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Runic Dictionary

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Bárðr á Upplǫndum (Bárðr)

10th century; volume 1; ed. Kate Heslop;

Lausavísa (Lv) - 1

Nothing is known of Bárðr á Upplǫndum ‘of Opplandene’ or Bárðr digri ‘the Stout’ beyond what is told in Þorvalds þáttr tasalda (ÞorvT, ÍF 9, 119-26), which is embedded in ÓT. According to the þáttr, Bárðr is a rich elderly farmer who lives with his daughter at Úlfarsdalir or Úlfsdalir in Upplǫnd (Opplandene in central Norway). He is a ‘noble heathen’ who trusts only in his own might and main (mátt minn ok megin, ÓT 1958-2000, II, 100; cf. Lönnroth 1969). The single helmingr which follows is the only verse composition credited to Bárðr, and its authenticity has been doubted (see below).

Lausavísa — Bárðr LvI

Kate Heslop 2012, ‘(Introduction to) Bárðr á Upplǫndum, Lausavísa’ in Diana Whaley (ed.), Poetry from the Kings’ Sagas 1: From Mythical Times to c. 1035. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 1. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 442.

stanzas:  1 

Skj: Bárðr á Upplǫndum: Lausavísa (AI, 153, BI, 145); stanzas (if different): [v]

SkP info: I, 442

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

1 — Bárðr Lv 1I

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Kate Heslop (ed.) 2012, ‘Bárðr á Upplǫndum, Lausavísa 1’ in Diana Whaley (ed.), Poetry from the Kings’ Sagas 1: From Mythical Times to c. 1035. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 1. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 442.

Hugðak hitt, at hefðak
harðhendit þat stundum,
at skalpgrana skozkum
skyldak einn of halda.

Hugðak hitt, at hefðak harðhendit þat stundum, at skyldak einn of halda skozkum skalpgrana.

I would have thought that I’d manhandled such a thing [lit. that] at times, so that I ought to be able to hang on to a nimble sheath-mouth by myself.

Mss: 61(50ra), 53(45rb), 54(40va), Bb(73va), 325VIII 2 a(3ra), 62(39va), Flat(50va) (ÓT)

Readings: [1] Hugðak (‘Hugða ek’): ‘[...]ugða ek’ 325VIII 2 a;    hefðak (‘ek hefða’): hefða Bb    [2] harðhendit þat stundum: ‘[…]’ 325VIII 2 a;    ‑hendit: ‘‑endit’ 53, ‑hendr Flat;    þat: verit Flat    [3] at: at ek 61, 53, 54, Bb, 62, Flat, ‘[...]t ek’ 325VIII 2 a;    skalp‑: skalf‑ Flat;    ‑grana: ‑granna Bb, ‘g[...]na’ 325VIII 2 a;    skozkum: skozkan 53, stundum 62, skelkinn Flat    [4] skyldak einn of halda (‘skyllda ek einn of hallda’): ‘sk[...]’ 325VIII 2 a;    einn: enn 54, en Bb

Editions: Skj: Bárðr á Upplǫndum, Lausavísa: AI, 153, BI, 145, Skald I, 79, NN §166; ÍF 9, 122-3, ÓT 1958-2000, II, 97 (ch. 201), Flat 1860-8, I, 381 (ÞorvT).


Bárðr refuses to visit King Óláfr Tryggvason in Niðaróss (Trondheim) or accept the Christian faith, and neither of the parties sent by Óláfr to fetch him has returned. The Icelander Þorvaldr tasaldi and his companion Sigurðr offer to go to meet him. Bárðr, sitting on his high-seat, is a formidable figure. He responds to their threats of forcible removal with this half-stanza.

Notes: [2] harðhendit ‘manhandled’: (a) This seems to be p. p. of a weak verb harðhenda (so also Skj B; LP: harðhendinn), which is otherwise unknown, though cf. the adj. harðhendr ‘strong-, hard-handed’, and verbs such as tvíhenda ‘to catch with two hands’, áhenda ‘to lay hands on, seize’. As Kock (NN §166) points out, the p. p. ending -it (n. nom. sg. of -hendinn) is characteristic of a strong, not a weak verb. The regular weak form would be harðhent (n. nom. sg. of -hendr), but this spoils both the syllable-count and the rhyme with stundum. Weak verbs of the henda type did not begin to form their participles in -inn before c. 1300 (Stefán Karlsson 2004, 27), so the stanza is probably later than the þáttr suggests. (b) Flat reads harðhendr verit ‘been hard-handed’ in place of harðhendit þat, with harðhendr as an adj. rather than a p. p. Skald prefers this more grammatically conventional variant but it is rejected here as it is the lectio facilior and only preserved in Flat. — [3] skalpgrana ‘to a sheath-mouth’: Grani is otherwise unknown, except as the name of the hero Sigurðr’s horse, but may be from grǫn f. ‘moustache, lips’, here translated ‘mouth’. Skalp- here may be either of two words: (a) Skalpr m. ‘sheath (of a sword)’. The cpd Skalp-Grani appears in the C14th Króka-Refs saga as the name of a showy womanizer who is also referred to in coded word-play as Sverðhúss-Grani ‘Sword-house Grani’ (ÍF 14, 153, cf. 151 n. 2). The use elsewhere of sverð as a synonym for ‘penis’ (e.g. Grett Lv 33/1V (Gr 65)), suggests that sexual innuendo based on the ‘sheath’ meaning may be present in Króka-Refs saga (cf. Lat. vagina ‘sheath, scabbard’). In the present context, Þorvaldr is probably being likened to the receptive partner in anal intercourse in the usual níð fashion. (b) Previous eds (including the ed. of Króka-Refs saga in ÍF 14, cf. above) have preferred skalp n. ‘chatter’. Skalpgrani would then mean ‘chatterbox’ (NN §166) or even ‘boaster’ (Skj B; ÍF 9). — [3] skozkum ‘nimble’: This word, which despite Kock’s objections (NN §166) is most plausibly related to skot n. ‘shot, shooting’ and skjóta ‘to shoot’ (ÍO: skoskur, skozkr 1), is otherwise unattested in ON but known in ModIcel. (Sigfús Blöndal 1920-4: skoskur 2). Although skozkr normally means ‘Scottish’ (LP: 1. skozkr) there is nothing to favour this here. The variant readings are inferior: skozkan is acc. sg. rather than dat. as would be expected with halda; 62’s stundum is repeated from the preceding line; and Flat’s skelkinn ‘mocking’ (also acc. sg.) is probably a scribal attempt to rectify a reading in its exemplar.

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