A Viking Funeral

 

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The era of Viking raids and invasions that began in the 9th Century is among the least understood and most neglected periods of history. John Miller and I  wanted to open this period for 7th grade students by engaging them in narratives drawn from primary source documents. Here’s a link to John’s completed Minecraft unit:

http://minecraft.edtecworks.com/2015/02/16/literacy-through-minecraft-lesson-design-model/

Please have a look at the writing prompt for the unit’s ending assignments:

A Viking’s Funeral


             Gofraid moved out of shadow and stood in silence before a half circle of faces. Every person in the Viking town waited for his words. A low fire flickered behind him. He turned his head slowly and his long hair shone flame-gold.

            At last, he spoke, “We drove our longships onto pale sand at low tide. The town was close, but a rampart of sand and logs blocked our path. Bowmen manned the rampart and fired into our rush. Fafnir fell with an arrow through his throat and Knutr took an arrow in his right eye. Ragnar – ” Gofraid turned and gestured to the tall pile of oil-soaked logs to his side on which Ragnar’s body now lay. “A war arrow bit deep into Ragnar’s thigh. He staggered, but he broke the arrow off short and ran on. He leapt atop the rampart and sliced his blood-drinker through the throat of the bowman who’d shot him. Then his sword drank the lives of two more bowmen, one to either side. We caught him then and swarmed over the rampart into the town.” Gofraid paused.

            Only crackling flames broke the silence around the fire. Gofraid’s mouth was a grim line. He made a fist of his right hand. “We gathered rich loot, but we had no need of slaves from this place. All died. The town is ashes.”

            The crowd roared and beat sticks on the ground. Some shouted “Ragnar!”; some shouted “Wodin!”; some just screamed.  

            Gofraid plucked a torch from the fire behind him and stepped to the tall funeral pyre. He raised the torch high. “A Viking carries his sword to Valhalla this night!” He thrust the torch deep among the logs. Flames leapt up.

            Ragnar, sword upon his breast, lay at the center of the swelling, red-gold flames. Sparks rose past him to the stars.

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