Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Anon Liðs 6I

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.

Anonymous PoemsLiðsmannaflokkr

Einráðit lét áðan
Ullkell, þars spjǫr gullu,
— hǫrð óx hildar garða
hríð — víkinga at bíða.
Ok, slíðrhugaðr, síðan
sátt á oss, hvé mátti
byggs við bitran skeggja
brunns; tveir hugir runnu.

Ullkell lét áðan einráðit at bíða víkinga, þars spjǫr gullu; {hǫrð hríð {garða hildar}} óx. Ok, slíðrhugaðr, sátt á oss síðan, hvé mátti við {bitran skeggja {byggs brunns}}; tveir hugir runnu.

Ullkell had beforehand resolved to await the vikings where spears screamed; {a hard storm {of enclosures of war}} [SHIELDS > BATTLE] swelled. And, ruthless-minded one, you saw on us afterwards how one [we] could prevail against {the fierce denizen {of the barley of the spring}} [STONE > ?= Ullkell]; two minds were competing.

Mss: Flat(186vb) (Flat); DG8(73r) (ÓHLeg)

Readings: [2] Ull‑: ulf‑ Flat, DG8;    spjǫr: spor DG8    [6] sátt (‘sááttu’): sættu DG8;    mátti: ‘motte’ DG8    [7] byggs: ‘bys’ DG8

Editions: Skj AI, 220, Skj BI, 210, Skald I, 110, NN §§594, 3065Flat 1860-8, III, 238, ÓH 1941, II, 684; ÓHLeg 1922, 11, ÓHLeg 1982, 50-1.

Context: As for st. 1.

Notes: [All]: The scene of the battle attributed to Knútr in sts 5 and 6 is London or close by, alongside the Thames, as further indicated by st. 7, where the Danes are instructed to bíða ‘wait’ so as to lay siege to London. The ASC (s. a. 1016) states that the Danes continued the siege of the city for some time after the departure of Eadmund Ironside, the son of Æthelred, in 1016, but were thwarted by stout opposition from the garrison. — [2] Ullkell: An East Anglian leader also mentioned in Sigv Víkv 7/3. The ms. tradition has Ulfkell : gullu, so that the line lacks full aðalhending. Accordingly, Konráð Gíslason (1892, 165) emended gullu ‘screamed’ to skulfu ‘shook’, following ÞKolb Eirdr 14/8: Ulfkell, bláar skulfu. However, a more conservative emendation of Ulfkell to Ullkell produces a form consistent with phonological developments in later OE, where clusters of three unlike consonants, including [lf] plus consonant, were sporadically reduced, especially in proper names (Campbell 1959, 191). The spelling Ulfcytel/Ulfcetel for the name of Knútr’s opponent is standard in English sources, but forms such as Wlketel(us), Vlkill and Ulkil occur alongside Vlfketel, Vlfkil, and Vlfkel to denote other men of the same name (cf. Hauberg 1900, 92-103, 265; Whitelock 1941, 129, 145). There is no parallel reduction in consonant clusters in OWN proper names (Seip 1971, 174, 190), which suggests that this form would be an Anglo-Saxon or Anglo-Scandinavian feature. — [5] slíðrhugaðr ‘ruthless-minded one’: Hofmann (1955, 70-1) sees this cpd adj. as another possible Anglo-Saxonism. The adj. is m. nom. sg. and is used substantivally as a vocative, representing the person addressed in sátt ‘you saw’ (l. 6), presumably a comrade of the speaker. Elsewhere in Anon Liðs a female interlocutor is addressed (see Introduction). — [6] á oss ‘on us’: This is taken here with sátt ‘you saw’ (l. 6), as also by Kock (Skald and NN §594). The reference is presumably to very visible bravery on the part of the speaker and his companions, perhaps specifically to the wounds they incurred in the fight against Ulfcytel. Skj B and ÓHLeg 1982 construe it with tveir hugir runnu, hence ‘two minds were competing in us’, at the price of complex syntax. — [7-8] skeggja byggs brunns ‘denizen of the barley of the spring [STONE > ? = Ullkell]’: This curious expression probably refers to Ulfcytel. Bygg brunns ‘barley of the spring’ must mean ‘stone, rock’ (cf. Meissner 90), hence *steinskeggi, which Finnur Jónsson takes as equivalent to eyjarskeggi ‘island-dweller’ (LP: skeggi; cf. Schier 1976a, 583). However, this seems unnecessary since *steinskeggi can be a ‘dweller in stone’, just as hraunskeggi is somebody living on a lava-field (hraun). No doubt Ulfcytel is envisaged as occupying a stone fortification (cf. the reference to a stone-dwelling woman in st. 8/1, 4). London, with its stone walls dating from the Roman era, would fit with this allusion. Normally a kenning of this type would apply to giants, who are archetypally dwellers in (or on) stones, rocks, or mountains. It seems incongruous here, but perhaps some kind of humorous or disparaging effect is intended (cf. Note to Anon Óldr 15/7, 8). — [8] tveir hugir runnu ‘two minds were competing’: Lit. ‘were running’. This remark is evidently an admission that dissent or doubt existed among the vikings about how to proceed in response to Ulfcytel’s fierce defence.


  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. 1959. Old English Grammar. Oxford: Clarendon. Rev. rpt. 1983.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  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. ÓHLeg 1922 = Johnsen, Oscar Albert, ed. 1922. Olafs saga hins helga efter pergamenthåndskrift i Uppsala Universitetsbibliotek, Delagardieske samling nr. 8II. Det norske historiske kildeskriftfond skrifter 47. Kristiania (Oslo): Dybwad.
  14. Konráð Gíslason, ed. 1892. Udvalg af oldnordiske skjaldekvad, med anmærkninger. Copenhagen: Gyldendal.
  15. Hauberg, Peter. 1900. Myntforhold og Udmyntninger i Danmark indtil 1146. Det Kongelige Danske Videnskabernes Selskabs Skrifter, ser. 6, Historiske og Filosofisk Afdeling 5/1. Copenhagen: Luno.
  16. Schier, Kurt. 1976a. ‘Húsdrápa 2: Heimdall, Loki und die Meerniere’. In Birkhan 1976, 577-88.
  17. Seip, Didrik Arup. 1971. Norwegische Sprachgeschichte. Rev. Laurits Saltveit. Berlin: de Gruyter.
  18. Whitelock, Dorothy. 1941. ‘Scandinavian Personal Names in the Liber Vitae of Thorney Abbey’. SBVS 12, 127-53.
  19. Internal references
  20. Kate Heslop (ed.) 2012, ‘Anonymous Poems, Óláfs drápa Tryggvasonar 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. 1047.
  21. Russell Poole 2012, ‘(Introduction to) Anonymous, Liðsmannaflokkr’ 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. 1014.
  22. 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.
  23. Jayne Carroll (ed.) 2012, ‘Þórðr Kolbeinsson, Eiríksdrápa 14’ 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. 508.

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