A Viking king and his men chose to be buried alive instead of surrendering to their enemy

Anita Durairaj

King Harald I Fairhair was a Norwegian king who ruled from c 872 to 930. Harald is thought to be the first King of Norway. He is a historical icon in Norway.

The only information about Harald's life comes from poems written by his court poet and sagas that were written three centuries after his death.

An Icelandic historian in the 1200s wrote about Harald's reign and his conquests. In his accounts, he describes that before Harald became King of all of Norway, he had to deal with petty kings in the region.

There were two other kings who ruled at the same time as Harald. The two kings were known as King Herlaug and his brother King Hrollaug. The two brothers ruled the Namdalen district in Central Norway.

When Harald began his march to confront the two kings, he was already very powerful and most rulers gladly surrendered to him even though he was invading their land.

The two sibling kings were well-aware that they had no option but to surrender. However, one of the brothers, Herlaug chose a different approach.

Herlaug decided not to bow down to Harald and would rather die than surrender. Even before Harald's arrival, Herlaug gathered eleven of his most trusted men and entered a burial mound. Then, he had the tomb sealed shut.

In the meantime, his brother Hrollaug chose to surrender to Harald. By surrendering, he was allowed to keep his kingdom and rule on behalf of Harald.

Centuries later in the 1700s, Herlaug's burial mound was dug up. They found human remains, animal bones, the remains of a sword, and a skeleton leaning against the wall that was thought to be the remains of the brave King Herlaug.

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Trained with a Ph.D. in Chemistry from the University of Cincinnati, I write unique and interesting articles focused on science, history, and current events.

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