Olaf Feilan

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Olaf Feilan Thorsteinsson (Old Norse: Óláfr "feilan" Þorsteinsson [ˈoːˌlɑːvz̠ ˈfɛilɑn ˈθorˌstɛinsˌson], Modern Icelandic: Ólafur "feilan" Þorsteinsson [ˈouːˌlaːvʏr ˈfeiːlan ˈθɔrˌsteinsˌsɔːn]; c. 890–940) was an Icelandic gothi of the Settlement period. He was the son of Thorstein the Red, jarl of Caithness, and his wife Thurid Eyvindsdottir.[1] The byname "feilan" is derived from the Old Irish fáelán, meaning wolfling or little wolf.

After the death of his father Olaf was reared by his grandmother Aud the Deep-minded,[2] and emigrated with her to Iceland, where they settled at the estate called Hvamm in the Laxardal region. Olaf married a woman named Alfdis of Barra,[3] around 920.[4] According to the Laxdæla saga Aud (called "Unn" in the saga) held Olaf dearer than anyone else, and bequested the Hvamm estate to him after her death. She arranged Olaf's betrothal to Alfdis, and planned the wedding feast for the end of summer (or autumn), which she predicted "would be the last feast I would hold".[5] She indeed died during the festivities that lasted 3-days, but the feast was continued to commemorate both Olaf's marriage and Aud's death. The Landnámabók gives briefer notice on this, merely stating she died during the funeral feast she held for herself in anticipation of her own death.[3]

The children of Olaf and Alfdis were Thord Gellir, Thora, Helga, Thorunn, and Thordis.[2] Olaf died around 940. Shortly after his death, his nephew Hoskuld Dala-Kollsson named his illegitimate son Olaf the Peacock as namesake[6][7] (Olaf the Peacock had a son Kjartan Óláfsson, who was the beloved of Guðrún Ósvífrsdóttir, heroine of Laxdæla saga).


Lines from Thord Gellir
  • — Eyjolf the Gray Thordarson — Thorkel Eyjolfsson (4th husband of Gudrun Osvifsdottir late in Laxdæla saga)[8]
  • — Eyjolf the Gray Thordarson — Gellir — Thorgils — Ari the Learned.[9]
  • — Thorkel Kuggi Thordarson — Thorstein Kuggason (also late in Laxdæla saga)[8]
  • — Thorhild Rjupa (the Ptarmigan), wife of Snorri — Thord Horsehead — Thorfinn Karlsefni the explorer to Vinland[10]


  1. ^ Landnámabók, (translations: Ellwood 1898, Part II, Ch. XV, p.63 Pálsson 2007, §109. Olaf Feilan, p.55)
  2. ^ a b Landnámabók (Ellwood 1898, Part II, Ch. XIX, p.69 Pálsson 2007, §109. Olaf Feilan, p.55)
  3. ^ a b Landnámabók (Ellwood 1898, Part II, Ch. XX, p.69-70, "arval feast (funeral feast)"; Pálsson 2007, §110. Aud dies, p.55)
  4. ^ Press 1906, Ch.7, pp.10- (Of the Wedding of Olaf "Feilan," A.D. 920)
  5. ^ Laxdæla saga ch.7 (Kunz 2000, p. 281); Her words are given as "..this shall be the last bridal feast arrayed by me." in Press 1906 which slightly changes the meaning.
  6. ^ Press 1906, Ch.13, pp.25- (Hoskuld Returns to Iceland, A.D. 948), p.27 "Hoskuld's mistress gave birth to a male chidld.. He said it should be named Olaf, for Olaf Feilan had died a little time before, who was his mother's brother."
  7. ^ Hoskuld's mother Thorgerd was Olaf Feilan's sister. Kunz 2000, p. lxii
  8. ^ a b (Footnote to Laxdaela (Magnusson & Pálsson 1969, p. 57n)
  9. ^ Ellwood 1898, p. xxi
  10. ^ Kunz 2000, p. lxii


Texts and translations
Ari the Learned, Landnámabók
  • Ellwood, T. (Thomas), 1838-1911 (1894). The Book of the Settlement of Iceland:s it Illustrates the Dialect, Place Names, Folk Lore, & Antiquities of Cumberland, Westmorland, and North Lancashire. Kendal: T. Wilson.
  • Ellwood, T. (Thomas), 1838-1911 (1898). "Part II, Ch. XIX". The Book of the Settlement of Iceland: translated from the original Icelandic of Ari the Learned. Kendal: T. Wilson. p. 69.
  • Hermann, Pálsson (2007). Landnámabók. §109. Olaf Feilan: Univ. of Manitoba Press. p. 55. ISBN 0-88-755370-2.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: location (link) ISBN 978-0-887-55370-7
Laxdæla saga
Other sagas
  • Press, Muriel A. C. (1906). "Chapter 7". Laxdæla Saga. London: J. M. Dent. p. 10.
  • Hollander, Lee, transl. Njal's Saga. Wordsworth, 1999.
  • Scudder, Bernard, transl. Egil's Saga. Penguin Classics, 2005.
  • Byock, Jesse. Viking Age Iceland. Penguin Books, 2001.
  • Forte, Angelo, Richard Oram and Frederik Pedersen. Viking Empires. Cambridge University Press, 2005 ISBN 0-521-82992-5.
  • Jones, Gwyn. A History of the Vikings. 2nd ed. London: Oxford Univ. Press, 1984.
  • Ordower, Henry. "Exploring the Literary Function of Law and Litigation in 'Njal's Saga.'" Cardozo Studies in Law and Literature, Vol. 3, No. 1 (Spring – Summer 1991), pp. 41–61.