Bloody Eagle - Viking Age Execution

“Bloody eagle” (blodörn) - the legendary execution of the Viking times, which consisted of cutting the ribs on the back of the convict, spreading them apart like wings and pulling out the lungs. The cause of imminent death in this case should have been traumatic shock or pneumothorax.

Most historians question the existence of such an execution or attribute it to the area of ​​ritual mockery of the corpses of enemies. At the same time, reports about the "bloody eagle" are attributed to the anti-linguistic propaganda of Christian authors or to the wild imagination of the Skalds of later times.

The drawing of the "bloody eagle" on the back of the enemy is mentioned in The Great Saga of Olaf Tryggvason, in the Saga of Orkney Jarls, as well as in the stories of revenge of Ivar the Boneless and his brothers to the Northumbrian king Ella II for the death of their father, Ragnar Lodbrok. From these brief references, it is difficult to get an idea of ​​the nature of this execution.

In later Christian authors, the "bloody eagle" was overgrown with ominous details and began to be presented as an example of barbaric cruelty. For example, Saxon the Grammar in the 9th book of the Acts of the Danes reports that salt was poured on Ella's back during execution.

In confirmation of the existence of such a ritual of sacrificing enemies to Odin, they give a not very clear image on the Stora-Hammar stone - one of the memorial stones of Gotland.

In one of the programs of the Discovery Channel, there was an attempt to reproduce the ritual, mocking a body made of gelatin with a "skeleton" inside. From which it was concluded that it would not be possible to "unfold" the ribs (they would break), and the lungs, without air, were too small. Therefore, an American pathologist concluded that the bones of the scapula were unrolled.