Steinunn Refsdóttir

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Steinunn Refsdóttir was an Icelandic skaldic poetic active at the end of the 10th century.

The daughter of Refr hinn mikill ("the Great") and Finna,[1] "Steinunn was both descended from and married into a powerful family of priest-chieftains (goðar)[2]". She is Hofgarða-Refr Gestsson's mother.

Brennu-Njáls saga (102) relates that she preached heathenism to Þangbrandr, a missionary sent to Iceland by king of Norway Óláfr Tryggvason, trying to demonstrate Thor's superiority over Christ ("Have you heard," she said, "that Thor challenged Christ to a duel and that Christ didn't dare to fight with him?"[3]). On this occasion she composed two skaldic stanzas (lausavísur) in which she attributes Þangbrandr's shipwreck to Thor. These verses are one of the few testimonies of pre-Christian skaldic poetry composed by a woman that has come down to us. They are also preserved in Kristni saga (9) and Óláfs saga Tryggvasonar en mesta (216).


  1. ^ Landnámabók (S 69).
  2. ^ Íslendingabók. Kristni Saga. Translated by Siân Grønlie. London: Viking Society for Northern Research, 2006. ISBN 0-903521-71-7. p. 65.
  3. ^ Njal's saga. Translated with introduction and notes by Robert Cook. London: Penguin. ISBN 0-14-044769-5.

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