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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Note to stanza

8. Anonymous Poems, Krákumál, 18 [Vol. 8, 753]

[5] á Víkarskeiði ‘on Víkarskeið’: With the exception of Rafn (1826), who evidently follows ms. , all eds assume a compound p. n. here: (á) Víkaskerði (Pfeiffer 1860; Krm 1891; Wisén 1886-9; Finnur Jónsson 1893b) or Víkaskeiði (CPB; Finnur Jónsson 1905; Skj B; Skald). No previous ed. adopts the spelling Víkarskeiði (which seems to have the support of R702x, LR and R693ˣ), though Víkarskeið is the spelling used for the entry in LP, where the Krm instance, labelled sagnlokalitet ‘place of legend’, is the sole instance given. However, it is possible that this p. n. could be identified with Wicklow on the east coast of Ireland south of Dublin, for which attested medieval forms are Wickelow, Wykynlo and Wikingelo (see Sommerfelt 1958, 224; cf. Oftedal 1976, 130-1). Oftedal has argued that the p. n. was originally *Víkarló f. ‘the meadow of the bay’, citing the form Wicke-. The majority spelling Wykyn-, Wikinge- would suggest an original *Víkingaló f. ‘the meadow of the Vikings/of the people from Vík’ (so Sommerfelt, ibid.; Flanagan and Flanagan 1994, 125) but this, Oftedal argues, would be inconsistent with Old Norwegian naming practice, in which f. ‘meadow’ as a final element normally collocates with a first element referring not to a person or persons, but rather to a feature of the meadow itself or of its location. He therefore explains the forms Wykynlo, Wikingelo as a remodelling resulting from learned speculation. His further claim (Oftedal 1976, 129) that the noun víkingr ‘viking’ ‘can nowhere else be proved to have been used as a Scandinavian place name element’ entails discounting five potential examples from Norway, for which he postulates a pers. n. *Víkingi (alongside attested Víkingr). If Oftedal’s argument may nevertheless be accepted, it may be tentatively suggested that the bay area was known as Vík, while Víkarskeið referred to what is now known as the Murrough, the spit of land separating Broad Lough from the sea just north of Wicklow town. ON skeið n. has a wide range of meanings in place names, usually involving a linear stretch or expanse of land; it can also mean specifically ‘a race course’ (Fritzner: skeið n. 3, cf. SnE 2005, 139; Hovda et al. 1970, 459-62; Whaley 2017). The Murrough, whose name, from Irish muirbheach m., means ‘a level stretch of sandy land along sea-shore, links’ (Ó Dónaill 1977: muirbheach), has been used in modern times, at least, as a recreational area suitable for horse and dog racing (Friends of the Murrough 2011, 7, accessed 14 April 2017). That the Murrough was a scene of Viking activity is shown by a Viking sword-hilt of C9th type found there in the late C19th (Ó Floinn 1998, 29-31). An Irish location for Víkarskeið would be fully compatible with the focus on Britain and Ireland in this part of Krm, though it must be emphasised that the foregoing suggestion is tentative.


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