‘Grjútgarðr, Æinriði, synir gærðu at faður snjællan. Guðvér var vestr á Ænglandi, gjældi skifti, borgir á Saxlandi sótti karla.’
‘Grjútgarđ, Æinriđi, the sons made [this stone] after the valiant father. Guđvér was west in England, divided the geld, manfully attacked fortresses in Saxony.’
The Grinda Runestone (Sö 166) is a memorial for a Viking captain named Guđvér. It is a common misconception that the Viking Age ended with the conversion to Christianity, but this inscription is an excellent example of a Christian family not only partaking in Viking raids, but leading them.
The ‘geld,’ often called a ‘Danegeld,’ was a tribute paid to Vikings as an alternative to battle. The raids were motivated by financial and reputational gain, and Western European kings, occupied in their own local conflicts, often chose to sue for peace over risking waiting for troops to arrive from conflict zones. The Vikings were usually paid in silver, and often these contracts included the employment of the Vikings as mercenaries.
The taxes raised to pay off Vikings became the basis of the funding of a standing army in Norman England, where the name ‘Danegeld’ actually came from, before that the tax was referred to as ‘ġeld,’ ‘gafol’ (both translatable as ‘tax’ or ‘tribute’), or ‘hereġeld’ (‘army-tax/tribute’).
Photo: Sö 166, Grinda by Wikimedia User:Berig, CC BY-SA 3.0 / Link