Scholarly Works - Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic

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  • ItemAccepted versionOpen Access
    Remembering the 'Old North' in Ninth- and Tenth-Century Wales
    (Medieval Academy of Ireland) Thomas, RL
    Abstract: This article takes a fresh look at how the memory of the ‘Old North’ was used and reshaped in early medieval Welsh sources. Although their value as historical evidence for the northern kingdoms is uncertain, these sources give us precious insight into how early Welsh writers perceived themselves as a people. Focusing on Historia Brittonum and Armes Prydein Vawr this study demonstrates the multiplicity of memories of the ‘Old North’ in early medieval Wales, with writers freely adapting the past to their present ends.
  • ItemAccepted versionOpen Access
    Bad Beef and Mad Cow Disease in Bósa saga ok Herrauðs
    (University of Illinois Press, 2018) Hui, JYH
    The fourteenth-century fornaldarsaga Bósa saga ok Herrauðs is unique in the corpus of medieval Icelandic saga literature on account of several outrageously flamboyant elements. Studies have been devoted to the saga’s use of runes (see Thompson), its colourful curses (see Lozzi Gallo) and its explicit pornographic set-plays (see Renaud). The runes and fabliau-inspired pornographic scenes are both unique in saga literature, while the curses are exaggerated beyond all seriousness. This relatively late saga also readily subverts several aspects mostly consistent across other fornaldarsögur, such as its use of over-hyperbolised battle-scenes and its hero Bósi’s idiosyncratic reliance on cunning rather than physical strength. Also notable is its humorous portrayal of the semi-mythological Goðmundr of Glæsisvellir, who, in his numerous recurrences in fornaldarsögur (Tolkien 84–6, Ellis Davidson 167–78), is never elsewhere treated as a parodic punchline. In the words of Vésteinn Ólason, the saga is “a comedy where the conventions and clichés of the genre of fornaldarsaga are exaggerated to the verge of parody and indeed beyond” (121). This article will examine another element whose very construction is a product of this eagerness on the part of the saga author to push established boundaries: the conflation of two established motifs, the monstrous animal and transformative meat. The discussion will seek to fully contextualise the literary processes underpinning this conflation by examining analogues of each of these separate motifs, in order to determine the specific ways and effects through which the saga author adapted them.
  • ItemPublished versionOpen Access
    Labour Pains: Scenes of Birth and Becoming in Old Norse Legendary Literature
    (Cambridge Colloquium in Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic, 2018-02-01) Olley, K; Olley, Katherine [0000-0002-3077-9399]
    In spite of the frequent characterization of the maternal body as a site of genealogical corruption and change in Old Norse legendary literature, it is rarely depicted at the moment of its greatest transformation, when pregnancy gives way to labour and birth. The article explores attitudes toward birth in the fornaldarsögur and the Poetic Edda by examining those rare but graphic scenes of labour which do survive. From Borgný’s traumatic labour in Oddrúnargrátr, which can only be eased by Oddrún’s attendance, to the pregnancy of Völsungr’s mother in Völsunga saga, which drags on for six years until her son must be cut from her body, to the elfin woman in Göngu-Hrólfs saga, who must endure nineteen days of labour until human intervention speeds the process along: such scenes demonstrate that danger arises chiefly when a birth is prolonged or delayed. The article examines how the drama of prolonging birth extends a liminal moment between the hope of new life and the threat of death, emphasizing birth as a communal process, in which multiple identities, including those of the parents, child and even the midwife, must be (re)negotiated in order to bring the birth to a successful conclusion. Thus scenes of giving birth encapsulate moments of changing identity or ‘scenes of becoming’ wherein a child (in particular a firstborn child) is both created by its parents and creates them in turn, entering them into new kinship roles as mothers and fathers in the genealogical matrix.
  • ItemAccepted versionOpen Access
    The Icelandic Hǫgni: The Re-imagining of a Nibelung Hero in the Eddic Tradition
    (University of Illinois Press, 2018-07-01) Olley, K; Olley, Katherine [0000-0002-3077-9399]
    The paper examines the characterization of Hǫgni across the poems of the Poetic Edda, assessing his depiction as a brother, as a husband and father, as a warrior, and as a king in order to build up an eddic-centric picture of his character and narrative function. The paper contends that, unlike the far more ambiguous Hagen in the German tradition, Hǫgni only ever appears as a foil to his brother Gunnarr and sister Guðrún and is used to throw their actions and decisions into relief. In the small cast of eddic characters he stands alone, untroubled by the conflicts of loyalty which affect his kin, working instead to give their struggles depth and audience. In this way Hǫgni is revealed as ideally suited to the intimate eddic aesthetic, with its penchant for duologues and a limited cast, most unlike the epic sprawl of the Nibelungenlied. The firm orientation of Hǫgni’s role around those of his siblings argues for Hǫgni to be an eddic creation, transformed by eddic poets from the vassal of the German tradition to the brother and king of the Icelandic in order to suit the demands of eddic poetry, and whose characterization may thus provide a rare insight into those anonymous poets’ creative processes.
  • ItemPublished versionOpen Access
    Three Newly Recovered Leaves From The ‘Winchester Anthology’*
    (Oxford University Press, 2016-06-01) Soper, H
    This note reports the recovery of three folios missing from the late-fifteenth-century miscellany known as the ‘Winchester Anthology’ (British Library, MS Additional 60577) within the collections of the Bodleian Library, inside one of the eighteenth-century notebooks of the antiquarian Thomas Hearne (MS Hearne's Diaries 42). An account is given of the material composition of the leaves as well as their textual content; as part of this discussion, a suggestion is offered as to where precisely these leaves were originally situated inside the ‘Winchester Anthology’.
  • ItemAccepted versionOpen Access
    'Go and Look in the Latin Books': Latin and the Vernacular in Medieval Wales
    (Oxford University Press, 2017-04-27) Russell, P; Ashdowne, R; White, C; Russell, Paul [0000-0002-5460-7903]
    The Latin of medieval Wales has, it might be argued, been marginal to the concerns of the DMLBS in a number of respects. Geographically throughout the period with which the dictionary is concerned, Wales was marginal to the concerns of most of the historians, chroniclers, bureaucrats, poets, et al., from whose writings the data for the dictionary has been drawn. Lexicographically too the Latin of medieval Wales has sat rather uncomfortably between two stools. Very early in the process it was agreed that data from Latin texts in Wales from before 1200 would be taken into the Dictionary of Medieval Latin from Celtic Sources, a project under the auspices of the Royal Irish Academy in Dublin, though the details are vague as to which texts precisely would be taken over: ‘in view of the project launched by the Royal Irish Academy for a Dictionary of Insular Celtic Latin, most Irish sources prior to 1200, and some Welsh sources, have been excluded (sc. from the DMLBS).’ However, it is clear that many of the relevant writers have been included, such as Gildas, ‘Nennius’, Asser, Rhigyfarch, Ieuan, Caradog, Geoffrey, and especially those who straddled the 1200 watershed, such as Gerald of Wales and Walter Map, who at least wrote about Wales even if they were not writing in Wales.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Introduction
    (Brepols Publishers, 2016-01-01) Flechner, R; Ni Mhaonaigh, M; Ni Mhaonaigh, M; Flechner, R
  • ItemOpen Access
    Epilogue: Converting the Isles: Continuity and Transformation
    (Brepols, 2016-01-01) Ni Mhaonaigh, M; Ni Mhaonaigh, M; Flechner, R
  • ItemAccepted versionOpen Access
    Canyt oes aruer: Gwilym Wasta and the Laws of Court in Welsh Law
    (Ohio State University Press, 2017-11) Russell, P; Russell, Paul [0000-0002-5460-7903]
    It is conventional to divide the manuscript tradition of Blegywryd redaction of the Welsh laws into two groups depending on whether they contain the Laws of Court and where the triads are positioned. It has long been recognized that Gwilym Wasta (working ca 1300) was the scribe of the three manuscripts which do not contain the Laws of Court and that in three of the manuscripts he replaced them with a colophon in which he seems to claim that he has omitted them because they were no longer in use. This paper argues that matters might be rather more complicated and that the omission of the Laws of Court may have been more by accident than design.
  • ItemProofOpen Access
    Légen hÉrenn: "The Learning of Ireland" in the Early Medieval Period
    (Medieval Institute Publications, 2016-08-01) Ni Mhaonaigh, M; Szarmach, P
  • ItemAccepted versionRestricted
    Converting the Isles: Reflections and Reconsiderations
    (Brepols Publishers, 2017) Ni Mhaonaigh, M; Edwards, N; Flechner, R; Ni Mhaonaigh, M; Edwards, N; Flechner, R
  • ItemAccepted versionRestricted
    From Story to History: Narrating Conversion in Medieval Ireland
    (Brepols Publishers, 2017) Ni Mhaonaigh, M; Ni Mhaonaigh, M; Edwards, N; Flechner, R
  • ItemAccepted versionRestricted
  • ItemPublished versionOpen Access
    Eald æfensceop: Poetic Composition and the Authority of the Aged in Old English Verse
    (Cambridge Colloquium in Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic, 2017) Soper, HC
    The ability to compose and perform poetry or song is repeatedly linked with a state of old age in the Old English poetic corpus. This paper will highlight in turn the presentation of elderly, lyrically gifted individuals in Beowulf, Cynewulf’s epilogue to Elene and Riddle 8 of the Exeter Book. All assert a relationship between ideas of advanced age and poetic compositional ability, one which relies upon complex ideas of wisdom and sagacity, accumulation of knowledge and access to memory of various past experiences. This aspect of the poet’s identity in Old English literature has not yet been fully investigated by scholars. Equally, studies of ideas of old age in the poetry have not focused on poetic aptitude. The implications of such a connection nonetheless resonate widely across the body of vernacular verse surviving from Anglo-Saxon England.
  • ItemAccepted versionOpen Access
    The Fornaldarsaga in a Dream: Weaving Fantastical Textures in Stjörnu-Odda draumr
    (Cambridge Colloquium in Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic) Hui, JYH
    Stjörnu-Odda draumr (‘Star-Oddi’s dream’) is a relatively little-known Íslendingaþáttr (‘tale of Icelanders’) which dates from the latefourteenth century at the latest but which no longer survives in anymanuscripts predating the seventeenth century.1 It is the only knownNorse text in which a character dreams of being in and participatingin an embedded, custom-written fornaldarsaga (‘saga of an ancienttime’, or legendary saga), making it, in the words of Ralph O’Connor,a ‘literary tour de force and altogether unique in the saga corpus’. 2
  • ItemAccepted versionOpen Access
    From plates and rods to royal drink-stands in <em>Branwen</em> and medieval Welsh law
    (JSTOR, 2017) Paul Russell; Russell, Paul [0000-0002-5460-7903]
    This paper takes as its starting point the well-known passage in $\textit{Branwen}$ about the compensation for Matholwch and its relationship to the Iorwerth redaction of medieval Welsh law. It argues, first, that the text of $\textit{Branwen}$ need not be emended by reference to the Iorwerth redaction. It then traces the textual development of the legal passage from a silver rod and gold plate in Iorwerth to an elaborate royal drink-stand in the other redactions. It follows Robin Chapman Stacey in suggesting that the Iorwerth redaction has maintained a simple version of this text to ensure the text is seen as unexceptional from a broader European perspective of kingship. Finally, it returns to a particular aspect of these descriptions, the Welsh and Latin terms used for fingers which present a confused and muddled picture.
  • ItemAccepted versionOpen Access
    Perception and reality: Ireland c.980-1229
    (Cambridge University Press, 2016) Ní Mhaonaigh, Máire; Smith, Brendan
  • ItemAccepted versionRestricted
    Textual Correspondences in $\textit{Tochmarc Ferbe}$
    (Harvard University Press, 2016) Shercliff, Rebecca; Shercliff, Becky [0000-0002-9870-4676]
    This paper will examine evidence for intertextuality and compositional methods in the medieval Irish tale Tochmarc Ferbe "The Wooing of Ferb," using as a case study a particular passage consisting of set-piece description. Tochmarc Ferbe (TF) offers certain advantages for this kind of study, as a result of its textual tradition. The tale is found in two manuscripts, the Book of Leinster (Dublin, Trinity College 1339 (H.2.18), pp. 253-9), from the second half of the twelfth century, and London, British Library, Egerton 1782 (fol. 69b), from the early sixteenth century. The Egerton version of the tale is a straightforward, short prose account. Meanwhile, the Book of Leinster (LL) version is more complex in form. It consists mainly of a long, detailed prose narrative, with several poems interspersed within it, which act as Situationsgedichte 'situation-poems.'1 However, at the end of this prose narrative, there is a poem of a different sort, namely a long poem purportedly containing the account of the tale's events as composed by Conchobar's fili 'poet.' The contents of this poem correspond approximately, but not completely, with those of the preceding prose. But what is particularly striking is that the Egerton-version corresponds almost exactly with this long LL-poem as regards content and sometimes even wording. We are therefore dealing, not with two, but with three interrelated versions of the tale Tochmarc Ferbe,
  • ItemPublished versionOpen Access
    Three Newly Recovered Leaves From The ‘Winchester Anthology’*
    (Oxford University Press, 2016-06-01) Soper, Harriet
    This note reports the recovery of three folios missing from the late-fifteenth-century miscellany known as the ‘Winchester Anthology’ (British Library, MS Additional 60577) within the collections of the Bodleian Library, inside one of the eighteenth-century notebooks of the antiquarian Thomas Hearne (MS Hearne's Diaries 42). An account is given of the material composition of the leaves as well as their textual content; as part of this discussion, a suggestion is offered as to where precisely these leaves were originally situated inside the ‘Winchester Anthology’.