In terms of ending a fight, few techniques work more effectively than decapitation of one’s enemy. When it comes to fighting with Scotsmen, however, it is best not to assume anything. Sigurd Eysteinsson, Earl of Orkney, learned this lesson the hard way. When he cut off the head of Máel Brigte of Moray in A.D. 892, he thought the conflict between the two of them was over. Unfortunately for Sigurd, Máel Brigte had one more trick up his sleeve.
Sigurd Eysteinsoon earned the title Sigurd the Mighty because of his legendary accomplishments in the Viking conquest of what is now northern Scotland. When he set his sights on Moray, he thought it would be just one more battle, and the beheading of Máel Brigte appeared to confirm his assumptions.
One of Máel Brigte’s nicknames was Máel Brigte the Bucktoothed. This distinctive feature proved to be the undoing of Sigurd. As he rode home, with Máel Brigte’s severed head in a sack, Máel Brigte’s prominent buck-tooth wore through the sack and scratched Sigurd’s leg. The scratch became infected, and soon Sigurd the Mighty became Sigurd the Deceased.