An eminent legal historian once noted that the fundamental problem of law enforcement in primitive societies is that of the secret offender. The Icelandic legal and dispute processing systems depended on a wrongdoer publishing his deed, or at least committing it in an open and notorious manner. No state agencies existed to investigate and discover the non-publishing wrongdoer. But there were strong normative inducements to wrong openly; one's name was at stake. There was absolutely no honor in thievery, only the darkest shame; the ransmadr, on the other hand, suffered no shame for his successful raids, even if he did not always achieve honor in the process. The law, too, tried to supplement that sentiment with sanction. Thus an unpublished killing became a murder (mord) if the killer did not admit his deed and publish it properly. The consequence of the reclassification was an important one: the wrongdoer was thereby deprived of any affirmative defenses he might have had in justifying his action as a priveleged reaction to wrongs the victim had visited upon him. The readjustments in prestige and status that attended the exchange of killings in the blood feud also provided a powerful incentive to publish deeds that wronged an enemy. After all, how was the community to know a person had avenged the smears on his name unless he let others know he had done so?
Miller, William I. "Dreams, Prophecy and Sorcery: Blaming the Secret Offender in Medieval Iceland." Scandinavian Stud. 58 (1986): 101-23.