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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Rv Lv 4II

Judith Jesch (ed.) 2009, ‘Rǫgnvaldr jarl Kali Kolsson, Lausavísur 4’ 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. 579-80.

Rǫgnvaldr jarl Kali KolssonLausavísur

text and translation

Sextán hefik sénar
senn ok topp í enni
jarðar elli firrðar
ormvangs saman ganga.
Þat bôrum vér vitni,
vestr at hér sé flestar
— sjá liggr út við élum
ey — kollóttar meyjar.

Hefik sénar sextán senn, firrðar {elli {jarðar {ormvangs}}}, ok topp í enni, ganga saman. Vér bôrum þat vitni, at hér vestr sé flestar meyjar kollóttar; sjá ey liggr út við élum.
‘I have seen sixteen [women] all at once, denuded of the old age of the ground of the serpent-field [GOLD > WOMAN > BEARD], and [they had] a fringe on their forehead, walking together. We bore witness to the fact that, here in the west, most maidens are bald; that island lies out in the direction of storms.

notes and context

Rǫgnvaldr is on the island of Westray in Orkney during his campaign to claim his inheritance. While attending church on Sunday, he sees sixteen persons who are slyppir ok kollóttir ‘unarmed and bald’. His astonished men discuss who they could be.

According to the chronology of Orkn this took place in April 1136 (Taylor 1938, 252), but Taylor (1938, 386) suggests that the episode is in fact another version of an incident in ch. 77 which also describes the sight of fifteen or sixteen men led by a bishop with a distinctive tonsure and which took place at Christmas in 1138. The st. is probably placed here because it seems to refer to Westray (Vestrey), but it has no obvious connection with either the preceding or the following events which are indeed located in Westray.



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: Rǫgnvaldr jarl kali Kolsson, Lausavísur 4: AI, 506, BI, 479, Skald I, 235, NN §2061; Flat 1860-8, II, 458, Orkn 1887, 123-4, Orkn 1913-16, 182, ÍF 34, 163-4 (ch. 72), Bibire 1988, 227.


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