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

Ótt Hfl 9I

Matthew Townend (ed.) 2012, ‘Óttarr svarti, Hǫfuðlausn 9’ 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. 752.

Óttarr svartiHǫfuðlausn

Þengill, frák, at þunga
þinn herr skipum ferri
(rauð Hringmaraheiði)
hlóð valkǫstu (blóði).
Laut fyr yðr, áðr létti,
landfolk í gný randa,
Engla ferð, at jǫrðu
ótt, en mǫrg á flótta.

Þengill, frák, at herr þinn hlóð þunga valkǫstu ferri skipum; rauð Hringmaraheiði blóði. Landfolk laut ótt at jǫrðu fyr yðr í {gný randa}, en mǫrg ferð Engla á flótta, áðr létti.

King, I heard that your army heaped up heavy piles of the slain far from the ships; they reddened Ringmere Heath with blood. The people of the land bowed down frantically to the ground before you in {the clash of shields} [BATTLE], and many a troop of the English [took] to flight, before it ended.

Mss: (226v) (Hkr); Holm2(7r), J1ˣ(139v-140r), J2ˣ(122v), 325VI(6va), 73aˣ(20r), 78aˣ(19v), 68(6r), 61(80ra), 75c(3r), 325V(8vb), 325VII(2r), Bb(126vb), Flat(80rb), Tóm(96v) (ÓH)

Readings: [1] at: enn 325V, 325VII, Flat, Tóm;    þunga: þungum 73aˣ    [2] skipum: með skip 68;    ferri: færi Bb, Tóm    [3] rauð: ‘hra[...]’ 325V    [4] hlóð: ‘hlǫp’ J1ˣ;    ‑kǫstu: ‑kǫstum Bb    [5] Laut: ‘hvit’ or ‘hrvt’ Bb;    fyr: frá J1ˣ, J2ˣ;    yðr: om. Bb;    áðr: áðr en Bb    [6] land‑: lands 325VI, 68, 61, 325V, 325VII, Flat, Tóm;    ‑folk: ‑flokk Bb;    í gný: ‘ygní’ Bb, ‘j kny’ Tóm;    randa: branda Holm2, J1ˣ, J2ˣ, 325VI, 73aˣ, 78aˣ, 68, 61, 325V, 325VII, Bb, Tóm    [7] at: á 68, 61, 75c, 325V, 325VII, Flat, Tóm

Editions: Skj AI, 292-3, Skj BI, 269-270, Skald I, 138, NN §1130 anm.; Hkr 1893-1901, II, 20, IV, 110, ÍF 27, 19 (ÓHHkr ch. 14); ÓH 1941, I, 46 (ch. 23), Flat 1860-8, II, 20.

Context: Óláfr, together with King Aðalráðr (Æthelred), wins a great victory at Hringmaraheiðr (Ringmere Heath).

Notes: [All]: For the battle at Ringmere Heath, see also Sigv Víkv 7. See ÞKolb Eirdr 15 for what seems to be a later battle at the same place. — [3] rauð ‘they reddened’: Skj B and ÍF 27 take rauð here as an impersonal verb with passive meaning (‘Ringmere Heath was reddened’), but it is possible to take herr þinn ‘your army’ as the understood subject (cf. ÞKolb Eirdr 15/7-8 rauð Hringmaraheiði | herr). — [3] Hringmaraheiði ‘Ringmere Heath’: According to John of Worcester, Þorkell’s army fought a battle at Ringmere near Thetford in Norfolk, 5 May 1010, and the English were put to flight (Darlington and McGurk 1995-, II, 464-7; the ASC s. a. 1010 mentions the battle but does not specify the location). As Sigv Víkv 7/3 acknowledges, the local forces were led by the ealdorman (high-ranking nobleman) Ulfcytel, who is also named in Anon Liðs 6/2. For discussion of the p. n. Hringmaraheiðr see Townend (1998, 38-42). Óttarr’s use of the name matches that of Sigv Víkv 7/5 (stóð Hringmaraheiði) and ÞKolb Eirdr 15/7 (rauð Hringmaraheiði), though it is uncertain whose usage comes first. It has been argued that the attempt to incorporate the name into a dróttkvætt line led to a new metrical type, in which the first hending came in position 1 in the line, immediately before the first alliterating syllable (Kuhn 1969a, 416; Gade 2001b, 66-8). — [6] randa ‘of shields’: Branda ‘of swords’, the majority reading here, is equally possible in the context. — [7, 8] en mǫrg ferð Engla á flótta ‘and many a troop of the English [took] to flight’: (a) The ellipsis of a verb of motion is assumed here, as in Skj B, and mǫrg is construed with ferð Engla, hence ‘many a troop of the English’. This requires complex syntax but provides the most satisfactory subject for the en-clause in l. 8. (b) Kock (NN §1130 anm., followed by ÍF 27) argues that laut ‘bowed down’ should be understood as an instance of apo koinou, participating in both clauses and giving a (somewhat implausible) sense of ‘[bowed down] in flight’ in l. 8. Kock and ÍF 27 assume that landfolk ‘people of the land’ and ferð Engla stand in apposition as joint subjects of the main clause, though they differ in their interpretation of mǫrg ‘many’. Kock takes it as substantival, with the sense ‘a great number’, though m. nom. pl. margir ‘many (men)’ might have been expected in this context. ÍF 27 links mǫrg with an understood repetition of ferð Engla. — [8] ótt ‘frantically’: Adverbial n. form from the adj. óðr ‘mad, frantic’. Kock (NN §1130 anm.) takes it with the remainder of l. 8.


  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. Skald = Kock, Ernst Albin, ed. 1946-50. Den norsk-isländska skaldediktningen. 2 vols. Lund: Gleerup.
  4. NN = Kock, Ernst Albin. 1923-44. Notationes Norrœnæ: Anteckningar till Edda och skaldediktning. Lunds Universitets årsskrift new ser. 1. 28 vols. Lund: Gleerup.
  5. Gade, Kari Ellen. 2001b. ‘The Dating and Attributions of Verses in the Skald Sagas’. In Poole 2001a, 50-74.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. ÍF 26-8 = Heimskringla. Ed. Bjarni Aðalbjarnarson. 1941-51.
  9. Hkr 1893-1901 = Finnur Jónsson, ed. 1893-1901. Heimskringla: Nóregs konunga sǫgur af Snorri Sturluson. 4 vols. SUGNL 23. Copenhagen: Møller.
  10. Kuhn, Hans (1899). 1969a. ‘Die Dróttkvættverse des Typs “brestr erfiði Austra”’. In Jakob Benediktsson 1969, 403-17. Rpt. in Kuhn (1899) 1969-78, IV, 105-16.
  11. ASC [Anglo-Saxon Chronicle] = Plummer, Charles and John Earle, eds. 1892-9. Two of the Saxon Chronicles Parallel. 2 vols. Oxford: Clarendon. Rpt. 1952.
  12. Townend, Matthew. 1998. English Place-Names in Skaldic Verse. English Place-Name Society extra ser. 1. Nottingham: English Place-Name Society.
  13. Darlington, R. R. and P. McGurk, eds. 1995-2007. The Chronicle of John of Worcester. 3 vols. Oxford Medieval Texts. Oxford: Clarendon.
  14. Internal references
  15. Not published: do not cite (ÓHHkrI)
  16. Russell Poole (ed.) 2012, ‘Anonymous Poems, Liðsmannaflokkr 6’ 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. 1023.
  17. Judith Jesch (ed.) 2012, ‘Sigvatr Þórðarson, Víkingarvísur 7’ 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. 544.
  18. Jayne Carroll (ed.) 2012, ‘Þórðr Kolbeinsson, Eiríksdrápa 15’ 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. 510.

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.


Stanza/chapter/text segment

Use the buttons at the top of the page to navigate between stanzas in a poem.

Information tab

Interactive tab

The text and translation are given here, with buttons to toggle whether the text is shown in the verse order or prose word order. Clicking on indiviudal words gives dictionary links, variant readings, kennings and notes, where relevant.

Full text tab

This is the text of the edition in a similar format to how the edition appears in the printed volumes.

Chapter/text segment

This view is also used for chapters and other text segments. Not all the headings shown are relevant to such sections.