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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Ótt Knútdr 10I

Matthew Townend (ed.) 2012, ‘Óttarr svarti, Knútsdrápa 10’ 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. 779.

Óttarr svartiKnútsdrápa

Skjǫldungr, vannt und skildi
skœru verk, inn sterki;
fekk blóðtrani bráðir
brúnar Assatúnum.
Vátt, en valfall þótti
verðung, jǫfurr, sverði,
nær fyr norðan stóru
nafn gnógt Danaskóga.

Inn sterki Skjǫldungr, vannt verk skœru und skildi; {blóðtrani} fekk brúnar bráðir Assatúnum. Jǫfurr, vátt gnógt nafn stóru sverði nær fyr norðan Danaskóga, en þótti verðung valfall.

Strong Skjǫldungr, you performed a feat of battle under the shield; {the blood-crane} [RAVEN/EAGLE] received dark morsels at Ashingdon. Prince, you won by fighting a great enough name with a mighty sword nearby to the north of the Forest of Dean, and it seemed a slaughter to the retinue.

Mss: (20), 20dˣ(8v), 873ˣ(10r), 41ˣ(8r) (Knýtl)

Readings: [7] fyr norðan: norðan fyr 20dˣ    [8] gnógt: ‑gnóg all

Editions: Skj AI, 297-8, Skj BI, 274, Skald I, 140, NN §738; Fms 11, 195, Fms 12, 249, SHI 11, 183, Knýtl 1919-25, 43, ÍF 35, 112-13 (ch. 12).

Context: The stanza follows a brief notice of the great battle of Assatún (Ashingdon).

Notes: [All]: For the sequencing of sts 8-10 in this edn, see Introduction. — [1-4]: The syntax can be construed in two ways: (a) The helmingr splits into two clauses of two lines each, with Assatúnum ‘at Ashingdon’ qualifying the ‘raven/eagle’ clause; this construal is adopted here as being more in keeping with Óttarr’s couplet-based syntax in this poem. (b) Assatúnum ‘at Ashingdon’ could be taken with ll. 1-2 so that the focus on Knútr’s activities spans the helmingr and fekk blóðtrani brúnar bráðir ‘the blood-crane [RAVEN/EAGLE] received dark morsels’ is an intercalary clause (so previous eds). — [1] Skjǫldungr: This might be a general heiti for ‘king’ (cf. buðlungr ‘king’ in st. 4/2), but is more likely to be a specific reference to Knútr’s status as a member of the Danish Skjǫldung dynasty (cf. ÞKolb Eirdr 13/2 and see further Frank 1994b, 111-12). — [4] Assatúnum ‘at Ashingdon’: In Essex (OE Assandun), site of the decisive battle between Knútr and Eadmund Ironside in 1016, and where Knútr endowed a memorial church in 1020 (see ASC s. a.). On Óttarr’s form of the p. n. see Townend (1998, 21-7). — [5-8]: On the geography and chronology of this second helmingr, see Poole (1987, 275-6). Following the battle of Ashingdon, Knútr and Eadmund came to terms at Alney in Gloucestershire (ASC s. a. 1016), but English sources (unlike Óttarr: see Note to l. 8 Danaskóga) do not record any further fighting in that region. — [7] stóru ‘mighty’: The adj. is n. dat. sg. and so must qualify sverði, hence ‘with a mighty sword’. Kock (NN §738; Skald) proposed emendation to stóra (m. acc. pl.) to agree with Danaskóga, hence ‘the great Forest of Dean’, which would match the use of adjectives in, e.g., grœnni Lindisey ‘green Lindsey’ (st. 5/1, 2) and breiðri borg Hemminga ‘broad Hemingbrough’ (st. 5/5-6), but the emendation is not required. An alternative possibility is that stóru is an adv. (‘by far, greatly’), qualifying vátt ‘you won by fighting’, but such an adv. would seem normally to accompany a comp. adj. (e.g. Arn Hryn 3/6II and Note). — [8] gnógt ‘great enough’: Emendation, adopted in all eds, is required for agreement with nafn (n. acc. sg.) ‘name’. — [8] Danaskóga ‘the Forest of Dean’: Poole (1987, 275-6) argues persuasively that this is the Forest of Dean in Gloucestershire (OE Dene, Dena). For discussion of the p. n. see Townend (1998, 29-31).


  1. Bibliography
  2. Fms = Sveinbjörn Egilsson et al., eds. 1825-37. Fornmanna sögur eptir gömlum handritum útgefnar að tilhlutun hins norræna fornfræða fèlags. 12 vols. Copenhagen: Popp.
  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. ÍF 35 = Danakonunga sǫgur. Ed. Bjarni Guðnason. 1982.
  6. Poole, Russell. 1987. ‘Skaldic Verse and Anglo-Saxon History: Some Aspects of the Period 1009-1016’. Speculum 62, 265-98.
  7. ASC [Anglo-Saxon Chronicle] = Plummer, Charles and John Earle, eds. 1892-9. Two of the Saxon Chronicles Parallel. 2 vols. Oxford: Clarendon. Rpt. 1952.
  8. SHI = Sveinbjörn Egilsson, ed. 1828-46. Scripta historica islandorum de rebus gestis veterum borealium, latine reddita et apparatu critico instructa, curante Societate regia antiquariorum septentrionalium. 12 vols. Copenhagen: Popp etc. and London: John & Arthur Arch.
  9. Townend, Matthew. 1998. English Place-Names in Skaldic Verse. English Place-Name Society extra ser. 1. Nottingham: English Place-Name Society.
  10. 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.
  11. Frank, Roberta. 1994b. ‘King Cnut in the Verse of his Skalds’. In Rumble 1994, 106-24.
  12. Internal references
  13. Diana Whaley (ed.) 2009, ‘Arnórr jarlaskáld Þórðarson, Hrynhenda, Magnússdrápa 3’ 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. 185-6.
  14. Jayne Carroll (ed.) 2012, ‘Þórðr Kolbeinsson, Eiríksdrápa 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. 507.

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