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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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4. Sources for Skaldic Poetry Cited in the Kings' Sagas

1. Sagas of the kings of Norway after 1035
2. Sagas relating to Denmark and Orkney after 1035
3. Other sources

(subheadings only)

1. Snorra Edda (SnE)


R:             Codex Regius, GKS 2367 4° (c. 1300). A copy of a late C13th manuscript.

Tˣ:           Codex Trajectinus, Traj 1374ˣ (c. 1595). A copy of a manuscript from the second half of the C13th related to R.

W:            Codex Wormianus, AM 242 fol (c. 1350). W has a lacuna at fols 121-38 that was filled in from Tˣ by Sveinn Jónsson in the C17th.

U:             Codex Upsaliensis, DG 11 (c. 1300-25).

A:             AM 748 I b 4° (c. 1300-25). Twenty-two leaves.

B:             AM 757 a 4° (c. 1400). Fourteen leaves. The manuscript is now very difficult to read because of its poor condition. Therefore 744ˣ (AM 744 4°), an early C18th copy of B made by Jón Ólafsson when B was more legible than it is now, has been used selectively in SkP II.

C:             AM 748 II 4° (c. 1400). Thirteen leaves.

Facsimiles and editions: R 1940, Tˣ 1985, W 1931, U 1962-77, A 1945, C 1945; SnE 1848-87, SnE 1931, SnE 1998, SnE 1999, SnE 2005.

It is very difficult to establish a stemma for the mss of SnE (see SnE 2005, xxviii-xxxi), and the order of mss given above reflects the order of mss in the SkP editions.


All of the poetry from SnE edited in SkP II is contained in Skáldskaparmál (Skm), and most of it is also recorded in the kings’ sagas. The following sts are found in SnE only: Sigv Berv 18, ÞjóðA Run 2-4, ÞjóðA Sex 8, 27, 29, 30-1, ÞjóðA Frag 2-3, 5, Arn Hryn 20, Arn Magndr 19, Arn Þorfdr 1, 4, 12, 15, 25, Arn Hardr 6, 17, Ill Har 1-2, Valg Har 1-3, Stúfr Stúfdr 7, Mark Eirdr 1-2, 31-2, ESk Harsonkv 2, ESk Run 4, 10, ESk Ingdr 1, Balti Sigdr 4.

2. Laufás Edda (LaufE)

Stemma (adapted from LaufE 1979, 51)

  • 758x
    • m
      • papp10x
      • n
        • 1404x
        • 164x

Manuscripts: X branch

758ˣ:       AM 758 4°ˣ (Magnús Ólafsson’s autograph copy, c. 1609).

papp10ˣ: Holm papp 10 4°ˣ (second half of the C17th).

1494ˣ:     Thott 1494 4°ˣ (second half of the C17th). Not used in SkP II.

164ˣ:       AM 164 8°ˣ (late C17th). Not used in SkP II.

Manuscripts: Y branch

2368ˣ:     GKS 2368 4°ˣ (mid-C17th).

743ˣ:       AM 743 4°ˣ (C17th, by Ketill Jörundsson (1603-70)).

21 6 7 IIˣ: Adv 21 6 7 IIˣ (1750-3). An interpolated manuscript of LaufE, written by Jón Egilsson á Stóra Vatnshorni í Haukadal (see LaufE 1979, 129-31).

Edition: LaufE 1979.

LaufE is a C17th adaptation of SnE by Magnús Ólafsson based on W, but he also used a manuscript related to A and B (LaufE 1979, 159-60, 170-1). Both the X branch and more extensive Y branch manuscripts ultimately derive from Magnús Ólafsson, with the Y version most likely representing an earlier draft (LaufE 1979, 53).


LaufE contains medieval poetry not recorded in other sources (see SkP III), but all the stanzas edited in SkP II found in LaufE are also transmitted elsewhere. The following stanzas are found in both the X and the Y branch: Arn Þorfdr 1, Arn Hryn 6/1-4, Ill Har 1, Rv Lv 7/1-4. In addition, the Y branch mss contain Hharð Gamv 2/1-4, ÞjóðA Sex 27, ÞjóðA Magnfl 1, Arn Magndr 12/5-8, 17/5-8, 19, Arn Þorfdr 2, 4, 24/1-4, Arn Hryn 16/1-4, Arn Hardr 17, Eldj Lv 1/5-8, Balti Sigdr 4. Except for Arn Þorfdr 2 and Rv Lv 7/1-4, which are found in Orkn, and Eldj Lv 1/5-8 from MberfH-Hr, all these stanzas are transmitted in SnE as well. The editions of the above stanzas in SkP II include variant readings from 758ˣ, papp10ˣ, 2368ˣ and 743ˣ, and, for Arn Þorfdr 14, also 21  6 7 IIˣ.

3. The First, Third and Fourth Grammatical Treatises (FGT, TGT, FoGT)


W:            Codex Wormianus, AM 242 fol. See SnE. FGT: 84-90; TGT: 94-111; FoGT: 111-19.

A:             AM 748 I b 4°. See SnE. TGT: 1r-8v.

B:             AM 757 a 4°. See SnE. TGT: 1r-3r.

Facsimiles and editions: W 1931, A 1945; SnE 1848-87, II, 2-249, 397-428, 501-11, FGT 1972a, FGT 1972b, TGT 1884, TGT 1927, TGT 1998, FoGT 1884, FoGT 2004.


FGT contains ÞjóðA Har 3/1-2, and FoGT cites Arn Hryn 3/3-4. The following stanzas are found in TGT: Sigv Berv 12/1-4, ÞjóðA Sex 28, ÞjóðA Lv 1, ÞjóðA Frag 4, Arn Hryn 1-2, 3/3-4, Hskv Útdr 12. Of these stanzas, ÞjóðA Sex 28, ÞjóðA Lv 1, ÞjóðA Frag 4, Arn Hryn 1-2 and Hskv Útdr 12 are not recorded elsewhere.

4. The Fifth Grammatical Treatises (GrammSkáld)


A:             AM 748 I b 4°. See SnE. GrammSkáld: 1r.

Editions: SnE 1848-87, II, 396, GrammSkáld 1884.


GrammSkáld, a fragment of a text related to the grammatical treatises (see above), contains ESk Elfv 1/5-8.

5. Miscellaneous Manuscripts

1. Árni Magnússon’s anthology, AM 761 b 4°x
2. Gull-Ásu Þórðar þáttr (GullÁsuÞ)
3. Heimskringla (Hkr)
4. Jóns saga helga (JBp)
5. Sneglu-Halla þáttr (Snegl)

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