Skalla-Grímr

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Grímr Kveldúlfsson (usually called Skalla-Grímr, or "bald Grim") was a Norwegian who lived in the ninth and tenth centuries. He is an important character in Egils saga and is mentioned in the Landnámabók.[1]

Biography[edit]

Family[edit]

Skalla-Grímr was the son of Kveldúlfr Bjálfason and Salbjörg Káradóttir. He had one brother, Þorolfr, and was related to Ketil Trout on his mother's side.[2] He was married to Bera Yngvarsdóttir and had two sons, Þorolfr and Egill, and two daughters, Sæunn and Þórunn.[3] His ancestor, Hallbjorn, was Norwegian-Sami.[4]

Feud with King Harald[edit]

Skalla-Grímr's brother Þorolfr was a member of King Haraldr Fairhair's retinue, although Kveldúlfr refused to swear allegiance to the king.[5] When Haraldr had Þorolfr killed, Skalla-Grímr and Kveldulfr attacked a ship of King Haraldr's, and killed all but two of those on the ship, including two of the King's cousins.[1][6]

Settlement in Iceland[edit]

Following these killings, Skalla-Grímr and Kveldúlfr set out for Iceland. Kveldúlfr fell sick and died early in the voyage. Before he died, he commanded his son to put his casket in the ocean, and to settle wherever he found the casket. Skalla-Grímr did as his father directed, and when he arrived in Iceland, he discovered the casket had come ashore in the Mýrar district, near Borg.[7] Skalla-Grímr built his house at Borg, and settled the entire region.[8]

Skalla-Grímr lived to an old age and died at Borg.

Poetry[edit]

Skalla-Grímr was a prolific poet, and composed this stanza:

Nú's hersis hefnd
við hilmi efnd;
gengr ulfr ok örn
of ynglings börn.
Flugu höggvin hræ
Hallvarðs á sæ.
Grár slítr undir
ari Snarfara.[6]

Now the nobleman (Kveldúlfr) has exacted revenge upon the king (Harald Fairhair);
now wolf and eagle tread on the king's children.
The hewn corpses of Hallvarðr (Hallvarðr Harðfari and his people, that is the enemies) flew into the sea;
the grey eagle tears the wounds of Snarfari (Sigtryggr Snarfari was the brother of Hallvarðr Harðfari).

According to the late scholar Bjarni Einarsson this poem, by using end rhyme, "if authentic" is a unique phenomenon in late ninth-century Old Norse poetry.[9]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Landnámabók, § 18
  2. ^ Egils saga, § 1
  3. ^ Egils saga, § 31
  4. ^ Pálsson, Hermann. "The Sami People in Old Norse Literature." Nordlit 3.1 (2012): 29-53. "The following nouns were used about people of mixed parentage:".."halftroll 'a half troll'. This is used as the nickname of Hallbjorn of Ramsta in Namdalen, father of Ketill hoengr, and ancestor of some of the settlers of Iceland, including Skalla-Grimr."
  5. ^ Egils saga, § 5
  6. ^ a b Egils saga, § 27
  7. ^ Landnámabók, § 19
  8. ^ Egils saga, § 28
  9. ^ See Egils saga (tr. of Bjarni Einarsson 2003), p. 187, available at www.vsnrweb-publications.org.uk/Egla/Egils_saga.pdf. Einarsson states: “The third preserved major poem, Head-ransom, is in the runhenda metre (i.e. with end-rhyme), which would be a unique phenomenon in tenth-century Old Norse poetry (apart from the second stanza of Egils saga, spoken by Skalla-Grímr, which, if authentic, would belong to the late ninth century).”