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Kenning Lexicon

Kenning Lexicon

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Vol. II. Poetry from the Kings’ Sagas 2: from c. 1035 to c. 1300 8. Introduction 1. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages: A New Edition

1. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages: A New Edition

Kari Ellen Gade 2009, ‘Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages: A New Edition’ in Kari Ellen Gade (ed.), Poetry from the Kings’ Sagas 2: From c. 1035 to c. 1300. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 2. Turnhout: Brepols [check printed volume for citation].

The present volume is the second to be published of the nine planned volumes of Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages (SkP) and it is the companion volume to SkP I, Poetry from the Kings’ Sagas 1: From Mythical Times to c. 1035. It is Volume II in the overall sequence (SkP VII appeared in 2007). There will be eight volumes of text, 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 SkP 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 Poetic 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 and transcriptions of the main manuscript text, and in some cases, 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 six General Editors: Margaret Clunies Ross, Kari Ellen Gade, Guðrún Nordal, Edith Marold, Diana Whaley and Tarrin Wills. 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 (Clunies Ross, Gade, Guðrún Nordal, Marold, Whaley) is responsible for the overall supervision of each volume as Volume Editor, while General Editor Tarrin Wills is responsible for the electronic edition (comprising all nine volumes). In the case of SkP II the Volume Editor is Kari Ellen Gade.

Several Research Associates and Research Assistants have made a major contribution to the success of the project to date: Tarrin Wills (now a General Editor), Hannah Burrows, Emily Baynham and Melanie Heyworth in Sydney, Kate Heslop in both Sydney and Newcastle upon Tyne, Valgerður Erna Þorvaldsdóttir and Soffía Guðný Gudmundsdóttir in Reykjavík, and Lauren Goetting in Bloomington, Indiana. Before becoming a General Editor responsible for the electronic edition, Tarrin Wills was employed as a Research Associate on the project from its inception until 2007, 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 a new dictionary of the language of Old Norse poetry and a new analysis of kennings and kenning types.

[1] Sections 1 and 3 of this Introduction were slightly adapted from the Introductory Sections 1 and 10 in SkP VII, written by Margaret Clunies Ross, and Section 4 was co-authored by Kari Ellen Gade and Diana Whaley while the stemmata in that Section were formatted by Tarrin Wills. The remaining sections of the Introduction were written by Kari Ellen Gade.


  1. Bibliography
  2. Skj A = Finnur Jónsson, ed. 1912-15a. Den norsk-islandske skjaldedigtning. A: Tekst efter håndskrifterne. 2 vols. Copenhagen: Villadsen & Christensen. Rpt. 1967. Copenhagen: Rosenkilde & Bagger.
  3. SkP = Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages. Turnhout: Brepols.
  4. SkP I = Poetry from the Kings’ Sagas 1: From Mythical Times to c. 1035. Ed. Diana Whaley. 2012.
  5. SkP VII = Poetry on Christian Subjects. Ed. Margaret Clunies Ross. 2007.
  6. SkP II = Poetry from the Kings’ Sagas 2: From c. 1035 to c. 1300. Ed. Kari Ellen Gade. 2009.
  7. Internal references
  8. Not published: do not cite (RunVI)

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