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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Vol. VII. Poetry on Christian Subjects 8. Introduction 1. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages – a New Edition

1. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages – a New Edition

Margaret Clunies Ross 2007, ‘Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages – a New Edition’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry on Christian Subjects. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 7. Turnhout: Brepols [check printed volume for citation].

The present volume is the first to be published of the nine planned volumes of Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages (SkP), although it is volume VII in the overall sequence. There will be eight volumes of texts, and a ninth containing indices and a general bibliography of medieval Scandinavian poetry. The aim of this new edition, which is set out in more detail in Wills et al. 2005 ( and in the General Introduction to the series, to appear in Volume I, is to provide a critical edition, with accompanying English translation and notes, of the corpus of Scandinavian poetry from the Middle Ages, excluding only the Elder Edda and closely related poetry.

The edition is based on a thorough assessment of all known manuscript evidence and on a review of previous editions and commentaries, including Finnur Jónsson’s Den norsk-islandske skjaldedigtning (Skj A and B), which has been the standard edition of the corpus since the early twentieth century. The interpretation of individual stanzas and the layout of the corpus differ in many instances from those of Skj, often reflecting a more conservative approach to the manuscript sources, and Skj references (titles, dates, page numbers) are provided throughout the present edition for purposes of comparison. SkP is available in book form and as an electronic edition. The electronic edition is fully searchable and includes both images of the base manuscript chosen by its editor for each poem or fragment and transcriptions of the base manuscript text, and, in some cases, of the text from other select manuscripts.

Whereas Finnur Jónsson was able to produce his edition single-handedly, current academic conditions make it difficult for one scholar to undertake such herculean tasks. This edition is thus the outcome of a group effort, directed by five General Editors: Margaret Clunies Ross, Kari Ellen Gade, Guðrún Nordal, Edith Marold and Diana Whaley. Editorial work on individual poems and fragments has been carried out by a consortium of Contributing Editors from the community of Old Norse scholars, who have specialist expertise in the field of skaldic poetry. These editors’ work is individually acknowledged in this and the other seven volumes of edited poetic texts. One of the General Editors is responsible for the overall supervision of each volume as Volume Editor. In the case of Volume VII the Volume Editor is Margaret Clunies Ross. Very occasionally, a Contributing Editor has maintained a different view on a particular editorial issue from the General Editors in concert; in such cases, both views are recorded.

Several research associates and research assistants have made a major contribution to the success of the project to date: Tarrin Wills, Emily Baynham and Melanie Heyworth in Sydney, Kate Heslop in both Sydney and Newcastle upon Tyne, Valgerður Erna Þorvaldsdóttir in Reykjavík and Lauren Goetting in Bloomington, Indiana. Tarrin Wills has been employed as a Research Associate on the project since its inception, and he has made a major, original contribution to it. He has been responsible for the design of the electronic edition, and has constructed the project’s database, improving it steadily over the years. It is this database that both allows for the generation of the electronic and print editions and will make it possible for the editors to produce additional resources from the database in future years, including, it is hoped, a new dictionary of the language of Old Norse poetry and a new analysis of kennings and kenning types.


  1. Bibliography
  2. SkP = Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages. Turnhout: Brepols.
  3. Internal references
  4. Not published: do not cite (RunVI)

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