Sunday, October 10, 2010


The Viking strongman of the Orkney Islands,  
Sigurd the Mighty (c. 872 - 891),  died after his 
treacherous victory over a Scottish warlord  
who literally bit him from beyond death. 

According to the Orkneyinga Saga, Sigurd Eysteinsson became 
the first earl of Orkney after he sailed with Viking 
leader Harald Fairhair in 872. The king conquered the 
Orkneys, off the northern tip of Scotland, and control of the 
island group later passed to the teenage Sigurd. 

The saga of Eirik the Red records that Sigurd moved his men 
south on a campaign in which they captured more than half of 

But in the wilds of the Moray (Murray) region in northeastern 
Scotland, he encountered a formidable local warlord.
Melbrikta Tonn, or Maelbrigte Tusk, was so called because of a 
significantly protruding front tooth. The pair resolved to settle 
their differences man-to-man on the field, with a company of just 
40 men each. 

Sigurd betrayed his rival, bringing twice that number of men 
to the fray, a detail Melbrikta noticed when he saw two feet on 
either side of Sigurd’s horses. In the ensuing bloodbath, 
Melbrikta and all his men were hacked to death by the Vikings. 

Sigurd’s warriors cut off the heads of their fallen foes, Sigurd 
fastening Melbrikta’s head to his saddle. 

On the ride back, Melbrikta’s protuberant tusk, and an 
regrettable historical lag in dental hygiene, proved to be his 
undoing. As he rode along, Sigurd’s leg became scratched by his 
dead foe’s tooth, the wound turned septic, and he soon died. 

From my book "Dead Famous: Deaths of the Famous and Famous Deaths".

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