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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Eskál Vell 33I

Edith Marold (ed.) 2012, ‘Einarr skálaglamm Helgason, Vellekla 33’ 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. 325.

Einarr skálaglamm HelgasonVellekla

Hjalmeldum bauð hildi
hjaldrǫrr, með Sigvalda
hinns fór í gný Gunnar,
gunndjarfr Búi, sunnan.

Hjaldrǫrr gunndjarfr Búi, hinns fór með Sigvalda sunnan í {gný Gunnar}, bauð hildi {hjalmeldum}.

The fight-eager, battle-daring Búi, the one who travelled from the south with Sigvaldi to {the din of Gunnr <valkyrie>} [BATTLE], offered battle {with helmet-fires} [SWORDS].

Mss: R(34r), Tˣ(35r), W(77), U(33r), A(11r), C(5v) (SnE)

Readings: [1] ‑eldum: so C, om. R, Tˣ, W, ‑faldinn U, A;    bauð: ‘beraud’ W;    hildi: ‘hildi olmum’ W, ‘h[...]i’ C    [2] hjaldr‑: ‘hi[...]lldr‑’ C;    með: so C, om. R, ok Tˣ, W, U, A;    ‑valda: so W, C, ‑valdi R, Tˣ, U, A    [3] í gný: ‘ygni’ Tˣ;    Gunnar: geira A

Editions: Skj AI, 130, Skj BI, 123, Skald I, 69, NN §§318, 411; SnE 1848-87, I, 422, II, 328, 439, 588, SnE 1931, 150, SnE 1998, I, 68.


The helmingr is cited in SnE (Skm) in a passage containing examples of kennings for weapons and other battle-gear.

Notes: [All]: Stanzas 33-4 concern the sea-battle between the Norwegian jarls and the Jómsvíkingar at Hjǫrungavágr (probably Liavågen, Møre og Romsdal, Norway, c. 985). For the battle and skaldic poetry associated with it, see the entry on Hákon jarl Sigurðarson in ‘Ruler biographies’ in Introduction to this volume. — [1] hjalmeldum ‘with helmet-fires [SWORDS]’: Line 1 is corrupt in mss R, W and T, which apparently lack a word following hjalm. (a) This is where U and A have ‑faldinn, which most previous eds have chosen, giving adj. hjalmfaldinn ‘wearing a helmet’, qualifying Búi. (b) In Skj B Finnur Jónsson (following Nj 1875-8, II, 78) emends hjalmfaldinn to hjalmfǫldnum, qualifying Sigvalda (l. 2), but emendation is unnecessary. (c) However, none of the previous eds have observed that, whereas SnE cites the stanza as an example of kennings for weapons and armour, their suggested improvements to l. 1 leave the stanza without such a kenning. The original form of the stanza is probably preserved in ms. C, which here gives hjalmeldum ‘helmet-fires [SWORDS]’. — [2] hjaldrǫrr ‘fight-eager’: It is possible to construe hjaldrǫrr with Búi (so NN §411), but placing it in the rel. clause where it qualifies hinns ... ‘who ...’ avoids unnecessary syntactic complication (so also Skj B, and see Reichardt 1928, 138). — [2] með ‘with’: Although með is only found in ms. C (most give ok ‘and’), previous eds have selected it and construed með Sigvalda as part of the rel. clause. This is justified in the light of Sigvaldi’s probable status as the superior commander (see Note to l. 2 Sigvalda). Only Kock (NN §411) chooses ok Sigvaldi and places it in the main clause. — [2] Sigvalda ‘Sigvaldi’: According to Hkr (ÍF 26, 272), Sigvaldi jarl Strút-Haraldsson was the jarl of Jómsborg, a fortified viking settlement that lay near Wolin, Poland, and the commander of the Jómsvíkingar, a confederation of sea-warriors. Hkr (ÍF 26, 274) reports that he, at his father’s memorial feast, swears to kill or vanquish Hákon jarl. Other viking leaders take similar oaths, including Búi digri ‘the Stout’ Vésetason from Bornholm. They all go to Norway to prosecute their oath. The internal hierarchy among the vikings is never clarified, but Sigvaldi seems to be their leader, as he makes the first vow, and it is his fleet that attacks Hákon jarl’s. — [4] Búi: See Note to l. 2 Sigvalda.


  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. 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. Nj 1875-89 = Konráð Gíslason and Eiríkur Jónsson. 1875-89. Njála: Udgivet efter gamle håndskrifter. Íslendingasögur udgivne efter gamle haandskrifter af Det Kongelige Nordiske Oldskrift-selskab 4. Copenhagen: Thiele.
  5. Skald = Kock, Ernst Albin, ed. 1946-50. Den norsk-isländska skaldediktningen. 2 vols. Lund: Gleerup.
  6. NN = Kock, Ernst Albin. 1923-44. Notationes Norrœnæ: Anteckningar till Edda och skaldediktning. Lunds Universitets årsskrift new ser. 1. 28 vols. Lund: Gleerup.
  7. ÍF 26-8 = Heimskringla. Ed. Bjarni Aðalbjarnarson. 1941-51.
  8. SnE 1931 = Snorri Sturluson. 1931. Edda Snorra Sturlusonar. Ed. Finnur Jónsson. Copenhagen: Gyldendal.
  9. SnE 1998 = Snorri Sturluson. 1998. Edda: Skáldskaparmál. Ed. Anthony Faulkes. 2 vols. University College London: Viking Society for Northern Research.
  10. Reichardt, Konstantin. 1928. Studien zu den Skalden des 9. und 10. Jahrhunderts. Palaestra 159. Leipzig: Mayer & Müller.
  11. Internal references
  12. Edith Marold 2017, ‘Snorra Edda (Prologue, Gylfaginning, Skáldskaparmál)’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols [check printed volume for citation].
  13. 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].
  14. Not published: do not cite (SkmIII)

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