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The Blood Eagle, What Was It's Purpose?

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The Blood Eagle, What Was It's Purpose?

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  • August 4, 2013
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What was the blood eagle used for?
The ‘blood eagle’ was a ritual the Vikings performed as a sacrifice to their god Odin; sometimes it was used as a form of torture. The victim would have their chest cut open and the ribs would be ripped open leaving the chest cavity exposed. The blood eagle was a cruel method of torture, slowly killing the victim and leaving their body to rot. There have been many accounts of the blood eagle being performed some people doubt or question the validity of these accounts.

There has been three accounts of the blood eagle being performed. The first account of the blood eagle is in the Orkneyinga Saga in which Earl Einar says “I know not what I see in Rinansey, sometimes it lifts itself up, but sometimes it lays itself down, that is either a bird or a man, and we will go to it.” This explains that the ‘blood eagle’ could be used to mark the land but the blood eagle was mainly used as a form of torture. The second account of the blood eagle being practised is the Norna-Getts þáttr which says: now the blood eagle, with a broad sword, the killer of Sigmund, carved on the back, fewer were more valiant, as the troops dispersed, a chief of people, who made the raven glad. This depicts the blood eagle being used as a ritual instead of torture or execution. The last account of the blood eagle being performed is the Anglo Saxon chronicle which says: This year the Viking army went from the East-Angles over the mouth of the Humber to the Northumbrians, as far as York. And there was much dissension in that nation among themselves; they had deposed their king Osbert, and had admitted Ælla, who had no natural claim. Late in the year, however, they returned to their allegiance, and they were now fighting against the common enemy; having collected a vast force, with which they fought the army at York; and breaking open the town, some of them entered in. Then was there an immense slaughter of the Northumbrians, some within and some without; and...