Helgi the Lean was a man of Scandinavian and Irish descent who moved to Iceland during a period of time called the Age of Settlement (approximately c. 860-930). During his voyage to Iceland, Helgi the Lean was accompanied by his wife, Thorunn Hyrna, as well as by their many children, and also a son-in-law named Hamund Hell-Skin. Besides these people, at least two pigs were brought along for the journey, one of which was a boar named Solvi.
Helgi the Lean eventually decided to settle in the Eyjafjörður area of Iceland. He allegedly left his pair of pigs behind at a place called Galtarhamar while he explored and surveyed the local landscape. No-one was evidently tasked with watching over the animals at the time, and when Helgi the Lean returned to Galtarhamar after exploring and staking claim to his land, the pigs were gone. Yet, fortunately for Helgi, the pigs were in good hands…or…hooves.
As the story goes, Solvi the Boar led his pig mate to a place that would become known as Solvadale, and there Solvi became the patriarch of a large pig community. The clan of pigs inhabited the dale on their own for three years, constantly growing in size. When Helgi the Lean or his friends finally discovered the pigs in the third year, they were surprised by just how many pigs and piglets had accumulated around Solvi the Boar. As told in the Icelandic Landnámabók (Book of Settlements), “The pigs were found three years later in Solvadale, and by that time there were seventy of them” (Landnámabók, Stulubók manuscript, chapter 218). It must have been a pleasant surprise for Helgi, but maybe not so much for Solvi the Boar and his piggy family.
Written by C. Keith Hansley
Picture Attribution: (Three Pigs, by Paulus Potter and Jurriaan Cootwijck (c. 18th century), [Public Domain] via Creative Commons and the Rijksmuseum).
- The Book of Settlements (Sturlubók version) translated by Hermann Pálsson and Paul Edwards. Winnipeg: University of Manitoba Press, 1972, 2006.