At the moment, there is only one literary source in Scandinavian literature that points to this deadly game of "catching" children – the 13th century Icelandic Book of Settlement (Landnámabók) account.

The Book of Settlement describes the early days of Icelandic settlement and folk tales. It also presents the genealogic ties of multiple families that came to live in the area. In the book, in chapter 98, a man with the nickname "Olvir The Child Sparer" (or "Olvir the Friend of Children") is mentioned.

According to the book, Vikings participated in a bloody tradition of throwing babies into the air and "catching" them on the tips of their spears, but Olvir The Child Sparer refused to take part in the activity.

Only one account

The book further states that Olvir was the only Viking in the area who didn't kill children in this way, despite the tradition allegedly being popular at the time.

In a rough translation of part of the account of the Book of Settlement, Olvir was described as follows:

Olvir Children's-Man was the name of an excellent Norwegian man; he was (known as) a great Viking in his clan. He didn't want to catch children on the point of his spear despite the practice being popular in the Viking community at the time. That was why he was (called) "Children's Man."

As no other sources related to the Viking Age testify to this violent practice, experts doubt whether the account was actually fabricated.

The actual Book of Settlement was written around three centuries after Vikings settled in Iceland, and the manuscripts that have been preserved are even "newer" – so there is a real chance that the accounts of Viking brutality might have been somewhat exaggerated.

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