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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Þul Skipa 4III

Elena Gurevich (ed.) 2017, ‘Anonymous Þulur, Skipa heiti 4’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 867.

Anonymous ÞulurSkipa heiti

Knǫrr, kuggr, knúi,         keipull, eikja,
dreki, Elliði,         drómundr ok prámr,
fura, vigg, galeið,         ferja, skalda,
fley, flaust ok þekkr,         fartíðr ok lið.

Knǫrr, kuggr, knúi, keipull, eikja, dreki, Elliði, drómundr ok prámr, fura, vigg, galeið, ferja, skalda, fley, flaust ok þekkr, fartíðr ok lið.

Merchant-ship, cog, knuckle, coble, rowing boat, dragon, Elliði, dromon and prámr, fir, steed, galley, ferry, punt, ferry, floating one and pleasant one, travel-famous one and fleet.

Mss: R(43v), Tˣ(45v), C(13r), A(19v), B(9r) (SnE)

Readings: [1] knúi: ‘kuí’ C    [2] keipull: ‘kepull’ C    [4] ok: om. Tˣ;    prámr: framr Tˣ    [5] vigg: víg Tˣ    [7] flaust: flaustr B;    ok: om. Tˣ    [8] ‑tíðr: tíð C, B;    ok: om.

Editions: Skj AI, 673, Skj BI, 668, Skald I, 333; SnE 1848-87, I, 582, II, 481, 565, 624, SnE 1931, 208, SnE 1998, I, 128.    

Notes: [All]: Many of the translations of nautical terms in this stanza are taken from Faulkes (1987, 162). — [1] knǫrr (m) ‘merchant-ship’: A large, ocean-going merchant-ship that could also be used as a warship (Falk 1912, 107-10; Jesch 2001a, 128-32). Crumlin-Pedersen (2010, 109, 112) identifies both Skuldelev 1 (16, 5 metres long, carrying capacity around 20-25 tons) and Hedeby 3 (around 22 metres long, estimated carrying capacity around 60 tons) as knerrir. — [1] kuggr (m.) ‘cog’: A loanword from MLG kogge ‘cog’ and a kind of tall, broad merchant-ship used by the members of the German Hanseatic League in the later Middle Ages. This type of ship originated in Frisia in the second half of the C9th (Falk 1912, 89). According to Crumlin-Pedersen (2010, 118-19), this type of ship was characterised by ‘a straight stem and stern, flush-laid bottom planking, clinker-built sides, and floor timbers alternating between extension to port and starboard’. A series of wrecks (excavated in the Netherlands, Germany and Scandinavia during the last few decades) sharing these characteristics have been identified as cogs. — [1] knúi (m.) ‘knuckle’: This heiti is perhaps a metaphor (‘thruster’; so, tentatively, SnE 1998, II, 336), and it is not found elsewhere as a term for ‘ship’. — [2] keipull (m.) ‘coble’: A kind of boat, kayak, skin-boat. According to Falk (1912, 86), keipull is originally a Celtic word (Welsh ceubal, ceubol < MLat. caupulus; cf. OE cuopel, ModEngl. coble ‘short flat-bottomed rowing boat’). The word is not attested in skaldic poetry. — [2] eikja (f.) ‘rowing boat’: A small rowing boat or ferry without a keel (ModIcel. eikja, ModNorw. eike), originally a hollowed-out oak-trunk (eik) (Falk 1912, 92). — [3] dreki (m.) ‘dragon’: A warship whose prow (and sometimes stern) was equipped with a carved dragonhead. See Falk (1912, 39-42, 105-7) and Jesch (2001a, 127-8). — [3] Elliði: A high-speed long-ship that sails alone. Falk (1912, 88) suggests that Elliði is a loanword from Old Slavonic < alŭdii (cf. Russian ladija ‘boat’; see also leðja ‘lighter’ in st. 3/5 above). Alternatively, the name could be an indigenous term (< *einliði, from einn ‘one’ and ‑liði derived from the strong verb líða ‘go, pass, glide’; see ÍO: elliði). Elliði appears in Old Norse texts both as a common noun (King Górr’s ship in Flat 1860-8, I, 22) and as a proper name of several ships (e.g. Ldn, ÍF 1, 384; Þorsteins saga Víkingssonar, FSN II, 442; Friðþjófs saga, FSN II, 64, etc.). — [4] drómundr (m.) ‘dromon’: A Byzantine warship or merchantman (see Pryor and Jeffreys 2006 and Notes to Þskakk Erldr 1II). — [4] prámr (m.): A small flat-bottom boat without a keel (ModIcel. prammi, ModNorw. pram), whose Modern English equivalent is pram, an open, flat-bottomed boat. ON prámr is a loanword from MLG prām ‘barge’ (Falk 1912, 89-90; AEW: prámr), and it is not otherwise attested in poetry. — [5] fura (f.) ‘fir’: A poetic name for a ship made of fir-timber (cf. eikja from eik ‘oak’, l. 2 above). — [5] vigg (n.) ‘steed’: This word does not occur elsewhere as a poetic word for ‘ship’ and may be a half-kenning (cf. such ship-kennings as hlunnvigg ‘slipway steed’ in SnSt Ht 74/2). — [5] galeið (f.) ‘galley’: See Pryor and Jeffreys (2006, 422-44) and Hskv Útdr 1/8II. A loanword from MLG galeide < MLat. galeida. — [6] ferja (f.) ‘ferry’: A ferry larger than eikja ‘rowing boat’ (l. 2 above). See Falk (1912, 92-3) and Jesch (2001a, 135). — [6] skalda (f.) ‘punt’: A term for a boat propelled by a pole (Falk 1912, 90; SnE 1998, II, 389). Skalda is a loanword (< MLG schalde ‘ferry’, OHG scalta ‘pole for propelling a boat’; cf. OHG scaltscif). In Old Norse, the word is found only in this þula. — [7] fley (n.) ‘ferry’: ON fley could mean ‘ferry’ or denote a kind of warship (Falk 1912, 93, 98-9, 111). It is unclear which meaning is intended here, but because the preceding heiti all refer to some kind of ferry, the former meaning has been adopted. Fley is attested in poetry (LP: fley). — [7] flaust (n.) ‘floating one’: A poetic term for ‘ship’ related etymologically to the verb fljóta ‘float’ (Falk 1912, 86). This heiti is used in skaldic verse (LP: flaust). — [7] þekkr (m.) ‘pleasant one’: As a term for ‘ship’ the word occurs only in this þula, but Þekkr is also mentioned among the heiti for dwarfs and names for Óðinn (Þul Dverga 4/7, Þul Óðins 7/3). The word is perhaps a proper name in the present list as well, or it could be a characterising heiti invented for the þulur (see Gurevich 1992c). — [8] fartíðr (m.) ‘travel-famous one’: From far- ‘travel, journey’ and the adj. tíðr ‘famous’ (see LP: tíðr 2). This ship-heiti is known only from this þula. Cf. þekkr ‘pleasant one’ (l. 7 above). — [8] lið (n.) ‘fleet’: Lit. ‘gliding’, from the strong verb líða ‘go, pass, glide’ (cf. OE lid ‘vessel, ship, fleet’). The word occurs as a term for ‘ship’ in poetry, but in Old Norse prose it is found only in the phrase leggja fyr lið ‘throw overboard’ and in the cpd liðsmaðr ‘sailor’ (cf. OE lidmann ‘seafarer, sailor, pirate’; Falk 1912, 86).


  1. Bibliography
  2. FSN = Rafn, Carl Christian, ed. 1829-30. Fornaldar sögur nordrlanda. 3 vols. Copenhagen: Popp.
  3. SnE 1848-87 = Snorri Sturluson. 1848-87. Edda Snorra Sturlusonar: Edda Snorronis Sturlaei. Ed. Jón Sigurðsson et al. 3 vols. Copenhagen: Legatum Arnamagnaeanum. Rpt. Osnabrück: Zeller, 1966.
  4. Skald = Kock, Ernst Albin, ed. 1946-50. Den norsk-isländska skaldediktningen. 2 vols. Lund: Gleerup.
  5. AEW = Vries, Jan de. 1962. Altnordisches etymologisches Wörterbuch. 2nd rev. edn. Rpt. 1977. Leiden: Brill.
  6. 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.
  7. Gurevich, Elena A. 1992c. ‘Þulur in Skáldskaparmál: An Attempt at Skaldic Lexicology’. ANF 107, 35-52.
  8. Jesch, Judith. 2001a. Ships and Men in the Late Viking Age: The Vocabulary of Runic Inscriptions and Skaldic Verse. Woodbridge: Boydell.
  9. Falk, Hjalmar. 1912. Altnordisches Seewesen. Wörter und Sachen 4. Heidelberg: Winter.
  10. Faulkes, Anthony, trans. 1987. Snorri Sturluson. Edda. Everyman’s Library. London and Rutland, Vermont: J. M. Dent & Sons and Charles E. Tuttle Co., Inc. Rpt. with new chronology and synopsis 2005.
  11. Flat 1860-8 = Gudbrand Vigfusson [Guðbrandur Vigfússon] and C. R. Unger, eds. 1860-8. Flateyjarbók. En samling af norske konge-sagaer med indskudte mindre fortællinger om begivenheder i og udenfor Norge samt annaler. 3 vols. Christiania (Oslo): Malling.
  12. ÍO = Ásgeir Blöndal Magnússon. 1989. Íslensk orðsifjabók. Reykjavík: Orðabók Háskólans.
  13. ÍF 1 (parts 1 and 2) = Íslendingabók; Landnámabók. Ed. Jakob Benediktsson. 1968. Rpt. as one volume 1986.
  14. SnE 1931 = Snorri Sturluson. 1931. Edda Snorra Sturlusonar. Ed. Finnur Jónsson. Copenhagen: Gyldendal.
  15. SnE 1998 = Snorri Sturluson. 1998. Edda: Skáldskaparmál. Ed. Anthony Faulkes. 2 vols. University College London: Viking Society for Northern Research.
  16. Pryor, John H. and Elizabeth M. Jeffreys. 2006. The Age of the Dromon: The Byzantine Navy ca 500-1204. The Medieval Mediterranean People, Economies and Cultures, 400-1500. Leiden and Boston: Brill.
  17. Crumlin-Pedersen, Ole. 2010. Archaeology and the Sea in Scandinavia and Britain: A Personal Account. Maritime Culture of the North 3. Roskilde: Viking Ship Museum.
  18. Internal references
  19. Not published: do not cite (LdnIV)
  20. Not published: do not cite (RunVI)
  21. Elena Gurevich (ed.) 2017, ‘Anonymous Þulur, Dverga heiti 4’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 699.
  22. Elena Gurevich (ed.) 2017, ‘Anonymous Þulur, Óðins nǫfn 7’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 748.
  23. Kari Ellen Gade (ed.) 2009, ‘Halldórr skvaldri, Útfarardrápa 1’ 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, pp. 484-5.
  24. Kari Ellen Gade (ed.) 2017, ‘Snorri Sturluson, Háttatal 74’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 1185.
  25. Kari Ellen Gade (ed.) 2009, ‘Þorbjǫrn skakkaskáld, Erlingsdrápa 1’ 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, pp. 631-4.
  26. Not published: do not cite ()

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