In Nial's, Gisli's and Droplaug's Sons' Sagas there is good verse of a later poet, and in many sagas worthless rubbish foisted in as ornamental.
Of tales relating to the east there survive the Weapon-firth cycle - the tales of Thorstein the White (c. 900), of Thorstein the Staffsmitten (c. 985), of Gunnar Thidrand's Bane (1000-1008) and of the Weapon firth Men (975-990), all relating to the family of Hof and their friends and kin for several generations - and the story of Hrafnkell Frey's Priest (c. 960), the most idyllic of sagas and best of the eastern tales.
To the student of the Norse sources, Adam's reference is not so important, as the internal evidence of the sagas is such as to give easy credence to them as records of exploration in regions previously unknown to civilization.
The basis of this growth is partly the story-telling instinct innate in all men, which loves to heighten an effect, sharpen a point or increase a contrast - the instinct which breathes in Icelandic sagas like that of Burnt Njal; partly the instinct of idolization, if it may be so called, which leads to the perversion into impossible greatness of an approved character, and has created, in this instance, the legendary figures of Peter the Hermit and Godfrey of Bouillon (qq.v.); partly the religious impulse, which counted nothing wonderful in a holy war, and imported miraculous elements even into the sober pages of the Gesta.
A list of its birds, with some notes, bibliographical and biological, has been given as an Appendix to Baring-Gould's Iceland, its Scenes and Sagas (8vo, 1862); and Shepherd's North-west Peninsula of Iceland (8vo, 1867) recounts a somewhat profitless expedition made thither expressly for ornithological objects.
We are left to affirm, on account of definite references in various sagas and annals to Leif Ericsson and the discovery of Vinland, that the saga as preserved in Hank's Book (and also in No.
Of the north there are the sagas of Kormak (930-960), most primitive of all, a tale of a wild poet's love and feuds, containing many notices of the heathen times; of Vatzdeelasaga (890-980), relating to the settlement and the chief family in Waterdale; of Hallfred the poet (996-1014), narrating his fortune at King Olaf's court, his love affairs in Iceland, and finally his death and burial at Iona; of Reyk -deela (990), which preserves the lives of Askell and his son Viga-Skuti; of Svarf-deela (980-990), a cruel, coarse story of the old days, with some good scenes in it, unfortunately imperfect, chapters I-10 being forged; of VigaGlum (970-990), a fine story of a heathen hero, brave, crafty and cruel.
Fcereyinga tells the tale of the conversion of the Fa revs or Faroes, and the lives of its chiefs Sigmund and Leif, composed in the 13th century from their separate sagas by an Icelander of the Sturlung school.
As to the origin of the heroic sagas as we now have them, Tacitus tells us that the deeds of Arminius were still celebrated in song a hundred years after his death (Annals, ii.
At any rate, the incontrovertible facts of the Vinland voyages are that Leif and Thorfinn were historical characters, that they visited, in the early part of the 11th century, some part of the American continent south-west of Greenland, that they found natives whose hostility prevented the founding of a permanent settlement, and that the sagas telling of these things are, on the whole, trustworthy descriptions of actual experience.