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Making a copy of Njáls saga: the story of the Urðabók manuscript

Who scribed Urðabók? And for whom and what? Wawn aims at unveiling the story behind this little, modest manuscript.

Why this is the week to be in Iceland (and learn about sagas)

The scholarly world interested in all things Norse, Viking and saga-related is coming to Iceland this week for the 17th International Saga Conference. Here is a quick guide to what is happening.

New Yorkers in Viking Age Iceland

In Iceland, there are four settlement sites that answer to the name of Jórvík – and all of them probably are Viking Age foundations named after the Old Norse name of York: Jórvík. So basically, there are four ‘New Yorks’ in Iceland.

Rómverja saga: an introduction and a translation

Rómverja saga is an Old Icelandic translation of three Latin works on historical themes from the classical period. In this thesis, I provide the first English translation of this little-known text in the hope that it might prove a resource for scholars interested in the reception of Latin literature in the medieval period.

The Making of Flateyjarbók: What we are learning about Iceland’s National Treasure

Made in the last quarter of the 14th century, Flateyjarbók (Book of Flatey) is probably the finest manuscript that Iceland has ever produced.

Hveiti ok Hunang: Viking Age Icelandic Mead?

This paper will try and draw out the picture of mead in Viking Age Iceland, a picture worth elaborating on due to the importance of Icelandic sources of information for an even larger culture.

Bloodfeud and Miracles: Creating and Killing a Saint

Hrafn Sveinbjarnarson was a physician and chieftain in Iceland who was drawn into a bloodfeud that ultimately resulted in his death.

Úlfhams rímur: A Tale of An Accursed Prince

An accursed king of Gotland is betrayed by his queen to an untimely death. The young prince, the legitimate heir to the throne, is imprisoned in a burial mound of a blood-drinking (un)dead shieldmaiden until …

Eddic Poetry as World Literature

This article focuses on eddic issues including orality, dating, relationship to the ballad, provenance, international sources, and broadly typological literary relations.

‘To Talk of Many Things’: Whales, Walrus, and Seals in Medieval Icelandic Literature

The use of whales, walrus, and seals in the sagas illustrates a cultural map of the ocean. This network of places, known and imagined, is filled in by trade goods, species and place names, and stories that incorporate the denizens of the deep.

The World’s Saga: An English Translation of the Old Norse Veraldar saga, a History of the World in Six Ages

Veraldar saga is a medieval Icelandic prose universal history written in the Old Norse vernacular. It describes the history of the world divided into six “ages” from the Biblical creation narrative until the reign of Holy Roman Emperor Frederick I Barbarossa.

Combat in Saga Literature: Traces of martial arts in medieval Iceland

On a first glance, the Íslendingasögur can seem like a never-ending chain of feud killings, and many of the best known and most noteworthy saga scenes are scenes of combat.

A Case of an Odd Saga: Structure in Bjarnar saga Hítdælakappa

The discussion of ‘Bjarnar saga Hítdælakappa’ structure has resulted in it being described either as a clumsily made saga or as an odd, non-mainstream saga. However, a scholastic attempt to find the narrative strategy behind the veil of clumsiness has shown that the seemingly loosely constructed narrative of the “Icelandic” part appears to be planned in a rather sophisticated and artistic way.

Fierce, Barbarous, Unbiddable: Perceptions of Norse-Gael Identity in Orkney-Caithness c.1000-1400

The purpose of this Master’s thesis is to analyse the perceptions of Orcadian Norse-Gael identity as they are found in medieval written sources.

Freyja and Freyr: Successors of the Sun – On the absence of the sun in Nordic saga literature

Why is the Sun is missing in Nordic saga literature, considering its vital role in the religious life in the Bronze Age North?

Old Norse White Walkers?

Fear of the undead is by no means a new sensation to humankind; the Icelanders, for instance, knew it centuries ago.

New Medieval Books: Iceland

Five new books for those interested in the sagas and society of Iceland during the Middle Ages.

Shapeshifting in Old Norse-Icelandic Literature

This article aims to cast a light upon the colorful yet largely unknown shapechanging motifs found in Old Norse-Icelandic literature as well as in related literary works conceived from Classical times until the middle of the 16th century

Popular Culture and Royal Propaganda in Norway and Iceland in the 13th century

Do the kings presented in Strengleikar appear as the European Christian rex justus kings, which was the dominant medieval royal model, or do they convey another image – an image that may be interpreted to explain both the intended function and the popularity of the translations in Norway and Iceland

From Heroic Legend to ‘Medieval Screwball Comedy’? The Origins, Development and Interpretation of the Maiden-King Narrative

New types of popular texts emerged, bringing with them new images of women, especially the maiden-king or meykongr, a figure that features prominently in many of the late-medieval indigenous romances or (frumsamdar) riddarasögur.

Historical Oddity: The Birth of a Commonwealth in Medieval Iceland

Iceland is an odd place with an odd history. Despite being ranked among the wealthiest nations today, for much of its history it was left out of the growth and development of culture and technology throughout the Medieval period. It has never been a particularly hospitable environment for human habitation. Wind-blasted, cold, and rocky, it was an island left unsettled by humans long after it was discovered.

Buried Alive with an Undead Corpse! A Medieval Tale

A medieval tale from northern Europe tells the story of Asmund, who gets buried alive. His friend then rises from the dead!

Kings, Wars, and Duck Eggs: Interpretations of Poetry in Egil’s Saga

Although Egil’s Saga is memorable enough for its bloodshed, feuds, and comically disgusting mead-hall scenes, the one characteristic which most distinctly sets it apart from the other Icelandic sagas is its extensive use of poetry.

Number Symbolism in Old Norse Literature

It is generally agreed that some numbers such as three and nine which appear frequently in the two Eddas hold special significances in Norse mythology. Furthermore, numbers appearing in sagas not only denote factual quantity, but also stand for specific symbolic meanings.

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