Cookies on our website

We use cookies on this website, mainly to provide a secure browsing experience but also to collect statistics on how the website is used. You can find out more about the cookies we set, the information we store and how we use it on the cookies page.


Kenning Lexicon

Kenning Lexicon

Menu Search
Vol. II. Poetry from the Kings’ Sagas 2: from c. 1035 to c. 1300 8. Introduction 3. How to use this Edition

3. How to use this Edition

Kari Ellen Gade 2009, ‘How to use this 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].

SkP is intended for a variety of users: for students and scholars of Old Norse and other medieval European languages and literatures, for scholars in cognate disciplines such as history, archaeology, the history of religion, and comparative literature, and for users whose primary interest is in skaldic poetry. In view of its likely augmented readership, SkP contains a greater proportion of introductory and explanatory material than is to be found in most previous editions, certainly in comparison with Skj, where it is minimal. Most of the explanatory material in SkP is to be found in the skald Biographies, which appear at the head of the oeuvre of named skalds whose authorship of poetry is known;[12] in the Introductions to poems; in the Context sections, which indicate the wider prose context(s) in which a stanza or set of stanzas has been preserved; and in the Notes to each stanza.

Each poem, single stanza (lausavísa) or fragment has a distinct designation and siglum in SkP, which in many cases is different from that used in Skj and in the list at the beginning of Lexicon Poeticum 1931 (LP). The new sigla are designed to be more consistent and transparent and to reflect reconstructions of poems that differ at some points from those in Skj. A comparative table of sigla used in SkP, Skj and LP is included in the introductory part of each volume of SkP.

The text of each poem, single stanza or fragment has been established by its editor on the foundation of a main or base manuscript, judged by the editor to be the best or (in some cases) the only witness to the probable original. The orthography of the text will have been normalised to the standard appropriate to its probable date of origin.[13] Any emended text, that is letters or words that have no manuscript attestation, is given in italics. Where editors have omitted letters or words that are present in the manuscript, the symbol * appears in the text and prose order. On the matter of emendation, this edition is more conservative than most of its predecessors. Purely conjectural emendation, where the editor conjectures what might have existed in a defective text in the absence of evidence in support, is usually avoided, though previous editors’ conjectures may be mentioned in the Notes. However, if there are metrical or other forms of evidence within the text that support a proposed emendation, this may be adopted and justified by the editor.

Below the stanza is the same text rendered in a prose order, and underneath that is an English translation. The translation provides a version as close as reasonably possible to the sense of the Icelandic text. Unlike most other translations of skaldic poetry, those in SkP give kennings their full sense values, that is, both base-word and determinant are translated and the referent, not being part of the actual text but implicit in it, is given within square brackets, and normally in small capitals (e.g. ‘the stallion of the wave [ship]’). Referents of one category of kennings, the so-called sannkenningar, however, are given in lower case preceded by an = sign, in order to indicate that these referents are literally equivalent to the periphrasis of base-word and determinant within the text. For example, ‘the son of Óðinn’ is designated [= Þórr] and ‘the daughter’s son of King Magnús’ is [= Jón]. Angle brackets within the English translation are used to provide the generic sense value of Old Norse mythological and legendary names, such as Hildr <valkyrie> and Hálfr <legendary king>, or alternative poetic names for mythological beings, such as Viðurr <= Óðinn>. In the latter case, an = sign appears to the left of the ‘normal’ name.

The editorial apparatus allows the reader to compare the edited version of the main manuscript with the text in other manuscript witnesses. The Mss listing gives the main manuscript first in bold type, followed by the other manuscript witnesses ordered primarily on the basis of the assumed stemma, each with folio or page number in round brackets immediately following. Paper manuscripts are distinguished from those of parchment or vellum by having a superscript ˣ after the manuscript siglum. Abbreviated reference to the prose source represented by each group of manuscripts is given in italics within round brackets immediately after the group, and where the stanza is found in more than one prose source the groups of manuscripts are separated by semicolons.

All significant manuscript variants, but not simple orthographical variants, are given in the Readings line. They are given in normalised orthography unless the non-normalised manuscript reading is ambiguous, difficult to interpret or of particular interest or significance, in which case it is placed within inverted commas. Where variants are given, the lemma (the reading of the text and normally that of the main manuscript) is given first, followed by the readings of the other manuscripts, separated from the lemma by a colon. The lemma is shown in the same normalised form as in the text, and if this differs significantly from the manuscript form, the manuscript spelling is added in round brackets and within inverted commas (e.g. þars (‘þar er’):). In cases where the editor has not followed the base manuscript, the variant reading selected for the text is in first place as the lemma, followed by a colon and the formula ‘so X’, to indicate that the lemma is not the reading of the main manuscript.

The Editions line lists all significant previous editions of the text, beginning with Skj, Skald and NN; the text’s designation in Skj B is specified, comprising the poet’s name (if any) as given there, the title of the poem, stanza or fragment and equivalent stanza number. Editions of prose sources containing the stanza are then listed, with date of publication and relevant page number. The editions are followed, in round brackets, by abbreviated references to the relevant saga within a compilation (if applicable), and by the chapter in which the stanza occurs. Chapter numbers apply to all editions of the same source, unless otherwise specified; they are omitted if chapter divisions are too unstable in the source in question. If a stanza is found in more than one prose source, the editions of the individual prose sources are grouped together and separated by semicolons. Where there are separate editions of the poem in question, these are listed last.

The Notes are intended to address significant linguistic, metrical, lexicographical and above all interpretative issues as well as questions of a broader contextual nature. Although the editors do not aim to give a comprehensive history of scholarship and previous editorial practice, significant editorial interpretations and emendations are discussed and evaluated in the Notes.

A sample stanza with graphic explanations of the main features of the edition appears in the endpapers to all SkP volumes. All abbreviated references to editions are expanded in the Bibliography at the end of the volume. Abbreviated references to manuscripts are explained in the list of manuscript sigla in the prefatory material to this volume (see also the section ‘Sources for Skaldic Poetry Cited in the Kings’ Sagas: Manuscripts, Facsimiles and Editions’ in the Introduction to this volume). Abbreviated references to prose sources that do not appear in the Bibliography are given in the ‘Sigla for þættir, Sagas and Compendia’, again in the prefatory material to this volume. General abbreviations used in this volume, aside from those that are very common, such as e.g and cf., are listed separately, while technical terms that may be unfamiliar to the reader are also listed and glossed.

[12] Note that biographies of some skalds whose oeuvre is edited in SkP II are included in the section ‘Biographies’ in the Introduction to this volume, while the Biographies of two skalds, Sigvatr Þórðarson, composer of Bersǫglisvísur, and Gizurr Þorvaldsson, composer of Hákonardrápa, appear in SkP I and IV respectively.

[13] A full discussion of normalisation in the edition as a whole is in the General Introduction to SkP printed in SkP I. Section 9 in the Introduction to SkP VII covers the fourteenth century. The actual orthography of most main manuscripts for each poem or stanza can be seen in the transcripts available in the electronic edition, where images of the manuscripts are also available.


  1. Bibliography
  2. Skj B = Finnur Jónsson, ed. 1912-15b. Den norsk-islandske skjaldedigtning. B: Rettet tekst. 2 vols. Copenhagen: Villadsen & Christensen. Rpt. 1973. Copenhagen: Rosenkilde & Bagger.
  3. Skald = Kock, Ernst Albin, ed. 1946-50. Den norsk-isländska skaldediktningen. 2 vols. Lund: Gleerup.
  4. NN = Kock, Ernst Albin. 1923-44. Notationes Norrœnæ: Anteckningar till Edda och skaldediktning. Lunds Universitets årsskrift new ser. 1. 28 vols. Lund: Gleerup.
  5. LP = Finnur Jónsson, ed. 1931. Lexicon poeticum antiquæ linguæ septentrionalis: Ordbog over det norsk-islandske skjaldesprog oprindelig forfattet af Sveinbjörn Egilsson. 2nd edn. Copenhagen: Møller.
  6. SkP = Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages. Turnhout: Brepols.
  7. SkP I = Poetry from the Kings’ Sagas 1: From Mythical Times to c. 1035. Ed. Diana Whaley. 2012.
  8. SkP VII = Poetry on Christian Subjects. Ed. Margaret Clunies Ross. 2007.
  9. SkP II = Poetry from the Kings’ Sagas 2: From c. 1035 to c. 1300. Ed. Kari Ellen Gade. 2009.

Log in

This service is only available to members of the relevant projects, and to purchasers of the skaldic volumes published by Brepols.
This service uses cookies. By logging in you agree to the use of cookies on your browser.