If the wild popularity of Game of Thrones has taught us anything, it’s that there’s a strong taste for fantasy drama if creatives can provide a story strong enough to entice audiences. Whilst The Witcher attempted to fill the hole created by the loss of the HBO show, it failed to capture the imaginations of fans and critics, with The Northman by Robert Eggers expected to sweep up fans of fantasy looking for a new taste of moody action.
Due to hit cinemas in April, The Northman tells the tale of a young Viking prince who seeks revenge for his father’s murder. Flirting with the fantasy of Norse mythology, judging by the first trailer, Eggers’ latest epic looks to be a mind-blowing cinematic experience.
Written by Eggers and the famous Icelandic screenwriter of the A24 horror film Lamb, Sjón, the brand new film from the director of The Witch appears to be infused with the same intrigue and beauty of his previous projects. Featuring the likes of Alexander Skarsgård, Nicole Kidman, Ethan Hawke, Willem Dafoe and Anya Taylor-Joy, The Northman may be the first of Eggers’ films to truly transition into the cultural mainstream.
For such a Scandinavian-looking film, however, it’s a surprise to discover that most of the project was filmed not in Sweden, Norway or Denmark; but in Ireland.
The Irish filming locations of The Northman:
Malin Head, County Donegal
Situated at the north-most tip of Ireland, Donegal County is known as ‘The Forgotten County’ due to its remote location and stunning countryside, making it the perfect attraction for filmmakers looking for stunning untouched landscapes. Malin Head, the most northerly point in the whole country has seen several movie productions, with none more significant than Rian Johnson’s crew for Star Wars: The Last Jedi.
At the tip of the head is a point of interest named Banba’s Crown, a clifftop tower with stunning views over the Atlantic ocean. Named after the mythological patron goddess of Ireland, the tower was built in 1805 and offers gorgeous views of the Northern Lights among more otherworldly delights.
On the west coast, not too far from Banba’s Crown, Europe’s most impressive sand dunes also lie, with the Five Fingers Strand forming structures up to 30 metres high. Using the beach for several scenes in The Northman, it will be interesting to see if the film also makes use of St. Mary’s Church, one of the oldest Catholic churches in Ireland, built in 1784, that is still in use to this day.
Mixing myth and reality, the location was perfect for Eggers and his crew to recreate a fantastical Scandinavian landscape on the cheap. Utilising the coastal views and stunning cliffs, no doubt this location is used throughout the film as the backdrop to epic battles or indeed intense conversations.
Gleniff Horseshoe, County Sligo
Heading a little further down south to County Sligo, production on The Northman also ventured to The Gleniff Horseshoe, a 10km route with stunning views out to the Dartry Mountains and Donegal Bay.
A truly stunning valley, the Gleniff Horseshoe ends in something of a giant basin with large cliffs providing a 180-degree casing. Benwiskin, looking a little like Pride Rock from The Lion King, marks the entrance to the valley and will surely feature heavily in the film due to its remarkable shape and real-life mythical folk tales.
Rife with myth and legend, this area of County Sligo also features such notable points of interest as Benbulben forest, Glencar waterfall, Mullaghmore and The Devil’s Chimney which would each be at the disposal of film director Robert Eggers.
Torr Head, County Antrim
Crossing the border into Northern Ireland and a further location can be found, situated on the coastline of the country at Torr Head. The closest point in the country to Scotland, Torr Head boasts winding paths and rocky vistas that provide a unique landscape to the Atlantic Ocean in the background.
As well as such views, heading inland will take you to some unusual stone walls and ruins, including Altagore Cashel, a strange ring of stones that is thought to have been used for defence and protection.
Vibrant and surprising, the landscape of Torr Head in County Antrim gave more variation to the production team of The Northman, allowing them to capture each and every curious corner of Ireland for use in their Viking romp.