Serpentine brethren

dirkrobertson

Lerwick, United Kingdom

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Artist's Description

Illustrating the saga of Jarl Arnkel Einarsson.

Arnkel was the eldest of three brothers, sons of Turf-Einar, the Jarl of Orkney. When their father died Arnkel became Jarl and ruled the islands of Orkney and Shetland along with his 2 younger brothers, Erlend and Thorfinn.

King Erik Bloodaxe of Norway sailed to Orkney around the year 954. Arnkel then left with King Erik on a voyage to the south. Erlend went with them but Thorfinn stayed home to look after the isles. They sailed down to the Hebrides where they picked up more Vikings. With this great force they raided and plundered first in Ireland and later in Wales. Their bloody reign ended up in an ill-fated battle at Stainmore in England. There were great losses on both sides but by the end of the day the Orkney Jarls, Arnkel and Erlend, together with King Erik were all killed.

This painting depicts Jarl Arnkel leaving Shetland guided by three sea serpents each representing the sons of Turf-Einar.

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