Scotland’s forgotten Viking traveller

GAELIC television channel BBC Alba will show a new documentary tomorrow night that explores the tale of a little-known Viking with strong Scottish links.

Gudridur Thorbjarnardottir, the granddaughter of a slave in Scotland, was known as “The Far Traveller” and is described by the programme’s makers as “the most adventurous explorer of the Middle Ages”.

The producers say she was the only woman in the world whose expeditions took her both to mainland Europe and to the coast of North America.

Nancy Marie Brown, an American author who has written several books about the Vikings, said: “She is a very important person in the history of Iceland but also the history of North America.

“Her life, the most far-travelled of the Viking age, truly is a remarkable one.”

Andrew Jennings, who teaches Viking studies at the Institute for Northern Studies, part of the University of the Highlands & Islands, added: “The Scots, particularly those living in Orkney and Shetland, I think, are proud of their Norse heritage.

“The Vikings had a big impact on Scotland, particularly in the middle ages.

“They have left their place names in the Hebrides, Orkney and Shetland.

“They have contributed to our gene pool and, if you go to Shetland, you will discover that the Scandinavian language there only died out in about 1800.”

The documentary, which includes interviews and dramatisations, will be shown tomorrow at 9pm on BBC Alba, and then will be available on BBC iPlayer for 30 days.

Read more stories on Scottish Field’s television pages.