Fig. Map mainly showing paleoseismic events. Locality and chronology (yBP). From Mörner 2007.
I hope that David at History of Geology can take some critisism, because he is going to get it now from this former Swedish archaeology student at MA-level (even if he doesnt like it).
I really like his post on viking mythology and ancient seismic events connecting The Fenrir (Fenris) Wolf to earthquakes. I would really like it to be as cool as he (or rather Dr Mörner, the man behind the theory) theorizes. But Im almost completly sure that its impossible because of several facts.
Firstly. The “vikings” didnt exist as a culture or people at the time of any of the seismic events on the map. Absolutly not before 400 AD. They are a product of native iron age culture mixing with south germanic influences during what is called the “Vendel period” in Sweden (550-700 AD) but mainly of course with the Roman Iron age migrational period (400-550 AD) before that. The norse religion is mostly imported and somewhat transformed polyteistic germanic faith (and does not have its origin in the Svitjod/Svearike/Mälardalen area).
People in Scandinavia before the import most likely believed in some form of fertility and solar-religion – but no written sources exist describing it – only artefacts. It was anyway very different from the viking Asa-faith (norse religion), wich was much more focused on command and war just as all Germanic Wotan/Odin-worshiping religions were. Creatures like Fenris is seen all through all germanic religions. They are the thing in the night that scared people – the beowulf monster if you will, that someone must slay. We are talking about people living in dark forests of Northern Europe during the Iron Age – come on – theres no need to create fantastic and complicated theories on the origin of their beasts. Occham ftw! The connection theory is completly unnecessary and therefore unlikely by default.
Secondly – Connection with dated events. Without a seismic event at the time of the Viking age (or closely before it) you will have a problem with even assuming its a plausible idea even. As I said, there are no reasonable connection at all to earlier cultures and their possible experienced events – so thats hardly an argument. And even if Mörner can present paleoseismic events during the viking age – the principle of Occham still wins in my book. Its completly unnecessary to connect Fenris to earthquakes – and therefore complety unlikely.
So thirdly. Who is this Dr Mörner btw? Is the person behind the theory important when discussing it? In this case: Oh yes! He is anything but a respected scientist in Sweden. He is for example (and this is just one of many examples of why he cannot be trusted) working with the (in Sweden) famous troublemaker and pseudoscientist Bob G Lind (a militant nutcase that spawns crazy ideas on most archaeological sites in Sweden). So when Mörner comes up with a theory – all Swedish archaeologists and geologists knows that constant scepticism is required.
Something David of course could not be expected to know about (neither Mörners CV or the true history of Vikings). But I hope that he does now! 😀