Thorstein the Red

Thorstein the Red or Thorstein Olafsson was a viking chieftain who flourished in late ninth-century Scotland.


He was born around 850 AD and was the son of Olaf the White, King of Dublin, and Aud the Deep-minded, who was the daughter of Ketil Flatnose.[1] After the death of Olaf, Aud and Thorstein went to live in the Hebrides, then under Ketil's rule.[2] Thorstein eventually became a warlord and allied with the Jarl of Orkney, Sigurd Eysteinsson.[1] Together Thorstein and Sigurd waged a series of campaigns in Caithness, Sutherland, Ross, Moray, and a number of other regions, eventually receiving tribute from half of Scotland.[3] However, the Scottish chieftains plotted against Thorstein, and he was killed; the exact nature of his death is unknown but it probably took place around 880 or 890. After Thorstein's death Aud left Caithness, sojourning for a while in Orkney before settling with other members of her clan in Iceland.[4]

Thorstein married Thurid, the daughter of Eyvind the Easterner. Thorstein and Thurid had a son, Olaf Feilan, and a number of daughters, including Groa, Thorgerd, Olof, Osk, Thorhild, and Vigdis.[5]

A woman named Unn, wife of Thorolf Mostur-beard, claimed to be the daughter of Thorstein, but this claim was viewed by other Icelanders with scepticism.[6]


See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b Eirik the Red's Saga § 1 (Jones 126); Laxdaela Saga § 4 (Magnusson 51).
  2. ^ According to some, Olaf repudiated Aud and sent her back to her father's court c. 857. Forte 86.
  3. ^ Id.; Harald Finehair's Saga § 22 (Snorri 22); Orkneyinga Saga § 9 (Palsson 27).
  4. ^ Laxdaela Saga § 4 (Magnusson 51-52).
  5. ^ Eirik the Red's Saga § 1 (Jones 127); Laxdaela Saga § 4 (Magnusson 52); Njal's Saga § 1 (Cook 3); Grettir's Saga § 26 (Thorsson 62); Landnámabók passim.
  6. ^ Eyrbyggja Saga § 7 (Palsson 32).


  • Ari the Learned. The Book of the Settlement of Iceland (Landnámabók). Ellwood, T., transl. Kendal: T. Wilson, Printer and Publisher, 1898.
  • Cook, Robert, transl. Njal's Saga. Penguin Classics, 2002.
  • Forte, Angelo, Richard Oram and Frederik Pedersen. Viking Empires. Cambridge University Press, 2005 ISBN 0-521-82992-5.
  • Jones, Gwyn, transl. Eirik the Red and other Icelandic Sagas. Oxford Univ. Press, USA, 1999.
  • Magnusson, Magnus and Hermann Palsson, transl. Laxdaela Saga. Penguin Classics, 1969.
  • Palsson, Hermann, et al., transl. Eyrbyggja Saga. Penguin Classics, 1989.
  • Palsson, Hermann, et al., transl. Orkneyinga Saga: The History of the Earls of Orkney. Penguin Classics, 1981.
  • Snorri Sturluson. Heimskringla, or the Chronicle of the Kings of Norway. Hard Press, 2006.
  • Thorsson, Ornolfur, et al., transl. The Saga of Grettir the Strong. Penguin Classics, 2005.

External linksEdit

  • Stirnet: Viking03(subscription required) (mentions Thorstein (as "Thorstun 'the Red'"))