It seems the grandiose halls are left to the high Jarls of Torvaldsland and not the commoner.
I had learned, much to my instruction, that my conception of the northern halls left much to be desired. Indeed, the true hall, lofty, high-beamed, built of logs and boards,
with its benches and high seat pillars, its carvings and hangings, its long fires, its suspended kettles, was actually quite rare, and, generally only the richest of the Jarls
Hilda sat in a great curule chair, carved with the sign of Scagnar, a serpent-ship, seen frontally. On each post of the chair, carved, was the head of a snarling sleen. She
smiled, coldly. Marauders of Gor, page 112
The details are of a simple hall are very detailed as are the details later of a grand hall, that of Svein Bluetooth. A typical hall is called a longhouse. This whole next quote is just
The hall of Ivar Forkbeard was a longhouse. It was about one hundred and twenty feet Gorean in length. Its walls formed of turf and stone, were curved and thick, some
eight feet or more in thickness. It is oriented north and south. This reduces its exposure to the north wind, which is particularly important in the Torvaldsland winter. A fire, in
a rounded pit, was in its center. It consisted, for the most part, of a single, long room, which served for living, and eating and sleeping. At one end was a cooking
compartment, separated from the rest of the house by a partition of wood. The roof was about six feet in height, which meant that most of those within, if male, were forced
to bend over as they moved about. The long room, besides being low, is dark. Too, there is usually lingering smoke in it. Ventilation is supplied, as it is generally in
Torvaldsland, by narrow holes in the roof. The center of the hall, down its length, is dug out about a foot below the ground level. In the long center are set the tables and
benches. Also, in the center, down its length are two long rows of posts, each post separated from the next by about seven feet, which support the roof. At the edges of the
hall, at ground level, is a dirt floor, on which furs are spread. Stones mark sections off into sleeping quarters. Thus, in a sense, the hall proper is about a foot below ground
level, and the sleeping level, on each side, is at the ground level, where the walls begin. The sleeping levels, which also can accommodate a man’s gear, though some keep it
at the foot of the level, are about eight feet in length. The hall proper, the center of the hall, is about twelve feet in width. Marauders of Gor, page 90-91
Here we see the sleeping berth well explained.
He stepped over the bench, and followed them. At the foot of the ground level, which is the sleeping level, which lies about a foot above the dug-out floor, against the raised
dirt, here and there, were rounded logs, laid lengthwise. Each log is ten to fifteen feet long, and commonly about eight inches to a foot thick. If one thinks of the sleeping
level, on each side, as constituting, in effect, a couch, almost the length of the hall, except for the cooking area, the logs lie at the foot of these two couches, and parallel to
their foot. About each log, fitting snugly into deep, wide, circular grooves in the wood, were several iron bands. These each contained a welded ring, to which was attached a
length of chain, terminating in a black-iron fetter.
Gunnhild thrust out her left ankle; Forkbeard fettered her, a moment later Pudding, too had thru forth her ankle, and her ankle, too, was locked in a fetter of the north. The
Forkbeard threw off his jacket. There was a rustle of chain as the two bond-maids turned, Pudding on her left side, Gunnhild on her right, waiting for the Forkbeard to lie
between them. Marauders of Gor, page 97
I found that this quote with the leather lined door was really interesting.
We carried a torch to the ice shed. We opened the heavy door, lined with leather, and lifted the torch, closing the door behind us. Marauders of Gor, page 132
Most halls we see are surrounded by palisades.
“He is a famous champion,” said Ivar, whispering to me, nodding to the large burly fellow. “He is Bjarni of Thorstein Camp.” Thorstein Camp, well to the south, but yet north
of Einar’s Skerry, was a camp of fighting men, which controlled the countryside about it, for some fifty pasangs, taking tribute from the farms. Thorstein of Thorstein’s Camp
was their Jarl. The camp was of wood, surrounded by a palisade, built on an island in an inlet, called the inlet of Thorestein Camp, formally known as the inlet of Parsit,
because of the rich fishing there. Marauders of Gor, page 147
The hall of Svein Bluetooth is a grand hall, not one that is seen in every steading. The description here too is very detailed and worth taking the time to read and reread. It even had a
The hall of Svein Blue Tooth was of wood, and magnificent. The interior hall, not counting rooms leading from it on various sides, or the balcony which lined it, leading to other
rooms, was some forty feet high, and forty feet in width, some two hundred feet in length. It, on the western side, was lined with a great, long table. Behind this table, its
back to the western wall, facing the length of the hall, facing east, was the high seat, or the rightful seat, the seat of the master of the house. It was wide enough for three
or four men to sit together on it, and, as a great honor, sometimes others were invited to share the high seat. On each side of this high seat were two pillars, about eight
inches in diameter, and some eight feet high, the high-seat pillars, or rightful-seat pillars. They marked the seat, or bench, which might be placed between them as the high
seat, or rightful seat. These pillars had been carved by craftsmen in the time of Svein Blue Tooth’s great grandfather, and bore the luck signs of his house. On each side of
the high seat were long benches. Opposite, on the other side of the table, too, were long benches. A seat of honor, incidentally, was that opposite the high seat, where one
might converse with the host. The high seat, though spoken of as “high,” was the same height as the other benches. The men of Torvaldsland, thus, look across the table at
one another, not one down upon the other. The seat is “high” in the sense of being a seat of great honor. There was, extending almost the length of the hall, a pit for a
“long fire” over which food was prepared for retainers. On the long sides of the hall, on the north and south, there were long tables, with benches. Salt, in its bowls on the
tables, divided men into rankings. Those sitting above the salt were accorded greater prestige than those sitting below it. If one sat between the salt and the high seat, one
sat “above” the salt; if one sat between the salt and the en-trance to the hall, one sat “below” the salt. At the high-seat table, that at which the high seat sat, all counted
as being “above the salt.” Similarly, at the tables parallel to the high-seat table, smaller tables flanking the long fire on both sides, the tables nearest the high seat counted
as being above the salt, those farthest away being below the salt. The division, was made approximately at the third of the hall closest to the high seat, but could shift,
depending on the numbers of those in attendance worthy to be above the salt. The line, so to speak, imaginary to be sure, but definitely felt as a social reality, dividing those
above from those below the salt, was uniformly “drawn” across the width of the hall. Thus, it was not the case that one at a long side table, who was above the salt, would
be farther away from the high seat than one at one of the center tables, who was “below” the salt. In Ivar Forkbeard’s hall, incidentally, the salt distinctions were not
drawn; in his hall all being comrades in arms, all were “above the salt.” Svein Blue Tooth’s holdings, on the other hand, were quite large and complexly organized. It would
not have seemed proper, at least in the eyes of Svein Blue Tooth and others, for a high officer to sit at the same table with a fellow whose main occupation was supervising
thralls in the tending of verr. Salt, incidentally, is obtained by the men of Torvaldsland, most commonly, from sea water or from the burning of seaweed. It is also, however, a
trade commodity, and is sometimes taken in raids. The red and yellow salts of the south, some of which I saw on the tables, are not domestic to Torvaldsland. The
arrangements of tables, incidentally, varies in different halls. I describe those appointments characterizing the hall of Blue Tooth. It is common, however, for the entrance of
the hall to be oriented toward the morning sun, and for the high seat to face the entrance. None may enter without being seen from the high seat. Similarly, none are
allowed to sit behind the high seat. In a rude country, these defensive measures are doubtless a sensible precaution. About the edges of the hall hung the shields of
warriors, with their weapons. Even those who sat commonly at the center tables, and were warriors, kept their shields and spears at the wall. At night, each man would
sleep in his furs behind the tables, under his weapons. High officers, of course, and the Blue Tooth, and members of his family, would retire to private rooms.
The hall was ornately carved, and, above the shields, decorated with cunningly sewn tapestries and hangings. On these were, usually, warlike scenes, or those dealing with
ships and hunting. There was a lovely scene of the hunting of tabuk in a forest. Another tapestry, showing numerous ships, in a war fleet, dated from the time of the famine
in Torvaldsland, a generation ago. That had been a time of great raids to the south. Marauders of Gor, page 186-187-188
Many were the roast tarsk and roast bosk that had roasted over the long fire, on the iron spits. Splendid was the quality of the ale at the tables of the Blue Tooth. Sweet
and strong was the mead.
The lighting in this grand longhouse consists of several methods, the oil used in the lamps is tharlarion oil. There are windows in this hall which is noted to as rare. You can
see through this window made of the membrane of a bosk’s uterus.The palisade of this hall is very big considering it is the steading of a rich jarl. The palisade has a catwalk
The smoke from the fire found its way high into the rafters, and, eventually, out of the holes cut in the peaked roof. Some of these were eighteen inches square. Light was
furnished from the cooking fire but, too, from torches set in rings on the wall, backed with metal plating; too, here and there, on chains from the beams, high above, there
hung large tharlarion oil lamps, which could be raised and lowered from the sides. At places, too, there were bowls, with oil and wicks, with spikes on their bottoms, set in
the dirt floor, some six inches from the floor, others as high as five feet; this mode of lamp, incidentally, is more common in the private chambers. It was not unusual,
incidentally, that the floor of the great hall, rich as it was, was of dirt, strewn with rushes. This is common in the halls of Torvaldsland. When the Forkbeard, and I, and other
followers, many of them bearing riches, entered the hall, we had been given a room to one side, in which we might wash and dry ourselves before the feast. In this room,
unusual in halls, was a window. I had put my finger against it, and pressed outward. I was not paned with glass, but with some sort of membrane but the membrane was
almost as clear as glass. “What is this?” I had asked the Forkbeard. “It is the dried afterbirth membrane of a bosk fetus,” he said. “It will last many months, even against
rain.” Looking out through the window I could see the palisade about the hall and its associated buildings. The palisade enclosed some two acres; within it were many shops
and storage houses, even an ice house; in the center, of course, reared the great hall itself, that rude high-roofed palace of the north, the house of Svein Blue Tooth.
Through the membrane, hardly distorted, I saw the palisade, the catwalk about it, the guards, and, over it, the moons of Gor. In the far distance, the moonlight reflected
from its snowy heights I saw, too, the Torvaldsberg, in which the legendary Torvald was reputed to sleep, supposedly to waken again if needed once more in Torvaldsland.
Marauders of Gor, page 191-192
I hoped they might make good their escape. Perhaps they could tear out the membrane in one of the windows and crawl through and, in the confusion outside, make away.
Marauders of Gor, page 206
Land of the Brave and the Strong. Beware lest you hear the call:
"The men of Torvaldsland are upon you!"
|This research is done on the series of books written by John Norman, the comments in italics are mine and my point of view.
Woman of Gor
All rights reserved.
|This image was unsigned, but quite beautiful, I am not the
artist behind it and thank whomever took the time to create it.
|Longhouses, Buildings and Halls