Sigurd the Stout
d.23 Apr 1014
Facts and Events
Sigurd Hlodvirsson (circa 960–23 April 1014), popularly known as Sigurd the Stout from the Old Norse Sigurðr digri, was an Earl of Orkney. The main sources for his life are the Norse Sagas, which were first written down some two centuries or more after his death. These compelling stories must therefore be treated with caution rather than as reliable historical documents.
Sigurd was the son of Hlodvir Thorfinnson and (according to the Norse sagas) a direct descendent of Torf-Einarr Rognvaldson. Sigurd's tenure as earl was apparently free of the kin-strife that beset some other incumbents of this title and he was able to pursue his military ambitions over a wide area. He had holdings in the north of mainland Scotland and in the Sudrøyar and he may have been instrumental in the defeat of Gofraid mac Arailt, King of Man. The Annals of Ulster record his death at the Battle of Clontarf in 1014 and this is the earliest known contemporary reference to the earldom of Orkney.
The saga tales draw attention to his conversion to Christianity and his use of a totemic raven banner, a symbol of the Norse God Odin. This ambiguous theme and the lack of detailed contemporary records of his life have led to a variety of interpretations of the saga material by modern scholars.