Ohthere of Hålogaland
(Ottar fra Hålogaland) was a Viking
adventurer from Hålogaland
. Around 890
AD he travelled to England
, where Alfred the Great
, king of Wessex
, had his tales written down.
Ohthere reported that he lived "north-most of all the Northmen", and that "no-one [lived] to the north of him". He spoke of his travels north to the White Sea, and south to Denmark and England, describing his route. He also spoke of the Sami people (Finnas), and of two mysterious peoples called the "Cwenas" and the "Beormas". While the identity and homeland of the Cwenas remain subject for discussion, Ohthere reported that the Beormas spoke a language related to that of the Sami people, and lived in an area of the White Sea region. This is marked on the accompanying map as "Bjarmland", and has been seen by some as a reference to people of the Old Permic culture.
Ohthere's story is the earliest known written source for the terms "Norway" and "Denmark".
Ohthere is believed to have come from Troms, probably somewhere north of Harstad, perhaps the island of Senja, where today's Lenvik is seen as a likely home; or possibly further north, for example from either of the islands of Kvaløya and Karlsøy.
- Ohthere's First Voyage University of Victoria. Retrieved on May 18 2008. Excerpt only of original text; English translation.
- Old English Online: Lesson 4 University of Texas. Retrieved on May 18 2008. Excerpt only of original text; detailed grammatical analysis, English translation.
- Onions, C.T. (ed.), Sweet's Anglo-Saxon Reader in Prose and Verse (14th edition), Clarendon, 1959. An excerpt from Alfred's account of Ohthere's travels.
- Thorpe, B., The Life of Alfred The Great Translated From The German of Dr. R. Pauli To Which Is Appended Alfred's Anglo-Saxon Version of Orosius, Bell, 1900, pp. 249-53. Parallel editions of King Alfred's full Old English text and a modern translation.