Tuesday, 22 January 2013

The Nithing Pole

"Here I place this "Nidstang" ("curse-pole"), and turneth it against King Eirik and Queen Gunnhild - turneth I this against all the gnomes and little people of the land, that they may all be lost, not finding their homes, until they drive King Eirik and Queen Gunnhild out of the country."

This was the curse that Egil Skallagrimsson spoke against King Eirik Bloodaxe and according to the legend it worked..they, Eirik and Gunnhild,  left.

During the Viking Age to put a "nid" on someone was to put very powerful verbal curse upon them. The idea is to raise the Landvaettir and Hel(a) against the person or people who the curse is aimed at.
The power of words was not taken lightly by the wikings, so to make a curse of this kind was very serious matter. It was the ultimate insult, and used only in extremis.

A horses head was placed on a long (usually hazel) pole and then directed to those who are to be cursed. The words of the curse are written along the pole, and sometimes the horses skin was hung over the pole as well.
Why a horses head? Maybe, and this is only my thought, is that the severity of the curse called for the sacrifice of a  revered animal, horse worship was common in a wide range of ancient societys.

What do you need to make one? Some insulating foam for the rocks, a toothpick for the pole, some tissue paper soaked in woodglue for the skin and any old horses head. 
Steingrim Oddløg and his men, set up a Nidstang and direct thier curses towards thier enemy, Thorbrand Steinthor.
THIS SITE is well worth a look, a 360° view of the inside of the 19th century Serbian Royal familys church,  St. George’s Church, Oplenac, Topola in Serbia.
Click on the picture and use the mouse to turn the picture, zoom etc (similar to google street) Also, the pics along the bottom are interactive...


  1. Looks great! Thanks for sharing this piece and the background!

  2. Nice models , and great paint Paul , thank you for the Link a 360°
    Cheers .

  3. I love it! Something else I need to copy from you.

  4. Very dramatic Paul and damn fine work!

  5. Oh that is wonderfully disturbing and beautifully modelled.

  6. Different subject matter, but great modeling. Maybe this is a precursor to the rocking horse.

  7. Well that is different, you did a good job as well


  8. Excellent conversion, painting and history lesson.

  9. Very gruesome, but excellent work!

  10. Thanks.
    I came across it by accident whilst searching for something completely different. A strange tradition, which is still being used to this day. Apparently the last recorded case (2006) was of a farmer who raised one to curse his neighbour, after the neighbour had run over his puppy and refused to apologise.

  11. Again a little piece of art! Thanks for sharing Paul!


  12. Fascinating, but I can't help but think the horse thought it a poor idea. And clever work too! Thanks for sharing!

  13. I still prefer that to the version where the horse's head is laid on one's bed...

    Nice detail and thanks for the lesson!

  14. Nicely executed! Maybe that's where the Mafia got the horse head thing from?


  15. very nice work paul some people clearly have to much hatred in them... instead of raising a pole and cursing someone why not take that pole and from it hang some sort of punching bag so they could take out their anger on something.

    nice work and I hope that horse had a good life.

  16. Brilliant! Incredibly visceral stuff. I want to do something similar in tone/mood with my Great War project.

  17. Oh wow, wasn't expecting that! Very.... cool.

  18. I need that for my Viking army. Do you have a list of materials for it?

    1. Hi Jörgen.
      horses head, a toothpick for the pole pushed into a hole at the neck, toilet/tissue paper for the Skin, and the rocks made from polystyrene..
      To tell the truth..it took about half an hour from start to finish to make. Writing the post and taking the pics took much longer :-D