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      February 2015 > What has your smart phone got in common with a Viking chieftain?
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What has your smart phone got in common with a Viking chieftain?

In Denmark, in about 935AD, a son was born to Gorm the Old and his wife Thyra Dannebod. Gorm is widely recognised as the first King of Denmark, which makes the Danish monarchy (along with that of England) the oldest in Europe.

Self-guided walking holidays in Norway


The boy Harald Gormsson grew up to succeed his father as king and went on to further extend the kingdom. In a time when it was customary to give nicknames to individuals, long before the use of surnames, he was named Blå-tand, or ‘Blue-tooth’. This name first appeared in the Chronicon Roskildense from 1140 (the oldest known written Danish history) but its origin is subject to some debate, possibly because he had a conspicuous bad tooth (‘blue’ meant dark), or that he was called a thane (chief) in England, corrupted to ‘tan’ back into Old Norse, and thus blå-tand really meaning ‘dark chieftain’. A third theory is that he simply wore blue clothes, blue signifying his royal status.

Self-guided walking holidays in IcelandWhatever the reason, Harald ‘Bluetooth’ is acknowledged as the Viking king who unified the tribes of Jutland (modern-day Denmark) and united them with those in southern Sweden and coastal Norway.

It was this unification that brought him to the fore over 1000 year later, when Jim Kardach, an Intel engineer working on wireless technologies, was looking for a ‘working title’ for the telecommunication system he developed in 1994, that allows mobile phones to communicate with computers.

The story goes that Kardach was reading a Viking novel, ‘The Long Ships’ by Frans G. Bengtsson at the time, which recounts the exploits of Harald Bluetooth. In the book, Bluetooth united disparate Viking tribes into one kingdom, which is exactly how Kardach saw his technology whose goal was to unify computers and cellular phones into one universal standard.

His working title caught on and it is now part of the language, with most people probably not giving a second thought as to how it came about.

Self-guided walking holidays in SwedenHarald Bluetooth went on to father Sweyn Forkbeard, who, in 1013, became the first of the Danish Kings of England, who in turn was father of Cnut the Great. Harald Bluetooth also introduced Christianity into Denmark and erected monolithic memorials to his parents, each covered in runic inscriptions, the famous Jelling Stones in Jutland. Interestingly, the Bluetooth logo is a design created by combining the runic letters ‘H’ (haglaz ᚼ) and ‘B’ (berkanan ᛒ) referring to Harald Bluetooth.

So next time you are using a Bluetooth device, raise an eye to Valhalla where Harald will no doubt be watching developments with great interest...

To communicate with Vikings, enter the chieftain’s Great Hall at the Borg Viking Museum in the Lofoten Islands; come face to face with Holger the Dane in the underground casemate of Kronborg Castle on the north Zealand coast; see Sweden’s only surviving longship in the Gothenburg City Museum; take a trip to Reykjavik, the first permanent Viking settlement on Iceland; or, visit the Jorvik Viking Centre in York as an add-on to your walking holiday in the UK.

Self-guided walking holidays in Iceland
Posted: 20/02/2015 10:10:15 by | with 0 comments
Filed under: culture, heritage, Iceland, Norway, Vikings


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