Thornbury

It is a well-known fact that the Aesir – the primary group of gods worshipped by the Vikings of old – deemed fighting to be one of the greatest pleasures in life. To read their sagas, it would seem they placed it above drinking, screwing and eating – all activities they had no lack of love for – and that’s not even considering the fact that the surviving sagas were toned down by Christian translators. (Hmmm. Maybe they did like drinking and screwing a little more after all.)

But the wars of gods and men, gods and giants, and of course, gods and gods, could be terribly, terribly destructive. And although the Aesir weren’t that concerned about collateral damage, they did like have their halls intact when they came home to them. A tradition arose amongst them of settling their internal differences by one on one fights held in distant locations, for from the halls of Asgard, and at the far end of Midgard to protect their worshippers.

The greatest of these battles was a long promised affair: the stakes were nothing less than the rulership of Asgard (and thus, all the nine worlds) itself, and the combatants were to be Thor, god of thunder, and Buri, first of the gods (and Thor’s great-grandfather). The fight would be held far, far from Scandinavia, in a land only recently discovered by the descendents of the Normans who conquered England.

Of course, being immortal, gods can take a little while to get their arses in gear, and the better part of century elapsed before the fight was actually to take place. By which time, the area set aside for it had been settled. In deference to (a) the fact that it might kill a lot of people; and (b) the fact that it might kick of Ragnarok and thus kill all the other people too, the title bout was called. Only a few posters advertising the fight – Thor ‘n’ Buri – survived, to be misread as a place name.

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