Olaf Of Northumbria - Encyclopedia

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OLAF, or ANLAF (d. 981), king of the Danish kingdoms of Northumbria and of Dublin, was a son of Sitric, king of Deira, and was related to the English king lEthelstan. As his name indicates he was of Norse descent, and he married a daughter of Constantine II., king of the Scots. When Sitric died about 927 lEthelstan annexed Deira, and Olaf took refuge in Scotland and in Ireland until 937, when he was one of the leaders of the formidable league of princes which was destroyed by lEthelstan at the famous battle of Brunanburh. Again he sought a home among his kinsfolk in Ireland, but just after IEthelstan's death in 940 he or Olaf Godfreyson was recalled to England by the Northumbrians. Both crossed over, and in 941 the new English king, Edmund, gave up Deira to the former. The peace between the English and the Danes did not, however, last long. Wulfstan, archbishop of York, sided with Olaf; but in 944 this king was driven from Northumbria by Edmund, and crossing to Ireland he ruled over the Danish kingdom of Dublin. From 949 to 95 2 he was again king of Northumbria, until he was expelled once more, and he passed the remainder of his active life in warfare in Ireland. But in 980 his dominion was shattered by the defeat of the Danes at the battle of Tara. He went to Iona, where he died probably in 981, although one account says he was in Dublin in 994. This, however, is unlikely. In the sagas he is known as Olaf the Red.

This Olaf must not be confused with his kinsman and ally, Olaf (d. 941), also king of Northumbria and of Dublin, who was a son of Godfrey, king of Dublin. The latter Olaf became king of Dublin in 934; but he was in England in 937, as he took part in the fight at Brunanburh. After this event he returned to Ireland, but he appears to have acted for a very short time as joint king of Northumbria with Olaf Sitricson. It is possible that he was the "Olaf of Ireland" who was called by the Northumbrians after Æthelstan's death, but both the Olafs appear to have accepted the invitation. He was killed in 941 at Tyningham near Dunbar.

See W. F. Skene, Celtic Scotland, vol. i. (1876), and J. R. Green, The Conquest of England, vol. i. (1899).

Bland, an island in the Baltic Sea, next to Gotland the largest belonging to Sweden, stretching for 85 m. along the east coast of the southern extremity of that country, from which it is separated by Kalmar Sound which is from 5 to 15 m. broad. The greatest breadth of the island is 10 m., and its area 519 sq. m. Pop. (1900) 30,408. Consisting for the most part of Silurian limestone, and thus forming a striking contrast to the mainland with its granite and gneiss, Oland is further remarkable on account of the peculiarities of its structure. Down the west side for a considerable distance runs a limestone ridge, rising usually in terraces, but at times in steep cliffs, to an extreme height of 200 ft.; and along the east side there is a parallel ridge of sand, resting on limestone, never exceeding 90 ft. These ridges, known as the Western and Eastern Landborgar, are connected towards the north and the south by belts of sand and heath; and the hollow between them is occupied by a desolate and almost barren tract: the southern portion, or Alfvar (forming fully half of the southern part of the island), presents a surface of bare red limestone scored by superficial cracks and unfathomed fissures, and calcined by the heat refracted from the surrounding heights. The northern portion is covered at best with a copse of hazel bushes. Outside the ridges, however, Oland has quite a different aspect, the hillsides being not infrequently clothed with clumps of trees, while the narrow strip of alluvial coast-land, with its cornfields, windmills, villages and church towers, appears fruitful and prosperous. There are a few small streams in the island; and one lake, Hornsjo, about 3 m. long, deserves mention. Of the fir woods which once clothed a considerable area in the north the Boda crown-park is the only remnant. Grain, especially barley, and sandstone, are exported from the island, and there are cement works. A number of monuments of unknown age exist, including stones (stenseittningar) arranged in groups to represent ships. The only town is Borgholm, a watering-place on the west coast, with one of the finest castle ruins in Sweden. The town was founded in 1817, but the castle, dating at least from the 13th century, was one of the strongest fortresses, and afterwards, as erected by the architect Nicodemus Tessin the elder (1615-1681), one of the most stately palaces in the country. The island was joined in 1824 to the administrative district (lain) of Kalmar. Its inhabitants were formerly styled Oningar, and show considerable diversity of origin in the matter of speech, local customs and physical appearance.

From the raid of Ragnar Lodbrok's sons in 775 Oland is frequently mentioned in Scandinavian history, and especially as a battleground in the wars between Denmark and the northern kingdoms. In the middle ages it formed a separate legislative and administrative unity.

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