The Viking Society

Welcome to the website of the Viking Society for Northern Research, the world’s foremost learned society in the field of medieval Scandinavian and Northern studies.

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Forthcoming meetings

Next meeting:

The Autumn 2015 General Meeting will be held on Friday, November 20th at University College London. The speaker will be Professor Vésteinn Ólason, giving a lecture entitled ‘The “Nibelungen Cycle” in the Poetic Edda’. The meeting will be followed by the Annual Dinner.

Abstract: The ‘Nibelungen Cycle’ in the Poetic Edda

The Codex Regius of the Poetic Edda now contains 45 folios. Folios 27 to 45 tell of Sigurd the Dragon-Slayer, his lover Brynhild and his wife Gudrun, Gudrun’s brothers and Gudrun’s marriage to Brynhild’s brother Atli, and finally about Gudrun’s sons from a third marriage. All these magnificent characters perish as a consequence of the tragic conflicts in which they are involved. Unlike Vǫlsungasaga or Nibelungenlied where the same basic story is told straightforwardly by one singer or story-teller, one incident following another, it is here unfolded through a series of loosely connected poems of different ages and origins. In these poems style and manner of presentation differ greatly with different and even contrasting attitudes towards the characters and their actions identifiable.

The conventional approach to this material has been to analyse each poem as a separate, eventually badly preserved, composition. The recording of just these poems, one after another in a particular order in this manuscript, can, however, also be studied as an act of creative composition. An ordering mind has attempted to arrest the flow of tradition and present it, in all its variety, as some sort of single entity. It seems worthwhile to try to understand the nature of this complex multi-voiced text-cycle, attending to the voice of the editor without disregarding the various voices of tradition.

How do the individual poems relate to one another and to the whole? Does it make sense to talk about an intentio editoris in this part of the Poetic Edda? Does the character of the cycle change as it proceeds? Is there at its core a consistent attitude to the heroic spirit and code of conduct, or are conflicting attitudes discernible?

These are the main questions I want to ask. I cannot promise definitive answers.

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New Publication



Edited by Margaret Clunies Ross and Jonas Wellendorf

lxiv +191 pp.

ISBN 978-0-903521-90-1. £12 (£6 for Viking Society members)

The anonymous poetical treatise, The Fourth Grammatical Treatise, one of four learned Icelandic works preserved in the fourteenth-century Codex Wormianus, is edited here by two scholars who combine expertise in the medieval Latin grammatical rhetorical tradition which it follows with knowledge of the vernacular tradition of skaldic poetry, which the author used to illustrate his text. Jonas Wellendorf has been responsible for placing the work in its Latin context, editing and translating the prose text and providing commentary on it, while Margaret Clunies Ross has edited, translated and provided commentary on the poetic examples. The Icelandic text is presented here alongside a facing-page translation into English, with extensive commentary and a full introduction by both editors.

Please order from Gazelle Book Services Limited, High Town, Lancaster, LA1 4XS;

email: Viking Society members can claim members’ reduced price from Gazelle. Copies will also be on sale at Viking Society meetings.

Snorri Sturluson: Heimskringla

II. Óláfr Haraldsson (The Saint)

 Translated by Alison Finlay and Anthony Faulkes

This second part in the three-volume translation of Heimskringla includes the life of Óláfr Haraldsson, king of Norway from 1015 until his fall in the battle of Stiklarstaðir in 1030, and the subsequent beginnings of the cult that established him as patron saint of the Northern lands. Following the practice of the Íslenzk fornrit edition on which the translation is based, it also includes passages from Snorri’s earlier version of the king’s life, the so-called Separate Saga of St Óláfr, where these are not reproduced in the Heimskringla version. Comparison of these passages with the Heimskringla version gives an insight into Snorri’s working practices, showing how the Separate saga was adapted for inclusion in the compendium. The Prologue to the Separate saga, believed to be a later reworking of the Prologue to Heimskringla, is also included. As in Volume I, the Introduction is by Alison Finlay, who also translated the verses. The prose has been translated by Anthony Faulkes.

2014. ISBN 978-0-903521-89-5. xvii + 339 pp. 215 x 137 mm. Price £12 (£6 for members of the Society)

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Recent Publications: The Uppsala Edda, Heimskringla

Among the Society’s recent publications is an edition of The Uppsala Edda by Heimir Pálsson, which appeared in 2012. This is based on the fourteenth-century version of Snorri Sturluson’s Edda found in the manuscript DG 11 4to, which differs considerably from the Codex Regius text edited by Anthony Faulkes, also published by the Society.

Snorri-Sturluson. Heimskringla I. The Beginnings to Óláfr Tryggvason: In 2011 the Society published the first part of a three-volume translation of Snorri Sturluson’s Heimskringla by Alison Finlay and Anthony Faulkes.

Volume II will be published in Autumn 2013.

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New Support Fund Application Procedures

The Society’s Support Fund, which helps members with research and travel costs, continues to welcome applications. The procedures for applying have changed slightly, however. Please see the Support Fund page for details.

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New Subscription Rates

Members and prospective members are reminded that subscriptions, which are due for renewal on 1 October, have risen slightly in price: Ordinary membership now costs £25.00 and Student Membership is £10.00 per annum. This change applies to new subscriptions as well as renewals. See the membership page for information about how to join or renew your subscription.

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