Egil Skallagrimsson Millie cooke

Picture of Egil in a 17th century manuscript of Egil Saga

Who was Egil?

Egil Skallagrímsson 904 – 995 was a Viking-Age poet, warrior and farmer. He is also the protagonist of the eponymous Egil's Saga. Egil's Saga historically narrates a period from approximately 850 to 1000 CE and is believed to have been written between 1220 and 1240 CE

Egil engaging in holmgang with Berg-Önundr; painting by Johannes Flintoe.

Egil's PoeTry

Egil is considered by many historians to be the finest of the ancient Scandinavian poets.

Egil wrote his first poem at the age of three. He showed berserk behaviour, and this, together with the writing of his large and unattractive head, led to the theory that he might have suffered from Paget's disease.

The sign of paget's diesease into Egil's writing was the first sign of science, excluding archaeology, to the Icelandic sagas.

Egil as a warrior

At the age of seven, Egil was cheated in a game with local boys. Angry, he went home to get an axe, and returning to the boys, split the skull to the teeth of the boy who cheated him

Egil fought in the battle of brunanburh in the service of King Athelstan, for which he received payment in silver.

The Battle of Brunanburh is unknown to all but the most die-hard buffs of Anglo-Saxon or Viking history. But it is a battle that deserves to be remembered. For it was the largest and bloodiest battle fought in Anglo-Saxon England prior to Hastings (and likely surpassing that later battle in the numbers of combatants involved). It left its victor, King Athelstan of Wessex, the first Anglo-Saxon king to be called “King of England”.

Artists impression of the battle of brunanburh


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