The "Ear" was a member of Askeladd's band known for his remarkable hearing. His real name was not revealed.


The Ear had a pinched face with narrow eyes, a thin mustache and wrinkled chin. He wore a medium colored wrap over his head with a short-sleeved coat over a long-sleeved tunic and boots. For the winter he added a cloak.


Ear was soft-spoken and taciturn.


Presumably, a skilled enough warrior to hold his own in combat, the Ear wielded an axe and shield. He also had enough experience to be able to estimate the marching speeds of troops.

Remarkable hearing: The Ear's keen hearing was his trademark ability, allowing him to distinguish between men and animals and estimate marching speeds. He was limited in detecting an ambush if the ambushers kept still, and during the winter by the dampening effect that snow had on the sound.


Ear at work Ch. 23

The Ear at work.

How long the Ear was with Askeladd's company was not revealed, but apparently it had been for some time, as his hearing was so trusted and relied upon by that when he needed complete silence to work, they would halt all activity and wait for him. The Ear came to prominence after Canute was taken under escort by Askeladd and the band arrived at the River Severn in November 1013. They halted while Askeladd passed a message to a local ferryman and the Ear pressed his head to the ground to determine how far behind Thorkell and his men were. When Ragnar questioned the delay, Bjorn informed him why, and the Ear told him to keep Ragnar quiet. When Askladd returned, he was informed that Thorkell was just under a day's march behind them, with an estimated 500 men with horses. This placed them much closer than the day before when the Ear had determined that they were two days behind. When Bjorn questioned this, the Ear defended himself. He then alerted them to the presence of a pair of mounted scouts on a distant hill. A few days later, the Ear detected that Thorkell was close behind just as they arrived at some Roman ruins on the bank of the Severn where they were greeted by Gratianus, who ferried them across the river to Morgannwg.[1]

As the band marched toward Brycheiniog, the Ear informed Bjorn that he had detected a large body of men ahead. Bjorn alerted Askeladd, who passed this on to Gratianus after they encountered Asser. When the hidden Brycheiniog warriors revealed themselves by shooting Askeladd's horse with arrows, one of the Ear's startled comrades complained about the lack of warning, prompting a retort that he couldn't detect an ambush that wasn't moving.

After Anne's village was taken over in December, the Ear was posted to a tree on the outskirts so that patrols did not have to be sent out. When Askeladd and Bjorn checked on him, he pointed out that besides the cold, the sound was being absorbed the snow, limiting how far he could hear. After Askeladd threw him a bottle, he suggested that a closer eye kept on Ragnar, Canute, and Willibald. Following Anne's rescue, a group of armed farmers was sent to attack the village. They were detected by the Ear, who informed Askeladd and Bjorn while the three of them were urinating in a field. He could not guess the numbers but knew they were trying to flank the village from the east. The intelligence allowed Askeladd to alert his men that they had to leave the village quickly. That night, after the farmers were defeated, the Ear alerted Askeladd that Thorkell was approaching from the south despite the fact that it was midnight.[2]

Ear's head Ch. 37

The Ear's head being used as a target.

In January 1014, as the band crosses the Severn over a bridge, the Ear waited with Askeladd as the others crossed. He estimated that there was enough time to smash the bridge. Just after it was destroyed, he detected that Thorkell had arrived just as the glints from spears carried by the latter's men became visible across the opposite hill.[3] It is not clear if the Ear joined the subsequent mutiny against Askeladd or was killed after Thorkell's arrival. However, his decapitated head was afterward used as a target by several of Thorkell's men for an impromptu archery competition.[4] After Atli returned with Canute, the Ear was one of the fallen that he recognized.


  1. Vinland Saga Manga; Chapter 23
  2. Vinland Saga Manga; Chapter 31
  3. Vinland Saga Manga; Chapter 32
  4. Vinland Saga Manga; Chapter 37

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