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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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ÞKolb Eirdr 15I

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.

Þórðr KolbeinssonEiríksdrápa

Hvatr vann Freyr á flotna
folkstafns, sás gaf hrafni
sollit hold né sjaldan,
sverðs eggja spor leggi.
Snjallr lét opt, ok olli,
Eirekr, bana þeira,
— rauð Hringmaraheiði
herr — Engla lið þverra.

{Hvatr Freyr {folkstafns}}, sás né sjaldan gaf hrafni sollit hold, vann {spor eggja sverðs} á leggi flotna. Snjallr Eirekr lét opt lið Engla þverra ok olli bana þeira; herr rauð Hringmaraheiði.

{The brave Freyr <god> {of the battle-stem}} [SWORD > WARRIOR], who not seldom gave swollen flesh to the raven, made {tracks of the edges of the sword} [WOUNDS] on the limbs of men. Valiant Eiríkr often made the troop of the English diminish and caused their deaths; the army reddened Ringmere Heath.

Mss: (26), 20dˣ(10r), 873ˣ(12r), 20i 23ˣ(15v), 41ˣ(9v) (Knýtl)

Readings: [3] sollit: ‘solldid’ 873ˣ    [8] herr: herr or her 873ˣ, her 41ˣ;    þverra: ‘þuera’ 41ˣ

Editions: Skj AI, 216, Skj BI, 206, Skald I, 108, NN §2755; 1741, 26-7, Knýtl 1919-25, 47, ÍF 35, 118-19 (ch. 15).

Context: At Hringmaraheiðr (Ringmere Heath) Eiríkr fights for a second time against the English.

Notes: [2] folkstafns ‘of the battle-stem [SWORD]’: Finnur Jónsson interprets this as a shield-kenning (LP: folkstafn, and so ÍF 35), but this seems unlikely both because folk meaning ‘sword’ is at best extremely rare (LP: folk 4; Þul Sverða 10/8III) and because the base-word of shield-kennings usually denotes a broad, flat object, while stafn is ‘stem’, e.g. of a ship. Meissner 169 allows either ‘shield’ or ‘sword’ as the kenning’s referent. — [4] leggi ‘the limbs’: Finnur Jónsson (Skj B; also Kock in NN §2755 and Skald) emends to leggja ‘lay’, interpreting vann leggja as a periphrastic construction equivalent to lagði ‘laid’. Vinna does not function periphrastically with infinitives elsewhere, however, and as E. Olsen (1934, 203-4) showed it is possible to make good sense of the mss’ readings. Olsen’s construal is followed here (and in ÍF 35), notwithstanding Kock’s objections (NN §2755), which include the point that it is counter-intuitive to interpret flotna ‘men’ in the prepositional phrase á flotna (l. 1) as anything other than acc. pl. Kock also notes the close correspondence between l. 4 of this stanza and Tindr Hákdr 4/4, which suggests that Þórðr is here indebted to Tindr’s poem on Eiríkr’s father, Hákon (E. Olsen 1934, 264; see also Note to st. 2/7, above). — [7] Hringmaraheiði ‘Ringmere Heath’: Hringmaraheiðr is given as the location of a battle between Þorkell inn hávi ‘the Tall’ Strút-Haraldsson (with Óláfr Haraldsson) and Ealdorman Ulfcytel in Sigv Víkv 7/5 and Ótt Hfl 9/3 (see Notes to these), and John of Worcester records a battle ad locum qui Ringmere dicitur ‘at a place which is called Ringmere’ under the year 1010 (Darlington and McGurk 1995-, II, 464). Ringmere Pit, near Thetford in Norfolk, has been suggested as the battle’s location (Stevenson 1896, 302). The 1010 battle cannot be that referred to by Þórðr: either he borrowed details from Sigvatr’s and Óttarr’s poems, in which case his account of this part of Knútr’s English campaign is fabricated (A. Campbell 1971, 15), or Hringmaraheiðr was of sufficient strategic importance to be the site of more than one battle (Poole 1987, 280). See further Townend (1998, 38-42). For the suggestion that the challenge of incorporating the name Hringmaraheiðr in the dróttkvætt line resulted in a new metrical form, see Note to Ótt Hfl 9/3.


  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. Meissner = Meissner, Rudolf. 1921. Die Kenningar der Skalden: Ein Beitrag zur skaldischen Poetik. Rheinische Beiträge und Hülfsbücher zur germanischen Philologie und Volkskunde 1. Bonn and Leipzig: Schroeder. Rpt. 1984. Hildesheim etc.: Olms.
  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. Campbell, Alistair. 1971. Skaldic Verse and Anglo-Saxon History: The Dorothea Coke Memorial Lecture in Northern Studies delivered 17 March 1970 at University College London. London: Lewis.
  8. ÍF 35 = Danakonunga sǫgur. Ed. Bjarni Guðnason. 1982.
  9. Poole, Russell. 1987. ‘Skaldic Verse and Anglo-Saxon History: Some Aspects of the Period 1009-1016’. Speculum 62, 265-98.
  10. 1741 = Jón Ólafsson, ed. 1741. Æfi dana-konunga eda Knytlinga saga: Historia Cnutidarum regum Daniæ. Copenhagen: [n. p.].
  11. Townend, Matthew. 1998. English Place-Names in Skaldic Verse. English Place-Name Society extra ser. 1. Nottingham: English Place-Name Society.
  12. Knýtl 1919-25 = Petersens, Carl af and Emil Olsen, eds. 1919-25. Sǫgur danakonunga. 1: Sǫgubrot af fornkonungum. 2: Knýtlinga saga. SUGNL 66. Copenhagen: SUGNL.
  13. Darlington, R. R. and P. McGurk, eds. 1995-2007. The Chronicle of John of Worcester. 3 vols. Oxford Medieval Texts. Oxford: Clarendon.
  14. Olsen, Magnus. 1934. ‘Þundarbenda’. MM, 92-7.
  15. Stevenson, W. H. 1896. ‘Notes on Old-English Historical Geography’. English Historical Review 11, 301-4.
  16. Internal references
  17. Elena Gurevich (ed.) 2017, ‘Anonymous Þulur, Sverða heiti 10’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 808.
  18. 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.
  19. 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.
  20. Russell Poole (ed.) 2012, ‘Tindr Hallkelsson, Hákonardrápa 4’ 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. 345.

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