Wayland the Smith
In Norse mythology, Wayland the Smith (Old English: Wēland; Old Norse: Völundr, Velentr; Old High German: Wiolant ; Proto-Germanic: *Wēlandaz; variously Galan and Galand in French; from *Wēla-nandaz, lit. "battle-brave") is a legendary master blacksmith, described by Jessie Weston as "the weird and malicious craftsman, Weyland". In Old Norse sources, Völundr appears in Völundarkviða, a poem in the Poetic Edda, and in Þiðrekssaga, and his legend is also depicted on Ardre image stone VIII. In Old English sources, he appears in Deor, Waldere and in Beowulf and the legend is depicted on the Franks Casket. He is mentioned in the German poems about Theoderic the Great as the Father of Witige.
Old Norse reference
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According to Völundarkviða, the king of the Sami people had three sons: Völundr (Wayland) and his two brothers Egil and Slagfiðr. In one version of the myth, the three brothers lived with three Valkyries: Ölrún, Hervör alvitr and Hlaðguðr svanhvít. After nine years, the Valkyries left their lovers. Egil and Slagfiðr followed, never to return. In another version, Völundr married the swan maiden Hervör, and they had a son, Heime, but Hervör later left Völundr. In both versions, his love left him with a ring. In the former myth, he forged seven hundred duplicates of this ring.
Later, King Niðhad captured Völundr in his sleep in Nerike and ordered him hamstrung and imprisoned on the island of Sævarstöð. There Völundr was forced to forge items for the king. Völundr's wife's ring was given to the king's daughter, Böðvildr. Niðhad wore Völundr's sword.
In revenge, Völundr killed the king's sons when they visited him in secret, fashioned goblets from their skulls, jewels from their eyes, and a brooch from their teeth. He sent the goblets to the king, the jewels to the queen and the brooch to the king's daughter. When Bodvild took her ring to Wayland for mending, he took the ring and raped her, fathering a son. He then escaped, using wings he made.
Old English references
- Welund tasted misery among snakes.
- The stout-hearted hero endured troubles
- had sorrow and longing as his companions
- cruelty cold as winter - he often found woe
- Once Nithad laid restraints on him,
- supple sinew-bonds on the better man.
- That went by; so can this.
The Franks Casket is one of a number of other Old English references to Wayland, whose story was evidently well known and popular, although no extended version in Old English has survived. The reference in Waldere is similar to that in Beowulf - the hero's sword was made by Weland - while Alfred the Great in his translation of Boethius asks plaintively: "What now are the bones of Wayland, the goldsmith preeminently wise?".:p. 27 In the front panel of the Franks Casket, incongruously paired with an Adoration of the Magi, Wayland stands at the extreme left in the forge where he is held as a slave by King Niðhad, who has had his hamstrings cut to hobble him. Below the forge is the headless body of Niðhad's son, who Wayland has killed, making a goblet from his skull; his head is probably the object held in the tongs in Wayland's hand. With his other hand Wayland offers the goblet, containing drugged beer, to Böðvildr, Niðhad's daughter, whom he then rapes when she is unconscious. Another female figure is shown in the centre; perhaps Wayland's helper, or Bodvild again. To the right of the scene Wayland (or his brother) catches birds; he then makes wings from their feathers, with which he is able to escape.
During the Viking Age in northern England, Wayland is depicted in his smithy, surrounded by his tools, at Halton, Lancashire, and fleeing from his royal captor by clinging to a flying bird, on crosses at Leeds, West Yorkshire, and at Sherburn-in-Elmet and Bedale, both in North Yorkshire. English literature was also aware of his giant father Wade.
Wayland is associated with Wayland's Smithy, a burial mound in the Berkshire Downs.:p. 27 This was named by the English, but the megalithic mound significantly predates them. It is from this association that the superstition came about that a horse left there overnight with a small silver coin (groat) would be shod by morning. This superstition is mentioned in the first episode of Puck of Pook's Hill by Rudyard Kipling, "Weland's Sword", which narrates the rise and fall of the god.:p. 302 The character of Waylon Smithers in The Simpsons is likewise a servant of a powerful master, who is 'hamstrung' by his obedience and love for Mr Burns.
Swords described as having been forged by Wayland
Irvin Dalton has created a list of swords which are said to have been forged by Wayland.
- Four are mentioned by name in the Karlamagnus Saga
- Almace, the sword of Tilpin.
- Curtana, the sword of Ogier the Dane
- Durendal, the sword of Roland (N.B. in Orlando Innamorato, Durendal is said to have been originally the sword of Hector of Troy.)
- Mimung, which he forged to fight the rival smith Amilias, according to the Þiðrekssaga, and later came into the possession of Landri or Landres, nephew of Charlemagne.
- Another in the Poetic Edda
- Gram, the sword of Sigmund, which would be destroyed by Odin, and is later reforged by Regin and used by Sigmund's son Sigurd to slay the dragon Fafnir, according to the Völsunga saga.
- Adylok / Hatheloke, the sword of Torrent of Portyngale, according to Torrent of Portyngale.
- Merveilleuse, the hero's sword in the Chanson de Doon de Mayence was forged by "Un ouvrier de Galan" [Galand], a journeyman of Wayland's.
- The unnamed sword of the hero in the Chanson de Gui de Nanteuil.
- The unnamed sword of Huon of Bordeaux, according to Lord Berners.
- More are referenced in more modern adaptations, including
- An unnamed sword whose history is related by Rudyard Kipling in Puck of Pook's Hill.
- Albion, sword of Robin Hood, and its six partners in Robin of Sherwood.
- Caliburn, in Mary Stewart's retelling of Arthurian legend, is the sword of Macsen, Merlin, and Arthur.
- MD Staff (19 March 2017). "French Mythology—Mythology Dictionary". MythologyDictionary.com. Retrieved 19 March 2017.
- Rosenfeld, Hellmut (1969). Der Name Wieland, Beiträge zur Namenforschung.[full citation needed]
- Weston, J. (1929). 'Legendary Cycles of the Middle Age', in Tanner, J.R. (ed.), The Cambridge Medieval History Vol. VI, Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, p. 841f.
- Pollington, Steve (Transl.) (1997). "deor". Wiðowinde. 100: 64. Archived from the original on 10 April 1997. Retrieved 18 March 2017. (subscription required (. )) The home page for this print journal can he found here.
- Gordon, R.K. (1954). Anglo-Saxon Poetry, London: Dent, p. 65. This is a partial text of the Walder fragments in modern English. See the start of fragment A for Wayland.
- Shippey, T. (1992). The Road to Middle-Earth.[full citation needed]
- Henderson, G. (1977) . Early Medieval Art London:Penguin, p. 157.[full citation needed]
- All noted in Hall, Richard (1995). Viking Age Archaeology, Shire Achaeology series, p. 40.[full citation needed]
- ArchEurope Staff (2015). "Depictions of Wayland's Wings". ArchEurope.com. Retrieved 12 January 2015.
- Dalton, Irvin (2015). The Esoteric Codex: Deities of Forge and Smithing (self-published work). Raleigh, NC: Lulu. p. 82. ISBN 1329777867. Retrieved 19 March 2017.
- Sometimes spelled Galand, see reference following.
- Heaney, Seamus (2000). Beowulf: A New Verse Translation. W. W. Norton. ISBN 978-0-393-32097-8.
- Larrington, Carolyne (transl.) (1996). The Poetic Edda. Oxford World's Classics. ISBN 0-19-283946-2.
- Mortensson-Egnund, Ivar (transl.) (2002). Edda: The Elder Edda and the Prose Edda. Oslo: Samlaget. ISBN 82-521-5961-3.
|Wikisource has the text of the 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica article Wayland the Smith.|