The main difficulty in studying Viking culture is in the absence of written sources. Most of the information of this people was transmitted orally, in sagas and legends. Later, this information was repeatedly distorted when translated into other languages, so many things are considered exaggerated or misinterpreted. Among them was the cruel ritual of execution “bloody eagle”, but modern scientists have proved that it existed in reality.
The essence of the “blood eagle” is to cut the victim’s back, separate the ribs from the spine, take them out through the holes and decompose the lungs, which will flutter, resembling the wings of a bird. This is practically impossible from the point of view of anatomy, because even with modern instruments, the blood loss will be so great that the victim will expire before the end of the procedure. Even if you manage to do everything as quickly as possible, the movements of the lungs will still be barely noticeable – there is no question of any entertainment.
However, everything changes dramatically if the need to maintain the victim’s life during the ritual disappears. Vikings in general were characterized by a harsh disposition, and torture or mutilation did not cause them a strong emotional response. Another thing is the issues of honor, when the execution of the enemy could be turned into an honorable rite, and into the most terrible spectacle. In particular, the abuse of a corpse, which was maximally disfigured during the transformation into a “bloody eagle”, just corresponded to such concepts.
Carving depicting another type of execution – snake Pitsource — The Conversation