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Egill Skallagrimsson was the most original, imaginative and technically brilliant of the Old Norse skalds, poets whose orally composed and performed verses were as much revered in ninth- to thirteenth-century Scandinavia as heroism in battle. Egill's saga details his life-story as well as those of his immediate predecessors, from whom he inherited his massive build, his early baldness (Skalla in his name means 'bald') and his exceptional ugliness. An arch enemy of Erikr Bloodax, he was a notoriously difficult man and, as ...

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