Fire Culture of the North

bonfireWhen we think of Norway, one image that may come to mind is that of fire: crackling logs keeping snowbound communities warm, as they tell tales of Vikings scorching the villages of the North. However, in this BBC Radio 3 broadcast, Eleanor Rosamund Barraclough takes a deeper look at the more complex role played by fire throughout Nordic culture, past and present.

From the million people who tune to watch a television broadcast of a burning fire to those who build the largest bonfire in the world, which is lit in Summer to celebrate the birth of John the Baptist, people in Norway are drawn to fire for different reasons. Uniting them, though, the cultural importance of fire can perhaps be traced back to the burning flames of Ragnarok, the world apocalypse recorded in old Norse sagas and poetry.

If you enjoyed this programme, why not listen to some of Eleanor’s other radio talks about Vikings and the world of Northern literature.

True Norse - While the Nordic countries are among Britain’s nearest neighbours, the closest many people come to the culture of Denmark, Norway and Sweden is in an Ikea canteen or when watching television series such as The Killing. Given […]
The Norse God Loki: Joanne Harris and Eleanor Rosamund Barraclough in Conversation - The wild world of the Norse sagas has resonances with our own times, and few characters from Old Norse are as relevant today as the smart, mercurial Loki. Joanne Harris, the multi-million […]
Fire Culture of the North - When we think of Norway, one image that may come to mind is that of fire: crackling logs keeping snowbound communities warm, as they tell tales of Vikings scorching the […]
Memory in Performance - As part of the BBC Proms season, the Aurora Orchestra performed Beethoven’s ‘Pastoral’ Symphony from memory. While we don’t praise actors and opera singers for learning their lines by heart, […]
Jordskott: Nordic Noir Returns to its Roots - With series such as The Killing and The Bridge, Nordic noir has become a popular genre in our TV schedules. Speaking on BBC Front Row,  Eleanor Rosamund Barraclough reviews Jordskott, a new […]
The Supernatural North - Join Eleanor Rosamund Barraclough on a journey to Arctic Norway, in search of the legends and landscapes that have inspired writers as diverse as Philip Pullman, AS Byatt, and the authors […]
Icelandic Literature, Past and Present - In honour of the first appearance of the Icelandic Symphony Orchestra at the BBC Proms, Eleanor Rosamund Barraclough explores the past, present and future of Icelandic culture, in a BBC […]
Rethinking the Vikings - According to popular myth, the Vikings were the Hells Angels of the middle ages, although with big beards and boats rather than bikes. However, most stories about the Vikings come […]
Vikings at the British Museum - A new exhibition at the British Museum brings the Vikings back to these shores – with the centrepiece being an enormous Viking warship. Eleanor Rosamund Barraclough visited the exhibition with Matthew […]
The Dragon of the North - The second Hobbit film, The Desolation of Smaug, has just been released. Its fearsome dragon is just one example of the many such beasts that feature throughout the literature of Northern […]


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