Thorstein the Red

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Thorstein the Red or Thorstein Olafsson was a viking chieftain who flourished in late ninth-century Scotland.

Scotland country in Northwest Europe, part of the United Kingdom

Scotland is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. Sharing a border with England to the southeast, Scotland is otherwise surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean to the north and west, by the North Sea to the northeast and by the Irish Sea to the south. In addition to the mainland, situated on the northern third of the island of Great Britain, Scotland has over 790 islands, including the Northern Isles and the Hebrides.



He was born around 850 AD and was the son of Olaf the White, King of Dublin, and Aud the Deep-minded, who was the daughter of Ketil Flatnose. [1] After the death of Olaf, Aud and Thorstein went to live in the Hebrides, then under Ketil's rule. [2] Thorstein eventually became a warlord and allied with the Jarl of Orkney, Sigurd Eysteinsson. [3] Together Thorstein and Sigurd waged a series of campaigns in Caithness, Sutherland, Ross, Moray, and a number of other regions, eventually receiving tribute from half of Scotland. [4] However, the Scottish chieftains plotted against Thorstein, and he was killed; the exact nature of his death is unknown but it probably took place around 880 or 890. After Thorstein's death Aud left Caithness, sojourning for a while in Orkney before settling with other members of her clan in Iceland. [5]

Olaf the White was a viking sea-king who lived in the latter half of the 9th century.

Hebrides archipelago off the west coast of mainland Scotland

The Hebrides comprise a widespread and diverse archipelago off the west coast of mainland Scotland. There are two main groups: the Inner and Outer Hebrides. These islands have a long history of occupation dating back to the Mesolithic, and the culture of the residents has been affected by the successive influences of Celtic, Norse, and English-speaking peoples. This diversity is reflected in the names given to the islands, which are derived from the languages that have been spoken there in historic and perhaps prehistoric times.

Sigurd Eysteinsson Viking warlord, Earl of Orkney

Sigurd Eysteinsson or Sigurd the Mighty was the second Earl of Orkney – a title bequeathed to Sigurd by his brother Rognvald Eysteinsson. A son of Eystein Glumra, Sigurd was a leader in the Viking conquest of what is now northern Scotland.

Thorstein married Thurid, the daughter of Eyvind the Easterner. Thorstein and Thurid had a son, Olaf Feilan, and a number of daughters, including Groa, Thorgerd, Olof, Osk, Thorhild, and Vigdis. [6]

Olaf Feilan Thorsteinsson was an Icelandic gothi of the Settlement period. He was the son of Thorstein the Red, jarl of Caithness, and his wife Thurid Eyvindsdottir. The byname "feilan" is derived from the Old Irish fáelán, meaning wolfling or little wolf.

A woman named Unn, wife of Thorolf Mostur-beard, claimed to be the daughter of Thorstein, but this claim was viewed by other Icelanders with scepticism. [7]


See also

Jaun Zuria is the mythical first Lord, and founder, of the Lordship of Biscay , who defeated the Leonese and Asturian troops in the also mythical Battle of Padura, in which he chased off the invasors to the Malato Tree, establishing there the borders of Biscay. There are three accounts of its legend, one by the Portuguese count Pedro Barcelos and two by the chronicler Lope García de Salazar. According to the legend, Jaun Zuria had been born from a Scottish or English princess that had been visited by the Basque deity Sugaar in the village of Mundaka.


  1. Eirik the Red's Saga § 1 (Jones 126); Laxdaela Saga § 4 (Magnusson 51).
  2. According to some, Olaf repudiated Aud and sent her back to her father's court c. 857. Forte 86.
  3. Eirik the Red's Saga § 1 (Jones 126); Laxdaela Saga § 4 (Magnusson 51).
  4. Id.; Harald Finehair's Saga § 22 (Snorri 22); Orkneyinga Saga § 9 (Palsson 27).
  5. Laxdaela Saga § 4 (Magnusson 51-52).
  6. Eirik the Red's Saga § 1 (Jones 127); Laxdaela Saga § 4 (Magnusson 52); Njal's Saga § 1 (Cook 3); Grettir's Saga § 26 (Thorsson 62); Landnámabókpassim.
  7. Eyrbyggja Saga § 7 (Palsson 32).

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