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EINAR, 5th EARL, 885-910

CONTEMPORARY PRINCES:
NORWAY: 863 Harald Fairhair; 934 Eric Bloodaxe;
SCOTAND: 879 Aodh, Eocha and Grig; 892 Donald IV; 904 Constantine III;
ENGLAND: 871 Alfred the Great; 901 Edward the Elder;

Einar thereon sailed to Hjaltaland, and there many men gathered round him. Then he went on to the Orkneys and met Kalf and Thorir in a great battle, in which the vikings were defeated and both slain. This was said about it:

"Hann gaf Treskegg trollum, Torf-Einarr, drap Skurfu
Tre-skegg gave he to the Trows [evil elves] Skurfa fell before Torf-Einar.
[From Orkneyinga Saga]

Then Einar took possession of the lands, and soon became a great chief. He was the man who first cut turf (peat) from the ground for fuel, at Torfness in Scotland, for fuel was scarce in the Isles. Einar was a tall man, ugly, and with one eye, yet he was very keen sighted.

When the sons of King Harald grew up, they become envious of the honours and possessions of Rognvald, Earl of Moeri, and two of them, Halfdan and Gudrod, surrounded his residence, fired it, and he was burnt to death with sixty of his retainers. King Harald was justly angry at this, and Halfdan fled, in three large ships, over seas to the west; but Gudrod effected a reconciliation with his father. King Harald put Thorer Tacitus in his father's estate, and to compensate for his loss gave him his own daughter Alof in marriage. When Halfdan arrived in the Orkneys, Earl Einar crossed over to Caithness, and Halfdan became king over the Islands. Einar returned the same year, and gave battle to Halfdan. The victory was to Einar, and Halfdan fled from his vengeance. Einar then sang this song:

"Why are not the spear-shafts flying,
From the hands of Hrolf and Hrollaug,
Thickly 'gainst the press of warriors ?
Now, my father! I avenge thee.
While we here are closed in battle,
Sits Earl Thorir all the evening,
Silent o'er his cheerless glass."
[From Orkneyinga Saga]

Next morning Halfdan was found on Rinar's Hill. The Earl made a blood-eagle be cut on his back with the sword, and had his ribs severed from the backbone, and his lungs pulled out. Thus he gave him to Odin as an offering for victory, and then raised a cairn over his remains. Then the news of Halfdan's end reached Norway his brothers were greatly enraged, and threatened an expedition to the Isles to avenge him, but King Harald delayed their journey. Einar despised their threats of vengeance. Harald himself took the matter in hand, set out for the Western seas, and came to the Isles, whereupon Einar fled to Caithness. Ambassadors went between them, and peace was made, Harald imposing a fine upon the Isles, adjudging them to pay 60 marks of gold. Earl Einar offered the Boendr to pay the money himself on condition that he should become proprietor of all their freeholds. The Boendr accepted this, because the wealthy ones thought they could at their convenience redeem their freeholds, and the poorer ones had no money. Einar paid the whole sum, and for a long time afterwards the Earls held all the allodial lands until Sigurd the Stout gave back their odal possessions to the Orcadians. King Harald went back to Norway, but Einar ruled over the Orkneys a long time, and died in old age, leaving three sons, Arnkell, Erlend, and Thorfinn the Skull-splitter. In the parish of Latheron, in Caithness, is an old ruin called Knock Einar, probably his Caithness seat. [From Torfaeus]

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