Notable Norwegians

Tore Hund

Tore Hund

Photo: mapio.net
The Tore Hund memorial at Bjarkøy.

With David Moe
Sun City, Calif.

Tore Hund (“Thor the Hound”) was a strong, independent, and devout pagan. He was born in 990 AD in Hålogaland at the beginning of the Christian era in Norway and believed in the Norse religion of Odin, Thor, and the rest of the pantheon. To him, Christianity was used as a political means to subject the Norse chieftains to establish one king from the South of Norway.

He was a leader in the Hålogaland area with his home on the island of Bjarkøy in Troms. He was a member of the Bjarkøy clan, one of the more powerful families of Northern Norway during the Viking Age. His family formed alliances with the most powerful chiefs of Norway and he led several expeditions into Russia. He married a woman named Ranveig and they had a son named Sigurd Toresson, who later served as a sheriff.

Tore opposed King Olaf’s attempts to unify and Christianize Norway. His nephew, Asbjorn Seisbane, was killed by one of King Olaf’s men, which contributed to a greater grudge against King Olaf.

In 1026, Tore joined King Canute the Great’s forces when they drove Olaf out and was named Canute’s representative in Norway. When Erling Skjalgsson was killed in 1028, Tore assumed leadership of the anti-Olaf forces.

When Olaf returned to Norway in the summer of 1030, Tore was one of those who rallied against him. He and his men held the line against King Olaf’s army at the battle of Stiklestad, on a farm in the lower part of the valley of Verdal, about 50 miles north of the city of Trondheim. According to some reports, it was Tore who actually killed King Olaf.

After the battle, Olaf’s son, Magnus, backed by some of Tore’s former allies, seized power, and Tore’s political career came to an end. According to Snorri, Tore may have left Norway for the Holy Lands or he may have died, but he never returned to Bjarkøy.

In 1980, the Tore Hund Monument, by Norwegian artist Svein Haavardsholm, was erected beside the road to the church on Bjarkøy. The memorial honors both Tore Hund and the Bjarkøy clan, who had their seat on Bjarkøy, as Tore is remembered as a great chieftain of the North of Norway.

David Moe was born in Minnesota and graduated from the University of Minnesota, Morris, in 1964 and received his M.A. degree from San Francisco State University in 1975. He spent four years in the Navy and 32 years in the insurance business. He is married to his wife, Thordis, and they have two daughters and four grandchildren. They now live in Sun City, Calif.

This article originally appeared in the February 8, 2019, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.

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