A story that has been circulating the web, produced here in its entirety. I will debunk it afterwards.
THE PRACTICE OF BRAMMAGE
© copyright 1990 W.J.Bethancourt III
The Old Norse
, hereinafter referred to by the more common appellation of "Vikings
," held to many customs that, to us, would seem strange. Some of these customs, indeed, remind us more of a modern biker-gang than peoples we would consider "civilized
Perhaps the prime, and most well-known, example of such a thing was the "blood-eagle
," that struck such terror in the British Isles
Not as well known, however, was the practice of "brammage," or, in Old Norse, "brammagr
It was originally done by the berserks
of both the Norse
and the Danes
, and excited both awe and disgust in the ranks of the enemy.
As the armies formed up, the berserks would push thru their lines, and stand between the armies, not unlike skirmishers, and proceed to beat upon their own helms with the flats of the swords. If the berserks wore no helmets, they would beat upon their unprotected heads
. This was the prelude to the usual shield-biting, jumping up and down, foaming at the mouth, and screaming insults about the ancestry of the opposition
One can only imagine the sight, and easily see that such behaviour would strike terror
into the minds of the opposing forces.
However, the striking of the head, whether protected or unprotected, would tend to damage and/or
slow down the thought processes eventually, and so it did. The survivors tended to be "a bit slow
The only remaining evidence of this practice is commemmorated in a fragmentary saga
, scribed in runes on the carcass of a moose currently in the National Rjiks Museum
We find that the Brammagr-rite entered the English language, due to the Danish occupation of Britain
, and thus, we see the expression used, while pointing or striking the head with the hand, "Dane Brammage
!" to express stupidity.
Posthelwaithe-Grimes, Sir Fredrick; "Norse Language Survivals in Britain";
Random House; 1872
Olafsson, Snoori; "Da Dum Norski Headbangrs";
Snoorisson, Olaf; "Moose-Carving by the Ancient Finns";
Debunking the Myth
While humorous, and sounding vaguely scholarly, the origins of the term 'dane brammage', or 'dain bramage' come from the alteration of the word 'brain damage'. Duh. If that is not clearly obvious, I'll go on further.
The references listed are spurious. The first reference, 'Norse Language Survivals in Britain', claims to be published by Random House
in 1872. Random House was not founded until 1925.
The next entry, by Snoori Olafsson, is entitled, "Da Dum Norski Headbangrs". It is published by (in?) Stockholm, which leads one to believe the title cover is in Swedish
. The title is in "Swenglish", as most anyone can tell from a second glance. 'Da' is not a word in the Swedish language - the word for 'the' is 'den', and none its inflected forms conform to 'da'. The adjective for 'dum' is, however, a word in the language, though I believe it would be rendered as 'dumma', if Swedish behaves anyway like German. The adjective for Norse
is norsk, norskt, or norska (depending on the gender of the noun). Nowhere is 'norski' found. 'Headbangrs' is also a woefully pitiful attempt at making a Sweedish-sounding word. The word in Swedish for 'head' is 'huvun'. I am not sure of the noun for 'banger', but the verb to bang, as in, to hit is 'dänger till'. I am not sure as to how this is conjugated to form a plural noun, but I am sure it is not rendered 'bangrs'.
The next entry, by Snoori Olafsson has nothing really of immediate criticism. Moose would probably have been rendered elk, as it is the closer form to the Swedish älg. Other than the small fact that I cannot find any reference of this book whatsoever (though I haven't checked any libraries, I must admit), it really leaves nothing to critique. There is the quaint matter of the last two author's names -- Snoori Olafsson and Olaf Snoorisson, or 'Snoori, son of Olaf', and 'Olaf, son of Snoori'. This could be entirely coincidental, but I doubt it.
Finally, I can find absolutely no mention of the word 'brammage' or any varients thereof in the Norse, Swedish or Danish languages. Add all these together, and you get one rather poorly-written hoax.
hoax, that is.