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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Ormr Barreyjarskáld (OBarr)

10th century; volume 3; ed. Margaret Clunies Ross;

Fragments (Frag) - 2

Skj info: Ormr Barreyjarskáld, Orknøsk(?) digter, sidste halvdel af 10. årh. (AI, 143, BI, 135).

Skj poems:
Af et digt(?)

Ormr Barreyjarskáld (or Barreyjaskáld) ‘Poet of Barra’ (OBarr) (cf. ON Barrey, island in the Outer Hebrides) is known only from a single helmingr and a couplet preserved in mss of SnE (SnE 1998, I, 34, 37) and from a reference in Þorgils saga ok Hafliða to a saga about Ormr recited by a priest, Ingimundr, at a wedding at Reykjahólar in 1119 (Stu 1946, I, 27; Brown 1952, 18). This saga is there said to have included vísur margar ‘many verses’ and to have had a good flokkr towards the end. It is not certain when Ormr lived; Skj B places him in the second half of the tenth century, while Faulkes proposes the tenth or eleventh centuries (SnE 1998, II, 498). It has been suggested (e. g. Skj; SnE 1998, II, 498) that he may have come from Orkney, although his nickname indicates the Hebrides. Frag 1 may indicate that Ormr was a Christian. The form of the first element of his nickname is often given in mss of SnE in the genitive plural Barreyja-, but he has conventionally been referred to by the singular form Barreyjar- ‘of Barra’ (there is only one island of the name Barra in the Hebrides).

Fragments — OBarr FragIII

Margaret Clunies Ross 2017, ‘(Introduction to) Ormr Barreyjarskáld, Fragments’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 320.

 1   2 

Skj: Ormr Barreyjarskáld: Af et digt(?) (AI, 143, BI, 135)

in texts: Skm, SnE

SkP info: III, 320

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance references search files


One helmingr and a couplet (OBarr Frag 1 and 2) are all that remain of Ormr’s poetry. It is not clear whether they belong to the same or different poems. The helmingr is quoted in a section of Skm exemplifying kennings for the sky (SnE 1998, I, 34) and the couplet a little later as an example of a kenning for the sea (SnE 1998, I, 36-7). Both stanzas are extant in mss R, , W, U and B. Ms. R is the main ms. for both stanzas. Ms. 744ˣ has been consulted because B is very dark and difficult to read on parts of fol. 5r.

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