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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Note to ESk Geisl 14VII

[8] Ǫlvishaug: Lit. ‘Ǫlvir’s mound’, Alstahaugen, Trøndelag: cf. LP: Ǫlvishaugr; Rygh 1897-1936, XV, 89 identifies it with the farmstead of Alstadhaug in Skogn, Trøndelag. Einarr doubtless knew that Óláfr fell at Stiklestad (ON Stiklastaðir; cf. sts 17 and 43). Ǫlvishaugr may be an allusion to a battle recorded in the sagas of S. Óláfr (Hkr, II, 178-81; and ÓH 1941, 261-9) as well as in the Annales regii (s.a. 1021), Gottskalks Annall (s.a. 1021), and Oddaverja Annáll (s.a. 1020) (printed in Storm 1888, 106, 316 and 468 respectively). A powerful man from the Trondheim region named Ǫlvir á Eggju persisted in conducting pagan sacrifices on a grand scale long after Óláfr’s imposition of Christianity, and Óláfr finally invaded the district with a large army. He interrupted the rites, killing Ǫlvir and sentencing others to imprisonment, mutilation, banishment, or execution. And thus, says Snorri, he returned all the people to the true faith, gave them teachers, and built and consecrated churches. References to these events reinforce the theme hann speni oss frá bǫlvi ‘may he guide us away from evil’. Just as at Ǫlvishaugr Óláfr protected his people from the evil of paganism, by his martyr’s death at Stiklestad (where he was killed by Kálfr Árnason, who, according to Hkr, II, 182, 385, married Ǫlvir’s widow) he gained the power to protect Norway supernaturally. Ǫlvishaugr was just a few miles from Stiklestad, and Einarr’s audience would have recognized the correspondence between the two places and events.


  1. Bibliography
  2. 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.
  3. Storm, Gustav, ed. 1888. Islandske annaler indtil 1578. Christiania (Oslo): Det norske historiske kildeskriftfond. Rpt. 1977. Oslo: Norsk-historisk kjeldeskrift-institutt.
  4. ÓH 1941 = Johnsen, Oscar Albert and Jón Helgason, eds. 1941. Saga Óláfs konungs hins helga: Den store saga om Olav den hellige efter pergamenthåndskrift i Kungliga biblioteket i Stockholm nr. 2 4to med varianter fra andre håndskrifter. 2 vols. Det norske historiske kildeskriftfond skrifter 53. Oslo: Dybwad.
  5. Internal references
  6. Kari Ellen Gade 2009, ‘Heimskringla (Hkr)’ 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].


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