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 13I

Matthew Townend (ed.) 2012, ‘Óttarr svarti, Hǫfuðlausn 13’ 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. 757.

Óttarr svartiHǫfuðlausn

Komt í land ok lendir,
láðvǫrðr, Aðalráði;
þín naut rekka rúni
ríki efldr at slíku.
Harðr vas fundr, sás fœrðuð
friðlands á vit niðja
(réð áttstuðill áðan)
Játmundar (þar grundu).

{Láðvǫrðr}, komt Aðalráði í land ok lendir; efldr ríki, naut {rúni rekka} þín at slíku. Fundr vas harðr, sás fœrðuð {niðja Játmundar} á vit friðlands; áttstuðill réð grundu þar áðan.

{Land-guardian} [KING], you brought Æthelred into the land and gave [him] land; strengthened with a kingdom, {the counsellor of warriors} [KING = Æthelred] had help from you in this. The fighting was hard, by which you brought {the kinsman of Eadmund} [= Æthelred] into a land of peace; the prop of the family ruled the land there previously.

Mss: (226r); Holm2(7r), J1ˣ(139v), J2ˣ(122r), 325VI(6rb), 73aˣ(20r), 78aˣ(19r), 68(6r), 61(80ra), 75c(3r), 325V(8va), 325VII(2r), Bb(126vb), Flat(80rb), Tóm(96v) (ÓH); FskBˣ(40r), FskAˣ(153) (Fsk); JÓ(8), 20dˣ(3v), 873ˣ(4v) (Knýtl)

Readings: [1] ok: í Bb    [2] láð‑: land 78aˣ;    ‑vǫrðr: ‑varðr 78aˣ, 68, 325VII, FskBˣ, FskAˣ, vǫrðs Bb, vǫrð 20dˣ    [3] þín: þíns 325V, 325VII, Flat, Tóm, FskAˣ, því FskBˣ;    rúni: reyn 325VI, reynir 325VI, 78aˣ, 68, 61, reyni corrected from ‘ryne’ 325VII    [4] ríki: ríkis 325VI, 78aˣ, 75c, 325V, 325VII, Flat, Tóm, FskAˣ;    efldr: ‘elfdr’ J1ˣ, Bb, mest 325VI, 325V, 325VII, Flat, Tóm, framr FskBˣ, FskAˣ    [5] vas fundr sás (‘var fundr sa er’): ‘[…]’ 325VI;    vas (‘var’): varð 325V, Bb, Tóm, FskBˣ;    sás (‘sa er’): þá er Flat, Tóm, þar er FskAˣ;    fœrðuð: fœrðusk 78aˣ, fóruð 325V, ‘værðið’ FskBˣ    [6] ‑lands: land Holm2, 325VII, landi J1ˣ, J2ˣ, lǫnd 325VI, 73aˣ, 78aˣ, land or lǫnd 68, 61, 75c, Flat, Tóm;    á: í Holm2, om. J1ˣ, J2ˣ;    vit: við J1ˣ, J2ˣ;    niðja: niðjar 325V, miðja Bb, niðra FskBˣ, 20dˣ    [7] átt‑: ætt‑ Holm2, J1ˣ, J2ˣ, 325VI, 73aˣ, 68, 61, 325V, 325VII, FskAˣ, JÓ, 873ˣ, ‘a‑’ Bb, Tóm, ‘eð‑’ 20dˣ    [8] ‑mundar: ‑mundr FskAˣ;    þar: þá Flat, Tóm, FskBˣ, FskAˣ

Editions: Skj AI, 292, Skj BI, 269, Skald I, 138, NN §§172, 2486B; Hkr 1893-1901, II, 18-19, IV, 109, ÍF 27, 17 (ÓHHkr ch. 13); ÓH 1941, I, 45 (ch. 23), Flat 1860-8, II, 19; Fsk 1902-3, 141 (ch. 25), ÍF 29, 168 (ch. 27); 1741, 8-9, Knýtl 1919-25, 34, ÍF 35, 99 (ch. 7).

Context: In Hkr and ÓH, the stanza immediately follows st. 8 within an account of fighting in London, and Fsk assumes the same context (see Notes below). In Knýtl, the stanza is the first to be quoted in the saga, and it is placed in a different, and more historically correct, context, of King Aðalráðr (Æthelred) returning home and recovering his kingdom with Óláfr’s support.

Notes: [All]: As is known from the ASC and other sources, King Æthelred II went into exile in Normandy in 1013, and the English throne was assumed by the Danish conqueror Sveinn tjúguskegg ‘Fork-beard’ Haraldsson. However, following Sveinn’s death in early 1014, Æthelred was invited back and he himself resumed the throne (not his sons, as Snorri and Fsk claim, in the mistaken belief that Æthelred was already dead). The current stanza, then, concerns Óláfr’s role in Æthelred’s return to England in spring 1014. Relative ignorance of the details of this phase of Anglo-Saxon history led Snorri in ÓH and Hkr and the author of Fsk to place this stanza out of position, with those detailing Óláfr’s earlier English adventures, rather than with his role in the re-establishment of the English dynasty; the placing in Skj follows this tradition. The author of Knýtl, however, who quotes no other verses from Óttarr’s Hfl (but many from his Knútdr), correctly places the stanza at the time of Æthelred’s return to England after Sveinn’s death. Similarly, it is clear that the author of ÓHLeg knew this stanza and interpreted it correctly, even though he does not quote it (see ÓHLeg 1982, 44). For further discussion see A. Campbell (1971, 11-12); Campbell (1998, 77-82) and Poole (1980, 273-5). — [2] Aðalráði ‘Æthelred’: Skj B takes this dat. sg. noun as direct object of lendir ‘you gave [him] land’, whereas the present edn, following ÍF 27 (also ÍF 29 and ÍF 35), takes it as a dat. object of komt (in the usage koma e-m ‘to bring sby’), with an implicit hann ‘him’, understood from Aðalráði, as the object of lendir ‘gave land to’. The latter seems preferable, as lenda when transitive seems to take an acc. object (CVC: lenda III; Fritzner: lenda 1, though they only have a single citation between them). — [4] efldr ríki ‘strengthened with a kingdom’: The phrase is taken here with rúni rekka ‘counsellor of warriors’ (l. 3) as referring to Æthelred. Skj B (followed by Skald) takes it as describing Óláfr, the addressee of komt ‘you brought’ (l. 1), and thus regards the main clause as extending across the entire helmingr, with rúni rekka naut þín at slíku ‘the counsellor of warriors had help from you in this’ as an intercalary clause. Ríki could here have either an abstract sense ‘power’ (so Skj B; ÍF 27 followed by ÍF 35) or a concrete one ‘kingdom’, and the latter is adopted here, as it emphasises Óttarr’s claim that Óláfr restored Æthelred to his land (l. 1). Fsk reads rather ríki framr ‘outstanding in power’. — [5] fœrðuð ‘you brought’: Kock is unhappy with this form, as he claims á vit ‘into’ can only follow an intransitive verb, and here niðja Játmundar ‘the kinsman of Eadmund [= Æthelred]’ is the direct object of fœrðuð; but his solutions (NN §172, superseded by NN §2486 and Skald) depend on minority readings and have not been followed by subsequent eds. — [6] friðlands ‘a land of peace’: There is clearly some paradoxical play at work in ll. 5-6: how can entry into a friðland involve fundr ‘fighting’ that is harðr ‘hard’? ÍF 27 attempts to reconcile the paradox by translating friðland as ‘a pacified land’ (followed by ÍF 29 and ÍF 35), while Poole translates as ‘the country friendly to him [i.e. Æthelred]’ (1980, 274). Poole’s interpretation seems more apposite. As the ASC makes clear, following Sveinn’s death Æthelred com … ham to his agenre þeode, 7 he glædlice fram him eallum onfange<n> wæs ‘came home to his own people and was gladly received by them all’ (Cubbin 1996, 59). On the term friðland see further Fell (1982-3, 95-7), who argues it has a positive legal sense based on interpersonal or diplomatic relations rather than simply the absence of warfare. — [6, 8] niðja Játmundar ‘the kinsman of Eadmund’: The Eadmund referred to here could be one of three: Æthelred’s son Eadmund Ironside (king of Wessex 1016), Æthelred’s grandfather Eadmund (king of England 939-46), or Eadmund, king of East Anglia (martyred by vikings in 869). Óttarr uses a similar phrase, ættniðr Játmundar ‘descendant of Eadmund’, in Knútdr 7/5-6, where the person so designated is Eadmund Ironside, so the Eadmund who is the determinant of the kenning there must be one of the other, older Eadmunds. In the present case, ÍF 27 assumes that the Eadmund referred to must be Eadmund Ironside, and points out that niðr does not always mean ‘descendant’ and can simply mean ‘relative’. But it is at least as likely that it is Æthelred’s grandfather who is invoked here. — [6] niðja ‘the kinsman’: Either acc. sg., from a variant form niði, or acc. pl., with pl. possibly standing for sg. (CVC: niðr; Finnur Jónsson 1901, 31-2). — [7] áttstuðill ‘the prop of the family’: Referring to the central member of a family. The first element is not uncommon in skaldic verse, and, as is seen in the Readings, exists in two forms, ôtt (later and compounding form átt) and ætt (see LP: ôtt, átt).


  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. 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.
  6. CVC = Cleasby, Richard, Gudbrand Vigfusson [Guðbrandur Vigfússon] and W. A. Craigie. 1957. An Icelandic-English Dictionary. 2nd edn. Oxford: Clarendon.
  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. Finnur Jónsson. 1901. Det norsk-islandske skjaldesprog omtr. 800-1300. SUGNL 28. Copenhagen: Møller.
  9. 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.
  10. Fritzner = Fritzner, Johan. 1883-96. Ordbog over det gamle norske sprog. 3 vols. Kristiania (Oslo): Den norske forlagsforening. 4th edn. Rpt. 1973. Oslo etc.: Universitetsforlaget.
  11. 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.
  12. ÓHLeg 1982 = Heinrichs, Anne et al., eds and trans. 1982. Olafs saga hins helga: Die ‘Legendarische Saga’ über Olaf den Heiligen (Hs. Delagard. saml. nr. 8II). Heidelberg: Winter.
  13. ÍF 26-8 = Heimskringla. Ed. Bjarni Aðalbjarnarson. 1941-51.
  14. ÍF 35 = Danakonunga sǫgur. Ed. Bjarni Guðnason. 1982.
  15. Hkr 1893-1901 = Finnur Jónsson, ed. 1893-1901. Heimskringla: Nóregs konunga sǫgur af Snorri Sturluson. 4 vols. SUGNL 23. Copenhagen: Møller.
  16. Campbell, Alistair, ed. 1998. Encomium Emmae Reginae. Edition of 1949 with a supplementary introduction by Simon Keynes. Camden Classic Reprints 4. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  17. Fsk 1902-3 = Finnur Jónsson, ed. 1902-3. Fagrskinna: Nóregs kononga tal. SUGNL 30. Copenhagen: Møller.
  18. ASC [Anglo-Saxon Chronicle] = Plummer, Charles and John Earle, eds. 1892-9. Two of the Saxon Chronicles Parallel. 2 vols. Oxford: Clarendon. Rpt. 1952.
  19. ÍF 29 = Ágrip af Nóregskonunga sǫgum; Fagrskinna—Nóregs konungatal. Ed. Bjarni Einarsson. 1985.
  20. 1741 = Jón Ólafsson, ed. 1741. Æfi dana-konunga eda Knytlinga saga: Historia Cnutidarum regum Daniæ. Copenhagen: [n. p.].
  21. Poole, Russell. 1980. ‘In Search of the Partar’. SS 52, 264-77.
  22. 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.
  23. Fell, Christine E. 1982-3. ‘Unfrið: An Approach to a Definition’. SBVS 21, 85-100.
  24. Cubbin, G. T., ed. 1996. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle: A Collaborative Edition. 6: MS D. Cambridge: Brewer.
  25. Internal references
  26. 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].
  27. Diana Whaley 2012, ‘The Legendary Saga of S. Óláfr / Helgisaga Óláfs konungs Haraldssonar (ÓHLeg)’ 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. clxxiii.
  28. Diana Whaley 2012, ‘The Separate Saga of S. Óláfr / Óláfs saga helga in sérstaka (ÓH)’ 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, pp. clxxvi-clxxix.
  29. Diana Whaley 2012, ‘Fagrskinna (Fsk)’ 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, pp. clix-clxi.
  30. Not published: do not cite (ÓHHkrI)

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.