Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Note to stanza

7. Einarr Skúlason (biog. vol. 2), Geisli, 14 [Vol. 7, 18-19]

[8] Ǫlvishaug: Lit. ‘Ǫlvir’s mound’, Alstahaugen, Trøndelag: cf. LP: Ǫlvishaugr; Rygh 1897-1936, XV, 89 identifies it with the farmstead of Alstadhaug in Skogn, Trøndelag. Einarr doubtless knew that Óláfr fell at Stiklestad (ON Stiklastaðir; cf. sts 17 and 43). Ǫlvishaugr may be an allusion to a battle recorded in the sagas of S. Óláfr (Hkr, II, 178-81; and ÓH 1941, 261-9) as well as in the Annales regii (s.a. 1021), Gottskalks Annall (s.a. 1021), and Oddaverja Annáll (s.a. 1020) (printed in Storm 1888, 106, 316 and 468 respectively). A powerful man from the Trondheim region named Ǫlvir á Eggju persisted in conducting pagan sacrifices on a grand scale long after Óláfr’s imposition of Christianity, and Óláfr finally invaded the district with a large army. He interrupted the rites, killing Ǫlvir and sentencing others to imprisonment, mutilation, banishment, or execution. And thus, says Snorri, he returned all the people to the true faith, gave them teachers, and built and consecrated churches. References to these events reinforce the theme hann speni oss frá bǫlvi ‘may he guide us away from evil’. Just as at Ǫlvishaugr Óláfr protected his people from the evil of paganism, by his martyr’s death at Stiklestad (where he was killed by Kálfr Árnason, who, according to Hkr, II, 182, 385, married Ǫlvir’s widow) he gained the power to protect Norway supernaturally. Ǫlvishaugr was just a few miles from Stiklestad, and Einarr’s audience would have recognized the correspondence between the two places and events.


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