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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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ÞSkall Valfl 1II

Kari Ellen Gade (ed.) 2009, ‘Þorkell Skallason, Valþjófsflokkr 1’ 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. 382-3.

Þorkell SkallasonValþjófsflokkr

Hundrað lét í heitum
hirðmenn jǫfurs brenna
sóknar Yggr, en seggjum
sviðukveld vas þat, eldi.
Frétts, at fyrðar knôttu
flagðviggs und kló liggja;
ímleitum fekksk áta
óls blakk við hræ Frakka.

{Yggr sóknar} lét hundrað hirðmenn jǫfurs brenna í heitum eldi, en þat vas seggjum sviðukveld. Frétts, at fyrðar knôttu liggja und kló {flagðviggs}; áta fekksk {ímleitum blakk óls} við hræ Frakka.

{The Yggr <= Óðinn> of battle} [WARRIOR = Waltheof] caused a hundred retainers of the ruler [William] to burn in hot fire, and that was a scorching evening for the men. It is known that people lay beneath the claw {of the troll-woman’s steed} [WOLF]; food was given {to the dark-coloured horse of the troll-woman} [WOLF] from the carrion of the Normans.

Mss: (585r), F(53vb), E(28v), J2ˣ(299r) (Hkr); H(77r), Hr(54vb) (H-Hr)

Readings: [1] heitum: heitu F    [3] Yggr: uggr H, Hr    [6] ‑viggs: vís H, vigg Hr    [8] óls: ‘ꜹl’ F, ‘auls’ Hr;    blakk: blakkr F, ‘blacs’ J2ˣ, ‘blak’ H;    við hræ: af hræm H, Hr

Editions: Skj AI, 414, Skj BI, 338, Skald I, 190-1; ÍF 28, 195 (HSig ch. 96), F 1871, 251, E 1916, 100; Fms 6, 426 (HSig ch. 121).

Context: After the battle of Hastings and the fall of the Engl. king, Harold Godwineson (14 October 1066), Waltheof, who had escaped from the battlefield, and a unit of his men encountered a hundred of William the Conqueror’s Norman soldiers. The Normans fled into an oak forest, which Waltheof set fire to, killing all of William’s men.

Notes: [All]: It is not documented in any source that Waltheof fought at the battle of Hastings; rather, it seems that this st. documents a completely different event—the sacking of York on 21 September 1069. On that occasion, Waltheof and other Engl. noblemen joined Danes who had been sent by King Sveinn Úlfsson of Denmark in a revolt against William. The Danes and their Engl. allies, among them Waltheof, attacked York and the forces which William had left behind in the stronghold (see ASC s. a. 1068 ([1069] ‘D’), 1069 (‘E’)). According to Chronicle ‘D’, the rebels demolished the castle. The entire town, including the minster of St. Peter, was destroyed by fire and hundreds of Normans perished. That fire was, however, set by the Normans themselves (on these events, see also Scott 1952, 166-7, 174-81). — [All]: This episode is also told in Fsk (ÍF 29, 293-4), but the st. is not cited. — [1] hundrað ‘a hundred’: Most likely the long hundred (120). — [8] óls ‘of the troll-woman’: Hap. leg. Ól (n.) does not otherwise occur as a name of, or as a term for, ‘troll-woman’, but that is the only sense it could have in this kenning (so earlier eds). AEW: ól 2 suggests that the word could be a cognate to OE wōl ‘pestilence’, OHG wuol, wōl ‘destruction’. Ól is otherwise attested only in the meaning ‘leather strap’. — [8] blakk ‘to the horse’: For this form (we should have expected an i-ending in the dat.), see ANG §358.3. — [8] hræ Frakka ‘the carrion of the Normans’: Both Skj B and Skald take this as a cpd hræfrakka (nom. hræfrakki) ‘spear, sword’ as attested in GSúrs Lv 1/1V and in Þul Sverða 2/8III (see also Falk 1914, 52, 75). Whereas that interpretation is possible, it is more likely in view of the context that the nominal phrase refers to the slain Normans here.


  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. Fms = Sveinbjörn Egilsson et al., eds. 1825-37. Fornmanna sögur eptir gömlum handritum útgefnar að tilhlutun hins norræna fornfræða fèlags. 12 vols. Copenhagen: Popp.
  4. Skald = Kock, Ernst Albin, ed. 1946-50. Den norsk-isländska skaldediktningen. 2 vols. Lund: Gleerup.
  5. AEW = Vries, Jan de. 1962. Altnordisches etymologisches Wörterbuch. 2nd rev. edn. Rpt. 1977. Leiden: Brill.
  6. ANG = Noreen, Adolf. 1923. Altnordische Grammatik I: Altisländische und altnorwegische Grammatik (Laut- und Flexionslehre) unter Berücksichtigung des Urnordischen. 4th edn. Halle: Niemeyer. 1st edn. 1884. 5th unrev. edn. 1970. Tübingen: Niemeyer.
  7. Falk, Hjalmar, ed. 1914a. Sólarljóð. Videnskapsselskapets skrifter II. Hist.-filos. kl. 7. 2 vols. Kristiania (Oslo): Dybwad.
  8. ÍF 26-8 = Heimskringla. Ed. Bjarni Aðalbjarnarson. 1941-51.
  9. F 1871 = Unger, C. R., ed. 1871. Fríssbók: Codex Frisianus. En samling af norske konge-sagaer. Christiania (Oslo): Malling.
  10. E 1916 = Finnur Jónsson, ed. 1916. Eirspennill: AM 47 fol. Nóregs konunga sǫgur: Magnús góði – Hákon gamli. Kristiania (Oslo): Den norske historiske kildeskriftskommission.
  11. ASC [Anglo-Saxon Chronicle] = Plummer, Charles and John Earle, eds. 1892-9. Two of the Saxon Chronicles Parallel. 2 vols. Oxford: Clarendon. Rpt. 1952.
  12. ÍF 29 = Ágrip af Nóregskonunga sǫgum; Fagrskinna—Nóregs konungatal. Ed. Bjarni Einarsson. 1985.
  13. Scott, Forrest S. 1952. ‘Earl Waltheof of Northumbria’. Archæologia Æliana 4th ser. 30, 149-215.
  14. Internal references
  15. 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.
  16. Not published: do not cite (HSigII)
  17. Elena Gurevich (ed.) 2017, ‘Anonymous Þulur, Sverða heiti 2’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 791.
  18. Not published: do not cite (GSúrs Lv 1V (Gísl 2))

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