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.



Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

Menu Search

Note to Þjóð Yt 9I

[3] Skjalfar ‘Skjǫlf’s’: (a) The most obvious interpretation of rôð Skjalfar, ‘the plans, decisions or actions of Skjǫlf’, would suggest that Skjǫlf (later form Skjálf) is a woman’s name, though it is otherwise only attested as a name of Freyja (Þul Ásynja 3/5III). The Yt stanza would permit the view that Skjǫlf was directly or indirectly the agent of Agni’s death, but it provides no clarity as to Skjǫlf’s identity, and the claim in Yng and in HN (2003, 76) that she was Agni’s wife cannot be proven or disproven. Numerous etymologies for the woman’s name (often associated with overall interpretations of the stanza involving myth, ritual or genealogy) have been suggested. Gade (1985b, 65-9) derives it from an Indo-European root *skel5 referring to sound or noise. Others suggest derivation from the p. n. Skjǫlf (see (b) below), perhaps as a result of a misunderstanding, or from the tribal name of the Skilfingar, which has been related to the p. n. Skjǫlf (though see Gade 1985b, 64). Noreen (1892, 215-16) suggested a starting point in the verb skjalfa ‘shiver’, hence Skjǫlf ‘the shivering one’ as a personification of the aurora borealis. (b) A p. n. is also possible, since Skjǫlf as a p. n. meaning ‘hill, rise’ (OSwed. Skialf, ONorw. Skiolf) is common in Sweden (Läffler 1894, 168-71; Brate 1913, 102-5; Björkman 1919, 170-1; and see Gade 1985b, 60-1 for a survey of the literature); the p. n. is also known in Norway (Olsen 1926, 274).


  1. Bibliography
  2. Gade, Kari Ellen. 1985b. ‘Skjalf’. ANF 100, 59-71.
  3. HN = Historia Norwegiæ. In MHN 69-124.
  4. Björkman, Erik. 1919. ‘Skialf och Skilfing’. NoB 7, 163-81.
  5. Brate, Erik. 1913. ‘Betydelsen av ortnamnet Skälv’. NoB 1, 102-8.
  6. Läffler, Leopold Frederik. 1894. ‘Svänska ortnamn på skialf [skælf]’. ANF 10, 166-72.
  7. Noreen, Adolf. 1892. ‘Mytiska beståndsdelar i Ynglingatal’. In Uppsalastudier tillegnade Sophus Bugge på hans 60-åra födelsedag den 5 januari 1893. Uppsala: Almqvist & Wiksell, 194-225.
  8. Olsen, Magnus. 1926. Ættegård og helligdom: norske stedsnavn sosialt og religionshistorisk belyst. Oslo etc. Aschehoug etc.
  9. Internal references
  10. Not published: do not cite (YngII)
  11. Elena Gurevich (ed.) 2017, ‘Anonymous Þulur, Ásynja heiti 3’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 768.
  12. Edith Marold with the assistance of Vivian Busch, Jana Krüger, Ann-Dörte Kyas and Katharina Seidel, translated from German by John Foulks 2012, ‘(Introduction to) Þjóðólfr ór Hvini, Ynglingatal’ in Diana Whaley (ed.), Poetry from the Kings’ Sagas 1: From Mythical Times to c. 1035. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 1. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 3.


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.