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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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5. The Skaldic Database 1. About the database

1. About the database

This is not currently part of the peer-reviewed material of the project. Do not cite as a research publication.

Skaldic poetry refers to a type of poetry produced in Scandinavia, particularly Norway, Iceland and other Norwegian settlements, between the 9th and 14th centuries. It is generally attributed to named poets (skalds), composed using highly intricate metrical forms (especially dróttkvætt) and complex poetic diction (especially kennings). The poetry tends to be preserved piecemeal in medieval manuscripts of prose narratives (sagas) and scholarly treatises — although there are significant exceptions to all these generalisations. The Skaldic Project uses a broad definition of the term, as described in the General Introduction in vol. I of the series; there are around 40,000 lines of poetry in the corpus.

The Skaldic Database is an online resource designed to do two things: to make this extremely complex poetry accessible to as wide an audience as possible, and to build the editorial and commentary process into a single interconnected system.

This system allows a seamless transition for the end-user between the material record of the poetry, the poetry itself, and its language, analysis and description. Producing the database has involved a fundamental reconception of textual structures as a relational data model and implementing this model as a networked database with an web interface.

Since 2008 this has involved the author (Tarrin Wills) writing or reviewing some 10,000 lines of programming code (PHP) for the web interface and 20,000 lines of database queries (SQL). The author has also provided a considerable amount of the content in addition to some of the editions themselves, including lexicographic materials (linking dictionary headwords to over 100,000 words); categorisation and analysis of poetic diction (kennings and heiti); metrical analysis; and analytical queries to produce maps, graphs and statistical data on the corpus (see the 'reports' table).

Further reading

Wills, T. ‘Relational Data Modelling of Textual Corpora: The Skaldic Project and its Extensions’. Literary and Linguistic Computing (2013).

Wills, T. ‘Electronic Editing of the Skaldic Corpus’. Skandinavistik 32 (2002), 25-30.



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