When I write, I often feel I am peering into another world. How odd are writers? Well, seeing things that aren’t there and talking to people who don’t have a physical existence—that might get us locked away in some parts of the world! But for me, the process is consistent: I have an eye to a knothole in the wall and I stare through, mesmerized by what I’m seeing. Literally, this is what I see, myself looking into a Norse hall, which from the outside, looks like an upturned boat. A very large wooden boat, a Noah’s ark size of creation. And I am on the outside of this hall looking in through the knothole. I put a hand to my mouth: they’re doing what in there? Really?
Archaeologists from Stockholm University recently identified a major Viking feasting hall near Uppsala, Sweden, that measured 50 metres in length. Imagine this upturned boat-looking hall with cold blue mountains behind it, snow-streaked. In front of it graze a few horses. The pasture is green but soggy-looking, with tufts of dried grass that suggest that winter is reluctantly getting left behind. It looks cold. The horses are shaggy and wind is blowing their manes and tails.