Thorir Hund

Last updated
Modern and imaginary presentation of Tore Hund Tore-hund.png
Modern and imaginary presentation of Tore Hund
Map of Bjarkoy with the placement of Tore Hund's farm ToreHund-Bjarkoy.jpg
Map of Bjarkøy with the placement of Tore Hund's farm

Thorir Hund (Old Norse: Þórir hundr, Modern Norwegian: Tore Hund, literally "Thorir the Hound") (born ca. 990) was one of the greatest chiefs in Hålogaland. Tore Hund was one of the leaders of the Stiklestad peasant faction opposing Norwegian King Olaf II of Norway, later named St. Olaf. He was reported to have been among the chieftains who killed the king in the Battle of Stiklestad in 1030. He also served in the forces of King Canute the Great on several occasions. [1]

Norwegian language North Germanic language spoken in Norway

Norwegian is a North Germanic language spoken mainly in Norway, where it is the official language. Along with Swedish and Danish, Norwegian forms a dialect continuum of more or less mutually intelligible local and regional varieties, and some Norwegian and Swedish dialects, in particular, are very close. These Scandinavian languages, together with Faroese and Icelandic as well as some extinct languages, constitute the North Germanic languages. Faroese and Icelandic are hardly mutually intelligible with Norwegian in their spoken form because continental Scandinavian has diverged from them. While the two Germanic languages with the greatest numbers of speakers, English and German, have close similarities with Norwegian, neither is mutually intelligible with it. Norwegian is a descendant of Old Norse, the common language of the Germanic peoples living in Scandinavia during the Viking Era.

Hålogaland district of Norway

Hålogaland was the northernmost of the Norwegian provinces in the medieval Norse sagas. In the early Viking Age, before Harald Fairhair, Hålogaland was a kingdom extending between the Namdalen valley in Trøndelag county and the Lyngen fjord in Troms county.

Stiklestad Village in Central Norway, Norway

Stiklestad is a village and parish in the municipality of Verdal in Trøndelag county, Norway. It is located 4 kilometres (2.5 mi) east of the town of Verdalsøra and about 2 kilometres (1.2 mi) southeast of the village of Forbregd/Lein. The village is mainly known as the site of the Battle of Stiklestad on 29 July 1030. Stiklestad Church is located in the village and it is assumed to have been erected on the exact spot where King Olaf II Haraldsson fell in the battle. The king was buried in Nidaros (Trondheim), canonised there on 3 August 1031, and later enshrined in Nidaros Cathedral. Following the Lutheran reformation of 1537 the saint's remains were removed and their precise resting-place has been unknown since 1568.



Thorir Hund was born at the beginning of the Christian era in Norway. He was both strongly independent and a devout pagan. Christianization of the country was not only a question of faith. Christianity was also a powerful political tool to subject the old chiefs and in the case of Hålogaland to establish rule by a king from the south.

Germanic paganism

Germanic paganism refers to the indigenous religion of the Germanic people from the Iron Age until Christianisation during the Middle Ages. Rooted in Proto-Indo-European religion, Proto-Germanic religion expanded during the Migration Period, yielding extensions such as Old Norse religion among the North Germanic peoples, Continental Germanic paganism among the continental Germanic peoples, and Anglo-Saxon paganism among the West Germanic people. Among the East Germanic peoples, traces of Gothic paganism may be discerned from scant artifacts and attestations. According to John Thor Ewing, as a religion it consisted of "individual worshippers, family traditions and regional cults within a broadly consistent framework".

Christianization is the conversion of individuals to Christianity or the conversion of entire groups at once. Various strategies and techniques were employed in Christianization campaigns from Late Antiquity and throughout the Middle Ages. Often the conversion of the ruler was followed by the compulsory baptism of his subjects. Some were evangelization by monks or priests, organic growth within an already partly Christianized society, or by campaigns against paganism such as the conversion of pagan temples into Christian churches or the condemnation of pagan gods and practices. A strategy for Christianization was Interpretatio Christiana – the practice of converting native pagan practices and culture, pagan religious imagery, pagan sites and the pagan calendar to Christian uses, due to the Christian efforts at proselytism (evangelism) based on the Great Commission.

Thorir was an influential man in the area of Hålogaland, his home being the island of Bjarkøy in Troms. He belonged to the upper echelon among the Norwegian coastal chiefs. He was a member of the Bjarkøy clan, one of the more powerful families in Northern Norway during the Viking Age. He was an accomplished viking, leading several expeditions towards Russia and the White Sea. He traded in Bjarmaland, today the area of Arkhangelsk in northern Russia. [2]

Bjarkøy Former municipality in Troms, Norway

Bjarkøy is a former municipality in Troms county, Norway. The 73.6-square-kilometre (28.4 sq mi) municipality existed from 1838 until it was merged with Harstad Municipality on 1 January 2013. The administrative centre of the municipality was the village of Nergården on the island of Bjarkøya. The island municipality was spread across several islands: Bjarkøya, Sandsøya, Grytøya, Krøttøya, and many smaller ones. Originally, the municipality also included the southwestern part of the large island of Senja.

Troms County (fylke) of Norway

Troms (pronounced [trʊms] or Romsa  or Tromssa  is a county in northern Norway. It borders Finnmark county to the northeast and Nordland county in the southwest. Norrbotten Län in Sweden is located to the south and further southeast is a shorter border with Lapland Province in Finland. To the west is the Norwegian Sea.

Russia transcontinental country in Eastern Europe and Northern Asia

Russia, officially the Russian Federation, is a transcontinental country in Eastern Europe and North Asia. At 17,125,200 square kilometres (6,612,100 sq mi), Russia is the largest country in the world by area, covering more than one-eighth of the Earth's inhabited land area, and the ninth most populous, with about 146.77 million people as of 2019, excluding Crimea. About 77% of the population live in the western, European part of the country. Russia's capital, Moscow, is the largest metropolitan area in Europe proper and one of the largest cities in the world; other major cities include Saint Petersburg, Novosibirsk, Yekaterinburg and Nizhny Novgorod. Extending across the entirety of Northern Asia and much of Eastern Europe, Russia spans eleven time zones and incorporates a wide range of environments and landforms. From northwest to southeast, Russia shares land borders with Norway, Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland, Belarus, Ukraine, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, China, Mongolia and North Korea. It shares maritime borders with Japan by the Sea of Okhotsk and the U.S. state of Alaska across the Bering Strait. However, Russia recognises two more countries that border it, Abkhazia and South Ossetia, both of which are internationally recognized as parts of Georgia.

The family of Thorir Hund formed alliances with the most powerful chiefs in Norway. His sister Sigrid Toresdatter  (no ) was married to Olve Grjotgardsson of Egge  (no ). His brother, Sigurd Toresson  (no ) was also an important chief in Trondenes. He was married to Sigrid Skjalgsdatter, a sister of the powerful nobleman Erling Skjalgsson of Sola in Rogaland. Thorir Hund was married to a woman named Ranveig, about whose background little is known. They had a son called Sigurd Toresson, who later served as a sheriff during the reign of Harald Hardrada. [3]

Norway constitutional monarchy in Northern Europe

Norway, officially the Kingdom of Norway, is a Nordic country in Northwestern Europe whose territory comprises the western and northernmost portion of the Scandinavian Peninsula; the remote island of Jan Mayen and the archipelago of Svalbard are also part of the Kingdom of Norway. The Antarctic Peter I Island and the sub-Antarctic Bouvet Island are dependent territories and thus not considered part of the kingdom. Norway also lays claim to a section of Antarctica known as Queen Maud Land.

Trondenes Former municipality in Troms, Norway

Trondenes is an old parish and former municipality in Troms county in Norway. The 186-square-kilometre (72 sq mi) municipality existed from 1838 until its dissolution in 1964. It was located along the western shore of the Vågsfjorden in what is now Harstad Municipality. Trondenes included the majority of the island of Grytøya and part of the eastern coast of the island of Hinnøya as well as some smaller islands. Located just north of the town of Harstad, the village of Trondenes was the administrative centre of the municipality. That village is also the site of the historic Trondenes Church, the northernmost medieval stone church in Norway. The Trondenes Historical Center was built in 1997 near the church to teach about the history of the area. Trondenes Fort is also located on the Trondenes peninsula.

Erling Skjalgsson Norwegian political leader

Erling Skjalgsson was a Norwegian political leader of the late 10th and early 11th century. He has been commonly seen as this period's foremost defender of the historic Norwegian social system. Erling fought for the traditional small, autonomous kingdoms and the þing system, against the reformists of the Fairhair family line.


King Olaf's fall Olav der Heilige06.jpg
King Olaf's fall
Thorir kills King Olaf, illustration by Halfdan Egedius, 1899 Stiklestad.jpg
Thorir kills King Olaf, illustration by Halfdan Egedius, 1899

Thorir opposed King Olaf's attempts to unify and Christianize Norway. He also held personal grudges against the king, after one of the king's reeves, Asmundr Grànkelsson, murdered his nephew Asbjørn Selsbane  (no ). Thorir later avenged his nephew, but was sentenced to pay a heavy fine by the king, further contributing to his grudge against the king.

When Erling Skjalgsson was killed in 1028, Tore assumed leadership of the anti-Olaf faction together with Einar Thambarskelfir and Kalv Arnesson, the brother of Finn Arnesson. In 1026, he joined Canute's forces when they drove out Olaf and was named Canute's representative in Norway along with Hårek of Tjøtta. [4] [5]

According to Snorri Sturluson's Heimskringla , when Olaf returned to Norway in the summer of 1030, Thorir was among those rallying against him. He and his men led the line against the king's army at the Battle of Stiklestad. The battle site was Stiklestad, a farm in the lower part of the valley of Verdal, 80 kilometres (50 mi) north of the city of Trondheim.. According to saga sources, Thorir was among those who gave Olaf his lethal wounds, together with Kalv Arnesson and Thorstein Knarresmed from Rovde in Sunnmøre. [6] While earlier reports do not name the man who actually killed the king, the Heimskringla specifies Thorir, using a spear tipped with the javelin point that killed his nephew to thrust up below the king's mail shirt and into his abdomen. [1]

After the battle, turning political tides soon went against Thorir. As Olaf's son Magnus, backed by some of Thorir's former allies, seized power, Thorir became a marginalized figure. According to Snorri, he may have left Norway for the Holy Lands, or he may have died. He never returned to Bjarkøy.


The Tore Hund Monument, by Norwegian artist Svein Haavardsholm, was erected in 1980 beside the road to the church on Bjarkøy. The memorial honors both Thorir Hund and the Bjarkøy clan, who had their seat on Bjarkøy.

Related Research Articles

Harald II Greycloak or Grey-hide literally translated was a king of Norway from the Fairhair dynasty..

Olaf III of Norway King of Norway

Olaf Haraldsson, known as Olaf Kyrre, ruled Norway as from 1067 until his death in 1093.

Battle of Stiklestad battle in Trøndelag, Norway

The Battle of Stiklestad in 1030 is one of the most famous battles in the history of Norway. In this battle, King Olaf II of Norway was killed. During the pontificate of Pope Alexander III, the Roman Catholic Church declared Olaf a saint in 1164.

<i>The Saint Olav Drama</i> play

Saint Olav Drama is an outdoor theatre performance played every end of July in Stiklestad in Verdal, Norway.

Sigurd Haakonsson Norwegian nobleman (895–962)

Sigurd Håkonsson was a Norwegian nobleman and Jarl of Lade in Trøndelag.

Sigvatr Þórðarson poet

Sigvatr Þórðarson or Sigvat the Skald (995-1045) was an Icelandic skald. He was a court poet to King Olaf II of Norway, as well as Canute the Great, Magnus the Good and Anund Jacob, by whose reigns his floruit can be dated to the earlier eleventh century. Sigvatr was the best known of the court skalds of King Olaf and also served as his marshal (stallare).

Einar Thambarskelfir noble and politician from Norway

Einar Eindridesson Thambarskelfir was an influential Norwegian noble and politician during the 11th century. He headed the feudal lords in their opposition to Olaf Haraldsson.

Battle of Nesjar battle

Battle of Nesjar was a sea battle off the coast of Norway in 1016. It was a primary event in the reign of King Olav Haraldsson. Icelandic skald and court poet Sigvatr Þórðarson composed the poem Nesjavísur in memory of the battle. A monument known as the Nesjar Monument was erected on the 1000th anniversary of the battle, located in Helgeroa village in Larvik, Vestfold County, where the battle is believed to have occurred.

Dag Ringsson was a Norwegian chieftain from Oppland who participated in the Battle of Stiklestad during 1030 which resulted in the death of King Olaf II of Norway

Finn Árnasson Norwegian Earl

Finn Árnasson was a Norwegian nobleman and advisor to both King Olaf Haraldsson and King Harald III of Norway and later served King Sweyn II of Denmark. He was the feudal lord (lendmann) of Austrått.

Åsta Gudbrandsdatter Mother of two Norwegian Kings

Åsta Gudbrandsdatter was the mother of two Norwegian kings, King Olaf II of Norway and King Harald III of Norway. The primary source for the life of Åsta is Snorri Sturluson's saga Heimskringla, a 13th-century collection of tales about the lives of the Norwegian kings. In the chronicle, Åsta is described as "generous and high-minded" and as a keen political player and guiding influence on her royal husbands and children. Her parents were Gudbrand Kula and Ulfhild.

Erling Vidkunsson (1293–1355) was the Norwegian nobleman and regent of Norway. He received the position of High Justiciar (drottsete) of the country. He was Lord of Bjarkoy and Giske and was probably the most important and wealthy Norwegian noble of his era.

Elisiv of Kiev Norwegian royal consort

Elisaveta Yaroslavna of Kiev, was a Princess of Kiev and Queen Consort of King Harald III of Norway.

Gerhard Munthe Norwegian painter

Gerhard Peter Frantz Munthe was a Norwegian painter and illustrator.

Tora Torbergsdatter was a Norwegian royal consort. She was the mother of two kings of Norway. It is possible, but unconfirmed, that she was also queen of Denmark or Sweden.

Torstein Knarresmed Viking warrior

Torstein Knarresmed was a boatbuilder from Rovde in Sunnmøre in Møre og Romsdal, Norway. He played an important role in the Battle of Stiklestad. His actions probably saved the life of Thorir Hund during the battle leading to a victory over King Olaf II of Norway.

Kálfr Árnason Norwegian chieftain

Kálfr Árnason was an 11th-century Norwegian chieftain who played a major role both in defeating King Olaf Haraldsson at the Battle of Stiklestad and in bringing back his young son Magnus and raising him to the throne.

Hárek of Tjøtta

Hárek of Tjøtta was a Norwegian farmer and local chieftain. He was a son of the skald, Eyvindr skáldaspillir. Hárek resided at Tjøtta in Nordland, and had significant influence in the district of Hålogaland. He participated in the Battle of Stiklestad in 1030, where his peasant army defeated Olaf Haraldsson. He was killed by axe in 1036 by rival chieftain Åsmund Grankjellsson.

Events in the year 1027 in Norway.


  1. 1 2 "Tore Hund", Norsk biografisk leksikon (in Norwegian)
  2. "Bjarmeland", Store norske leksikon (in Norwegian)
  3. "Erling Skjalgsson", Norsk biografisk leksikon(in Norwegian)
  4. "Hårek Øyvindsson På Tjøtta", Norsk biografisk leksikon(in Norwegian)
  5. "Einar Eindridesson Tambarskjelve", Norsk biografisk leksikon(in Norwegian)
  6. "Kalv Arnesson", Norsk biografisk leksikon(in Norwegian)

Other sources