CANCELLED! Poetry and variety in Orkneyinga saga

This event has been cancelled to prevent spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19). Orkneyinga saga is a thirteenth-century Icelandic saga set largely in northern Britain. Sophus Bugge Annual Lecture will provide an overview of the poetry both preserved in, and associated with the saga.

Image may contain: Croft, Cottage, Property, Grassland, House.

Abandoned House on Stoma Orkney. Orkneyinga saga is set largely in northern Britain.  

Photo: Rab Lawrence, Flickr, CC.

Much, though not all, of this poetry has been discussed in detail by previous scholars, particularly now that it has all been edited in Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages.

However, no one has provided an overview of this very varied body of poems, indeed few have noticed just  how varied the poetry in Orkneyinga saga is, or queried what this tells us about cultural life in Viking Age and medieval Orkney.

The poems in the saga have the chronological range, spanning some 300 years, of those in king’s sagas like Heimskringla, but there is a wider range of themes and types of poem, including many more individual lausavísur, as well as sets of related lausavísur, in addition to the expected extracts from long praise poems.

The saga has a wider range of types of poet who composed these poems, and it also provides important evidence for poetry that does not survive, or which survives elsewhere.

Pursuing this idea of variety, Judith Jesch will explore what it might indicate in a general sense, both about the poetry cited in the saga, and about the origins of that poetry, with a particular focus on the cultural and historical contexts which produced poetry in Old Norse in Orkney itself.

About the speaker

Profil photo og Judith Jesch
Professor Judith Jesch.

Judith Jesch is Professor of Viking Studies at the University of Nottingham, where she has worked since 1985, and Director of its Centre for the Study of the Viking Age. 

Judith has published three monographs which have all been field-changing contributions to the interdisciplinary study of the Viking Age and Old Norse texts.:

  • Women in the Viking Age (1991) 
  • Ships and Men: The vocabulary of runic inscriptions and skaldic verse (2001)
  • The Viking Diaspora (2015)

She is currently working on a new translation of the text usually known as Orkneyinga saga, in which she will radically rethink how best to present this saga’s complex transmission, as well as providing full historical and archaeological annotation.

For more information visit Judith Jesch's page (University of Nottingham).

Sophus Bugge Annual Lecture

Sophus Bugge is a foundational figure for the study of Scandinavian, and most prominently Old Norse culture and language.

The Sophus Bugge Annual Lecture series aims to present international and excellent research in the multidisciplinary study of the Scandinavian Middle Ages in the tradition of Sophus Bugge.

Published Feb. 26, 2020 2:50 PM - Last modified Mar. 11, 2020 2:00 PM