On the Nordic Trail in Scotland
“Sving til venstre.” Jurgen issued instructions in his pleasingly Nordic voice, firm but encouraging. From behind the wheel, David nodded his head, and turned the car to the left. We were only a mile outside Edinburgh, but thanks to David, my Norwegian-American boyfriend, and Jurgen, the Norwegian speaker on David’s GPS, I already felt deep into Viking territory.
“Sving til venstre.”（挪威语“左转”——译注）于尔根(Jurgen)用他悦耳的北欧嗓音发出一句指示。握着方向盘的戴维点了点头，将车向左转。我们离开爱丁堡才一英里，但因为有戴维——我的挪威裔美国男友，还有于尔根——戴维的GPS里那个说挪威语的男人，我感觉自己已经深入到维京腹地。
Scotland is perhaps not the most obvious place to look for traces of Nordic culture. But in the months leading up to the nation’s vote on independence from England last September, there was talk of it everywhere. Although it had been six centuries since any part of Scotland was in Norse hands, many nationalists were suggesting that Viking heritage formed part of the separate identity that lay behind an independence bid, which, although it failed at the polls, has grown stronger since the referendum.
And it wasn’t all historic either: The Scottish Nationalist Party assured voters that Scotland’s similarities to its Scandinavian neighbors — its small size, its environmental awareness and its Norwegian-style oil reserves — would guarantee prosperity. And perhaps even justify membership in the Nordic Council, an intergovernmental body that fosters political, economic and cultural cooperation among the five Nordic nations and three autonomous regions.
历史并非唯一因素：苏格兰民族党(Scottish National Party)还希望选民们放心，苏格兰和斯堪的纳维亚邻国的相似之处——较小的规模，环保意识以及挪威式的石油储备——足以保障它的繁荣。甚至有资格进入北欧理事会(Nordic Council)，这个跨政府组织的职责是促进五个北欧国家和三个自治领的政治、经济和文化合作。
As a recent transplant to Denmark, I was still trying to figure out Scandinavian identity myself, so this claim intrigued me. What did it take, besides a penchant for bicycles, brooding television series and salted licorice, to become Nordic? To find out, David and I would start in the capital, then drive as far into Scotland’s formerly Viking lands as we could.
We began at the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh. The first Viking invasions into the British Isles were recorded in the late eighth century; monks’ chronicles make frequent, terrified references to northerly marauders who raped and pillaged their way through the Highlands. But at the museum, the image of those rampaging Norsemen was changing: Not only were they not all raiding, bloodthirsty warriors, but they also weren’t even all men. Tools, jewelry and a reconstructed burial site on display all testified to the gentler side of Viking life, and proved that the Norse (male and female) set down roots in Scotland, engaging in agriculture, trade and family life. “Relations with local people,” read the optimistic text on one case, “weren’t always hostile.”
我们的起点是在爱丁堡的苏格兰国立博物馆(National Museum of Scotland)。据史料记载，维京人最早入侵不列颠群岛是在八世纪末；心惊胆战的修士们时常在编年史中提起这些北方强盗，他们一路奸淫掳掠，杀向苏格兰高地。然而在博物馆里，北欧人的残暴形象正在发生改变：他们并非全都是嗜血尚武的匪徒，甚至不全是男人。馆中展出的工具、珠宝和一座重建的墓葬都在证明，维京生活也有祥和的一面，还表明斯堪的纳维亚（的男人和女人）曾在苏格兰扎根，开展农耕、贸易和家庭生活。“和当地人的关系并非总是敌对的，”在某个陈列柜上可以看到这样充满正能量的文字。
On that day last August, they were rather the opposite. Near a barbershop full of men whose lumberjack beards marked them as either Scandinavian or Brooklynite, we found Timberyard. With its rough wooden floors and jars of fermenting vegetables on display, the restaurant would have fit as easily onto a lonely, windswept expanse of the Stockholm peninsula as it did in the Scottish capital. The food, too, was identifiably Nordic, from the chewy sourdough served with house-made butter and lovage salt that started the meal, to the foraged woodruff tea that ended it. In between came delicate dishes strewn with local herbs and flowers: nearly raw scallops shaved thin and adorned with wild garlic petals; mackerel grilled so that the char cut through the fish’s oiliness, served with yogurt and juicy nasturtium leaves.
“It’s hard not to be influenced by it,” Ben Radford, the chef, said of the northerly elements in what he calls his “modern Scottish” cuisine. “Culturally, we’re very similar. And we’re working with the same ingredients, letting them shine through, so that each flavor is apparent, crisp and clean.”
In Glasgow, two recent graduates take the affinity even further. Through their consulting firm Lateral North, Graham Hogg and Alex Hobday help towns in the upper reaches of Scotland develop their Nordic potential as transportation and green energy hubs. “We have the same climate, the same landscape, even the same dark sense of humor, so we can take the Nordic countries as a model for economic development,” Mr. Hogg said. “We’re trying to get people to think of Scotland not as the end of Europe, but as the gateway to the North.”
在格拉斯哥，两个刚刚大学毕业的年轻人将这种文化亲缘又往前推进了一步。格雷恩·霍格(Graham Hogg)和阿历克斯·霍布戴(Alex Hobday)创办的咨询公司Lateral North正在帮助苏格兰北部地区的城镇开发自己的北欧潜能——成为一个运输和绿色能源枢纽。“我们有一样的气候，一样的地貌，连黑色幽默都一样，”霍格说。“我们希望大家不要把苏格兰当作欧洲的尽头，它应该是北欧的入口。”
It was time to head toward that gate. There are a number of Viking-related spots in the Western Highlands. But Mr. Hogg had said we would find the most striking examples of Scandinavian-style Scotland in Orkney and Shetland, so we fired up the GPS and headed north. “Rett frem,” Jurgen said, directing us straight ahead with what I interpreted as approval.
Several hours later, Norway appeared on the horizon. In truth, it wasn’t really Norway, just a series of Nordic-style houses — pointy, clean-lined and painted in bright, saturated colors that stood out against the churning North Sea — that wouldn’t have been out of place in Bergen. We had reached John O’Groats, the purportedly northernmost (there is some contention) point of mainland Scotland. It consists of little more than a few souvenir shops and a parking lot big enough for all those tour buses to turn around in.
But Natural Retreats, a hotel development company, has made the place much more appealing by taking a Gothic-style inn and adding several Nordic-style wooden houses onto the side. Each building is called a toft, a Norse-derived word for farmhouse or homestead. The tofts are painted different colors and contain apartments, which comprise the accommodations. The rooms are spare and tasteful, with the streaming light and clean lines that are the hallmarks of Scandinavian design. “It’s quite straightforward,” said Adam Gough, Natural Retreats’ head of technical services, when asked about Nordic style. “There is a lot of history and strong links with Scandinavia.”
然而，从事酒店开发的自然疗养(Natural Retreats)公司给这里增添了不少吸引力，他们建了一座哥特式旅馆，在旁边又加了几座北欧式木屋。这些小屋叫做toft，一个自北欧的“农舍”或“家宅”变化而来的词。所有toft都刷了不同的颜色，里面有提供食宿服务的公寓。这些房间既宽敞又有品味，良好的采光和清晰的线条彰显着斯堪的纳维亚设计的特质。“很直截了当，”自然疗养公司技术服务主管亚当·高夫(Adam Gough)这样评价北欧风格。“有很悠久的历史，跟斯堪的纳维亚有着紧密的联系。”
But neither Scandi chic, nor the newer, kinder version of the Vikings had made it to the nearby town of Wick, which gets its name from the Old Norse word for bay. Asked why the hotel where she worked was called the Norseman, the receptionist admitted that she wasn’t sure. “Because they came here raping and rampaging through the hills?” she asked. “You know, doing Viking things.”
It wasn’t hard to see why she persisted in that image. Wick, which Robert Louis Stevenson once referred to as “the meanest of mean towns,” has little in the way of tourist attractions except for a ruined castle that was probably built in the 12th century, presumably by the Norse earl, Harald Maddadson. One of the oldest and best preserved in Scotland, the castle’s tower still reaches four stories up, and its defensive ditches and perilous cliffs keep it cut off from the mainland. It is a stirring place, desolate and imposing, and not at all hard to imagine as the kind of stronghold from which one might have set out marauding.
不难看出为什么她会保持这种印象。在曾被罗伯特·路易斯·史蒂文森(Robert Louis Stevenson)称为“世上最破的破镇子”的威克，唯一值得游客驻足的是一座古堡废墟，可能是在12世纪由诺尔斯伯爵哈拉尔德·马达逊(Harald Maddadson)所建。这是苏格兰最古老、保存最完好的城堡之一，至今仍有四层楼高，防御壕沟和险峻的峭壁将城堡和大陆隔开。这是个让人心潮澎湃的地方，荒凉而威严，不难想象它作为劫掠者的据点的样子。
Did people in this part of Scotland feel Viking? As we stood on the ferry to the Orkney Islands, watching mainland Britain disappear, we pondered the question. “What I can’t tell,” David said, “is whether they actually identify with their Nordic past, or if it’s just a marketing ploy.” We had our first answer of a sort after landing at St. Margaret’s Hope, a pretty, stone-clad town that was a welcoming entry to Orkney’s main island. Rebooting Jurgen after his stay in the ship’s hold, we drove to Highland Park distillery in the market town of Kirkwall, the Orcadian capital. The northernmost whiskey distillery in Britain (there would be many claims to the northernmost on this trip), Highland Park makes a line of high-end Scotch whiskies named after Vikings real and imagined: Eibar, Thor, Loki.
“We’re steeped in Viking history, with all its fantastic stories, and if you have a story you can sell more,” said Patricia Retson, Highland Park’s brand heritage manager, after we had toured the distillery’s dankly atmospheric cellar and sleek tasting room. “But we’re also trying to make a real connection, and if it’s going to work, it has to be authentic.” To that end, the distillery’s Loki gets its mischievousness from an aroma that is all sweet apples, but turns to smoke and wood on the palate. Its Leif Erikssonis aged in 100 percent American oak barrels.
“我们是浸透着维京历史的，有许许多多幻异故事，有了故事，东西就更好卖，”高原骑士品牌传承经理帕特莉西亚·雷特逊(Patricia Retson)说，她刚刚带着我们参观了阴冷潮湿的酒窖和装潢精美的品酒厅。“但是我们也在努力建立一种真正的联系，这种联系要想发挥作用，必须得纯正才行。”为此，酒厂出品的Loki（洛基）用甜苹果的芳香构成了一种调皮的气质，但尝起来却是烟熏和木味。而它的Leif Erikssonis（莱夫·埃里克松）是在百分之百的美国橡木桶里陈放的。
Yet in downtown Kirkwall, where the Romanesque cathedral, built of sandstone, houses the relics of St. Magnus Erlendsson, the Norse-descended Earl of Orkney who was martyred after an unsuccessful battle with a rival chieftain in the early 12th century, and where miniature Viking ships still cap the post office lintel, Donna Heddle had no doubt the connection went considerably deeper than mere marketing.
与此同时，在柯克沃尔市中心那座砂岩建造的罗马式大教堂里，存放着诺尔斯世袭的奥克尼伯爵圣·马格努斯·厄林德孙(St. Magnus Erlendsson)的遗物，他在12世纪初被一个敌对的高地领主击败，后被册封为圣人，在这里的邮局门楣上，至今还有维京人的船只造型。在唐娜·黑德尔(Donna Heddle)看来，跟维京的关联绝对不只是市场营销那么肤浅。
As the director of the Center for Nordic Studies, Dr. Heddle sees evidence of Norseness almost everywhere: in the Orkney dialect that puts its prepositions at the end of sentences; in a concept of social justice that emphasizes egalitarianism and spurns status or rank; in the fact, she said, that 66 percent of Orcadians’ DNA is Norwegian. And just as the Nordic presence helps explain the separate sense of identity that Scots feel from the English, so too does it explain the separate identity that Orcadians feel from mainland Scots. “Vikings are very sexy now,” she said. “But for us it’s more than that. You can see it in our knitting patterns and our sailing skills and in the can-do attitude. This is a living legacy.”
作为北欧研究中心(Center for Nordic Studies)主任，黑德尔博士能在每个角落找到诺尔斯文化的痕迹：将介词放在句子最后的奥克尼方言；强调平等主义、摒弃尊卑或等级的社会正义观念；还有，她说奥克尼人有66%的挪威人基因。北欧特征让苏格兰人对英格兰产生了身份认同上的隔阂，同样也让奥克尼人跟苏格兰大陆有了距离感。“维京人现在很时兴，”她说。“但对我们来说不是那么简单。在我们的编织图案、我们的航海技巧、我们的进取心里都能看到。这是一份鲜活的遗产。”
Living, but also dead. After Kirkwall, we drove across windswept hills and muddy farmlands, before arriving at Orphir and the archaeological remains of Earl’s Bu. According to the medieval Orkneyinga saga, the nearly 1,000-year-old site was home not only to a round church built by Magnus’s murderous cousin Hakon, but also to a grand drinking hall, or bu. Like most Viking drinking halls, it was the scene of quite a lot of violence (proximity to a church came in handy; the brawlers could slip next door to repent of their drunken behavior, and, consciences cleansed, get back to guzzling mead). Maybe it was the film in the modest visitor center that recounted how one drunken slight had unleashed a massacre at the hall, or perhaps we had watched too much of “Game of Thrones,” but as David and I walked about the lonely ruins of the stone church (a third of its curved walls still standing), I suddenly found myself charging him with an imaginary battle ax. After a brief but virtual bloody fight, we collapsed on the grass in giggles.
鲜活的，但同时也是死的。离开柯克沃尔，我们驶过呼啸的山间和泥泞的田野，来到奥弗尔以及“伯爵酒廊”(Earl's Bu)考古遗址。据中世纪的《奥克尼伯爵萨迦》(Orkneyinga saga)记载，这个有将近一千年历史的遗址，不仅包括马格努斯的那个残暴的堂兄弟哈孔(Hakon)所建的一座圆形教堂，还有一座宏伟的酒廊，也就是bu。和大多数维京酒廊一样，这里发生过不少暴力事件（离教堂这么近还是有好处的；斗殴者可以溜到隔壁去忏悔他们的酒后行为，涤净灵魂后，回去继续痛饮蜂蜜酒）。可能是因为我们在简朴的游客中心看了一部电影，讲到一句酒后的恶语导致一场酒廊大屠杀的事，或者就是我们看了太多的《权力的游戏》，总之当戴维和我来到一片萧瑟的石头教堂废墟（它的弧形墙壁尚存三分之一）时，我突然提起一把空想的战斧朝他冲了过去。经过一场短暂但按设想应该相当血腥的打斗，我们咯咯笑着瘫倒在草地上。
All that Viking history will do that to you. There are similar archaeological sites all over Orkney, so we had plenty of opportunities to perfect our re-enactment skills. At Maeshowe, a grass-covered mound that encases a Neolithic tomb marked up with 12th-century Norse Runes, the sheep that stood between us and the burial chamber fell to our raiding swords. At the Brough of Birsay, accessible only by foot during the few hours when the tides recede, we sweated in the chamber marked the Viking sauna. But there was no fantasy involved at the nearby Barony Mill, where Brian Johnston, the miller, grinds bere, a landrace barley, with a flavor more pronounced than wheat. “Many people think the Vikings brought it here,” Mr. Johnston said as he showed us around the 19th-century mill, which is powered by a water wheel. “And the only other place it grows is in Norway.”
这么多的维京历史是会有这种影响的。奥克尼到处都是类似的考古遗址，所以我们有的是机会完善我们的历史重现演技。在绿草遍野的梅肖韦(Maeshowe)地下有一座用12世纪的卢恩文字标出的新石器时代古墓，夹在我们和墓穴之间的那只羊，成为我们两个劫匪的刀下鬼。在只有趁着每天退潮那几个小时步行前往的博赛镇(Brough of Birsay)，我们在一个标着维京桑拿浴场的洞穴里出了点汗。然而附近的男爵磨坊(Barony Mill)是个没什么幻想的地方，磨坊主布莱恩·约翰斯顿(Brian Johnston)在那里磨bere，一种味道比小麦还要鲜明的地方品种大麦。“很多人认为它是维京人带来的，”带我们参观这座19世纪水车磨坊的约翰斯顿说。“除了这里之外，只有挪威能种这种麦子。”
There would be more culinary connections on the Shetland Islands. We landed early in the morning on the main island after an overnight ferry. Waiting for a cafe to open, we prowled the industrial-looking buildings and still-closed sweater shops in Lerwick, the capital and Shetland’s only real town. Once suitably caffeinated, we returned to Jurgen and headed south. Shetland is almost entirely treeless, with a terrain that veers mainly between the barren and the bleak, but is adorably dotted with the tiny ponies that take their name from the place. Rocky soil and near constant wind explain why the local diet is almost entirely lacking in fresh fruit and vegetables. But even that lack can only partly explain the peculiar dish known as reestit mutton.
“No, you wouldn’t expect to find this in a restaurant,” said Marian Armitage, the author of “Shetland Food and Cooking,” as she sawed off a few rocklike chunks of a fossilized slab of meat in her kitchen, where we had come to learn about the local cuisine. “Unless they were trying to do something quirky.” Through the windows of her enclosed porch, I could just make out the ruined walls of Jarlshof, another Norse settlement, in the distance. Ms. Armitage fried a bit of the mutton in a pan, and explained the process for making it: Raw meat was salted in brine, then hung from the rafters of the house, preferably over a peat fire, so that the smoke seasoned the meat. I put a bite in my mouth: Quirky was definitely one word for it. The mutton was fatty, salty and tasted, well, rotten. “Just what you want,” David said, “after a long day at sea.”
“这东西在餐馆里吃不到的，”《设得兰食物与烹饪》(Shetland Food and Cooking)作者玛丽安·阿尔米塔奇(Marian Armitage)一边跟我说，一边在一块化石般的肉上切下几个硬梆梆的肉块，我们到她的厨房来是要学做当地的美食。“除非他们是有了什么离奇的想法。”从她家的包窗门廊往外看，隐约能看到远处的一些断壁残垣，那是雅尔邵夫(Jarlshof)，另一座诺尔斯殖民地。阿尔米塔奇把一些羊肉放到锅里煎，并跟我们介绍这种肉的制作工艺：生肉放在海水里腌一下，然后挂在屋内的木椽上，最好下面用泥煤烧火，这样可以给肉加入烟熏味。我吃了一口：说离奇绝对是合适的。肉味肥肥的，很咸，像是……呃……腐烂的味道。“嗯，在海上辛苦了一整天，”戴维说。“回来当然就想吃这个。”
Still, I was thrilled to eat it. A couple of years earlier, I had tried something similar in the Faroe Islands, an archipelago in the North Atlantic Ocean, about halfway between Norway and Iceland, where they make raest, which is raw mutton hung to air-dry in open huts for months, without the benefit of smoke or salt. Surely, I asked Armitage, raest and reestit were versions of the same dish, and evidence of a Nordic connection? “Ah no,” she said. “For that you’d be wanting vivda.” It turns out that Shetlanders once ate the exact same preparation — and called it by the Norse word for leg meat— until salt became more widespread in the islands.
After lunch, we turned around (“Snu rundt,” Jurgen said) and headed back north. We passed helpful signs that translated the islands’ Old Norse geographic names into English (“Tingwall, Field of the Parliament”) and stopped, incongruously enough, at a fjord-side food truck for pulled pork sandwiches. It required two more ferries, but we finally arrived in Unst, the northernmost of the Shetland Islands, and hence, the northernmost in Scotland.
Unst has a higher density of rural Viking sites than any place else in the world, including Scandinavia, with 60 longhouses on a 46-square-mile island. For our first stop, at Hamar, we skirted some curious sheep and a watchful bull to walk among the low, grass-carpeted walls of one (David was saved from another re-enacted vanquishing only because the preponderance of dung at our feet made things especially messy.) From what would have been the front door, I gazed down the length of the shimmering fjord, before I looked down to find the fragments of a broken beer bottle. The idea that local teenagers might use this ancient home as a hangout for drinking, flirting and communing with their Viking past pleased me.
But at the Skidbladner, a reconstructed Viking ship up the road, the volunteer who showed visitors around had a much more prosaic explanation for how past and present came together: economic necessity. Clad in a woolen dress fastened with brooches that approximated what a Viking woman would have worn once she was back on dry land, the volunteer divided her time between welcoming visitors to the site and doing a bit of nalebinding, a Nordic form of needlework that predates knitting. As she showed us around the Skidbladner, a full-size replica of a ship found in a Norwegian Viking burial mound in the 19th century, she told us about the Royal Air Force base that once formed the basis of Unst’s economy. “But they shut that down some years back, and that left a terrible hole,” she said. “Viking tourism is meant to fill it.”
We were back to the same question, with little of Scottish territory left. Luckily, just as we neared Shetland’s northern edge, we spied Valhalla. It looked more like a warehouse than the Norse god Odin’s grand hall for fallen warriors, but that may have been because on Unst at least, Valhalla is a craft brewery. The name wasn’t the founder Sonny Priest’s idea. “The Viking thing has been done to death, so I was dead against it,” he said, but more prescient minds on the regional council prevailed. These days, Mr. Priest sells his Old Scatness (named after a Shetland Viking settlement) and Simmer Din (from the Shetland phrase for summer’s long twilight) ales as far as Glasgow and Oslo.
眼看已经快到苏格兰国土的尽头，我们又回到了最初的问题上。幸运的是，就在我们即将到达设得兰北端时，我们发现了瓦尔哈拉(Valhalla)。它看上去更像个仓库，而不是诺尔斯神奥丁为阵亡将士准备的灵堂，不过那可能是因为，至少在安斯特，瓦尔哈拉是一家精酿酒厂。这个名字不是创始人桑尼·普利斯特(Sonny Priest)想出来的。“维京那一套已经被用滥了，所以我是很反对的，”他说，但他输给了地区委员会里的一些比他更有远见的人物。如今普利斯特的Old Scatness（因设得兰一处维京殖民地遗址而得名）和Simmer Din（设得兰人用这个短语形容漫长的夏日暮光）牌爱尔啤酒远销至格拉斯哥和奥斯陆。
He wasn’t sure what to make of his ancestors’ past. “When I was a kid, the ties to the Norse felt stronger,” he said as he stopped to stick his nose in a bag of hops. “There were all these words we used, and the whalers would take our men because they knew our seafaring skills went back to them. Now sometimes I think it’s just for the tourists. But everybody in Shetland is still proud of their Viking heritage.”
In the end, neither its Viking past nor its imagined Nordic future would be strong enough to sever Scotland from England. But at our final stop, David and I could see why it came close. After hiking through the heather at Saxa Vord, we arrived at the northernmost cliff on Shetland’s most northerly inhabited island. To the east, some 200 miles in the distance, was Norway; to the north, past the rocky outcrop of Muckle Flugga, was the Arctic. We watched the sun set, then got back in the car. “Reisen slutt,” Jurgen said. It was, as he said, journey’s end.
到头来，无论是那段维京岁月，还是想象中的北欧未来，都不足以让苏格兰跟英格兰一刀两断。但是在我们的最后一站，戴维和我终于看到，为什么分裂差一点就成功了。在设得兰群岛中最北的一个有人烟的岛上，我们徒步走过萨克撒-沃德(Saxa Vord)的石楠花丛，来到北边的海崖。往东200英里是挪威；往北越过马克尔-弗拉加(Muckle Flugga)就是北极。我们看了日落，回到车中。“Reisen slutt，”于尔根说。没错，这就是此行的尽头。