both trend-sensitive and timely, I just finished reading it. The book is good—definitely worth a read for anyone who spends their free time intentionally or accidentally visiting obscure blogs about Vikings. The book’s perspective is unique, and presents a solid historical overview of the Norse world by delving into the mingling of fact and fiction found in the Icelandic sagas. In addition to tracing the often highly imaginative biological origins of both men and monsters, Beyond the Northlands also presents a fresh take on the geographical limits of the known world as the Norse experienced it. Rather than just stating where the Vikings traveled to and what they did there, Barraclough herself literally followed in their footsteps, which must have been awesome. Her book discusses her own impressions of these exotic locations and the challenges/danger/excitement/etc. they must have presented to the Norse voyagers +/- 1000 years ago. It is also very accessibly written (which I condone, as mentioned in a prior hailing to Nancy Marie Brown) and full of great photos, maps, and illustrations.
So clearly, I like the book, but unlike a few of the other Heroes of Norse Proliferation, Barraclough has only written one so far (she has, however, edited another), so why include her here? Well, for starters, those other academically-oriented Heroes are all over 50, and it’s exciting to see someone comparatively new enter the field and make some serious headway. In addition to her book, Barraclough has also published a number of academic articles on Norse matters, and has branched out into more mainstream outlets as well, which is great for proliferating Norseness. This is primarily occurring in the UK, with BBC having produced radio shows featuring her discussing her work, such as the Supernatural North episode, and various British newspapers having published a few of her general interest articles relating to Vikings. You can find a full list of these if you click on the link attached to her name at the top of this page, which you should do, while also raising your horn and skåling in salute!