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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Note to stanza

8. Ragnars saga loðbrókar 39 (Anonymous Lausavísur, Lausavísur from Ragnars saga loðbrókar, 9) — Trémaðr [Vol. 8, 701]

[4] synir Loðbróku ‘sons of Loðbróka’: Or ‘sons of [Ragnarr] loðbrók’ (see below). According to this stanza, these men set up the trémaðr, perhaps as part of a religious ritual. If Loðbróka is a goddess-name (see the next Note), it may refer here to the goddess herself, in which case her sons are to be understood not as sons in a literal sense, but rather as devotees of her cult (Wickham 1993, 516). It is more likely, however, and is assumed here, that it refers to a female devotee and namesake of the goddess (cf. Turville-Petre 1964, 219), and that the sons in question are her physical sons, participating with her in the cult. They may be identifiable with those C9th vikings whom C11th sources consider to have been sons of one Loðbrók, a figure possibly referred to as female in one of the Maeshowe runic inscriptions of the mid-C12th (see McTurk 1991b, 343 and the contrary views of Lukman 1976, 13, and Rowe 2012, 155-7; for the inscription, see Barnes 1994, 185-6). Among them were Ívarr and Sigurðr, both remembered as sons of Ragnarr in Ragn. Contemporary annalistic evidence shows that these two were kings, in Ireland and Denmark respectively, in the second half of the C9th (McTurk 1991a, 39-49). The evidence for Ragnarr as their father’s name is less well established than the name Loðbrók(a), considered here as their mother’s, but it is possible that their father was Reginheri, a high-ranking member of the court of the Danish king Horicus I, and the leader of a viking attack on Paris in 845; see Introduction above.


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