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‘Riders on the Storm; Riders at the Door’: The Nordic Legends of the Wild Ride

  • 25/04/2023
  • 18:00-19:30
  • Online talk

‘Riders on the Storm; Riders at the Door’: The Nordic Legends of the Wild Ride

A Folklore Society online talk by

Professor Terry Gunnell (University of Iceland)

Tuesday 25 April 2023, 18:00 BST

This lecture, a blend of academic discussion and storytelling, will introduce the main types of Nordic legend associated with the Wild Ride, noting the differences between the more southerly types (mainly Swedish and Danish) telling of a single rider chasing a supernatural woman, and those more northerly legends in which the ride, made up of a mixture of troll-like beings and the dead, is commonly led by a female figure.

Some attention will also be given to the way this migratory legend also had to change when it came to Iceland, largely because of local beliefs relating to the size of trolls and whether more than one could fit into a house. As the lecture will show, these were not merely legends, but were based on ancient active beliefs about groups of supernatural riders who would take over farms at Yuletide, killing or stealing anyone who go in their way. Equally important to remember is that these beliefs were manifested in the widespread Nordic traditions of groups of disguised young men who went round farms at the same time, demanding food and drink. The legend gave character to the tradition, and the tradition gave credence to the legend.

Terry Gunnell is Professor of Folkloristics at the University of Iceland; author of The Origins of Drama in Scandinavia (1995); and editor of Masks and Mumming in the Nordic Area (2007); Legends and Landscape (2008) and Grimm Ripples: The Legacy of the Grimms’ Deutsche Sagen in Northern Europe (2022).

Tickets £6.00 (£4.00 for Folklore Society members with Promo Code: just log in to the Members Only area to get the Promo Code): https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/riders-on-the-storm-riders-at-the-door-nordic-legends-of-the-wild-ride-tickets-534043106307

Every ticket sold helps to support the work of The Folklore Society