As the sun starts to slip from view across Scandinavia and an icy cold winter advances its grip, it’s perhaps not the best time to go there; but it is a good time to take a look there – after a week of bitter political heat across the Atlantic, a touch of the cool north may be the kind of antidote we need just now.We were once part of the north-lands, our original and dramatic first experience of “Scandi noir”. Until the end of the first millennium, the Norsemen or Vikings regularly frightened our ancestors to death. King Cnut held most of the British Isles as a vassal state. For some the Vikings held sway much longer, with the Shetland Isles a part of the Norwegian Kingdom until the 15th century. Traces of our Norse inheritance can be found in archaeological sites and museums across the northern England and in Scotland. Names of places and of families are witnesses to this ancient past, as is our deep literary memory. “Beowulf”, the challenging Old English text encountered in University English courses, is not set in Britain but in faraway Geatland on the coast south-east of Stockholm. We were reluctant participants in the Norse world but perhaps our collective antennae can sense the connection still.