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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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GunnLeif Merl II 19VIII (Bret 19)

Russell Poole (ed.) 2017, ‘Breta saga 19 (Gunnlaugr Leifsson, Merlínusspá II 19)’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry in fornaldarsögur. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 8. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 153.

Gunnlaugr LeifssonMerlínusspá II

text and translation

‘Mun bjarnígull         borg upp gera;
smíðar hæsta         hǫll landreki.
Hana mun remma         ríkr oddviti
fimm hundruðum         fagra turna.

‘Bjarnígull mun gera upp borg; landreki smíðar hæsta hǫll. Ríkr oddviti mun remma hana fimm hundruðum fagra turna.
‘‘A hedgehog will restore the city; the ruler will build the highest hall. The mighty leader will strengthen it with five hundred fine towers.

notes and context

Cf. DGB 116 (Reeve and Wright 2007, 153.172, 173-4; cf. Wright 1988, 108, prophecy 36): Reaedificabit eam hericius…Adiciet palacium ingens et sexcentis turribus illud uallabit ‘The city will be rebuilt by a hedgehog … He will add a huge palace and will fortify it with six hundred towers’ (cf. Reeve and Wright 2007, 152). This prophecy appears to be an extrapolation from an upsurge of castle-building and circumvallation in Geoffrey’s time (cf. Eales 2003, 50); for castle-building and re-building at Winchester contemporary with Geoffrey see Kenyon (2005, 31). The elements of DGB’s prophecy 36, 1) rebuilding of Winchester, 2) possession of apples, 3) bolstering of defences at London, 4) concealment of apples at London, are redistributed in Merl between II 19 and 21 in the order 1, 3, 2, 4. Possibly st. 21 originally preceded st. 20. Merl, in common with the Ω class of mss, omits a sentence of prophecy found in the Π class (Reeve and Wright 2007, ix, 153).


Text is based on reconstruction from the base text and variant apparatus and may contain alternative spellings and other normalisations not visible in the manuscript text. Transcriptions may not have been checked and should not be cited.

editions and texts

Skj: Gunnlaugr Leifsson, Merlínússpá I 19: AII, 13-14, BII, 14-15, Skald II, 9; Bret 1848-9, II, 21 (Bret st. 19); Hb 1892-6, 273; Merl 2012, 85.


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