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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Sigv Víkv 7I

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.

Sigvatr ÞórðarsonVíkingarvísur

Enn lét sjaunda sinni
sverðþing háit verða
endr á Ulfkels landi
Ôleifr, sem ferk máli.
Stóð Hringmaraheiði
(herfall vas þar,) alla
Ellu kind (es olli
arfvǫrðr Haralds starfi).

Enn lét Ôleifr endr {sverðþing} verða háit sjaunda sinni á landi Ulfkels, sem ferk máli. {Kind Ellu} stóð alla Hringmaraheiði; herfall vas þar, es {arfvǫrðr Haralds} olli starfi.

Yet again Óláfr caused {a sword-assembly} [BATTLE] to be held for the seventh time in Ulfcytel’s land, as I recount the tale. {The offspring of Ælla} [= Englishmen] stood over all Ringmere Heath; there was slaying of the army there, where {the guardian of Haraldr’s inheritance} [= Óláfr] caused exertion.

Mss: (226v), papp18ˣ(67r) (Hkr); Holm2(7r), R686ˣ(12va), J2ˣ(122r), 325VI(6va), 73aˣ(20r), 78aˣ(19r-v), 68(6r), 61(80ra), 75c(3r), 325V(8vb), 325VII(2r), Bb(126vb), Flat(80rb), Tóm(96v) (ÓH)

Readings: [1] sjaunda: ‘[…]vndi’ 325VI, ‘siunda’ Bb    [2] sverðþing: sverða þing 78aˣ;    háit: hátt papp18ˣ, J2ˣ, 78aˣ, 61, 325V, Tóm, hart R686ˣ, ‘ha(it)’(?) 325VI;    verða: ‘[...]da’ 325VI    [3] á: om. Bb;    Ulf‑: ‘ul‑’ papp18ˣ, ‘ylf‑’ Bb    [4] máli: môlum 61    [6] þar: þá R686ˣ, þat J2ˣ, 325VI, 73aˣ, 78aˣ, 61    [7] Ellu: ‘elle’ 68;    es (‘er’): en Holm2, R686ˣ, J2ˣ, 325VI, 73aˣ, 78aˣ, 68, 61, 75c, 325V, 325VII, Bb, Flat, Tóm    [8] Haralds: Haraldr R686ˣ;    starfi: starfa J2ˣ

Editions: Skj AI, 225, Skj BI, 214, Skald I, 112; Hkr 1893-1901, II, 19-20, IV, 110, ÍF 27, 18, Hkr 1991, I, 262 (ÓHHkr ch. 14); ÓH 1941, I, 45 (ch. 23), Flat 1860-8, II, 20; Fell 1981b, 115-16, Jón Skaptason 1983, 59, 223.

Context: Óláfr spends the winter with King Aðalráðr (Æthelred) in England and they jointly fight and win a battle against Úlfkell (Ulfcytel) snillingr at Hringmaraheiðr (Ringmere Heath).

Notes: [All]: For the battle at Ringmere Heath, see also Ótt Hfl 9, and for a seemingly later encounter in the same place, see ÞKolb Eirdr 15. — [3] endr ‘again’: Endr can mean either ‘again’ or ‘formerly, long ago’ (Fritzner: endr 1, 2). — [3] landi Ulfkels ‘Ulfcytel’s land’: East Anglia. Úlfkell is Ulfcytel, ealdorman (earl or chief nobleman) of the East Angles. Despite his Scandinavian name, he was a defender of English soil and is several times mentioned in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle (ASC) as a military leader opposing the viking raiders led by Þorkell. Úlfkell is also mentioned in Anon Liðs 6/2, where the form Ullkell appears to be required (see Note). His ON nickname snillingr would mean ‘man of valour’ or possibly ‘man of eloquence’. — [5] stóð ‘stood over’: The transitive use of standa is rare. It mainly has the sense ‘overcome’ or ‘surprise’ (LP: standa 7), but since a statement that troops overcame a heath would be problematic, this contextual interpretation has been tentatively adopted. The image is perhaps comparable with Sigv ErfÓl 10/1, 2 Vítt vas fold und fótum ... mǫnnum ‘Far and wide the ground was under the feet of men’. — [5] Hringmaraheiði ‘Ringmere Heath’: The location of this battle is not known for certain, though there is a Ringmere Pit near Thetford in Norfolk which is a likely candidate (see also Note to Ótt Hfl 9/3, where the metre of the two lines is also discussed, and Townend 1998, 38-42). The battle is referred to in the ASC (s. a. 1010), though its location is not named in English sources before John of Worcester (Townend 1998, 41). These sources describe a battle between Ulfcytel’s forces and Viking invaders, which can be reconciled with Sigvatr’s stanza (which implies that Óláfr’s opponents were English) but not with Snorri’s prose. On the historical problems with the sources, and the possibility that Óláfr intially fought against the English but later for them, see Note to st. 6 [All]. — [7-8] es arfvǫrðr Haralds olli starfi ‘where the guardian of Haraldr’s inheritance [= Óláfr] caused exertion’: As noted in ÍF 27, the subordinate clause could be taken with either of the other clauses in the helmingr. The analysis of the kenning is uncertain. (a) Structurally, it is taken here as a simple kenning in which arfvǫrðr, lit. ‘inheritance-guardian’ is equivalent to arfi ‘heir’, frequent in kennings (LP: arfi). It is assumed that the kenning designates Óláfr as the son of his father Haraldr grenski ‘from Grenland’ Guðrøðarson (so also Krag 1989, 297-8). (b) It has often been interpreted as a reference to Óláfr’s distant ancestor Haraldr hárfagri ‘Fair-hair’ and his unification of Norway. If so, the phrase could be construed as an inverted tvíkent kenning, ‘the guardian of the inheritance of Haraldr [NORWAY > = Óláfr]’. — [7] kind Ellu ‘the offspring of Ælla [= Englishmen]’: The allusion may be to the Northumbrian king Ælla who according to the ASC (s. a. 867) was not of royal birth and was killed by the Danes at York in 867, yet who appears in skaldic poetry as ‘a defining ancestor for the Anglo-Saxon royal house’ (see Note to Sigv Knútdr 1/1 and Townend 1997). — [8] arfvǫrðr ‘the guardian ... of inheritance’: Hofmann (1955, 81) argues for English influence on arfvǫrðr, but see Note to st. 1/4 above.


  1. Bibliography
  2. Skald = Kock, Ernst Albin, ed. 1946-50. Den norsk-isländska skaldediktningen. 2 vols. Lund: Gleerup.
  3. 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.
  4. Fell, Christine E. 1981b. ‘Víkingarvísur’. In Dronke et al. 1981, 106-22.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  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. Hkr 1991 = Bergljót S. Kristjánsdóttir et al., eds. 1991. Heimskringla. 3 vols. Reykjavík: Mál og menning.
  11. Hofmann, Dietrich. 1955. Nordisch-englische Lehnbeziehungen der Wikingerzeit. BA 14. Copenhagen: Munksgaard.
  12. ASC [Anglo-Saxon Chronicle] = Plummer, Charles and John Earle, eds. 1892-9. Two of the Saxon Chronicles Parallel. 2 vols. Oxford: Clarendon. Rpt. 1952.
  13. Jón Skaptason. 1983. ‘Material for an Edition and Translation of the Poems of Sigvat Þórðarson, skáld’. Ph.D. thesis. State University of New York at Stony Brook. DAI 44: 3681A.
  14. Townend, Matthew. 1998. English Place-Names in Skaldic Verse. English Place-Name Society extra ser. 1. Nottingham: English Place-Name Society.
  15. Townend, Matthew. 1997. ‘Ella: An Old English Name in Old Norse Poetry’. Nomina 20, 23-35.
  16. Krag, Claus. 1989. ‘Norge som odel i Harald hårfagres ætt’. HT(N) 68, 288-302.
  17. Internal references
  18. Not published: do not cite (ÓHHkrI)
  19. 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.
  20. 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.
  21. Matthew Townend (ed.) 2012, ‘Sigvatr Þórðarson, Knútsdrápa 1’ 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. 651.
  22. 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.

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