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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Þorkell hamarskáld (Þham)

12th century; volume 2; ed. Kari Ellen Gade;

1. Magnússdrápa (Magndr) - 5

Skj info: Þórkell hamarskáld, Islandsk skjald, omkr. 1100. (AI, 438-9, BI, 407-9).

Skj poems:
1. Magnúsdrápa
2. Lausavísur

Þorkell hamarskáld (Þham) is unknown. His nickname implies that he came from a farm called Hamarr (meaning ‘Crag’; Finnur Jónsson 1907, 246) or that he might have composed about a person with the nickname hamarr ‘Hammer’ (Lind 1920-1, 134). Þorkell must have stayed in Norway prior to 1066, because he composed a poem about Eysteinn orri ‘Black Grouse’ Þorbergsson (d. 1066) whom he seems to have known personally (Skáldatal, SnE 1848-87, III, 269, 286; Mork 1928-32, 279-80). Skáldatal also lists him among the poets of Óláfr kyrri ‘the Quiet’ Haraldsson and his son, Magnús berfœttr ‘Barelegs’ (SnE 1848-87, III, 254, 262, 275-6). We do not know whether Þorkell came from Norway or Iceland, but in a helmingr attributed to him in SnE (Skm), he speaks of a gift that a ruler had sent to him of svalan ægi ‘across the cool sea’ (Þham Frag 1/3III), which suggests that he was an Icelander. See also SnE 1848-87, III, 616-18; LH 1894-1901, II, 54-5. In addition to his drápa about Magnús berfœttr and the helmingr in SnE (edited in SkP III), one lv. by Þorkell survives (see Þham Lv below).

Magnússdrápa — Þham MagndrII

Kari Ellen Gade 2009, ‘ Þorkell hamarskáld, Magnússdrápa’ in Kari Ellen Gade (ed.), Poetry from the Kings’ Sagas 2: From c. 1035 to c. 1300. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 2. Turnhout: Brepols, pp. 409-14. <> (accessed 30 June 2022)

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Skj: Þórkell hamarskáld: 1. Magnúsdrápa, o. 1104 (AI, 438-9, BI, 407-8)

in texts: Fsk, H-Hr, Hkr, Mberf, Mork, Orkn

SkP info: II, 409-14

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance references search files


MagnússdrápaDrápa about Magnús’ (Þham Magndr) must have been composed after the death of Magnús berfœttr Óláfsson (24 August 1103) because the last st. is devoted to Magnús’s final battle in Ulster. The poet is identified in all prose sources (st. 3 is anonymous in Hkr and Orkn), and the name of the poem is also given (see ÍF 28, 214; Fms 7, 5, 53). The order of sts is unproblematic and follows the sequence of events commemorated in the poem (see Fidjestøl 1982, 152, 173). All sts of the extant Magndr are recorded in Mork (Mork) and H, Hr (H-Hr). Stanzas 1 and 3 are also found in mss , 39, E, J2ˣ and 42ˣ of MberfHkr and in FskBˣ, FskAˣ (Fsk). Stanza 3 is recorded in mss 3225III α and R702ˣ of Orkn and sts 1-4 in F, which is a Mork ms. here. Mork is the main ms.

Stanza 1 of Magndr documents the revolt against Magnús in 1094 (see also SteigÞ Kv, Bkrepp Magndr 2-3, Þham Lv, Gísl Magnkv 1-8 and Anon (Mberf) 2-3), and sts 2-3 describe events from Magnús’s first expedition to the west in 1098, including the killing of Earl Hugh of Shrewsbury (see also Mberf Lv 1, Kali Lv, Bkrepp Magndr 5-11 and Gísl Magnkv 9-16). Stanza 4 commemorates Magnús’s Swed. campaigns (c. 1100-2; see also Mberf Lv 2, Eldj Lv 1-2, Gísl Magnkv 17-20 and Anon (Mberf) 4-5), and st. 5 is devoted to the battle of Ulster (1103) in which Magnús fell.

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