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The Meanings of Elf and Elves in Medieval

Alaric Timothy Peter Hall
Submitted for the degree of Ph.D.
Department of English Language, Uniersity of !lasgo"
#ctober, $%%&
The Meanings of Elf and Elves in Medieval England
Alaric Timothy Peter Hall
This thesis inestigates the character and role of non'(hristian belief in medieal
societies, and ho" "e can reconstruct it using "ritten sources. )t focuses on Anglo'Sa*on
culture, conte*tualising Anglo'Sa*on material "ith analyses of +iddle English, #lder
Scots, Scandinaian and )rish te*ts. ,e lac- Anglo'Sa*on narraties about eles .ælfe,
singular ælf/, but the "ord ælf itself is "ell'attested in #ld English te*ts. 0y analysing
these attestations, it is possible to discoer much about the meanings of the "ord ælf1
from "hich, ) argue, it is possible to infer "hat ælfe "ere belieed to be and to do, and
ho" these beliefs changed oer time. Using methodologies inspired by linguistic
anthropology .discussed in (hapter 2/, ) deelop these analyses to reconstruct the
changing significances of non'(hristian beliefs in medieal English'spea-ing societies,
affording ne" perspecties on (hristianisation, health and healing, and group identity,
particularly gendering.
The body of the thesis, chapters $34, is in three parts. 0ecause of its historiographical
prominence in discussions of Anglo'Sa*on non'(hristian beliefs, ) begin in (hapter $ by
reassessing Scandinaian comparatie eidence for elf'beliefs. ) also sho" that it is
possible to correlate the meanings of #ld 5orse "ords for supernatural beings "ith other
Scandinaian mythological sources for "orld'ie"s, proiding a case'study supporting
similar approaches to Anglo'Sa*on eidence.
(hapters 637 reassess Anglo'Sa*on linguistic and te*tual eidence, tac-ling in turn
prehistoric naming patterns and morphological deelopments, poetry, glosses, and
medical te*ts. The long'standing assumption that ælfe "ere incorporeal, small and arro"'
shooting proes to be both unfounded and implausible. Traditionally, ælfe "ere
conceptually similar both to gods and to human ethnic others, all of "hom "ere opposed
to monsters in Anglo'Sa*on "orld'ie"s. They "ere probably only male. )n te*tual
eidence, ælfe are paradigmatic e*amples of dangerously seductie beauty and they are
possible causes of prophetic speech and certain -inds of ailments. They inflicted ailments
at least at times by a ariety of magic called siden, cognate "ith the much'discussed
medieal Scandinaian magic seiðr. 0oth of these points associate ælfe "ith feminine'
gendered traits, and ) sho" that by the eleenth century, ælf could also denote
other"orldly, nymph'li-e females. These other"orldly females seem to hae been ne"
arrials in Anglo'Sa*on belief'systems. Demonisation is clearly attested from around
8%%, but ælfe "ere not conflated "ith demons in all or een most discourses, een after
the #ld English period.
(hapters 934 deelop this core eidence to argue for the cultural significance of the
beliefs it reeals. 0y adducing comparatie te*ts from medieal )reland and Scandinaia
and from the early modern Scottish "itchcraft trials, (hapter 9 sho"s ho" the
characteristics of ælf in #ld English could occur together in coherent, ideologically
significant narraties. (hapter 8 considers the #ld English charm Wið færstice in a
similar comparatie conte*t, focusing on the trial of )ssobel !o"die for "itchcraft in
277$, and considering the importance of elf'beliefs in Anglo'Sa*on healing. These
chapters emphasise cultural continuity in 5orth ,est European beliefs, :uestioning
inherited scholarly constructions of fairy'beliefs as distinctiely ;(eltic<, and sho"ing
stri-ing continuities bet"een Anglo'Sa*on and early modern Scottish beliefs.
(hapter 4 concludes by combining earlier findings to ma-e ne" assessments of
Anglo'Sa*on (hristianisation and constructions of group identity, danger and po"er, and
gendering. ) e*amine gender in particular, combining eidence from throughout the
thesis "ith comparatie te*tual and archaeological material to argue that mythological
gender transgressions "ere important to early Anglo'Sa*on gendering. 0eliefs in
effeminate ælfe helped to demarcate gender norms, but also proided a paradigm
"hereby men could in real life gain supernatural po"er through gender transgression. )
lin- the subse:uent rise of female ælfe to changes in Anglo'Sa*on gendering, "hereby
gender roles "ere enforced "ith increasing strictness.
0y combining detailed linguistic and te*tual analyses in a suitable comparatie
conte*t, ) reconstruct aspects of non'(hristian belief "hich are marginali=ed in our early
medieal sources, and detect ho" they changed oer time. Such beliefs illuminate
arious aspects of medieal culture, including social identity, health and healing, the
sources and use of supernatural po"er, and (hristianisation. +y methods, mean"hile,
proide paradigms for ta-ing similar approaches to studying belief and ideology in other
areas of medieal Europe.
Abstract 2
(ontents 6
List of figures 9
Abbreiations 9
Ac-no"ledgements 8
2. )ntroduction 2%
2. Historiography 2>
$. ?undamental assumptions 29
6. +ethodologies 28
6.2 (ategorising from the bottom up 28
6.$ Language and belief $2
6.6 The dynamic nature of belief $6
6.& (omparison $>
&. Popular belief@ $7
Part 1: An Old Norse context $4
$. An #ld 5orse conte*t 6%
2. Snorri<s "ritings 62
2.2 Snorra Edda and Ynglinga saga 62
2.$ Snorri and the vanir 6>
$. Álfr in s-aldic erse 69
6. Álfr in Eddaic erse &$
6.2 ?ormulae, and ?reyr &6
6.$ Vçlundarkviða
&. )nterpretations >%
Part 2: The Old English textual evidence for ælfe >>
6. The earliest Anglo'Sa*on eidenceA etymology, onomastics and morphology >7
2. Etymology >7
$. Personal names >9
6. #ld English morphology 7$
&. (onte*ts and interpretations 7&
&. The Poetic Eidence 79
2. Beowulf 79
$. Ælfscyne 92
>. !losses 99
2. DemonisationA ælf and satanas 94
2.2 Te*ts 94
2.$ #rigins 94
2.6 Eidence for the semantics of ælf 8%
$. Ælfe and nymphsA dunælfa and landælfe 82
$.2 Te*ts 82
$.$ #rigins 86
$.6 Eidence for the semantics of ælf 8>
6. 5ymphs againA from ælfe to ælfenne to ælfen 87
6.2 Te*ts 87
6.$ #rigins 88
6.6 Eidence for the semantics of ælf 4%
&. Ælfe and prophecy@ Ylfig 4$
&.2 Te*ts 4$
&.$ #rigins 4&
&.6 Eidence for the semantics of ælf 4>
&.& Ælfþone 49
>. Ælfe and delusionA ælfisc 2%%
7. (onclusions 2%&
7. +edical te*ts 2%7
2. The elf'shot conspiracyA 0ald<s Leechboo- )), f. 2%7r., Gif ors
ofscoten sie
$. #ther ælf'ailmentsA Leechboo- ))), ff. 2$6a3$> 226
$.2 Ælfadl 22&
$.$ Ælfsogoða 22&
$.6 Wæterælfadl 227
6. Ælfsiden 229
6.2 (omparatie linguistic eidence 228
6.$ Harley >8>, ff. 269r368r 2$$
6.6 Leechboo- ))), ff. 2$%3$2r and lenctenadl 2$$
6.& 0ald<s Leechboo- ), section 7&, f. >$A the semantics of
leodrune and the association of !aran "ith ælfe
6.> Wið ælfcynne 2$7
6.7 Wið ælfe ¯ wiþ uncuþu! sidsan
&. )nterpretations 26%
Part 3: North-est Euro!ean contexts" inter!retations" and conclusions 26$
9. 5arraties and conte*ts 266
2. Se*, sic-ness, seiðr and !çrur, and their analogues
2.2 Ynglinga saga 267
2.$ Serglige "on "ulainn 268
2.6 The Soutern Englis #egendary 2&2
$. +ales and magic 2&&
$.2 Sk$rnis!%l and the 0ergen rune'stae 2&>
$.$ The Gesta &anoru! 2&9
$.6 Eidence for ælfe 2>%
6. Vçlundarkviða again
&. The Scottish "itchcraft trials 2>9
&.2 Andro +an 2>4
&.$ Elspeth Beoch 27$
>. (onclusions 27>
8. Wið færstice 278
2. ,hat is ylfa gescot@ And the coherence of the charm 29%
$. The ægtessan 292
$.2 ,hat is a ægtesse@ 292
$.$ +edieal analogues for the ægtessan in Wið færstice 29&
6. )ssobel !o"dieA the smiths, the eles and the "itches 294
&. Healing and the supernatural in Anglo'Sa*on culture 287
>. (onclusions 288
4. The meanings of ælfe 24%
2. Ælfe as sources of danger and po"er 24$
$. !endering 24>
$.2 The effeminacy of ælfeA early Anglo'Sa*ons and mythological
$.$ The female ælfeCelven $%&
6. (hristianisation $%8
&. ?uture directions $2%
Appendi* 2A The linguistic history of elf $2$
2. The phonological and morphological history of elf $2$
$. !ermanic cognates $29
Appendi* $A Place'names ælf $28
Appendi* 6A T"o non'eles $$2
,or-s cited $$6
List of figures
?igure 2A componential analysis of 5orse "ords for beings &2
?igure $A semantic field diagram of 5orse "ords for beings &2
?igure 6A monstrosity in medieal Scandinaia >&
?igure &A componential analysis of #ld English "ords for beings 7&
?igure >A semantic field diagram of #ld English "ords for beings 7>
?igure 7A the phonological deelopment of ælf $26
?igure 9A the morphology of ælf $27
'(&WB 'ltocdeutsces W)rter*uc
0L 0ritish Library
&+#BS &ictionary of +edieval #atin fro! Britis Sources
&,E &ictionary of ,ld Englis
&,-. ' &ictionary of ,ld -orse .rose/,rd*og over det norr0ne 1rosas1rog
&,S2 &ictionary of te ,lder Scottis 2ongue
L. Linnaean name
+E& +iddle Englis &ictionary
,E& ,3ford Englis &ictionary
S Precedes reference'numbers in Delly 2444
Each time ) hae begun studying at another uniersity, ) hae realised ho" much the last
shaped my thought. This thesis is a product of three. $%%23$%%6 sa" me fre:uently
returning to my al!a !ater, the Department of Anglo'Sa*on, 5orse and (eltic at
(ambridge Uniersity, "here my thesis and ) profited considerably from ac:uaintances
old and ne", and of course from the "ealth of boo-s there. Sandra (romey is a pearl
among librarians. ) had the priilege to spend $%%63$%%& in the Department of English at
the Uniersity of Helsin-i, "here ) "as superised by +atti DilpiE and Leena Dahlas'
Tar--a. ) am much indebted to bothF both they and my other friends there, ) hope, hae
some idea of ho" much they gae me, and of my gratitude. +y students taught me more
than ) taught them, as ) "ish ) had said at the time. The beneficence and patience "hich )
met at Helsin-i is perhaps best summed up by the "illingness of its librarians to -eep
spea-ing to me in ?innish.
Aboe all my research has been in and of the Uniersity of !lasgo". Enumerating the
contributions of my superisors there, !raham (aie and Datie Lo"e, "ould ineitably
leae too much unsaidF ) am fortunate to hae "or-ed "ith them. The Department of
English Language "as a blessedly pleasant enironment to "or- inF listing the assistance
) enGoyed from its other members "ould be too long a tas-, but my progress o"es much
to Alison 0ennett and Pauline +aridor. ) hae benefited too from teaching and other"ise
lur-ing in the departments of History and (eltic, "hose contributions to this thesis hae
been considerable. ) too- my +.Phil. in the !lasgo" (entre for +edieal and
Benaissance Studies, "hich has remained my intellectual homeF my coniual home has
remained the Hetherington Besearch (lubF and my enGoyment of the last three years o"es
much to the friends ) hae made in each.
The attenders of the Late Anti:ue and +edieal Postgraduate Seminars at the
Uniersity of Edinburgh hae listened about eles more often than could reasonably hae
been hoped, as hae the members of !lossa in Helsin-i. 0esides benefiting from the
attentions of my superisors, drafts of the thesis hae been read in "hole or in part by
Paul 0ibire, Dimitra ?imi, 0ethany ?o*, (arole Hough, Alistair +cLennan, 0en Snoo-
and Harriet Thomsett. 0en and 0eth along "ith Dae (ochran, Bory 5aismith and
(harles ,est hae assisted "ith research materials. Richard Burian, Simon Horobin,
Katie Lowe, Rod McConchie and Mark Zumbuhl have proved assiduous elf-spotters. The
original idea for the project was Alex Woolf’s. The research was funded by the Arts and
Humanities Research Board, with an additional contribution in 2002–2003 from the
SOCRATES programme. ) than- indiiduals and organisations ali-eF further specific
debts are noted in the thesis itself. 5eedless to say, ho"eer, its defects and errors are my
o"n. Tell me about them ia HhttpAII"""
The longer ) spend in education, the more ) obsere that academic achieement is
directly proportional to parental support. Depressing though the point is in general, ) am
grateful and glad to ac-no"ledge that in my case it is certainly true. 0ethany ?o* has
been mentioned in another conte*t aboe. ) don<t -no" ho" differently the thesis "ould
turned out "ithout herF but the time spent "riting it "ouldn<t hae been half as fun.
Than-s, one and all.
(hapter 2A )ntroduction
Chapter 1
#ne assumes that "hen, around the first decade of the eleenth century, some"here in
the south'"est of England, the scribe began "hat "as probably the last stint on his
manuscript of medical recipes, he did not guess that it "ould remain in use for oer si*
centuries1more or less until it came into the hands of Beerend Bobert 0urscough, "ho,
passing it on to his friend Humphrey ,anley, transformed it from a practical te*t into an
obGect of scholarship.
0ut he -ne" that he "as ma-ing a boo- to be usedA his parchment
"as stiff, his script functional and the finished code* portableA a practical reference "or-
for day'to'day use, in treating and protecting both people and animals. Haing already
copied the #ld English translations of the (er*ariu! and the +edicina de
4uadru1edi*us, the scribe "as ma-ing or copying a large, miscellaneous collection of
medical te*ts, -no"n since (oc-ayne<s edition as #acnunga .;remedies<F 287&378, ))) $3
8%/. Some parts of the collection "ere already old. #ne case in point may be the remedy
"hich he copied onto folios 29>397, "hich is dominated by a charm "hich alliterates
the palatal and elar realisations of #ld English IG I, a practice "hich apparently declined
during the tenth century, ceasing by the end.
#ne "onders "here the scribe registered
any surpise as he copied this entryF it has, at any rate, intrigued and challenged scholars
since the nineteenth century .ed. Doane 244&b, no. $7>F collated "ith !rattan3Singer
24>$, 296397/A
,iK fLrstice feferfuige ¯ seo reade netele Ke Murh Lrn
in"y*K ¯ "egbrade "yll in buteran.
Hlude "Lran hy la hlude Ka hy ofer Mone hlL" ridan
"Lran anmode Ka hy ofer land ridan
scyld Ku Ke nu Mu Kysne niK genesan mote
ut lytel spere gif her inne sie
stod under linde under leohtum scylde
MLr Ka mihtigan "if hyra mLgen berLddon
¯ hy gyllende garas sLndan
ic him oKerne eft "ille sLndan
?or a @iolent, stabbing painA
feerfe" and the ;red nettle< NL.
#a!iu! 1ur1ureu!O
that gro"s
through the @corn, and plantain. 0oil
in butter. Loud, they "ere, yes, loud,
"hen they rode oer the .burial/
moundF they "ere fierce "hen they
rode across the land. Shield yourself
no", you can surie this strife. #ut,
little spear, if there is one here
"ithin. )t
stood under lime'"ood
.i.e. a shield/, under a light shield,
"here those mighty "omen
marshalled their po"ers, and @they
sent shrie-ing spears.
) "ill send
another bac-,
See Doane 244&b, $7367 Nno. $7>OF cf. !rattan3Singer 24>$, $%734F Der 24>9, 6%>37 Nno. $62O.
)n gyllende and garas. Amos 248%, 2%%3$F cf. ?ul- 244$, $>83>4F +in-oa $%%6, 2263$2F the
instance may admittedly reflect the repetition of an older formulaA see n. 7.
This is usually translated ;sudden stitch< .e.g. !rattan3Singer 24>$, 296/. Ho"eer, stitc in
(hapter 2A )ntroduction
fleogende flane forane togeanes
ut lytel spere gif hit her inne sy P
sLt smiK sloh sea*
lytel iserna "und s"iKe
ut lytel spere gif her inne sy
sy* smiKas sLtan "Llspera "orhtan
ut spere nLs in spere
gif her inne sy isenes dLl
hLgtessan ge"eorc hit sceal gemyltan
gif Ku "Lre on fell scoten oKKe "Lre on flLsc scoten
oKKe "Lre on blod scoten
oKKe "Lre on liK scoten nLfre ne sy Kin lif atLsed
gif hit "Lre esa gescot oKKe hit "Lre ylfa gescot
oKKe hit "Lre hLgtessan gescot nu ic "ille Kin helpan
Mis Ke to bote esa gescotes Kis Ke to bote ylfa gescotes
Kis Ke to bote hLgtessan gescotes ic Kin "ille helpan
fleo N@+S fledO MLr on fyrgenhLfde
hal "estu helpe Kin drihten
nim Monne MLt sea* ado on "Ltan P
a flying arro" ahead in opposition.
#ut, little spear, if it is here "ithin.
A smith sat, forged a daggerF @a
small NoneO of s"ords, iolent
#ut, little spear, if it
should be here "ithin. Si* smiths sat,
"rought slaughter'spears. 0e out,
spear, not in, spear. )f there is here
"ithin a bit of iron, the "or-Ideed of
it must melt. )f you "ere
in the s-in or "ere scoten in
the flesh, or "ere scoten in the
blood, or "ere scoten in the limb
.@Goint/, may your life neer be
inGured .i.e. ;may your life not be
threatened<@/. )f it "as the gescot
of ese or it "as the gescot of ælfe or
it "as the gescot of ægtessan, no" )
"ant to .@"ill/ help you. This for
you as a remedy for the gescot of
eseF this for you as a remedy for the
gescot of ælfe, this for you as a
remedy for the gescot of ægtessanF
) "ill help you. ?ly around there on
the mountain top.
0e healthy, may
the Lord help you. Then ta-e the
-nifeF put it in the li:uid.
+odern English, "hen denoting a pain, denotes a ;sharp spasmodic pain in the side resulting from
running or e*ercising< ."ollins &ictionary of te Englis #anguage, s../. 0ut the connotations of
fær' are suggested by the translations suggested by 0os"orth and TollerA ;Sudden, intense, terrible,
horrid< .2848, s..F cf. &,E, s.. fær/. As for stice, 0os"orth and Toller gae the primary
meanings ;a pric-, puncture, stab, thrust "ith a pointed implement< .2848, s../, though the only
+iddle English descendant of these meanings seems to hae been ;A sharp, locali=ed pain< .+E&,
s.. stice/. These considerations suggest that færstice denoted something more serious than a
(ameron 2446, 2&$3&6.
Hitherto, commentators hae assumed an unstated pronoun ic .;)</ as the subGect of stod .e.g.
!rendon 24%4, 27>F Dennedy 24&6, 4F Storms 24&8, 2&2F +eaney 2484, 66 n. 6&/. This is an odd
assumption, ho"eer1probably an uncritically repeated misinterpretation of !rendon<s. The
obious subGect is that of the preceding sentence, s1ere. The three other occurrences of 5t6 lytel
s1ere are all follo"ed by lines "hich seem to concern the s1ere. This reading also remoes an ill'
motiated s"itch in person.
This reading is supported by the half'line ;giellende gar< in Widsit .line 2$8F ed. (hambers
242$, $$6/ and by the half'line formula af/!eð geiri g7allanda .;fromI"ith a yelling spear</ in
stan=as > and 2& of the Eddaic 'tlakviða .ed. 5ec-el 247$, $&2, $&$/F it has the attraction of
producing a parallelism "ith the fleogende flane returned by the spea-er of the charm. Ho"eer,
the phrasing inferred by Doane from the manuscript spacing1;and.hy.gyllende Q garas sLndan<
.ed. 244&a, 264F cf. 2&6/1suggests ;and they, shrie-ing, sent spears<. This is no less plausible
#ytel "as ta-en by Dobbie to describe sea3 .;sLt smiK, Q sloh sea* lytel, I R R R iserna, Q "undrum
s"iKe<F ed. 24&$, 2$$/F this has been the basis for aspects of interpretation since .e.g. Dos-o"
2497, 6$>F ,eston 248>, 294/. 0ut Dobbie<s reading needlessly posits te*tual corruption. +y
analysis is closer to Doane<s .244&a, 2&6/.
,itches, female supernatural beingsA see S8A$. ) ta-e 'an here and else"here in the charm as a
genitie plural, to proide parallelism "ith ylfa and esa .cf. !rendon 24%4, 27>F Tente 24$2, $4>F
Dennedy 24&6, 4/. Although the manuscript includes no other e*ample of genitie plural 'an,
similar infle*ional leellings are not uncommon there .see !rattan3Singer 24>$, $$&3$9F Uriend
248&, l*iii3l**ii/ and there is a good number of e*amples else"here .Hoad 244&F Lapidge30a-er
244>, *ciii/.
(hapter 2A )ntroduction
This te*t1-no"n no" as Wið færstice1is among the most remar-able of its -ind in
medieal Europe. Prominent among the threats "hich it see-s to counter are ælfe, the
beings "hose name has come into +odern English as elves. The seriousness "ith "hich
Wið færstice, and presumably its eleenth'century copyist, treats these beings challenges
our conceptions of rationality and reality, of health, healing and (hristianity. ,hat "ere
ælfe@ ,hat "ere gescotu, and "hy did ælfe cause them@ ,hat "ere the ese and
ægtessan "ith "hich they are associated and "hy "ere they grouped in this "ay@
+oreoer, although uni:ue in many respects, Wið færstice is only one of a range of
Anglo'Sa*on te*ts using the "ord ælf, and these too bring both ans"ers and :uestions.
)n the preface to his 28>% edition of 2e 8airy +ytology, Thomas Deightley
admitted that ;"riting and reading about ?airies some may deem to be the mar- of a
trifling turn of mind< .28>%, ii/F oer a hundred and fifty years later, one shares his
concerns. 0ut one notes "ith pleasure .and relief/ that ;beings neither angelic, human,
nor animal< no" merit a section een in so established a series as the 5e" #*ford
History of England .0artlett $%%%, 78734$/A "ithout ta-ing medieal non'(hristian
beliefs seriously and deeloping methodologies to reconstruct them from our patchy and
unbalanced records, "e can hope only for the most partial understanding of ho" our
ancestors thought and lied. This thesis is the first attempt to consider the references to
ælfe in the detail "hich they re:uire, through suitably rigorous linguistic and te*tual
analyses. 0y integrating linguistic and te*tual approaches into an anthropologically'
deried theoretical frame"or-, ) proide a history both of the "ord ælf and of the
concepts it denoted1the ælfe1throughout the Anglo'Sa*on period, from pre'conersion
times to the eleenth century. )nsofar as space and releance permit, ) also consider
English'language eidence from the rest of the +iddle Ages, and the early modern
Scottish "itchcraft trials. )t proes possible to delineate important features of pre'
conersion "orld'ie"sF besides bringing ne" eidence to bear on early Anglo'Sa*on
societies, this early eidence ma-es it possible to trace reliably some of the changes,
continuities and tensions in belief e*perienced in English'spea-ing cultures in the
As ) argue belo" .S7A2/, scoten is probably polysemic, meaning both ;shot<, and ;badly pained,
afflicted "ith a sharp pain<. The same goes for the noun gescot, "hich could probably denote both
proGectiles and sharp, localised pains .S7A$.$/.
See preceding note.
The te*t is unsatisfactory here and the translation merely a conGectureF see Doane<s discussion
.244&a, 2&&3&>/.
Bead literally, and ta-ing ;MLt sea*< to be the one forged by a s!iþ in the charm, the implication
of this is that the charmer is to ta-e the sea3 from the patient, presumably in the manner of healers
obsered anthropologically to dra" magical "eapons from their patients, and put it in the li:uid.
?or this conception of supernatural illness in Anglo'Sa*on culture see 0ede<s (istoria
ecclesiastica gentis 'ngloru! .26 .ed. (olgrae3+ynors 2442, &483>%$ esp. >%% n. $/. #ther
readings are possible.
(hapter 2A )ntroduction
centuries follo"ing conersion. Such beliefs do not bear "itness to processes of
(hristianisation aloneA they tell us about Anglo'Sa*on constructions of mental health,
illness and healingF of group identity and spaceF and een of gender and se*ual
The rest of this introduction discusses my methodologies, and "hat ) thin- they can
and cannot reeal. Hereafter, the study falls into three parts. Historiographically, #ld
5orse eidence has dominated reconstructions of the beliefs of !ermanic'spea-ing
peoples, and has made its mar- on interpretations of ælf. )t is important, therefore, to
assess "hat use can really be made of this material at the outset, and this comprises my
first part. This does not merely clear the "ay for reassessing the Anglo'Sa*on eidence,
ho"eerA the reanalysed 5orse material also proides a pro*imate and reasonably "ell'
documented body of comparatie material, relating both to the semantics of ælf and to
the Anglo'Sa*on "orld'ie"s in "hich ælfe had meaning. The second part focuses on
detailed reanalyses of all our primary #ld English eidence for the meanings of ælf. ?or
methodological transparency, these analyses are grouped by -ind of source material1
non'te*tual eidence, poetry, glosses and medical te*ts .e*cluding, on account of its
uni:ue importance, Wið færstice/1though at times this arrangement admittedly produces
semantically rather heterogeneous groupings. The third part deelops the "ider
significance of this data so as to moe from the semantic meanings of ælf to the social
and cultural meanings of ælfe. ?irst, comparatie narratie material is discussed. This
proides models for understanding "hat -inds of narraties and beliefs the semantics of
ælf are li-ely to reflect. 5e*t, Wið færstice is reassessed in detail, in the light both of the
preceding analyses and of comparatie eidence from the early modern Scottish
"itchcraft trials, proiding further important perspecties on ælfe. ?inally, my
conclusions are dra"n together, and some of their further implications for the character
of ælfe and their roles e*plored.
T"o appendices present releant material e*cluded from the main study. As seeral
of my arguments inole detailed reference to linguistic ariation "hich "ill not al"ays
be familiar to readers and has at times been poorly reported, Appendi* 2 describes the
grammatical history of ælf. )n principle, the occurrence of ælf in place'names could be a
aluable source of eidence for ælf<s semantics. )n practice, ho"eer, the li-elihood that
e*amples represent a personal name Ælf is too great for the data to be usefulF )
demonstrate this in detail in Appendi* $. Ælf'"ords "here ælf is a hypercorrect form of
æl', e*cluded from the main study in conse:uence, are assessed in Appendi* 6.
As my usage aboe "ill suggest, the Anglian form ælf is the usual citation form for
the elf'"ord in #ld English .&,E, s.. ælfF 0os"orth3Toller 2848, s.. ælf, ilf/, but for
the plural, commentators often use the ,est Sa*on form ylfe. This is reasonable insofar
(hapter 2A )ntroduction
as the singular Rylf and the plural Rælfe are probably only attested in later refle*es, but
the inconsistency has caused confusion.
Therefore, ) use ælfe here as my plural citation
form. T"o compounds, Rælfisc and Rælfig, are neer attested in Anglian forms, but these
normalised alternaties hae been used by the &ictionary of ,ld Englis. ) adopt ælfisc,
as its e*istence in #ld English is sho"n by +iddle English refle*es, but since ylfig
appears only in this ,est Sa*on form, it seems e*cessie, and potentially misleading, to
abandon it. The usual citation form for +iddle and +odern English is elf, plural elves
.+E&, ,E&, s../, and for Scots elf, elvis .&,S2, s../. Ho"eer, "here the te*ts under
discussion demand it, ) also use other +iddle English citation forms.
As for cognate languages, #ld )celandic dictionaries may use alfr .SeinbGErn
Egilsson 2462, s..F &,-., s../ or %lfr .(leasby3Uigfusson 24>9, s..F ?innur TVnsson
24$73$8, s../. 'lfr "as the normal form until perhaps the t"elfth century, "hen
lengthening to %lfr too- place .5oreen 24$6, S2$&.6/. 0eing other"ise unable to be
consistent, ) hae preferred the more familiar %lfr, despite the incongruity of using it
regarding early te*ts. +edieal !erman dialects may hae the citation forms al1 .Le*er
2874397, s../ or al* .'(&WB, s..F Lloyd3Springer 24883, s../1al1 is preferred hereF
medieal ?risian has alf .Uer"iGs3Uerdam3Stoett 288>324&2, s../ or elf .de Uries 2492,
s../F ) prefer alf.
) represent phonetic and phonemic reconstructions using the )nternational Phonetic
Alphabet. Translations are my o"n unless other"ise stated, and are not intended to hae
any literary merit. #ccasionally, in te*ts not re:uiring a translation, ) gloss unfamiliar
terms and forms, and false friends, in curly brac-ets W X to distinguish my interentions
from the parentheses and s:uare brac-ets of authors and editors. ?inally, some
conentions of capitalisation, mainly for #ld )celandic, can be preGudicial to my
inestigationsA most importantly, one normally reads of Æsir and Vanir, terms for pagan
gods mar-ed by capitalisation as ethnonyms, but of %lfar, implicitly a race. To maintain
these conentions in the present thesis is untenable. Although it "ould be most consistent
"ith my arguments to capitalise all terms, it seems less preGudicial and more consistent
"ith the conentions of the primary sources to abandon capitalisation in all casesA thus
æsir, vanir, %lfar.
The +E& says that ;#E had a masc. ælf, pl. ylfe< .s.. elf/, as though it sho"ed a systematic
o"el alternation, as is genuinely the case in the etymological note for f9 : t ;#E f9tF pl. f;t<.
Perhaps in conse:uence, Ditson .$%%$, 2%> and n. $>/ seems to hae inferred a ,est Sa*on
singular Realf alongside the plural ylfe, and alongside the Anglian singular ælf a plural Relfe.
(hapter 2A )ntroduction
1. istoriograph!
The range of sources handled here is too disparate for a single historiographical surey to
be appropriate, each of the follo"ing chapters considering past scholarship as re:uired.
0ut it is "orth glancing at the consensus on Anglo'Sa*on ælfe, for "hich Wið færstice
has proided the inspiration. Wið færstice1and, despite his protestations, it alone1"as
the basis for Singer<s statement in his 0ritish Academy lecture on ;Early English +agic
and +edicine< .24243$%, 6>9F cf. !rattan3Singer 24>$, esp. >$37$/,
a large amount of disease "as attributed Y to the action of supernatural beings, eles, Zsir,
smiths or "itches "hose shafts fired at the sufferer produced his torments. Anglo'Sa*on and een
+iddle English literature is replete "ith the notion of disease caused by the arro"s of
mischieous supernatural beings. This theory of disease "e shall, for breity, spea- of as the
doctrine of te elf<sot. The Anglo'Sa*on tribes placed these malicious eles eery"here, but
especially in the "ild uncultiated "astes "here they loed to shoot at the passer'by.
Singer<s comments are the fount of a long tradition. ;)n Anglo'Sa*on times<, 0onser
reported, ;diseases "ere erroneously attributed to many causes "hich "ere usually of a
supernatural nature Y The eil "as most usually attributed to the eles ."ho attac-ed
"ith their arro"s/ or to [flying enom\ < .2476, 2>8F cf. 24$7F 2464/. )ntroduced into
+iddle English in 24$4 by +]ller<s emendation of vluekecce .;elf'ca-e<, apparently
denoting an enlargement of the spleen/ to vluescotte, ;elf'shot< made a late debut in the
#ld English le*icon in the nineteen'eighties as ælfscot.
+ost recently, according to
Tolly<s study of Anglo'Sa*on ;elf'charms< .2447, 26&F cf. 2448, $%, $7/,
eles "ere thought to be inisible or hard'to'see creatures "ho shot their ictims "ith some -ind
of arro" or spear, thus inflicting a "ound or inducing a disease "ith no other apparent cause
.elfshot/. They appear to be lesser spirits than the Zsir deities, but "ith similar armaments in
spears and arro"s. Y This attac- by eles "as eentually lin-ed "ith (hristian ideas of demons
penetrating or possessing animals and people, "ho then needed e*orcism.
These interpretations hae become a staple of histories of medieal European popular
religion, "itchcraft and medicine.
+oreoer, Singer<s ;doctrine of the elf'shot<, not
merely contagious bet"een scholars, has spread to editions and translations of primary
te*ts "hich do not mention ælfe, ta-ing the ;malicious eles< "ith it.
Tolly has sho"n
that the illustration to psalm 69 in the Eadwine .salter, long imagined to depict ;elf'
+]ller 24$4, 84F Lecouteu* 2489, 29324F S"anton 2488, $49. The genuine first attestation of
elf<sot is in Scots in the last :uarter of the si*teenth century .Hall forthcoming NdO/.
e.g. Thomas 2492, 9$>F Diec-hefer 2484, 7>F +ayr'Harting 2442, $83$4F ?lint 2442, 89, 22>,
27>F (ameron 2446, 2%, 2&23&$.
See belo", S7A2F more fully Hall forthcoming NcO. The earliest Scottish eidence for traditions of
elf'shot has long been supposed to correlate "ith the English material, but here too, many cases
"hich offer no eidence for such traditions hae mista-enly been accepted, "hile the eidence of
others has been misunderstood .Hall forthcoming NdO/.
(hapter 2A )ntroduction
shot<, is really a conentional depiction of demons, straightfor"ardly illustrating the
psalmA ;the later iconography of eles as delightfully mischieous little figures playing
tric-s on people has caused scholars such as !rattan and Singer to read an Anglo'Sa*on
elf into this picture of demonic affliction< .2448, at $%, citing !rattan3Singer 24>$,
frontispiece/. The reassessment of our other eidence is one of my principle tas-s here.
As my :uotations sho", current assessments of ælfe<s roles in Anglo'Sa*on medicine
derie directly from the early t"entieth century. Beflecting on that period in her
anthropological classic .urity and &anger, Douglas obsered .2477, 6%/ that
comparatie religion has al"ays been bedeilled by medical materialism. Some argue that een
the most e*otic of ancient rites hae a sound hygienic basis. #thers, though agreeing that
primitie ritual has hygiene for its obGect, ta-e the opposite ie" of its soundness. ?or them a
great gulf diides our sound ideas of hygiene from the primitie<s erroneous fancies.
Douglas<s obGection to derogation and demythologisation ali-e "as that, adopting these
approaches, "e fail consciously to orientate o"n cultural perspecties in relation to the
cultures being studied .2477, esp. 6%367, 9&398/. )n both of the approaches "hich she
outlined, the "orld'ie" of the student is imposed on the source material, "hich is,
probably ineitably, found "antingF and both occur in the historiography of Anglo'Sa*on
medicine. ?alling into the second of Douglas<s camps, Singer and others considered
Anglo'Sa*on medicine ;a mass of folly and credulity< .!rattan3Singer 24>$, 4$F cf.
(ameron 2446, $36/. Ho"eer, since the nineteen'si*ties scholars hae increasingly
reealed the deep Latin learning underlying many Anglo'Sa*on medical te*ts .see Tolly
2447, 4432%$/. (ameron in particular has argued that many remedies contained clinically
effectie ingredients, and that from the perspectie of clinicial medicine, Anglo'Sa*ons<
;prescriptions "ere about as good as anything prescribed before the mid't"entieth
century< .2446, 229/. ?or all its merits, ho"eer, (ameron<s "or- is a case'study in
Douglas<s other bug'bear, medical materialism .cf. !losec-i $%%%, 4$346/. (ameron
argued that ;"e should Y put ourseles as far as possible in the Anglo'Sa*ons< place,
and Y arrie at our assessments through the medical and physiological bac-ground of
their time, not of ours< .2446, 63&, at &/. 0ut for historians to try to abandon their o"n
belief'systems is a hopeless endeaour, leaing them and their audiences to impose their
preconceptions unconsciously on the material studied .cf. !ureich 244$ N2488O, 734/.
Thus (ameron diided Anglo'Sa*on medical practices into ;rational< and ;magical<
categories, but found that ;it is sometimes difficult to decide "hether a remedy is
amuletic or rational in intent< .2446, 26&/1presumably because he sought to impose an
anachronistic distinction on his sources. +oreoer, the :uotation implies that much
Anglo'Sa*on behaiour "as irrational1but a 1riori this seems no more li-ely to be true
of Anglo'Sa*ons than of us .cf. SGEblom $%%%, 72/. Douglas accepted that ;there is no
(hapter 2A )ntroduction
obGection< to medical materialism ;unless it e*cludes other interpretations< .2477, 66/1a
point amply supported by (ameron<s insights. 0ut his lip'serice to the psychological
importance of ritual .esp. 2446, 2>93>8/ is insufficient for comprehending the elements
of Anglo'Sa*on culture "hich do not fit into its limited frame"or-.
?acing the approaches to healing "hich differ bet"een our societies and Anglo'
Sa*ons<1of "hich ælfe are symptomatic1offers a different "ay into producing a more
comprehensie and plausible assessment of Anglo'Sa*on healing. Ælfe are neither to be
e*plained a"ay or ignoredF nor are they to be reconstructed by imposing un"arranted
assumptions upon the eidence, or by repeating those of earlier scholarship. The rigorous
collection and reassessment of our eidence for ælfe1for "hat ælfe "ere thought to be
and for "hat uses or effects those concepts had in Anglo'Sa*on culture1is the subGect of
the follo"ing chapters. 0ut it must be done in the conte*t of an e*plicit theoretical
". #undamental assumptions
Douglas<s obserations on the anthropology of medicine apply, !utatis !utandis,
generally in the study of past societiesA to aoid either dismissing past societies ;as
irrational or as un"orthy of serious historical consideration<, or dismissing eidence
contradicting the assumption that their members ;must [really\ hae thought in the same
"ays as "e do<, "e need to ino-e the concept of "orld'ie"s .0ur-e 2449a, 274/. 0y
world<view ) mean the sum of the conceptual categories "hich members of a society
impose on the physical reality in "hich they e*ist. (hange in the structuring of these
categories is change in "orld'ie"sF reconstructing these categories and their
deelopments might coneniently be labelled istorical antro1ology .for a
programmatic statement see !ureich 244$ N2488O/. A maGor methodology in this thesis
is the integration of linguistic analyses into the reconstruction of Anglo'Sa*ons< "orld'
ie"s. +uch of my "or- is founded on historical linguistic or literary critical methods,
but my ultimate aims are neither linguistic, in the sense of documenting and e*plaining
linguistic change, nor literary, in the sense of e*ploring the means by "hich te*ts affect
their audiences. Literary and linguistic methods are means to"ards a "ider understanding
of belief in Anglo'Sa*on societies1a combination of approaches and goals "ell'
established in anthropology .see Durantil 2449/.
,ithin this frame"or- of historical anthropology, my guiding assumption is that ælfe
"ere a ;social reality<.
They "ere not an obGectie reality, li-e houses and trees, "hich
?or the seminal discussion see 0erger3Luc-mann 2479F also Searle 244>.
(hapter 2A )ntroduction
can be readily perceied in the physical "orld and, insofar as anything can be,
obGectiely proen to e*ist. 0ut, as ) and my society beliee that coins hae monetary
alue or that ) am English, a critical mass of Anglo'Sa*ons accepted the reality of ælfe,
and this collectie belief made ælfe a social reality. Social realities are not mere
fantasiesA "e cannot, as indiiduals, "ish them a"ay, any more than 0eo"ulf could the
dragonF ælfe, no less than the (hristian !od, could hae played a significant role both in
societies< constructions of the "orld and indiiduals< constructions of e*perience.
)ndeed, "hat loo-s li-e a social reality from an outsider<s perspectie may become an
obGectie reality "hen the insider<s perspectie is adopted .cf. Turner $%%6 N244$O/. 0ut
the insider<s perspectie on ælfe can no longer be e*perienced, only reconstructed, and )
hae no choice but to admit my disbelief in ælfe<s obGectie reality, "hile accepting that
obGectie e*periences of Anglo'Sa*ons could hae been construed as e*perience of ælfe.
)n this perspectie, since there "as no obGectie reality forcing societies to recognise the
e*istence of ælfe1only cultural and social impulses1the study of ælfe is potentially
especially illuminating for Anglo'Sa*on culture and societyA ælfe "ere, amongst other
things, reflections and abstractions of Anglo'Sa*ons< changing ideals, concerns, and
surial strategies.
$. Methodologies
The methodologies employed in this thesis are guided by the arying demands of the
eidence, and are discussed at the appropriate Gunctures. Ho"eer, some general themes
should be discussed here. (rucially, this thesis not structured around a pre'defined
category1;superstitions<, ;monsters<, ;pagan gods< or the li-e1but around a "ord, ælf.
This inoles t"o premisesA that to reconstruct early medieal concepts and conceptual
categories, "e should build our reconstructions up from our primary eidence, rather
than positing categories and then see-ing eidence for themF and that one "ay of doing
this is to e*amine the meanings of "ords in the ernacular languages of the cultures in
3#1 $ategorising fro% the botto% u!
The theoretical importance of reconstructing medieal conceptual categories rigorously
on the basis of primary eidence1from the bottom up, as it "ere1is neatly illustrated
by the recent 2esaurus of ,ld Englis. ,hile an important achieement, this "or-
proceeds from the top do"n, positing le*ical categories based on Boget<s 2esaurus, and
using 0os"orth and Toller<s dictionary definitions to situate #ld English "ords "ithin
(hapter 2A )ntroduction
them .Boberts3Day3!rundy $%%%, ) *i3**/. This is the main 2esaurus entry concerning
ælf .Boberts3Day3!rundy $%%%, ) S27.%2.%6.%&/A
1&# The extrasensorial 'orld
1&#(1 A divine being
1&#(1#(3 A s!ectre) ghost) de%on) goblin
1&#(1#(3#(* Elfin race: Zlfcynn
#Elf) goblin) etc#: Llf.en/, p^ca
, p^cel
##Of elves: Llfisc
##Mountain elf: beorgLlfen
, d^nLlf.en/, muntLlfen
##+ield elf: feldLlfen
, landLlf
##ood elf: "uduLlfen
, "udumLr
, "udu"_sa
##ater elf: sLLlfen
, "LterLlfen
##Night%are caused b, elf: Llf_dl
, Llfsiden
#An incubus: Llf, mera
#A succubus: l`of
5ot"ithstanding a fe" points of fact,
my main concern is "ith the entry<s assumptions
about categorisation. #ne "onders first "hat an ;Elfin race< is. The term is presumably
intended concisely to render something li-e ;the races of ælfe and li-e beings<, but its
members are a motley collection. The ghost'"ord !era is presumably included because
0os"orth and Toller defined both it and ælf "ith incu*us .2848, s.. !æra, ælf/F
wudu!ær, attested only to gloss the name of the nymph Echo, perhaps appears because
ælfen, deried from ælf, li-e"ise glosses only "ords for nymphs. #ne imagines that leof
.;beloed</ is included because it once glosses succu*a .ed. +eritt 24>4, &2 Nno. 64>O/,
being ta-en therefore as a feminine counterpart to "ords for incu*us, and so also to
denote an ;Elfin< being. #ne "onders "hy !ære "as e*cluded, being categorised instead
under =>?=@?=A?=> ' drea!, since !ære denotes beings li-e succu*ae, and its strong
ariant wudu!ær and putatie masculine counterpart !era are included in the entry.
+ære<s categorisation as ;a dream< is predicated on its modern surial in nigt!are
rather than its #ld English usage, correctly reported by 0os"orth and Toller, "hich
permits no doubt about !aran<s corporeality .cf. 0os"orth3Toller 2848, s.. !æreF
SS7.6.&, 9.2.2/. The inclusion of wuduwasa and 1uca is mysterious. )n short, the Elfin
race of the 2esaurus of ,ld Englis is a modern and not an Anglo'Sa*on construct.
Still, these obGections might merely reflect the 2esaurus<s implementation rather
than its premises. +ore telling, then, are the assumptions built into the 2esaurus<s
Principally, feldælfen and landælf are considered to attest to the ;field elf<, but in the period
"hen the "ords "ere coined .see SS>A$.$, >A6.$/, feld probably still meant ;open, unobstructed
land<1though the translation ;field elf< may hold for landælf .see !elling3(ole $%%%, $7439&,
$94382/. The interpretation of ælfadl and ælfsiden re:uires reision .see belo", SS7A$.2, 7A6/.
Ylfig, defined by 0os"orth and Toller as ;affected by eles N@O, mad, frantic< .2848, s.. ilfig/,
seems to hae been omitted by mista-e. +era is a ghost'"ordA it occurs only in the apinal
!lossary, as a scribal error .or !ermanising/ of the early "ea- feminine !erae most clearly
attested in the Erfurt !lossary .ed. Pheifer 249&, 6% Nno. >>8OF 0ischoff and others 2488, apinal f.
44, Erfurt f. 9F for the ending see (ampbell 24>9, SS727329/F a masculine form should sho" the
retraction of RI&I giing RR!ara .see Hogg 244$a, S>.69.&/.
(hapter 2A )ntroduction
structure. Ælfe are located in an ;e*trasensorial "orld<. Ho"eer, "hile "e might infer
an e*trasensorial "orld in (hristian Anglo'Sa*on "orld'ie"s .though see +earns $%%$,
4932%%/, it is not eident that ælfe belonged thereF on the contrary, there is good
eidence that they "ere to be found in the tangible "orld. The use of divine *eing may be
Gustifiable, but diinity is an ideologically charged concept "hose applicability to non'
(hristian Anglo'Sa*on culture ) doubt .cf. esp. SS$A&, 8A$.2/. Some te*ts might Gustify
the inclusion of ælf under ;spectre, ghost, demon, goblin<, but others attest to :uite
different meanings, "hile "e might :uestion "hether spectres, ghosts, demons and
goblins, insofar as these "ords are applicable to Anglo'Sa*on concepts at all, "ould hae
been grouped in this "ayA een if the 2esaurus<s categories are Gustifiable, they are not
necessarily the most appropriate.
The 2esaurus sho"s the problems inherent in defining conceptual categories first
and as-ing :uestions later. +y focus in this thesis on one "ord proceeds from this
positionA "e must try to Gudge "ith "hat "ords ælf oerlapped semantically, and "ith
"hat "ords it "as systematically contrasted, by tracing these oerlaps and contrasts in
the primary eidence. That said, ) do employ an analytical category of the ;supernatural<,
using su1ernatural in "hat seems to me its usual modern English usageA to denote
phenomena ie"ed as transcending .or transgressing/ normal .or natural/ e*istence, as
defined by the subGect<s obseration of eeryday life, and of "hat is possible in it. This
must be briefly discussed here, not least because 5eille has recently argued that ;on a
basic leel the Anglo'Sa*ons did not hae a "ord or e*pression for the modern
conception of the natural "orld because they did not conceie of an entity defined by the
e*clusion of the supernatural< .2444, $36/. She had the Anglo'Sa*ons distinguishing
only bet"een the human "orld and the natural "orld, aligning beings such as monsters
"ith the latter .2444, esp. $36, 6236>, 9%39&/. This interpretation can be :uestioned in
arious "ays, but the crucial criticism is that it does not "or-A in practice, 5eille did
use the term su1ernatural, particulary in discussing Beowulf .e.g. 2444, 96, 228F cf. 2%93
Anglo'Sa*on culture could not hae been (hristianised as it "as "ithout adopting
or adapting some conception of the supernaturalA concepts of miracles, supernatural by
definition, "ere fundamental to medieal (hristianity, "hile 5eille herself rightly
)mplicit in 5eille<s argumentation .e.g. 2444, 92396/ is the etymologising obGection also oiced
by Tol-ien .2486 N2476O, 22%/, Le"is .2479, 7&378/ and brmann Ta-obsson .2448, >&3>>/ that
su1ernatural is parado*ical, as by definition eerything is included in nature, such that nothing can
be ;aboe< it. This argument is insubstantial, as it is precisely the parado* "hich it see-s to deny
.and "hich Le"is accepted of miracles/ that gies su1ernatural its significance. At a le*ical leel,
#ld English had the prefi* el' ;foreign, strangeF from else"here<, and compounds using it form a
substantial le*icon of otherness .&,E, s.. el'/F +earns has argued from semantic eidence that
although there are important differences bet"een early medieal and modern English conceptions
of the supernatural, the conception itself remains important to understanding Anglo'Sa*on culture
.$%%$, 2%2, 2%8369, esp. 2$63$9/.
(hapter 2A )ntroduction
placed !od outside nature in Anglo'Sa*on theology .2444 29%399/. Her e*clusion of
these features from her conception of the supernatural "orld resulted in a strict focus on
monsters .esp. 2444, 2%934/, producing a reading in "hich Anglo'Sa*ons ie"ed nature
and the supernatural solely as threats to humanity. 0ut this oerloo-s the mediating role
of (hristian supernatural forces in Anglo'Sa*on literature, as in nature'miracles. ) argue
for subtler reconstructions of the relationship bet"een Anglo'Sa*ons and their "orld, in
"hich the concept of the supernatural remains alid and necessary.
3#2 -anguage and .elief
The principle of ta-ing care oer establishing the meanings of the "ords "hich comprise
our source'te*ts "ill meet no obGection. ) ma-e use of all aailable eidence for
semantics, including comparatie philology and literary and manuscript conte*ts, and
this too is probably accepted as the best approach to the semantics of less "ell'attested
medieal "ords .cf. +earns $%%$, 2364/. Although "e must often spea- tentatiely of
ælf<s semantic ;associations<, "ithout al"ays being able to specify "hether these are
denotations, connotations or patterns of collocation, such associations are illuminating
neertheless. ,hat is less straightfor"ard is my use of le*ical semantics as a basis for
mapping Anglo'Sa*on beliefs. The potential of "ords to attest to beliefs "as of course
realised long ago, underpinning !rimm<s seminal, and largely unsurpassed, &eutsce
+ytologie .288$388 N289>398O/. 0ut since the heady days of !rimm<s linguistic
nationalism, or the seminal propositions of semantic field theory and linguistic
determinism in the 24$%s and <6%s .sureyed by Lyons 2499, ) $&>372F cf. Trier 2496F
the articles in ,horf 24>7/, the theoretical alidity of this approach has been :uestioned.
A prelinguistic child can hae a concept of a houseF people perceie the difference
bet"een red and pin- "hen their language uses one "ord of bothF ) may say that ) am
angry, "hile ac-no"ledging that no "ord precisely denotes my e*perience.
Thus the mediealist "ho "ould, for "ant of alternatie data, use the le*is as
eidence for past "orld'ie"s is in an uncomfortable position. )n the cognitie sciences,
debate oer the e*tent of linguistic determinism is ongoing, and e*periment has focused
on issues "hich are not usually releant hereA categorisation and encoding of spatial
relationships in grammarF closed le*ical sets such as coloursF or the role of language in
learning to perform tas-s.
)n the face of these problems, linguistically'minded
mediealists hae either simply ignored the theoretical difficulties .e.g. !reen 2448/, or
aoided ma-ing any assertions about the releance of their linguistic studies to past
societies .cf. ?rant=en 244%F !retsch 2444, 262, 2>4 n. 77, &$>3$7/. Thus, sureying
?or recent sureys see the articles in !entner3!oldin'+eado" $%%6 and 0anich3+ac- $%%6.
(hapter 2A )ntroduction
approaches to medieal popular religion, Lees commented that ;these studies do not
conform to one methodological or theoretical school. They are instead feminist,
historical, materialist, psychoanalytic, cultural, theological, and literary< .2444, 22/.
Lees<s list is catholic, but linguistics is absent. 0loch, rightly obsering of that in
anthropological research informants< descriptions and e*planations of their behaiour
may not reflect the subconscious processes "hich can be obsered through the study of
behaiour itself, not only "arned against using linguistically'articulated eidence in
anthropology, but also against using language itself .2442/.
?ortunately, linguistic determinism is not a theoretical prere:uisite for the integration
of le*ical semantics into a social conte*t. There is instead a "ell'established and
theoretically'Gustified supposition that language reflects culture. This, as a generalisation,
can hardly be denied1if language did not reflect culture then it "ould be an absurdly
ineffectual tool for communication .cf. 0erger3Luc-man 2479, esp. &4372/. People can
of course conceie of things for "hich they lac- "ords, and the absence of a "ord does
not proe the absence of corresponding concepts. Ho"eer, it is reasonable to suppose a
1riori that the distribution of "ords in a le*icon attests to the relatie cultural salience of
the concepts "hich they denote, "ith absences at least suggesting lo" salience .Lyons
2499, ) $&73>%/. +oreoer, as 0erger and Luc-mann emphasised, language influences
ho" people communicate their thoughts and so ho" communities construct their shared
realities .2479, >23>$/A
the common obGectiations of eeryday life are maintained primarily by linguistic signification.
Eeryday life is, aboe all, life "ith and by means of the language ) share "ith my fello"men. An
understanding of language is thus essential for any understanding of the reality of eeryday life.
Language not only reflects societies< "orld'ie"s, therefore, but affects their form at a
social leel. Ho"eer idiosyncratic an indiidual<s e*perience, it "ill tend to be
communicated and constructed "ithin the community through the linguistic resources at
the community<s disposal. These premises proide basic theoretical underpinnings for
the use of ælf as eidence for Anglo'Sa*on culture.
That said, pending conclusie eidence on the subGect, ) accept Searle<s argument that
by definition, social realities cannot e*ist "ithout symbols .244>, esp. >4398, at 9>/A
symbols do not create cats and dogs and eening starsF they create only the possibility of
referring to cats, dogs, and eening stars in a publicly accessible "ay. 0ut symboli=ation creates
the ery ontological categories of money, property, points scored in games and political offices,
as "ell as the categories of "ords, and speech acts.
And as Searle argued, the symbol'system 1ar e3cellence is that of language. As social
realities, ælfe e*isted because the "ord ælf e*istedF it follo"s that, barring relationships
(hapter 2A )ntroduction
"ith obGectie realities or "ith innoatie concepts not other"ise reflected in language,
an ælf "as "hat the "ord ælf meant.
An additional adantage to using language as eidence for belief is its structured
character. Lci'Strauss<s pioneering structuralism in anthropology "as, appropriately
enough, inspired by the linguistic structuralism pioneered by Saussure,
and though no
longer in ogue as such, structuralism has proided insights fundamental to both
disciplines. ;5o particular set of classifying symbols can be understood in isolation, but
there can be hope of ma-ing sense of them in relation to the total structure of
classifications in the culture in :uestion< .Douglas 2477, ii/. Structures in language,
"hether reflecting or encoding "ider cultural classifications, offer important insights into
classifications. The correlation of linguistic structures "ith "ider belief has been
demonstrated, for e*ample, in the traditional grammatical structuring of Dyirbal, an
aboriginal Australian language .La-off 2489, 4$32%&/, and can be argued for in the
correlation of grammatical gender and cultural gender in )ndo'European and other
languages .e.g. (ur=an $%%6, esp. 2436%/. Such categorial structuring also e*tends to
le*ical semantics, in the oerlaps of and contrasts bet"een "ords< semantic fields.
Though "e lac-, for e*ample, Anglo'Sa*on non'(hristian mythological narraties1a
point to "hich ) return belo"1#ld English te*ts containing ælf are relatiely rich in
eidence for linguistic systems. As ) sho" belo", these linguistic systems can be
correlated "ith similar eidence in medieal Scandinaia "hich can itself be correlated
"ith the rich Scandinaian mythological corpus, emphasising the alidity of using
linguistic categories to reconstruct Anglo'Sa*on beliefs. As Schmitt "rote, ;it is not so
much the documents that are lac-ing as the conceptual instruments necessary to
understand them< .2486 N2496O, 292/.
3#3 The d,na%ic nature of belief
) also suppose that our te*ts are not merely articulations or reflections of beliefA they
"ere and remain actie participants in a dialogue of belief bet"een the members of
te*tual communities, and bet"een the communities and their tools of communication.
The better to appreciate this perspectie, "e may consider some of the opening
comments in Henderson and (o"an<s recent, and significant, Scottis 8airy BeliefB '
(istory .$%%2, >37/A
Besearching Scottish fairy belief is rather li-e confronting a huge obscure painting "hich has
been badly damaged and "orn through time, great chun-s totally obliterated and no" completely
irrecoerable, portions repainted by poorly s-illed craftsmen, and other parts touched up by those
Seminal "or-s are Lci'Strauss 2478399 N24&>OF 2478399 N24>6OF see further (a"s $%%%.
(hapter 2A )ntroduction
"ho should hae -no"n better Y )n assembling this material, "e hae not "or-ed to"ard some
deconstructionist end, but rather hae tried to synthesise the indiidual components, to
reconstruct the "hole essence of fairy belief as a distinct phenomenon.
This eocatie statement undeniably stri-es a chord. )t is in the tradition of fol-loristics
"hich abandoned the early nineteenth'century model for the production of fol- literature
1in "hich ancient traditions "ere inherited and be:ueathed almost unconsciously by
some undifferentiated ;fol-<1to ino-e instead the ;tradition bearer< .see Holbe- 2489,
esp. $63&>F 0ur-e 244&, 63$$F Tangherlini 244&, $43>6/. )n this model, fol-'traditions
"ere seen to interact "ith society and to be transmitted by its indiidual members,
bringing a ne" degree of plausibility to approaches to fol- narratie. 0ut, as Henderson
and (o"an<s comments sho", it also introduced a ne" note of doubtA "ith the
introduction of the humanly fallible ;tradition bearer<, the :uality of the transmission of
fol-lore seemed less assured.
As Tangherlini pointed out, ho"eer, a superior model again is that of ;tradition
participants< .244&, $4366F cf. 0ur-e 2449b, 288384, 24>349/. Scottish fairy belief may
neer hae loo-ed much more coherent than it does no"A our ;obscure painting< need not
represent degradation by faulty tradition bearers, but the dynamic and ariable nature of
tradition itself. )t is human nature, and so it is scholars<, to try to synthesise disparate
eidence to create a coherent interpretationF but to assume that a society<s beliefs hae an
;essence< is ris-y. This theoretical deelopment has not been restricted to fol-lorists, of
courseA ;man is not a cog in the "heel of history but an actie participant in the historical
process< .!ureich 244$ N2488O, 2$/F ;it is s1eakers, not languages, that innoate<
.+ilroy 244$, 274/. Although Anglo'Sa*ons encountered more, and more aried,
resources for constructing their ælf'lore than no" remain to us, the processes of
construction "ere fundamentally similarA they encountered the "ord ælf and surmised its
significance, primarily, from the linguistic and discursie conte*ts in "hich it appeared.
These "ere not merely e*pressions of belief, but became in turn part of the material from
"hich tradition participants constructed and transmitted their o"n conceptions of the
beliefs inoled. +oreoer, unli-e our traditional starting'points for reconstructing
beliefs concerning supernatural denunciations li-e ,ulfstan of
dor-<s, collections of legends from disparate times and places li-e !erase of Tilbury<s,
or mythographies li-e Snorri Sturluson<s1most of the sources ) use here here "ere
probably not intended to be formatie. !lossators trying to elucidate Latin te*ts had little
incentie to deploy #ld English glosses in "ilfully unusual "ays and compilers of
medical te*ts included remedies for "hat they perceied to be real threats. #ur te*ts are
not "indo"s into past beliefs, but paths.
(hapter 2A )ntroduction
,ith dynamic belief, of course, comes the prospect of diachronic change. 0ut
although changes in the meanings of #ld English "ords hae been studied, it is more
usual in studies of English semantic change to ta-e #ld English as one, effectiely
synchronic, stage in the history of English. Large proGects li-e the 2esaurus of ,ld
Englis or the &ictionary of ,ld Englis are, of course, ill'placed to assess diachronic
aspects of #ld English semantic ariation, and our options are in any case limited by the
fact that most suriing #ld English manuscripts "ere "ritten in conseratie literary
registers oer Gust t"o centuries. Ho"eer, this habit disengages linguistic eidence from
historical change. The present study, therefore, pays careful attention to our eidence,
slight though it is, for ariation oer time.
3#* $o%!arison
)t "ould be un"ise to interpret the eidence for ælfe "ithout reference to a broader
cultural conte*t. 5ot only is a conte*t necessary for the "ider significance of linguistic
eidence to be assessed, but the sparse nature of our #ld English eidence means that
appropriate comparatie material must proide important controls oer its interpretation.
Here ) use comparatie material of t"o main types, linguistic and narratie1the former
primarily as a direct source of semantic eidence, the latter primarily as a source of
models. 0oth of these uses go bac- to the pioneering linguistic and fol-loric research of
the nineteenth centuryF my approaches here differ mainly in the degree of caution
e*ercised about "hat is suitable for comparison and "hat "e can infer from it.
+y comparatie linguistic material comprises medieal !ermanic cognates of ælf and
other pertinent #ld English "ords. 5o interpretation of the #ld English eidence should
ma-e cognate eidence unduly difficult to e*plain, and in this "ay cognates e*ert a direct
control oer the interpretation of the #ld English material. Additionally, ho"eer,
correspondences bet"een cognate eidence and #ld English eidence can be used to
suggest positiely "hat interpretation of the #ld English material is most plausible.
(omparatie narratie material, on the other hand, is rarely useful as direct eidence, as
our lac- of releant Anglo'Sa*on narraties precludes the comparison of li-e material
"ith li-e. 0ut narraties in "hich ælf appeared must not only hae helped to determine
the "ord<s meanings, but also the "ider meanings of ælfe. 5arraties in medieal 5orse,
)rish, ?rench and later English and Scots, then, can sho" "hat -inds of narraties ælf<s
semantics are li-ely to hae related to, proiding models for the interpretation of
semantic data. Although in theory narraties from any culture could proide models for
interpreting the #ld English material, ) hae focused on those from medieal 5orth'
,estern Europe. This reflects my specialisms, but also proides a pro*imate reading
(hapter 2A )ntroduction
conte*t for the #ld English eidence. ,ith due care to aoid circularity of argument, "e
can use these narraties not only to help to reconstruct Anglo'Sa*on beliefs, but to see
"hat is distinctie about them in their historical and cultural conte*t.
#ne -ind of comparison is e*cluded here, ho"eerA art history. Uisual art might in
theory hae been important in shaping Anglo'Sa*on beliefs10u*ton could argue of
Ancient !reece, for e*ample, that ;for the deelopment of the mythological tradition
artistic representations "ere not merely as important as erbal narraties, but !ore
important< .244&, 2> n. $&/. #ne thin-s also early medieal Scandinaia, "ith its picture'
stones .see Pulsiano 2446, s.. Viking 'rtB .ictorial art/ and poetic responses, such as
(austlçng, to isual portrayals of myths .see 5orth 2449b, esp. *i, **iii3**i/, and of
the functions of pictures in Anglo'Sa*on (hristianity .see Ba" $%%&/. 0ut it is not, at
present, possible to identify any images or motifs as ælfeA as ) hae said aboe, the one
traditional candidate proes to be a conentional depiction of demons .S2A2F Tolly 2448/.
Pre'conersion Anglo'Sa*on art, "here non'(hristian belief might most clearly appear,
tends to be ery abstract, and its significances fiendishly hard to deduce .Ha"-es 2449/.
The ?ran-s (as-et and its Scandinaian analogues sho" that early Anglo'Sa*ons
probably did depict mythical and heroic figures naturalistically on perishable materials,
"hile strange beasts and monsters are prominent in early Anglo'Sa*on art and demand to
be understood "ithin a "ider literary and linguistic conte*t .cf. (lemoes 244>, 6379F
Hall $%%$, $36/. ,e also hae Anglo'Scandinaian mythological images, including
seeral of Uçlundr, described as one of the %lfar in the #ld 5orse Vçlundarkviða .see
Lang 2497F S$A6.$/. 0ut to e:uate depictions of this sort "ith %lfar or ælfe "ould be
%. &opular belief'
As (ubitt has recently pointed out .$%%%a, >9/, English historiography e*hibits
a curious state of affairs "here it is respectable for a historian to discuss popular practices in any
period from about 22%% on"ards but not for earlier centuries. Anglo'Sa*on religion tends
therefore to be seen from the top do"n, in terms of the church<s teaching and regulations. The
) am not a"are that these analogues hae been noted before. ?oremost are the almost identical
portrayals of ,eland on the ?ran-s (as-etF of a smith on a fragmentary tenth' or eleenth'century
cross'shaft from )ona .'rgyll 249234$, )U $2$ Nno. 4>O/F and of Beginn on the porch of Hylestad
stae'church in 5or"ay, from the thirteenth century .see e.g. Turille'Petre 247&, pl. 6&F Pulsiano
2446, s.. Wood "arving S2 fig. 298/. Although the ?ran-s (as-et is the earliest of these, its image
is almost certainly innoatieA "hereas in the other pictures, the smith holds a hammer in his right
hand, ,eland holds a cup, the hammer floating aboe his hand as a blind motif. The cas-et<s right'
hand panel resembles the third scene do"n on a picture stone in !otland, Stora Hammars ) .ed.
Lind:ist 24&23&$, )) fig.&&%/F it also repeats the motif of the genii cucullati, found on cared
stones both in 0ritain and the Bhineland .see !reen 244$, s.. Genius "ucullatus/.
(hapter 2A )ntroduction
resulting picture is dominated by the institutional and by the learned. Thus the religious beliefs of
the seenth to eleenth centuries loo- e*traordinarily educated and orthodo*. 0ut it seems most
unli-ely that the (hristian beliefs of the ordinary lay person in the pre'(on:uest period simply
consisted of those deried from orthodo* teaching.
Proiding a ne" perspectie on Anglo'Sa*ons< beliefs is a central aim of the present
thesis, and it is a tendency, if not a tenet, of the historical anthropology "ith "hich ) hae
aligned my "or- .S2A$/ that the lo"er and larger echelons of society are the focus of
study. Ho"eer, ) do not claim to hae "ritten a study of (ubitt<s ;popular practices<, or,
to ta-e other li-ely labels, ;popular belief< or ;fol-lore<F and one :uails in the present
conte*t at the terminological difficulties of ;popular religion<. The usefulness of the
concept of popular belief regarding Anglo'Sa*on culture is :uestionable1because it is
either inapplicable or untraceable .cf. (ubitt $%%%a, >>3>9/. ,hile it is eident that
learned clergymen had access to different systems of belief, and lay aristocrats more
access to clergymen, than the rest of the population, it is not clear that "e should
hypothesise a diision bet"een ;popular< and ;elite< cultures een for early modern
Europe .0ur-e 244&, esp. 637&/, let alone for Anglo'Sa*on England "ith its far slighter
social stratification. (onersely, ho"eer, most of our eidence for ælfe deries from
te*ts produced by a small, learned, clerical, male, Southumbrian and probably noble
section of Anglo'Sa*on society. Een personal names containing ælf are those of the
nobility. )f "e do posit a diision bet"een Anglo'Sa*on popular and elite culture, then,
there is no :uestion that our eidence is entirely of the elite. )f the beliefs of this group
are reflected among the peasantry in later times, it may be because of an earlier tric-le'
do"n process rather than a once'homogeneous belief'system. So although Tolly sa" the
study of ;popular religion in late Sa*on England< as a "ay of putting ;elf'charms in
conte*t< .2447/, the eidence concerning ælfe is ;popular< only insofar as "e habitually
abuse this term to refer to beliefs "hich do not fit post'Beformation e*pectations of
orthodo* (hristian belief.
#ne is entitled to "onder "hether linguistic eidence might, despite its proenance
from a limited section of society, attest better to "ider beliefs. As a gien language is
often a medium of communication across all sections of society, the meanings of "ords
might be more consistent across social diisions than other features of culture. This
possibility rests on :uestions concerning the effects of social diisions in Anglo'Sa*on
society on language, and on the nature of the interplay bet"een language and belief. 0ut
historical sociolinguistics is a nascent discipline, "hose maGor adances relate to later
periods .see +achan $%%6F 5ealainen3Baumolin'0runberg $%%6, esp. 23$>, 26636>/.
,hile eidence is gro"ing for the differences bet"een the le*ica of the learned and
unlearned in the Anglo'Sa*on historical period .e.g. 0iggam 244>/, "e hae ne*t to no
idea about the effects of other sorts of social diision on #ld English .cf. Derole= 2484F
(hapter 2A )ntroduction
244$/. )t is tantamount to an admission of ignorance that our best eidence is presently
0ede<s statement concerning the thegn )mma in his (istoria Ecclesiastica of about 962
that ;animaduerterunt, :ui eum diligentius considerabant, e* uultu et habitu et
sermonibus eius, :uia non erat de paupere uulgo, ut di*erat, sed de nobilibus< .;those
"ho considered him more carefully noticed, from his features, his bearing and his
speech, that he "as not from among the poor people, as he had said, but from the noble<
i.$$F ed. (olgrae3+ynors 2442, &%$/. Een disregarding the possibility of social
register prior to the Anglo'Sa*on migrations and the later complications of Scandinaian
settlement and the 5orman (on:uest, "e could posit the s"ift gro"th of #ld English
registers follo"ing the Anglo'Sa*on migrations as society gre" more stratified .on "hich
process see Her-e 2449, esp. 2&23&9/, dialects gained and lost prestige as -ingdoms
competed for influence oer one another,
and arguably as arieties of #ld English
characterised by substrate influence from earlier languages deeloped.
hints hae begun to be identified to this effect in our eidence for late #ld English
E*treme though this scenario might be, it "ould be un"ise at the present stage of
research to ma-e assumptions about the alue of our #ld English eidence for the beliefs
of social groups other than the elite producers and consumers of that eidence. This
thesis is a study of elite beliefs, elucidating something of their changing meanings and
functions, and emphasising the e*tent to "hich (hristian Anglo'Sa*on culture included
or incorporated traditional ideologies.
Toon argued for +ercian influence on Dentish speech .2486/, but his findings hae not generally
been accepted .see Lo"e $%%2/. Smith, positing Anglian influence on ,est Sa*on, may fare better
.$%%$/. See also !retsch $%%%, esp. 8432%7.
This prospect long foundered on the dearth of le*ical borro"ings into #ld English. 0ut ne"
approaches to the subGect suggest the possibility of grammatical influence .see the studies in
?ilppula3Dlemola3Pit-enen $%%$/.
Hall $%%2b, esp. 8&. !retsch has argued in addition that the gloss *urs1æce for ur*anitatis
presupposes differences in speech bet"een .certain/ inhabitants of a *ur and others .2444, 27&/. )
am not confident, ho"eer, that that *urs1æce has not merely cal:ued its first element .*ur,
;stronghold, city</ on the ur*s .;city</ implicit in ur*anitas.
&art 1
An (ld )orse Conte*t
(hapter $A An #ld 5orse (onte*t
Chapter "
An (ld )orse Conte*t
Primarily because of )celanders< late conersion, linguistic conseratism and readiness to
transmit literature rooted in pre'conersion culture, Scandinaia has long proided the
basis for research into all traditional !ermanic'spea-ing cultures. Accordingly,
reconstructions of ælfe hae often been shaped by eidence for the medieal
Scandinaian %lfar. Ho"eer, it "ould be un"ise to impose Scandinaian eidence
incautiously on other cultures. ?or all its conseratism, our Scandinaian eidence
mostly post'dates the conersion to (hristianity, e*hibiting profound changes in
conse:uence. )f only for historiographical reasons, then, any reassessment of Anglo'
Sa*on ælfe must begin "ith the reassessment of their Scandinaian cousins. ) begin here
by sho"ing ho" the traditional point of departure for reconstructing pre'(hristian
Scandinaian beliefs, Snorri Sturluson<s "ritings, is unreliable regarding %lfar and
certain other pertinent issues. Although later medieal )celandic te*ts also afford
eidence for the meanings of %lfr,
these are een tric-ier as eidence for pre'conersion
beliefs and as comparisons for Anglo'Sa*on material, so ) include them here only on a
fe" specific points, focusing instead on poetry "hich seems li-ely to be old or culturally
conseratie, and "hich afforded Snorri<s o"n main primary source material. ) turn first
to s-aldic erse, the distinctiely Scandinaian praise'poetry first attested from the ninth
century. The association of s-aldic erses "ith named poets and subGects, combined "ith
appropriately critical analyses of these connections, permits the dating of poems, the
reliability of the dates being some"hat assured by the poems< intricate metre and diction,
"hich inhibited recomposition in oral transmission. 5e*t ) consider Eddaic erse, "hose
mythological subGect matter ma-es it in some "ays more useful than s-aldic erse, but
"hose more fle*ible structures permitted greater ariability in transmission, so
precluding precise dating. )n addition to proiding this primary eidence, ho"eer, #ld
5orse material, combined "ith the prominence of anthropological approaches in recent
Scandinaian scholarship, affords eidence and approaches for assessing the "ider
significance of beliefs in %lfar in early medieal Scandinaian "orld'ie"s. This
proides models for interpreting the #ld English eidence considered in the subse:uent
chapters. ) should mention at the outset1since they "ill be prominent later in the thesis
See &,-., s.. alfr and its compoundsF ?innur TVnsson 24$73$8, s.. %lfkona, %lfrF 0oberg
2477, 2%&32%9 N?$%%3644OF +ot= 249639&, 49348, 2%%32%2F Einar flafur Seinsson $%%6, 29%3
9>F cf. the corpus of uldufClkss)gur maintained by the #rKabV- Hgs-Vlans at
(hapter $A An #ld 5orse (onte*t
1that ) do not e*tensiely discuss 5orse "ords for supernatural females. ?emales are
less "ell'represented in our 5orse mythological sources, partly defined in any case
through their husbands, and partly functioning as units of inter'group e*change rather
than as paradigmatic representaties of groups themseles.
1. +norri,s writings
Snorri Sturluson .born in the late 229%s, dying in 2$&2/ seems to hae composed and
edited the te*ts comprising Snorra Edda, his treatise on 5orse poetry and mythology,
bet"een perhaps 2$$% and 2$&21more than t"o centuries after )celand<s official
conersion1"hile much of "hat "e thin- of as Snorra Edda may derie from later
editors .?aul-es 248$, *, **i*3***iiiF 2448, ) ***i*3l/. Snorra Edda comprises four
te*tsA a prologue, Gylfaginning, Sk%ldska1ar!%l and (%ttatal, probably composed in
reerse order. )t is complemented .and sometimes contradicted/ by the partly
mythological Ynglinga saga, the opening part of (ei!skringla1the magisterial history
of the -ings of 5or"ay accepted probably to hae been composed by Snorri in the same
period as his Edda .see ,haley 2442, 26324/. 0oth te*ts are founded on :uotations of
older erse. Thus Ynglinga saga is built around the poem Ynglingatal, a poem
cataloguing ho" each -ing in the dynasty founded by dngi died, composed by hGVKVlfr
Vr Hini around the end of the ninth century .see further SS$A$, 9A2.2/. Snorri<s "or- is,
therefore, a comple* blend of old and ne", inoling preseration, re'interpretation,
neatening and misunderstanding of inherited traditions by both Snorri himself and his
1#1 Snorra Edda and Ynglinga saga
Álfr occurs in Snorra Edda most often in :uotations of Eddaic erse, and in Snorri<s
prose paraphrases of them. 0ut this reeals more about Snorri<s sources, "hich are
usually attested more completely else"here, than his o"n ie"s. Snorri<s most
influential deployment of %lfr, ho"eer, occurs in his o"n enumeration in Gylfaginning
of the çfuðstaðir .;chief places</ of the cosmos .ed. ?aul-es 248$, 24/A
See especially Tochens 2447, >23>7F (lunies Boss 244&348, ) 7&377F 8>3287F cf. +eulengracht
Sirensen 2484 N2499OF more generally (loer 2446F ,hitney 2444.
The seminal analysis is Holtsmar- 247&F see also (lunies Boss 244&348, esp. ) 6$366, "ith
referencesF #<Donoghue $%%6.
(hapter $A An #ld 5orse (onte*t
+argir staKir eru Mar gçfugligr. Sg er einn staKr Mar er -allaKr er blfheimr. har byggir fVl- Mat er
lGVsglfar heita, en di--glfar bja niKri i GçrKu, o- eru Meir Vlk-r Meim slnum en my-lu Vlk-ari
reyndum. LGVsglfar eru fegri en sVl slnum, en di--glfar eru sartari en bi-.
There are many places there "hich are magnificent. There is one place "hich is called Álfei!r.
A people lies there "hich is called l7Cs%lfar, but d0kk%lfar lie belo" in the earth, and they are
different from them in appearance and ery different in practice. #7Cs%lfar are more handsome
than the sun in appearance, but d0kk%lfar are blac-er than pitch.
#7Cs%lfr .;light'%lfr</ is repeated shortly after, in a detail appended to the description of
V$ð*l%inn, the highest of Snorri<s three i!nar .;s-ies</A ;En lGVsglfar einir hyggGum cr
at nj byggi Mg staKi< .;0ut "e thin- that the l7Cs%lfar alone currently inhabit those
places<F ed. ?aul-es 248$, $%/. Snorri also mentions Svart%lfaei!r .;blac-Idar-'%lfar<s'
"orld</A see-ing a "ay to bind ?enrisjlfr, ;sendi AlfçKur Mann er S-krnir er nefndr,
sendimaKr ?reys, ofan k Sartglfaheim til derga no--ura< .;All'father sent him "ho is
called S-krnir, ?reyr<s messenger, do"n into Sartglfaheimr to some dvergar<F ed.
?aul-es 248$, $8/.
#7Cs%lfr and d0kk%lfr are uni:ue in #ld 5orse. Svart%lfr does occur in Ektors saga ok
ka11a ans, from around 26%% .&,-., s.. alfsDsonr/, but almost certainly by borro"ing
from Snorra Edda. )t has been obsered before that the d0kk%lfar and svart%lfar seem to
be dvergar under ne" namesA their characteristics are identical "ith dvergar<s, and
dvergar do not other"ise occur in the cosmology of Gylfaginning .see Holtsmar- 247&,
69368F +ot= 249639&, 47349 et 1assi!F cf. !rimm 288$388 N289>398O, )) &&&3&4/.
,hen in Sk%ldska1ar!%l hVrr demands that Lo-i hae svart%lfar ma-e gold hair for his
"ife, Lo-i goes to beings other"ise denoted by dvergrF Andari the dvergr is found in
Svart%lfaei!r .ed. ?aul-es 2448, ) &23&6, &>/F and +itchell has argued that the narratie
function of the svart%lfar is best paralleled by the 7çtnar of "hom S-krnir see-s !erKr for
?reyr in Sk$rnis!%l .$%%%b, 79374/, and "ith "hom ) align the dvergar belo" .SS$A$,
$A6.2/. Despite long'standing scepticism, ho"eer .e.g. Uries 24>73>9, ) $>4/, the
l7Cs%lfar hae maintained a reputation as a race of ethereal, celestial ;.light'/eles< .e.g.
Peters 2476, $>6F +ot= 249639&, 47, 4832%%, et 1assi!F Sime- 2446 N248&O, s.. ligt
Ho"eer, as Holtsmar- sho"ed in 247&, Snorri<s description of V$ð*l%inn "as almost
certainly influenced by .and possibly based on/ the account of the angels in the
Elucidarius, an early t"elfth'century digest of (hristian theology translated into
)celandic by about 2$%% .?ircho"3!rimstad 2484, *ii, **i/, certainly used else"here
(hapter $A An #ld 5orse (onte*t
in Snorra Edda.
The oldest manuscript of the Elucidarius, A+ 79&a &to, includes the
dialogue .ed. ?ircho" and !rimstad 2484, 2$32&, "ith slight normalisation/
D.iscipulus/. Huar bygger !.oM/. +agister. Horetna es elde hans en Mo es oMle hans
iscilningar himne. D.iscipulus/. Huat es scilningar himinn +agister hrir ero himnar. Einn
licamlegr sa es er megom sia. Annarr andlegr. Mar es andlegar scepnor bggua Mat ero englar.
Enn MriMe es scilningar himinn Mar es heilog Mrenning bgger. oc helger englar mego Mar sia !
PupilA ,here does !od lie@ +asterA ,hereer his po"er e*tendsF ho"eer, his natie region is
in the s-y of intellect. PupilA ,hat is the s-y of intellect@ +asterA There are three s-ies. #ne is
bodily, that "hich "e can see. The second is spiritual .andlegr/, "here the spiritual beings lie
"ho are angels. 0ut the third is the s-y of intellect, "here the Holy Trinity liesF and there can
holy angels see !od.
?rom this, Snorri deried his three i!narF his use of the Elucidarius in creating the
l7Cs%lfar, "ho ;eru fegri en sVl< .;are more beautiful than the sun</ is suggested by the
Elucidarius<s ;englar es .ii. hlutu! ero fegre an sol< .;angels, "hich are seen times
more beautiful than the sun<F ed. ?ircho" and !rimstad 2484, 8F cf. ;angeli, :ui solem
septuplo sua incunt pulchritudine< in the original, ed. Lefmre 24>&, 672/. Admittedly,
the Elucidarius situates its englar in the second tier of heaen, andlegr, rather than the
third, "hich is "here the l7Cs%lfar appear in Snorra Edda. 5or is the phrase fegri en sCl
particularly distinctie .cf. Vçlus1% stan=a 7&F ed. 5ec-el 247$, 2>/. Een so, a erbal
connection bet"een the Elucidarius and Snorri<s description of the l7Cs%lfar seems
probable, l7Cs%lfar being a paganisation of (hristian angels. )t is sufficiently li-ely, at
any rate, that Snorri<s description cannot in itself be relied upon as eidence for pre'
conersion beliefs.
Snorri presumably renamed the dvergar, therefore, to suggest that they "ere to
l7Cs%lfar as fallen angels "ere to heaenly ones1a characteristic accommodation of
traditional cosmology to (hristian. That Snorri chose %lfr as a counterpart for the
(hristian engill .;angel</ is not "ithout interestF if nothing else it suggests that %lfr had
positie connotations. Ho"eer, Snorri had fe" options at this point .for partial sureys
of possible "ords, see (ahen 24$2, 43$8F Duhn 2474398, )U $>837>/. #f the other natie
5orse "ords denoting male supernatural beings "hich had positie connotations, Snorri
had already employed %s and vanr, "hile the plurals regin and t$var "ere both archaic
and "ell'entrenched as synonyms for the æsir. Snorri<s only li-ely alternaties "ere the
Holtsmar- 247&, 6>368F cf. Sime- 2446 N248&O, s.. andlangr, v$ð*l%innF (lunies Boss 2487,
(f. the Latin original .ed. Lefmre 24>&, 67$/A
D. 3 Ubi habitat Deus@ +. 3 nuamis ubi:ue potentialiter, tamen in intellectuali caelo
substantialiter. D. 3 nuid est hoc@ +. 3 Tres caeli dicunturA unum corporale, :uod a nobis
ideturF aliud spirituale, :uod spirituales substantiae, scilicet angeli, inhabitare credunturF tertium
intellectuale, in :uo Trinitas sancta a beatis facie ad faciem contemplatur.
(hapter $A An #ld 5orse (onte*t
rather colourless vættr .;.supernatural/ being</ and andi .;spirit</. The fact that he chose
%lfr oer these can be ade:uately e*plained from other eidenceA Snorri -ne" the
-enning alfrçðull .denoting the sun and discussed belo", S$A$F ed. ?aul-es 2448, ) 8>,
266/, "hich could be ta-en to associate %lfar "ith light, and may hae felt a need to fit
%lfar into his mythography "hich did not e*tend to the more generic terms vættr and
)nterestingly, Snorri<s usage of %lfr in Sk%ldska1ar!%l1probably composed before
Gylfaginning .?aul-es 248$, **/1is much closer to that of his poetic sources. ?or
e*ample, Snorri states that ;+ann er o- rctt at -enna til allra bsa heita. Dent er o- iK
Gçtna heiti, o- er Mat flest hgK eKa lastmLli. Uel My--ir -ent til glfa< .;)t is also proper to
call a person by the names of all the æsir. They are also -no"n by the names of 7çtnar,
and that is mostly as satire or criticism. )t is thought good to name after .the/ %lfar<F ed.
?aul-es 2448, ) &%, cf. >/. This matches attested s-aldic usage .discussed belo", S$A$/,
but does not fit "ell "ith Snorri<s o"n mythography. )t is curious that the vanir, "ho are
so prominent in Gylfaginning as the companions of the æsir, are absent. ) argue belo" on
other grounds that vanr and %lfr "ere .partial/ synonyms, and it seems li-ely that "hen
Snorri "rote of %lfar in Sk%ldska1ar!%l, he "as thin-ing of the figures "hom in
Gylfaginning he "ould call vanirF but "hateer the case, the problem emphasises ho"
the innoatie mythography of Gylfaginning fails to account fully for traditions een as
Snorri himself reported them.
Álfr does occur in Ynglinga saga, in the epithet of flgfr !eirstaKaglfr .;Álfr of
!eirstaKir<, ch. &83&4F ed. 0Garni AKalbGarnarson 24&23>2, ) &, 9438$/, for "hose son,
Snorri claims in the saga<s preface, hGVKVlfr Vr Hini composed Ynglingatal. 0ut
Ynglingatal itself does not contain the epithet. Although no e*plicit e*planation for the
name is eer gien, it has e*cited speculation lin-ing %lfar "ith the dead, because in
other accounts, "hich Heinrichs has argued to hae originated in a t"elfth'century El%fs
þ%ttr Geirstaða%lfs .2446, >9/, people sacrifice to flgfr after his death.
0ut, besides
Heinrichs<s point that the ideology of the þ%ttr is ery much of the later t"elfth century,
its account of flgfr<s cult perhaps reflecting saints< cults .2446, &&3>%F cf. 0aet-e 247&,
&%3&9F Sund:ist $%%$, $42/, this is not clearly the reason for flgfr<s name. Uarious
other factors might be releantA his mother comes from blfheimarF as ) discuss belo",
%lfr is common in poetic epithets for men and may be also be an epithet of ?reyr, from
"hom flgfr is descended in the sagas .SS$A$36/F and in the þ%ttr, flgfr is especially
handsome, a characteristic shared by %lfar in the Sçgu*rot af fornkonungu!, from around
e.g. Ellis 2478 N24&6O, 222327F (had"ic- 24>63>9, 28$3&F 24&7, >83>4F Uries 24>73>9, ) $>83
7%F Turille'Petre 247&, $62F SchGidt 2442, 6%>39.
(hapter $A An #ld 5orse (onte*t
26%% .ed. af Petersens3#lson 24243$>, $>/. flgfr<s epithet is not, therefore, useful
eidence for the early meanings of %lfr.
1#2 /norri and the vanir
0efore proceeding to the poetic eicence, it is "orth turning briefly to Snorri<s accounts
of the vanir, "hose principal representaties are 5GçrKr, ?reyr and ?reyGa. As ) hae
obsered, Snorri sometimes uses %lfr "here, according to Gylfaginning, "e "ould e*pect
vanr, "hile some of Snorri<s eidence for the vanir is releant to the meanings of %lfr
and ælf. Aspects of Snorri<s vanir must be ancient .Uries 24>73>9, ) &7939$, )) 296399F
5esstrEm 244>, &937%/. 0ut our eidence for vanir as such is problematic. ,hile %s and
%lfr are attested in all branches of !ermanic, and %lfr at least has a clear )ndo'European
origin, vanr occurs only in 5orth !ermanic1mainly in Snorri<s prose, disappearing
early from the Scandinaian languages1and is etymologically obscure .Uries 2472, s.
%ss F, vanr F, vaningiF S6A2/.
The simple* %lfr occurs in ten different Eddaic poems and
vanr in only si*F e*cluding 'lv$ss!%l, "hich repeats both "ords so often, %lfr occurs
eighteen times in the Eddaic corpus, and vanr only fie .Dellogg 2488, s.. alfr, F?
vanr/. ,hereas %lfr is common in the s-aldic corpus and a productie base for -ennings
.see S$A$/, vanr occurs only thrice, once as a simple* and t"ice in the -enning
vana*rGðr .;bride of the vanir No?reyGaO<F SeinbGErn Egilsson 2462, s.. Vanr 2.F cf.
Duhn 2474398, )U $9$396/. nuite "hat this means is uncertain. The distribution may
partly reflect the poetic conenience of %lfr, "hose range of potential alliteratie partners
"as much "ider than vanr<s, but this does not account for the absence of cognates and
later refle*es for vanr. +oreoer, "hereas %s, %lfr, 7çtunn and !ann are all attested as the
first element of place'names in their nominatie stem form .e.g. ÁsgarðrF Álfei!r,
Hçtunei!r, +annei!r/, vanr is only compounded in the genitie plural, in Vanaei!r,
suggesting later formation .Duhn 2474398, )U $9&/.
Duhn inferred that ;der ,anen'name in den "estnordischen Lendern mindestens bis
gegen 2%%% noch -aum be-annt "ar< .;the name vanir "as, at least until around 2%%%,
still barely -no"n in the ,est'5orseN'spea-ingO regions<F 2474398, )U $97/. )n a ariant
5orth suggested that the prototheme of #E wanseoce, occurring among interlinear glosses on
co!itiales .;epileptics</ in Aldhelm<s .rosa de virginitate .:uoted belo", S7A&.2/, is cognate "ith
vanr .2449, >$, 299398/. Ho"eer, vanr is an i'stem and as such should appear in #E as RRwene
1unless "e assume declension'change, adding another hypothesis to the argument. .Alternatiely,
if wan' is considered a borro"ing of vanr, it is not eidence for a (ommon !ermanic etymon./ )
suspect that this is simply the common if semantically problematic #ld English adGectie wann .on
"hose semantics see 0ree=e 2449F putatiely ;dar-</, wann denoting a symptom of illness in #ld
English .e.g. ,right 24>>, f. 2$&F cf. Hall forthcoming NcO, S6/ and in #ld ?risian wanfelle,
wanfellic .;"ith bruised s-in, blac- and blue<F see 0remmer 2488, 22/.
(hapter $A An #ld 5orse (onte*t
on an old theme .on "hich see 5esstrEm 244>, 7237$/, he posited that the cult of the
vanir came from S"eden. Ho"eer, ne" "ords do not necessarily imply ne" concepts1
5GçrKr at least "as by no means a ne"comer1and numerous other models could e*plain
the rise of vanr in our sources, particularly if "e posit that it "as a partial synonym of a
commoner "ord. Vanr might be an archaic !ermanic "ord suriing only in 5orse, its
brief prominence perhaps reflecting the decaying of an earlier taboo'status follo"ed by
eradication by (hristianisation, and %lfr a euphemism .;"hite one<, see SS6A2, 9A6/
coined for it in !ermanic. Alternatiely, %lfr might be the older "ord, vanr perhaps being
borro"ed into 5orth !ermanic, conceiably as a no"'lost ethnonym. Either term could
originally hae denoted a single deity, subse:uently being generalised to associated
beings .cf. S$A6.2F Duhn 2474398, )U $9$/. ,ithout establishing a conclusie argument
for vanr<s etymology, ) doubt that "e "ill be able to resole this :uestion. 0ut it is clear
that "hile %s and %lfr are "ell'attested, vanr is much less prominent than Snorri<s
mythography "ould suggest.
Snorri<s eidence for vanir cannot be reassessed here in full. +uch has been made of
"hat has become -no"n as the ;æsir'vanir "ar<,
but such eidence as "e hae for this
1een Snorri<s o"n1is contradictory and problematic .cf. +cDinnell<s reassessment of
the poetic eidence, $%%2/. Li-e"ise, the vanir are conentionally associated "ith
;fertility< .or 8ruct*arkeit, frukt*aret, etc./, a supposition "hich has underlain arious
but this originates in the nineteenth' and early t"entieth'century passion
for ;fertility cults< and needs to be reassessed .cf. Sund:ist $%%$, esp. 28368, on its
historiographical partner in crime, ;sacral -ingship</. Snorri<s eidence for the
association is slight, and one might emphasise instead Adam of 0remen<s une:uiocal
association of health and agricultural prosperity "ith Thor, ?reyr<s probable counterpart
?ricco instead being e*plicitly associated "ith peace and marriages, "hich could be
interpreted as patronage of conflict'resolution.
#ne point in Ynglinga saga, ho"eer .ch. &F ed. 0Garni AKalbGarnarson 24&23>2, )
26/, demands closer attention because it may hae an Anglo'Sa*on analogueA
5GçrK o- ?rey setti fKinn blVtgoKa, o- gru Meir dkar meK bsum. DVttir 5GarKar ar ?reyGa. Hon
ar blVtgyKGa. Hon -enndi fyrst meK bsum seiK, sem Uçnum ar tktt. hg er 5GçrKr ar meK
Uçnum, Mg hafKi hann gtta systur skna, Mk at Mat gru Mar lçg. Ugru Meira bçrn ?reyr o- ?reyGa.
En Mat ar bannat meK bsum at bygga sg ngit at frLndsemi.
Turille'Petre 247&, 2>737$F Dumc=il 2496a, $3$>F 2496b, 4632%>F Dron-e 2488F 2449, &23&&F
5orth 2449a, esp. 66368F cf. Uries 24>73>9, )) $%832&.
e.g. Uries 24>73>9, )) 276F Turille'Petre 247&, 2>7F Dumc=il 2496a N24>4O, $3$>F SchGidt
2442, 6%&3>.
Gylfaginning, ed. ?aul-es 248$, $&F cf. Ynglinga saga chapters 432%, ed. 0Garni AKalbGarnarson
24&23>2, ) $$3$>F (istoria (a!!a*urgenisis Ecclesiae, ed. Schmeidler 2429, $>937%F cf.
+itchell 2486 on Sk$rnis!%l.
(hapter $A An #ld 5orse (onte*t
fKinn established 5GçrKr and ?reyr as sacrifice'chieftains, and they "ere gods
along "ith the
æsir. 5GçrKr<s daughter "as ?reyGa. She "as a sacrifice'goddess. )t "as she "ho ac:uainted first
the æsir "ith seiðr,
"hich "as customary among the Uanir. ,hen 5GçrKr "as among the vanir,
he "as married to his sister, because that "as the custom there. Their children "ere ?reyr and
?reyGa. 0ut that "as forbidden among the æsir, for people so closely related to lie together.
The family relationships here are "ell'paralleled in Eddaic and s-aldic erse .Uries
24>73>9, )) 29639>/. 5GçrKr<s incest is paralleled in #okasennaF
it has caused some
consternation among scholars .e.g. 5esstrEm 244>, 77379/, but it is neither uncommon
nor surprising for gods< se*ual behaiour to contraene the norms of belieers< societies
.for (lassical parallels see Lef-o"it= 2446/. (onersely, Snorri<s association of ?reyGa
"ith seiðr is poorly'paralleled .5esstrEm 244>, 8$38>/, especially no" that +cDinnell
has cast doubt on the traditional identification of HeiKr and !ulleig "ith ?reyGa in
Vçlus1% stan=as $23$$ .ed. 5ec-el 247$, >37F +cDinnell $%%2/. 0ut Snorri<s e*plicit
association of seiðr "ith the vanir is note"orthy because the second element of the #ld
English compound ælfsiden is cognate "ith seiðr, possibly associating ælfe "ith siden as
Snorri associates vanir "ith seiðr .see S7A6.2/.
". Álfr in skaldic verse
,e may turn from Snorri, then, to our early poetic eidence for %lfr. Álfr appears in
s-aldic erse almost inariably in -ennings for human "arriors .SeinbGErn Egilsson
2462, s.. alfrF cf. +eissner 24$2, $7&/, "here it is fairly common, and is attested already
in the "or- of the earliest s-ald, 0ragi inn gamli 0oddason. Around the earlier part of the
ninth century, 0ragi called Tçrmunre-r sCknar alfr .;%lfr of attac-</ in stan=a & of his
Iagnarsdr%1a .ed. ?innur TVnsson 242$, 0) 2F for dating see Turille'Petre 2497, **i3
**iii/. Around the end of the ninth century, hGVKVlfr Vr Hini called Hglfdan hktbeinn
flgfsson *ryn7alfr .;armour'%lfr</ in stan=a 6% of his Ynglingatal, and numerous other
e*amples follo"ed.
Perhaps because %lfr neer actually denotes an %lfr in s-aldic erse,
this corpus has been little used as eidence for %lfr<s early meanings. 0ut the -ennings
offer important insights.
&$ar occurs only here and in Sk%ldska1ar!%l in prose, probably borro"ed from stan=a 6 of
Dorma-r Ogmundarson<s Sigurðardr%1a, "here Snorri too- it to mean ;gods< .ed. ?aul-es 2448, )
8>/. This is consistent "ith its #ld )rish etymon, d$ .;!od, god</A the common translation ;priests<
is ad oc.
#n "hich see belo", SS7A6, 9A2.2, 9A$.
Stan=a 67F cf. stan=a 6$, "here ?reyGa is accused of se* "ith ?reyrF on the corroboration of
Lo-i<s se*ual accusations here by other sources see +cDinnell 2487384.
Ed. ?innur TVnsson 242$, 0) 2$. +y dating is conentionalF Drag sureyed part of the debate
about the poem<s date and himself supported a late one .2442, 2638%/, but his arguments sere best
to sho" the alue of the traditional dating .Sund:ist $%%$, &63>$/.
(hapter $A An #ld 5orse (onte*t
The usage of %lfr in -ennings suggests that it "as not only grammatically masculine,
but only denoted males. This may not, admittedly, hae applied to the pluralA thus %s
denoted a male god, but æsir could include the female %syn7ur. 0y the high +iddle Ages,
)celandic had the compound %lfkona .;%lfr'"oman<F &,-., s.. alfkonaF ?innur TVnsson
24$73$8, s.. %lfkona/, there is no early eidence for "hether %lfar could denote females.
,olff e*tracted a second point from the -ennings, ho"eerA "hereas Snorri proscribes
the mention of 7çtnar in -ennings for people, he accepts %lfar, "ho, ,olff inferred, ;dem
+enschen freundlich sind< .;are friendly to"ards humans<F 24>$, 2%2/. This obseration
has not been deeloped, but an e*amination of "ords for supernatural beings in -ennings
both confirms and elaborates it.
Stri-ingly, %lfr shares its distribution in s-aldic erse distinctiely, among "ords
denoting -inds of supernatural beings, "ith -ennings containing %s.
Ás occurs often as a
simple*, and in -ennings for poetry and gods. 0ut its most common use in -ennings is,
li-e %lfr, as the head"ord in -ennings denoting human "arriors, such as çJ ss 8rCða
r$ðar .;%s of ?rVKi<s storm .obattle/</ in stan=a 6$ of Vellekla, composed by the pagan
)celander Einarr s-glaglamm in the late tenth century .ed. ?innur TVnsson 242$, 0) 2$6F
SeinbGErn Egilsson 2462, s.. çJ ssF cf. +eissner 24$2, $7&/. 0y contrast, fe" other
"ords denoting types of supernatural beings occur in -ennings for humans. Goð and
regin occur, but only rarely, and are partially if not "holly synonymous "ith %s
.SeinbGErn Egilsson 2462, s..F cf. +eissner 24$2, $7&/. ,ords for d$sir1better'
-no"n by the -enning "hich supplanted that name, valkyr7ur1are common as modifiers
in -ennings for "arriors .e.g. val!ey7ar %lfr, ;%lfr of the slaughter'maid</, but not as
head"ords .+eissner 24$2, $9639&/.
)n -ennings for "omen, %syn7a occurs, "hich "e
may ta-e as an e*tension of the data for %sF and possibly *and, another synonym for %s.
&$s and norn occur fairly often .SeinbGErn Egilsson 2462, s..F cf. +eissner 24$2,
&%834, &2232$/, and again seem on e*ternal eidence to hae been at least partially
synonymous .StrEm 24>&, 8%34>/. Ta-ing draugr in -ennings for humans to be the
Dennings are being catalogued in the #e3icon of Kennings and Si!ilar .oetic "ircu!locutions,
at HhttpAII""".hi.isICeybGornIJ, "hich so far reproduces and supplements +eissner 24$2. )
suggest belo" that %lfr could hae been a eiti for ?reyr, so %lfr'-ennings might actually allude to
himF they are used in much the same "ay as -ennings mentioning ?reyr. 0ut there is little reason to
assume this generally.
Valkyr7a is the more prominent term in secondary literature because it is usual in Snorra Edda
and the prose sections of the Poetic Edda, but this is historically surely an inersionA valkyr7a is
most li-ely a -enning .;chooser of the slain</ for d$s .;.supernatural/ lady</, as d$s is used in, for
e*ample, Gr$!nis!%l st. >6, Iegins!%l st. $& and (a!ðis!%l st. $8 .ed. 5ec-el 247$, 78, 294,
$96F see StrEm 24>&, esp. 9%394F 5esstrEm 244>, 2$>/. To StrEm<s points ) "ould add that d$s is
e*tensiely attested in #ld )celandic erse and is the basis for many -ennings, "hereas valkyr7a
occurs rather rarely, and is the basis for none .SeinbGErn Egilsson 2462, s..F Dellogg 2488/.
Een 0rynhildr, the archetypal WalkLre of ,agnerian mythology, is referred to as d$s sk7çldunga
.;d$s of the Sk7çldungar</ in stan=a 2& of Sigurðarkviða in !eiri, and neer in Eddaic erse as a
(hapter $A An #ld 5orse (onte*t
homonym denoting liing "arriors rather than dead ones .Lindo" 249>, 8&347/, none of
the numerous other 5orse "ords for types of supernatural beings, such as dvergr, 7çtunn,
!ara or þurs, appears in -ennings for humans. 5or, as ) hae noted aboe, does vanr.
This distribution suggests that to the formatie s-aldic poets, %lfr denoted something
mythologically close enough to human males to be used as the generic element in
-ennings for them, and something close enough to %s to share this usage "ith it
distinctiely among "ords for male supernatural beings. The "ords for supernatural
beings used in -ennings for humans can thus be rec-oned in three groupsA %s, %syn7a and
their .partial/ synonyms goð and reginF %lfrF and d$s and norn. Assuming that this system
e*hibited symmetry of gender, this analysis suggests that d$s and norn, being used for
"omen as %lfr "as for men, denoted beings "hich "ere to the %syn7ur as the %lfar "ere
to the æsir. ?inally, "ords denoting monstrous beings "ere eidently e*cluded from this
system1e*cept, if "e accept Snorri<s claim in Sk%ldska1ar!%l, in moc-ery1suggesting
that %lfar Goined æsir and humans in a systematic opposition to monstrous beings.
The distribution of "ords for supernatural beings in -ennings for men is paralleled by
other sorts of early #ld 5orse le*ical eidence.
+ean"hile, the theophoric associations
of %lfr are emphasised by t"o 5orse dithematic names. As +]ller pointed out, the #ld
5orse deuterotheme 'arinn, probably cognate "ith #ld )celandic arinn .;hearth</, #ld
High !erman arin .;altar</, appears only in the names MCrarinn and Álfarinn .+]ller
249%, &%3&2, 26236$/. The fact that %lfr occurs here uni:uely beside the deity'name
MCrr suggests again that %lfr had theophoric connotations in its le*ical usage. Li-e"ise,
in Denmar-, probably in the eleenth century, the sons of one Ey-il "ere named Alf-il
and hor-il ."here the second element, a contracted form of ketill ;cauldron, pot<, may,
li-e 'arinn, hae ritual associationsF Hald 249239&, ) 2>F ed. Tacobsen3+olt-e 24&$, )
cols &6$366 Nno. 697O/. Hald found that ;bs-ell og hVr-ell er de mest udbredte nane pp
?or dithematic personal name elements see S6A$. (ompounds ending in 'kunnr and 'kunnigr
.ariant forms of the same "ord, not to be confused "ith the homophonous kunnigr
;-no"ledgeable</ and their cognates "ere used in !ermanic languages either to denote descent
from or origin in the determiner .e.g. #ld 5orse reginkunnr, #ld English godcund, ;originating
"ith god.s/</, or similarity in nature to it .e.g. #ld High !erman !ancunt ;male</. The determiner
usually denoted a being .Hofstetter 244$, 6&%3&$/. #f determiners denoting supernatural beings,
only goð' and its cognates are "ell'attestedF #ld English also innoated engelcund and deofolcundF
but #ld 5orse e*hibits compounds "ith the determiners %s', %lf', regin' and goð' .see SeinbGErn
Egilsson 2462, s.. %skunnigr, %skunnr, alfkunnigr, alfkunnr, godkynningr, reginkunnigr,
reginkunnrF cf. ?rit=ner 28873249$, )U s.. alfkyndrF Hofstetter 244$/. These are, of course,
precisely the "ords for supernatural beings used in -ennings for men. The dataset is ery smallA
regin' compounds occur in t"o erses and t"o runic inscriptionsF %skunnigr and %lfkunnigr only in
8%fnis!%l stan=a 26 .ed. 5ec-el 247$, 28$/, and %lfkunnr only in Snorri<s discussion of it .ed.
?aul-es 248$, 28/F guðkunnigr occurs in erse only by emendation .from 'konungr in Ynglingatal
st. $9/. There is also an e*ception, trollkunnr, in Ynglingatal stan=a 6 .:uoted S9A2.2/. The
difficulty of trollkunnr not"ithstanding, then, the correlation of the 'kunnr, 'kunnigr compounds
"ith the -ennings for men using "ords for supernatural beings is impressie in all respectsA they
include the same "ords as inital elements, e*cluding other "ords for supernatural beingsF and they
sho" a semantic association both "ith diinity and "ith the denotation of types of human being.
(hapter $A An #ld 5orse (onte*t
-etill< in early medieal Denmar-, reflecting a general pattern of alternation bet"een Ás'
and MCr in personal names .;Áskell and MCrkell are the most "idespread names in 'ketill<F
249239&, ) &83>%, at &4/. #nce more, "e find %lfr distinctiely associated "ith a
theophoric name.
Álfr appears in one other -enning, less useful hereA %lfrçðull .denoting the sun/, "hich
occurs occasionally in both s-aldic and Eddaic erse .SeinbGErn Egilsson 2462, s..
alfrçðull/. Unfortunately, its precise significance is unclearA since in erse rçðull itself
denotes the sun, %lfrçðull "as no doubt used for metrical conenience as a formulaic
ariant, but the association of %lfr "ith a "ord denoting the sun must hae been
semantically congruent, presumably adding connotations "hich could be employed to
literary effect. Ho"eer, "e must proceed from our -no"ledge of %lfar to the e*plication
of the -enning, rather than the other "ay, so %lfrçðull may be e*cluded from
consideration for no" .see further belo", S$A6.2/.
Li-e"ise stan=a > of Sigatr horKarson<s s-aldic 'ustrfarav$sur, recounting the
(hristian Sigatr<s traels in the pagan lands east of 5or"ay around 2%$%, describes a
heathen ekk7a .;"ido"</ refusing Sigatr board for the night for fear of ;fKins Y reiKi<
.;fKinn<s "rath</, because an alfa *lCt .;%lfar<s sacrifice</ is ta-ing place in the house
.ed. ?innur TVnsson 242$3242>, 0) $$2/. This te*t implies that %lfar might be
"orshipped in late S"edish paganism, and it is of interest, in ie" of the association of
%lfar "ith ?reyr else"here .see S$A6.2/, that there is strong eidence for the prominence
of ?reyr in S"edish paganism .Uries 24>73>9, )) 24&3$%6F Turille'Petre 247&, 27839%/.
0ut it gies no other concrete information. Sigatr<s association of the %lfa *lCt "ith
fKinn could be mere stereotyping of pagan practice. )t has been supposed that the ekk7a
must hae been running the %lfa*lCt .see de Uries 246$366, 29%392F Tochens 2447, &7,
&8/, but all Sigatr really tells us is that she ans"ered the door. The stan=a does recall
our scattered eidence for sacrifices to d$sir and may reflect the pairing of %lfr and d$s
suggested by their respectie use in -ennings for men and "omen.
This conclusion is
supported by a le*ical connection bet"een %lfar and d$sir in addition to those perceied
by StrEm, being the "ord d$sa*lCt .;d$sir<s sacrifice</, "hich occurs, for e*ample, in
Ynglinga saga chapter $4 and Egils saga Skallagr$!ssonar chapter && .ed. 0Garni
AKalbGarnarson 24&23>2, ) >8F 5ordal 2466, 2%9/A d$s' and %lfr', besides the more general
NskurðOgoða' .;.cared'/gods<'</ and the borro"ed d7çfla' .;deils<'</, are the only "ords
for types of supernatural being to be compounded "ith '*lCt .SeinbGErn Egilsson 2462,
s..F &,-., s../.
See StrEm 24>&, esp. 2$362F 5esstrEm 244>, 2$93$4F Sund:ist $%%$, $$>36$, and 4432%>,
$8>384 for a broader conte*tualisation.
(hapter $A An #ld 5orse (onte*t
S-aldic erse suggests the basic associations of %lfr and %lfar in pre'conersion
Scandinaian traditionsA "ith gods and, metaphorically, "ith men. Álfar, along "ith
these groups, "ere systematically contrasted "ith monsters. Ta-ing the eidence for
"ords denoting males alone, my inferences so far can be presented as a componential
analysis in terms of the t"o features q+#5STB#US and qSUPEB5ATUBALA
-arlmaKr gs glfr
+#5STB#US 3 3 3 r
?igure 2A co!1onential analysis of -orse words for *eings
5eedless to say, this analysis is crudeF introducing distinctions of gender to it, for
e*ample, "ould produce the familiar problems of binary componential analyses .see
Lyons 2499, esp. ) 6$$3$>/. ,hile it "ould be possible to spea- hereafter of %lfar as
;non'monstrous supernatural beings<, ) suggest instead ;other"orldly beings< as an
appropriate alternatieF its mi*ed connotations of "onder and fear "ill emerge belo" to
be fitting to members of this category. Li-e"ise, it is possible to reconstruct a semantic
field diagramA
?igure $A se!antic field diagra! of -orse words for *eings
This intepretation differs from a predominantly !erman tradition lin-ing %lfar, li-e
Snorri, "ith dvergar, in aligning %lfar primarily "ith æsir and d$sir, and dvergar "ith the
(hapter $A An #ld 5orse (onte*t
monstrous 7çtnar.
Although the alternatie alignment "ould help to e*plain !erman
fol-lore, mine is the one suggested by the -ennings, the earliest 5orse eidence. 0asic
though it is, it proides important information about the early meanings of %lfr.
+oreoer, it hints at a maGor mythological pattern in early'medieal Scandinaian "orld'
ie"s, delineating a fundamental binary opposition bet"een beings "hich are human or
other"orldly on the one hand, and those "hich are monstrous on the other. These themes
are elucidated by reference to the ne*t body of eidence, Eddaic erse.
$. Álfr in Eddaic verse
As ) hae mentioned, %lfr is fre:uent in the Eddaic corpus, "hose usage is largely
consistent "ith the s-aldic erse, and "hich presents mythological traditions more fully.
Tempting though it is to try to order the Eddaic poems by date or place of origin, the
uncertainties and comple*ities of transmission in the corpus ma-e this too problematic to
be attempted here .see ?idGestil 2444/. 5or do ) analyse eery occurrence of %lfr. This is
not because they are not of interestA rather because my primary concern here is to
deelop a reliable and pertinent conte*t for interpreting our Anglo'Sa*on eidence. )n
particular ) aoid 'lv$ss!%l, despite the fact that %lfr and certain other "ords for
supernatural beings occur here more than in any other Eddaic poem. 'lv$ss!%l is
essentially a catalogue of poetic diction structured as a "isdom'contest. +ost stan=as
catalogue the names gien to parts of the "orld by !enn, goð, vanir, 7çtnar, %lfar and
dvergar, in that order. This may be of interest, in that it seems broadly to moe from the
centre to the periphery of the Scandinaian "orld'ie", "hile the Gu*taposition of 7çtnar
and %lfar is paralleled in Beowulf<s half'line ;eotenas ond ylfe< .S&A2 esp. n. 2%&/. 0ut the
e*igencies of metre as the poem marshals alliterating diction from limited pools lead to
ariations in the order or ocabulary in most stan=as, including certain apparent
duplications .such that æsir and u1regin appear in st. 2%, !enn and alir in $8, and
7çtnar and Suttungs synir in 6&/A 'lv$ss!%l<s subGect matter is primarily poetic diction,
not mythographyF its portrayals both of hVrr and of the dvergr Alkss are inconsistent
"ith other sources .Ac-er $%%$/.
#n the other hand, one poem is in arious respects unusual, but particularly important
to the present study because it not only contains %lfr by seems also to hae English
Associating dvergar "ith %lfar, e.g. !rimm 288$388 N289>398O, )) &&639$F Uries 24>73>9, $>$3
7&F +ot= 249639&F Lecouteu* 2449F and on #ld English Tente 24$2, 279342F Philippson 24$4,
74398. Associating dvergar "ith 7çtnar, cf. 0oor 24$&, >>%3>9F Holtsmar- 249%, 9>38%F (lunies
Boss 244&348, ) >%3>2, >&3>7F Ac-er $%%$.
(hapter $A An #ld 5orse (onte*t
connectionsA 'lv$ss!%l<s neighbour in the (ode* Begius, Vçlundarkviða. Accordingly, )
consider Vçlundarkviða separately from the other te*ts .S$A6.$/.
3#1 +or%ulae) and +re,r
As commentators hae often noted, %lfr mainly occurs in Eddaic poetry in the formulaic
collocation æsir ok %lfar, "hich "e hae met already in #ld English form in the pairing
of ese and ælfe in Wið færstice. The formula and its ariants occur fourteen times in
erses, as in (%va!%l stan=as 2>437%, particularly note"orthy because æsir and %lfar
both seem to be denoted there by t$var .;gods<F ed. 5ec-el 247$, &63&&/A
hat -ann ec iM fiVrtgnda, ef ec scal fyrKa liKi
telia tka fyrirA
gsa oc glfa ec -ann allra scil,
fgr -ann Vsnotr sg.
hat -ann ec iM fimtgnda, er gVl hiVKririr,
dergr, fyr Dellings duromA
afl gVl hann gsom, enn glfom frama,
hyggio Hroptatl.
) -no" it, the fourteenth, if ) must rec-on up
t$var in front of a company of peopleA
) -no" ho" to distinguish all the æsir and
%lfarF fe" "ho are not "ise can do so.
) -no" it, the fifteenth, "hich hGVKririr the
dvergr chanted in front of Dellingr<s doorsA
he chanted strength for the æsir, but success
for the %lfar, intelligence for Hroptr'Tlr
Ás al"ays comes first in the pair e*cept in Sk$rnis!%l stan=as 29328. The collocation is
doubtless sometimes merely formulaic, and besides sho"ing that æsir "ere associated
"ith %lfar is not in itself ery informatie.
Bather it is conte*ts li-e the one Gust :uoted
that gie us eidence that %lfar here denoted something ery li-e æsir.
Uncertainty as to the precise significance of %lfr in æsir ok %lfar does not usually
much trouble modern readers, and need not hae troubled medieal ones, but it does
present a serious inconenience in #okasenna. #okasenna<s prose introduction gies a
list of gods, e*plaining that at Zgir<s feast, ;+art ar Mar gsa oc glfa< .;+any of the æsir
and %lfar "ere there</. )n the poem itself, Lo-i says %sa oc %lfa6 er Pr inno ero .;of the
æsir and %lfar "ho are here "ithin<F st. $, 26, 6%, ed. 5ec-el 247$, 49, 44, 2%$/ three
times. Ho"eer, despite the presence in #okasenna of most of the Scandinaian
pantheon, conentional accounts of 5orse mythology list no %lfar among them, follo"ing
Snorri in labelling the named gods æsir or vanir. 0ut #okasenna is a tightly'constructed
poem and mythologically "ell'informed .see +cDinnell 2487384/. )t "ould be
uncharacteristic, then, for it to repeat a formula "hich "ithin its mythological frame of
reference is partly otiose. Stan=a 6% is rhetorically a fine insultA
!ureis<s e*haustie classification of Eddaic formulae .2487 N248$O/ ma-es some ostensibly
interesting obserations, but the classifications are subGectie and insufficiently sensitie to the
meaning of each formula in the different conte*ts "here they occur. Ac-er has since ino-ed a
subtler classificatory system, but has not inestigated its implications or underpinnings .2448, &/.
(hapter $A An #ld 5orse (onte*t
hegi Mj, ?reyGat Mic -ann ec fullgera,
era Mcr amma antF
gsa oc glfa, er hcr inni ero,
herr hefir Minn hVr eriK.
Shut up, ?reyGat ) -no" you completely,
there is no lac- of ices in youF
of the æsir and the %lfar "ho are in here,
each has been your loer.
0ut it is some"hat deflated if "e enisage ?reyGa being accused of se* "ith some
anonymous and shado"y collection of %lfar.
The obious e*planation for the mysterious %lfar of #okasenna is to identify them
"ith Snorri<s vanir .cf. Uries 24>73>9, )) $%6F Holtsmar- 249%, 98F 5esstrEm 244>, 72/.
This prospect is particularly supported by Gr$!nis!%l stan=a >, "here fKinn declares
that .ed. 5ec-el 247$, >8/
blfheim ?rey ggfo k grdaga
tkar at tannfc.
The gods gae ?reyr blfheimr in ancient days
as tooth'money Ni.e. a gift at a child<s first
?reyr is here portrayed, then, as the lord of the "orld of the %lfar. )n Snorra Edda and
Ynglinga saga, ?reyr is, of course, a prince of the vanir rather than the %lfar. Ho"eer,
vanr occurs neither in #okasenna nor Gr$!nis!%l, despite the e*tensie mythological
lore in these poems. The simplest interpretation of these te*ts is to ta-e Snorri<s pairing
of æsir and vanir to be a ariant of a pairing of æsir and %lfar, "ith vanr and %lfr, in at
least some times and places, denoting the same mythological construct. This reading
"ould e*plain "hy ?reyr "ould rule blfheimrF "hy %s and %lfr are used in the same "ay
in -ennings for men "ith vanr neer being used, alongside the related :uestion of "hy
Snorri "ould suggest using names of æsir and %lfar, but not vanir, in -ennings for gods
and menF and "hy ?reyGa stands accused of haing se* "ith all the æsir and %lfar at
Zgir<s feast. )ndeed, if ?reyGa, ?reyr and 5GçrKr are to be interpreted in #okasenna as a
-in'group of %lfar as they are normally interpreted as a -in'group of vanir, then Lo-i<s
use of the æsir ok %lfar formula in indicting ?reyGa "ould imply that she had not simply
slept "ith all the æsir, but "ith her o"n family1neatly foreshado"ing that ery
accusation, in stan=a 6$. Admittedly, some Eddaic poems do present %lfar and vanir as
different races, as in Sigrdr$fu!%l stan=a 28 .ed. 5ec-el 247$, 96F cf. Sk$rnis!%l st.293
28F ed. 5ec-el 247$, 9$396/, "hich says of runes that
Allar Vro af scafnar, MLr er Vro g ristnar,
oc herfKar iK inn helga miçK,
oc sendar g kKa ega.
hLr ro meK gsom, MLr ro meK glfom,
sumar meK ksom çnom,
sumar hafa men=cir menn.
All "ere shaed off, those "hich "ere cared
on, and mi*ed "ith the sacred mead,ç
and sent on "ide "ays.
They are among the æsirF they are among the
%lfar, some "ith the "ise vanirFç
human people hae some.
This list of peoples is attractiely consonant "ith the association of men, %lfar and æsir
in s-aldic poetry, though it aims e:ually to indicate the diersity of the runes<
(hapter $A An #ld 5orse (onte*t
destinations. This distinction bet"een %lfar and vanir ) ta-e as a ariant tradition,
probably e*hibiting a tendency to reanalyse synonyms as "ords denoting different
things, perhaps partly through syncretic processes "hich brought together ariant
mythologies and terminologies "ithout integrating them fully.
#ne "onders further if %lfr might hae been used as a cognomen of ?reyr, since this
could e*plain the -enning %lfrçðullA if "e may adduce Snorri<s statement in
Gylfaginning that ?reyr ;rLKr fyrir regni o- s-ini sVlar< .;rules oer the rain and the
shining of the sun<F ed. ?aul-es 248$, $&/, then perhaps %lfr in %lfrçðull denotes ?reyr
himself. Snorri<s claim gains some slight support from the name of S-krnir, "hom ?reyr
sends to "oo !erKr in Sk$rnis!%lA S-krnir<s name is transparently deried from sk$rr
.;clear, bright</, and lin-s ?reyr indirectly "ith this characteristic. Beading %lfr in
%lfrçðull as a eiti for ?reyr brings an arguably appropriate mythological connotation to
the -enning, suggesting ;the rçðull .denoting the sun/ of the Álfr .o?reyr/<, and such
deelopments of names for supernatural beings into gods< names are "ell'attested.
names Álfarinn and MCrarinn "ould correspond the better if %lf' here is ta-en to denote
an indiidual god. 0ut little can be made of these hints.
Again, the association of %lfar and dvergar "hich has often been assumed is ill'
supported. ) hae :uoted stan=a 27% of (%va!%l, in "hich the dvergr hGVKririr ;afl gVl
Y gsom, enn glfom frama< .;sang strength for the æsir, and for the %lfar success<F ed.
5ec-el 247$, &2/, but "hateer is afoot here, it associates dvergar "ith %lfar no more
than "ith æsir. +ore stri-ing is stan=a 2&6 of (%va!%l .ed. 5ec-el 247$, &2/, "hich,
describing the carers of runes, recalls the binary diision bet"een æsir and %lfar on the
one hand and 7çtnar and dvergar on the otherA
fKinn meK gsom, enn fyr glfom Dginn,
Dalinn dergom fyrir,
bsiKr içtnom fyrir,
ec reist siglfr sumar.
fKinn among the æsir, and for the %lfar,
Dginn, Dalinn for the dvergar,
bsiKr for the 7çtnar,
) myself cared some.
&%inn is the name of a dvergr in Vçlus1% 22 and .possibly deriatiely/ (yndlul7Cð
stan=a 9 .ed. 5ec-el 247$, 6, $84/F mean"hile, the names Vind%lfr and Gand%lfr also
appear in Vçlus1%<s list of dvergar, in stan=as 2$ and 27 .ed. 5ec-el 247$, 6, &/.
Ho"eer, the list in Vçlus1% is a gallimaufrey, and the recurrence of the transparently
meaningful name Dginn .;the dead one</ no cause for surprise1it is, after all, the name
(f. RtQwaR ;god< J #ld 5orse 2Sr ;the god Tlr< but t$var ;gods<F Stroh 2444 for the argument,
inerting preious assumptions, that ?aunus may o"e his name to the fauni. Li-e"ise, ?reyGa, seen
as the pre'eminent, diine d$s, is usually assumed to be the d$s of the &$sarsalr .;d$s<s hall</
mentioned in (eiðreks saga and Ynglinga saga .ed. TVn Helgason 24$&, &&F 0Garni AKalbGarnarson
24&23>2, ) >8F cf. see StrEm 24>&, 6$374F 5esstrEm 244>, esp. 26636>/.
(hapter $A An #ld 5orse (onte*t
of a hart in Gr$!nis!%l .st. 66F ed. 5ec-el 247$, 7&/. ) maintain, then, my binary diision
bet"een æsir and %lfar on the one hand and dvergar and 7çtnar on the other.
3#2 Vçlundarkviða
Vçlundarkviða .ed. 5ec-el 247$, 2273$6/ demands special attention because it is the
only #ld 5orse poem "here a character is clearly identified le*ically as one of the %lfarA
Uçlundr is described as ;glfa liVKi< .probably ;member of the %lfar<, st. 2%/ and ;ksi glfa<
.probably ;"ise one of the %lfar<, st. 26, 6$/. This identification presents the alluring
prospect of associating %lfr "ith narratie motifs as "ell as le*ical conte*ts. +oreoer,
the poem probably e*hibits #ld English linguistic influence, so, problematic though the
connection is, it may offer eidence "hich is especially releant to Anglo'Sa*on culture.
(onse:uently, it is discussed more fully belo" .S9A6/. Here, ) simply introduce the poem
and establish Uçlundr<s association "ith %lfr.
Vçlundarkviða begins "ith the flight of three "omen identified in stan=a 2 as !ey7ar,
drCsir, alvitr and suðrTnar .;young "omen, stately "omen, foreign beings, southerners</
and in the prose introduction as valkyr7ur, to a ;sLar strçnd< .;la-eIsea'shore</ "here
they ta-e for themseles the three brothers Egill, SlagfiKr and Uçlundr. Ho"eer, nine
"inters later, they leae the brothersF SlagfiKr and Egill go in search of their "omen, but
Uçlundr remains at home instead, forging *augar .;arm'rings</ for his "oman .stan=as
237/. This part of the story is not present in our other main ersion .Miðreks saga af
Bern, chs >9394, commonly -no"n as Velents þ%ttrF ed. 0ertelsen 24%>322, ) 963266/,
though it is an essential part of the Vçlundarkviða that "e hae .cf. 0urson 2486, 63>/.
Ho"eer, chapter $6 of Miðreks saga does contain a narratie li-e this concerning the
birth of the father of Uelent .its counterpart to Uçlundr/, and some process of
transference may hae ta-en place .ed. 0ertelsen 24%>322, ) &7F )) 7637>/. Discoering
that Uçlundr is liing alone, 5kKuKr, ;5igra drVttin< .;lord of the 5Ggrar</, has him ta-en
in his sleep .stan=as 932$/. 5kKuKr ta-es Uçlundr<s s"ord and gies one of the rings
"hich Uçlundr made for his missing bride to his daughter 0çKildr, and, at his "ife<s
instigation, he has Uçlundr<s hamstrings cut, imprisoning him on an island .stan=as 263
24/. Uçlundr ta-es his reenge on 5kKuKr first by enticing his t"o sons to isit "ith
promises of treasure, -illing them, and ma-ing Ge"els of their eyes and teeth .stan=as $%3
$7/F and then by enticing 0çKildr by promising to mend the ring "hich she "as gien,
getting her drun-, and implicitly haing se* "ith her .stan=as $93$4/. Vçlundarkviða
culminates in Uçlundr ta-ing to the air by some means "hich is not clearly described and
(hapter $A An #ld 5orse (onte*t
telling 5kKuKr "hat he has done .stan=as 6%364/, focusing finally on the plight of
0çKildr .stan=as &%3&2/.
+cDinnell has recently consolidated the long'standing idea that Vçlundarkviða
contains a number of #ld English loan'"ords, and perhaps influence from #ld English
poetic metre .244%, 2326/. This fits "ith the fact that Uçlundr is other"ise rather poorly'
attested in Scandinaia .see Dron-e 2449, $92397/A Velents þ%ttr, the other main
Scandinaian source for Uçlundr, is based mainly on !erman sources .see Daidson
244>/, "hile there is a plethora of medieal references to Uçlundr<s southern
counterparts, including seeral from Anglo'Sa*on England sho"ing that his story there
"as similar to Vçlundarkviða<s .+aurus 24%$, 93>9F Lang 2497, 4%346F 5edoma 244%F
Dron-e 2449, $>8387/. Precisely "hat Vçlundarkviða<s English connections "ere is
harder to guess1there are arious cultural and perhaps linguistic layers to the te*t and
there "ere many points of Anglo'Scandinaian interaction .cf. Dron-e 2449, $8934%/1
but their e*istence is not in doubt.
Ho"eer, the t"o terms by "hich Uçlundr is lin-ed "ith %lfar are obscure. 0oth are
formulaic half'lines, appearing in the follo"ing stan=asA
Sat g berfialli, bauga talKi,
glfa liVKi, eins sacnaKiF
hugKi hann, at hefKi HlçKcs dVttir,
alitr unga, Lri hon aptr -omin.
.Stan=a 2%/
DallaKi nj 5kKuKr, 5igra drVttinnA
;Har ga=tu, Uçlundr, ksi glfa,
gra aura k ulfdçlom@<
.Stan=a 26/
;Seg Mj mcr Mat, Uçlundr, ksi glfaA
af heilom hat arK hjnom N+SA sono!O
.Stan=a 6$/
He sat on a bears-in, counted .arm'/rings,
liCði of %lfar, he noticed one "as missingF
he thought that HlçKcr<s daughter,
the young other"orldly being, had come bac-.
5kKuKr cried no", the lord of the 5Ggrar,
;,here did you get, Uçlundr, v$si of %lfar,
your "ealth in ulfdalar@<
;Tell it to me, Uçlundr, v$si of %lfarA
"hat came of my healthy cubs@<
The phrase v$si %lfa occurs only in 5kKuKr<s speeches, one preceding and one follo"ing
Uçlundr<s engeance. The repetition is significant, since in the first instance it helps to
e*press 5kKuKr<s gloating, emphasising that he has captured an other"orldly being, but
in the second, it emphasises his humbling by that being<s reenge .cf. !rimstad 2486,
248344F Dron-e 2449, $>9/. Eidently, v$si %lfa, "hateer it means, is a status to be
aunted. The phrase could e:ually be undertood as ;leader of the %lfar< or ;"ise one of
the %lfar<, and there is little to choose bet"een these on internal eidence .see See and
others 24493, )) 28$386, "here the former interpretation is preferred/. )f the formula is
related to Alfred the !reat<s repeated alliteration of Weland "ith wis in the tenth of his
(hapter $A An #ld 5orse (onte*t
+etres of Boetius .lines 66, 6>, &$F ed. Sedgefield 2844, 27>/ and chapter 24 of his
earlier prose "onsolation of .iloso1y .ed. Sedgefield 2844, &7/, both times in an
addition to his source .ed. +oreschini $%%%, 2327$/, then v$si "ould be ;"ise one< .this
is unambiguous only in the prose, but surely holds also for the erse/. 0ut the alliteration
of these "ords "as so obious a deice, een in prose, that the t"o formulae are li-ely to
be independent.
The l7Cði of ;glfa liVKi<, on the other hand, is uni:ue, "ith no certain meaning .see
See and others 24493, )) 29%396F Dron-e 2449, 62%322/. #7Cði must be related to the rare
and poetic 5orse l7Cðr .;a people</ and the common #ld English leod ."hen masculine,
;man, "arrior<F "hen feminine, ;people</, amongst other cognates. The usual assumption
is that it is a natie 5orse noun, guessed to mean ;leader<, in "hich case Uçlundr, ;leader
of %lfar<, need not hae been an %lfr himself. Ho"eer, borro"ing from #ld English is a
more tempting e*planation. That #ld English leod could be borro"ed as l7Cði is sho"n
by the borro"ing of #ld English reoðan as #ld 5orse r7Cða .sho"ing eoC7C/F ired,
ird as irð .sho"ing dCðF de Uries 2472, s.. r7Cða $, irð/F and kastali .;castle< H
castel/, !unki .;mon-< H !unuc/, 1ostoli .;apostle< H 1ostol/ and 1rCfasti .;proost< H
1rafost, sho"ing "ea- masculine for strongF see Uries 2472, s../.
As Dron-e pointed
out, %lfa l7Cði is most closely paralleled in poetry suriing in the !ermanic languages by
the #ld English poetic formula genitive 1lural etnony! r leod, as in E*rea leod, Geata
leod and Secgena leod .;male member of the Hebre"sI!eatsISecgan<F for my translation
of leod, contra Dron-e<s ;leader<, see 0rady 2486, $%>37/. Dron-e "as concerned that
;eles< are not ;associated "ith the term [people\ .l7Cðr, l;od/ in #5 or #E< .2449, 622/,
but ) demonstrate other"ise for #ld English belo" .SS6A$3&/, emphasising the alidity of
the reading. Álfa l7Cði, then, could be 5orse in origin, but it is more li-ely a sign of the
+y interpretation here is diametrically opposite to +cDinnell<s .244%, 6/A +cDinnell considered
that wisan in poetic lines li-e ;h"Lr sint nu MLs "isan ,elandes ban< is ambiguous bet"een #ld
English wis .;"ise</ and wisa .;leader</F but in fact it is disambiguated by Alfred<s earlier prose,
;H"Lt synt nu MLs foremeran ¯ MLs "isan goldsmiKes ban ,elondes@< .;,hat no" are the bones
of that reno"ned and "ise goldsmith ,eland@</. ,hereas +cDinnell thought the parallel
significant, ho"eer, ) do not.
This argument is similar to +cDinnell<s, "hich lin-ed l7Cði "ith #ld English leoda, putatiely a
"ea- deriatie of leod attested only in the plural, defined by 0os"orth and Toller as ;a man, one
of a people or country< .2848, s..F cf. Toller 24$2, s..F +cDinnell 244%, 6F $%%2, 662F de Uries
2472, s.. l7Cði/. 0ut, as ) hae sho"n, there is no need to posit a "ea- #ld English etymon, and
leoda is almost certainly simply a "ea- ariant of leodA morphologically, leod "as comple*,
haing both masculine forms "ith i'stem inflections and feminine forms "ith 9'stem inflections .cf.
(ampbell 24>4, S72%.9 n. 6/. ,ea- ariants of the long'stemmed masculine i'stem declesion
plurals appear already in early ,est Sa*on .(ampbell 24>4, S72%.9/F moreoer, in non',est
Sa*on dialects, the long'stemmed masculine i'stem declension inflected in the same "ay in the
plural as the feminine 9'stems, "hich "as also liable to collapse "ith the "ea- declension,
especially in 5orthumbrian "ith its loss of the final nasals "hich helped to distinguish "ea-
inflections .see (ampbell 24>4, SS694 n. 6, &9$, >89, 729F cf. Appendi* 2/. The conditions "ere
therefore ripe for the creation of a "ea- plural leodan.
(hapter $A An #ld 5orse (onte*t
English influence on Vçlundarkviða. Either "ay, ho"eer, the balance of probability
suggests that %lfa l7Cði indicates that Uçlundr is one of the %lfar.
Uçlundr<s association "ith %lfar has caused some discomfort among critics "ho see
him as a human hero, particularly since Vçlundarkviða<s prose introduction states him
and his brothers to be ;synir ?inna-onungs< .;sons of the Ding of the 8innar</.
)n its
manuscripts, it unarguably -eeps mythological company, as does the depiction of
Uçlundr on the Ui-ing'age S"edish picture'stone Ardre U))) .Lind:ist 24&23&$, ) 4>3
47, 44, 2%9F )) $$3$& and fig. 622/. ) ta-e this debate as the first of arious pieces of
eidence to be considered here that our culture<s categorial distinction bet"een human'
li-e supernatural beings and ethnic others is anachronisticF "e might thin- more usefully
in terms of ;in'groups< and ;out'groups<. )ndiiduals from the out'group are liable to be
associated "ith the supernaturalF supernatural beings are liable to be associated "ith out'
groups. As !rimstad obsered, Uçlundr<s reenge is reminiscent of fKinn<s in
Gr$!nis!%l. Here fKinn isits the hall of the human -ing !eirriKr, testing his
hospitality. Tortured bet"een t"o fires by !eirriKr, he imparts "isdom to !eirriKr<s son
Agnarr, reeals his identity, and escapes, indirectly causing !eirriKr<s death as he does
so .ed. 5ec-el 247$, >7378/. Here, then, an other"orldly being ;triumphs oer his human
opponent and then anishes<, effectiely acting as an arbiter of appropriate behaiour
.!rimstad 2486, 246, $%%3$%$F cf. +cDinnell 2442, $&3$>/. This reading also seems the
best "ay to e*plain Uçlundr<s flight .cf. !rimstad 2486, 28434%/, itself reminiscent of
fKinn<s escapes in eagle'form in prose te*ts.
The interpretation also fits nicely "ith the
conse:uence of Uçlundr<s seduction or rape of 0çKildr, the birth of UiKgaI,idia, "hich
in Miðreks saga, and implicitly the #ld English Waldere and &eor, is presented as the
real culmination of the story .!rimstad 2486, 2443$%%/. A potentially uneniable
preganancy out of "edloc- seres here in part, then, to proide a supernatural lineage for
a hero.
(f. See and others 24493, )) 2$%3$2F !rimstad 2486, 24%342F +cDinnell 244%, $&3$>F though
note Dron-e<s cheerful Gu*taposition of the t"o readings, 2449, $7237$, $89384.
Sk%ldska1ar!%l ch. 2 .ed. ?aul-es 2448, &3>/F (eiðreks saga ch. 22 .ed. !uKni TVnsson30Garni
UilhGglmsson 24&63&&, $$>/1though this may be cognisant of Snorra Edda .Hall forthcoming NaO,
S$/. !rimstad also thought it necessary to e*plain Uçlundr<s reenge, "hich is ;carried out
secretly, and, although Uçlundr does at least confront his adersary and reeal "hat he has done,
there is no final man'to'man battle or heroic last stand, but rather a most unheroic escape< .2486,
24%/. Ho"eer, !rimstad<s e*pections are high, both in ie" of 5kKuKr<s o"n ignominious
behaiour, Uçlundr<s crippling, and ;heroic< behaiour else"here in Eddaic te*ts .cf. Steblin'
Damens-iG 248$, 89384 on SigurKr ?gfnisbani/.
(hapter $A An #ld 5orse (onte*t
%. Interpretations
,e can no" see %lfr to hae hae denoted something conceptually similar to %s, and both
%s and %lfr to hae been metaphorically associated "ith humans. Gr$!nis!%l declares
that ?reyr "as gien blfheimr to rule, consolidating the circumstantial eidence that in a
number of Eddaic poems, the %lfar relate to the æsir as do the vanir in Snorri<s
mythography, and some partial synonymy bet"een %lfr and vanr seems li-ely. The group
æsir'%lfar'!enn "as in turn systematically opposed to another group, at least sometimes
anthropormorphic, "hich ) hae termed !onstrous, including 7çtnar, þursar and dvergar.
Vçlundarkviða, "hose story seems certainly to be about one of the %lfar, also suggests
narratie motifs associated "ith %lfar, "hich ) discuss further belo" .S9A6/. To conclude
this analysis of 5orse eidence, ) argue that my more basic obserations concerning
%lfr<s semantics correlate "ith "ider .albeit later/ eidence for early'medieal 5orse'
spea-ers< cosmologies, and that "e can correlate the semantics of -ey terms in #ld 5orse
mythologies, including %lfr, "ith "ider "orld'ie"s. Essentially, the semantic field
diagram presented aboe .S$A$ fig. $/ can also be ta-en as a schematic map of early
medieal 5orse'spea-ers< cosmologies. This correlation proides support for ta-ing
similar approaches to #ld English semantic eidence.
) hae argued from s-aldic eidence in particular that %lfar, æsir and !enn "ere
semantically aligned "ith one another in contradistinction to monsters. This binary
opposition corresponds "ell "ith a hori=ontal cosmology "hich scholars hae deduced
primarily from conseratie'loo-ing elements of Snorri Sturluson<s mythography.
:uote Hastrup .248>, 2&9/,
There "as a fundamental distinction bet"een a hori=ontal and a ertical a*is. Hori=ontally, the
cosmos "as diided into +iKgarKr and utgarKr. +iKgarKr "as the central space, as implied by
the name W;middle'enclosure<X, inhabited by men .and gods/, "hile utgarKr "as found ;outside
the fence<, beyond the borders of +iKgarKr, and inhabited by giants and non'humans. ,e note
here the close parallel to the conceptuali=ation of the farmstead .innangarðs Wliterally ;"ithin the
enclosure<X/ and the surrounding uncontrolled space .Gtangarðs Wliterally ;outside the
enclosure<X/. According to the myths of creation, this initial diision of cosmos into t"o separate
spaces "as brought about by the gods .æsir/, "ho subse:uently built their o"n abode, bsgarKr,
some"here inside +iKgarKr. There "as no opposition bet"een heaen and earth in this model,
and topologically bsgarKr "as inseparable from +iKgarKr. (onse:uently there "as no absolute
distinction bet"een men and gods. )n opposition to the men and the .controlled/ gods stood the
uncontrolled, often hostile, 7)tnar .;giants</ and other -inds of supernatural beings.
)nferring this binary system inoles a number of simplifications. )n particular, Duhn
"arned that the terms +iðgarðr, Ásgarðr and Utgarðr used by Hastrup may be
Uries 24>73>9, 69$34$F !ureich 2474, &$3&9F +eletins-iG 2496abF Hastrup 248>, 2673>&. (f.
SchGidt 244%F (lunies Boss 244&348, esp. ) &83>7.
(hapter $A An #ld 5orse (onte*t
comparatiely late innoations in 5orseF the proper noun Utgarðr is attested only in one
passage in Gylfaginning .ed. ?aul-es 248$, 68364/, the opposition of the terms Utgarðr
and +iðgarðr being a scholarly construct. Ho"eer, our earliest 5orse eidence does
suggest a similar diision into +annheimar, !oKheimar and Tçtunheimar .;Human', goð'
and 7çtunn'"orld.s/<F Duhn 2474398, )U $4>36%$/, "hich, if "e can assume that
!oKheimar "as "ithin +annheimar, is consistent "ith the system "hich Hastrup
posited. These three ei!ar correlate neatly "ith the three groups of beings "hich ) hae
identified on semantic grounds, æsir and %lfar, !enn, and monsters. Although this -ind
of simple, binary cosmological paradigm is internationally "idespread, it is by no means
uniersal, differing1to gie an important counterpoint1from the "orld'ie"s implied
by 0iblical Tudaic "ritings .see ,hite 249$F for further e*amples Helms 2488, $$36%/.
The boundaries bet"een the "orlds "ere not rigid, arying according to conte*ts social
.e.g. subsistence farming s. trading/, temporal .e.g. day s. night/, literary .e.g. istoria
s. fa*ula/, and so forth. ,hile the model might be applied on a macrocosmic .or
mythological/ scale, it had a microcosmic dimension, "ith the farm a !iðgarðr
surrounded by a chaotic outer "orld .cf. !ureich 2474, &63&>/.
,ithin this broad binary paradigm, gods and monsters related to men in t"o main
"ays. As recent commentators hae emphasised, mythological narraties of relationships
bet"een æsir and 7çtnar1"hich inole iolence but also intermarriage1probably
reflected, or proided models for, relations bet"een 5orse'spea-ing in'groups and their
ethnically different neighbours, principally the 8innar .;Sgmi</.
0ut in another -ind of
relationship, more useful for interpreting the Anglo'Sa*on eidence for ælfe, gods and
monsters "ere not mythological parallels to men, but corporeal beings "al-ing in men<s
"orld, "hom men might in theory encounter. !ods and monsters "ere conceptually
similar to, and might een be identified "ith, ethnic others, "hile members of the human
in'group could, actually or metaphorically, become monstrous, particularly if they
remained in contact "ith the in'group after the seerances of outla"ry or death.
This is
the situation in Vçlundarkviða and the canonically mythological Gr$!nis!%l, as "ell as
arious later sagas, among them the Sçgu*rot af fornkonungu!, from around 26%%,
"hich says that ;er -uni-t i ollum fornum frassognm um Mat fol-, er Alfar het, at Mat
ar mi-lu friKara en engi onnur man-ind a 5orKrlondum< .;it is made -no"n in all the
+undal $%%%F cf. 2447, 22%32$F Hermann Pglsson 2449, esp. 273$6, 2>&3>7F cf. Doht 24$6F
+eulengracht Sirensen 2484 N2499OF (lunies Boss 244&348, ) 7%377F more generally (ohen 2447,
932$F Uebel 2447. ?or recent archaeological eidence for 5orse'Sgmi interactions "hich
emphasises the alidity of these parallels see also !EtherstrEm $%%2a, $>3$7F $%%2b, 2232$F cf.
vachrisson and others 2449F Price $%%%, 283$$.
Du0ois 2444, 74342F Sayers 2447F for outla"ry cf. #rchard $%%6a, 2&%378F more generally
#lsen $%%2. ?or the partial synonymy of 8innr "ith monster'"ords, see Hermann Pglsson 2449,
(hapter $A An #ld 5orse (onte*t
old histories of the people "hich is called the Álfar, that it "as much more
beautifulIhandsome than any other human race in the 5orth'lands<F ed. af Petersens3
#lson 24243$>, $>, "ith slight normalisationF see also Lassen $%%6F Lindo" $%%6, 2%>/.
)t is often assumed that (hristian Scandinaians< depictions of the pagan gods as
po"erful humans "ith magical po"ers, as in the prologue to Snorra Edda or the first
boo- of Sa*o<s Gesta &anoru!, necessarily sho"s (hristian euhemerisation of pagan
diinities .notably Drag 2442, >83>4F Tohnson 244>, &$3&&/. 0ut this ie" assumes that
pagan gods had the incorporeal character of the (hristian !od. ) suspect instead that the
;euhemerisations< in our 5orse sources inoled no paradigm shift from traditional
cultureF indeed, the euhemerised gods of Snorri Sturluson and Alfred the !reat, unli-e
those of other early medieal euhemerists, deliberately use their magical po"ers to
establish diine reputations, rather than simply being apotheosised after their deaths,
perhaps suggesting that Alfred and Snorri altered their inherited conceptions of pagan
gods to a minimal e*tent .see Tohnson 244>, &63&&F ch. 68 of Alfred<s translation of the
&e consolatio 1iloso1iaeF ed. Sedgefield 2844, 22>327, 24&34>/. !ods and men "ere
not essentially different, an argument "ell'established for medieal )reland "hich also
enGoys (lassical parallels.
A more subtle supplement to the binary model is re:uired to interpret ho" men of the
in'group related to gods and to monsters. A conincing one is suggested by the
relationships bet"een the Hellenic citi=ens of the city'states, "ild beings such as satyrs
and nymphs .VWXYZ[\, ]^_`a\/, and barbarians and monsters such as the centaurs or
cyclopses .bcdXaYZ[\, b^efghij/, in ancient Hellenic "orld'ie"s.
As 0artra put it
.244&, 2&, citing ,hite 249$/, the mythology implies
the e*istence of a mythological space inhabited by "ild men that are clearly distinguishable from
barbarians. )n contrast "ith barbarians, "ho constituted a threat to society in general and to
!ree- society as a "hole, the "ild man represented a threat to the indiidualY ,hite clearly
demonstrates that, conentionally, barbarian lands "ere geographically remote, and the moment
of their incursion upon the frontiers of the !ree- "orld "ould signal an apocalypseA the
appearance of hordes of barbarians implied the fracturing of the foundation of the "orld and the
death of an epoch. )n contrast the "ild man is omnipresent, inhabiting the immediate confines of
the community. He is found in the neighbouring forests, mountains and islands.
This is undeniably a grand tidying up of the eidenceF a full inestigation "ould deelop
0u*ton<s self'consciously pluralistic approaches to Hellenic mythological landscapes
.244&, 8%3226, cf. 249, $%>39/. 0ut the model is conincing and ethnographically
See Hamel 246&, esp. $%93$9F SGoestedt 24&4 N24&%O, esp. 4$346F f Biain 2487, esp. $&>3>2F
cf. (arey 244>, >63>&F 1ace +ac-ey 244$, "hose obGections, "here releant, stri-e me as
insubstantial. ?or (lassical material note in addition to the discussion belo" the identification of
fauni as )taly<s a*origines, the primeal ancestors of the Bomans .Stroh 2444, >7>377/. Though
long ridiculed, nineteenth' and early t"entieth'century demythologisations of fairies as past races
.on "hich see Spence 24&7, >637&, 22>362F cf. Pur-iss $%%%, >39/ "ere not so far off the mar-.
,hite 249$F 0artra 244&, 43&2F Do"den 244$, 2$6367, 2>8372. (f. 0rin- $%%2, 8638>.
(hapter $A An #ld 5orse (onte*t
paralleled .see Helms 2488, $63$&/. )n it, the role of the barbarians is identical to that of
the 7çtnar in #ld 5orse material concerning the Bagnarç- .on "hich see Uries 24>73>9,
)) 64$3&%>F Turille'Petre 247&, $8%38>/, recalling the binary diision bet"een humans
and monsters and the alignment of monsters "ith ethnic others. The "ild men, ho"eer,
falling bet"een Hellenic citi=ens and barbarians afford a neat parallel for the %lfar. Li-e
the "ild men and in contradistinction to monsters, fKinn in Gr$!nis!%l and Uçlundr in
Vçlundarkviða are not threats to humanity itself, but to indiiduals "ithin humanity.
,hereas the threat of the monsters is chaotic and final, the threats posed by fKinn and
Uçlundr sere to punish transgressions of acceptable behaiour, and to "arn those "ho
hear of them against similar transgressions.
Ethnic others in early medieal Scandinaian "orld'ie"s need not only hae been
identified "ith monsters. As Lindo" has emphasised, 8innar can also be associated "ith
other"orldly beingsF the krar .;)rish</ li-e"ise are associated in the sagas "ith positie
supernatural po"ers and "orlds.
0oth 8innar and krar may threaten members of the in'
group, but, at least at times, in ordered threats to transgressing indiiduals, affording
close parallels to Vçlundarkviða and Gr$!nis!%l. 5on'monstrous but supernaturally'
empo"ered ethnic others, gods, "ild men and so forth can be seen in some "ays as one
conceptual group, coneniently labelled oterworldly. Lindo" considered that readings
of this sort are ;incompatible< "ith the association of 7çtnar "ith the Sgmi .$%%6, 2%6 n.
$/, but ) thin- rather that "e hae ariation. )t might be attributed to chronological, social
or regional factors, but also to the slippery nature of the concepts inoled. As (ohen
argued, ;representing an anterior culture as monstrous Gustifies its displacement or
e*termination by rendering the act heroic< .2447, 938/, and in conte*ts of conflict, one
might e*pect the monstrous potentialities of 8innar to gain prominence. The same point
stands, !utatis !utandis, for pagan gods faced "ith (hristianisation. #n the other hand,
mediated social contact in a stable, if uneasy, co'e*istence might promote instead the
other"orldly potentialities of neighbouring peoples. )t should also be admitted that the
monstrosity of the 7çtnar can be oerstated .see (lunies Boss 244&348, esp. ) >7394F cf.
+ot= 248&F Ac-er $%%$/F there is probably a case that the connotations of þurs, for
e*ample, "ere nastier than those of its partial synonym 7çtunn. ,e should, then, ie"
our second model as a cline bet"een t"o poles, the e*tremes mar-ed by men of the
human in'group on the one hand and beings li-e þursar on the otherA
#n 8innar, Lindo" 244>F cf. $%%6 and the inclusion of Vçlundarkviða in +undal 2447F on krar
Hermann Pglsson 2447, 2643&4F cf. TVnas DristGgnsson 2448, $7839&. (f. generally f !iollgin
(hapter $A An #ld 5orse (onte*t
3+#5STB#US r+#5STB#US
human in'group gods etc. ethnic others
?igure 6A !onstrosity in !edieval Scandinavia
This cline puts ethnic others in a suitably ambiguous position, from "hich they might be
associated either "ith gods and the li-e or "ith monsters.
This handling of the 5orse eidence does not incorporate all of the complicating
detail "hich could be adduced, such as ertical cosmological elements, other "ords for
supernatural beings in 5orse, or the place of gender. ) adance these models, therefore,
only tentatiely as a reconstruction of "orld ie"s in any gien ariety of medieal
Scandinaian culture. Ho"eer, ) do thin- that they suggest an acceptable range of
li-elihoods for the "ays in "hich concepts of %lfar related to those of æsir, !enn and
7çtnar, and to discourses of group identity. They also sho" ho" semantic eidence for
the meanings of these "ords indeed reflects Scandinaian "orld'ie"s as attested by
other -inds of eidence, proiding a frame"or- for e*ploring the earliest #ld English
eidence for the meanings of ælf and ælfe.

&art "
The (ld English Te*tual Evidence for Ælf e
(hapter 6A The Earliest Anglo'Sa*on EidenceA Etymology, #nomastics and +orphology
Chapter $
The Earliest Anglo-+a*on Evidence.
Et!molog!/ (nomastics and Morpholog!
+y inestigation of the 5orse eidence for %lfr has facilitated the reconstruction of %lfr<s
earliest meanings and of at least some of the main semantic fields "hich it bordered or
oerlapped. ,e may turn no" to %lfr<s #ld English cognate. Beconstructing its pre'
conersion meanings is difficult, and attempts hitherto hae been either too tentatie or
too speculatie to be useful. 0ut ) sho" that there is eidence for ælf<s early meanings in
its roles in the #ld English system of dithematic personal names and in the #ld English
morphological reorganisation of etymological long'stemmed masculine i'stems around
the seenth century. These sources correlate almost e*actly "ith the early Scandinaian
eidence for the meanings of %lfr discussed aboe, the correlation in turn proiding a
basis for inferring the place of ælfe in early Anglo'Sa*on cosmologies. Thus, this chapter
not only proides a basic picture of the early meanings of ælf against "hich to see-
eidence for subse:uent continuity and change, but considers a -ey aspect of the place of
ælfe in Anglo'Sa*on "orld'ie"s.
1. Et!molog!
0oth cognate and internal #ld English eidence demand a masculine (ommon !ermanic
nominatie singular RIAlBi'zI denoting some -ind of supernatural being .cf. Appendi* 2/.
5orse %lfr and some medieal !erman plurals do not sho" the e*pected i'mutation,
demanding either an early a'stem ariant RIAlBA'zI or later analogical transference to the
a'stem declension.
!rimm obsered that its obious )ndo'European cognates, deriing
from a root RIAlbh'I, are connected semantically by "hiteness .288$388 N289>388O, ))
&&&/, and it must originally hae meant ;"hite one<.
E*amples are Latin al*us
RIAlBa=I is not an etymon of the #ld English "ord, ho"eer, and its citation in the +E& .s..
elf/ is misleadingA perhaps in conse:uence, Ed"ards cited this etymon .$%%$, 94/ and (olman
identified ielf as an a'stem .2488, 224/.
An alternatie etymology deries ælf from a ariant of )ndo'European R∑ l*u, presumably "ith
an a'colouring laryngeal, an etymon supposedly eidenced by Sans-rit ∑ r*u .;cleer, s-ilful,
inentie, prudent<, but also the name of a deity and by e*tension a class of deities, Da=anas $%%2,
$9&/, since Sans-rit r can derie not only from )ndo'European RI∑ rI, but also )ndo'European RI∑ lI.
0i=arrely, this is the only etymology for ælf in the ,E& .s.. elf/, "hich perhaps helps to e*plain
the occasional support still oiced for the idea .e.g. Dron-e 2449, $7237$F Da=anas $%%2, $97/.
0ut ∑ r*u affords slender eidence for a possible etymon of ælf .cf. Peters 2476, $>$3>6/F it is
admittedly short of li-ely cognates .+ayrhofer 24>738%, s.. ∑ r*G∑ /, but ælf "ill not sole this
(hapter 6A The Earliest Anglo'Sa*on EidenceA Etymology, #nomastics and +orphology
.;"hite</F #ld )rish ail*$n .;floc-</F the ancient !ree- l Wf`\ X[d .;barley'flour</F
Albanian el* .;barley</F and !ermanic "ords for ;s"an< such as #ld English ylfetu
.+ann 248&389, s.. al*edis, al*is, cf. al*osF Po-orny 24>4374, ) s.. al*i', cf.
al*o'/. Ho"eer, the etymology is not in itself ery reealingA innumerable e*planations
could be hypothesised for the association of supernatural beings "ith "hiteness. !rimm
too- the "hiteness to imply positie moral connotations and noted the congruence "ith
#ld 5orse l7Cs%lfr .288838$ N289>388O, )) &&&/, and "e might still ino-e %lfrçðull,
denoting the sun, as eidence for an ancient association of %lfar "ith light. Ho"eer,
although ælf<s )ndo'European cognates are connected by "hiteness, they do not generally
suggest lucidity. As ) discuss belo", ho"eer, both the vanr Heimdallr and the %lfr
Uçlundr are described as v$tr .;"hite</ in conte*ts "here it seems to connote their lac-
of masculinity .S9A6/1a characteristic "hich seems reasonably "ell'attested in our
te*tual #ld English eidence for ælfe. #ne "onders, then, if this is ho" almQR got their
name. Either "ay, ho"eer, the )ndo'European etymology of ælf must be e*plained by
our medieal data, and not vice versa.
". &ersonal names
The early !ermanic languages had a rich tradition of dithematic personal names, formed
according to a shared naming'system comprising name'elements dra"n from the
common le*icon.
Since its refle*es occur in names throughout the !ermanic languages,
"e may number RalmiR among these,
and such names may afford eidence for the
semantics of ælf. 5ame'formation "as controlled in three main "aysA dynastic relations
might be e*pressed through repetition or alliteration of name'elements bet"een
generations .,oolf 2464, $&73>4F Deil 2467, esp. 73$7, 2%43$7/F some elements usually
only occurred finally .as generics/, "hile others, including Ralmi', usually only occurred
initially .as modifiers/F and, according to conentional "isdom, there "as a strong
preference for second elements "hose grammatical gender corresponded "ith the se* of
the name'bearer.
This naming'system "as maintained in #ld English, albeit "ith a
problem .cf. Lloyd3Springer 24883, s.. al*/.
+enn has suggested that the root RIAlbhI is itself a loan from Sindarin al1 .;s"an<F 2498, 2&6/.
This raises some intriguing possibilities. Ho"eer, her argument that #ld English ylfetu preseres
the original meaning is hard to sustain in ie" of the full range of )ndo'European eidence and
ylfetu<s obiously secondary character .for its suffi* see Uoyles 244$, SS9.$.8, 9.$.6$/.
?or sureys of Anglo'Sa*on naming practises, see (lar- 244$F Ditson $%%$F cf. (olman 244$,
See Searle 2849, 736%F summarised by Tente 24$2, 29%392F ?Erstemann 24%%327, ) s.. alfi,
supplemented by Daufmann 2478, s.F Lind 24%>32>, cols 2232&, 27F 2462, cols 2, 28.
?or #ld English see Searle 2849, *iiiF (lar- 244$, &>9. (olman 2447, 26329 argues for a
tendency for elements< genders to be changed to fit the gender of the bearer, ho"eerF cf. Ditson
(hapter 6A The Earliest Anglo'Sa*on EidenceA Etymology, #nomastics and +orphology
gro"ing preference for certain fi*ed combinations "hich meant that by the eleenth
century, dithematic names "ere generally of fi*ed form and often opa:ue as le*ically
meaningful compounds .(olman 244$, >>379F cf. (lar- 244$, &72F Ditson $%%$, 2%>37/.
The #ld English dithematic personal names afford e*tensie and early attestations of
ælf'compounds, but scholars hae generally shied from using this material to reconstruct
ælf<s le*ical meanings because of the comple* relationship bet"een name'elements and
their le*ical counterparts. 5ames primarily denoted their bearers rather than being
le*ically meaningful compounds .(olman 244$, 2$327F cf. 0arley 249&, 2326/, and
!ermanic names probably al"ays included elements "hich "ere not transparently
meaningful, either because they had been borro"ed from other languages or because
linguistic changes had rendered once'transparent elements obscure. Thus although it is
clear from puns and literal translations that #ld English dithematic personal names "ere
potentially meaningful .see Bobinson 2478, 6>3>9F 2446 N249%OF Harris 248$/, it is
considered unli-ely that patterns in the pairings of elements in #ld English names reflect
the elements< le*ical meanings.
Li-e"ise, it is possibly of interest that elements such as
ælf and os, li-e for e*ample æðel .;noble</ occur only as modifiers, and neer as
genericsA ta-ing names as le*ically meaningful compounds, this implies that a name'
bearer might be li-e an ælf, but neer be an ælf himself. That it is hard to demonstrate the
significance of these obserations does not necessarily mean that the principle that names
reflect le*ical semantics is at fault1merely that it is hard to test it systematically .cf. the
obserations of +]ller and Hald discussed aboe, S$A$/. Een "ithout underta-ing
syntagmatic analyses, ho"eer, it is possible plausibly to derie some semantic
information from Anglo'Sa*on personal names.
The range of elements aailable for Anglo'Sa*on dithematic name'formation "as
limited, and it is generally assumed that these name'elements le*ically denoted things or
attributes "ith positie cultural associations .(lar- 244$, &>93>8F cf. Ditson $%%$, 49/.
To some e*tent, therefore, "e are dealing "ith a semantically'defined system, and its
inclusion of ælf can be analysed from this perspectie. The fact that ælf is a common
initial element in #ld English dithematic personal names such as Ælfred and Ælfric has
long been understood to suggest a benign aspect for ælfe.
This hypothesis can be tested
$%%$, 49, 44, 2%%.
,oolf 2464, $763&F StrEm 2464, &&F 0arley 249&, esp. 26F Ditson $%%$, 4432%%. "ontra, e.g.,
Schramm, "ho compared Ælfflæd, etymologically ;ælf'beautiful<, "ith the poetic compound
ælfscyne, literally ;ælf'beautiful<, as if the correlation "ere significant eidence for the semantics
of ælf .24>9, 26>F cf. Tente 24$2, 29$F Stuart 2497, 627/. )t has also been suggested that engel
.;angel</ "as introduced to #ld High !erman names as a replacement for al1, perhaps suggesting
some semantic correspondence .and distinctions/ bet"een the t"o .Deightley 28>%, 77 first noteF
+itterauer 2446, $$&36%/F but the necessary systematic analysis is beyond my present scope.
e.g. Dic-ins 2466, 2>73>9F Storms 24&8, >2F Thun 2474, 64$F Stuart 2497, 62&F Lecouteu*
2449, 2>6.
(hapter 6A The Earliest Anglo'Sa*on EidenceA Etymology, #nomastics and +orphology
"ith a systematic surey. The basis for #ld English name'studies is still Searle<s
,no!asticon 'nglo<Sa3onicu! .2849/, "hich is greatly fla"ed .)nsley $%%$/. 0ut,
supplemented "ith later "or-s and used "ith due circumspection, it still gies a good
idea of the range of name'elements aailable in Anglo'Sa*on dithematic naming'
) surey only initial elements, since ælf does not occur finally,
an inclusie list of #ld English "ords "hich could denote animate beings and "hich
occur as protothemes in Anglo'Sa*on personal names. ) diide it for conenience into
fie semantic groups, mar-ing "ords "hich occur as protothemes in Anglo'Sa*on names
less than ten times in Searle<s ,no!asticon "ith an asteris- .R/ as a crude indicator of
rarity .most are either substantially more or less common than this/. ,ords "hich may
not belong in the category in "hich they are placed, or in the surey at all, are mar-ed
"ith a :uestion mar- .@/ and "here necessary discussed in the footnotesA
PersonA @arR .;messenger</,
beorn .;man</, bregu .;lord</, c"en
.;"oman</, @cyn.e/,
@freaR .;lord</,
@freo .;lady</,
.;hostage</, @gystR .;guest</, gum .;man< H gu!a/, hLlR .;man<
H æle/, @helm .;protector</,
hyseR .young man</, leod .;man</,
mLg .;-insman</, mann .;person</, @rincR .;man</,
.;man</, MegnR .;thegn</, "eardR .;guard</, "ine .;friend</.
People.s/A Angel,
@(entR .H "antici/,
cynn .;family</, Dene, dryht
) also use 0irch 2844, StrEm<s analysis of #ld English personal names in 0ede<s (istoria
ecclesiastica .2464, itself supplemented particularly by Anderson 24&2, 7939&F Els 249$, 22>399/,
(olman<s study and catalogue of moneyers< names in the reign of Ed"ard the (onfessor .244$/,
Deats'Bohan and Thornton<s inde* of personal names in the Domesday sureys .2449/, and
comparison "ith naming in cognate languages .by reference to ?Erstemann 24%%327, )F Daufmann
2478F Lind 24%>32>F 2462/.
"ontra Searle .2849, s.. Beorelf, (eorælf/. Searle<s forms occur in place'names in S2>67,
no" 0arlaston .Staffs/ or 0arlestone .Leics/ and Harlaston .Staffs/, too unusual to be useful.
(ognates of ælf seem not to occur as second elements in medieal !erman personal'namesA ;das in
Uollnamen als v"eitglied erscheinende ['alp, 'alf\ -ann unmEglich =u AlBi' gehEren. Denn die
Begel, daw o-alisch anlautende v"eitglieder gemieden "erden, duldet nac-"eislich -eine
Ausnahme< .;the element ['alp, 'alf\ "hich appears in dithematic names as a second element
cannot possibly be related to 'lmi'. ?or the rule that second elements beginning in o"els are
aoided demonstrably permits no e*ceptions<F Daufmann 2478, $4/.
)f a genuine element, this seems more li-ely, ho"eer, to be the "ord meaning ;honour< .StrEm
2464, 739/.
"yne' in #ld English usually means ;royal<, but possibly in early personal names shared the
meaning of its #ld )celandic cognate konr .;man .of noble birth/<F StrEm 2464, 2232$/.
Unless denoting the #ld English counterpart of ?reyr.
+ore li-ely, ho"eer, is the meaning ;noble, free<, "hich seems to be re:uired by cognates
.StrEm 2464, 27/F some occurrences could be ariants of frea.
This can denote armour as "ell as people .see StrEm 2464, $2/.
Attestations may be forms of ring.
Possibly an eponymous ancestor. Sometimes perhaps ;angel<, in "hich case it belongs under
;Supernatural being< if it is not e*cluded as a loan'"ord.
+ore probably to be understood as the name of the -ingdom, names in "ent' being understood
as nic-names .(lar- 244$, &7%/.
(hapter 6A The Earliest Anglo'Sa*on EidenceA Etymology, #nomastics and +orphology
.;"arband, people</, folc .;army, people</, @folMR .;retinue< H
@hadR .;ran-F tribe</,
here .;army</, hloMR
noMR .;"arband</,
Peoht, Sea*,
S"Lf, Meod
.;people</, @,ealh,
AnimalA @deor .;"ild animal</,
earn .;eagle</, eoforR .;boar</,
fiscR .;fish</, gosR .;goose</, @hun .;cub</,
.;dog</, seolhR .;seal</,
@stutR .;gnat</, "ulf .;"olf</.
Supernatural beingA Llf, god .;god</,
os, @regen .;gods</,
@runR .;other"orldly
UnclassifiedA "iht .;being</,
"yrm .;"orm, sna-e, maggot, dragon</.
+any details of this selection are problematic. 5eertheless, some useful points
emerge, and are not blurred by my inclusion of dubious elements. #f the "ords denoting
This relies both on the etymology being correct, and the e*clusion of the e:ually obious sense
Possibly an eponymous ancestor .cf. (olman 244$, 97/.
#r possibly ;personality<, in "hich case it belongs here, if at all, under ;Person<.
This etymology is open to :uestion .StrEm 2464, $63$&/, but not seriously to doubt .Anderson
24&2, 78/.
This is a rare meaning and ;daringF plunder< more li-ely, in "hich case the "ord should be
Unless an eponymous ancestor or ;dagger< .see StrEm 2464, 66/.
Unless ;foreignerF slae<, in "hich case it belongs under ;Person< .see StrEm 2464, 68/.
Unless an eponymous ancestor.
Unless ;beloedF precious< or ;brae, fierce<, in "hich case it should be e*cluded.
As Ditson noted .$%%$, 227/, although Searle gae numerous references to Eofor'names, most
come from (ontinental sources, in accordance "ith his e*asperating inclusion of (ontinental
names in .sometimes incorrectly/ Anglicised form .cf. )nsley $%%$, 2>83>4/. (olman .244$/ and
0irch .2844/ record no e*ample of Eofor' or its ariants.
This is probable but not certain .see StrEm 2464, 2&32>/.
Unless this is the cognate of the ethnonym (un .see StrEm 2464, $&3$>F (olman 244$, 2%6/.
See (olman 244$, 22$.
This may at times represent the etymon of goodF comparatie eidence, ho"eer, puts it beyond
doubt that at least some e*amples represent the etymon of god .?Erstemann 24%%327, ) s.. goda,
gudaF Daufmann 2478, s.. gōda, gŭdaF +itterauer 2446, $$$3$6F cf. (olman 244$, 48/.
Unless in the meaning ;adice< or as an intensifier .StrEm 2464, 6$/.
Unless ;runeF counsel<. Iun is common finally and is usually ta-en in this position to reflect a
usage of run and its cognates as the second element in "ords denoting other"orldly females,
attested in all the branches of !ermanic .cf. Schramm 24>9, 26>367, 277/. Ho"eer, it is rare
initially and might hae been ta-en in this position to denote runes, adice, or mysterious
-no"ledge .see ?ell 2442F Page 244>a/.
,hile transparent enough in synchronic terms, this name'element is rare on the (ontinent and
absent from Scandinaia ."here, ho"eer, the cognates are etymologically problematic, Uries
247&, s.. vættr and the "ords there cited/, and other etymologies hae been suggested .StrEm
2464, 64/. )t seems hard to beliee, ho"eer, that it "as not understood as the "ord wit in
synchronic use .cf. Ditson $%%$, 228/.
The place of wyr! is problematic because it may hae been ta-en to denote an animal .;maggot,
"orm, sna-e</, a supernatural being .;dragon</, or possibly een a one'time man .assuming,
through comparison "ith 5orse eidence, that the wyr! in Beowulf "as once the ;last surior<
"ho spea-s in lines $$%8346. The argument "as ma-e by Tripp 2486 but has since regained a
degree of faourA see Bauer $%%%, 643&% and references there/. #n wyr! and its cognates in
personal names more generally, see +]ller 249%, 7&379, 2&93&8.
(hapter 6A The Earliest Anglo'Sa*on EidenceA Etymology, #nomastics and +orphology
beings used as protothemes in #ld English dithematic names, most le*ically denote
people or peoples and so are self'eidently semantically appropriate to anthroponyms,
"hile the commoner animal'names seem to reflect their cultural prestige in early
!ermanic'spea-ing cultures .see +]ller 249%, esp. 24>3$2$/. 0esides these "ords, "e
find ælf, os, god, and, if understood in #ld English to denote gods, regen. This
distribution is identical, cognate for cognate, to that of "ords for supernatural beings in
-ennings for men in s-aldic erse and related eidenceA %s, %lfr, goð and regin .see
aboe, SS$A$36/. Li-e"ise, the numerous other #ld English "ords for monsters such as
þyrs, eoten, 1uca, dweorg or !ære are absent from the Anglo'Sa*on name'stoc-, as are
their cognates from the -ennings. So precise a correlation is impressie, presumably
reflecting both similarities in belief and the systematic oerlap bet"een dithematic
-ennings denoting men and le*ically meaningful dithematic names denoting people .on
"hich see 0arley 249&, 283$&F cf. Schramm 24>9, 2%7324 et 1assi!/. The parallel
e*tends, naturally enough, to #ld 5orse dithematic personal names, in "hich %s, guð and
regin are common initial elements .e.g. Ás!undr, GuðrGn, Içgnvaldr/, and %lfr
respectably "ell'attested .e.g. Álfildr/, and from "hich monster'"ords are generally
e*cluded .see Lind 24%>32>, 1assi!F 2462, 1assi!/.
These considerations suggest the e*istence of a !ermanic naming'system "hose
protothemes included the etyma of ælf, os, regen and god, their mythologically
significant collocation in #ld 5orse poetry thereby being attested for the culture of
(ommon !ermanic'spea-ers. The e*clusion of "ords for monsters from #ld English and
5orse personal names might not be so oldA the !erman and East !ermanic material
attests to a scattering of names "hose first elements are thought to be cognates of #ld
5orse þurs and maybe risi .;giant</ and gSgr .;ogress, "itch<F ?Erstemann 24%%327, )
s.. gug, risi, turs7aF Daufmann 2478, s.. gug, rnsi, turs7a/. The sparse attestation of
these elements hints that this "as a dying tradition or the product of sporadic innoation,
but they also imply that the e*clusion of monster'"ord from the #ld English and #ld
5orse dithematic name'systems "as not ineitable. This encourages the supposition that
the other name'elements reflect the synchronic meanings of their le*ical counterparts.
Een so, the alue of the onomastic eidence for Anglo'Sa*on culture is open to
:uestion. The fact that ælf and os remained in the naming'system after the conersion of
the Anglo'Sa*ons may simply reflect conseratism, as "ith the retention of Weal' after
weal .;foreigner<, later ;,elshman, slae</ had become peGoratie .see (lar- 244$,
&7637&F ?aull 249>, esp. 6236$/A the social significance of repeating name'elements
"ithin a family apparently out"eighed the importance of reacting to gradual changes in
(hapter 6A The Earliest Anglo'Sa*on EidenceA Etymology, #nomastics and +orphology
their le*ical meanings.
Although ne" elements "ere added to the system, such as
.eot' .;Pict</ and 2ru!' .;strong<, a 0rittonic loanA 0ree=e 2446/, "hile some seem to
hae been dropped, such as 'ides .;lady</, seeral elements "hich had been lost from the
common le*icon suried throughout the #ld English period .e.g. 'flæd, 2ond', StrEm
2464, 2>, 69/, presenting a real possibility that the presence of ælf in the personal name
system merely reflects the semantics of a long'distant time. A further correlatie is
$. (ld English morpholog!
Ælf "as an i'stem, "hile the fact that its root o"el RIA'I "as follo"ed by t"o
consonants, RI'lBI, defined its stem as long. )n prehistoric #ld English, most long'
stemmed masculine i'stems, including the monster'"ords þyrs, wyr! and ent, "ere
transferred to the a'stem declension .Hogg 244$b, 26236$F (ampbell 24>4, S7%%/, so
ta-ing the nominatieIaccusatie plural infle*ion 'as, producing the attested #ld English
plurals þyrsas, wyr!as and entas.
The only long'stemmed masculine i'stems to retain
the old nominatieIaccusatie plural 'e "ere plural names of peoples .e.g. +yrce,
;+ercians<, Sea3e, ;Sa*ons</F the plural denoting ;people<, yldeF the suffi*es denoting
;d"ellers<, 'sæte, 'wareF and ælf .plural ælfeF (ampbell 24>4, S72%.9F ,right3,right
24$>, S68>/. They "ere Goined by loans such as Beornice .;0ernicians</ and Egy1te
.;Egyptians</. )n short, the long'stemmed masculine i'stem declension became a
productie declension for "ords denoting people or peoples.
The presence of ælf in this declension of ethnonyms militates for a semantic
association of ælfe "ith human-ind. This detail not only parallels the use of ælf in
anthroponymy, but also my argument that %lfar and ethnic others "ere potentially
members of the same early medieal Scandinaian conceptual category, "hich ) labelled
;other"orldly beings<. This is not the only possible inferenceA ælf may be a member of
this declension by metaphorical lin-ing .possibly on the basis of mythology/ rather than
because it is a prototypical e*ample of a human group .cf. La-off 2489, esp. 42322&/.
5orth has suggested that ælf occurs in names to "ard off the threat of demonic ælfe .2449, >&/.
The distinction bet"een see-ing a deity<s support and see-ing to aert his or her displeasure is
admittedly blurry, but 5orth<s idea does not account for the absence from names of "ords for
monsters "hich certainly denoted threats, and conflicts "ith the inclusion of MCrr, %lfr, %s, etc. in
pagan Scandinaian personal names, "here these denote primarily beneficent forces. ?or the lac-
of change in 5orse personal names, and the argument that (hristianisers "ere not interested in this
aspect of culture, see Dousgprd Sirensen .244%, 64&349/. )n any case, this thesis sho"s that ælf
and its refle*es retained positie connotations in many speech'communities throughout medieal
English, so its retention in names need hae inoled no serious semantic conflict
#n the etymologies of these "ords, see Tente 24$2, 289384, 26&36>, 28238&F cf. Holthausen
246&, s.. ent, ðyrs, wyr!.
(hapter 6A The Earliest Anglo'Sa*on EidenceA Etymology, #nomastics and +orphology
Een so, the possibility een of metaphorical association "ith "ords for people and
peoples, contrasting "ith the e*clusion of "ords for monsters from the declension, is
strong eidence for ælf<s semantics. This eidence "ould relate to the period "hen the
morphology of the long'stemmed masculine i'stems "as re'organised1after #ld English
separated from the (ontinental ,est !ermanic dialect continuum .since these dialects
presered the long'stemmed masculine i'stem declesion, 0raune 2489, SS$2&327F !allce
242%, SS6243$%/ and after the onset of i'mutation .since i'stems moed to the a'stem
declension, such as þyrs, sho" i'mutation/. The situation before the morphological
change is barely represented in our te*ts if at all .(ampbell 24>4, S7%2/, so it must hae
ended by the time #ld English "as first being "ritten, in the second half of the seenth
century .Pheifer<s dating of the original of the apinal'Erfurt glosses, 2489/. The
deelopment seems to hae ta-en place in all dialects of #ld English, and presumably
stands as eidence, therefore, for all parts of English'spea-ing 0ritain before or around
that time.
)t is also of interest that ælf seems to hae had a familiar partner in the long'stemmed
masculine i'stem declensionA os. ,s is attested only in the nominatie singular .as a
name'element and once as a rune'name "hich, ho"eer, is interpreted as though it "ere
the Latin "ord meaning !out/ and in the genitie plural form esa in Wið færstice. #ld
)celandic %s is etymologically a u'stemF if os "as too, then it should not hae e*ibited the
i'mutation apparent in the genitie plural form esa in Wið færstice.
This form "ould
most obiously be e*plained by assuming that, in the plural, os had been moed to the
long'stemmed masculine i'stem declension. Possibly an i'stem ariant of os e*isted in
5orth',est !ermanic .as argued by Holmberg 244$a from certain 5orse personal
names/F other"ise it is plausible enough that #ld English'spea-ers transferred os in the
plural to the long'stemmed masculine i'stem declension because of its assocation "ith
ælfe and ethnonyms. )f this inference is correct then #ld English morphology as "ell as
Anglo'Sa*on names sho"s an association of ælf "ith os. There is a te*tual correlatie for
this argument, first noted by !rimm, in the fact that os occurs in Wið færstice in
alliteratie collocation "ith ælf .288$388 N289>398O, ) $>F cf. )) &7%/. Ho"eer, although
Harley >8> sho"s no obious Scandinaian influence,
the case for the influence of
5orse ernacular poetry on #ld English has enough support that "e must ta-e seriously
the idea that the formulaic collocation of os and ælf in Wið færstice might be borro"ed
.e.g. ,atson $%%$, see &48 n. $ for further references/. 0ut the collocation of ese and
"ontra (ampbell .24>4, S7$%/, "ho too- it as an athematic stem.
The "ord fled at the end of the charm, if "e do not emend, "ould seem least unli-ely to be from
5orse, but this is hardly a reliable point .Doane 244&a, 2&&/.
(hapter 6A The Earliest Anglo'Sa*on EidenceA Etymology, #nomastics and +orphology
ælfe in Wið færstice at least sho"s the longeity of an association attested in naming'
practices inherited from (ommon !ermanic.
The #ld English reformation of the long'stemmed masculine i'stem declension
affords secure eidence that the le*ical associations and semantics attested for ælf in
early 5orse poetry and #ld English personal names "ere current in early #ld English,
and "e may be reasonably confident that ælf had at this time no less positie
connotations than %lfr did "hen the releant s-aldic and Eddaic poetry "as being
%. Conte*ts and interpretations
(ombining the eidence of #ld English morphology and personal names, and the earliest
#ld 5orse eidence, "e find a fundamentally consistent set of associations for ælf and
%lfrA a le*ical collocation "ith osI%s .and to a lesser e*tent godIgoð and regenIregin/,
suggesting that the "ords denoted significantly similar beingsF a more general
association "ith the denotation of people and peoples, "hich suggests that ælfeI%lfar and
eseIæsir "ere li-e humans in some crucial respect.s/F and a semantic contradistinction to
the "ords denoting monsters "hich aligns ælfeI%lfar, eseIæsir and humans in a
systematic opposition to monsters. This system seems li-ely to hae e*isted in the
common ancestors of #ld English and 5orse, so "e must infer that Anglo'Sa*ons
brought it "ith them "hen they migrated to 0ritain. At any rate, it "as certainly current
in Scandinaia in a formatie period of poetic language around the ninth and tenth
centuries, and in Anglo'Sa*on England in a morphologically formatie period around the
seenth. The #ld English material adduced so far is neatly susceptible to the same
componential analysis as ) hae applied to the 5orse material, though the alidity of the
precise features used is so far Gustified largely by comparison "ith the 5orse materialA
Llde ese Llfe Myrsas, entas
+#5STB#US 3 3 3 r
?igure &A co!1onential analysis of ,ld Englis words for *eings
Li-e"ise, a similar semantic field diagram can be positedA
(hapter 6A The Earliest Anglo'Sa*on EidenceA Etymology, #nomastics and +orphology
?igure >A se!antic field diagra! of ,ld Englis words for *eings
#ne corollary of this, consolidated by te*tual eidence considered belo", is that it is
unli-ely that ælfe in early #ld English "ere considered particularly small .an idea current
already "ith !rimm 288$388 N289>398O, )) &&43>2, and maintained since, e.g. Tolly
2448, 243$7F Henderson3(o"an $%%2, &9/, inisible .e.g. Tolly 2447, 26&F 2448, $%/ or
incorporeal .e.g. Stuart 249$, $$/. Although it is not conclusie, the early #ld English
eidence suggests corporeal anthropomorphic beings mirroring the human in'groups
"hich belieed in them. As ) discuss at length belo", this prospect is eminently "ell'
paralleledA by the eidence for %lfarF by the medieal )rish aes s$deF the inhabitants of the
medieal ,elsh 'nnwfnF medieal Latin fatae and #ld ?rench fPes, and their +iddle
English counterparts, elvesF and the #lder Scots elvis.
Another corollary is that ælfe should probably be seen as components in early Anglo'
Sa*on discourses of group identity. That beliefs concerning supernatural beings helped to
shape group identity in early Anglo'Sa*on culture is established in our earliest Anglo'
Sa*on saints< lies. ?eli*<s Vita sancti Gutlaci, composed around 96%x&4 .(olgrae
24>7, 28324/, describes ho" !uthlac, liing as a hermit on a fenland island, "as
tormented by demons. #ne night, !uthlac finds himself beset by "hat he initially ta-es
to be Brittannica ag!ina .;0ritish bands</ but "hat proes later to be ;daemoniorum
#n Scandinaia see in addition to chs $ and 9 TVn Hnefill AKalsteinsson 244%, 2$%3$$F 2446F
Einar flafur Seinsson $%%6, 29%386F cf. ?eilberg 242%F on ?rench Harf'Lancner 248&F !allais
244$F ?erlampin'Acher $%%$, 2$2374F other"ise SS9.2.$, 8.6.
(hapter 6A The Earliest Anglo'Sa*on EidenceA Etymology, #nomastics and +orphology
turmae< .;hosts of demons</. !uthlac<s misapprehension is because the demons spea-
"ith the ;strimulentas lo:uelas< .;strident utterances</ or, in ariants, the ;barbaras
lo:uelas< .;barbaric utterances</ of the Brittones .ed. (olgrae 24>7, 2%832%/. This
episode could be demythologised to reflect a dream or hallucination inspired by
!uthlac<s time fighting 0rittonic'spea-ers .cf. (ameron 244$F +eaney $%%2, 643&2/1
but if so, the ;mythologised< ersion "hich "e no" hae stri-es me as more important.
Demons and Brittones are implicitly aligned here in much the same "ay as 7çtnar and
8innar1and not for the last time .see S$A&F 8ouke le 8itR WarynF ed. Hatha"ay and
others 249>, &39F Tones 244&/. Though profoundly (hristian, the Vita Gutlaci also
arguably fits into traditional Anglo'Sa*on discourses of group identity associating certain
ethnic others "ith monsters. 0y this argument, ?eli*<s account has its logical counterpart
in chapter 4 of the anonymous #i*er *eatae Gregorii 1a1ae and boo- )).i of 0ede<s
(istoria ecclesiastica gentis 'ngloru!, "hich relate !regory the !reat<s punning
association of 'nguli .;Angles</ "ith angeli .;angels<F ed. (olgrae 2478, 4%, cf. 4&F
(olgrae3+ynors 2442, 26$36&/.
#ne may infer that in some early (hristian Anglo'
Sa*on discourses, 'nguli "ere to Brittones as angeli "ere to dae!ones1a reading "ell'
paralleled in Anglo'Sa*on constructions of themseles as holy and the 0ritons as
heretical .on "hich see Higham $%%$, 6>3&2/. The e:uialence implied here emphasises
the plausibility of understanding the Anglo'Sa*on morphological eidence to the same
effectA that in traditional discourses, 'nguli "ere in some sense mythologically paralleled
by ælfe and ese. Possibly, indeed, ælfe "ere to 'nguli "hat monsters "ere to Brittones.
?eli* himself may or may not hae -no"n the storyA he -ne" 0ede<s prose Vita "ut*erti
intimately, and the ter!inus 1ost 4ue! for the Vita Gutlaci is itself based on 0ede<s failure to
mention !uthlac in the (istoria ecclesiastica, but there is no eidence that ?eli* -ne" this "or-F it
is unli-ely that he -ne" the ,hitby Vita Gregorii .(olgrae 24>7, 27, 24F cf. 2478, >737%/.
(hapter &A The Poetic Eidence
Chapter %
The &oetic Evidence
1. Beowulf
Beowulf<s one .certain/ attestation of ælf is of particular interest because it situates ælfe
"ithin a "ider discourse on the relationships bet"een men and monsters in Anglo'Sa*on
culture, pic-ing up the themes of the semantic eidence considered in (hapter 6.
probably dates from the eighth or ninth centuries.
As 5eille has emphasised regarding
#ld English poetry .2444, 2&&376/, Anglo'Sa*on literature offers little in the "ay of
e*plicit cosmographyF "hat there is is directly based on (hristian theology. Beowulf,
ho"eer, is rich in implicit cosmology, "hich corroborates, elaborates and complicates
my le*ically'based reconstruction for si*th'century Anglo'Sa*on culture of the relations
bet"een men and monsters.
To conte*tualise the ideological significance of the conflict bet"een in'groups and
monsters "hich appears both in Beowulf and "idely in the earliest Anglo'Sa*on art and
literature .(lemoes 244>, 6379F cf. Arent 2474, esp. 26$3&>/, it is "orth glancing at
other literary eidence for traditional Anglo'Sa*on cosmologies. Although #ld English
inherited a cognate of +iðgarðr, !iddangeard, this seems to hae been losing faour to
+iddaneard .;middle'dominion, realm</.
Ho"eer, there is eidence other than this
old prominence of 'geard for settlement as a controlling metaphor in Anglo'Sa*on
cosmologies. The Anglo'Sa*on Hell "as sometimes localised to the 5orth, rather than
Taylor and Salus noted that in the manuscript line 262& reads ;h"LMre him alf"alda< and that
although this has al"ays been emended to NeOalwalda .;all'ruler<F cf. Delly 2486, $&>/, it might be
an ælf<compound .248$/. The emendation is not unreasonable in terms of tendencies in scribal
errors .it is unli-ely to represent the hypercorrection discussed in Appendi* 6 since in this case "e
"ould e*pect ælf' rather than alf'/ and the argument of Taylor and Salus is unacceptable as it
stands .and improed neither by Tripp 2487 nor Taylor 2448, 4432%7/. 0ut alfwalda could be an
old compound sho"ing the failure of i'mutation .see Hogg 244$a, S>.8>.22/, and the reading has
its merits in the poetic conte*t. Hrothgar "aits to see "hether the alNfOwalda "ill assist him at a
point in the poem "here he is conspicuously short of hope, his earlier inocations of the alwalda
drying up .see )ring 248&, esp. 2&32>F for further and incisie criticisms of Hrothgar see !regorio
2444/. The Danes hae already sho"n a propensity to turn to the Deil in times of distress .cf.
lines 29>388/A in line 262&, too, Hrothgar may be turning to the alfwalda, understood by Beowulf<s
audience as a synonym for the Deil. 0ut this argument remains too speculatie for confident
deployment in this study.
?ul- 244$, esp. 2>6378, 68234$. Although ?ul- underrated the possibility of linguistically
conseratie registers of #ld English, his linguistic eidence ma-es later dating unli-ely. ?or the
dating debate see further 0Gor-3#bermeier 2449F Lapidge $%%% and Stanley<s response .$%%$/F
Diernan 2447 and ?ul-<s partial response .$%%&/.
0os"orth3Toller 2848F Toller 24$2, s.. !iddan<eard, !iddan<geardF +E&, s.. !idden<;rdF
,E&, s.. !iddenerd, !iddle<erd, !iddle eartF &,S2, s.. +iddil<erde.
(hapter &A The Poetic Eidence
simply belo" the Earth, "hich strongly suggests the aailability of a hori=ontal
The diction used of the (reation in Genesis ' .probably one of our earliest
#ld English poems, see S&A$/ and in "æd!onos (y!n .allegedly dating from 78%, and
attested in 0ede<s Latin translation around 962/ enisages the "orld in terms of the hall.
The hall is famously deployed as a metaphor for human life by Ed"in<s thegn at the
conersion of 5orthumbria in 0ede<s (istoria Ecclesiastica .again, around 962F 5eille
2444, 7$37&F cf. Lee 249$, esp. $&3$7/, and fre:uently as a metaphor for Heaen .Dabir
$%%2, 2&93>%/. Accordingly, the dryt1the lord and his retainers, the inhabitants of a
lordly hall1proides a maGor metaphor for society in #ld English poetry .Lee 249$, esp.
2$32&F cf. Hume 249&/. +ean"hile, in Beowulf, Hrothgar<s hall Heorot is a microcosm.
Heorot is coterminous "ith la" and society, threatened from outside by monsters "ho
e*plicitly do not share its social life.
Perceiing this -ind of ideology in other -inds of
Anglo'Sa*on eidence is as yet difficult. Anglo'Sa*on settlement archaeology is still
young, though #ld English literary eidence has been integrated into discussions of
Scandinaian archaeology and place'names.
Thus our eidence, albeit sparse, suggests
fairly clearly that at least in the earlier periods of (hristian Anglo'Sa*on culture, a
cosmology "as aailable "hich constructed the in'group as the inhabitants of a
settlement .epitomised by a hall, its community and its geard/, opposed to a monstrous
and la"less outside, at both macrocosmic and microcosmic leels.
,e may turn no" to Beowulf lines 2%$32&, the end of fitt ), "hose e*planation of the
origins of !rendel mentions ælfe .ed. Dlaeber 24>%, >F +alone 2476, f. 26$/A
"Ls se grimma gLst grendel haten
mLre mearcstapa se Me moras heold
fen ond fLsten fifelcynnes eard
"onsLli "er "eardode h"ile
siMKan him scyppend forscrifen hLfde
in caines cynne Mone c"ealm ge"rLc
ece drihten MLs Me he abel slog P
5e gefeah he MLre fLhKe ac he hine
metod for My mane mancynne fram
Manon untydras ealle on"ocon
eotenas ond ylfe ond orcneas
s"ylce gigantas Ma "iK gode "unnon
lange Mrage he him KLs lean forgeald P
That fierce spiritIguest "as called !rendel, the
famed border'"al-er, he "ho occupied "aste'
lands, the fen and the fastness, the homeland
of the giant'race1the ill'blessed man
inhabited them for a time, after the (reator
had condemned himF on the -in of (ain he
aenged the -illing, the eternal Lord, because
he N(ainO sle" Abel. He did not profit from
that feud, but the +easurer banished him for
that crime, from human-ind. Thence all
misbegotten beings spang forth, eotenas and
ælfe and orcneas, li-e"ise gigantas, "hich
struggled against !od for a long "hile. He
gae them repayment for that.
e.g.A Bogationtide Homily 6 .ed. 0a=ire3(ross 2484, >%/F Vita Gutlaci ch. 62 .ed. (olgrae
24>7, 2%&/F cf. 0lic-ling Homily 9 .ed. +orris 289&38%, 46/F Genesis ' lines $836& .ed. Doane
2498, 2%432%/F Genesis B lines $9&397 .ed. Doane 2442, $%4/F ,right 2446, 2$4.
5eille 2444, 7$374, 2&73&9F cf. Lee 249$, 298382F Hume 249&F +agennis 2447, 2$836$F
Taylor 2448, 2%93$$.
See in ascending order of success Herschend 2449, 2448, $%%2F 0rin- 2447F Hedeager $%%2F cf.
Enright 2447F Herschend $%%6F the material cited aboe in S$A&.
(hapter &A The Poetic Eidence
This passage presents a binary opposition bet"een men and monsters li-e that bet"een
+annheimar and Tçtunheimar in early medieal Scandinaia. !rendel is emphatically
from beyond the in'group of the Danes .and human society generally/A he has -in but no
lineage .cf. Stanley $%%2, 9438$/F he is associated "ith (ain<s transgression of core
social customs of reparation .cf. lines 26&369, 2>&3>8/F and is from a place apart from
the in'group<s .cf. esp. lines 26&>394/. !rendel<s depredations, unli-e fKinn<s in
Gr$!nis!%l or Uçlundr<s in Vçlundarkviða, seem not to be proo-ed by a misdeed on
the part of his ictims .unless indirectly as a diine response to the Danes< prideA see e.g.
!oldsmith 249%, 86347/, and they are directed at the hall and so the "hole society
associated "ith it. 0ecause #ld English a! did not undergo ei!r<s semantic e*tension
from the older meaning ;settlement .@and hinterland/< .cf. 0rin- 244>/, 5orse
compounds li-e Hçtunei!ar and Álfei!ar hae no #ld English cognates. 0ut the
closest #ld English counterpart to ei!r seems to be eard .;habitation, habitat, region,
land, etc.<F cf. Boberts3Day3!rundy $%%%, S%2.%2.%$/, so it is fitting that !rendel<s
territory is in fifelcynnes eard .;the homeland of the ."ater'/monster'race</ and that his
!ere is later described as ælwita eard .;the homeland of @alien beings<, line 2>%%F ed.
Dlaeber 24>%, >7/1terms "hich seem li-ely to hae contrasted "ith #ld English
!iddaneard in the same "ay as Tçtunheimar contrasted "ith +annheimar. Appropriately
enough in ie" of these correlations, Beowulf<s list of the untydras .;misbegotten
beings</ of "aines cynn .;the -in of (ain</ "ith "hich !rendel is aligned also includes
the #ld English cognate of 7çtnar, eotenas. This much, then, fits "ith the binary model
posited aboe, and supports its alidity regarding Anglo'Sa*on culture.
Ho"eer, Beowulf includes ælfe among the untydras, and its usage here is
diametrically contrary to the early #ld 5orse and #ld English alignment of %lfarCælfe
"ith the human in'group against the monsters.
Despite Beowulf<s many traditional
Admittedly, of their eleen appearances in the Eddaic 'lv$ss!%l, %lfar are mentioned ten times
in the same line as 7çtnar, in stan=as such as 2$1"here, incidentally, there may be an unusual hint
of characterisation through the preferred diction of the %lfar and dvergar .ed. 5ec-el 247$, 2$>3
Himinn heitir meK mçnnom, enn hllrnir meK goKom,
-alla indofni anir,
uppheim içtnar, glfar fagrarLfr,
dergar drijpan sal.
)t is called i!inn .;s-y</ among people, but lSrnir .lit. ;"armImild one</ among the goðF
the vanir call it vindofni .;"ind'"eaer</,
the 7çtnar u11ei! .;"orld aboe</, the %lfar fagraræfr .;beautiful roof</,
the dvergar dr7G1an sal .;dripping hall</.
This pairing is reminiscent of Beowulf line 22$. 0ut there is no reason to suppose that it reflects
any common formulaic heritage. ) hae commented on 'lv$ss!%l<s unusual features aboe .S$A6.%/,
(hapter &A The Poetic Eidence
traits, ho"eer, ) do not thin- that this suggests the oft'posited !ermanic tradition of
;ambiguous< or ;amoral< ælfe.
Beowulf lines 2%$32& present a subtle conflation of
0iblical, apocryphal and patristic e*planations for the origins of monsters .see #rchard
$%%6a, >838>/F at a le*ical leel, they connect "ords of ernacular origin .eotenas and
ælfe/ "ith "ords "hich are, and probably "ere, obiously loansA orcneas .H Latin ,rcus
;.god of the/ under"orld</ and, if the reading is correct1"e o"e the "ord to the
Thor-elin transcripts1gigantas .H Latin gigas ;giant<F cf. Holthausen 246&, s.. orc,
gigant/. ,hile Beowulf line 22$ may, then, attest to an established tradition of monstrous
ælfe, there is no constraint upon us to assume so. )n +iddle Dutch, a diabolised meaning
became "ell'established for ælf<s cognate alf .see Uer"iGs3Uerdam3Stoett 288>324&2,
s../, rather as another ernacular term, scinna, became a common synonym for deofol in
#ld EnglishF but ælf, as ) sho" belo", neer under"ent such successful peGoration.
Beowulf<s situation of ælfe in alliteratie and semantic collocation "ith eotenas can be
read rather as a self'conscious .and perhaps ostentatious/ realignment of the ælfe,
demonising them by association "ith monsters traditional .eotenas/, (lassical .orcneas/
and 0iblical .gigantas/. As so often, Beowulf finds a neat parallel in Grettis saga, in
Hallmundr<s inclusion of ;glfa -ind< in his poetic list of the monsters he has slain .ch. 7$F
ed. !uKni TVnsson 2467, $%&/, and is paralleled else"here in #ld English by the prayer
in the Boyal Prayerboo- considered belo" .S>A2/. 5or "as it done on a "himA Beowulf
is, as Tol-ien argued, predicated on a ision of the heathen past as a hopeless struggle
against a diabolically'dominated "orld .2486 N2467O/. ?or this portrayal to "or-, it "as
necessary to rule out the traditional idea that humans might hae had non'(hristian
supernatural support in their struggle.
Beliably reconstructing the earliest conceptual associations bet"een humans, ælfe and
monsters proides us "ith a rare opportunity to chec- on Beowulf<s conseratism, and to
inestigate ho" the meanings of ælf could deelop under the pressures of
(hristianisation. Beowulf incorporates Bomano'(hristian materials into an e*isting
and its pairing of %lfar and 7çtnar1if not merely stemming from the conenience of their
alliteration in Eddaic metres1could be a pairing based as much on contrast as on similarity.
e.g. Turille'Petre 247&, $62F +ot= 249639&, esp. 2%23$F Stuart 2497, 627F Sime- 2446 N248&O,
s.. elves, dark elves, ligt elvesF cf. SchGidt 2442, 6%7 for a more sophisticated ariation on the
theme "hich, ho"eer, ) find no more conincing.
(f. Dyas<s illuminating contrast "ith Gutlac '1a poem "hich sho"s "hat can be done by
monster'fighters in possession of the (hristian faith .2449, $23$7/. Similar implications arise from
Bauer<s demonstration that the Beowulf'poet -ne" stories of dragon'fighting saints .$%%%/.
Donahue .24>%/ and (arney .24>>, 2%$32&/ hae both suggested that Beowulf lines 222326 "ere
based on t"o related passages from the )rish tract Se3 aetates !undi, apparently a translation from
a Latin te*t, first attested in the eleenth'century manuscript #*ford, 0odleian Library, Ba"linson
0. >%$ .ed. +eyer 24%4/. )f this "ere correct, then )rish counterparts for the untydras in Beowulf
could be identified .the li-ely counterpart to ylfe being lucor1ain/. Ho"eer, (arney sa" the
inspiration for the )rish passage in )sidore<s Ety!ologiae .y).iii, &e 1ortentisF (arney 24>>, 2%73
2&/ and, as #rchard implied, this could be ta-en as the direct inspiration for both Se3 aetates
!undi and Beowulf .$%%6a, 92/. 5o secure conclusions can be dra"n from these comparisons.
(hapter &A The Poetic Eidence
binary paradigm diiding humans and monsters, but is innoatie in situating the ælfe on
the monsters< side of the arrangement.
". Ælfscyne
Ælf appears other"ise in #ld English poetry only in the compound ælfscyne, t"ice in the
poem Genesis ', and once in Hudit. This affords aluable eidence for the connotations
of ælf. Uarious interpretations of ælfscyne hae been proposedF most notably, for
deoting an article to the "ord, Stuart .249$/ has argued that compound meant ;inspired
by !od<. Although the &ictionary of ,ld Englis too- Stuart<s reading seriously .s..
ælfscÿ ne/, a detailed dissection of her study "ould be undue. The most important
obGection is that the meaning ;inspired by !od< bears no plausible resemblance either to
ælfscyne<s literal meanings or, despite Stuart<s protestations .249$, $>/, to its attested
usage .discussed belo"/. ,e may also dispense "ith Hec-er<s argument that, ta-ing ælf
to hae become semantically associated "ith engel .;angel</ on the basis of medieal
!erman personal names and the similarity of Snorri Sturluson<s l7Cs%lfar to angels
.discussed aboe, SS$A2.2, 6A$ n. 7$/, ;Ælfscinu may then describe Tudith as angelic, i.e.
[0eautiful and holy\, rather than [beautiful as an elf\, "hich "ould be more consistent
"ith the character assigned to her by the #ld English poet< .2447, 4/. The proposed
semantic association of ælf "ith engel is neither inherently implausible nor uni:ue to
Hec-er, and is indeed suggested by the high medieal 2e Wars of 'le3ander :uoted
belo". 0ut it is insufficiently supported for #ld EnglishA the only angels "ith "hich ælfe
are clearly associated are fallen ones. Less conincing handlings do e*ist .e.g. ,illiams
2442, &7>377/.
Let us return to the primary eidence. )nterpreting it depends on ho" the "ord
ælfscyne related to the common #ld English le*icon. The earlier of the t"o attesting
poems seems certainly to be Genesis ', "hich on linguistic grounds seems to be of a date
roughly similar to Beowulf .?ul- 244$, 6&83>2, 64234$/. Hudit, for its part, is generally
thought to be a late'ninth' or tenth'century composition .!riffith 2449, &&3&9F cf. ?ul-
244$, 249/. ,ere ælf' a common element in #ld English poetic compounds, it "ould be
possible that Hudit<s instance "as coined independently of Genesis '<s, but since
ælfscyne is the only ælf'compound certainly attested in #ld English poetry, this seems
unli-elyA there must be some lin- bet"een the poems. Although this scenario "ould not
preclude the idea that ælfscyne "as a common "ord, "e might rather hae a compound
coined by the Genesis ''poet, relying for its effect on the audience<s understandings of
the meanings ælf and scyne1the understanding of one particular reader, the Hudit'poet,
being reflected in his borro"ing and re'use of the "ord. Ho"eer, literary contact
(hapter &A The Poetic Eidence
bet"een Genesis ' and Hudit is not to be ruled out, and it may be note"orthy that
ælfscyne is one of four compounds appearing only in these poems.
)n this case,
ælfscyne might still hae been a common "ord, but "e might rather hae a compound
coined by the Genesis ''poet, relying for its effect on the audience<s understandings of
the meanings ælf and scyne1the understanding of one particular reader, the Hudit'poet,
being reflected in his borro"ing and re'use of the "ord. ,ithout further "or- on the
te*tual interrelatedness of our #ld English poems, it is impossible to determine "hich of
these scenarios is the more li-ely. Either "ay, ho"eer, "e must both return to the
literary conte*ts in "hich ælfscyne appears, and ta-e account of the meanings of its
constituent elements in order to establish both "hat "e can about its meanings, and about
the meanings of ælf.
0oth attestations of ælfscyne in Genesis ' describe the seductieness of Abraham<s
"ife Sarah .on "hom see further Anle=ar- $%%%, 24234$/. The first occurrence is in lines
28$$3$4, "hen Abraham traels to Egypt because of famine in (anaan, and fears that the
Egyptians "ill -ill him for his "ife .ed. Doane 2498, 279F !ollanc= 24$9, 87/A
ongan Ma his bryd frea .
"ishydig "er . "ordum lLran .
siKKan egypte . eagum moton .
on Minne "lite "litan . "lance . monige .
Monne LKelinga eorlas "enaK .
mLg Llfscieno . MLt Mu min sie .
beorht gebedda . Me "ile beorna sum .
him geagnian .
Then the lord, "ise'minded
man, began to instruct his "ife "ith "ordsA
;After the Egyptians, many and proud,
can loo- "ith their eyes upon your beauty,
then the nobles of princes "ill e*pect,
ælfscyne girl, that you are my
bright consort, "hom one of those "arriors
"ill "ant to ta-e for himself.<
This is based on the Uulgate<s ;di*it Sarai u*ori suae noi :uod pulchra sis mulier et
:uod cum iderint te Aegyptii dicturi sunt u*or ipsius est< .;he said to Sarah his "ife [)
-no" that you are a beautiful "oman and that "hen the Egyptians see you, they "ill say
;she is his "ife< \ <, !E5. 2$.2232$F ed. ,eber 249>, ) 28/. The closest parallel for
ælfscyne here is 1ulcer .;beautiful</, though the correspondence is not necessarily
direct. Abraham<s prediction proes correct, the Pharaoh being sei=ed "ith lust, ta-ing
Sarah, and being punished in due course by !od .lines 28&&39$/. This process is
repeated by Abimelech the -ing of !erar, "ho also marries Sarah. Ho"eer, being
informed by !od of his error, he rectifies the situation and in lines $9$436> .ed. Doane
2498, $22326F !ollanc= 24$9, 26%/ says to Sarah,
The others are *lacleor .Hudit line 2$8, Genesis ' line 249%/, ealdorduguþ .Hudit line 6%4,
Genesis ' line $%82/, tort!od .Hudit lines 7, 46F Genesis ' line 2>%$/F cf. the similarity of
Hudit $$4362 and Genesis ' lines 2442346 noted by !riffith ."ho, ho"eer, sa" these to reflect
shared oral'formulaic dictionF 2449, 76/.
(hapter &A The Poetic Eidence
ne Mearf Ke on ed"it . abraham settan .
Kin freadrihten . MLt Mu flettpaKas .
mLg Llfscieno . mine trLde .
ac him hygeteonan . h"itan seolfre .
deope bete . ne ceara incit duguKa .
of Kisse eKyltyrf . ellor secan .
"inas uncuKe . ac "uniaK her .
;Abraham, your lord and master, does not
need to put you in reproach because you,
ælfscyne lady, hae trod the paths of my daisF
rather, rectify profoundly the insults to him
"ith "hite siler. Do not choose, the t"o of
you, to see- other companies, unfamiliar
friends, else"here, outside this homeland, but
d"ell here.<
This renders !enesis $%.2>327, ;et ait terra coram obis est ubicum:ue tibi placuerit
habita. Sarrae autem di*it ecce mille argenteos dedi fratri tuo hoc erit tibi in elamen
oculorum ad omnes :ui tecum sunt et :uocum:ue perre*eris memento:ue te
deprehensam< .;and he said, ["hereer it suits you to settle, the land about you is yours\.
And to Sarah he said [behold, ) hae gien a thousand pieces of siler to your brother.
This "ill be for you as a eil of the eyes to all "ho are "ith you and "hereer you go
aboutF and remember that you "ere sei=ed\ <F ed. ,eber 249>, ) $8/. Here, then, ælfscyne
has no direct parallel.
Hudit<s opening is lost, but ælfscyne is used, in lines 2$32&, at the suriing te*t<s
first description of Tudith, as she proceeds to a feast held by Holofernes -ing of the
Assyrians. Holofernes is attac-ing the holy city of 0ethulia, and Tudith is on a diine
mission to seduce and -ill him .ed. Dobbie 24>6, 44F +alone 2476, f. $%$r/A
gefrLgen ic Ka holofernus
"inhatan "yrcean georne ond eallum "undrum
gir"an up s"Lsendo to Kam het se gumena baldor
ealle Ka yldestan Kegnas hie KLt ofstum miclum
rLfndon rond"iggende comon to Kam rican
feran folces rLs"an MLt "Ls My feorKan dogore
MLs Ke iudith hyne glea" on geKonce
ides Llfscinu Lrest gesohte P
Then Holofernes, ) hae heard, eagerly
e*tended feast'initations, and proided
dishes "ith all sorts of "onders, and to
this the leader of men inited all the
most senior of his lords. Those shield'
"arriors accepted "ith great alacrity,
they came traelling to that mighty -ing,
to the ruler of the people. )t "as the
fourth day "hen, cleer in her planning,
Tudith, the ælfscyne lady, first sought
The #ld English Hudit stic-s less closely to its scriptural bases than Genesis ', and
parallels are less straightfor"ardly identifiedF they are discussed belo".
)n interpreting ælfscyne "e may begin "ith its generic element. The principle
meaning of scyne both etymologically and throughout medieal English is ;beautiful<
.0os"orth3Toller 2848, s.. scineF +E& s.. s;neF ,E& s.. seenF &,S2, s.. SNcO
ene/. Li-e *eautiful it has a "ide ariety of applications, but is almost inariably used
of "omen rather than men1e*cept that it is often used of angels, "hich may afford a
parallel to its association "ith ælf. There is also a strong association of feminine beauty
"ith lightness and brightness throughout the !ermanic languages, attested for #ld
English by the adGecties listed under Beauty6 fairness in the 2esaurus of ,ld Englis,
and accordingly scyne connoted and sometimes denoted brightness in medieal English
(hapter &A The Poetic Eidence
1connotations "hich hae been emphasised because of the 5orse l7Cs%lfar.
0ut "ere
brightness the most important meaning of ælfscyne, one "ould hae e*pected a generic
primarily denoting brightness .e.g. tort, *eort/. 0eauty, rather than brightness, is
unambiguously the significance of ælfscyne in conte*tA Sara is a liability because she is
1ulcra .;beautiful</F Tudith is called ælfscyne "hen she steps for"ard to seduce
Holofernes. Ælfscyne, then, denotes a :uality of feminine or perhaps angelic beauty
modified by ælf. #f the attested semantic relationships "ithin noun r adGectie
compounds .on "hich see (arr 2464, 6&%3&2F +archand 2474, S$.29F Dastos-y 244$,
69$396/, ælfscyne no doubt e*hibits comparison .cf. gærsgrene ;green as grass<F
ri!ceald ;cold as frost</. This strongly implies not only that ælfe "ere characterised by
beauty, as frost is characterised by coldness, but that they "ere a paradigmatic e*ample
of beauty, as frost is a paradigmatic e*ample of coldness.
Ho"eer, commentators< surprise at Sara and Tudith<s comparison "ith ælfe in
fundamentally (hristian poems is not unGustified. Thun suggested that ;a certain lac- of
reflection oer the e*act meaning of "ords belonging to poetical ocabulary may in the
last resort account for the "ord< .2474, 64$/, but this should indeed be a last resort. )n no
case is ælfscyne necessary to the alliteration of the lines "here it appears and alternatie
formulae "ere easy enough to come by. )f ælfscyne "as part of the common le*icon and
not a coining by the Genesis ''poet, it might hae been a bahurihi compound, its
meanings detached from those of its constituent elements .Gust as *odice<ri11er denotes a
-ind of noel, not a ripper of bodices/. 0ut in either case, it is too rare for this to seem
li-ely. Perhaps, then, ælfscyne had some connotations missed by my analysis so far.
(ri!ceald may tell us that frost is cold, but its function "ithin the le*icon is to denote a
specific seerity of coldness. A plausible possibility has been suggested by seeral
commentators. S"anton obsered that ;the primary sense of #ld English ælf has sinister
connotations< .$%%$,29$F cf. 2488, $49/1a claim "hich the present study substantiates
belo". 5orth, apparently independently, too- ælfscyne to mean ;be"itchingly bright<
.2449a, >6/. Tol-ien seems to hae had the same idea already by the nineteen't"enties,
"hen he composed an #ld English poem pdes ÆlfscSne, inspired by later ballads, in
"hich the poem<s protagonist is seduced and abducted by a supernatural ides ælfscSne
.ed. Shippey 248$, 6%739/. These readings suggest that someone "ho "as ælfscyne "as
beautiful in a dangerously seductie, perhaps magical, "ay.
The "omen "ho are ælfscyne are not simply beautiful, but perilously so. )n Genesis
', Sara<s beauty attracts lust "hich puts her desirers and her husband at ris-. Abraham
e.g. 0os"orth3Toller 2848, s.. ælfsc$nu, a curious doublet of the superior entry s.. ælfscieneF
!rimm 288$388 N289>398O, )) &&4F 5orth 2449a, >6. Boberts3Day3!rundy $%%%, S%9.2%F cf.
S%6.%2.2$, Brigtness6 ligtF for Eddaic poetry, see belo" S9A6 n. 249.
(hapter &A The Poetic Eidence
uses ælfscyne "hen describing the threat posed by Sara<s beautyF Abimelech calls Sara a
;mLg Llfscieno< after discoering the dangers of diine retribution to "hich her beauty
led him. Tudith uses her beauty to seduce Holofernes and so assassinate him. The only
other physical description of Tudith before she decapitates Holofernes is that she is
;beagum gehlLste hringum gehrodene< .;loaded "ith circlets, adorned "ith rings<F lines
67369, ed. Dobbie 24>6, 2%%F +alone 2476, f. $%6r/, "hich parallels the much more
detailed description of Tudith<s beautifying in Tudith 2%.6 .ed. ,eber 249>, ) 9%$/. This
being so, ælfscyne is, in the suriing part of Hudit, the only "ord certainly to parallel
the Uulgate<s arious mentions of Tudith<s beauty, increased by !od ;non e* libidine sed
e* irtute< .;not out of lust, but out of irtue<, TUD. 2%.&F ed. ,eber 249>, ) 9%$/A ;cum
idissent eam stupentes mirati sunt nimis pulchritudinam eius<F ;erat in oculis eorum
stupor :uoniam mirabantur pulchritudinem eius nimis<F ;cum:ue intrasset ante faciem
eius statim captus est in suis oculis Holofernis< .;"hen they had seen her they,
"ondering, "ere enchanted beyond measure by her beauty<F ;stupefaction "as upon their
eyes, since they "ere marelling so much at her beauty<F ;and "hen she had entered
before his person, suddenly Holofernes "as captiated, through his o"n eyes<, TUD. 2%.9,
2%.2&, 2%.29F ed. ,eber 249>, ) 9%$36/. )n the Uulgate, then, Tudith is Ga"'droppingly
beautiful through diine interentionF but the purpose of her beauty is not to reflect
!od<s gloryA it is to proo-e Holofernes<s se*ual desire. )t is hard to tell ho" much of
this material finds representation in ælfscyne. The #ld English poem do"nplays Tudith<s
seductieness, and to some e*tent indeed her femininity .e.g. (hance 2487, 683&%F cf.
(layton 244& on Zlfric<s similar response/. Ho"eer, the idea that ælfscyne might
connote entrancing beauty, perhaps also implying supernatural assistance, "ould fit the
conte*t admirably. The application to Tudith of a "ord "ith such peGoratie connotations
is not an obstacle to this readingA as the Uulgate e*plicitly recognises, such entrancing
beauty "ould in ordinary circumstances be condemned.
This reading of ælfscyne is consistent "ith later comparatie eidence and "ith ælf<s
associations "ith delusion and magic in te*ts considered belo", suggesting that the
reading is reliable. The Sçgu*rot af fornkonungu! states that the people of the Álfar ;ar
mi-lu friKara en engi onnur man-ind a 5orKrlondum< .;"as much more
beautifulIhandsome than any other human race in the 5orth'lands<F ed. af Petersens3
#lson 24243$>, $>/ and Heinrich on +orungen<s obsered that ;Uon den elben "irt
entsehen il manic man< .;+any a man indeed is enchanted by the el*en<F ed. +oser3
Terooren 2499, ) $&6F cf. Ed"ards 244&/. A particularly close comparison is the
intimate association of the #ld ?rench fPe "ith dangerous beauty. The "ord<s first
attestation1coneniently an Anglo'5orman one, on an Anglo'Sa*on subGect .cf.
Stafford 2444, 63>, $$36$/, "ith #ld Testament resonances .this time to Daid and
(hapter &A The Poetic Eidence
0athsheba, )) SA+. 2232$/1"ill suffice as an e*ample .cf. Harf'Lancner 248&, esp. 6&3
&$/. )t appears in the story of Ding Edgar, in !eofrei !aimar<s Estoire des Englais,
composed around 226>x&% .lines 6>723&%88F ed. 0ell 247%, 22636%/. Ding Edgar sends
his counsellor Edel"old to erify the famous beauty of Elftroed, "hom he intends to
marryF Edel"old finds her beauty so remar-able that it ;:uidat NbienO :ue NzoO fust fee I E
:u<ele ne fust de femme nee< .;sho"s "ell that she "as a fPeF I and that she "as not born
of a "oman<, lines 67>93>8/. Thus enchanted, Edel"old tells the -ing that she is
;mesfaite e laide e neire< .;deformed and ugly and blac-<, line 678$/, marrying her
himself. ,hen Edgar discoers the deception, he sends Edel"old to dor-, and he is
suspiciously murdered on the "ay. Edgar marries Elftroed, "ho outlies him and
murders his first son Ed"ard to put her o"n son Edelred on the throne. )n !eofrei<s
assessment, Ed"ard ;Par femmes empeirat sa ie< .;spoiled his life through "omen<, line
6>4&/F Elftroed<s fPe'li-e beauty is thus an e*cellent parallel for the ælfscyne Sarah and
Anglo'Sa*on and Anglo'5orman traditions probably both underlie the one e*plicit
+iddle English association of elf "ith beautyA lines >68238& of 2e Wars of 'le3ander,
an alliteratie translation of the (istoria de 1reliis 'le3andri +agni composed in the
5orth',est +idlands bet"een about 26>% and 2&>% .ed. Duggan3Turille'Petre 2484,
279/. The te*t describes Ale*ander<s first meeting "ith (andace, the :ueen of PrasiacaA
Sire Ale*sandire hire aises { all his hert li¸tis,
Him Mo¸t hire li-e at a lo-e his lady his modire.
Scho "as so faire { so fresche, as faucon hire
An elfe out of anothire erde or ellis an aungell.
Sir Ale*ander loo-s at her and his "hole ç
heart leapsF she seemed to him ali-e inç
appearance to his lady his mother. She "as so
beautiful and so iacious, she seemed li-e a
falcon, an elfe out of another "orld or else an
The last t"o lines render ;Erat autem ipsa regina pulchra, formosa plurimum et decora<
.;but that :ueen "as beautiful, e*ceedingly shapely and decorous<F cited by Duggan3
Turille'Petre 2484, $4$ n. to ll. >68638&/, so elf "as added by the English poet and its
usage is presumably not influenced by Latin. 0ut although the poem ma-es it clear that
Ale*ander has been dra"n by (andace<s beauty into a potentially ris-y situation, no ris-
materialises, so there is no eidence that elf here is associated "ith dangerous
seductieness specifically. )t is not clear "hether the elf or the angel are considered
masculine or feminine. All the same, 2e Wars of 'le3ander sho" that ælf<s early
connotations of feminine beauty had a long life.
(hapter >A !losses
Chapter 0
Some of the most po"erful, but also comple*, eidence for the meanings of ælf deries
from its use in glossing Latin "ords, since the implicit e:uialence bet"een an #ld
English gloss and its lemma facilitates inferences about the gloss<s meanings. Although
most core research on #ld English glosses remains aailable only in unpublished
doctoral dissertations, these afford a firm foundation for the glosses< analysis and
interpretation. This is only useful, ho"eer, if certain methodological desiderata are met.
2. Although glosses "ere intended as e:uialents to their lemmata, this does not mean
that the reerse is trueA statements li-e ;Latin e:uialents for the term wælcyrge Y found
in Anglo'Sa*on glosses< are misguided.
5or do glosses generally attempt to ;define<
their lemmata .Diessling 2479378, 24&F 5eille 2444, 2%>, 2%7/A they gloss them.
$. The meaning of a gloss is not the only ariable, since the glossator<s interpretation
of the lemma cannot be ta-en for granted. A lemma<s source must be discoered, so that
its conte*tual meaning "hen the gloss originated can be inferred. ?ortunately, most
sources hae no" been tracedF but glossators and their copyists also mis' or reinterpreted
6. The proenance of glosses must be established1their te*tual history and time and
place of origin. This is especially difficult "ith glosses and glossaries, "hich redactors
could freely e*cerpt, conflate or re'order, but no less important than usualA copies of a
te*t must not be mista-en for independent eidence. Such information is rarely
consideredF thus, for e*ample, numerous "ords in the 2esaurus of ,ld Englis flagged
, indicating that they occur only as glosses, ought also to be mar-ed "ith
indicating that ;the "ord form is ery infre:uent< .Boberts3Day3!rundy $%%%, **i/,
since the attestations are merely different copies of the same te*t. #f course, "here a
redactor maintained a gloss "hile reising his e*emplar.s/, he may affirm its continued
alidity, but corrupt and meaningless glosses "ere repeated too often for us to assume
this as a rule.
&. The occurrences of ælf in the glossaries are often in nonce'compounds, coined
specifically as gloss'"ords, and may relate only indirectly to ælf<s eeryday use. Such
gloss'"ords afford :uite different eidence from those reflecting eeryday usage, and
must as far as possible be identified. #denstedt argued that, in Anglo'Sa*on England, ;a
"oman could be a musician .glQw!æden/, such as a fiddler .fiðelestre/ or a harp player
Damico 248&, &&F cf. Diessling 2479378, 24&F 2499, 29F +orris 2442, $>F 5eille 2444, 2%7.
(hapter >A !losses
.ear1estre/F she could be a singer .sangestre/, an actress .scernicge/, a dancer
.l;a1estre, o11estre, sealticge/ or een an athlete .1legestre/< .244>, 26&36>/. His
dataset then led 5orberg to infer that bet"een the #ld English period and the late
fourteenth century, the number of Gobs aailable to "omen in English society diminished
.2447/. 0ut most of #denstedt<s #ld English "ords are gloss'"ords.
>. ?inally, one must also as- "hich #ld English "ords glossators chose not to use to
gloss a gien lemma, and "hy. A gloss chosen out of desperation for an een aguely
appropriate ernacular term offers ery different eidence from one selected as the ideal
choice from a range of possibilities. Addressing this issue also affords leerage on
:uestions of ho" male ælfe related other supernatural beings, particularly femalesA the
t"o main te*tual traditions of ælf'glosses use feminised forms of ælf to gloss lemmata
denoting nymphs, not only suggesting an important le*ical gap concerning other"orldly
females in #ld English, but proiding our earliest eidence for a semantic deelopment
of ælf "hich "as to manifest itself prominently in +iddle English.
The maGor concern of the present chapter, then, is to fulfil these desiderata to gain
ne" insights into the meanings of ælf. Ælf appears in fie te*tual traditions, "hose
eidence is heterogeneous. ,e hae a uni:ue simple*, ;aelfae< in its manuscript form,
not actually a gloss but included here because it appears as an e:uialent to the Latin
name Satanas, "hich attests to demonisation of ælf. There are the compounds landælfe
and dunælfa, glosses on "ords for nymphs and +uses, "hich pic- up ælf<s positie
connotations. Li-e"ise, there is a group using the compound ælfen also to gloss "ords
for nymphsA this proides an important counterpoint to landælfe and dunælfa, its
similarities and differences in approach proiding important insights into the changing
gendering of ælfe. Proceeding to adGecties, ylfig attests to the po"er of ælfe to cause
prophetic speech, proiding a perspectie on their mind'altering po"ers :uite different
from those of the medical te*ts. Ylfig is itelf illuminated, albeit e:uiocally, by the plant'
name ælfþone, and as our main eidence for the meaning of this "ord is also from a
gloss'li-e conte*t and is thematically releant to ylfig, it is considered here. ?inally, the
adGectie ælfisc attests in different "ays to ælfe<s associations "ith delusions. Each
group but the last is studied in three stagesA te3ts, presenting the sources of the lemmata
and the te*ts of the glossesF originsF and evidence for te se!antics of qælfo. This
structure is not appropriate for ælfisc, because although first attested as an #ld English
gloss, it is better'attested in +iddle English te*ts.
(hapter >A !losses
1. 2emonisation. ælf and Satanas
1#1 Texts
Ælf occurs as a simple* in the te*ts studied here only once, in 0L Boyal $ A. yy .the
Boyal Prayerboo-/, folio &>, in an ;oratio< .;prayer</. The Boyal Prayerboo- is one of
four early Anglo'Sa*on prayerboo-s, each "ith some te*tual interrelationships,
containing mainly Latin prayersF its general theme ;"ould appear to be (hrist as the
healer of man-ind<, and its concern "ith physical healing is sufficient to suggest that it
;might hae functioned as a deotional, and practical, tool for a physician<.
The place
of ælf in the te*t may, then, reflect both spiritual and bodily concerns. The manuscript
seems to hae been made in the last :uarter of the eighth century or perhaps the first
:uarter of the ninth in ,est +ercia, probably in or near ,orcester.
The prayer primarily ino-es the po"er of the rood to guard the body ;ab omnibus
insidiis inimici< .;against all the "iles of the Enemy</, proceeding to a !ree- liturgical
passage, and concluding "ith an e*orcism including the statement ;adiuro te satanae
diabulus aelfae . per deum uiuum ac uerum P et per trementem diem iudicii ut refugiatur
ab homine illoY< .;) conGure you, deil of Satan, of .an/ ælfIÆlf, through the liing and
true !od and through the :ua-ing day of Gudgement, that he is put to flight from that
personY<F ed. Duypers 24%$, $$2F collated "ith Doane 244&b, no. $86/. The ending of
aelfae cannot plausibly derie from #ld English, so it must represent a Latinisation
inspired by the genitie singular ending of Satanae, "ith "hich aelfae must be in
apposition. This being so, 'ae need not be considered a feminisation, despite its feminine
association in Latin. As "ritten, aelfae here is integral to the te*t and unrelated to the
tenth'century #ld English glosses in the manuscript .on "hich see (ro"ley $%%%, esp.
2&83>2/. The prayer includes no other ernacular "ords, and Satan<s name "as surely
too "ell'-no"n in Anglo'Sa*on culture to re:uire glossing. 'elfae is not a gloss,
therefore, but the eidence for its meaning is its e:uialence "ith Satanae.
1#2 Origins
The prayer is not -no"n else"here. The !ree- transliteration seems to sho" -no"ledge
of the contemporary alues of !ree- letters .Ho"lett 2448, 7%, cf. 7>/, "hich it shares
0ro"n $%%2, >7, >9F cf. Sims',illiams 244%, $9>36$9F see Doane 244&b, >$3>4 Nno. $86O for
#n date see (ro"ley $%%%, 2$6 n. $F cf. Der 24>9, 629328 Nno. $&8OF on place Sims',illiams
244%, $9438%F cf. 0ro"n $%%2, >23>6.
(hapter >A !losses
"ith the (anterbury biblical commentaries deriing from the teaching of Theodore and
Hadrian in the seenth century .Lapidge 2447 N2488O, 26%366/, and Lapidge seems to
hae considered some connection "ith Archbishop Theodore reasonably li-ely .2447
N2487O, 2&> n. $4F cf. At-inson 2482, 2>329/. 0ut the prayer as a "hole could hae been
composed as late as the manuscript itself. The spelling HaeJ for later HLJ in aelf' is
unusual for the late eighth century but not impossibly so .Hogg 244$a, S$.2$ n. 2/.
1#3 Evidence for the se%antics of ælf
)t is not immediately clear "hether aelfae is intended as a ernacular synonym for
Satanae .;) conGure you, deil of Satan, of ZlfIthe ælf</ or "hether it is a common noun
in apposition .;) conGure you, deil of Satan, of an ælf</. )f the latter translation is best, it
implies that not only Satan, but ælfe, "ere conceied to rule oer dia*oli, and correlatie
eidence could be argued to e*ist in the #ld English medical te*ts .see ch. 7/. Ho"eer,
ælf, denoting one of a class of beings, "ould be an incongruous counterpart to the
personal name Satanas if so. This could in turn be a conse:uence of the fact that the
Deil had no direct counterpart in traditional Anglo'Sa*on culture, so that there "as no
really appropriate #ld English "ord aailable to the composer of the prayer. 0ut it seems
more li-ely that aelfae "as intended as a synonym for Satanae, "hich affords another
piece of eidence suggesting that ælf .despite its feminine inflection in the prayer/
denoted male beings. As Ho"lett pointed out, the sentence in :uestion contains "ords
from each of the tres linguae sacrae, adiuro te being Latin, Satanae being Hebre", and
dia*ulus !ree- .2448, 7%/. The presence of the ernacular aelfae here "ould be a fitting
complement to these, helping to ensure that the e*orcism coered all possible threats.
+ore speculatiely, its use in the Boyal Prayerboo- "ould fit "ell "ith the hypothesis
that #ld 5orse %lfr could be an epithet for ?reyr, as ) hae argued aboe .S$A6.2/. )t is
possible to argue both that the Anglo'Sa*on figure )ng "as both a counterpart of ?reyr
and pre'eminent in Anglo'Sa*on paganism .see S4A$.2/. )n this case "e "ould see in the
inGunction ;Adiuro te satanae diabulus aelfae< the e:uation of the pre'eminent demonic
foe of the (hristian "ith the pre'eminent deity of Anglo'Sa*on paganism.
)t is also interesting that os "as not used in the prayer. ,s "ould, if the semantics of
#ld English os and ælf "ere the same as those of %s and %lfr in the Eddas, hae been the
more obious ernacular counterpart for Satanas because it tended to denote more
prominent, indiidualised deities. (onceiably, os still retained enough of its positie
associations around 8%% to resist demonisation, but this seems unli-ely in the present
conte*tF moreoer, its absence from the Boyal Prayerboo- is consistent "ith its rare
(hapter >A !losses
occurrence in #ld English generally and combines "ith this dearth to suggest that ælf
"as, at least by this date, the more prominent term in Anglo'Sa*on usage.
". Ælf e and n!mphs. d un æ lf a and lan d ælfe
2#1 Texts
&unælfa .;mountain'ælfa</ and landælfe .;land'ælfe</ are compounds attested only in
glossaries of the tenth century and later, respectiely glossing "astalidas ny!1as
.;nymphs "ho d"ell at (astalia<, (astalia being a spring at Delphi/ and ruricolas !usas
.;muses of the countryside</. The lemmata derie from the inocation at the beginning of
Aldhelm<s "ar!en de virginitate, composed by Aldhelm<s death in 9%4I2% .lines $636%F
ed. Eh"ald 2424, 6>6/A
5on rogo ruricolas ersus et commata +usas
5ec peto (astalidas metrorum cantica nimphas,
nuas dicunt Elicona iugum serare supernum,
5ec precor, ut Phoebus linguam sermone
Dedat, :uem Delo peperit Latona creatri*F
Uersibus infandis non um:uam dicere dignor,
Ut :uondam argutus fertur di*isse poetaA
;Pandite nunc Elicona, deae, cantus:ue
) do not as- country'd"elling +uses for
erses and parts of lines, nor do ) see- songs
in metre from the (astalian nymphs, "ho,
they say, guard Helicon<s celestial bro"F nor
do ) beg that Phoebus, "hom Latona his
mother brought forth on Delos, grant my
tongue lo:uacity of speech. ) neer deign to
spea- "ith ile erses, as once the clear'
sounding poet is supposed to hae spo-en
1;Thro" open Helicon, goddesses, and bring
song to mindt<
The earliest manuscript to contain these glosses is 0L (otton (leopatra A.iii,
probably compiled and "ritten at St Augustine<s, (anterburyF it has generally been dated
to the mid'tenth century, but Busche has recently argued specifically for the 46%s
.Busche 2447, $37, 66368F cf. Der 24>9, 28%38$ Nno. 2&6OF Dumille 244&, 269364/. )t
has recently been re'edited and re'analysed by Busche .2447/, "ith further information
on its sources being proided by Dittlic-<s linguistic inestigation .2448/. The
manuscript contains three different glossaries, the first and third of "hich contain
dunælfa. The Third (leopatra !lossary .folios 4$3229/, despite its name, may hae been
a source for the ?irstF if not, then its e*emplar surely "as .Lendinara 2444, $$3$6F on
this putatie e*emplar see !retsch 2444, 2643&2/. The Third (leopatra !lossary
contains glossae collectae1interlinear glosses, in this case to Aldhelm<s .rosa de
virginitate and "ar!en de virginitate, e*tracted in se:uence to form a glossary .Busche
2447, 4>, 2>7F Dittlic- 2448, S$F cf. Der 24>9, 28$/. Among them, "e find ;Buricolas
musas A landLlfeF (astalidas ny!phas A dunLlfaF Elicona A s"a hatte sio dun< .ed. Busche
2447, >2 Nnos 22%%3$O/<. 5ote that despite the arrangement of the lemmata, the dun of
dunælfa refers to +ount Helicon, not to the spring (astalia.
(hapter >A !losses
The ?irst (leopatra !lossary .an A'order glossary, in "hich the material of glossae
collectae and other sources has been alphabeticised by the first letter of each lemma, on
ff. >39> of the same manuscript/ repeats the Third "ith the entry ;(astalidas nymphas A
djnLlfa< .ed. Busche 2447, $$> N(&7%O/. Ho"eer, it and the other related te*ts omit
Iuricolas !usasB landælfe. This gloss could e:ually "ell hae been dropped from the
rest of the te*tual tradition, or added to the Third (leopatra !lossary. 0ut there is a good
chance that dunælfa at least is as old as the Third (leopatra !lossary<s oldest stratum.
The other te*ts attesting to dunælfa are li-e"ise close relaties of the Third (leopatra
!lossary. The Enciridion of 0yrhtferth of Bamsey, probably composed around 2%2%32$
.Lapidge30a-er 244>, **i3**iii/, includes an inocation including the declaration ;)c
hate ge"itan fram me Ma mHeJremen, Me synt siHrenJe geciged, { eac Ma (astalidas
nymphas .MLt synt dunylfa/, Ma Me "unedon on Elicona MLre dune< .;) command to go
from me the sea'people "ho are called Sirens, and also the "astalidae ny!1ae ."hich
are, dunælfa/, those "ho d"elt on the mountain Helicon<F ed. Lapidge30a-er 244>, 26&/.
0yrhtferth probably modeled this inocation on the same te*t of the "ar!en de
virginitate as the Third (leopatra !lossary used for its glossae collectae .Lapidge30a-er
244>, l***iii'l***i, 624F Busche 2447, 4432%&F !retsch 2444, 2643&2/.
0L Harley 6697, the no"'fragmentary ;Harley !lossary<, is more adanced than
(leopatra, being alphabeticised by the first three letters of each "ord. Although, as
(oo-e has emphasised, the glossary needs re'editing .244&, $$3$6, $6236&/, her o"n
analysis has established a ne" foundation for its study .244&, summarised in 2449/. )t is
from ,estern England, and specifically, (oo-e argued, from ,orcester (athedral.
Earlier commentators dated the manuscript to the early eleenth century, but (oo-e has
made a conincing, though not conclusie, case for composition in the second half of that
century .244&, $936&F Der 24>9, 62$326 Nno. $&%O/. The lemmata and many glosses in
the Harley !lossary1particularly Latin ones1"ere "ritten in continuous lines, but
other glosses1particularly #ld English ones1"ere included in smaller letters
interlinearly .(oo-e 244&, $&3$>, $9, 6&368/. Harley sho"s alterations to and careful
conflation of arious sources, including te*ts related to the (leopatra !lossaries .(oo-e
244&, 26&36>, 2&&3&>, 2>2/. )t seems li-ely enough that this editing "as underta-en by
the scribe of Harley 6697 itself, and for conenience of e*pression ) assume this
throughout the present study. ,ith a characteristic deelopment of his source material,
the Harley !lossator gae ;Ma manfullan gydena . | dunelfa .< .;those sinful godesses, or
mountain'ælfa<F ed. #liphant 2477, >4 N(&9>OF collated "ith +S/ for "astalidas
ny!1as, the "hole gloss "ritten aboe the lemma on folio 29r.
?inally, the Ant"erp'London !lossary .Ant"erp, Plantin'+oretus +useum + 27.$
and its disiectu! !e!*ru! 0L Additional 6$,$&7/, containing arious glossaries "ritten
(hapter >A !losses
in t"o hands in the margins of the manuscript<s main Latin te*ts, gies ;(astalidas .
dunelfen< on folio $2r of the London portion .ed. Dindschi 24>>, $&7F collated "ith +S/.
This entry is part of the large Latin'English class glossary .organised by subGect/, based
either on Zlfric<s class'glossary or on some shared source, "ritten by the second hand
and called article r by Porter and d by Der .see Porter 2444, esp. 282388F La==ari $%%6F
Der 24>9, 236 Nno. $O/. The glossaries seem to hae been "ritten in at Abingdon in the
earlier part of the eleenth century .Porter 2447, 27637&/. Porter did not note Aldhelm
glosses in particular as a source for the manuscript, but as the same scribe seems to hae
"or-ed on the e*traordinary collection of Aldhelm glosses found in 0russels, Boyal
Library 27>% .on "hich see belo", S>A&.2/, their presence is no surprise .though that
manuscript does not itself include the gloss on castalidas ny!1as/. The entries on the
ny!1ae occur in a miscellany at the end of the glossary, in a group of "ords for
prophets, "or-ers of magic and other"orldly beings. The dropping of ny!1as from
;(astalidas . dunelfen< is presumably because it concludes a list of other types of
ny!1ae deried from )sidore glosses .see S>A6.2/, ma-ing the inclusion of the "ord
ny!1ae itself superfluous. The innoatie ending of 'elfen is discussed belo" regarding
this other tradition .S>A6.$36/.
The influential character of this Aldhelm'gloss in Anglo'Latin is suggested by a
remedy in a te*t in the mid'tenth'century medical manuscript 0L. Boyal 2$ D.*ii -no"n
as Leechboo- ))) .see further S7A$.$/. )n a series of remedies for diseases mostly denoted
by ælf'compounds, one remedy adertising itself to be against ;LlfsogoKa< .probably
internal pains caused by ælfe/ contains a Latin e*orcism against ;#mnem )mpetuum
castalidum< .;all of the attac-s of castalides<F ed. ,right 24>>, f. 2$&/. "astalides
seems here to denote the supernatural forces "hich the remedy see-s to counteract and
"hich it denotes primarily "ith ælfsogoða. This usage surely sho"s that the adGectie
castalis, "hich "as partly glossed by a compound in 'ælf, "as turned into a noun and
used inersely as a Latin translation of ælf. The tradition of glosses first attested in
(otton (leopatra A.iii "as itself a shaping force in Anglo'Latin usage by, at the latest,
the mid'tenth century. The fact that the adGectie "astalidae "as chosen as the basis for
the Latinisation of ælfe and not the noun ny!1ae may be eidence that ny!1a "as
considered an inappropriate e:uialent for ælf, presumably because it denoted females.
2#2 Origins
As Herren has argued, ;the last :uarter of the seenth century and, perhaps, the opening
decades of the eighth might be loo-ed upon as a sort of mini'renaissance of classical
scholarship in Anglo'Sa*on England<.2448, at 2%$/, and both Aldhelm and his glossators
(hapter >A !losses
doubtless understood the (lassical meanings of ny!1a and !usaA that they denoted
youthful, female, non'monstrous minor goddesses "hose beauty "as liable to attract the
se*ual attentions of gods and men. )sidore<s Ety!ologiae, of "hich they made e*tensie
use, coered ny!1aeF
Aldhelm<s inocation is ostentatiously modeled on classical
ones, particularly the one in Uirgil<s Georgics .).23&$F ed. ?airclough 24443$%%%, ) 483
2%%/F he "as familiar "ith the 'eneid, at least parts of #id<s nymph'pac-ed
+eta!or1oses, and other pertinent te*ts .see #rchard 244&, esp. 26%36>, $%%3$%$,
$$>3$8/. Admittedly, the most prominent ny!1a -no"n to the Anglo'Sa*ons must hae
been (irce, the "itch'nymph "ho turned Ulysses<s men into animal forms, but her
e*ceptional status "ill hae been clear.
The recognition of ny!1ae<s non'monstrous
character is suggested by their pointed omission from the #i*er !onstroru!, produced in
an intellectual milieu associated "ith Aldhelm<s .Lapidge 248$, 27>397/.
inerted (lassical conentions by refusing the aid of !usae and ny!1ae in composing
his poetryF and the Harley !lossary e*plicitly calls the "astalidae ny!1ae ;manfullan<
.;sinful</. 0ut for the pointed inersions of Aldhelm<s inocation to be coneyed
effectiely, the ernacular glosses needed to represent the (lassical semantics of the
lemmata, so it is reasonable to ta-e the glosses, in origin, to represent these meanings.
The compounds landælfe and dunælfa "ere doubtless coined specifically to translate
Aldhelm<s Latin phrases .cf. Thun 2474, 68%/, a conclusion reinforced by the different
strategies adopted to"ards the same problems by the ælfen glosses studied belo" .S>A6/.
The compounds must hae been coined bet"een the composition of the "ar!en de
virginitate .sometime before 9%4I2%/, and the earlier part of the tenth century, "hen the
Third (leopatra !lossary "as "ritten. Dittlic- identified the source of this stratum,
nuoted S>A6.2. ?or Aldhelm<s use see Ho"e 248>F +arenbon 2494, 87388F for glossators<
!retsch 2444, 27%376, 27>392F on )sidore<s informatie structuring of mythological hierarchy and
diinity (hance 244&3$%%%, ) 2&23&>.
e.g. 'eneid 9.23$& .ed. ?airclough 24443$%%%, )) $/F +eta!or1oses 2&.$$63&6& .ed. +iller
248&, 62736%/F &e consolatione 1iloso1iae &, metre 6 .ed. +oreschini $%%%, 22232$/. These
stories "ere "ell'-no"n, as to Alfred the !reat .)rine 2447, 689346F !rinda $%%% N244%O/,
Aldhelm .enig!a 4>F ed. Eh"ald 242, ) 2&$/, and the composer of the late tenth' or early eleenth'
century gloss to his enig!a in 0L +S Boyal 2$ ( **iii .Page 248$, 27%376/. )t is unfortunate that
(irce<s name is no"here glossed, and that Alfred the !reat, in chapter 68 of his translation of the
&e consolatione 1iloso1iae, called her by the generic term gyden .ed. Sedgefield 2844, 227,
Despite the inclusion of mythological figures such as the Eu!enides, fauni and satyri, ny!1ae
do not occur in this e*tensie catalogue of !onstra. -y!1a itself occurs once, in entry ).6& .ed.
#rchard $%%6a, $97/A ;Et dicunt monstra esse in paludibus cum tribus humanis capitibus et
subprofundissimis stagnis sicut nimphas habitare fabulantur. nuod credere profanum estA ut non
illuc fluant gurgites :uo inmane monstrum ingreditur< .;and they say that prodigies e*ist in s"amps
"ith three human heads and they are rumoured to inhabit the lo"est of the depths of pools li-e
ny!1ae NspringsO1"hich it is a profanity to beliee, because floods do not flo" to a place into
"hich a huge monster enters</. This puns on the mythological meaning of ny!1a, "hich the
reader initially assumes1such sniping at (lassical paganism being characteristic of the #i*er
!onstroru! .#rchard $%%6a, 89342, 4832%2F cf. 2449/1but does not detract from the stri-ing
absence of ny!1ae from the "or-.
(hapter >A !losses
"hich he numbered S22 .2448, S$.$/, ;als eindeutig anglisch aus< .;as une:uiocally
from Anglian</, "ith features conentionally identified both as +ercian and
5orthumbrian, and strong later influence from ,est Sa*on and Dentish, probably in that
order .2448, S2&.6.$/. The glossary also contains a scattering of features suggesting
origins in the eighth century. 5ot all the glosses attested in the Third (leopatra !lossary,
of course, need go bac- to this eighth'century original, but if they are later additions, they
"ere made "ith impressie care for maintaining the order of the lemmata of Aldhelm<s
te*ts. )t is li-ely, then, that "e o"e dunælfa and landælfe to an eighth'century Anglian
2#3 Evidence for the /e%antics of Ælf
Ælf "as felt by a glossator or glossators to be an appropriate basis for creating a gloss for
ny!1a and !usa. The essential correlation bet"een the characteristics of ny!1ae and
early Anglo'Sa*on ælfe is obious1both "ere other"orldly, rather than monstrous,
supernatural beingsF the glosses sho" that these characteristics not only suried
conersion but continued among Anglo'Sa*on mon-s at least into the eighth century, and
probably the eleenth. #ld English poetry composed around the ninth and tenth centuries
attests to the beauty of ælfe in the compound ælfscyne and that too correlates "ith
characteristics of the ny!1ae. 0ut there is a stri-ing problem of gender. #ld English ælf
is grammatically masculine, and in the early #ld )celandic and #ld High !erman
eidence its cognates seem consistently to denote male beings .ch. $F '(&WB, s.. al*/.
There is no serious doubt that the glossator -ne" that ny!1ae "ere females. Possibly,
ælf could hae been used in the plural to denote1in a "ay consonant "ith the patriarchal
ie" of humanity "hich dominated Anglo'Sa*on discourses1males and females
together, li-e ælde or #ld )celandic æsir, a process perhaps encouraged in non',est
Sa*on dialects by the morphological collapse of long'stemmed masculine i'stem and
strong feminine plurals. 0ut it is of interest that although the sole attestation of landælfe
uses the 'e plural proper to the long'stemmed masculine i'stem declension, RRdunælfe
does not appearA rather the form in all cases but one is dunælfa, "ith the ,est Sa*on
strong feminine 'a plural. The e*ception, dunelfen in the Ant"erp'London !lossary,
"itnesses another deelopment again, discussed belo" .S>A6.$36/. )f dunælfa does derie
from an Anglian original, this ,est Sa*on plural must be a later introduction by a
Southern redactor. Een so, gien its suitability and consistency, it is surely a deliberate
declension'change. Although it is sometimes said that #ld English grammatical gender
"as not natural, this obseration is misleading regarding "ords denoting beings. There is
a small group of neuter "ords denoting "omen .e.g. wif ;"oman</, and another of
(hapter >A !losses
masculine "ords denoting men and "omen .e.g. !ann ;person</F but feminine "ords for
humans inariably denoted females, "hile feminine "ords for animals "ere almost as
consistent .(ur=an $%%6, esp. &>, 7%377, 42 n. 9F cf. Lindheim 24>8, &4%342/. The
innoation of 'ælfa loo-s, then, to be a deliberate feminisation of the denotation of ælfe,
a conclusion bolstered by the parallel deployment of the feminising suffi* 'en in the
other set of #ld English glosses for nymphs .see S>A6/. ,here landælfe fits into this is
not clearA it could represent an original Anglian form .potentially feminine/ "hich, by
some slip, "as not altered along "ith dunælfa1if so, the conse:uent disGunction bet"een
gloss and lemma might e*plain its remoal from the te*tual tradition1or a later addition
to the tradition by a redactor "ho chose not to use the 'ælfa form, perhaps because it "as
a neologism.
This analysis suggests t"o important pointsA that in the period "hen the glosses "ere
coined, probably the eighth or ninth centuries, the simple* ælf "as indeed unsuitable for
denoting females, implying that it denoted only malesF and that #ld English lac-ed "ords
appropriate for glossing ny!1a. The eidence for the meanings of ælf afforded by this
:ualified e:uation "ith ny!1a and !usa is considered more fully in the ne*t section
.esp. S>A6.6/.
$. )!mphs again. from ælfe to ælfe nne to æ lfen
3#1 Texts
Three Anglo'Sa*on manuscripts contain glosses "hich use the basic root ælfen,
compounded, li-e dunælfa and landælfe, "ith arious topographical elements, to gloss
lemmata denoting nymphs.
The lemmata derie from )sidore of Seille<s Ety!ologiae
.ed. Lindsay 2422, ) 8.22.47349/A
5ymphas deas a:uarum putant, dictas a nubibus. 5am e* nubibus a:uae, unde deriatum est.
5ymphas deas a:uarum, :uasi numina lympharum. )psas autem dicunt et +usas :uas et
nymphas, nec inmerito. 5am at:ue motus musicen efficit. 5ympharum apud gentiles aria sunt
ocabula. 5ymphas :uippe montium #reades dicunt, silarum Dryades, fontium Hamadryades,
camporum 5aides, maris 5ereides Nnaides B"2O.
They rec-on ny!1ae to be goddesses of "aters, so called from clouds Nnu*es, but cf. ni!*us
;<O. ?or "aters NcomeO from clouds, "hence Nny!1aO is deried. NThey rec-onO
ny!1ae goddesses of "aters, Gust li-e the spirits of "ater. 0ut they also call these +usae "ho
Additionally, Laurence 5o"ell<s Voca*ulariu! Sa3onicu! of 2>7> contains the entry
;bergLlfen< .;hill'ælfen<F cited by Peters 2476, $>>F cf. Somner 249% N27>4O, ;0erg'Llfenne.
#reades. Elves or 8airies of te !ountains</. This is unattested in -no"n Anglo'Sa*on
manuscripts but it is a plausible formation .cf. the attested gloss ,reades ? !untælfen/. 5o"ell
presumably either too- *ergælfen from a manuscript no" lost or mis'remembered !untælfen.
,ithout an Anglo'Sa*on conte*t, it can add little to the present discussion.
(hapter >A !losses
are also ny!1ae, not "ithout cause. ?or, in addition, NtheirO moements create music. There are
aried terms for ny!1s among pagansA for they call ny!1ae of mountains ,reades, of "oods
&ryades, of springs (a!adryades, of plains -aides and of the sea -ereids Nnaides B"2O.
These glosses must hae been composed after the arrial of )sidore<s Ety!ologiae in
0ritain, by the late seenth century .Herren 2448, 4%342/, glossing of "hich "as
under"ay by the time of our earliest eidence for ernacular glossing, in the later seenth
century .Pheifer 2489F cf. Lapidge 2447 N2488384O, 28638>, 288346/.
The earliest and most conseratie manuscript of the glosses is in Leiden, 0ibliothee-
der BiG-suniersiteit Uoccius Lat. &
2%7, being a manuscript of t"enty'fie leaes
"hose t"o main hands .in one of "hich the glosses are "ritten/ are agreed to be ;not
later than the first half of the ninth century< .Par-es 249$, $2>F cf. Der 24>9, &94
Nappendi*, no. 24O/. The manuscript seems certainly to hae been at ?leury in the tenth
century .Par-es 249$, $2$326/, and "as li-ely enough produced there. The ælfen glosses
occur together in a blan- space on folio 2%r "hich follo"s a te*t of the Latin riddles
attributed to Symphosius .ff. $38/ and the contents list of Aldhelm<s enigmata
.themseles coering ff. 2%3$>F ed. +eritt 24&>, 72/A
5imphae aelfinni eadem { muse
#reades duun . aelfinni
Driades uudu . aelfinni
Amadriades ua{er . aelfinn
+aides feld . aelfinne
5aides sge . aelfinne
-y!1aeA ælfenne, and at the same time !usaeF
,readesA mountain'ælfenneF
&ryadesA "ood'ælfenneF
(a!adryadesA "ater'ælfenneF
+aidesA open'land'ælfenneF
-aiadesA sea'ælfenne
This faithfully glosses the B"2'te*ts of the Ety!ologiae .for their affiliations1"hich
are dierse1see Lindsay 2422, ) i3*ii/, "ith the sole diergence .perhaps by some
scribal dissimilation/ of +aides for -aides. The glosses "ere perhaps added to elucidate
Aldhelm<s ensuing mention of "astalidas ny!1as in the preface to the Enig!ata .ed.
Eh"ald 2424, 48/.
The second te*t containing ælfen glosses is the alphabeticised ?irst (leopatra
!lossary, discussed aboe .S>A$.2/, "hich contains a stratum of glosses deried from
)sidore<s Ety!ologiaeA ;Amadriades A feldLlbinne | elfenne< .;(a!adryadesA open'land'
æl*inne or elfenne</, "ith the archaic form 'æl*inne itself being glossed "ith the
updated, Dentish form 'elfenneF ;+aides A sLLlfenne< .;+aides A sea'ælfenne</F
;5ymfL A "LterLlfenne<, ;5aides A sLLlfenne< .;-y!1aeA "ater'ælfenne<, ;-aiadesA
sea'ælfenne</F and ;#reades A "uduLlfenne< .;,readesA "ood'Llfenne<F ed. Busche
Busche, perhaps tempted by the fact that in (leopatra, the )sidore glosses "ere copied alongside
apinal'Erfurt'type glosses, suggested that the )sidore glosses in (leopatra come from the same
glossed Ety!ologiae "hich furnished apinal'Erfurt "ith their )sidore glosses .2447, 26$366/.
Ho"eer, the glosses in the epitome of the Ety!ologiae "hich match apinal'Erfurt do not occur
either in (leopatra or in the related )sidore material in the Ant"erp'London !lossary, so this is
(hapter >A !losses
2447, 28& NA&76OF 696 N+6>7OF 68& N5$%%, 5$%2OF 647 N#$2>O/. As comparison "ith the
Leiden te*t suggests, ho"eer, not only "ere the lemmata re'ordered in (leopatra, but
subGected to the redactor<s habitual reision, so that the #ld English glosses not only
dierge from those in Leiden, but also from )sidore<s o"n definitions .cf. Dittlic- 2448,
S$.2F Lendinara 2444, $$3$7F Busche 2447, 6>367/. )t is not necessary to e*plain these
diergences fully hereF sound -no"ledge of (lassical mythology may underlie some .cf.
Stry-er 24>2, 74 n. &76/, but this is not assured.
The last te*t is the Ant"erp'London !lossary, also discussed aboe .S>A$.2/, "here
the ælfen'glosses are combined "ith ;(astalidas . dunelfen< "ithin a class'list dealing
"ith supernatural beings, prophets and magic'"or-ers, preseered in the London portion.
The Ant"erp'London !lossary dre" e*tensiely on the same glossed te*t of )sidore<s
Ety!ologiae as the ?irst (leopatra !lossary .Porter 2444, 286387/, giing ;#riades .
muntLlfen . Driades . "uduelfen . +oides . feldelfen . Amadriades . "ylde elfen . 5aides
. sLelfen . (astalidas . dunelfen< .ed. Dindschi 24>>, $&7F collated "ith +S, f. $2r/. This
te*t is more conseratie than (leopatra<s, but dierges from Leiden in different "ays. )t
seems li-ely that the scribe<s e*emplar had ælf'forms, "hile he altered to the elf'forms of
his o"n dialect only from the second "ord on"ards. The alterations in both (leopatra
and Ant"erp'London sho" that different redactors of the ælfen glosses "ere
independently altering them, probably in the tenth and perhaps eleenth centuries, "hile
maintaining the element ælf. This implies that both redactors, on consideration, still
found ælf a satisfactory gloss, allo"ing us to dra" conclusions about the semantics of ælf
not only for the eighth century, "hen they probably originated, but probably also the
tenth and eleenth.
3#2 Origins
Despite the (ontinental origin of Leiden Uoss. n 2%7, the glosses are #ld English. As
"ith the language of the #eiden Iiddle, a later addition to the same manuscript .Par-es
249$, esp. $22327/, their orthography is archaic, sho"ing HuuJ for Iw, u;I, HaeJ for later
HLJ, and HiJ in unstressed syllables. Li-e"ise, the form feldæl*inne in the ?irst
(leopatra !lossary sho"s HiJ in an unstressed syllable and the retention of HbJ for
etymological IBI, features found else"here in this stratum of the glossary and once more
associated "ith the seenth and eighth centuries .Dittlic- 2448, SS&.$, 7.2.2, 2&.$.>/. The
nominatie plural inflection 'e is non',est Sa*on .(ampbell 24>4, S>4%/. Accordingly,
Dittlic- considered the ælfen glosses in the ?irst (leopatra !lossary to be part of a
tranche of around $%% Ety!ologiae'glosses, "hich source he numbered S$2 .2448,
SS$.$, 2&.$.>F cf. 2&.2.>/, concluding that ;dieses !lossar Y nicht nur sehr alt, sondern
(hapter >A !losses
auch anglischer, etl. mer=ischer Proenien= ist< .;the proenance of this glossary is not
only ery old, but also Anglian, eidently +ercian<F 2448, S2&.$.>F cf. Busche 2447,
As "ith landælfe and dunælfa, ælfen must hae been compounded "ith "ords for
topographic features specifically to gloss )sidore<s terms, a point emphasised by the
punctuation in Leiden, "hich puts a point bet"een the t"o elements of each compound.
The status of the compound ælfen, ho"eer, is less clear'cut. Ælfen is a transparent
compound of the root ælf "ith the suffi* 'en .earlier 'inn H R'in79/, used to form feminine
deriaties from masculine nouns.
#ther #ld English e*amples are gyden .;goddess<, H
god ;god</, !ennen .;handmaid, female slae< H !ann ;person</ and !ynecenu .;nun< H
!unuc ;mon-<, "ith irregular transference to the feminine 9'stem declensionF cf.
(ampbell 24>4, S>4$c/. The last e*ample seems to hae been coined in the tenth
century, emphasising the productiity of the suffi*F
li-e"ise the uni:ue !ettena, "hich
Alfred used to gloss .arcae in chapter 6> of his translation of 0oethius<s &e
consolatione 1iloso1iae, seems li-ely to be a nonce'"ord .ed. Sedgefield 2844, 2%$F
the other manuscript gies gydena ;goddesses</. (ontrary to earlier beliefs, ælfen has no
+iddle English refle*es .see Appendi* 2.2/F it also has no 5orse cognate, Scandinaians
coining %lfkona .;%lfr'"oman</ to render terms such as +arie de ?rance<s fPe .Guige!ar
line 9%&F ed. (oo-3Teitane 2494, 6&F E"ert 244>, $2/. 0ut it has parallel formations
else"here in medieal ,est !ermanic languages, also used, amongst other things, to
translate ny!1a. )f these are cognates rather than shared innoations, they "ould
demand the reconstruction of a ,est !ermanic RalmNiOin79 .Uer"iGs3Uerdam3Stoett
288>324&2, s.. elvinneF !rimm3!rimm 247>3, s.. E#BE/. Ho"eer, the R'in79 suffi*
has remained the normal suffi* for forming nouns denoting females from nouns denoting
males throughout the history of continental ,est !ermanic and so "ould hae been the
obious means of feminising al1 and alf. +ore significant is the fact that that .'/ælfenne
uses a different strategy for feminising ælf from that deployed in the gloss dunælfa,
"hich, as ) hae discussed, simply changes ælf<s declension. These factors strongly
suggest that there "as no morphologically or semantically feminine form of ælf aailable
in #ld EnglishA other"ise both traditions of #ld English glosses "ould surely hae used
See especially Lindheim 24>8, &8%386F also (ampbell 24>4, S>4$cF Dluge 24$7, SS643&$F
Uoyles 244$, S9.$.$7.
?oot $%%%, ) $436%, cf. 4932%9F cf. Stafford 2444, 2%. ?oot did not address the i'mutation in
!ynecenu, "hich must be analogical.
(hapter >A !losses
3#3 Evidence for the /e%antics of Ælf
#f the batches of )sidore glosses in the ?irst (leopatra and Ant"erp'London glossaries
deriing from S$2, the ælfen glosses are almost alone in glossing lemmata "hich denote
(lassical mythological beings, so "e hae little other eidence for ho" the glossator "ho
composed S$2 tended to handle "ords for (lassical mythological figures.
0ut the
glossator<s original intention "as presumably the same as )sidore<sA to e*plain (lassical
mythology to a (hristian audience. As "ith dunælfa and landælfe, then, "e may infer
that the ælfen'glosses understand their lemmata in their (lassical senses. Although it is
possible that one set of glosses inspired the other, the different approaches to feminising
ælf suggest that "e o"e the glosses to different and, if not independent, then
independent'minded scholars. )t is stri-ing, then, that both chose ælf as the basis for their
glosses. This consolidates the eidence for the semantics of ælf deduced from the
dunælfa and landælfe glosses, that ælf continued to denote anthropomorphic
other"orldly beings after the conersion. )t also emphasises the inapplicability, on the
grounds of gender, of ælf in its unmodified form as a gloss for "ords for ny!1ae.
These facts suggest that ælf "as co'opted to gloss "ords for ny!1ae because no
appropriate feminine counterpart to ny!1a e*isted in eighth' to ninth'century #ld
English1at least in the registers used by glossators1and because ælf "as in some "ay
the most suitable option. This is stri-ing and rare eidence for a le*ical gap among #ld
English "ords for supernatural beings, "hich ) discuss further belo". +oreoer, the
Ant"erp'London !lossary suggests a ter!inus ad 4ue! for this situation. There is no
doubt that by the time "hen La¸amon "rote his Brut around the early thirteenth century,
ælf had become able to denote femalesA Arthur is ta-en ;to Argante Mere :ueneF aluen
s"iKe sceone< .;To Argante the :ueen, a ery beautiful alue</F La¸amon adds a fe" lines
later that Argante is ;fairest alre aluen< .;the most beautiful of all aluen<, lines 2&$99,
2&$42F ed. 0roo-3Leslie 2476398, )) 9>%/. La¸amon presents us concomitantly "ith the
analogical transference of ælf to the "ea- declension and its semantic e*tension to the
denotation of females. This suggests an important deelopment not only in the semantics
of ælfself, but in the history of English fol-loreA it seems to represent the rise of beliefs
in female other"orldly beings similar in character to the ny!1ae of the (lassics and to
the fPes of high medieal francophone romance.
The form of ælfen in Leiden and (leopatra is the plural ælfenne, but the form used in
the Ant"erp'London !lossary is elfen. )f this "ord "as understood to be in the same
The certain e*ception is ;?uriL A burgrunan<F ed. Busche 2447, 6%% N?&&%OF ;Parce . hLgtesse<
in Ant"erp'London appears to be another e*ampleF ed. Dindschi 24>>, $&9F collated "ith +S, f.
(hapter >A !losses
declension as ælfenne, it "ould, as the &ictonary of ,ld Englis concluded, be a
nominatie singular, despite the plural forms of its lemmata .s.. ælfen/. 0ut Ant"erp'
London does not normally gloss plurals "ith singulars, and the adGectie wylde in ;"ylde
elfen< "ould, if a feminine nominatie singular, hae been wyld. Elfen must, therefore,
hae been intended as a plural form. 5or is it li-ely to reflect some miscomprehension of
the e*emplar<s ælfenne forms, since the 'en ending "as e*tended to the inherited gloss
"astalidas ny!1asB dunælfa, giing the form ;castalidas dunelfen<. Bather, the only
li-ely e*planation for Ant"erp'London<s elfen plurals is that ælfenne "as deliberately
altered to become a "ea- plural, and that concurrently "ith, though not necessarily
conse:uently on, this alteration, it became able to denote females. The emendation "ould
hae been facilitated by the phonological leeling of unstressed o"els and shortening of
unstressed long consonants "idespread in eleenth'century English .Hogg 244$a,
SS7.7$, 9.8%/, "hich not only encouraged the identification of H'enneJ "ith H'anJ, but
permitted their replacement "ith H'enJ. This H'enJ'spelling is surprising, as although it
is consistent "ith early +iddle English spellings of "ea- inflections and probably more
representatie of eleenth'century phonology, it does not occur for etymological 'an
else"here in the glossary. Presumably, the redactor of the Ant"erp'London !lossary,
rather li-e the later Tremulous ,orcester Scribe, copied 'an inflections in his e*emplar
conseratiely, but "hen formulating his o"n "ea- plurals opted for a spelling more
representatie of his o"n speech .see ?ran=en $%%6/, perhaps being encouraged in this by
his e*emplar<s spelling H<en'J. The leelling of the endings of both ælfenne and dunælfa
to 'en "ould, by this reading, sho" the transference of "ords to the "ea- declension
eident in Southern and ,est'+idland +iddle English. That the n'stem declension "as
gro"ing already in spo-en .Southern/ #ld English despite the conseratism of the
"ritten language is suggested by its popularity as a declension for loan'"ords, second
only to that of the a'stem declension .!neuss 2447, ch. 7/. As ) hae mentioned,
moreoer, this process began early for the long'stemmed masculine i'stemsA "ea- ariant
plurals of long'stemmed masculine i'stem "ords such as Sea3e, 'sæte and 'ware appear
already in early ,est Sa*on, suggesting that the nominatie plural RI&lf @n I might hae
emerged in some arieties of #ld English already by the tenth century.
The rise of a female denotation of ælf appears concurrently, then, "ith the
transference of ælf to the "ea- declension1at least in the South. Ho"eer, although this
morphological change could hae been a factor in creating the conditions for semantic
change, but is not a sufficient e*planation for itA other innoatie early +iddle English
"ea- plurals li-e cniten, kingen or *retren continued to denote males alone. The
arrial of female elven in English culture must hae inoled e*tra'linguistic factors. Tust
such an e*tralinguistc factor has long been posited. The origin of the fPes of medieal
(hapter >A !losses
romances has long been attributed to ;(eltic< influence, directly on #ld ?rench and
Anglo'5orman literature and, indirectly through this, on English, "here they "ere
denoted either by the ?rench loan'"ord fairy, or by elf .e.g. Philippson 24$4, 98F
Larrington 2444, esp. 6>367/. 0y this theory, the meaning of elf "as basically e*tended
by semantic borro"ing from ?rench. Ho"eer, the Ant"erp'London !lossary, from the
earlier eleenth century, suggests a pre'(on:uest ter!inus ad 4ue! for this semantic
e*tension. Ant"erp'London is from "ell before either the 5orman (on:uest or the
t"elfth'century blossoming of ?rench ernacular literature. This earlier date does not
preclude influence from (eltic' or ?rench'spea-ing communities, but it does suggest one
more deelopment in English gender relations "hich can no longer be pinned on the
5orman (on:uest .cf. Stafford 244&F 244>F (ric- 2444/. )t points instead to
deelopments in Anglo'Sa*ons< non'(hristian beliefs1"hich "ere eidently liing and
gro"ing beyond the conersion1and in Anglo'Sa*on gendering. ) return to these
prospects at the end of this thesis, "hen the full range of pertinent eidence has been
assembled .S4A$.$/.
%. Ælf e and prophec!' Ylfig
*#1 Texts
The first of my t"o adGectial glosses is the compound ylfig, again uni:ue to glosses.
?our of the fie occurrences are te*tually related glosses on the "ord co!itiales
.;epileptics</, three of them interlinear, in chapter >$ of Aldhelm<s .rosa de virginitate,
composed sometime before Aldhelm<s death in 9%4, in a passage describing the miracles
of Saint Anatolia. ) :uote from the .rosa de virginitate as edited by !"ara, but including
the e*tensie glosses from 0russels, 0ibliothm:ue Boyale, +S. 27>%, since these hae the
most direct bearing on interpreting ylfigA
Anatolia uero in e*ilium t(and 'B on wræcsiþu trusa signorum t(and "B uelu miraculis
crebrescente t(and "&B wide s1ringendeu praefatam sociam in uirtutibus ae:uiperauitF e*ecrata
etenim filium consulis inerguminum t(and "B deouelseocneu rigidis catenarum ne*ibus t(and
"&B *endu!u asstrictum ti? ligatu!u e*pulso habitatore dicto citius curaut. nuo rumore t fa!au
clarescente tv crescenteu et laruatos t(and 'B æfæredew (and "B inergu!inos infir!osw (and
"& deofelseoceu et comitiales t(and 'B i? garritores6 ylfiew (and "B lunaticos6 wanseoceu ac
ceteros ualitudinarios t(and 'B adlieu pristinae sanitati restituitY
Anatolia, ho"eer, forced into e*ile and becoming famous for her miraculous signs, e:ualled her
aforementioned associate in irtueF for, haing cursed the son of a consul "ho "as bound tightly
by the rigid lin-s of demoniacal chains, she cured him .again/ in the t"in-ling of an eye by
Ed. !"ara $%%2, )) 747349F Langenhoe 24&2, f. &8rF cf. !oossens 249&, &>73>9 Nnos &82>3
$2OF trans. Lapidge3Herren 2494, 2$2. !"ara did not assign a hand to one stratum of the glosses in
his edition, "hich do not appear in !oossens<s edition, hence the lac- of attribution here.
(hapter >A !losses
e*pelling the demon "ho inhabited him. As her reno"n became more illustrious, she restored to
their former health those possessed ."ith deils/, epileptics and other diseased personsY
0russels 27>% dates from the beginning of the eleenth century, but Hand A, "hich
added to it the gloss ylfie, is later, of the first half of that century .Der 24>9, 7 Nno. 8OF
!oossens 249&, >2/. Although 0russels 27>% has long been associated "ith Abingdon
.Der 24>9, 739 Nno. 8O, cf. 6/1indeed Der een thought that it "as originally part of the
same code* as the London'Ant"erp glossary .24>9, 9, cf. 6/1!"ara has recently argued
for a (anterbury proenance .$%%2, ) 4&R32%2R/. 0russels 27>% seems to hae been an
e*emplar of #*ford, 0odleian Library +S. Digby 2&7, the manuscript probably from late
tenth'century (anterbury and the #ld English glosses probably from the mid'eleenth,
contributing its gloss ylfige .!"ara $%%2, ) 2&9R3>7R 242R, 249R344R/. Ho"eer, 0ritish
Library Boyal +S. 0.ii, "hose te*t and glosses "ere both "ritten at E*eter in the late
eleenth century .!"ara $%%2, ) 226R3$$R/, must "ith regard to ylfig derie
independently from an ancestor of the other t"o manuscripts .!"ara $%%2, ) 242R, 244R3
The remaining t"o instances of ylfig occur in the eleenth'century Harley !lossary,
discussed aboe .S>A$.2/. ?olio 62r includes the gloss ;(omitiales .i. garritores<, adding
aboe it and into the right margin ;| dies mensi . | ylfie . | monaMseoce . | dagas .< .;or a
day of the month, or ylfige, or lunatics, or days<F ed. #liphant 2477, 8> N(2$22OF collated
"ith +S/. Here, ylfig must derie from the Aldhelm'glosses Gust :uoted .cf. (oo-e 244&,
94382, 2>83>4F 2449, &>4372/, the glossary e*hibiting its characteristic conflation of
different definitions for the same lemma .using )sidore of Seille<s Ety!ologiae and
other glosses found in 0russels 27>%F cf. (oo-e 244&, 2>93>8, 99394, 2&&3&>/.
Ho"eer, folio 97r also includes the entry ;?anaticus .i. minister templi< .;8anaticusA i.e.
the priest of a temple</ "ith ;futura praecinens . | ylfig< .;one foretelling things to come,
or ylfig<F ed. #liphant 2477, 298 N?2>2OF collated "ith +S/ "ritten aboe. Here, only
futura 1raecinens and ylfig gloss fanaticus as adGecties, and the lineation further allies
them, so ylfig presumably means something li-e ;foretelling the future< rather than ;priest
of a temple<. Ylfig is clearly an innoation hereA the Harley !lossary entry must be based
on entries li-e those in the (orpus !lossary, ;the glossary closest to Harley in content<,
"hich lac- ylfig.
(orpus gies ;fanatici . futura . precinentes .< .;8anaticiA those
foretelling things to come<F ed. Lindsay 24$2a, 9& N?68OF 0ischoff and others 2488, f.
and ;?anaticus . te!pli minister . < .;8anaticusA the priest of a temple<F ed.
(oo-e 244&, 26636&, at 266F cf. 2449, &>73>9F the entries there probably derie from the
seenth'century (ontinental Abstrusa !lossary, Lindsay 24$2a, 9&39>.
Although ;the scribe Y used the 1unctus after each lemma, after each different interpretation of
the same lemma, and at the end of each gloss< and ;errors in punctuation are rare<, the glosses here
demand to be understood together in a syntactic relationship .0ischoff3Par-es 2488, $&, cf. n.
(hapter >A !losses
Lindsay 24$2a, 9> N?98OF 0ischoff and others 2488, f. $8/. 8anaticus in the latter sense
seems still to hae been associated "ith prophecy since a different but apparently
contemporary hand .0ischoff3Par-es 2488, $&/ annotated the entry "ith ;:ui )nte!plo .
arguitur< .;he "ho prates in a temple</.
,hateer the te*tual history of the (orpus
!lossary here, it seems clear that t"o glosses li-e these hae been conflated to produce
the Harley !lossary<s one. ,hat is not -no"n is "hether the Harley !lossator added
ylfig because it "as part of the common le*icon, or simply because he -ne" it from the
Aldhelm glosses.
*#2 Origins
!"ara has recently argued conincingly for the e*istence of a corpus of glosses to the
.rosa de virginitate, early enough to hae contributed to the early ninth'century (orpus
!lossary and presered as a stratum in suriing glosses to the poem, "hich he termed
the (ommon Becension .$%%2, ) $6>R36%8R/. )f the strata of 0russels 27>% and Boyal 7
0.ii containing the gloss ylfige derie, as !"ara thought, independently from the
(ommon Becension .$%%2, esp. ) 242R, $%4R322R, $77R39$R/, the glossing of co!itiales
"ith ylfig must derie from this eighth'century te*t, probably compiled in (anterbury or
That said, the poor attestation of this particular entry leaes open the
possibility of some later origin, "ith a transmission outside the lines of !"ara<s stemma.
As ) hae said, the instance of ylfig in the Harley !lossary "hich is not in this te*tual
tradition "as either borro"ed from it or introduced from the eeryday #ld English
le*icon on the glossator<s o"n initiatie.
Ylfig has no !ermanic cognates and is transparently composed of the late ,est Sa*on
form of ælf and the denominatie adGectial ending 'igF as this suffi* has been productie
from (ommon !ermanic .Dluge 24$7, SS$%$37/ to present day English, ylfig could hae
been coined at any time. Parallel #ld English formations are werig .;"eary, tired,
e*hausted< H wor ;oo=e, bog</F sælig .;happy, prosperous< H sæl ;prosperity, happiness</F
and gydig .;possessed .by a god/< H RxuðaR ;god</. All these suggest ;.li-e/ one engaged
"ith noun y<A ;li-e one in a bog<, ;one in good fortune<, ;one engaged "ith a god<, and
so forth. The etymological meaning of ylfig seems therefore to be ;.li-e/ one engaged
(orpus also has a third fanaticus gloss, ;fanaticus . :ui templu! . diu . deseruit N+S deseritO<
.ed. Lindsay 24$2a, 9> N?97OF 0ischoff and others 2488, f. $8F omitted from the &ictionary of
,ld Englis "or1us/. This need not concern us here, but its presence emphasises (orpus<s
comple*ity regarding fanaticus glosses.
These are guesses, but the only li-ely candidates .$%%2, ) $4&R36%8R/F a detailed linguistic
analysis is desirable. Place of origin might be significant, insofar as if the ylfig glosses derie not
only from the same time but also the same place as other glosses containing ælf then "e must
rec-on "ith the possibility of the inspiration of one gloss by another.
(hapter >A !losses
"ith an ælf or ælfe<. As Tente pointed out, gydig may proide a particularly important
parallel, since it inoles a semantically similar root, "hich must on phonetic grounds go
bac- to (ommon !ermanic.
)t is attested only in te*tually related glosses on
ly!1aticus .;diabolically possessed</, again in the .rosa de virginitate .ch.>6F ed.
!"ara $%%2, )) 9%&3>F cf. !oossens 249&, &72 Nno. &84$O/. Ho"eer, it is fairly common
in +iddle English, "ith the primary meanings ;insane, cra=yF possessed by a deil<,
"hich correlate precisely "ith the #ld English and etymological eidence .+E&, s..
gidQF cf. ,E&, s.. giddy/. )t is salutary that, unattested in other !ermanic languages and
so poorly attested in #ld English, gydig might hae been ta-en as a gloss'"ord "ere it
not for its etymology and later popularity, so it is plausible that ylfig, despite its sparse
attestation, "as in general use in #ld English. )ts early loss from the le*icon might be
e*plicable by the ascent of the adGectie elvis .see belo", S>A>/, alongside the arrial of
ne" medical terminology from Latin and ?rench.
*#3 Evidence for the /e%antics of Ælf
"o!itialis "as an obscure "ord. Although it occurs both as a lemma and a gloss in early
medieal )nsular Latin, only Aldhelm seems to hae used it in connected prose .&+#BS,
s.. co!itialis/. Although co!itialis is usually translated ;epileptic<, the connotations of
this "ord today are probably thoroughly anachronistic .cf. Tem-in 2492, 8732%$/. The
probable source of co!itialis for Aldhelm and his glossators is the entry in )sidore of
Seille<s Ety!ologiae for ;Epilemsia< .ed. Lindsay 2422, &.9.>39/. This, according to
?it Y e* melancholico humore, :uotiens e*uberaerit et ad cerebrum conersus fuerit. Haec
passio et caduca ocatur, eo :uod cadens aeger spasmos patiatur. Hos etiam ulgus lunaticos
ocant, :uod per lunae cursum comitetur eos insidia daemonum. )tem et laratici. )pse est et
morbus comitialis, id est maior et diinus, :uo caduci tenentur. (ui tanta is est ut homo alens
concidat spumet:ue. (omitialis autem dictus, :uod apud gentiles cum comitiorum die cui:uam
accidisset, comitia dimittebantur. Erat autem apud Bomanos comitiorum dies sollennis in
-alendis )anuarii.
is caused by the melancholic humour1ho" often it may hae oerflo"ed and been redirected to
the brain. This is called 1assio NsufferingO and caduca N.epileptic/ fallingO, because the epileptic
Ncadens aegerO suffers N1atiaturO conulsions. These indeed the common people call lunaticos
Nthose made mad by the moonO, because the attac- of demons follo"s them according to the
course of the moon. So also larvatici. That too is the comitialian sic-ness N!or*us co!itialisO,
"hich is more significant and of diine origin, by "hich those "ho fall are gripped. )t has such
po"er that a healthy person collapses and froths. Ho"eer, co!itialis is so used because among
the pagans, "hen it had happened to anyone on the day of the co!itiu! Nassembly for electing
24$2, 2$9F cf. ,E&, s.. giddy. An #ld English root'o"el y is demonstrated by +iddle English
refle*es and the lac- of palatalisation in giddy .the manuscript form gidig sho"ing unroundingA see
!oossens 249&, 98394/F this must derie from the i'mutation of RIGuDi G 'I, predating the
!ermanic lo"ering of IuYAI J IoYAI in god .H RIGuDaz IF see (ampbell 24>4, SS22>, >9$396/.
(hapter >A !losses
Boman magistratesO, the co!itia "as bro-en up. 0ut the usual day of the co!itia among the
Bomans "as during the (alends of Tanuary.
)sidore<s discussion is consistent "ith Aldhelm<s association of co!itiales "ith laruati
.;the demonically possessed</ and proides an origin for the gloss lunaticos .;those made
mad by the moon<F on the obscure gloss wanseoce, see S$A2.$6%/. Ylfig must, then,
denote some altered state of mind1possibly one "hich "as ;maior et diinus<. ,e may
set this alongside its pairing "ith the Latin gloss garritor. This "ord is een more
unusual than co!itialis .though see &+#BS, s../, but is a transparent deerbatie
formation from garrio .;) chatter, babble, prate</, meaning ;babbler<. )t seems unli-ely,
ho"eer, that co!itiales, at least in the .rosa de virginitate, "as ta-en simply to denote
people "ho tal-ed .contra &+#BS, s.. co!itialis S2cF &,E, s.. ælfig/. (hapter && of
the .rosa de virginitate mentions ;a pithonibus et aruspicibus uana falsitatis deleramenta
garrientibus< .;empty gibberish of falsity from garrientes prophetesses and soothsayers<F
ed. !"ara $%%2, )) 7$>/, suggesting connotations of prophetic speech .ie"ed
peGoratiely/ for the root of garritor1"hich matches the usage of ylfig in the innoatie
gloss in the Harley !lossary. This correlation may not be independentA if the Harley
!lossator too- ylfig from the co!itialis gloss he may hae inferred an association "ith
prophetic speech in the same "ay as ) hae.
This eidence1the parallel "ith gydig, the meanings of co!itialis and garritor, and
the Harley !lossator<s usage of ylfig1all militates in faour of understanding ylfig to
mean ;one spea-ing prophetically through diineIdemonic possession<. Admittedly, the
(ommon Becension glossator may not hae had too many options for glossing co!itialis.
0y the tenth century, scholarly #ld English had a "ell'deeloped le*icon for altered
states of mindA attested to gloss at least one of )sidore<s terms relating to epilsepsy
.besides gydig/, "e hae *ræccoþu .;phlegm'sic-ness</, NgeO*ræcseoc .;phlegm'ill</,
deofolseoc .;deil'sic-</, fylleseocNnesO and possibly fyllewærc .both ;falling sic-
.ness/</, !onaþseoc .;month'sic-</, and woda .;madman</.
0ut most of these "ere
probably originally coined in response to +editerranean and (hristian medical traditionsA
early glossators li-e the (ommon Becension glossator probably had only gydig1"hich
they "ere apparently un"illing to use1and ariants on wod .;fren=ied, enraged,
This ma-es the usage of the Harley !lossator crucialA he had access to the full
(f. Boberts3Day3!rundy $%%%, SS%$.%8.%4.%$ Epilepsy, %$.%8.22.%$.%2 )nsanity, madnessF
&,E s.. "here aailableF 0os"orth3Toller 2848, s.. !onaþseoc, !onaþseoc<nessF Toller 24$2,
s.. !onaþ<seoc.
8ylleseoc and fyllewærc are probably cal:ues on !or*us caducus .;falling sic-ness</, "hile
*ræccoþu and NgeO*ræcseoc probably reflect )sidore<s association of e1ile1sia "ith !elancolia,
an e*cess of phlegmF !onaþseoc is probably a cal:ue on lunaticos. (f. Erfurt ;ephilenticus uuoda<
.;epilepticA madman</ and apinal'Erfurt ;lymphatico uuoedendi< .;possessed man .datie singular/A
raging one .datie singular/<F ed. Pheifer 249&, $2 N686O, 62 N>9>OF collated "ith 0ischoff and
others 2488, Erfurt ff. >, 9, apinal f. 2%%r/F (orpus adds ;inergumenos . "odan< .ed. Lindsay
(hapter >A !losses
late #ld English le*icon of altered states of mind, and could hae chosen any of its other
members to gloss fanaticusB futura 1raecinens, but chose ylfig. This suggests that ylfig
"as precisely the right "ord for the Gob. +oreoer, the Harley !lossator tended to prefer
Latin glosses .(oo-e 244&, $&3$>F 2449, &>>/F "hile fanatical completism "as not
beyond him, it seems unli-ely that he "ould hae added ylfig here if he only -ne" it as a
gloss to co!itialisA ylfig "as surely a member of the common le*icon, li-e gydig.
)t follo"s from these arguments that ælf "as once sufficiently intimately associated
"ith people predicting the future, and possibly "ith possession, that a deried adGectie
meant something li-e ;predicting the future<. Although the eidence is ambialent, it is
"orth sho"ing that a stri-ing correlation for this argument may e*ist, in our eidence for
the significance of the plant -no"n in #ld English as ælfþone. Although this "ord is
attested only in medical te*ts, mainly in remedies for feer, madness, or ailments caused
by ælfe, its attestations there are not ery reealing about ælfe.
+ore useful eidence
for its meanings comes from a gloss'li-e conte*t, and is more pertinent to ylfig. ) turn to
it here, therefore.
*#* Ælfþone
The medical te*ts proide no eidence for "hat plant.s/ ælfþone denotedF its second
element is uni:ue in #ld English, but cognate "ith #ld High !erman tona, ;ine,
creeper< .'(&WB, s..F Thun 2474, 64234$/, suggesting that ælfþone is archaic. Thun
obsered that !erman plant'names in cognates of ælf' most consistently denote the ine
"oody nightshade .L. Solanu! dulca!ara/, "hich is consistent "ith the meaning of
þone .2474, 64234$/. 0ierbaumer reached the same conclusion, apparently
independently .249>394, ) 432%/. Ælfþone is presumably to be e:uated "ith +iddle
English elf<tung .+E&, s../, its obsolete second element being replaced there "ith a
productie element meaning ;poisonous plant<, and this supports Thun<s inference. The
most useful attestation of elf<tung is an annotation made by the reno"ned Tremulous
,orcester Scribe to an #ld English te*t of the (er*ariu! in #*ford, 0odleian Library,
+S. Hatton 97 around the first half of the thirteenth century .see ?ran=en 2442, 77374/.
The annotation, on folio 22$r, adds ;elueMunge tunsing"urt< .ed. (ra"ford 24$8, $2/ as
the title for the #ld English entry ;}eos "yrt Me man elleborum album ¯ oKrum naman
24$2a, 4$ N) 9&OF 0ischoff and others 2488, f. 6&r/.
0ierbaumer 249>394, ) 432% and &,E, s.. ælf<þone, list the references, though they do not
sho" te*tual interrelationships.
A full analysis is unnecessary hereF ) hae underta-en one for the 'nglo<Sa3on .lant<-a!e
Survey .HhttpAII"""$, e*pected to be
published in the Survey<s second olume of papers.
(hapter >A !losses
tunsincg"yrt nemneK ¯ eac sume men "edeberge hataK byK cenned on dunum, ¯ heo
hafaK leaf leace gelice< .;This plant, "hich is called elle*orus al*us, and by another
name tunsingwyrt .;tunsing'plant</, and N"hichO some people also call wede*erge
.;madness'berry</ gro"s on mountains, and it has leaes li-e a lee-Ionion<F ed. Uriend
248&, 28%/.
)t should be admitted that the (er*ariu! description does not match
"oody nightshadeF my assumption is that English terms here "ere adopted because of
linguistic correspondences rather than formal ones, based perhaps on glosses li-e Erfurt<s
;elleborus poedibergL< .;helleborusA madness'berry Nreading woedi*ergæO<F ed. Pheifer
249&, $2 N688OF 0ischoff and others 2488, f. >/. After all, the gloss wede*erge itself
mentions berries, but L. elle*orus or veratru!1the genera denoted by elle*orus in
ancient and medieal mediterranean usage1are not berry'bearing .(ameron 248>, 262/.
,hen the Tremulous ,orcester Scribe came to the passage in the #ld English
er*ariu!, it seems that he recognised a plant denoted by "ords for "oody nightshade,
and inserted another term for that plant1elf<tung. )f elf<tung is indeed ælfþone, then,
this is another piece of eidence that that too "as "oody nightshade.
)f ælfþone denoted "oody nightshade, then Aldhelm<s riddle (elle*orus, composed
sometime before he died in 9%4I2%, affords remar-able eidence for its cultural
associations, since (ameron has sho"n that it describes "oody nightshadeA
#striger en aro ernabam frondibus hirtis
(on:uilio similisA sic cocci murice rubro
Purpureus stillat sanguis de palmite guttis.
E*uias itae mandenti tollere nolo
+itia nec penitus spoliabunt mente enenaF
Sed tamen insanum e*at dementia cordis,
Dum rotat in giro ecors ertigine membra.
A purple flo"er, ) gro" in the fields "ith
shaggy foliage. ) am ery similar to an oysterA
thus "ith reddened dye of scarlet a purplish
blood oo=es by drops from my branches. ) do
not "ish to snatch a"ay the spoils of life from
him "ho eats me, nor do my gentle poisons
deprie him utterly of reason. 5eertheless a
certain touch of insanity torments him as, mad
"ith di==iness, he "hirls his limbs in a circle.
The possible effects of ingesting parts of "oody nightshade plants are little -no"n, and
clinical research has focused on their to*ic propertiesF but if "e accept agitation for arm'
"hirling, Aldhelm<s symptoms are among those obsered of eating all parts of the plant
.e.g. (ooper3Tohnson 248&, $29328F 0runeton 2444 N2447O, &94386/. ?or the riddle to
be meaningful, Aldhelm must hae e*pected his audience to recognise the symptoms
"hich he described, so they presumably reflect reasonably "idespread cultural
-no"ledge rather than some uni:ue obseration, "hich further implies deliberate
ingestion. ,hether the consumption of "oody nightshade can be controlled to produce
Uriend himself did not read elueþunge, but clucþungeF ) hae not been able to consult the
manuscript. "lucþunge is not a "ord, ho"eer, and though it could be an error for clufþunge,
elueþunge seems li-elier to underlie the readings of (ra"ford and Uriend.
248>, 262366F cf. 2446, 22%32$F ed. Eh"ald 2424, ) 2&&F trans. Lapidge3Bosier 248>, 46F for
Aldhelm<s paronomasia here see (ameron 248>, 26236$.
(hapter >A !losses
the effects described by Aldhelm is not clear from the clinical eidence, but it is not
implausible1in "hich case my inference that ylfig associates ælfe "ith causing
prophetic states may be set alongside the implication that Anglo'Sa*ons deliberately
consumed parts of a plant called ælfþone in search of mind'altering e*periences.
Ho"eer, it must be admitted that ælfþone poses a riddle of its o"n, since it is
prescribed in the #ld English medical te*ts to help cure states of feer or madness.
)ndeed, among the other ailments for "hich ælfþone is prescribed, one of three
interrelated remedies, in section 78 of Leechboo- ))) .ed. ,right 24>>, ff. 2$73$9r/,
prescribes ælfþone ;"iM "edenheorte< .;against a fren=ied'heartImind</, a term to "hich
Aldhelm<s de!entia cordis surely alludes. This state could be understood as possessionA
another remedy ;,iM "edenheorte< occurs in 0ald<s Leechboo- ), section 76, in a
se:uence of remedies prescribed ;,iM feondseocum men . Monne deofol Mone monnan
fede oKKe hine innan ge"ealde mid adle< .;?or a fiend'sic- personA "hen theIa deil
nourishes a man or controls him from "ithin "ith illness<F f. >2/.
)n the same "ay that
dweorgedwostle .;pennyroyal</ "as used to alleiate symptoms denoted by dweorg
.denoting both some sort of monstrous being but probably also feer, see (ameron 2446,
2>23>6/, ælfþone may hae been employed to alleiate symptoms caused by ælfe1a
function also prominent for elle*orus, "hich, according to )sidore, ;Bomani alio nomine
eratrum dicunt pro eo :uod sumptum motam mentem insanitatem reducit< .;the Bomans
call by the alternatie name veratru!, because "hen consumed it leads bac- the mind
"ithdra"n into insanity Ncf. verus, ;true, real<O<F ed. Lindsay 2422, )) 29.4.$&/. Ælfþone
might be named for its po"ers of curing the influence of ælfe rather than for its po"ers
of inducing states associated "ith the influence of ælfe. 0oth understandings of the name
may hae e*isted at once, or "e may see the effects of diachronic change in the
construction of ælf'lore and healing.
E:uiocal though the eidence of ælfþone is, it at least suggests some of the possible
cultural constructs "hich may hae surrounded the association of ælfe "ith causing
prophetic speech attested by ylfig. Though not necessarily ie"ed positiely by the
Anglo'Sa*on scholars "ho recorded it, it seems reasonably li-ely that ylfig sho"s that
ælfe<s influence might be ie"ed positiely. Similarly ambigious cultural reactions to
such ailments are "ell'attested in constructs of nympholepsy in the (lassical Hellenic
"orld and of possession in more recent cultures .(onnor 2488, esp. 2>73>8, 27>, 29&3
94F cf. Tem-in 2492, 63$9/.
This te*t is itself related to another in Leechboo- ))), in section 7&, "hich also prescribes
ælfþone, this time, ho"eer, simply ;,iM deofle< according to the main te*t, f. 2$>.
(hapter >A !losses
0. Ælf e and delusion. ælfisc
Unli-e the other glosses considered here, ælfisc has "ell'attested refle*es in +iddle
English and is paralleled by the +iddle High !erman el*isc, but only one #ld English
attestation. (haucer<s use of elvis of himself in the prologue to 2e 2ale of Sir 2o1as
.line 9%6F ed. 0enson 2489, $26/ has garnered a fair amount of commentary .recently
0urro" 244>F !reen $%%6/, but the #ld English and medieal !erman eidence has not
been much considered. El*isc hints at a ,est !ermanic origin for ælfisc, and although
the "ords could be independent formations, their e*tensie albeit relatiely late
attestation and similar semantics suggests a common origin. The parameters for the
semantics of ælfisc are suggested by its suffi* 'isc, "hich ;forms denominal adGecties Y
"ith the meaning [being li-e, haing the character of\, e.g. ceorlisc [of a churl,
common\, cildisc [childish\, !ennisc [human\. The suffi* is also fre:uently used for the
deriation of ethnic adGecties, e.g. denisc [Danish\ < .Dastos-y 244$, 64%/. Ho"eer,
not all of elves< characteristics need hae been reflected in elvis, more specific
meanings perhaps deeloping as they did for ceorlisc. This prospect is complicated by
the transparent etymology of elvis and its conse:uent potential to be interpreted
literally, and !reen has recently sho"n adeptly ho" many of elves< characteristics could
be actie at once in the "ord<s semantics. 0ut it also emphasises that !reen<s scorn at
the glossing of elvis as ;mysterious< or ;strange< instead of ;elish, haing the character
of eles< might be misplaced .$%%6, at $83$4/. Ho" far elvis had an ethnic sense is hard
to determineA some e*amples definitely do not e*hibit an ethnic sense, and ambiguous
instances could all be interpreted to mean ;other"orldly<.
These issues present a pretty
problem for the le*icographerA fortunately, le*icography is not my concern here. )nstead
) e*amine the #ld English attestation and its more pro*imate comparisons to determine
"hat ælfisc tells us about ælfe.
Direct eidence for #ld English ælfisc comes only from a late't"elfth'century section
of a !erman manuscript, #*ford, 0odleian Library, Tunius 86 .+adan and others 284>3
The earliest li-ely e*ample of elvis in an ethnic sense is from La¸amon<s Brut, in "hich
Arthur<s mailcoat ia made by ;on aluisc smiK< in (aligula, ;an haluis smiM< in #tho .ed. 0roo-3
Leslie 2476398, )) >>%3>2/. 0ut the synta* of the passage in :uestion is full of ambiguities and its
meanings hae been much debated .see Le Sau* 2484, 2473&%%F Ed"ards $%%$, 8>389/. Another
possible e*ample occurs in the early fifteenth'century +iddle English translation of Gui de
Warewic in (aius (ollege, (ambridge, +S 2%9. The te*t says that !uy ;girde him "ith his bronde,
I That "as made in eluyss~ londe< .ed. vupit=a 2886342, $$6F cf. the independent Auchinlec-
ersion, lines 687237$ of "hich hae the s"ord ;y'made in eluene lond<F ed. vupit=a 2886342,
$$$/. 0ut the ?rench original has ;Puis ad ceinte un espee I De faite fu en un isle faee< .;Then on
his "aist a s"ord I ,hich "as made on an other"orldly island<, lines 687439%F ed. E"ert 246$3
66, ) 228/, suggesting the sense ;other"orldly<. See also the later fifteenth'century translation, in
(ambridge Uniersity Library, +S ?f $.68, lines 2262>324F ed. vupit=a 289>397, 6$>3$7F cf.
lines 2$$$636$ in the ?renchF ed. E"ert 246$366, )) 279.
(hapter >A !losses
24>6, )) 48238$ Nno. >24&O/. The "ord occurs on folio 649 in a note to chapter >$ of
?ulgentius<s E31ositio Ser!onu! 'nti4uoru! ad Gra!!aticu! "alcidiu!, an
e*planation of the erb alucinare. Helm<s critical edition .249%, 2$&3$>/ gies
?ulgentius<s te*t as
Alucinare dicitur uana somniari tractum ab alucitas :uos nos conopes dicimus, sicut Petronius
Arbiter aitA ;5am centum uernali me alucitae molestabant<.
'lucinare N;to "ander in mind, spea- "hile in such a state<O
is said N"henO foolish things are
.day/dreamt. Deried from alucitae Nattested only in this passage, and assumed to hae the
meaning ;gnats, mos:uitos< implied hereO, "hich "e call cono1es Ni.e. eydghij, gnatsO. Thus
Petronius Arbiter affirmsA ;for a hundred alucitae "ould bother me in the spring<.
Ho"eer, Tunius 86<s te*t is rather different, and the :uotation from Petronius seriously
corrupt .ed. Steinmeyer3Sieers 2894324$$, )) 27$/A
alucinare dicitur uana somniare. tractum ab alucitis :uos cenopos dicimus. sicut petronius arbiter
ernalia m• in:uid m_ lucite molestabant. Hos !alli Eluesce "ehte uocant.
'lucinare is said NmeaningO ;to .day/dream foolish things<. Deried from alucitae, "hich "e call
ceno1os Nnot a real "ordO. Thus Petronius Arbiter said ;ernal things ... "ould bother<. The Galli
call these Nthe ceno1osO Eluesce wete Nælfisc beingsO.
Despite the proenance of the manuscript, there is no doubt that the term ;Eluesce "ehte<
is #ld English1apparently a late Dentish form.
The proenance of the gloss is
un-no"n, but it surely reflects te*tual transmission from Anglo'Sa*on England,
presumably of a glossed copy of the E31ositio1though "e admittedly hae no such
manuscript .see !neuss $%%2/. The attribution of the term to Galli has caused
pu==lement, since its most obious meaning, ;!auls<, ma-es little sense, as !auls ought
not to be spea-ing #ld English. Schlutter rather desperately suggested corruption of
RH_gliJ ;Angles< .24%9, 6%%/. Presumably, ho"eer, "e should understand Galli as the
homophone meaning ;emasculated priests of (ybele<.
An association of eluesce wete
"ith ecstatic pagan priests is semantically appropriate, and can plausibly be understood
as a distancing strategy, "hereby the glossator attributed the term eluesce wete to pagan
priests because he himself "as cautious of being seen to endorse it. )n ie" of the
association of ylfig "ith people futura 1raecinentes demonstrated aboe .not to mention
ælfe<s feminine associations/, the attribution is intriguingF but concluding that this gloss
refers to the terminology of some close e:uialent of the Galli in Anglo'Sa*on society
"ould be ris-y.
An apparently uni:ue ariant on alucinor, but doubtless of the same meaning.
The deelopment of wete "ould be Rwiti' J Rwioti' J Rweot' J wet' .Hogg 244$a, SS>.$&,
>.27%, >.$2%322/.
,#&, s.. Gallus
. (f. ;gallus .i. spado belisnud< .;GallusB i?e? a eunuc6 castrated</, glossing a
reference to the prototypical gallus, Attis, in line 648 of Prudentius<s .eriste1anon, boo- y .ed.
+eritt 24>4, &$/. This attestation can be added to &+#BS, s.. A Gallus.
(hapter >A !losses
#ur te*t, then, declares cono1es to be called Eluesce wete. Accordingly, Schlutter
too- it ;als altenglische benennnung NsicO f]r schna-en .eydghij/< .;as an #ld English
term for gnats .eydghij/<F 24%9, 6%%F tacitly follo"ed by the &,E, s.. ælfisc/. This
assumes, ho"eer, that the glossator "ho "rote Eluesce wete understood ceno1os as
;gnat<1"hich, een disregarding the corruption in Tunius 86, is optimistic. Since alucita
is uni:ue to this passage a glossator "ould hae had no help from thatF he may hae
-no"n material li-e the (orpus !lossary entry ;(onopeum . rete muscarum< .;mos:uito
netA flies< net<F ed. Lindsay 24$2a, &$ N(>62OF 0ischoff and others 2488, f. 29/, but it is
unli-ely that this "ould hae led him to diine the meaning of cono1s. The Harley
!lossary<s response to ?ulgentius<s te*t is instructieA ;(onopes .i. alucinaria< .;cono1es,
i.e. hallucinations</, "ith ;uana somniaria< interlinearly aboe .;foolish .day/dreams<F ed.
#liphant 2477, 2%4 N(2494OF collated "ith +S, f. &>r/.
This identifies cono1s, not
alucita, as the "ord re:uiring a gloss, and ta-es it to denote delusions and dreams rather
than mos:uitos. The gloss Eluesce wete probably interprets cono1s in the same "ay,
thus meaning something li-e ;delusory beingsF delusions<. That these products of the
mind are denoted by wite .;beings</ is no cause for surpriseA Anglo'Sa*ons did not
share our distinctions bet"een isions and corporeal beings, as numerous medieal
demonic and angelic isions suggest. So too does a remedy Wið dweorg .;against a
dweorgIfeer</, "hich includes a charm describing a ;"iht< treating the sufferer as its
;hLncgest< .ed. !rattan3Singer 24>$, 27%37$F see further belo", S7A6.& n. 296/.
Although the denotation of eluesce wete, then, is no" clear, the precise meaning of
its constituent "ords is more problematicA are eluesce wete ;beings li-e ælfe .i.e.
delusory beings/< or ;beings "ho are ælfe<@ This cannot be ans"ered conclusiely, but
some comparatie eidence sho"s that the #ld English usage is at any rate "ell'
paralleled. The collocation eluesce wete is "ell'paralleled by Bobert Semphill<s late
si*teenth'century inectie against Patric- Adamson, the bishop of St Andre"s, "hich
characterises him as ;Ane elphe, ane elasche incubus< .line 9F ed. (ranstoun 2842346, )
6>$/F but this still not ery informatie. The closest parallels are +iddle High !erman
.cf. !rimm3!rimm 247>3, s.. E#BEF Le*er 2874397, s.. el*isc/F they occur most
fully in B]diger on +unre<s prregang und Girregar, a fabliau probably of about 26%%
.ed. Hagen 28>%, ))) &638$/, in "hich a "oman, her daughter and their respectie loers
conince the "oman<s husband that his discoery of their adulterous antics is merely the
product of delusion by the eil spirits )rregang and !irregar, in a discourse characterised
by its use of el*isc .in lines 7&8, 46&, 2$%7, 262%/. At her husband<s first protestation,
the "ife says ;dich h€t geriten der mar, I Ein elbische¸ €s< .;the !ar Nnocturnal assailant,
'lucinaria and so!niaria seem to be neologisms, but are transparent secondary formations on
alucinare and so!niare.
(hapter >A !losses
normally female and feminine but here masculineF see further SS7A6.&, 9A2.2O has ridden
you, an el*isc spirit<, lines 7&73&9/. The husband responds .lines 7>%3>6/
NS•t,O da¸ h€t man on iu "‚ben,
S"enne uns mannen iht geschiht,
da¸ ir immer des Geht,
Uns .be/triege der alpY
dou seet +en al"ays get that from you
"omen, "heneer anything happens to us
men, you al"ays say thatç
the al1 is deluding usY
at "hich his "ife insists, ;dich =oumete I ein alp, d€ on dir troumete< .;an al1 put a
bridle on you, therefore you dreamt it<, lines 79>397/. ,hether "e should consider der
!ar to be ethnically el*isc or merely li-e an al1 is unclear, but the husband interprets
the phrase to imply that der al1 has deceied him1a conception of al1e earlier attested
in an eleenth' or t"elfth'century remedy ;Ad feminam :uam alb illudit< .;for a "oman
"hom an al1 deludes<F ed. Steinmeyer 2427, 68>/. The other attestations in prregang und
Girregar conform to these. They imply that "hile el*isc indeed meant ;haing the
character of an al1<, the characteristic "hich "as to the fore "as one of deluding people
"ith dreams.
The meaning ;delusory< is li-e"ise demanded by some +iddle English attestations. )
hae only one citation "hich has not been considered hitherto,
but it is :uite important.
)t occurs in a macaronic sermon of 2&$2, "hich declares that ;mundi honor est a sliper
Minge and an elich< .;"orldly glory is a treacerous and qelviso ting<F ed. Haines
2497, 4$/. The meanings of elvis here must reflect sermonisers< ie"s of !undi onor,
themseles also e*pressed by sli1er .;deceitful, false, treacherous<A +E&, s.. Sb/A
;delusory< is an obious candidate, correlating nicely "ith the #ld English and !erman
eidence. (urrent dictionary definitions of elvis do not clearly accommodate this. The
+iddle Englis &ictionary offers ;.a/ 0elonging or pertaining to the elesF possessing
supernatural s-ill or po"ersF .b/ mysterious, strangeF .c/ elf'li-e, other"orldly< .cf. &,E,
s.. ælfiscF ,E&, s.. elvis/. 0ut delusory also ma-es particularly good sense as a
translation of elvis in lines 9>2 and 8&$ of (haucer<s "anonos Yeo!anos 2ale, "hose
protagonist<s long and lamenting description of the deceptions "hich he and other
alchemists perpetrate mentions ;Oure eluysshe craft< and ;this eluysshe nyce loore’ (‘our
elvish art’, ‘this elvish, foolish learning’; ed. Benson 1987, 272, 274; this is also the
essence of Green’s reading: 2003, esp. 51–52). In Old English, ælfe’s association with
ailments involving fever and hallucination is clear, but there are no clear-cut attestations
of ælf or elf with a sense like ‘one who deludes’ to the fore,
so although ;elf'li-e<
0y the +E&, s.. elvisF ,E&, s..F &,S2, s.. Elvasce .also cited s.. Elrice, presumably by
mista-e/F and !reen, "ho added ;any elish godlinge<, used by Herod of Tesus in the (hester
mystery cycle .play 8, line 6$7F ed. Lumians-y3+ills 249&387, ) 29%F !reen $%%6, &&/.
(hapter >A !losses
might comprehend the usage of elvis in the sermon, it is probably better to accept that
elvis had a deeloped meaning, as ceorlisc did.
)t is clear from the +iddle English eidence that ælfisc had been part of the eeryday
le*icon. +oreoer, the e*tensie attestation and similar semantics of +iddle High
!erman el*isc suggest that it "as coined before the Anglo'Sa*on migrations. Despite
the challenges in reconstructing its precise connotations, ælfisc attests clearly to an
association of ælfe "ith causing hallucinations or delusions. )ts relationship "ith ylfig is
also of interest. )n theory, the t"o adGecties might hae e*isted in complementary
distribution, as ylfig is ,est Sa*onISouth',estern in form, "hereas our attestations of
ælfisc and elvis are from other dialects. Ho"eer, their different meanings suggest that
the t"o "ords e*isted side by side in #ld English, one denoting those affected by ælfe
.such as to gain prophetic speech/, the other denoting the delusory character of ælfe in
bringing about such states of mind. The later e*tension of elvis to denote those affected
as "ell as those affecting might partly reflect its replacement of a putatie +iddle
English refle* of ylfig.
3. Conclusions
The eidence of the glosses consolidates and elaborates the eidence considered in
chapters $36, and presents ne" :uestions. The use of forms of ælf to gloss "ords for
ny!1ae in t"o distinct te*tual traditions is consistent "ith my arguments for the
anthropomorphism of ælfe in early Anglo'Sa*on traditions, and also recalls ælf<s
association "ith .feminine/ beauty in the "ord ælfscyne. The grammatical feminisation
T"o possible e*amples come from (apgrae<s mid'fifteenth'century #ife of St Katarine of
'le3andriaF 0oo- 6, chapter >, line 6$9 and >.$8.27$4 in the Ba"linson +S .ed. Horstmann 2846,
24%, 64$F cf. 242 for Arundel/.
Another meaning again is attested in 2>6%, "hen Palsgrae<s #esclarcisse!ent de la langue
francoyse .ed. !cnin 28>$, 99&/ gies the phrases
) "a*e elysshe, nat easye to be dealed "ith. pe deuiens !al traicta*le Y He "a*eth so elysshe
no"e a dayes that ) dare nat medell "ith hymA il deuient si !al traicta*le tous les 7ours 4ue 7e ne
!e ose 1as !esler auec luy.
The earliest attestation of this meaning seems to be (haucer<s other use of elvis, "here Harry
0ailey claims in line 26 of the .rologue to Sir 2o1as that (haucer himself ;semeth eluyssh by his
contenaunce< .;seems from his e*pression to be elvis<F ed. 0enson 2489, $26/A (haucer portrays
himself as resered, to the point of being "ithdra"n .0urro" 244>/. This usage seems to sho"
elvis<s e*tension from a meaning li-e ;delusory, distracting< to a meaning li-e ;deluded,
distracted<. This may relate to the simple* elfA it is attested as a term of abuse and seems to be the
etymon of oaf, so it could mean ;elf'li-e< in these senses. These meanings of elf and a similar
meaning of el*isc occur in +iddle High !erman. 0ut both usages loo- li-e later deelopments.
(hapter >A !losses
of ælf as a gloss for ny!1a in the earlier glosses consolidates the arguments that ælf
specifically connoted males at this timeF by the eleenth century, ho"eer, ælf could
indeed denote females. E*plaining these patterns and deelopments "ill, as ) hae said,
hae to "ait for the assembly of other pertinent eidence later in this thesis. Alongside
this eidence for change "ith continuity, Beowulf<s demonisation of ælfe is also
paralleled, in the use of ælf around 8%% to gloss Satanas. This is the continuation of an
innoatie strand "hich, as ) discuss belo", "e can also see in the #ld English medical
te*ts, and "as to continue an uneasy co'e*istence "ith ælf<s traditional, positie
meanings, for many centuries.
The other eidence proided by glosses, being adGectial formations based on ælf,
helps us to establish other aspects of ælf<s meanings. Ylfig sho"s that ælfe, or their
predecessors, "ere at some point associated "ith causing prophetic speech. )ts eidence
proides a suggestie conte*t for interpreting the hints that a plant called ælfþone "as
deliberately eaten for its mind'altering effects, though the eidence here is e:uiocal.
Ælfisc also sho"s associations for ælf "ith causing hallucination. These "ords not only
foreshado" the eidence of the #ld English medical te*ts, but sho" that these
associations for ælfe could be assumed and utilised in :uite different -inds of discourse,
and so that they "ere "ell'established. )t is the medical te*ts "hich ) e*amine ne*t.
(hapter 7A +edical Te*ts
Chapter 3
Medical Te*ts
+edical te*ts comprise the #ld English genre "hich attests most often to ælf. As )
indicated in my introduction, the presence of ælf in these te*ts has been commented on
e*tensiely, and een been the focus of a boo- .Tolly 2447/1but a complete
reassessment is re:uired .S2A2/. The present chapter marshals the "ide range of eidence
proided by the medical te*tsA le*ical, te*tual, codicological and cultural. Presenting the
outcomes of these disparate approaches coherently is a serious challenge. A remedy may
be lin-ed to one other le*ically, to another by the history of its transmission, and another
again by its manuscript conte*tF and each of these may be under study in its o"n right.
(ompromising bet"een these approaches, ) hae grouped together the most important
cluster of te*ts le*ically1those containing the "ord ælfsiden1along "ith te*tual
relaties and a te*t containing the cognate "ord sidsa, as the final section of the chapter.
The other remedies are less entangled, and generally attest to ælf in uni:ue compound
"ords. These ) discuss in an order based on their manuscript attestations. ) hae accorded
Wið færstice a chapter of its o"n .ch. 8/A because of the comple*ity and importance of
this te*t, it demands separate treatment, the other, more prosaic, remedies proiding it
"ith one of seeral reading conte*ts.
) only touch, for lac- of space, on the association "ith illness of ælf<s cognates and
refle*es. +ost of the -no"n high medieal English eidence is referred to here, but by
no means fully discussedF medieal !erman eidence appears only occasionallyF and
post'medieal eidence less again. Ho"eer, it is important to appreciate that the
associations of ælfe "ith illness seem to be part of a "ider and presumably older
tradition. The eidence is mainly ,est !ermanicA medieal Scandinaian counterparts1
despite the "ealth of )celandic saga'eidence1are rare and may hae !erman origins,
the e*tensie attestations in later fol-lore .on "hich see for e*ample Lid 24$2F cf. Hon-o
24>4/ reflecting the spread of !erman culture through the Hanseatic league.
?or !erman see Schul=<s recent analyses of the "or1us der deutscen Segen und
Bescw)rungsfor!aln .$%%%/F also HEfler 2844, s.. 'l1, El*e, cf. s.. +arF Hol=mann $%%6, $93
6%F cf. Ed"ards 244&. The t"o certain Scandinaian references "hich ) -no" are to %lfavolkun
.;illness inflicted by alfar<F &,-., s.. alfaDvçlkun/ in an )celandic te*t and the last remedy in a
si*teenth'century S"edish medical te*t ;?or elff"er< .ed. Dlemming 2886387, 64&34>/. See also,
ho"eer, ch. 9. 0oyer claimed, "ithout giing a reference, that ;une Y croi* de plomb porte une
conGuration sans c:uio:ueA contra el1os ec in 1lu!*o scrive NsicO< .;one Y lead cross bears an
une:uiocal charmA inscri*e tis in lead against zel1i{ <F 2487, 22632&F cf. Lecouteu* 2449,
2$>/. 0ut he seems to hae meant a lead plate from #dense, bearing a te*t "hich has a !erman
manuscript ersion. #f these, only the manuscript says ;contra elphos hec in plumbo scribe<
.Kulturistorisk leksikon for nordisk !iddelalder, s.. Blykors/F "hether this "as the intended
(hapter 7A +edical Te*ts
E*cluding the Boyal Prayerboo-, considered aboe .S>A2/, t"o Anglo'Sa*on medical
manuscripts attest to ælf. ) hae discussed 0L Harley >8> aboe regarding Wið færsticeF
ælf occurs there once other"ise. 0L Boyal 2$ D. *ii contains the collections -no"n as
Baldos #eec*ook .in t"o boo-s/ and #eec*ook ppp. The manuscript is handsome if
plain, "ritten by the scribe "ho .amongst other things/ "rote the batch of annals for
4$>3>> in the Par-er (hronicle.
This suggests that the manuscript "as produced at
,inchester in the mid'tenth century, the political bias of the (hronicle entries
consolidating the obious assumption of affiliations to Ding Edmund<s court .cf.
Do"nham $%%6, 62/. Some of the contents of 0ald<s Leechboo-, ho"eer, sho"
associations "ith the court of Alfred the !reat, and +eaney argued that ;almost
certainly, too, the original fair copy Y "ould hae been produced in a ,inchester
scriptorium, during Alfred<s reign< .248&, $67F cf. 2498F ,right 24>>, 29328F Pratt $%%2,
74392/. 0ald<s Leechboo- is impressiely "ell'organised, much of its content translated
from Latin, putting it at the cutting edge of early medieal ,estern medicine .see
(ameron 2446, &$3&>, 99344/. The other te*t, Leechboo- ))), e*hibits less Latin
influence, and so may reflect traditional Anglo'Sa*on medicine better, though this does
not mean1as (ameron thought1that it is an earlier collection .(ameron 2446, 6>3&$/.
There is no modern published edition of Boyal 2$ D.*ii, and since facsimiles are as
accessible as (oc-ayne<s edition .287&377/, "here folio references are easily found, )
cite from ,right<s facsimile of Boyal 2$ D.*ii .24>>F cf. Doane 244&b, no. $48/. ) hae
ta-en the usual editorial liberties of e*panding abbreiations and normalising "ord'
separation. All of these medical collections dre" on earlier material, and all share
material to a certain e*tentF
some of this is attested in manuscript as early as the second
half of the ninth century .+eaney 248&, $&63&>F (ameron 2446, 62/, and much may in
origin be older.
1. The elf-shot conspirac!. 4ald,s Leechbook II/ f. 153r./ Gif ho rs
o f s coten sie
Ælf occurs in 0ald<s Leechboo- in three remedies. #ne, from 0oo- ), uses ælfsiden and
is accordingly considered belo" .S7A6.&/. The others both occur in section 7>, occurring
to"ards the end of the te*t on folios 2%7a32%8a. #ne of these is our uni:ue attestation of
sidsa and is, again, considered "ith ælfsiden .S7A6.7/. Section 7> is marginal to 0ald<s
function of the #dense inscription is not clear.
See ,right 24>>, 2$3$9F cf. Der 24>9, 66$366 Nno. $7&OF +eaney 248&, $>%3>2F (ameron
2446, 6%362.
See especially +eaney 248&, though, understandably for a pioneering study, she missed seeral
te*tual interrelationships "hich are identified here.
(hapter 7A +edical Te*ts
Leechboo-, and ) thin- "as probably added after 0ald<s original compilationA at least one
of the remedies seems to be oral in origin, the oft'noted ;lLcedom dun tLhte< .;remedy
"hich Dun taught<F f. 2%7/, "hile the first remedy of the section, Gif ors ofscoten sie,
seems to be for the same ailment as Gif ors sie ofscoten oþþe oþer neat in the last
section of 0oo- ) of 0ald<s Leechboo-, section 84 .f. >8r/1but it "as characteristic of
the compiler of 0ald<s Leechboo- to include such related remedies together .cf. +eaney
248&, esp. $>%3>2F (ameron 2446, 8$386/. T"o more sections follo" before the end of
the boo-, but these are not remediesA 77 lists the properties of agate, and 79 information
about measurements. The remedies of section 7> are listed in the contents list to 0oo- ))
on folio 7&A
LLcedom gif hors sie ofscoten ¯ "iM ut"Lrce . ¯ gif utgang forseten sie . ¯ "iM lenctenadle . eft
"iM ut"Lrce ¯ "iM unlybbum ¯ "iM MLre geol"an adle ¯ gif men sie fLrlice yfele ¯ to
gehealdanne lichoman hLlo ¯ "iM gicMan ¯ Llue ¯ "iM londadle ¯ gongel"Lfran bite . ¯ "iK
utsihte ¯ heafodsealfa .
Bemedy for if a horse is ofscotenF and one for @dysenteryF and one if e*crement is obstructedF
and one for lenctenadlF another for @dysenteryF and one for unly**anF and one for the yello"
ailmentF and one if the sudden eil be upon a personF and one to -eep the body healthyF and one
for scabs Nperhaps an ailment such as psoriasisOF and Nagainst anO ælfF and one for londadlF and
one NforO spider<s biteF and for @dysentery Nat any rate, some bo"el disorderOF and head'sales.
Tolly considered these ailments an ;odd collection< .2447, 2>23>& at 2>&/, though, as so
often "ith other cultures< miscellaneous'loo-ing categorisations, the ailments in this one
may be more coherent than at first they seem.
)t is the first remedy in section 7>, Gif ors ofscoten sie, on folio 2%7r, that concerns
us hereA
!if hors ofscoten sie. 5im Monne MLt sea* Me MLt hLfte sie fealo hryMeres horn { sien .))). Lrene
nLglas on. ,rit Monne Mam horse on Mam heafde foran cristes mLl MLt hit blede . ,rit Monne on
Mam hricge cristes mLl { on leoMa geh"ilcum Me Mu Ltfeolan mLge. 5im Monne MLt "inestre
eare Murh sting s"igende. his Mu scealt don. genim ane girde sleah on MLt bLc Monne biM MLt hors
The fact that wiþ is absent before ælf might indicate that that remedy "as ie"ed to be for a
more specific form of gicða, an interpretation also inited by the fact that the beginning of the
remedy wið gicþan on folio 2%9 is set into the margin and the beginning of the follo"ing
remedies are not. Ho"eer, these might respectiely result from stylistic ariation and the fact that
the remedy wið gicþan happened to start on a ne" line, "hereupon the scribe of Boyal 2$ D. *ii
set the first into the margin as a matter of course.
Ælf may, indeed, be a connecting feature. #f the fifteen remedies listed, three concern bo"el
problems and one Gaundice1itself associated "ith internal pains .see S7A$.$/1"hile gif ors
ofscoten sie, "hich mentions ælfe, also concerns internal pains .S7A2/. Another is against an ælf
.see S7A6.7/, "hile cutaneous ailments .cf. gicðan/ are associated "ith ælfe .S7A$.6/. Bemedies
against a spider<s bite closely follo" a series on feers, madness and demonic and magical
afflictions including ælfsiden in 0oo- ) of 0ald<s Leechboo- .ff. >%3>&r, nos >9378F see further
belo", S7A6.&/. Although lungenadl is not else"here associated "ith ælf, it is incorrectly listed in
the contents as lenctenadl, "hich is .S7A6.&, cf. S>A>/. These latter issues relate fairly closely to the
beneficial properties of Get as described in the follo"ing section, "hile, as Ditson pointed out, the
only remedy in the #ld English medical te*ts to prescribe Get occurs in section 7>, in the remedy
Wið ælfe .2484, 7%372/.
(hapter 7A +edical Te*ts
hal. { a"rit on MLs sea*es horne Mas "ord. 0enedicite omnia opera domini dominum. Sy MLt
ylfa Me him sie Mis him mLg to bote.
)f a horse is badly pained NofscotenO. Ta-e then a dagger "hose haft is of fallo"'o*<s horn and in
"hich there are three brass nails. ,riteIinscribe on the horse, on the forehead, (hrist<s mar-, so it
bleeds. ,riteIinscribe then (hrist<s mar- on the spine and on each of the limbs "hich you can
Then ta-e the left ear, pierce it in silence. This shall you doA ta-e a staffF stri-e on the
bac-F then the horse "ill be "ell. And "riteIinscribe on the dagger<s handle these "ordsA *less
all te works of te #ord of lords. Should it be ælfe<s, "hich is on it Nthe horseO, this "ill do as a
remedy for it Nthe horseO.
Historiographically, this remedy is crucial, as it had prompted most of the identifications
of ;elf'shot< in our #ld English corpus. Despite its obious title, Gif ors ofscoten sie,
gien here and in the contents list, this remedy "as entitled Wið ylfa gescot by !rendon
.24%4, $%834/ and Wiþ ylfa gescotu! by Storms .24&8, $&83&4/. +oreoer, the first
clause, for "hich ) suggest the literal translation ;if a horse is badly pained<, "as
translated by !rendon as ;if a horse is elf'struc-<, by Storms as ;if a horse is elf'shot<,
and, circumspectly but in accordance "ith this tradition, by Tolly as ;if a horse is NelfO
shot NofscotenO< .2447, 2>$/. This translation has entered the dictionaries .0os"orth3
Toller 2848F (lar- Hall 247%, s.. ofsceotan/. As ) hae discussed else"here, ho"eer,
these readings derie from a misunderstanding of (oc-ayne<s translation ;if a horse is elf
shot< .287&377, )) $42/A (oc-ayne<s glossary entry for ofscoten sho"s he meant this as an
idiomatic rendering meaning ;dangerously distended by greedy deouring of green food<
.287&377, )) &%2, cf. $42 n. 2F Hall forthcoming NcO, S$/.
Thun, stating "hat other scholars imply, deduced that ;the mention of ylfa ma-es it
seem li-ely that the eles "ere thought to be those "ho "ere shooting< .2474, 68>/. This
inference is predicated on the idea that ofsceotan connotes the shooting of missiles, for
"hich "e must posit a source. Ho"eer, although sceotan literally denotes thrusting or
shooting, later in English it had specific medical meanings along the lines of ;to afflict,
cause painF hae darting pains< .+E&, s.. s;ten S7bF ,E&, s.. soot, v. S).>, sooting
S6F cf. HEfler 2844, s.. sciessen on !erman parallels/F the prefi* of' "ould simply hae
an intensifying force. This putatie meaning is not other"ise clearly paralleled in the #ld
English medical te*ts, though Leechboo- ))) and Harley >8> share a remedy ;"iK
sceotendum "enne< .;against a sceotend gro"th<F ed. !rattan3Singer 24>$, 2&8F cf.
Leechboo- ))), section 6%F ed. ,right 24>>, f. 229r/, "hich seems li-ely to attest to
sceotan in a similar sense, unless it is a ery early attestation of the sense ;to sprout, to
spring forth< .+E&, s.. seten S$bF &,S2, s.. scute S).7/. As (oc-ayne realised, Gif
ors ofscoten sie almost certainly concerns internal pains rather than a proGectile "ound,
actual or metaphorical.
#n this translation see Hall forthcoming NcO, n. 7 .contra &,E, s.. æt<f;olan S6a, follo"ing
instead S2/.
(hapter 7A +edical Te*ts
)t is the last sentence of the remedy, of course, "hich actually mentions ælfe,
proiding the only support for reading ;elf'shot< into the te*t. ;Sy MLt ylfa Me him sie Mis
him mLg to bote< is a rather conoluted sentence, "hich has hitherto been mistranslated.
(oc-ayne offered ;0e the elf "hat it may, this is mighty for him to amends< .287&377, ))
$42/. This implies that an ælf, "hich might be one of arious sorts, is someho" assailing
the horse. Subse:uent commentators hae basically follo"ed (oc-ayne. !rendon
translated ;0e the elf "ho he may, this "ill suffice as a cure for him< .24%4, $%4/ and
Singer ;0e the elf "ho he may, this has po"er as a remedy< .24243$%, 6>8/. Storms "ent
further, offering ;,hateer elf has ta-en possession of it, this "ill cure him< .24&8, $&4/.
+ost recently, Tolly improed on (oc-ayne<s handling of ;Me him sie< "ith the more
conseratie translation ;,hateer elf is on him, this can be a remedy for him< .2447,
2>$/. Ho"eer, these translations mishandle the first part of the sentence. The main
clause of the sentence .;Mis him mLg to bote</ is hard to render idiomatically in English
because of the usage of !agan, but its meaning is not in doubtA ;this "ill do for it Nthe
horseO as a remedy<. 0ut the subordinate clause .;Sie MLt ylfa Me him sie</ confused
(oc-ayne, and a complete reanalysis is necessary.
(i! "ould naturally be ta-en to refer to the indirect obGect of the sentence, as it does
in the main clause .as in ;this is mighty for i! to amends</, "hile clause'initial
subGuncties li-e sy .the third person singular present subGunctie of wesan ;to be</ "ere
used in inerted conditional clauses to e*press uncertainty .cf. ;be he alie or deadY<F
+itchell 248>, )) SS679838%/. This suggests the reading ;be þæt ylfa, "hich may be on it
Nthe horseO, this "ill do as a remedy for it Nthe horseO<. Similar constructions found by
searching the electronic &ictionary of ,ld Englis "or1us are ;gif hyt Monne sy MLt sio
"amb sy aMundeno, scearfa Konne Ma "yrte ¯ lege on Ma "ambe< .;)f it should then be
that the stomach is s"ollen, scrape those plants and lay NthemO on the stomach<F ed.
Uriend 248&, 68/ and ;sy MLt sar MLr hit sy, smite mon Ka sealfe Lrest on MLt heafod<
.;0e the pain "here it may, one should smear the sale first on the head<F ed. !rattan3
Singer 24>$, 22$/ from the medical te*ts, and from the la"s U Zthelstan, ;{ gif hit sy
Kegen Ke hit do, sy MLt ilce< .;and if it be a thegn "ho does it, be that NpunishmentO
li-e"ise<F ed. Liebermann 24%6327, ) 278/.
(oc-ayne Gustified his reading "ith the rather obscure note, ;the construction as in )c hit eom, p
a! eF combined "ith the partitie, as H"ilc hLleKa, wat ero< .287&377, )) $42 n. $/. This
eidently aims to elucidate Sie þæt ylfa, but the biggest problem "ith (oc-ayne<s reading is his
rendering of ;Me him sie< as ;"hat it may<. )t might be possible to ta-e i! in Sy þæt ylfa þe i! sie
refle*iely to refer to the subGect .see +itchell 248>, ) SS$9239&/, producing a literal rendering
along the lines of ;0e that NcreatureO of ælfe, "hich he may in himself be<, but e*tracting such a
sense is tortuous, and the parallels aailable dubious.
(hapter 7A +edical Te*ts
The subGect of the conditional clause must be þæt.
(oc-ayne tried to e*plain þæt
ylfa as a partitie genitie .a construction along the lines of ;one of the ælfe</, but ælf is
masculine and þæt is neuter ."e "ould hae e*pected RRsie e ylfaF 287&377, )) $42 n. $/.
He therefore sought a parallel for reading the neuter pronoun to refer to the masculine
ylfa in the construction ;ic hit eom<. This e*ample seems of dubious releance, but
(oc-ayne<s interpretation might be iable insofar as neuter demonstraties are
occasionally used of grammatically masculine nouns "ith ase*ual denotees .+itchell
248>, ) S78/, in "hich case ælfe "ere ie"ed as ase*ual in this te*t. 0ut it is more
plausible to ta-e þæt to refer to the illness "ith "hich the horse is afflicted .as is
unambiguously the case in sy þæt sar þær it sy, "here the antecedent sar is restated/,
"ith ylfa as a straightfor"ard possessie genitieA ;)f that NailmentO be ælfe<s, "hich is on
it Nthe horseO, this "ill do as a remedy for it Nthe horseO<.
Therefore, the last sentence, that "hich mentions ælfe, opens "ith a conditional
clause, sho"ing that ælfe are not necessarily inoled in the illness at all. The remedy
implies only that the ailment might in some "ay belong to ælfe, and adocates an e*tra
measure for use if this is the case. This interpretation is further supported by the fact that
the final part of the remedy, ;{ a"rit on MLs sea*es horne Mas "ord. 0enedicite omnia
opera domini dominum. Sy MLt ylfa Me him sie Mis him mLg to bote< is not integral to it.
The remedy is completed "ith the stri-ing of the horse, after "hich "e are told ;Monne
biM MLt hors hal< .;Then the horse "ill be "ell</, a closing'formula in the te*ts .see
(ameron 2446, &%/. The follo"ing note, mentioning ælfe, is an addition. This is
supported by the e*istence of three remedies for gescoten horses "hich do not mention
Seeral preious commentators, ho"eer, dre" the opposite conclusion, Thun
again ma-ing his inferences e*plicitA
haing concluded that the ofscoten horse had
been shot by ;eles< in the te*t "hich mentions them, he deduced that
the term gescoten in #acnunga is a synonym of ofscoten in #æce*oc. )f "e accept eles as being
the shooting spirits in the t"o passages in #æce*oc Y it "ill seem highly probable that they "ere
thought of as shooting also in #acnunga.
Ylfa can, if declining regularly, only be a genitie plural. Een if it sho"s the same transference
to the feminine 9'stem declension as the form dunælfa .see aboe, S>.$.6/, a plural could not be
the subGect of the singular erb, "hich is, in any case, intransitie, leaing no function for þæt if
ylfa "ere to be ta-en as the subGect. Transference to the "ea- declension, attested by the eleenth
century, ta-ing þæt to be in concord "ith ylfa cannot plausibly be supposed in literary early ,est
0ald<s Leechboo- ) no. 88 .ed. ,right 24>>, f. >8/, te*tually related to #acnunga no. 228, f.
292r .ed. !rattan3Singer 24>$, 278/F and #acnunga no. 27&, ff. 28$3286r .ed. !rattan3Singer
24>$, 28&387/. See further Hall forthcoming NcO, S$.
2474, 686F cf. Storms 24&8, $>%F !rendon 24%4, 27&F !rattan3Singer 24>$, 28>F Tolly 2447, 2,
2&6F cf. Hall forthcoming NcO, S$.
(hapter 7A +edical Te*ts
Subse:uently, arious other te*ts including neither ælf nor sceotan hae, at times, been
identified as remedies for ;eles<, helping the idea of ;elf'shot< and other malicious
actions by ;eles< to spread through the corpus .e.g. Storms 24&8, $>&3>>F 0onser 2476,
27%372, 76/. 0ut this reasoning is inertedA the absence of ælf in all these te*ts militates
against ælfe<s general presence, not for it.
,hat, then, can "e infer from Gif ors ofscoten sie about the meanings of ælf@ A
redactor of the remedy thought that one possible cause of a horse being ofscoten might be
ælfe. Ho" the ælfe might hae caused this is not attested. 0ut ælf is associated "ith past
participles "ith similar senses to those "hich ) hae argued for ofscoten later in English,
in #lder Scots and in +artin Luther<s !erman. 0et"een them, +iddle English and #lder
Scots hae the compounds elf<scot, elf<taken, elue<ino!e and elf<gri11it.
This type of
compound "as not ery common in #ld English but became common from the +iddle
English period on"ards .(arr 2464, $%>39F +archand 2474, S$.$6.$/. #f the attested
possibilities, the force of the determiner elf' here is almost certainly the usual one,
suggesting the subGect of the erb from "hich the generic is formedA an elf sot a !an ƒ
an elf<sot !an .see +archand 2474, S$.$6F cf. (arr 2464, 6&%/. The second elements all
seem broadly to mean ‘seized with pain’, each compound thus meaning something like
‘afflicted with a seizure or internal pain caused by elves’.
The past participle elf-schot
is first attested in English in two groups of Scottish witchcraft trials, from 1650 and
1716, once more concerning livestock. Here, projectiles of some description do seem to
have been envisaged as the vector of the illness, but these may show a secondary
development (Hall forthcoming [d]). Meanwhile, according to Luther’s Tischreden (ed.
Kroker 1912–21, III 131 [no. 2982b]),
Multa saepe dixit Lutherus de fascinatione, von herzgespan und elbe, et quomodo mater sua
vexata esset a vicina fascinatrice, ita ut coacta esset eam reverendissime tractare et conciliare,
den sie schoß ihre kinder, daß sich zu tode schrien.
Luther spoke very often about witchcraft, about pains in the diaphragm and ‘elbe’, and how his
mother had been troubled by a neighbouring witch, so that she had been forced to treat her very
respectfully and to conciliate her, because she ‘scho ’ her children, so that they screamed β
themselves half to death.
In addition to its collocation with schiessen here, alp appears alongside another word
denoting an ailment sensed in the torso and literally called ‘heart-strain’. Though this
could be a common innovation or a loan, this text suggests that the collocation of ælf
with sceotan and internal pain derives from the shared culture of West Germanic-
+E&, s.. elf, t ken ā §2b; DOST, s.v. elfF elf<gri11it is ed. Pitcairn 1833, I 53; cf. Thomas 2496,
9$> for fairy<taken.
Hall forthcoming [d]; MED, s.v. t ken ā §2b; OED, s.v. take, v. §I.7; DOST, s.v. Grip §1b.
(hapter 7A +edical Te*ts
speakers. It also raises the prospect that although ælfe might make a horse ofscoten, they
might themselves have been acting for another party.
Whatever the case, Gif hors ofscoten sie seems to be an early attestation of a linguistic
tradition which was to have a long life in English, associating ælfe with causing internal
pains. The association is also, as I discuss below regarding the compound ælfsogoða
(§6:2.2), attested elsewhere in the Old English medical texts. But precisely how ælfe
were involved in making a horse ofscoten is neither indicated by the remedy, nor,
reliably, by its later analogues.
". (ther æl f -ailments. Leechbook III/ ff. 1"$a6"0v
Leechboo- ))) is mar-edly more concerned "ith diabolical threats, ailments "hose names
contain ælf, and "hat Tolly termed ;mind'altering afflictions<, than 0ald<s Leechboo-.
These matters dominate sections >&378 .ff. 2$$32$9r/. Ælf also occurs in Leechboo- )))
in the compound ælfsiden in section &2, but ) consider this separately belo" .S7A$.$/.
,ithin this se:uence are three contiguous sections, 72376, respectiely concerning
ælfcynn, ælfadl .apparently comprehending ælfsogoða/ and wæterælfadl, as the contents
list on folio 22% describesA
.Ly). ,iM Llfcynne sealf { "iM nihtgengan . ¯ Mam monnum Me deofol mid hLmK. Ly)). ,iM
Llfadle lLcedom { eft hu mon sceal on Ma "yrte singan Lr hi mon nime { eft hu mon sceal Ma
"yrta don under "eofod { ofer singan . ¯ eft tacnu be Mam h"LMer hit sie LlfsogoMa ¯ tacn hu
Mu ongitan meaht h"LMer hine mon mLg gelacnian { drencas { gebedu "iM Llcre feondes
costunge. Ly))) . Tacnu hu Mu meaht ongitan h"LMer mon sie on "LterLlfadle . ¯ lLcedom "iM
Mam { gealdor on to singanne { MLt ilce mon mLg singan on "unda.
72. A sale against ælfcynn and against a nitgenga, and for people "hom the deil has se* "ith.
7$. A remedy against ælfadlF and also ho" one must sing oer the plants before one pic-s themF
and also ho" one must put those plants under an altar and sing oer themF and also signs "hereby
None can tellO if it is .an/ ælfsogoðaF and signs by "hich you can tell "hether one can remedy it,
and drin-s and prayers against eery tribulation of the Enemy.
76. Signs by "hich you can tell
if a person is suffering wæterælfadl, and a remedy against it and a charm to sing oer itF and one
can sing the same oer "ounds.
The first remedy, Wiþ ælfcynne, does not mention ælfsiden, but is te*tually related to
remedies "hich do, so this too ) consider belo" .S7A6.>/. The contents list associates the
The &ictionary of ,ld Englis gies ;temptations of the Deil< for feondes costunga in the
medical te*ts .s.. feond S6.a.iF cf. s.. costung S$.b.ii/. (ertainly ;temptation< fits the meaning of
feondes costung in most of its occurrences, "hich are from homiletic and other primarily didactic
literature, but, as +eaney has argued .244$, 29328/, this translation seems out of place in the
medical te*ts, since there is no suggestion that the remedies see- to cure temptation to sin. )t seems
more appropriate in this conte*t to adopt the translation ;test, trial, tribulation< "hich the
&ictionary of ,ld Englis also offers for costung .S2/. 8eondes costung, then, is for our purposes
the ;tribulation of the EnemyI?iendIDeil<. )t occurs in three ælf'remedies, and in three besides
"here, ho"eer, its associations tend to be too general to be illuminating.
(hapter 7A +edical Te*ts
ælf'ailments here "ith diabolical harm, and specifically feondes costunga, but the
distinctions dra"n in the passage also imply that the t"o things "ere ie"ed as at least
potentially different. The phenomena "hich seem to be associated particularly "ith ælf
in these sections are nocturnal assaults by supernatural beings, internal pains and
cutaneous ailments or "ounds.
2#1 Ælfadl
?rom the remedy Wiþ ælfcynne, Leechboo- ))) proceeds to describe three comple*
procedures ;UiK Llfadle<. As Tolly emphasised, these include liturgical elements, and
their comple*ity attests to the potential seriousness of ælfadl .2447, 2>437>/F but they
contain no further eidence for the nature of ælfe. (ameron claimed that ;ælfadl ... for
reasons already gien, appears to hae designated cutaneous eruptions of arious -inds<
.2446, 2>>/, but ) hae not found those ;reasons gien< in any of his "or-sA rather, the
remedies offer no hints as to "hat clinical conditions ælfadl might denote. Linguistic
perspecties are more enlightening. 'dl "as a generic term for illness .&,E, s..F
Boberts3Day3!rundy $%%%, ) %$.%8.%$/F of the possible semantic relationships bet"een
the elements of ælfadl .see +archand 2474, SS$.$.432&, $.632>F (arr 2464, 6$2364/,
much the li-eliest is the common English pattern "hereby the generic results from the
determiner .see +archand 2474, S$.$.2&.6.23$F (arr 2464, 6$63$&/A thus ælfadl is
probably simply a generic term, denoting any adl caused by an ælf or ælfe. There is no
eidence that the "ord "as a bahurihi compound, its oerall meaning diorced from
that suggested by its constituent elements .as in *odice<ri11er ;a romantic historical
2#2 Ælfsogoða
Among the remedies for ælfadl, ho"eer, are ;tacnu be Mam h"LMer hit sie LlfsogoMa<
.;signs by "hich Nto -no"O "hether it is ælfsogoða</. This suggests that ælfsogoða "as a
type of ælfadlF it must also hae been a type of sogoða. Ælfsogoða has pu==led
le*icographersF the &ictionary of ,ld Englis .s.. ælfsogeða/ offers ;disease thought to
hae been caused by supernatural agency, perhaps anaemia<, repeating an inference in
!eldner<s 5ntersucungen Ru ae? Krankeitsna!en of 24%8.
0ut, as ) hae discussed
else"here, sogoða itself denoted internal pains.
+oreoer, the unusually specific
(f. Thun 2474, 688 n. 2. (lar- Hall 247%, s.. ælfsogoða, did considerably better, giing
;hiccough .thought to hae been caused by eles/<.
Hall forthcoming NcO, S6F cf. 0os"orth3Toller 2848, s.. sogoþaF +E&, s..F (lar- Hall 247%,
s.. sogeða.
(hapter 7A +edical Te*ts
description of symptoms by "hich an ælfsogoða can be identified almost certainly
include Gaundice, and since the causal association of Gaundice "ith lier, pancreas and
bile duct problems tends to associate it "ith internal pain and digestie distress .Schiff
24&7, $243$2, cf. 2$&3$9, 299/, the symptoms of ælfsogoða are consistent "ith these
semantics .Hall forthcoming NcO, S6F cf. +eaney 244$, $%/. Ælfsogoða, then, surely
denoted internal pains .possibly of some specific sort/ caused by ælfe. As such, it
compares eminently "ell "ith later English elf'compounds. ) hae mentioned elf<scot,
elf<taken, elue<ino!e and elf<gri11it aboe .S7A2/F "e may add the +iddle English noun
elf<cake and the #lder Scots noun elf<scot. Elf<cake, a te*tual ariant of elf<taken, seems
to denote pains "ithin the torso .+E&, s.. elf, cake S6bF ,E&, s.. elf, n.
/. The noun
elf<scot, first attested in the last :uarter of the si*teenth century, has long been ta-en to
imply supernatural proGectiles, but ) hae sho"n else"here that it probably also meant
;sudden sharp pain caused by elvis<, reflecting a "idely'attested meaning of scot.
That ælfsogoða did connote the inolement of ælfe, as its literal meaning "ould
suggest, is sho"n by a Latin charm in one of the remedies, "hich begins ;Deus
omnipotens pater domini nostri Gesu cristi. per )npositGonem huius scriptura e*pelle a
famulo tuo . 5#+E5 . #mnem )mpetuum castalidum< .;!od almighty, father of our lord
Tesus (hrist, through the application of this "riting e*pel from your serant, 5A+E, eery
attac- of castalides</. As ) hae discussed aboe .S>A$.2/, castalides here seems certainly
to denote ælfe through an adaptation of the use of dunælfa to gloss castalidas ny!1as,
and it is sti-ing that the e*orcism sho"s such care to specify ælfe in Latin rather than
simply demonising them "ith dae!ones or dia*oli. This charm has also been ta-en as
eidence that ælfe might possess the afflicted person, the charm being seen as an
e*orcism .e.g. 0os"orth3Toller 2848, s.. ælf<sogoðaF Tolly 2447, 27637&/. This reading
is possible but not re:uiredA ;)mpetuum castalidum< could here mean any sort of attac-
.including magical ones/. )t seems to hae been inferred from a second charm, follo"ing
shortly after .0os"orth3Toller 2848, s.. ælf<sogoða/A ;Deus omnipotens pater domini
nostri Gesu cristi per )npositionem huius scriptura et per gustum huius e*pelle diabolum a
famulo tuo .5.< .;!od almighty, father of our lord Tesus (hrist, through the application of
this "riting and through its tasting, e*pel the Deil from your serant, 5NA+EO</. This
presupposes diabolical possession. 0ut the i!1etus castalidu! and diabolical possession
could hae been accorded separate charms precisely because they "ere distinct.
Hall forthcoming NdOF &,S2, s.. scot S$F cf. +E&, s.., S&e, cf. S&dF ,E&, s.. sot, n.
S).2.bF Le*er 2874397, s.. gesc|R, scuRF HEfler 2844, s.. ScossF SEder"all 288&32428, s..
skut S6F cf. Schul= $%%%, 9$38$.
(hapter 7A +edical Te*ts
2#3 Wæterælfadl
The last in Leechboo- )))<s se:uence of ælf'remedies, section 76, declares itself to be
;!if mon biM on "LterLlfadl< .;if a person is suffering from wæterælfadl .literally fluid'
ælf'ailment/<F f. 2$>r/. 5o semantic information is afforded for wæterælfadl by "ay of
synonyms. )t, li-e ælfsogoða, "as probably a hyponym of ælfadl, being accorded a
separate section simply because the section on ælfadl had gro"n so long. 0ut "e do hae
some idea about "hat ailment.s/ wæterælfadl denoted. As (ameron emphasised,
wæterælfadl might be understood in t"o "aysA as wæterælf<adl or as wæter<ælfadl
.2446, 2>>/. The first interpretation "ould imply an ailment caused by a particular
species of ælf .;"ater'ælfe</F the second a specific ariety of ælfadl .presumably
inoling symptoms associated "ith fluids/. 0oth interpretations can be supported by
reference to other compoundsA wæterælfen occurs in the ælfen glosses .S>A6.2/F ælfadl
has Gust been discussed, "hile the use of wæter' as a modifier in #ld English "ords for
illnesses is "ell'attested .cf. 0os"orth3Toller 2848, s.. wæteradl, wæter*olla,
wæterge*læd, wæterseocnes/. +ost commentators hae read wæterælf'adl.
0ut the
aailable eidence suggests that wæter<ælfadl, supported by 0onser .2476, 27$376/ and
apparently (ameron .2446, &2/, is much the more plausible alternatie.
) hae sho"n that the arious compounds combining ælfen "ith topographical terms
are almost certainly ad oc formations, and that this is probably the case for ælfen itself
.S>A6.$/. Admittedly, the mention of castalides in the Latin charm against ælfsogoða
emphasises the potential for glosses to influence Anglo'Sa*on physicians, but supposing
that the gloss wæterælfen influenced the "ord wæterælfadl is rather far'fetched in ie"
of other compounds of wæter' "ith "ords denoting ailments. There is also some rather
tangential early +iddle English eidence for associating ælfe "ith bodies of "ater .see
Ed"ards $%%$/, but wæter<ælfadl remains much better paralleled, and it is most unli-ely
that "e should enisage an Anglo'Sa*on tradition of wæterælfe. Wæterælfadl must be
considered another hyponym of ælfadl.
The remedy seems to cater for some cutaneous disorder, since it seems to prescribe a
poultice for application to "hat in a charm it calls *enne, dol and wund .;"ounds<, ;cut,
"ound, tumour< and ;a "ound, sore, ulcer</F it may be possible to associate these
specifically "ith chic-en'po* or measles .(ameron 2446, 2>&3>>/. )f so, this could
proide a basis for arguing that wæterælfadl is a bahurihi compound, any associations
"ith ælfe being forgottenF but, as "ith ælfsogoða, certain symptoms may simply hae
e.g. 0os"orth3Toller 2848, s.. wæterælf<adl, amended in (ampbell 249$ to wæterælfadl, s..F
Dobbie 24&$, c***iF Tente 24$2, 278F Tolly 2447, 26&, 2>9F Schneider 2474, $4>, 6%%32F Storms
24&8, 27%372.
(hapter 7A +edical Te*ts
been ta-en as diagnostic of ailments caused by ælfe. +oreoer, there is later and
comparatie eidence "hich associates ælfe "ith cutaneous ailments1albeit less than
there is for internal pains. The #ife of 'da!e and Eve, attested uni:uely in 0odleian
Library +S Eng. poet.a.2 .the Uernon +anuscript/, compiled around the 264%s,
describing the fallen angels, comments that ;)f eny mon is ele'inome othur ele'iblo"e,
he hit hath of the angelus that fellen out of heene< .;)f anyone is elue<ino!e or elue<
i*lowe, he has it from the angels that fell from heaen<F ed. 0la-e 249$, 2%739/. There is
too little conte*t here to be certain "hat elue i<no!e and elue i<*lowe meant, but elue i<
no!e is presumably to be understood in the same "ay as elf<taken ;sei=ed "ith pain by
an elf/elves< .see S7A2/, "hile the +iddle Englis &ictionary lin-s elue i<*lowe "ith the
sense ;to blo" .infectious breath, poison/ upon .sb./< .s.. *louen .. .2// S$c/. )f so, it
may also hae had a sense li-e *listed, as in the citation ;¸ef a man be blo"yn "ith a foul
spiritus or a false blast Mat he lo-e ly- a mesel in his face< .;if a man be *lowyn by a foul
"indIbreath or an eil so that his face loo-s li-e a leper<s</.
A similar collocation
occurs in the +iddle High !erman +Lncener -actsegen .lines 66367F ed. !rienberger
2849, 669368/, the hand dating from the second :uarter of the fourteenth century
.Ed"ards $%%&, 2$%/A
Alb mit diner crummen nasen
)ch orbithe dir aneblasen
)ch orbite dir alb ruche
cruchen ¯ n anehuccen
'l* "ith your croo-ed nose,
) forbid you to blo" on NpeopleO,
) forbid you, al*, to gie off smo-e,
to creep and to cough on NpeopleO.
The compound alvskotNtO could in continental Scandinaia in the nineteenth century
denote cutaneous ailments as "ell as internal ones .Thun 2474, 689F Lid 24$2, 683&7
1assi!/, elve*lest remaining the 5or"egian term for hay feer rashes, "hile !erman
traditions also associate al1e "ith cutaneous ailments .HEfler 2844, s.. 'l1, El*e/. This
material suggests that wæterælfadl may hae been part of a reasonably "ell'defined
association of ælfe "ith cutaneous ailments.
$. Ælfside n
Ælfsiden occurs in three different remedies, each in different collections, though of these
t"o must be te*tually relatedA one of the t"o remedies in #acnunga "hich contain ælf
.section $4, ff. 269r3268r/F section &2 of Leechboo- ))) .ff. 2$%32$2r/F and a related a
remedy in 0oo- ) of 0ald<s Leechboo- .section 7&, ff. >$3>6r/. Unfortunately, the
(f. the collocation of the remedy ;?or a man or "omman that is blisted Wblo"n upon
maleolentlyX "ith "i--ede spiritis to do a"ay the ache and abate the s"ellyng<, immediately
preceding a remedy for elf<cake in a fourteenth'century manuscript .ed. Henslo" 2844, 84/.
(hapter 7A +edical Te*ts
te*tual conte*ts of ælfsiden proide little une:uiocal eidence for its meaning. ) begin,
then, "ith a consideration of comparatie linguistic eidence. 5e*t ) analyse the attesting
te*ts, in ascending order of comple*ity, and then the te*tually related remedy Wið
ælfcynne. ?inally, ) consider the remedy "hich attests to the cognate noun sidsa.
3#1 $o%!arative linguistic evidence
Siden occurs in #ld English only in ælfsiden. There is a consensus that siden is cognate
"ith the #ld 5orse strong erb s$ða .to gie a broad and adised translation, ;"or-
magic</, and its deriaties seiðr .the magic "or-ed/ and s$ði .the magic'"or-er/.

"ould derie from the infinitie stem of s$ða<s !ermanic ancestor, "ith deerbatie 'en
.on "hose etymology see Dluge 24$7, S2>%F Uoyles 244$, S9.$.$7/. The range of
potential connotations of deerbatie 'en .on "hich see Dastos-y 248>, $69368/ is too
"ide for the suffi* itself to be informatie. Sidsa, also attested in an ælf'remedy .in
0ald<s Leechboo- )), section 7>, f. 2%7r/, seems to be another cognate, "ith the
deerbatie suffi* 'sa .on "hich see Dluge 24$7, S2&7/, and is accordingly considered
here too. As ) discuss belo", a meaning for ælfsiden along the lines of ;magic< is
eminently appropriate in its synchronic conte*ts, so "e may accept reasonably
confidently the implication of the 5orse cognate that this "as roughly its meaning. As
"ith ælfadl .see S7A$.2/, the determiner ælf' probably denotes the source of the sidenF if
so, ælfsiden probably meant something li-e ;the magic of ælfe<.
This association of ælfe "ith magic has +iddle English correlates. The best is a Latin
narratie from a fifteenth'century treatise on the Ten (ommandments, opening "ith -on
a*e*is deos alienos, "hich tells of the ;filius cuiusdam iri :ui infirmabatur, :uem
pater du*it ad :uemdam clericum in patria, :ui habeant librum :ui ocabatur an
eluen*ok, ut per eius benediccionem recuperat sanitatem< .;son of a certain man "ho
became infirm, "hom the father led to a certain cleric in that country, "ho had a boo-
"hich "as called an eluen*ok .;an elven'boo-</, so that he Nthe sonO might regain his
health through through his Nthe cleric<sO blessing<F ed. ,en=el 244$, &9$, n. $4/. The
story e*plains that although the son "as cured, the father "ent mad. As ,en=el
suggested, the eluen*ok seems surely to be a grimoire .244$, &96/, and the implication
is that elven' seemed an appropriate "ay of denoting the magical aspect of this boo-. ,e
might add (haucer<s reference to an elf in the +an of #awos 2ale. )n an effort to
conince her son Ding Alla that his "ife and their ne"'born son should be abandoned,
Donegild claims in lines 9>%3>7 .ed. 0enson 2489, 48/ that
Y the :ueene deliered "as
#f so horrible a feendly creature
(hapter 7A +edical Te*ts
That in the castel noon so hardy "as
That any "hile dorste WdaredX ther endure WremainX.
The mooder "as an elf, by aenture Wstrange eentX
dcomen, by charmes or by sorcerie,
And eery "ight WpersonX hateth hir compaignye.
The elf<s use of car!es and sorcerie here neatly parallel ælfsiden.
The translation of siden simply as ;magic<, ho"eer, may miss important
connotations. ?or this reason, and because it "ill be releant later in the thesis, it is
"orth discussing the meanings of seiðr here in more detail. Seiðr "as the subGect of
StrEmbec-<s masterly dissertation of 246> and has been discussed e*tensiely in recent
but some points "hich are important in the present conte*t hae yet to be made.
The main intentions behind conducting seiðr seem to hae been diination and the
manipulation of targets< states of mind to cause them harm or to facilitate their seduction
.StrEmbec- 246>, 2&$3>4F cf. Du0ois 2447, &&3>%/. )t has peGoratie connotations
throughout our eidence,
and it seems clear in our te*ts that for males to practise seiðr
"as for them to transgress gender boundaries, specifically in a "ay "hich "as denoted
by the adGectie argr, a legally proscribed term of abuse suggesting gender
The clearest statement to this effect is in chapter 9 of Ynglinga saga,
"hich says of seiðr that ;Messi fGçl-ynngi, er framiK er, fylgir sg mi-il ergi, at eigi MVtti
-arlmçnnum s-ammlaust iK at fara, o- ar gyKGunum -ennd sj kMrVtt< .;this sorcery,
"hen it is performed, brings "ith it such great ergi that engaging in that did not seem to
men to be "ithout shame, and that accomplishment "as taught to priestesses<F ed. 0Garni
AKalbGarnarson 24&23>2, ) 24/. Snorri<s reliability here can be :uestioned .Du0ois 2447,
&>/, but his statement is supported both by eddaic poetry .see S9A$/ and the eidence of a
post'conersion Danish runestone, S-ern stone $, dating from around 2%%%, "hich curses
StrEmbec- 246> is supplemented by Alm:ist $%%% and +ebius<s historigiographical surey
.$%%%/, "ith a recent criti:ue by +itchell .$%%%a/. See also Solli $%%$ .but also +undal<s
comments, $%%6/. A more general account in English is also offered by Baudere .$%%$, 2%43>%/.
Seiðr and ariants hae also been appropriated as technical terms among neo'pagans, also
attracting scholarly attention .0lain $%%$/, but this is not my concern here.
StrEmbec- considered diination ;spsom motsats till den fErgErande [sarta\ seGden, it seGd<
.;by contrast "ith destructie [blac-\ seiðr, "hite seiðr<F 246>, 2&$F cf. Baudere $%%$, 22%32$F
Solli $%%$, 2$436%/, but his later emphasis that diination by seiðr too surely has negatie
connotations in our eidence .246>, 24$/ is "orth reiterating. Thus the prophecy of the seiðkona
for Orar'#ddr in Orvar<,dds saga .cited by StrEmbec- 246>, 47348/ is a curse, prompted by
opposition to the seiðkona "hich mar-s Orar'#ddr as a ;noble heathen< .cf. +itchell 2442, 723
7$/. To conclude from the centrality of this episode to the saga<s plot that ;"itchcraft in )celand
"as tolerated more than on the continent< .+orris 2442, 28/ is un"ise. Li-e"ise, in chapter & of
Eiriks saga rauða, a -ey te*t for StrEmbec- .246>, &437%/, !uKrkKr initially refuses to help in
diinatory seiðr ;Mk at e- em -ristin -ona< .;because ) am a (hristian "oman<F ed. Einar fl.
Seinsson3+atthkas hVrKarson 246>, $%8F cf. Du0ois 2447, &93&8/. The fact that some te*ts
suggest that pagans might hae thought seiðr a good thing, "hen the te*ts themseles circumscribe
and undercut this analysis, is not conincing eidence that seiðr once had positie connotations.
See +eulengracht Sirensen 2486 N248%O, 283$% et 1assi!F regarding the lin- "ith seiðr,
StrEmbec- 246>, esp. 24&347F Alm:ist $%%%, $7&.
(hapter 7A +edical Te*ts
as a s$ði .;seiðr'"or-er</ anyone "ho brea-s the stone .ed. Tacobsen3+olt-e 24&23&$,
cols 227329 Nno. 82O/. Although s$ði is not attested earlier, the Danish curse is in a
tradition of cursing argska1r upon desecrators going bac- at least to the eighth century,
being attested already in S"eden on the probably si*th'century 0GEr-etorp and Stentoften
Solli<s recent surey of li-ely reasons for seiðr<s associations "ith ergi .$%%$,
2&83>4/ include a putatie association of seiðr "ith se*ual perersion and bodily
transformation, the tendency for shamanic practices to inole systematic gender'
transgression, and the li-elihood that, to co'opt Du0ois<s phrasing .2447, >$/,
in a culture in "hich -eeping control of one<s "its and dealing in a forthright manner "ere both
counted as prime features of masculinity, a comple* ritual that entails public trance and possible
underhanded manipulation of another<s "ill could only be seen as compromising of the
masculine ideal.
Seeral of these factors can be inferred in the Anglo'Sa*on eidence connected "ith
ælfe, as ) discuss belo" .S4A$/.
Although "e cannot simply assume that any gien connotation of seiðr, or any gien
reason for those connotations, "ere represented in siden, this material is suggestie in the
conte*t of ælf. Seiðr is in the 5orse material associated "ith seduction and prophecyF
"hen performed by males, it is associated "ith gender transgression. ) hae argued aboe
that ælfe "ere associated "ith seduction by ælfscyne, and "ith causing prophetic speech
by the "ord ylfig. That ælfe e*hibited traits associated "ith femininity is suggested both
by ælfscyne and by ælf<s use in denoting other"orldly females, first in glosses and later
in English generally. +oreoer, the distinctie association of ælf "ith siden and sidsa fits
"ith Snorri<s statement, again :uoted more fully aboe .S$A2.$/, that ?reyGa ;-enndi fyrst
meK bsum seiK, sem Uçnum ar tktt< .;first ac:uainted the æsir "ith seiðr, "hich "as
customary among the vanir<F ed. 0Garni AKalbGarnarson 24&23>2, ) 26/. Snorri made
seiðr a distinctie feature of the vanir, and ) hae argued aboe for ta-ing %lfr as a
.partial/ synonym of vanr. ?inally, the process at s$ða seems, at least in some of the
prose eidence, to hae been enisaged to inole a dissociation of the soul from the
body, either in flight or shape'changing, attested much more "idely in #ld 5orse
literature .StrEmbec- 246>, 27%34%F Alm:ist $%%%, $7>377/. That this -ind of concept
circulated in Anglo'Sa*on culture is suggested by Ding Alfred<s interpretation of
0oethius<s comment that ;in somno spiritum ducimus nescientes< .;in sleep, "e dra"
breath unconsciously<, but potentially ;in sleep, "e lead our spirits unconsciously<,
6.22.6%F ed. +oreschini $%%%, 84/. Alfred rendered this as ;ure gast biK s"iKe "ide
farende urum un"illum ¯ ures unge"ealdes for his gecynde, nalles for his "illanF MLt
Alm:ist $%%%, $>$F +olt-e 248>, 2&%3&2, $6$369F Solli $%%$, $2$327.
(hapter 7A +edical Te*ts
biK Monne "e slapaK< .;our spirit tends to be "andering "idely "ithout our intent and
outside our po"er1from its innate nature, in no "ay from its intentionF that is "hen "e
sleep<F ed. Sedgefield 2844, 46/. As !odden argued .248>, $99/,
Alfred seems to be reflecting the common fol-'belief that in dreams and trances an inner spirit or
soul Y leaes the body and "anders about in the "orld. The remar- is prompted by a
misunderstanding of 0oethius<s Latin te*t, but Alfred "ould hardly hae interpreted the te*t in
this "ay if he had not been thoroughly familiar "ith the idea and gien it some credence.
+y assumption here that ælfsiden shares important features "ith seiðr is made more
significant by seiðr<s historiography. 0ecause aspects of seiðr are similar to those found
in the shamanic practices of the arctic regions, it has often been argued that its practice
"as borro"ed into 5orth !ermanic'spea-ing cultures from the Sgmi, "hose shamanic
traditions are attested for the +iddle Ages and remained strong until recent times.
seiðr'practices "ere a specifically 5orth'!ermantic cultural loan, this "ould
compromise the alue of the "ord seiðr as comparatie eidence for #ld English
ælfsiden. The association of seiðr "ith male gender transgression is of especial interest
regarding ælfe, but this has sometimes been associated "ith the borro"ing of Sgmi
magical practices, "hich associated shamanism "ith males, into 5orse'spea-ing culture,
"hich, in this hypothesis, traditionally associated magic'"or-ing "ith females.
Ho"eer, studies of the origins of seiðr hae largely ignored etymology.
As a
strong erb, s$ða is li-ely to hae an )ndo'European origin, and phonologically and
semantically conincing cognates are ,elsh ud .;magic</, udo .;"or- magic, "or- by
magic</ and Lithuanian sa}sti .;intepret a sign, prophesy<F Geiriadur .rifysgol "y!ry,
s.. ud
, ydafF ,]st 24>&, 267/. The "ord s$ða and probably its basic meaning
originate, then, in a pre'!ermanic ancestor found in other ,estern )ndo'European
languages. ,]st argued for a ?inno'Ugric origin for s$ða and its cognates from "ords
such as ?innish soida ;to ring, Gingle, ma-e a sound< .24>&/. Though phonologically
iable, this is less conincing, principally for "ant of other e*amples of ?inno'Ugric
loans into both !ermanic and (eltic, than a )ndo'European root concerning binding
See Solli $%%$, 274349F cf. Price $%%%, 283$$F +ebius $%%%, $8%F Lindo" $%%6. )t is "orth
noting that the early t"entieth'century assumption "as that the influence had gone the other "ay
.Hult-rant= $%%2F Byding 244%, 67&37>/, and that if this ie" "as largely determined by the
politics of the time, this is no less the case for the deelopment of its antithesis .cf. Solli $%%$,
e.g. !rambo 2484, 2%934F cf. StrEmbec- 246>, esp. 2473$%7.
Among published "or-, StrEmbec- 246>, 2$% n. $ need be supplemented only by ,]st 24>&F
cf. Uries 2472, s.. seiðF bsgeirr 0lEndal +agnjsson 2484, s.. seiður. !losec-i emphasised the
importance of an )ndo'European etymology, but for unstated reasons assumed seiðr to be cognate
"ith sit, "hich is phonologically unli-ely .2484, 49/F Solli cited an unpublished 2446 #slo
Uniersity dissertation S7a!anistiske trekk i nordisk f0rkristen religion~ by Boger Dolstad
proposing a cognate in an ;indo'europeis- .sans-rit/ ord for [sang\ < .;)ndo'European .Sans-rit/
"ord for [song\ <F $%%$, 26>/.
(hapter 7A +edical Te*ts
"hich has also been proposed.
?rom a linguistic point of ie", then, "e cannot
usefully tal- about a Sgmi origin for seiðr. +oreoer, there is eidence for a long history
of shamanic'li-e practices among the !ermanic'spea-ing peoples, so there is no a 1riori
necessity to derie seiðr'practices from Sgmi culture.
The senses of seiðr may still
hae been influenced by contact "ith Sgmi culture laterF but if "e find correlations
bet"een the meanings of seiðr and ælfsiden, there is no reason not to accept them as
reflecting the "ords< shared etymology. ,e may turn no" to the te*tual eidence.
3#2 0arle, 121) f# 133r432r
This remedy opens "ith ;his is se halga drLnc "iK Llfsidene ¯ "iK eallum feondes
costungum< .;This is the holyIblessed drin- against ælfsiden and against all the
tribulations of the Enemy<F ed. !rattan3Singer 24>$, 2%8/. Ælfsiden is associated here,
li-e most of the ælf<ailments, "ith feondes costunga, but both may hae been mentioned
in the remedy because, although the remedy "as applicable to both, they "ere potentially
distinct threats. The remedy almost entirely comprises liturgical ritual .Tolly 2447, 2&%3
&$/, "hich is consistent "ith other ælf'remedies, but there is no further indication of
"hat ælfsiden might denote. The organisation of #acnunga is too irregular for any secure
inferences to be made from the manuscript conte*t.
3#3 -eechboo5 666) ff# 12(v421r and lenctenadl
Leechboo- )))<s remedy mentioning ælfsiden falls in section &2, "hich adertises itself in
the contents list on folio 22%r to be ;,iM ealle feondes costunga drenc ¯ sealf< .;A drin-
and sale against all the tribulations of the Deil</F li-e"ise the section opens "ith ;Urc
godne drenc "iM eallum feondes costungum< .;+a-e a good drin- against all the
tribulations of the Deil</. The second remedy of those included in this section is slightly
more limited in its applicationA
,yrc gode sealfe "iM feondes costunga . bisceop "yrt . elehtre . harasprecel . strea"berian "ise.
sio clufihte "en"yrt eorKrima. brembel Lppel . polleian . "ermod . gecnua Ma "yrta ealle a"ylle
on godre buteran "ring Murh claK sete under "eofod singe .U)))). mLssan ofer smire Mone man mid
on Ma Mun"onge. ¯ bufan Mam eagum ¯ ufan MLt heafod . ¯ Ma breost ¯ under Mam earmum Ma
sidan . heos sealf is god "iM Llcre feondes costunga ¯ Llfsidenne ¯ lenctenadle.
+a-e a good sale against the tribulations of the EnemyA @hibiscus, @lupin, iper<s bugloss,
stra"berry'stal-, the cloed lesser celendine, eorðri!a, blac-berry, pennyroyal, "orm"ood,
Uries 2472, s.. seiðF on the medieal association of binding "ith magic in the !ermanic'
spea-ing "orld see ?lint 2442, $$7362 et 1assi!.
?or Anglo'Sa*on culture see !losec-i 2484 and S4A$.2F more "idely the summary in +ebius
$%%%, $48344F and the proocatie inestigations of !in=burg 2486 N2477OF 244$ N2484O.
(hapter 7A +edical Te*ts
pound all those plantsF boil in good butterF strain through a clothF place under the altarF sing 4
masses oer themF then smear the person "ith it generously on the temples, and aboe the eyes
and on the top of the head and the breast and under the arms. This sale is good against each
tribulation of the Enemy and ælfsiden and lent'illness.
As ) discuss belo", this must be te*tually related to Wið ælfcynne "hich occurs later in
Leechboo- ))), and more distantly to one remedy Wiþ ælcre leodrunan in 0ald<s
Leechboo- e*amined ne*t. The final sentence is most illuminating, associating ælfsiden
not only "ith the familiar feondes costung .on "hich see S7A$.% n. 2>6F 7A6.$/ but "ith
lenctenadl .;Lent'illness</. #enctenadl seems certainly to denote feers, inferred by
(ameron, mainly from the association "ith spring, to be forms of tertian malaria .2446,
2%322/. The collocation of ælfsiden "ith feer is reminiscent of ælfisc and the arguable
hallucinogenic uses of ælfþone .SS>A&.&, >A>/. The association is bolstered by the
preceding section, a short remedy ;,iM Mon Me mon sie monaMseoc nim meres"ines fel
"yrc to s"ipan s"ing mid Mone man sona biK sel . amen< .;?or "hen a person is
epilepticImade mad by the moon Ncf. S>A&.6OA ta-e dolphin<s s-in, ma-e it into a "hip,
beat the person "ith itF he "ill be "ell immediately, amen<F f. 2$%r/, "hile the ne*t
remedy in section &2 is ;!if Mu "ilt lacnian ge"itseocne man< .;)f you "ant to minister
to a mentally ill person</. These conte*ts amplify Wyrc gode sealf<s implication that
ælfsiden might produce symptoms. Ho"eer, feondes costunga, ælfsiden and lenctenadl
seem more probably to be complementary than synonymous, as ;Llcre feondes costunga<
.;each of the tributations of the deil</ ought to include all properly diabolical threats,
and lenctenadl occurs else"here "ithout being associated "ith the Deil. Thus, ælfsiden
is associated both "ith diabolical malice and feers, but is not necessarily identical "ith
3#* .ald7s -eechboo5 6) section &*) f# 12v: the se%antics of leodrune and the
association of ælfe 'ith maran
Section 7& of 0oo- ) of 0ald<s Leechboo- contains, in the "ords of the contents list on
folio >r, ;LLcedomas "iM Llcre leodrunan { Llfsidenne MLt is fefercynnes gealdor {
dust { drencas { sealf { gif sio adl netnum sie. { gif sio adl "yrde mannan oKKe mare
ride { "yrde seofon ealles crLfta< .;Prescriptions against eery leodrune and ælfsiden,
being a charm, po"der, drin-s and a sale, for feersF and if the illness should be upon
liestoc-F and if the illness should happen to a person or a !ære should ride and happenF
in all, seen remedies</. Amongst other things, this sho"s that ælfsiden might afflict
people and liestoc-. )t also affords a relatiely large and comple* combination of
themes, seeral of "hich re:uire detailed consideration.
(hapter 7A +edical Te*ts
The remedies themseles begin on folio >$ "ith ;,iM Llcre yfelre leodrunan ¯ "iK
Llfsidenne Mis ge"rit< .;Against each eil leodrune and against ælfsiden, this "riting</.
The third remedy is, as +eaney pointed out .248&, $64/, almost identical to a sale ;"iK
nihtgengan< "hich comprises section >& of Leechboo- ))) .f. 2$$/, and these are
themseles reminiscent enough of Wið ælfcynne and Wiþ feondes costunga in Leechboo-
))) to suggest further te*tual interrelationships .see S7A6.>/. Wiþ ælcre leodrunan occurs
in a se:uence of remedies concerned "ith feer and mental illnessA section 7$ is ;"iM
feferadle< .;against feer'illness</F 76 ;"iK feond seocum men< .presumably ;for a
diabolically'possessed person<, though conceiably ;against a diabolically'possessed
person</F 7> ;"iK lenctenadl< .;against lenctenadl</F and 77 ;ungemynde< .;for one out of
his mind</. This proides a conte*t of interrelated symptoms in "hich to understand
ælfsiden, seeral of "hich "e hae already met in this connection.
#eodrune occurs in this form only here in #ld English. Becently reassessing the
eidence, ?ell argued that it is a ariant of the poetic #ld English leoðurun .;sung
mystery<F 2442, $%738/F her case has gaps, but these can be filled.
#eoðurun denotes
holy mysteries and the +iddle English leodrune propheciesF the potency of an yfel
leodrune perhaps lay in the cursing po"er of ill'boding prophecies in comparable
Ta-ing ælfsiden to denote a broadly similar threat "ould be attractiely
consistent "ith the meanings suggested for siden by seiðr. As ) hae discussed aboe
.S7A$.2/, the generic in compounds of this sort is usually the result of the determiner1
the siden "ould be caused by ælfe1though in theory the ultimate source could be human
maleficence directed through ælfe.
Section 7& concludes "ith a remedy ;!if mon mare ride . genim elehtran ¯ garleac .
¯ betonican . ¯ recels bind on nLsce hLbbe him mon ¯ he gange inon Mas "yrte< .;)f a
!ære should ride a personA ta-e @lupin and garlic and betony and incenseF bind in fa"n'
s-inF a person should hae this on him and he should "al- @in among these plants</. As )
hae discussed else"here, the clearest eidence for the meanings of !ære is afforded by
the seenth'century gloss incu*aB !ære, "hose lemma is almost uni:ue and must
originate in a gloss on a copy of )sidore<s Ety!ologiae related to the Anglo'Sa*on
epitome of )sidore<s Ety!ologiae edited by LapidgeA this epitome gies incu*a for
)sidore<s incu*us, and contains #ld English glosses also contained in the same
The first element is, on phonological grounds, most obiously the intensifying prefi* deried
from leod .;man<F see Dastos-y 244$, 6>73>9/. 0ut ?ell<s reading, foreshado"ed by (oc-ayne<s
translations ;rune lay< and ;pagan charm< .287&377, )) 2>, 264/, is attractie because of leoðurun.
?or the ariable loss of unstressed high o"els in releant positions see Hogg 244$, SS7.$2F
'runs'rune ariation is commonF cf. (ampbell 24>4, SS>4$e, 724.&. There is some eidence for RI
.UU/TrI J I.UU/drI in ,est Sa*on, accounting for the d of leodrune .(ampbell 24>4, S&$$F Hogg
244$, S9.22/.
?or early )reland see SGEblom $%%%, 2223&&F for medieal )celand Baudere $%%$, 4%349F cf.
for Anglo'Sa*on England Tolly 2447, 48344F 5iles $%%6a, 222$3&%.
(hapter 7A +edical Te*ts
manuscripts as incu*aB !ære.
Here, incu*a denotes a supernatural being, implicitly
female, "hich presses do"n on or rapes people. This is consistent "ith the cognate, later
and etymological eidence for !ære and presumably underlies the riding !ære in 0ald<s
Precisely "hy !ære is mentioned in this section is not clear. ) e*amine some
illuminating 5orse and )rish analogues in the ne*t chapter .S9A2/, "hich suggest that
!aran might be part of an attac- through ælfsiden. Here, ho"eer, ) "ish to emphasise
that ,est !ermanic eidence associates cognates and refle*es of !ære "ith ælf' "idely,
associations no doubt underlying the modern counterparts nigt!are and al1trau!
.;nightmare<, lit. ;al1'dream</. To :uote further from the most impressie e*ample, the
fourteenth'century +Lncener -actsegen .lines $6368F ed. !rienberger 2849, 6693
alb nde | elbelin
)r sult nich beng< bliben hin
albes sestir n atir
)r sult u= aren obir d` gatir
albes mutir trute n mar
)r sult u= =u d` irste ar`
5oc mich dy mare druche
5oc mich dy trute =ciche
5oc mich dy mare rite
5oc mich dy mare bescrite
Alb mit diner crummen nasen
)ch orbithe dir aneblasen...
al*, or also el*elin Nlittle al*O,
you shall remain no longer .reading lenger/
al*<s sister and father,
you shall go out oer the gateF
al*<s mother, trute Nfemale monsterO and !ar,
you shall not go to the roof'ridget
Let the !are not oppress me,
let the trute not @pinch me .reading RLcke/,
let the !are not ride me,
let the !are not mount met
'l* "ith your croo-ed nose,
) forbid you to blo" on NpeopleOY
,hat beliefs these collocations reflect is less clear, but they sho" that the collocation of
ælf' "ith !ære in 0ald<s Leechboo- is part of a "idespread tradition among ,est
!ermanic'spea-ers. This collocation of ælf "ith !ære is also interesting insofar as
!aran seem to hae been female, "hich recalls once more the associations of both ælfe
and seiðr "ith male gender transgression, but there is not much that can be made of such
slight eidence. As in the +Lncener -actsegen, the !erman material also associates
Hall forthcoming NbO, S6F Lapidge 2447 N2488384O, $%%F cf. Lindsay 2422, ) 8.22.2%63&. The
glosses are ed. Lindsay 24$2a, 47 N)$$>OF Hessels 24%7, &4 NyLU)).82OF Pheifer 249&, 6% Nno. >>8OF
Steinmeyer3Sieers 2894324$$, )U 289, $%&F cf. 0ischoff and others 2488, apinal f. 44, Erfurt f.
9, (orpus f. 6>r.
Baudere 2446, esp. 9234>F Po-orny 24>4374, s.. @? !er<F de Uries 2472, s.. !ara, !çrnF
+E&, s.. !•re, n.$, nigt S7bF ,E&, s.. !are n.
, nigt!areF &,S2, s.. !areF S9A2.2.
#ther"ise, see for English the Soutern Englis #egendary account of the fallen angels in its
section on the Archangel +ichael .lines $$637%F ed. d<Eelyn3+ill 24>73>4, )) &%432% at &%4F cf.
Horstmann 2889, 6%739F S9A2.6A/ and lines 7>374 of Bo"ll<s "ursing as it appears in the +aitland
?olio +S .ed. (raigie 24243$9, ) 276/F for the (ontinent see the citations in the
+iddelnederlandsc Woorden*oek .Uer"iGs3Uerdam3Stoett 288>324&2, s.. '#8, NpppO +'IE/F
Ed"ards 244&, 293$2. The "ords are associated in 5orse only in the S"edish S7ælinna tr0st .ed.
Henning 24>&, $6/, "hich is from the Lo" !erman &er Grossen Seelentrost .ed. Schmitt 24>4,
(hapter 7A +edical Te*ts
!are "ith the erb riten, sho"ing the traditionality of this collocation in Gif !on !are
,hile this section of 0ald<s Leechboo-, then, tells us little that is concrete, it
consolidates and e*tends the associations of ælfsiden in "ays "hich are "ell'
conte*tualised, proiding an important basis for comparison "ith fuller narraties from
other medieal cultures belo".
3#1 Wið ælfcynne
Ælfcynn occurs only in section 72 of Leechboo- ))), on folio 2$6, at the head of the .'/
ælfadl remedies already analysed .S7A$/A
,yrc sealfe "iK Llfcynne and nihtgengan and Mam mannum Me deofol mid hLmK . genim
eo"ohumelan . "ermod bisceop"yrt . elehtre . LscMrote . beolone . hare"yrt. haransprecel.
hLMbergean "isan . cropleac . garleac . hegerifan corn . gyMrife . finul . Do Mas "yrta on an fLt
sete under "eofod sing ofer .U)))). mLssan a"yl on buteran ¯ on sceapes smer"e do haliges sealtes
fela on aseoh Murh claK. "eorp Ma "yrta on yrnende "Lter . !if men h"ilc yfel costung "eorMe
oMMe Llf oMMe nihtgengan. smire his and"litan mid Misse sealfe ¯ on his eagan do and MLr him
se lichoma sar sie . ¯ recelsa hine ¯ sena gelome his Ming biM sona selre.
+a-e a sale against ælfcynn and a nitgenga and for those people "hom theIa deil has se*
"ithIand against those people "hom theIa deil has se* "ith<A ta-e @hops, "orm"ood, @
hibiscus, @lupin, erain, henbane, arewyrt, iper<s bugloss, stal- of "hortleberry, @cro" garlic,
garlic, seed of goose'grass, coc-le and fennel. Put these plants in a essel, place under an altar,
sing 4 masses oer themF boil in butter and in sheep<s fatF put in plenty of holy saltF strain through
a cloth. Thro" the plants into running "ater. )f any eil tribulation or an ælf or nitgengan
happen to a person, smear his face "ith this sale and put it on his eyes and "here his body is
soreIin pain, and burn incense about him and sign N"ith the crossO oftenF his problem "ill soon be
The uni:ue compound ælfcynn offers no eidence in itself. #ld English 'cynn "as
productie and compounded "ith a "ide range of "ords1"ords for people, peoples,
monsters, animals, plants and diseases .&,E, s.. cynn/1and the 5orse %lfkunnr,
%lfkunnigr and %lfakyn .see S$A$ n. &$/ could be independent formations. Ho"eer, it is
at least clear that ælfcynn implies ælfe themseles, since the end of the remedy mentions
the prospect of an ælf specifically. Tolly, apparently inspired to some e*tent by Storms<s
handling of the te*t, asserted that ;the sale "or-s "ith incense and the sign of the cross
The only other Anglo'Sa*on eidence for this sort of concept -no"n to me is a charm in a
remedy ;,iK d"eorg<, "hich comprises section 46 of the #acnunga .f. 279F ed. !rattan3Singer
24>$, 27%37$/. The difficulties of this charm are legion, and some, particularly ambiguities of its
synta* and its heay emendation in the manuscript, hae been glossed oer hitherto .but see esp.
(ameron 2446, 2>23>6F Stuart 2499F +eaney 2482, 2>329/. 0ut the charm definitely conceies of
the ailment.s/ in terms of a being .wit/ treating the sufferer as its horse .æncgest/. Ho" fully it
deelops this concept is open to :uestion, but it certainly sho"s that a iid conceptualisation of a
supernatural being riding a sic- person li-e a horse may underlie gif !on !are ride.
(hapter 7A +edical Te*ts
to drie or smo-e the elf out< .2447, 2>4/, but "hile this inference of possession is
possible, it is not to be assumed.
Ælf and ælfcynn are here collocated "ith nitgenga. 0eyond its literal sense ;night'
"al-er< the meanings of this "ord are largely un-no"nF it is not een clear "hether the
remedy implies one or more. ) e*amine other attestations belo". Ma !enn þe deofol !id
æ!ð is also ambiguousA it could denote the ictims of diabolical rapes .recalling the
association of ælfe "ith !aran/ or people "ho, by "illingly haing se* "ith deils or the
Deil, gain magical po"ers to do harm.
)f the latter, it is a singularly early attestation
of a concept "hich became common only in the early modern period, but as ) suggest
belo", it could reflect popular ideas to some degree and the possibility should not be
ignored .ch. 9/. The synta* "ould be the smoother if "e ta-e wiþ in the same sense,
;against<, throughout the sentence, in "hich case ;"iK Y Mam monnum Me deofol mad
hLmK< .;against Y those people "hom the DeilIa deil beds</ implies that it is the
!enn "ho are a threat. 0ut if any function of the remedy from the list at the end
corresponds to the function stated at the beginning, it "ould be the yfel costung,
suggesting that the deofol in the first sentence is assaulting ictims1in "hich case the
remedy is for and not against the !enn. ,hateer þa !enn þe deofol !id æ!ð means,
ho"eer, its collocation "ith ælfcynne recalls ælfe<s association "ith seduction.
The alue of Wið ælfcynne is increased, ho"eer, by its relationship "ith three other
te*ts, already mentioned. ) gie eachF "ords shared bet"een Wið ælfcynne and Wiþ
feondes costunga are e%boldened, those shared bet"een Wið ælfcynne and the other t"o
2. Leechboo- ))), section 72, f. 2$6rA
,rc sealfe 'i8 9lfcynne and nihtgengan and Mam mannum Me deofol mid hLmK . genim
eo"ohumelan . 'er%od bisceo!',rt . elehtre . LscMrote . beolone. hare"yrt. harans!recel.
hLMbergean 'isan . cropleac . garleac . hegerifan corn. gyMrife. finul. Do Mas "yrta on an fLt
sete under 'eofod sing ofer #viiii# %9ssan a',l on buteran ¯ on sceapes smer"e do haliges
sealtes fela on aseoh :urh cla8. "eorp Ma "yrta on yrnende "Lter . !if men h"ilc yfel costung
"eorMe oMMe 9lf oMMe nihtgengan. s%ire his and"litan mid Misse sealfe ¯ on his eagan do and
MLr him se lichoma sar sie. ¯ recelsa hine ¯ sena gelome his Ming biM sona selre.
$. Leechboo- ))), section &2, f. 2$%r .S7A6.6/A
,rc gode sealfe 'i: feondes costunga . bisceo!',rt . elehtre . haras!recel . strea"berian
'ise . sio clufihte "en"yrt eorKrima . brembelLppel . polleian . 'er%od . gecnua Ma "yrta ealle
a',lle on godre buteran "ring :urh cla8 sete under 'eofod singe # viiii # %9ssan ofer s%ire
Mone man mid on Ma Mun"onge . ¯ bufan Mam eagu% ¯ ufan MLt heafod . ¯ Ma breost ¯ under
Mam earmum Ma sidan . Meos sealf is god "iM Llcre feondes costunga ¯ 9lfsidenne ¯
lenctenadle .
(æ!ð must be singular .the e*pected plural being æ!!aþ/, precluding (ra"ford<s ;eles and
eil spirits of the night and "omen "ho lie "ith the deil< .2476, 22%/.
(hapter 7A +edical Te*ts
6a. Leechboo- ))), section >&, f. 2$$A
,yrc sealfe "iK nihtgengan . "yl on buteran elehtran . hegerifan . bisceop"yrt . reademagMan .
cropleac . sealt smire mid him biK sona sel .
6b. 0ald<s Leechboo- ), section 7&, f. >$ .from Wiþ ælcre leodrunan, S7A6.&/
Sealf elehtre hegerife bisceop"yrt Ma readan magoMan . armelu . cropleac . sealt "yl on buteran
to sealfe smire on MLt heafod ¯ Ma breost
Although some of the correlations noted are more stri-ing than others, there is little in 6a
"hich is not represented in 2. 6b<s greater diergence is consistent "ith its appearance in
another collectionF although it does not mention nitgengan, it does parallel Wið
ælfcynne insofar as all the remedies in the section from "hich it comes are ;"iM Llcre
leodrunan { Llfsidenne<. 0oth of these remedies are, then, for ailments associated "ith
ælf. The comparison of 6b "ith the other te*ts is also strengthened by its description in
the contents list, ;LLcedomas "iM Llcre leodrunan ¯ Llfsidenne MLt is fefercynnes
gealdor ¯ dust ¯ drencas ¯ sealf ¯ gif sio adl netnum sie< .;remedies against eery
leodrune and ælfsiden, being a charm for feers, and po"der and drin-s and a saleF and
NoneO if the ailment be on cattle<F ed. ,right 24>>, f. >/. Although it is not certain, it is
syntactically li-ely here that fefercynnes refers not only to the noun immediately
follo"ing it, but to all four of gealdor, dust, drencas and sealf. )f so, then 6b<s function is
also associated "ith $<s, "hich seres amongst other things against lenctenadl. Although
the erbal similarities bet"een te*ts 2 and $ are less e*tensie, the t"o remedies also
share content "ithout erbal similarity, in being concerned both "ith the DeilIdeils,
and both recommending the application of the sale to the face .respectiely referred to
"ith andwlita and þunwong/.
)t is impossible to establish a traditional te*t'critical stemma for te*ts li-e these,
because the ariation bet"een them is due to free recomposition rather than mechanical
errors. This ma-es it hard to assign priority to one te*t. ,hile it is possible to imagine
t"o different redactors e*cerpting material from a te*t li-e 2, it is simpler to suppose that
2 is a conflation of $ and 6aF but "e cannot be confident as to "hether one redactor
replaced ælfsiden "ith ælfcynn, or vice versa, or "hether there "as some more comple*
process. 0ut their association does suggest that one man<s ælfsiden implied another
man<s ælf, consolidating my argument that ælfsiden "as not a bahurihi compound, but
did indeed denote magic effected by ælfe. +oreoer, the te*ts afford a ne*us of
interrelationships associating not only ælfsiden, feondes costunga and lenctenadl, but
also ælfcynn, ælf, nitgenga and þa !enn þe deofol !id æ!þ, and, by implication,
fefercynn, leodrune and !ære too. This list is itself consolidated by another remedy
against nitgenganIa nitgenga from section 2 of Leechboo- ))) .f. 222/. ?ollo"ing a
(hapter 7A +edical Te*ts
remedy ;,iM s"iMe ealdum heafod ece< .;?or a ery old headache</ deried from the &e
!edica!entis of +arcellus Empiricus .!rattan3Singer 24>$, 69368/, the te*t adds that
the amulets "hich the remedy inoles ;beoM gode "iM heafodece { "iM eag"Lrce {
"iM feondes costunga { nihtgengan { lenctenadle { maran { "yrtforbore { malscra {
yflum gealdorcrLftum< .;are good against headache and against eye'pain and against the
tribulations of the Deil and nitgenganIa nitgenga and lenctenadl and !aranIa !ære
and plant'restraint
and enchantments and eil incantational techni:ues</. ,hateer
nitgengan are, they -eep familiar companyA magic, feondes costunga, lenctenadl and
!aran. Een the eagwærc has some note"orthy parallels.
3#& Wið ælfe ¯ wiþ uncuþum sidsan
This remedy occurs in section 7> of 0ald<s Leechboo- )), a fe" remedies after Gif ors
ofscoten sieA ;,iK Llfe { "iM uncuMum sidsan gnid myrran on "in { h"ites recelses
emmicel { sceaf gagates dLl MLs stanes on MLt "in, drince .))). morgenas neaht nestig
oMMe .U)))). oMMe .y)).< .;Against .an/ ælf Nor ;against ælfe<
O and against
un-no"nIstrangeIunusual sidsa, crumble myrrh into "ine and the same amount of "hite
fran-incense and shae a piece of the stone 7et into that "ine, drin- NonO 6 mornings,
fasting NatO night, or 4 or 2$<F ff. 2%932%8r/. The main eidence here for the meanings
of ælf is its collocation "ith uncuþ sidsa. ,e hae no more information for the meanings
of sidsa than "e hae for sidenF presumably it meant something li-e ;magic<. ,hat is
interesting is that the te*t includes uncuþ sidsa "ithout referring to some more ordinary
sidsa. ,hile this may imply that a cuþ sidsa "ould re:uire a different remedy, a more
elegant e*planation "ould be to assume that this "as implicit in ælf, the te*t to be
interpreted as ;against an ælf .no doubt using sidsa/ but also against sidsa of an un-no"n
source<. )f so, then sidsa "as connoted by ælf, but this inference is not secure enough to
be relied upon. Ditson suggested that ;the "ine, myrrh and fran-incense surely bespea-
ultimate foreign origin for all that the [elf\ may imply assimilation to natie tradition<
Perhaps ;binding through magical use of plants<F cf. +eaney 244$, $$3$&F Tente 24$2, 62%.
Wið ælfcynne has its sale applied to the eyes, and elfae seem to be associated "ith eye'pain in a
fifteenth'century English medical manuscript, 0ritish Library Sloane 476. #n folio 2& a remedy
;ffor a-ynge of eyen< concludes a short collection of remedies. #n the ne*t folio .still "ithin the
same gathering/, a different hand presents a series of orationes entitled ;Aliud carmen pro eodem<
.;another charm against the same</, "hich, fragmentary, coer folios 2>r327 .cf. Diec-hefer
2484, 9%/. Elfae are prominent, alongside de!ones, throughout these prayersF it appears that the
remedy ;ffor a-ynge of eyen< prompted someone to include these as remedies for that ailment, and
the prospect that eye'pains "ere associated "ith attac-s by elves "ould proide a neat e*planation.
They "ould perhaps relate to Lassen<s argument for the association of good sight "ith po"er and
masculinity in medieal Scandinaian culture .$%%%F cf. Larrington 244$, 832$/.
Although uncuþu! sidsan is in the datie, the case ta-en by wið in Boyal 2$ D. *ii aries so
much that ælfe could still be an accusatie plural.
(hapter 7A +edical Te*ts
.2484, 72/A "e hae here cultural elements dra"n from ecclesiastical conte*ts being
deployed here to meet problems denoted by older, ernacular "ords .cf. Tolly 2447, esp.
%. Interpretations
Elliptical though our medical te*ts are, they proide some reasonably clear eidence for
the meanings of ælf and ælfe. #ur best'attested compound is ælfsiden, "hich is
consolidated by the collocation of ælf "ith sidsa. Although it is not possible to lin- it
"ith one clinical condition, a range of assciations are attested "hich allo" us to
reconstruct its li-ely meanings. Ælfsiden inoled ælfeF 'siden "as almost certainly
magic of some descriptionF and the prospect of ælfe "or-ing magic called siden or sidsa
is "ell'paralleled by Snorri<s association of the vanir "ith seiðr. )t might afflict people
or liestoc-. ,hether ælfe<s use of siden carried "ith it the peGoratie connotations of
gender transgression "hich the use of seiðr "ould hae in 5orse is not clear, ho"eer.
Preious assumptions that ælfsiden might inole possession by ælfe or some physical
assault by them are by no means ruled out, but should probably be imagined if they are to
be imagined at all as conse:uences of ælfsiden rather than ælfsiden itself. Li-e other
assaults on the health by ælfe, ælfsiden is also associated "ith diabolical tribulations,
attesting again to the uneasy alignment of ælfe "ith demons in ninth' to tenth'century
Anglo'Sa*on culture, but also to the continuing distinctness of ælfe from diabolical
threats. The association, through the related te*t Wið ælfcynne, of ælfsiden "ith deils or
the Deil haing se* "ith people is a rare and intriguing one, but too ambiguous to
deelop. Ælfsiden is also associated "ith nitgengan and !aran, the latter collocation
being "ell'paralleled, and one "hich ) e*amine more fully in the ne*t chapter. The
ailments "ith "hich ælfsiden is particularly associated are arieties of feer, particularly
lenctenadl. This is consistent "ith the meanings of the "ord ælfisc in its #ld English
#ther te*ts attest to other associations for ælfe, supported this time mainly by later
medieal English and Scottish eidence. Een "hen spurious identifications are
discarded, ælfe "ere associated "ith causing internal pains, denoted in the te*ts studied
here "ith ofscoten concerning horses and ælfsogoða concerning people. The association
is also apparent, as ) discuss belo", in Wið færstice. The old idea that these pains might
be caused by ælfe shooting arro"s or other missiles at their ictims is not attested here,
and should not be assumed. There "ere other ælfalda besides, including cutaneous
disorders, denoted in the te*ts studied here by wæter<ælfadl. The ambialent relationship
bet"een ælfe and demons perades these te*ts as it perades the te*ts concerning
(hapter 7A +edical Te*ts
ælfsiden, the suggestion once more being that the t"o "ere associated but not identical.
The ambialence recalls the enthusiasm of Anglo'Sa*on clerics to use prognostic te*ts to
try to tell the future despite the obGections of sermonisers .Liu==a $%%2/. )t is also
reflected in the placement of ælfe in manuscriptsA in Leechboo- ))), the ælf'remedies
occur to"ards the end, but "ithin its main body. 0ut in 0ald<s Leechboo-, they tend to
occur at the ends of boo-s, recalling Sims',illiams<s obseration of the similar
placement of the more magical prayers in the early English prayer'boo-s .244%, 6%23$/.
)n themseles, these conclusions leae many :uestions unans"ered, not least about
ho" ælfe<s causing of ailments related to their other characteristics, discussed aboe.
Ho"eer, they afford a basis for using fuller accounts of other"orldly beings1both from
other medieal cultures and Wið færstice1to try to arrie at a conincing interpretation
of Anglo'Sa*on ælfe.
&art $
)orth-7est European Conte*ts8
Interpretations8 and Conclusions
(hapter 9A 5arraties and (onte*ts
Chapter 9
)arratives and Conte*ts
The analyses aboe hae established a ne" corpus of eidence for reconstructing and
interpreting the meanings of ælf. The aim of this part of the thesis is to interpret the
"ider meanings of this linguistic eidence, the present chapter proiding a frame"or- for
this by establishing a reading conte*t of closely comparable medieal narraties.
Ho"eer, the structuring of Part $ of this thesis according to classes of eidence rather
than their significance for my argument means that a summary of my main arguments
and conclusions so far "ill be conenient here.
The eidence of prehistoric #ld English morphological deelopments, and personal
names, corroborated by identical patterns in early 5orse poetry and in Scandinaian
mythographical te*ts, sho"s that ælfe "ere closely associated "ith gods .particularly ese,
#ld 5orse æsir/, but that both ælfe and ese "ere fundamentally similar to human ethnic
groups. +ost stri-ingly, ælf originally belonged to the same declension .the long'
stemmed masculine i'stems/ as a "ide ariety of "ordsF but during the prehistoric #ld
English period, this declension "as reorganised as a productie declension for "ords
denoting people and peoples. Ælfe remained in the declension, and seem to hae been
Goined by ese, but "ords for monsters originally included there "ere transferred
else"here. Eidence of this sort demands that "e accept different categorisations of
diinity and ethnicity in early Anglo'Sa*on and Scandinaian cultures from in our o"nA
groups of gods "ere fundamentally li-e peoples. +oreoer, it suggests that in this early
period, ælfe "ere fundamentally aligned "ith the Anglo'Sa*on in'group in
contradistinction to the monsters "hich also e*isted in Anglo'Sa*on "orld'ie"s .SS$3
6F cf. S&A2/.
The human'li-e characteristics suggested for ælfe by the earliest eidence are further
corroborated by the use of ælf as the basis for glossing Latin "ords for nymphs, "hich
"ere -no"n by Anglo'Sa*ons to be non'monstrous other"orldly females. This usage
occurs in t"o te*tual traditions, one probably from the eighth century and the other from
the eighth or ninth, but it "as maintained by reising redactors into the eleenth century,
sho"ing its continued appropriateness from the beginnings of "ritten #ld English to the
end of the Anglo'Sa*on period. +oreoer, each tradition feminised the "ord ælf
morphologically, one by using the suffi* 'en, the other by changing the "ord to the
feminine 9'stem declension. The different strategies of these te*ts suggest there "as no
feminine form of ælf already aailable in #ld English, but that ælf "as seen as the best
basis for glossing "ords for nymphs by t"o different scholars. They e*tend the
(hapter 9A 5arraties and (onte*ts
morphological and onomastic eidence that ælfe "ere human li-e and non'monstrous,
"hile corroborating other eidence that ælfe "ere traditionally only male .SS>A$36/.
Ho"eer, by the end of the #ld English period, ælf had itself become able to denote
females as "ell as males, in a deelopment "ell'attested in +iddle English .S>A6.6/A this
is a rare glimpse of change in non'(hristian beliefs during the #ld English period,
relating particularly to gendering.
+oreoer, the apparent ease "ith "hich ælf came to be adapted to include females in
its denotation .first, it "ould appear, by scholars, and later by English'spea-ers at large/
need not merely reflect the po"er of necessity as scholars sought some aguely
appropriate e:uialent to the (lassical nymphs. Ælf appears in #ld English poetry in the
compound ælfscyne. Scyne denotes female or angelic beauty and ælfscyne is indeed used
to denote dangerously seductie female beauty. (omparison "ith other substantial
compounds suggests indeed that the ælfe in ælfscyne are to be understood as a
paradigmatic e*ample of this beauty1"hich is consistent "ith the use of ælf as the basis
for denoting nymphs, and "ith cognate eidence .S&A$/. Depending on ho" old Genesis
' is, and on "hether the "ord ælfscyne is older than that poem, the coining of ælfscyne
might post'date the arrial of female denotations of ælf. )f so, ho"eer, the fact that ælf<s
older male denotation could be e*tended in this "ay hints that een the traditional male
ælfe "ere not "ithout traits normally associated "ith seductie feminine beauty.
Although the earliest eidence strongly suggests that ælfe "ere fundamentally aligned
"ith the human in'group by contrast "ith the e*ternal threat of monsters, other eidence
complicates this. #ne strand clearly aligns ælfe "ith monsters and demons. +ost
prominent here is Beowulf, "ith its ;eotenas ond ylfe ond orcneas I s"ylce gigantas<
.lines 22$326F ed. Dlaeber 24>%, >F +alone 2476, f. 26$/F alongside it is the inclusion of
aelfae as a synonym for Satan in a prayer "hose manuscript dates from around 8%%. )
hae ta-en these te*ts to sho" deliberate efforts to demonise ælfe, in Beowulf<s case by
radically realigning them "ith traditional, 0iblical and (lassical monsters .SS&A2, >A2/.
Such efforts, as ) discuss belo", had still not preailed een centuries later.
Another strand of eidence, ho"eer, is more ambiguous1the eidence for ælfe
affecting people<s mental states, in at least some cases harmfully, and other"ise
damaging their health or that of their liestoc-. Such eidence mainly occurs in the #ld
English medical te*ts suriing from the tenth and early eleenth centuries. +y complete
reanalysis has culled a number of long'standing assumptions and misconceptions about
these .esp. S7A2F Hall forthcoming NcO/, leaing a corpus "hich is particularly useful
because it offers clear insights into the supernatural forces "hich Anglo'Sa*ons actually
feared, as opposed to "hat they thought they should fear. The medical te*ts are also
supported, ho"eer, by later English eidence, other traditions from ,est !ermanic'
(hapter 9A 5arraties and (onte*ts
spea-ing cultures concerning cognates of ælf, and "ithin the #ld English corpus by the
"ords ylfig and ælfisc, attested as glosses but, ) hae argued, probably deried from the
common le*icon .S>A&3>/. ?rom these sources "e -no" that ælfe "ere liable to cause
sharp pains .denoted in the eidence by gescot and sogoða/ and cutaneous ailments
.denoted by wæterælfadl/, as "ell perhaps as other illnesses .as the general term ælfadl
suggestsF SS7A23$/F they are at times associated "ith diabolical assaults, but in "ays
"hich sho" that Anglo'Sa*ons "ere not confident about conflating these t"o -inds of
threats. The most e*tensie cluster of te*ts concerning ælfe, ho"eer, relates to the "ord
ælfsiden1either by containing this "ord, by being te*tually related to te*ts "hich do, or
by containing the cognate sidsa in association "ith ælf. Siden occurs only in this
compound and is cognate "ith the #ld 5orse seiðrF li-e it, seems to denote a -ind of
magic. Seiðr is "ell'represented in our sourcesF moreoer, it is associated "ith the 5orse
gods called the vanir, "hom ) hae argued to hae been more or less identical "ith %lfar
1"hich chimes "ith the distinctie association of siden "ith ælfe? Seiðr is also
associated "ith humiliating gender'transgression "hen performed by males, "hich
chimes "ith the eidence for ælfe<s femininity .SS$A2.$, 7A6.2/. Ælfsiden, li-e other
-inds of ælf'illnesses, is also associated "ith diabolical assaults, but also "ith feer,
assaults by a mysterious class of beings called nitgengan, and, in one te*t, attac-s by a
-ind of magic called leodrune and by female supernatural beings called !aran .SS7A6.$3
>/. The association "ith feer in particular recalls the eidence of the "ord ælfisc, "hich
seems to hae meant something li-e ;delusory .@as ælfe are delusory/<. Less negatie
connotations for ælfe<s eident ability to cause altered states of mind, ho"eer, are
hinted at by ylfigA a close analysis of the difficult eidence for this "ord sho"s that it
probably meant ;spea-ing prophetically .@through the influence of ælfe/< .SS>A&3>/.
This is a dierse range of eidence, of arying -inds and dates, and a dierse range of
implied associations for ælfe. ,ere Anglo'Sa*ons< understandings of ælfe, then, simply
dierse@ This is surely the case to some e*tent, and ) hae argued for diachronic
ariation, "ith the rise of female ælfe, and for competition bet"een traditional and
demonised conceptions of ælfe. Li-e"ise, the eidence for ælfe<s positie characteristics,
anthropomorphism and beauty hae preiously been thought to be at odds "ith their
associations "ith causing illness, the ælfe of the medical texts being envisaged like
Judaeo-Christian-Mediterranean demons.
However, it is worth asking if there may not
have been some more coherent ideologies linking these disparate-looking characteristics.
As I have discussed in my introduction, one attempts to systematise disparate evidence
into a coherent interpretation with trepidation, but also as an intellectual necessity (1:2–
See esp. Thun 1969; Stuart 1976, esp. 313; cf. Jolly 1998, 24–27; Edwards 2004, 126, which
calls the latter group ‘disease-causing organisms’; §§1:1, 6:1.
(hapter 9A 5arraties and (onte*ts
4, esp. 1:3.3). In this chapter, I show that characteristics li-e those "hich ) hae
demonstrated for ælfe "ere associated "ith one another in coherent and culturally
meaningful narraties "idely in medieal 5orth',est European traditions of
other"orldly beings. !enerally spea-ing, medieal eidence for the role of supernatural
beings in medieal European constructions of illness is dominated by stories of saints
and demons, and it is usually hard to guess "hether these narraties o"e anything to non'
learned cultures. Ho"eer, there are narraties concerning non'(hristian beliefs in the
ernacular literatures of Scandinaia and )reland, and later in the records of the Scottish
"itchcraft trials, and these proide a suitable1though not e*haustie1range of
comparanda for the #ld English material. This being so, it is reasonable to interpret the
Anglo'Sa*on eidence to reflect coherent and meaningful belief'systems, from "hich "e
can e*trapolate information both about Anglo'Sa*on beliefs and about the roles of those
beliefs among the Anglo'Sa*on elites "hich produced and consumed the eidence. Such
e*trapolation is the theme of the ensuing chapters, (hapter 8 being my reanalysis of Wið
færstice, and chapter 4 a concluding assessment of the eidence in a "ider social conte*t.
1. +e*/ sickness/ s ei ðr and m çrur / and their analogues
+y first group of comparisons is the most closely -eyed to the ælfsiden te*ts. The
other"orldly protagonist in each, ho"eer, is female.
1#1 Ynglinga saga
(hapter 26 of Snorri Sturluson<s Ynglinga saga is built around stan=a 6 of hGVKVlfr Vr
Hini<s Ynglingatal .ed. 0Garni AKalbGarnarson 24&23>2, ) $83$4/A
Uanlandi hct sonr SeigKis, er rk-i tV- eptir hann o- rcK fyrir UppsalaauK. Hann ar hermaKr
mi-ill, o- hann fVr kKa um lçnd. Hann Mg etrist g ?innlandi meK SnGg inum gamla o- fe-- Mar
dVttur hans, Drkfu. En at gri fVr hann g brVt, en Drkfa ar eptir, o- hct hann at -oma aptr g
MriggGa etra fresti, en hann -om eigi g tku etrum. hg sendi Drkfa eptir HulK seiK-onu, en sendi
Uksbur, son Meira Uanlanda, til SkMGVKar. Drkfa -eypti at HulK seiK-onu, at hon s-yldi skKa
Uanlanda til ?innlands eKa deyKa hann at çKrum -osti. En er seiKr ar framiKr, ar Uanlandi at
Uppsçlum. hg gerKi hann fjsan at fara til ?innlands, en inir hans o- rgKamenn bçnnuKu honum
o- sçgKu, at era myndi fGçl-ynngi ?inna k flsi hans. hg gerKis- honum sefnhçfugt, o- lagKis-
hann til sefns. En er hann hafKi lktt sofnat, -allaKi hann o- sagKi, at mara traK hann. +enn hans
fVru til o- ildu hGglpa honum. En er Meir tV-u uppi til hçfuKsins, Mg traK hon fVtleggina, sg at
nLr brotnuKu. hg tV-u Meir til fVtanna, Mg -afKi hon hçfuKit, sg at Mar dV hann. Skar tV-u lk-
hans, o- ar hann brenndr iK g Mg, er S-jta heitir. har gru settir bautasteinar hans. Sg segir
The son of SeigKir "as called Uanlandi, "ho receied the -ingdom after him and ruled oer
UppsalaauKr Nothe "ealth of UppsalaO. He "as a great "arrior, and he traelled "idely about the
land. He accepted "inter accommodation in ?inland "ith SnGg NoSno"O the #ld, and there too-
his daughter, Drkfa NoSleetO. 0ut in the spring he "ent a"ay, "hile Drkfa "as left behind, and he
(hapter 9A 5arraties and (onte*ts
promised to come bac- after three "inters< "ait, but he did not come in ten years. Then Drkfa
sent for HulK the "itch Nseiðr'"omanO, and sent Uksburr, her and Uanlandi<s son, to S"eden.
Drkfa struc- a bargain "ith the "itch HulK, that she should enchant .s$ða/ Uanlandi to ?inland, or
other"ise -ill him. 5o", "hen the magic .seiðr/ "as done, Uanlandi "as at Uppsala. Then he
eagerly made to trael to ?inland, but his friends and counsellors forbade him and said that there
"ould be an enchantment .f7çlkynngi/ of the ?inns< behind his desire. Then he became dro"sy,
and laid himself do"n to sleep. 0ut "hen he had slept a short "hile, he cried and said that a
!ara trampled him. His men "ent there and "anted to help him. 0ut "hen they "ent to the head,
then it .orA she/ trampled the legs, so that they nearly bro-e. ,hen they "ent to the feet, she
smothered the head, so that he died there. The S"edes too- his body, and he "as burnt by the
rier "hich is called S-jta. His monument'stone "as set there. Thus, hGVKVlfr saysA
En g it
UilGa brVKur
itta cttr
Uanlanda -om,
Mgs troll-und
of troKa s-yldi
lkKs grkmhildr
lGVna bgga,
o- sg brann
g beKi S-jtu
es mara -alKi.
0ut to a meeting
"ith Uili<s brother NofKinnO
the @demon of magic
brought Uanlandi,
"hen the @"itch'born
!rkmhildr @of ale N@ovalkyr7aO
had to trample upon
the enemy of men No"arriorO,
and he burned
on the ban- of the S-jta,
"hom the !ara -illed.
Since it is not certain that Snorri "as any "iser than "e are about the story to "hich this
erse originally alluded, "e can rely only on the erse itelf as eidence for ninth'century
beliefs. )t is problematic, but seems clearly to portray Uanlandi to hae been trodden to
death by a trollkund being, a !ara. This affords an early and respectably close analogue
to the Anglo'Sa*on conception of !aran riding the sic- .S7A6.&/. ,hat is really useful
here, ho"eer, is Snorri<s thirteenth'century prose.
(haracteristically of #ld )celandic saga'"riting, Snorri<s account of Uanlandi<s death
is ambiguousA a bargain is struc- "ith a seiðkona for Uanlandi<s seduction or, failing
that, his murderF subse:uently, a !ara attac-s him. 0ut it is also characteristic of #ld
)celandic saga'"riting that the narrator<s Gu*taposition of eents and the speculations of
his characters is sufficient to imply that Uanlandi<s death "as not only the seiðkona<s
doing but that she herself "as, in some sense, the !ara "hich attac-ed him .cf. Baudere
2446, 4%F cf. 9838$/. Snorri attests, then, to the idea that the trampling and suffocating
!ara might be a seiðkona "ho had changed her form through seiðr. This le*ical
collocation parallels that of 'siden and !ære in 0ald<s Leechboo- .S7A6.&/. The identity
of the !aras!ære "ith a shape'changing "itch is not clearly paralleled in medieal
English, but is suggested by the synonymy of !are "ith wyce .;"itch</ attested by the
.ro!1toriu! 1arvuloru!, an English'Latin dictionary of about 2&&%A ;+ABE, or "yche.
+agus, !aga, sagana< .ed. ,ay 28&637>, )) 6$7/. 0esides later analogues .see Daies
Drag read liðs and translated ;fol-ets< .;the "arband<s</. 0ut both this reading and the traditions
l$ðs suggest a al-yrie'-enning.
(hapter 9A 5arraties and (onte*ts
2449/, in Sha-espeare<s > (enry pV, composed in the late 2>4%s, the Hostess threatens
?alstaff by "arning that ;) "ill ride thee o< nights li-e the mare< .)). i. 8>387F ed. (raig
24%>, &&>/. Although the Hostess does not threaten to become a !are as such, the
collocation is similar to that of HulK "ith the !araA it is li-ely, then, that this -ind of
shape'changing "as -no"n in England by the late si*teenth centuryF and although it
cannot be proed, it is not implausible that it "as -no"n earlier too.
Snorri<s narratie does not mention %lfar. Ho"eer, the English parallel to Snorri<s
collocation of seiðr and !ara, ælfsiden and !ære, contains ælf integrally, and ) hae
already emphasised the "idespread and close association of the cognates of ælf and
!ære in English and !erman traditions .S7A6.&/. +oreoer, as ) hae discussed aboe,
8innar such as Drkfa could occupy much the same space in medieal Scandinaian
"orld'ie"s as %lfar .S$A&/F the point is emphasised by the fact that the story of Uanlandi
and Drkfa shares much "ith that of Helgi Hglfdanarson and an %lfkona in (hapter 2> of
(rClfs saga kraka.
Snorri<s story of the f7çlkynngi 8inna may represent the -ind of
narratie "hich might hae been attached to ælfe, leading to the #ld English collocation
of ælfsiden "ith !ære.
1#2 Serglige Con Culainn
That Snorri<s account of Uanlandi<s death might indeed be releant to ælfe is further
suggested by a close #ld )rish parallel. This is closer in date and space to the Anglo'
Sa*on material, and features the other"orldly beings 1ar e3cellence, the %es s$de. The
narratie in :uestion occurs as section 8 of Serglige "on "ulainn, conentionally
translated as ;The ,asting Sic-ness of (j (hulainn<, though serglige might perhaps be
rendered1less literally but more idiomatically1as ;loe'sic-ness< here. )ts primary
manuscript, Lebor na hUidre, is a comple* compilation "ritten and altered during the
eleenth and possibly the t"elfth centuries. Lebor na hUidre seems originally to hae
contained one ersion, -no"n no" as A, but the pages containing the first half of this
"ere subse:uently replaced "ith ne" ones by a reising scribe. #nto these he copied
another ersion1a conflation of an A'te*t "ith a different recension -no"n as 01and
also erased and re"rote passages in the second half of the original Lebor na hUidre te*t.
Helgi has se* "ith a "oman "ho proes to be an %lfkonaF before she leaes, Helgi agrees to
collect the child "hich he has Gust begotten the ne*t year. He does not, and three years later, the
girl is instead deliered to his door. This is similar to the story of Uanlandi and Drkfa, though
admittedly in (rClfs saga kraka it is the other"orldly "oman "ho isits the -ing, not the other "ay
round. Helgi is not -illed, but the girl is later instrumental in the death of Helgi<s son HrVlfr -ra-i
.cf. Uçlundr<s reenge/. This story is innoatie in the HrVlfr -ra-i tradition and possibly as late as
the seenteenth century, the date of our earliest manuscript .Slay 247%, &32>F for other ersions see
UalgerKur 0rynGVlfsdVttir $%%6, 2&$3&&/, but it still sho"s the transferablility of the concepts of
8innr and %lfkona.
(hapter 9A 5arraties and (onte*ts
The material Gudged to derie from 0 e*hibits linguistic features pointing, amongst later
ones, to the ninth century, "hile the language of A seems to be eleenth'century.
A has
long been considered the earlier ersion of the story neertheless, but (arey has recently
argued that 0 is the earlier ersion .244&, 82/.
The follo"ing te*t is thought to derie from 0. (j (hulainn is by a la-e at the autumn
festial of sa!uin, "hen t"o birds land there, lin-ed by a gold chain. They sing, and
almost eeryone present falls asleep. (j (hulainn, haing recently captured enough birds
to gie t"o to each "oman present apart from his "ife, ill'adisedly shoots stones and a
spear at the birds, but for the first time in his life, his proGectiles miss .ed. Dillon 24>6,
236/. The te*t continues .ed. Dillon 24>6, 6F trans. Dillon 24&93&4, >%/A

Dothget (j (hulaind iar sin co tard a druim frisin liic, ¯ ba holc a menma leis, ¯ dofuit cotlud
fair. (o n'accai in dg mnak cucai. )ndala n'ak brat jaine imbe. Alaili brat corcra cVicdkabail im
ṡude. Dolluid in ben cosin brot jane chucai, ¯ tibid gen friṡ, ¯ dobert bcim dind echḟleisc dV.
Dothget alaili cucai dano, ¯ tibid fris, ¯ nod slaid fVn alt chctna. #cus bgtar fri ckana mVir oca sin
.i. cechtar dc imma sech cucai bcus dia bjalad combo marb acht bec. Lotir jad karom. Arigsitar
Ulaid uli ank sin, ¯ asbertatgr ara ndjscide. ;Acct< ol ?ergus. ;5gchi ngljasid res atchk.<
(j (hulainn "ent then and put his bac- against a pillar stone, and he "as do"ncast, and a sleep
fell upon him. He sa" t"o "omen come to"ards him. #ne "ore a green mantleF the other a
purple mantle in fie folds. The "oman in the green mantle came to him and laughed at him, and
struc- him "ith her horse'"hip. The other came to him, too, and laughed at him, and struc- him
in the same "ay. And they continued for a long time, each of them in turn coming still to beat
him, so that he "as almost dead. Then they "ent from him. The Ulaid obsered that, and they
said that he should be "a-ened. ;5o<, said ?ergus. ;Do not disturb him. )t is a ision that he
These t"o "omen are doubtless identical "ith the t"o s"ans "hich appeared earlier.
(j (hulainn subse:uently a"a-ens, but is mute and too "ea- to moe. A year later, after
a isit by #engus, the son of bed Abrat, the -ing of the %es s$de, (j (hulainn regains
some of his strength and returns to the stone. There he meets the "oman in green "ho
e*plains that ?ann, the daughter of bed Abrat, has fallen in loe "ith him .ed. Dillon
24>6, 63>/. The rest of the story concerns ?ann<s "ooing of (j (hulainn and the
subse:uent struggle for (j (hulainn bet"een ?ann and (j (hulainn<s "ife.
Uarious aspects of (j (hulainn<s serglige are paralleled in early )rish and perhaps
,elsh sources .(arey 2444/, but "hat interests me here are the similarities "ith Snorri<s
account of the death of Uanlandi. An other"orldly "oman .Drkfa in Ynglinga saga, ?ann
in Serglige "on "ulainn/ see-s to "oo a man of the in'group .Uanlandi, (j (hulainn/
through female other"orldly emissaries, "ho e*hibit magical po"ers of shape'changing
.the seiðkona HulK, the bird'"omen/. The emissaries< first "ooings are effectiely
#n te*ts and language see Dillon 24&23&$F 24>6, *i3*iF Salberg 244$, esp. 27237$F cf. (arey
244&, 82386F ?indon 2449, 2&>3&7.
?indon 2449, 229328F cf. (ross 24>$, $&9 N?$6&.2.2>O and the "ooing s"an'maidens in
Vçlundarkviða st. 23$.
(hapter 9A 5arraties and (onte*ts
reGectedA Uanlandi resists his urge to go to Lappland, "hile (j (hulainn shoots at the
birds. Punishment follo"s, in "hich the men une*pectedly fall asleep and are assailed by
the "ooing "omen. )n the 5orse te*t, HulK turns herself into a !ara and tramples
UanlandiF in the )rish te*t, the "omen beat (j (hulainn "ith ecḟlecsa .;horse'"hips</.
Although early medieal isions inoled saints and angels "hipping the isionary
reasonably often, the horse'"hips in Serglige "on "ulainn are particularly reminiscent of
the medieal English and !erman te*ts in "hich the !æreI!ara rides its ictim, and of
the #ld English charm Wið dweorg.
The possibility that these reflect some sort of
cultural continuum seems strong. Admittedly, a special Hiberno'Scandinaian literary
connection has often been posited .e.g. (had"ic- 24>63>9F Einar fl. Seinsson 24>9F
Alm:ist 2498382F cf. (hesnutt 2478F Lu-man 2499/, but the dearth of eidence for
Anglo'Sa*on inolements in these currents may better reflect the nature of our eidence
than the reality of the situation. ) hae emphasised similarities bet"een Anglo'Sa*on and
Scandinaian beliefs already, "hile #ld )rish elements appear in Anglo'Sa*on charms
.+eroney 24&>/, proing pertinent cultural contact. )n Ynglinga saga, Uanlandi<s
punishment is death, "hereas (j (hulainn<s illness eentually speeds ?ann<s "ooingF
een so, the perils of (j (hulainn<s liaison are emphasised by the fact that "hen ?ann
leaes him, he falls into madness until his uncle (onchobor sends druids to gie him a
drin- of forgetfulness.
5aturally, Serglige "on "ulainn does not contain cognates of ælfsiden or !ære, but it
inoles seeral motifs correlating "ith the semantics of ælfA ælfe seem to hae been
associated "ith seductie beauty and "ith inflicting illnesses, including illnesses
associated "ith madness, these latter occurring in connection "ith cognates of the "ords
seiðr and !ara "hich appear in the 5orse te*t. ,e may plausibly1though tentatiely1
imagine that remedies ;"iK Llfcynne and nihtgengan and Mam mannum Me deofol mid
hLmK< or ;"iM Llcre leodrunan { Llfsidenne< "ere conceied in a culture in "hich
illness might not only be caused by ælfe, but might represent attempts at seduction or
reenge at reGection, effected through magic and perhaps including assaults in the form
of !aran.
S7A6.&., esp. n. 296. (f. (olgrae 2478, 2%$3&, 2>2 n. 9&. Another parallel is chapter 2$ of the
probably fifteenth'century Ála flekks saga, in "hich bli ;lLtr Y illa k sefni, o- eru sefnfarir hans
bLKi harKar o- langar< .;lies Y restless in his sleep, and his sleep'Gourneys are both hard and
long</A a trçllkona besets bli "ith an iron "hip .7%rnsvi1a/, cursing him so that the inGuries can
only be healed by her brother .ed. Lagerholm 24$9, 2%>37/. Lagerholm noted the comparison "ith
both Serglige "on "ulainn and Ynglinga saga .24$9, l*i, 2%7 n. to SS63&/, but Ála flekks saga
does not share the other details.
(hapter 9A 5arraties and (onte*ts
1#3 The Southern English egendary
That it "ould not be far'fetched to imagine themes li-e this in tenth'century England is
emphasised by the Soutern Englis #egendary, composed in the South',est +idlands
in the late thirteenth century .Pic-ering3!Erlach 248$, 222F cf. !Erlach 249&, esp. >23
7$/. The passage in :uestion comes from a cosmography included in the account of the
Archangel +ichael. After describing ho" some eil spirits oppress sleepers as !aren, it
he ssre"en "olleM e- oMer"ile P
man-unne to bi'traie
A'li¸te a'doun in monnes forme P
bini¸te { bidaie
And liggeM ofte bi "ymmen P
ase hi "ere of fleiss { blode
Ac Me engendrure Mat hi ma-eM P
ne comM neuere to gode
And ofte in forme of "omman P
aday and e-e ny¸t
Hi leteM men hom ligge bi P
and bitraieM hom outri¸t
?or hi "eteM "uch beoM men P
Mat to folie habbeM "ille
Al one in som deorne stude P
hi stondeM Manne "el stille
And mani fol hom liM so by P
in "ode and e-e in mede
Ac Mer nis non Mat so deM P
Mat ne acoreM Me dede
Hore membres tos"elleM somme P
{ somme ofscapeM nneMe
And somme ford"ineM al a"ei P
forte huy beNoO ibro¸t to deMe
+ore "onder it is i"is P
hou eni ofscapeM of liue
for an attri Ming it is P
to lemman oMer to "iue
And ofte in forme of "omman P
in mony deorne "eie
+e sicM of hom gret companie P
boMe hoppe { pleie
hat eleuene beoM icluped P
Mat ofte comeM to toune
And bi daie muche in "ode beoM P
{ bini¸te upe heie doune
hat beoM of Me "recche gostes P
Mat of heuene "ere inome
And mony of hom a Domesday P
ssolleM ¸ute to reste come
The eil creatures desire also at other times
to betray man-ind,
alight do"n in human form ¸
by night and by day, ¸
and lie often "ith "omen
as though they "ere of flesh and bloodF
but the offspring that they beget
come neer to good.
And often in "oman<s form,
in the day and also night ¸
they let men lie "ith them
and betray them outrightA ¸
for they -no" "hich are the men
"ho hae desire of follyA
Alone in some hidden place
they stand then ery :uietIstill,
and many a fool lies "ith them thus,
in the "ood and in the meado".
0ut there is none "ho does so
that does not suffer from the deedA
their penises s"ell'up @some"hat,
and some N@menO surie "ith difficulty,
and some d"indle completely a"ay,
"hereby they are brought to death. ¸
A greater "onder it is, for sure,
ho" any escapes alie,
for a poisonous thing it is,
to a NmaleO loer or a "oman.
And often in the form of "oman
on many a hidden path
men see a great company of them
both dance and play,
that are called eluene Nfollo"ing other +SSO,
"hoI"hich often come to to"n,
and by day they are often in the "ood,
and by night upon high hillsF ¸
that are from among the "retched spirits
"hoI"hich "ere ta-en out of heaen.
And many of them yet
"ill come to rest on DoomsdayF ¸
Ed. d<Eelyn3+ill 24>73>4, )) &%432% at &%4F cf. Horstmann 2889, 6%739, "hose ariant te*t
proided some guidance on interpreting ambiguities.
(hapter 9A 5arraties and (onte*ts
Ac Me ssre"en Mat beoM bini¸te P
and e-e bidaie
?ondieM "iM "uch felonie P
hi mou"eM men mest bitraie
but the eil spirits "hich e*ist at night, ¸
and also by day,
tempt NusO "ith eery "ileA
they can betray people most.
Though different in important respects, this shares much "ith Serglige "on "ulainn in
particularA screwene in the form of "omen1"ho are identified "ith the dancing
caalcades of eluene mentioned at the end of the passage1"ait in hidden places and
seduce menF the conse:uence for the men is a "asting illness .possibly specifically of the
penis, the te*t is ambigious/. Although this illness is not identified "ith the !are, it is
Gu*taposed "ith it in a "ay "hich suggests that in thirteenth'century English mentalities,
the one idea led to the other.
+oreoer, each of these te*ts is a cautionary tale. The main implication of the
Soutern Englis #egendary, of course, is that malicious demons may come among
humans and disrupt society "ith illusions and by inflicting illness upon those deceied
by their se*ual temptations. 0ut its condemnation of fallen angels is e:uiocal1some of
the eluene, it seems, are not damned1and the te*t implies that a man "ho "ould hae
se* "ith the demons is a fol .;fool</, putting responsibility on the deluded as "ell as on
the demons. Serglige "on "ulainn e*plicitly ta-es a similar line, concluding "ith the
comment .ed. Dillon 24>6, $4F trans. Dillon 24&93&4, 9>/,
(onid taibsiu aidmillti do (hoin (hulaind la hges skdi sin. Ar ba mVr in chumachta demnach ria
cretim, ¯ ba hc a mcit co cathaigtis co corptha na demna frisna doknib ¯ co taisfcntais akbniusa ¯
dkamairi dVib, amal no betis co marthanach. )s amlaid no creteg dVib. (onid frisna taidbsib sin
atberat na hancolaig skde ¯ ges skde.
That is the disastrous ision sho"n to (j (hulainn by the fairies. ?or the diabolical po"er "as
great before the faith, and it "as so great that deils used to fight "ith men in bodily form, and
used to sho" delights and mysteries to them, as though they really e*isted. So they "ere belieed
to beF and ignorant men used to call those isions s$de and %es s$de.
These "ords, li-e the Anglo'Sa*on medical te*ts, come from a "orld in "hich traditional
beliefs in other"orldly beings such as the %es s$de could neither be condoned nor
abandoned .cf. (arey 244&, 98394/. Ho"eer, ;this [re"riting\ of the te*t<s meaning
only barely contains its tensions and ambiguities< .?indon 2449, 266/A both Serglige "on
"ulainn and Ynglinga saga afford nuanced inestigations of the causes and
conse:uences of se*ual liaisons "hich transgress accepted social boundaries. ?indon
stressed the efforts of (hurch reformers in medieal )reland to end traditional practices
of polygamy .2449, 2%936&, esp. 222326/, though Serglige "on "ulainn may, li-e the
Soutern Englis #egendary, target se*ual promiscuity generally. The principal threat to
social order comes from the other"orldly being, ?ann ."ho is herself transgressing the
bounds of her o"n society, in see-ing a loer other than her husband, +annangn mac
Lir/, and (arey has laid the foundations for positie readings of (j (hulainn<s sic-ness
(hapter 9A 5arraties and (onte*ts
.2444/. 0ut ?indon has argued persuasiely that the te*t as "e hae it sho"s the disorder
beginning "ithin the in'group, principally in (j (hulainn<s continual failure to act
"isely .2449, 2%936&/. He is not unreminiscent, then, of the Soutern Englis
#egendary<s fol. (j (hulainn loses the po"er proper to his aristocratic male status by
mishandling ?ann<s suit and so allo"ing himself to be subGected to an other"orldly
female. )n the "ords of his charioteer, LVeg .ed. Dillon 24>6, 22F cf. Dillon<s translation,
24&93&4, >4/,
+Vr espa do lgech
laigi fri sjan serglige,
ar donadbat genaiti
gesa a Tenmag Trogaigi,
condot rodbsat,
condot chachtsat,
condot ellat,
eter brkga banespa.
!reat is the idlenessIfolly for a "arrior
to lie in the sleep of a "asting'sic-ness,
because it belies demons,
peoples of Tenmag Trogaige,
and NthatO they hae inGured.@/ you,
and bound you,
and afflicted.@/ you,
in the po"er of "oman'"antonness.
Unli-e the other te*ts, Ynglinga saga does not orientate itself to (hristian
but it parallels ?indon<s reading of Serglige "on "ulainn neertheless.
LEnnroth remar-ed of female 8innar that ;Seeral dngling -ings are be"itched by the
"ealth and beauty of such "omen Y but a marriage "ith them "ill al"ays turn out to be
disastrous, since they are eil and practiced in the art of seiðr< .2487, 8238$/. This is
more or less correct .cf. Hermann Pglsson 2449, 2&23>7/, but in Uanlandi<s case, the
disaster surely begins "ith Uanlandi<s o"n actions. Stepping outside the controlled space
of his society, he rashly follo"s his erotic desires1the te*t does not imply that Drkfa "as
the "ooer1"ithout respecting the conse:uences. Unli-e the Soutern Englis
#egendary and Serglige "on "ulainn, the death of Uanlandi does not seem to "arn
against e*tramarital liaisons 1er se .though see Ynglinga saga ch. 2&F ed. 0Garni
AKalbGarnarson 24&23>2, ) 6%362/A Uanlandi<s transgression is in brea-ing a promise.
The conse:uence is that Uanlandi is ignominiously murdered in his sleep by a "oman
using magic. The implication is certainly that places and peoples from beyond the in'
group are dangerous, but also that their threat is manifested in response to indiiduals<
impropriety. 5or is this reading at odds "ith the general tone of Ynglingatal, "hich
fre:uently accords its subGects ignoble deaths .LEnnroth 2487, 42/. +oreoer, (lunies
Boss has recently argued that #ld 5orse mythology foregrounds issues of procreation,
marriage, and "omen as to-ens in inter'group e*change .244&348, esp. ) 8>3287/, "hile
the similar narratie of Helgi Hglfdanarson and the %lfkona has recently been read as a
criticism of Helgi<s lust .brmann Ta-obsson $%%6, 29838&F Dalin-e $%%6, 272376F
(ontrast the (istoria -orwegiae, also based on YnglingatalA ;S"egthir ... genuit ,anlanda, :ui
in somno a dLmone suffocatus interiit, :uod genus dLmoniorum nor"egico sermone mara ocatur<
.;SeigKir ... begat Uanlandi, "ho died in his sleep, suffocated by a demonF that -ind of demon is
called !ara in the 5or"egian language<F ed. Storm 288%, 49348, cf. $26/.
(hapter 9A 5arraties and (onte*ts
UalgerKur 0rynGVlfsdVttir $%%6, 2&$3&&/. Li-e"ise, 0redsdorff has demonstrated the
prominence of men<s improper e*ercise of erotic desires as a cause of social disorder in
the kslendingas)gur .$%%2 N2492O, esp. 2636>/1not least in Egils saga
Skallagr$!ssonar, also li-ely to be by Snorri .Hallberg 247$F cf. 0erman 248$/.
These narraties suggest a paradigm in "hich seduction by ælfe could be integral to
narraties in "hich ælfe inflicted ailments upon .transgressing/ indiiduals, possibly by
magical nocturnal assaults associated "ith !aran. A similar critical attitude to men
seduced by other"orldly magic'"or-ing females among Anglo'Sa*ons is suggested by
Alfred<s renderings of 0oethius<s account, in the third metre of 0oo- & of the &e
consolatione 1iloso1iae, of Ulysses and (irce .respectiely ed. Sedgefield 2844, 22>3
227, 246349F ed. +oreschini $%%%, 22232$/. As Alfred tells this story, ;Ulysses is a -ing
"ho abuses his royal responsibilitiesA he abandons his -ingdom to remain "ith (irce<
.)rine 2447, 646347 at 64>F cf. Pratt $%%2, 9438%/. Although the only punishment he
suffers in this narratie is Alfred<s opprobrium, Alfred<s attitude to Ulysses is not unli-e
the attitudes "hich hae been perceied to"ards (j (hulainn, Uanlandi and Helgi
Hglfdanarson. #ther"orldly females are a force for disorder, iolating and een inerting
the patriarchal po"er'structures of the societies in :uestion1but they do so by
proo-ing men<s o"n destablising passions.
". Males and magic
A limitation "ith the te*ts Gust considered is that they concern female other"orldly
beings, "hereas ) hae argued aboe that ælf originally denoted males1and indeed that
early Anglo'Sa*on belief systems lac-ed close female e:uialents to ælfe, "hich surely
suggests that they had no close e:uialent to female s$de li-e ?ann. +edieal )rish,
,elsh and ?rench literatures are replete "ith seductie other"orldly females, but males
are much rarer.
,hen other"orldly males do appear, they generally either "in the
consent of their prospectie partners "ithout difficulty, or rape them "ith e:ual ease, and
so "ithout using magic or inflicting illness. This pattern could undermine the alidity of
comparison bet"een ælfe and other supernatural beings e*hibiting similar characteristics.
Ho"eer, medieal Scandinaia does e*hibit narraties similar to Drkfa<s or ?ann<s
concerning males. 5one, admittedly, lin-s males "ith !çrur, but they do lin- them "ith
seduction, inflicting madness or feer, and "ith magic1arguably seiðr. These te*ts,
See !uerreau'Talabert 244$, 7&37> N?$6&.$.>, ?$>$.>.0/, ?6%2, ?6%$OF (ross 24>$, $>>3>8
N?6%%36%&OF Paton 247%F Harf'Lancner 248&, esp. >4399F !allais 244$F ,ood 244$. #f the ;fairy
loers< cited by (ross N?6%2O, Art mac (oin surely does not :ualify, as he is a member of the in'
group "ho must "in a maiden from Tir Thairngaire .;the Land of ,onders<F ed. 0est 24%9/.
(hapter 9A 5arraties and (onte*ts
then, help to establish models for male ælfe, and for ælfsiden conducted by them. +ost
prominent is the Eddaic poem Sk$rnis!%l, our sole maGor te*t concerning ?reyr, "ho, )
hae argued, "as himself associated "ith %lfar .S$A6.2/. Sk$rnis!%l<s eidence is
consolidated by a fourteenth'century rune'stae from 0ergen bearing a loe'charm.
These te*ts are themseles consolidated by another mythological story, #thinus<s
"ooing of Binda in boo- three of Sa*o !rammaticus<s Gesta &anoru!.
2#1 Sk!rnism"l and the .ergen rune-stave
)n Sk$rnis!%l .ed. 5ec-el 247$, 74399/, ?reyr .referred to as vaningi, ;one of the vanir<,
st. 69/ espies !erKr, daughter of the 7çtunn !ymir, and is struc- "ith "hat the
introductory prose calls ugsCttir .;heartsic-ness</. His "ooing is again done through an
intermediary, this time S-krnir. S-krnir does not change shape, but, as in the other
narraties, his initial "ooing fails1in Sk$rnis!%l in a threefold process inoling the
offer of "ealth and then the threat of iolence .st. 243$&/. S-krnir finally succeeds by
threatening !erKr "ith a iidly described curse .st. $>367/. The description of the curse,
of course, in some respects amounts to its inocation, and the poem is ambiguous about
its status here. The curse is many'layered, beginning "ith S-krnir stri-ing !erKr "ith a
ta!svçndr .;taming'"and<, st. $7F cf. 6$/. )t has increasingly been found to hae Anglo'
Sa*on analogues, suggesting its comparatie alue for Anglo'Sa*on culture, though the
point cannot be deeloped here.
The first half .st. $736%/ concentrates on !erKr<s
banishment to ;hrkmMursa hallar< .;the halls of frost'þursar<, st. 6%/, the second on her
se*ual frustration and ho" she "ill suffer the attentions of monstersA ;meK Mursi
MrkhçfKoKom Q Mj scalt L nara, I eKa erlauss era< .;dou ."ill/ hae to linger foreer
"ith a three'headed þurs, or be "ithout a man<, st. 6%367 at 62/. S-krnir concludes "ith a
declaration partly paralleled by the 0ergen rune'stae .st. 67/A
#n similarities to the #ld English poem 2e Wifeos #a!ent see #rton 2484F Luyster 2448F Hall
$%%$, 2%322F S-krnir<s imagery of a thistle also seems to hae an #ld English analogue .Harris
$%%$/F and ) "ould argue that the #ld English Wen "ar! .ed. Dobbie 24&$, 2$8/ reflects a
similar tradition. ?or S-krnir<s rune'cared ta!svçndr see #rton<s argument that one te*t of the
#ld English translation of 0ede<s (istoria ecclesiastica assumes the use of a rune'cared stae for
magical purposes .$%%6/ and the suggestion that the runes in 2e (us*andos +essage may also
allude to loe'magic .recently 5iles $%%6b, $$2/. #rton .2444, $$93$8/ has also emphasised
similarities bet"een the narratie patterns of Sk$rnis!%l and Mry!skviða, so it is of interest that
+cDinnell has suggested that the story of Mry!skviða may be related to the same traditions as
nineteenth'century ;"ooing plays< in 5orthern England .$%%2, 66&368/, "hile #rton has noted a
shared motif bet"een Mry!skviða and 2e (us*andos +essage .2444, $$8F Taylor 244& also
emphasised similarities bet"een Mry!skviða and Vçlundarkviða, though these are less stri-ing/.
(hapter 9A 5arraties and (onte*ts
hurs rkst ec Mcr oc Mrig stafi,
ergi oc „Ki oc VMolaF
sg ec Mat af rkst, sem ec Mat g reist,
ef gora= Marfar Mess.
) care þurs Nrune'nameOIa þurs, and three
lettersIrunesA ergiIlust and TðiIfren=y and
CþolaIrestlessnessF thus ) can care it off Gust
as ) cared it on1if re:uired.
All this prompts !erKr to a change of heart and she e*tends her hospitality to S-krnir.
S-krnir employs magic to threaten !erKr "ith se*ual frustration ."hich is li-e HulK<s
opening gambit/, but also "ith the implicitly se*ual attentions of monsters, "hich is
reminiscent of the !ara "hich besets Uanlandi. )dentifying the in'group and the out'
group in this poem is more comple* than usual, since although !erKr is one of the 7çtnar,
her position1the lone maiden threatened by her brother<s slayer1inites sympathy .cf.
Larrington 244$/.
That the curse in Sk$rnis!%l is not merely a literary deice is sho"n by a similar te*t,
cared on a fourteenth'century rune'stae found in 0ergen. )t concludes "ith letters
"ithout linguistic meaning, but the bul- of the te*t is a charm in Eddaic metre .ed.
Liestil 247&, &2/A
Bkst e- bVtrjnar,
rkst e- bGargrjnar,
einfalt iK alfum,
tkfalt iK trollum,
Mrkfalt iK Mursum
iK inni s-„Ku
sgt ei megi
MVtt L ili
lLis -ona
lkfi Mknu
e- sendi Mcr,
e- skKa Mcr
ylgGar ergi o- jMola.
b Mcr renni jMVli
o- ;ioluns< mVK.
Sittu aldri,
sof Mu aldri
ant mcr sem sGalfri Mcr.
) care remedy'runes,
) care protection runes,
once oer by %lfar,
t"ice oer by trçll .;@magic'"or-ers, trolls</
thrice oer by þursar .;@magic'"or-ers, giants</
by the harmful
so that you may hae no po"er of action
though you al"ays "ant,
@crafty "oman,
in your life
) send to you,
) s$ða to you
a she'"olf<s lust and restlessness.
+ay restlessness come oer you
and a 7çtunn<s fury .reading iotuns/.
5eer sit,
neer sleep.
loe me as you loe yourself.
,hether this and Sk$rnis!%l sho" life imitating art or art imitating life .or both/, it
appears that someone really did care runes, using the formula r$st ek, to curse a "oman
"ith ergi and Gþola1presumably, as in Sk$rnis!%l, to "in her se*ual faours.
+oreoer, the rune'stae e*plicitly denotes the loe'magic "ith the erb s$ða, lin-ing the
magic of the stae and through it Sk$rnis!%l both to the seduction of Uanlandi and to the
"ord ælfsiden. The translation of við in the phrase við alfu! is problematicA it "ould
(f. Egils saga Skalla<Gr$!ssonar chs 96, 9$, in "hich a youth<s botched attempt to use a stic-
cared "ith runes to "in a girl<s loe cause her illness .ed. 5ordal 2466, $$436%, $68/.
(hapter 9A 5arraties and (onte*ts
normally be e*pected to mean ;against<, but this seems not to ma-e much sense here
since the charm does not see- to protect its obGect from supernatural threats, but to
coerce her. Presumably, then, the %lfar1and trçll, þursar and perhaps the valkyr7a1are
being ino-ed, "hich is possible if "e infer a more unusual instrumental usage .better
attested in prose/ or the sense ;together "ith< .(leasby3Uigfusson 24>9, A.))).$F
SeinbGErn Egilsson 2462, s.. við 2 SS0.2, 0.9/.
)t is also of interest, of course, that the rune'stae mentions %lfar. 5or is its inocation
uni:ueA in BCsa saga ok (errauðs, from around the second half of the fourteenth
century, the eponymous hero 0Vsi is rescued from a death'sentence by the t)frar
.;sorcery, charms</ of his friend 0uslaF her spells offer arious parallels to Sk$rnis!%l
and the 0ergen stae, among them the one stan=a :uoted from her second spell .ed.
!uKni TVnsson30Garni UilhGglmsson 24&63&&, )) &9&/A
TrEll o- glfar o- tEfrnornir,
bjar, bergrisar brenni Mknar hallir,
hati Mi- hrkmMursar, hestar streKi Mi-,
strgin strangi Mi-, en stormar Lri Mi-,
o- ei erKi Mcr, nema Mj ilGa minn gerir.
+ay trolls and %lfar and magic'nornir,
d"ellers .cf. aug*Gar, ;burial mound'
d"ellers<@/, mountain'giants, burn your halls,
frost'þursar despise you, horses bugger you,
the stra"s sting you, and gales drie you mad,
and "oe befall you, unless you do my "ill.
Unfortunately, little can be deduced from these occurrences. The fact that %lfar appear
alongside trçll and þursar might suggest demonisation. 0ut in some modern 5or"egian
dialects, the refle*es of þurs hae undergone some amelioration, moing to"ards the
refle*es of %lfr in meaning .Einar flafur Seinsson $%%6, 297/. E:ually, their association
in the charm may simply reflect a common association "ith .loe'/magic.
2#2 The #esta $anorum
Dron-e has obsered that Sk$rnis!%l shares much "ith Sa*o !rammaticus<s story of
#thinus<s efforts to "oo Binda in 0oo- 6.& of his Gesta &anoru! .247$, $>2, $79378F
ed. #lri-3BLder 24623>9, ) 9%39$/. Sa*o had )celandic sources .0Garni !uKnason 2482/,
but similarities bet"een the t"o could reflect more general cultural similarities or
contacts. The Gesta, composed around 2$27x$6, is a relatiely early source, but Sa*o at
times adapted his material substantially, and of course "as "riting in Latin .,tinus is a
Latinisation of Eðinn, Iinda of Iindr/. Een so, his narratie proides some conincing
comparisons to Sk$rnis!%lF it can also be argued that it implies the e*istence of a yet
more similar predecessor. )n Sa*o<s narratie, there is no intermediary bet"een the
"ooer and his obGect. #thinus is told by ;Bostiophus Phinnicus< .;HrossMGVfr the ?inn</
that his dead son 0alderus "ill be aenged by a son begotten by #thinus on Binda,
daughter of the -ing of the Buteni. Li-e HulK, ?ann<s emissaries and S-krnir, he defeats
(hapter 9A 5arraties and (onte*ts
the -ing<s enemies, but Binda spurns him een so. 5e*t he disguises himself as a smith,
trying, li-e S-krnir, to "oo "ith offers of rings, but is reGected again. Then he ta-es a
"arrior<s form once more, and this time, Binda shoes him, so hard that he falls to the
floorF in reenge, he ;nuam protinus cortice carminibus adnotato contingens lymphanti
similem reddidit< .;touching her straight a"ay "ith bar- on "hich charms "ere "ritten,
gae in return the appearance of being possessed</. The corte3 car!ini*us adnotatus, as
a cared piece of tree "ith "hich one can touch a person to cause them harm, is similar
to S-krnir<s rune'cared ta!svçndr, and its effect generally similar to the iolent ision
isited upon (j (hulainn. ?inally #thinus disguises himself as a "oman called ,echa
and Goins the princess<s household. ,hen Binda falls ill "ith a feer, #thinus offers to
cure her but e*plains that Binda must be tied do"n because the bitterness of the cure
"ould other"ise oercome her. ,hen Binda has been tied do"n, #thinus rapes her. This
stage of the narratie associates feer "ith rape by an other"orldly being, and is
conse:uently reminiscent of the ælfsiden cluster of te*ts. )t also recalls HulK<s !araA the
!ara seems to be a "itch "ho transforms herself to assault someone in his bedF #thinus
for his part also transforms himself, this time into a "oman, and rapes someone in her
Sa*o, then, affords another parallel for an other"orldly male using magic to inflict
illness in the conte*t of seduction. His account is paralleled by a story "hich fKinn tells
"hile disguised as HgrbarKr in stan=as $%3$$ of (%r*arðsl7Cð .ed. 5ec-el 247$, 8238$/A
HgrbarKr :aKA
;+iclar manclar ec hafKa iK myrcriKor,
Mg er ec clta MLr frg eromF
harKan içtun ec hugKa HlcbarK era,
gaf hann mcr gambantein,
enn ec clta hann Vr iti.<
hVrr :aKA
;)llom huga launaKir Mj Mg gVKar giafar.<
HgrbarKr :aKA
;hat hefir eic, er af annarri scefr,
um sic er herr k slkco.<
HgrbarKr saidA
;) had great loe'thefts among dar-'riders,
"hen ) stole them from their menF
) thought that HlcbarKr "as a tough 7çtunn,
he gae me a ga!*anteinn
and ) stole him from his "its.<
hVrr saidA
;dou repayed good gifts "ith an eil mind.<
HgrbarKr saidA
;The oa- has "hat it cares from another1
each man for himself in such things.<
Here fKinn implicitly claims to hae seduced a "oman or "omen of HlcbarKr<s, to hae
receied a ga!*anteinn .;@magic t"ig</1an implement "hich S-krnir also uses, and
"hich may be identical "ith his ta!svçndr1and to hae inflicted madness .implicitly by
using the ga!*anteinn/. (%r*arðsl7Cð seems to suggest that fKinn used the "and on the
7çtunn HlcbarKr rather than on the "omen he "as seducing, but een so, the cluster of
motifs recalls Sa*o<s story. Ho"eer, both the parallels bet"een Sa*o<s narratie and
Sk$rnis!%l, and its internal coherence, "ould be neater if #thinus<s "ooing comprised
(hapter 9A 5arraties and (onte*ts
only three stages, the last t"o stages of his "ooing arguably originating as only one
component in the story. The European predilection for triads in story'telling encourages
one to e*pect a three'stage narratie .see #lri- 247> N24%4O, 26$36&/, and suspiciously,
#thinus ta-es for his third "ooing a guise "hich he has already used, that of the "arrior,
"hile the madness "ith "hich he afflicts Binda at this point seres no narratie purpose.
)t is unclear "hy at the fourth stage, in the guise of the handmaid ,echa, he has to "ait
for feer to befall Binda "hen he is eidently capable of inflicting similar maladies.
+oreoer, Weca seems to be a Latinisation of Rvitka, putatiely a feminine form of
vitki .;magician<F Ellis Daidson3?isher 249438%, )) >9 n. &&F cf. the #ld English
cognates wiccaCwicce/, and it is in this guise that "e might obiously e*pect to find
#thinus using magic. These obserations all suggest that Sa*o or his sources diided the
last episode of an earlier ersion in "hich fKinn offered Binda Ge"ellery and perhaps .by
inference from his appearance as a "arrior and from S-krnir<s actions in Sk$rnis!%l/
threatened her "ith iolenceF but for his third attempt, resorted to magic. He too- the
guise of a "oman called Vitka .or perhaps the guise of a Rvitka/ and struc- Bindr "ith a
piece of inscribed bar- to inflict madness andIor feer on her, after "hich he "as able to
rape her. The narratie "as perhaps changed to dilute its dense clustering of magic and
male cross'dressing1each deeply improper in Sa*o<s morality.
Sa*o<s narratie has another analogue, moreoer, "hich suggests that #thinus<s loe'
magic "as identified specifically as seiðr. fKinn<s seduction of Bindr is described once
outside the Gesta &anoru!, in a line of stan=a 6 of Dorma-r Ogmundarson<s
Sigurðarkviða, praising SigurKr Garl, "ho ruled around Trondheim in the mid'tenth
centuryF li-e other such praise'poems, it is assumed to be genuine. Dorma-r<s erse
mentions that ;fKinn seiK til Bindar< .;fKinn @enchanted Bindr<F ed. ?innur TVnsson
242$, 0) 74/, denoting fKinn<s magical seduction of Bindr "ith s$ða.
)n itself, this
suggests that Dorma-r thought seiðr to hae been integral to fKinn<s "ooing of Bindr.
+oreoer, fKinn is associated "ith seiðr once else"here in the poetic corpus
.admittedly by emendation from s$ga, but this does not seem to be doubted/, in stan=a $&
of #okasenna, "here Lo-i indicts him "ith the accusationA
;Enn Mic skKa N+S s$gaO -VKo Sgmseyo k,
oc draptu g ctt sem çlorF
itca lk-i fVrtu erMiVK yfir,
oc hugKa ec Mat args aKal.<
;0ut they said that you performed seiðr on
Sgmsey, and beat on a @lid li-e a vçlva
Nfemale magic'"or-erOF in a vitku<s
Nprohetess<sO body you traersed humanity,
and ) consider that the nature of an argr man.<
(f. ?innur<s ;#din fi- Bind ed seGd< .;fKinn too- Bindr by seiðr</. The precise force of til is
not clearA concieably fKinn seið to"ards BindrF but s$ða til may simply by an other"ise
unattested prepositional erb, "ith a specific meaning "hich is irrecoerable.
(hapter 9A 5arraties and (onte*ts
+uch has been made of this stan=a and much has been debated .see See and others
24493, )) &6%36>/. )t has long been noted that Lo-i might be alluding here to fKinn<s
"ooing of Bindr, and the conse:uent implication that fKinn "as not only argr here, but
being so in order to "in a "oman, fits "ith +cDinnell<s obseration that the stan=a
comes in a se:uence of accusations of morally dubious se*ual e*ploits, and that the entry
of fKinn into the fray, "hich prompts stan=a $&, is itself prompted by an allusion of
Lo-i<s in stan=a $% to fKinn<s prostitution of himself for the mead of poetry .2487384,
esp. $&23&7/. +oreoer, if Lo-i does refer in #okasenna stan=a $& to fKinn<s seduction
of Bindr, it "ould be an action for "hich he himself had set fKinn up in causing the
slaying of 0aldr and, if Sa*o<s Bostiophus is to be identified "ith Lo-i, as Ellis'
Daidson argued .Ellis Daidson3?isher 249438%, )) >7 n. 69/, in causing fKinn to try to
seduce Bindr1an irony characteristic of his inectie in #okasenna .see +cDinnell
2487384, $>63>>/.
The argument that in Sa*o<s sources, #thinus employed cross'
dressing and seiðr to "oo Bindr, is, then, "ell'paralleled.
2#3 Evidence for ælfe
These te*ts, then, sho" that male other"orldly beings might be associated "ith the
cluster of seduction, seiðr, and inflicting madness or feer "ith "hich "e find ælfe
associated in Anglo'Sa*on material. They also suggest, ho"eer, that this transgressed
proper masculine behaiour .cf. S7A6.2/A ho"eer "e label S-krnir<s magical actiities, it
seems clear that men<s lust causes the loss of self'control to desire, and the loss of the
po"er and independence "hich characterised masculine gendering in medieal
Scandinaia .cf. (loer 2446/. Een "orse than the loestruc- (j (hulainn or Uanlandi,
they are reduced to underhand ploys to gain their desires. )n Sk$rnis!%l, ?reyr is reduced
to sitting alone indoors .stan=a 6F cf. Heinrichs 2449/. Action to remedy his situation is
instigated only by S-aKi, his stepmother. ?reyr agrees to gie his s"ord to S-krnir in
payment for S-krnir<s serices .stan=as 834/1a po"erful symbol of ?reyr<s loss of
masculinity .albeit one deeloped more by #okasenna and Snorri than by Sk$rnis!%lA see
0ibire 2487, 6>368/. S-krnir for his part finds that the usual sources of male po"er1
"ealth and iolence1"ill not aail him in the face of !erKr<s intransigence, and is
reduced instead to using magic. S-krnir<s problems are repeated for #thinus, "hose
responses1magic and disguise as a "oman1are similar to S-krnir<s. )f "e are to see
Anglo'Sa*on ælfe to hae been associated "ith seduction, magic and illness through
Though for reasons "hich he did not ma-e clear, +cDinnell himself did not beliee that stan=a
$& could relate to the theme of se*ual immorality .2487384, $&63&&/.
(hapter 9A 5arraties and (onte*ts
narraties similar to ?reyr<s and #thinus<s, then, "e are inited also to see their
masculinity compromised, at least as it "as usually defined by the in'group.
Unfortunately, there are no close early )rish comparisons this time to help sho" that
narraties of this sort "ere in circulation before the t"elfth century or in the 0ritish )sles.
Learned loe'magic certainly e*isted in ,ales by the early tenth centuryA folio 7%r of
Leiden, 0ibliothee- der BiG-suniersiteit, +S Uoss. Lat. n. $, a ,elsh manuscript of the
late ninth century or the early tenth, contains a long Latin loe'charm .discussed by
Dron-e 2488/, and +iddle ,elsh and early )rish te*ts do afford some more general
analogues for the association of males "ith seduction, magic and illness.
+arie de ?rance<s Anglo'5orman Yonec, from around the 22>%s or 227%s, suggests that
the themes in Sk$rnis!%l and the Gesta &anoru! need not hae been uni:uely
Scandinaian. Yonec is set around (aer"ent in ,ales and is, then, a relatiely early te*t
"ith 0ritish connections. Admittedly, +uldumarec, the seducing other"orldly cevaler
.;-night</, does not face the degree of resistance offered by !erKr and Binda, and
employs neither iolence, bribery or magic. Ho"eer, the lady "hom he seduces does
impose the proiso that she "ill accept his loe only ;S<en Deu cre…st< .;if he belieed in
!od<, line 264F ed. E"ert 244>, 8>/. To proe this, +uldumarec ta-es on her form and
pretends to be suffering from !al .;pain, disease, affliction<, line 2>9F ed. E"ert 244>,
87/, thus haing an e*cuse to ta-e the sacrament .presumably for its healing properties,
rather as the viaticu!/, so proing his (hristianity. This narratie includes an initial
reGection of the suit prompting the seducer to change his guise to a "oman<sF mean"hile,
the illness assumed by +uldumarec "hile in the lady<s form is reminiscent of the
infliction of feer and related ailments imposed on the seduced in the course particularly
of ?ann<s and #thinus<s "ooings. )f nothing else, Yonec sho"s that there "as a "ider
5orth',est European conte*t for narraties of male other"orldly beings using magical
methods in their seductions.
Although the seductions by Drkfa and ?ann proide the densest cluster of parallels for
the #ld English medical te*ts containing ælf, then, seeral Scandinaian te*ts attesting to
other"orldly males< magical seduction and infliction of illness .arguably using seiðr/
also proide good parallels for both Drkfa and ?ann and for the #ld English material, and
Yonec in particular suggests that these "ere not uni:uely Scandinaian. At the same
time, they also suggest that these actions inoled male gender transgression. This both
emphasises the "idespread character of core ideas identified in S7A6 and, crucially for
e.g. +at ua* +atonwy .ed. ,illiams 246%, 7934$, esp. 7939&F cf. Higley 244&F Ualente
2488/F the account of (odal in the #ld )rish metrical &indsencas .ed. !"ynn 24%63$&, )U $783
The first half of the t"entieth century sa" much discussion of ho" far the origins of #ld ?rench
lais li-e Yonec are to be understood as ;(eltic< .see )lling"orth 247%372, "ith refs/, but ) prefer to
emphasise "ider cultural continuities.
(hapter 9A 5arraties and (onte*ts
present purposes, sho"s that the preponderance of female other"orldly beings in our
early )rish and high medieal European narraties does not mean that male other"orldly
beings "ere not associated "ith similar motifs.
$. Vçlun da r!iða again
As ) hae discussed .S$A6.$/, Vçlundarkviða is releant to ælfe in haing a protagonist
"ho is an %lfr and in haing some connections to Anglo'Sa*on cultureF it also inoles
the seduction or rape of a member of the in'group by an other"orldly being1implicitly
in the poem itself, but more clearly in its analogues. ,ithout mentions of !çrur or seiðr,
or illness or madness as a means of seduction, Vçlundarkviða<s narratie is lin-ed only
tendentiously to the eidence of the #ld English medical te*tsA Uçlundr instead utilises
iolence .stan=a &2/ and tacit female compliance .cf. +cDinnell 244%, $23$$F Dron-e
2449, 6243$%/. +oreoer, concepts of in'group and out'group in the poem are comple*A
in Vçlundarkviða<s opening stan=as, our perspectie is "ith Uçlundr as he faces a group
of other"orldly females. 0ut after the dissolution of Uçlundr<s o"n in'group, the
audience<s perspectie is partially re'orientated to that of the 5Ggrar, 0çKildr<s people.
Een so, Vçlundarkviða consolidates some themes concerning other"orldly beings,
seduction, gendering, and perhaps magic, and features other"orldly females prominently.
Their relations "ith Uçlundr proide useful conte*ts for understanding the gendering of
Eerything that happens in Vçlundarkviða can arguably be traced bac- to the arrial,
in its opening stan=as, of three !ey7ar .ed. 5ec-el 247$, 229/A
+eyiar flugo sunnan, myrciK k gognum,
alitur ungar N+S alvitr ungaO, irlçg
MLr g sLar strçnd settu= at hkla=,
drVsir suKr„nar, dlrt lkn spunno.
Ein nam Meira Egil at eria,
fçgr mLr fira, faKmi liVsomF
çnnor ar Sanhkt, sanfiaKrar drVF
enn in MriKia, Meira systir,
arKi hktan hgls Uçlundar.
+aidens fle" from the south, through
+yr-iKr young alvitur, to follo"Idetermineç
fate there on the shore of the seaIla-e they
paused to rest, southern ladies, they spun
e*pensie linen.
#ne of them too- Egill, to embraceIprotect
him, the fair maiden of men, to her bright
breastF the second "as Sanhkt .S"an'"hite/,
she cast off her s"an'cloa-F and the third,
their sister, guarded the "hite nec- of
Hines .$%%6, 6>/ has argued that in 5orse mythological literature,
the po"er of the female, to captiate and out"it the male as "ell as in her special craft1spinning
and "eaing yarn and fate1is ta-en as one of the giens of the dramatic sceneA the 0rlçg seggia,
(hapter 9A 5arraties and (onte*ts
;declaring of fate<, that the !eyiar !args vitandi, ;maidens -no"ing about many things<, lay
do"n for men.
This certainly applies "ell to VçlundarkviðaF nor is the association of "omen "ith
shaping the future "ithout Anglo'Sa*on comparisons.
This female po"er to determine
Uçlundr<s life is symbolised by a ringA Uçlundr ma-es it for his !ey, arguably to bring
her home .see belo"/F 5kKuKr ta-es it, its absence ma-ing Uçlundr imagine her to hae
returned, "hich leads to Uçlundr being captured and hamstrungF 5kKuKr gies it to
0çKildr, "hose desire to hae it mended leads her into Uçlundr<s po"er and to the
culmination of Uçlundr<s reenge .cf. +cDinnell 244%, 27324/. The first t"o stan=as,
then, proide the necessary narratie conditions for the story as Vçlundarkviða tells itF
and they situate the beginnings of eents "ith seductie other"orldly females. As
+cDinnell commented, ;it seems clear that the poet stresses the role of "omen in the
story largely because his attitude to them is consistently suspiciousF he portrays them as
selfish NandO insincere< .244%, $$/.
The opening of Vçlundarkviða has receied curiously little attention in the study of
medieal Scandinaian supernatural females.
Studies of the poem hae instead
emphasised comparison "ith fol-'tales of s"an'maidens, "hile +cDinnell pointed to
parallels "ith the #ld ?rench fPes.
These comparisons are helpful, but should not, )
thin-, e*clude Vçlundarkviða<s !ey7ar from the mainstream traditions of 5orse
supernatural femalesA they are e*amples of a continuum of other"orldly females "hom
"e might generally label d$sir .see also SS$A$, 8A$/. As the applicability to
Vçlundarkviða of Hines<s :uotation aboe suggests, "e are surely dealing here "ith a
"ell'established 5orse mythological themeF Vçlundarkviða<s !ey7ar are similar to the
three canonically mythological ;meyGar, margs itandi< .;maidens, -no"ing much</
coming from a sær .;large body of "ater</ and shaping the fate of men in Vçlus1% stan=a
Li-e (j (hulainn, faced "ith ?ann<s seduction, or ?reyr, seeing !erKr for the first
#n spinning and "eaing as means of shaping the future in early medieal European culture see
generally Enright 2447, 2%43$2F cf. 244%F +olt-e 248>, 6>837%F ?lint 2442, $$73$8. #n prophetic
"omen in Anglo'Sa*on culture, Bobinson 2446 N2488O.
)t is, for e*ample, omitted from the mythological sureys of Uries .24>73>9/ and Turille'Petre
.247&/, and the specialist studies of StrEm .24>&/ and Tochens .2447/F and it "as summarily
dismissed by Droesen .2449, 269/. Dron-e stated li-e"ise that ;it is important to note that the s"an
maidens of Vkv are not al-yries, although the prose prologue calls them so "ith great confidence<
.2449, 6%236%$, at 6%2/, but her reading is ill'GustifiedF cf. the circular argumentation in her note to
stan=a 2>, lines >38 .2449, 626/.
HolmstrEm 2424F Hatto 2472F 0urson 2486F +ot= 2487384, >$3>8F +cDinnell 244%, 27329.
This trio is identified in scholarship as ;the 5orns<, but only because Snorri says .presumably on
the basis of this stan=a/, ;har stendr salr einn fagr undir as-inum iK brunninn, o- Vr Meim sal -oma
MrGgr meyGar MLr er sg heitaA UrKr, UerKandi, S-uld. hessar meyGar s-apa mçnnum aldr. hLr
-çllum cr nornir< .;A beautiful hall stands there under the ash beside a springIpool, and from that
(hapter 9A 5arraties and (onte*ts
time, Uçlundr and his brothers are disempo"ered by the s"an'maidens, implicitly partly
by their spinning. They ta-e the men into their protection, "ith the erbs ver7a .;coer,
clothe, embrace</ and varða .;guard, protect</, a motif "ell'paralleled by other
other"orldly females in the Poetic Edda .cf. S8A$/. ,ithout this protection, Uçlundr is
left ulnerable.
This reading relates to a long'standing cru*A "hy Uçlundr<s nec-, as the !ey puts her
protectie arms about it, is described as v$tr, "hen "hiteness and brightness are almost
inariably associated in Eddaic poetry "ith female beauty.
+ot= sa" the adGectie to
associate Uçlundr "ith the s"an'maidens .2487384, >9/, "hich it does, but her point
does not distract from its connotations of femininity. +cDinnell argued that ;fair s-in is
probably an indication of noble birth here< .244%, 432%/, on the basis of the description
of the noble "oman +VKir .;+other</ in stan=a $4 of I$gsþula .ed. 5ec-el 247$, $8&/,
declaring her
brjn biartari, briVst liVsara,
hgls hktari hreinni miçllo.
bro" brighter, breast lighter,
nec- "hiter than ne"'fallen sno".
0ut this associates +VKir<s "hite nec- ine*tricably "ith feminine beauty. The only other
serious e*ceptions to the rule that only "omen are v$tr pertain to Heimdallr, one of the
Heimdallr is called ;seinn inn hkti< .;the "hite boy<F st. $%/ by Lo-i in
#okasenna and ;hktastr gsa< .;"hitest of æsir<F st. 2>/ in Mry!skviða. )n the first
instance, Heimdallr is being insulted .albeit indirectly, as at this point Lo-i is reminding
!efGon that she prostituted herself to HeimdallrF ed. 5ec-el 247$, 2%%/. +ean"hile,
Mry!skviða .ed. 5ec-el 247$, 226/ says
hall come three maidens "ho are named thusA UrKr N;become<O, UerKandi N;becoming<O, S-uld
N;"ill be<O. These maidens shape the lies of people. ,e call them nornir<F ed. ?aul-es 248$, 28/.
Een this is not eidence for the e*istence in 5orse mythology of ;the 5orns<, three female shapers
of fate1merely that these three !ey7ar are nornir. Statements li-e ;poets use the "ord d$sir as if it
meant [norns\ < .Turille'Petre 247&, $$$/ inert our eidence .cf. StrEm 24>&, esp. 8%34>/.
+oreoer, it is not unli-ely that Snorri<s naming of his three nornir deries from the (lassical
.arcae and their goernance of past, present and future .Uries 24>73>9, $9$ n. 7F for the similarity
of the 1arcae and Snorri<s nornir see 0auschat= 249>, >>, >4376F for possible (lassical influence
on Vçlus1% see Dron-e 2449, 4632%&/.
To offer only a fe" e*amples, Vçlundarkviða<s !ey7ar are l7Css .;light, bright</, as are "omen
in (%va!%l 4$ and Sigurðarkviða in ska!!a >6F in (%va!%l, fKinn describes his desire for
;0illings mey Y sVlhkta< .0illingr<s sun'"hite maid<, st. 49/, "hile hVrr<s daughter is in
'lv$ss!%l called ;miallhkta man< .;the sno"'"hite maid<F st. 9/F (elgakviða (undings*ana pp
calls Sigrjn ;sVlbGçrt< .;sun'bright<F st. &>/ and ;hkt< .;"hite<F st. &8/, the latter "ord being used
also of Erna in I$gsþula .st. 64/ and Sanhildr in Sigurðarkviða in ska!!a .st. >>/. (f. S&A$.
Helgi Hundingsbani is, "hile a boy, characterised in stan=a 4 of (elgakviða (undings*ana p as
;glmr ktrborinn, ynKis liVma< .;a high'born elm, a ray of delight<F ed. 5ec-el 247$, 262/, and
I$gsþula stan=a 6& says of the child Tarl that ;bleict ar hgr, biartir angar< .;pale "as the hair,
bright the chee-s<F ed. 5ec-el 247$, $8>/. 0ut, prodigious though Helgi "as, boys "ere not
considered yet to be masculine .(loer 2446/, so these descriptions are in a different category from
similar descriptions of gro"n men.
(hapter 9A 5arraties and (onte*ts
hg :aK Mat Heimdallr, hktastr gsa1
issi hann el fram, sem anir aKrir1A
;0indo cr hVr Mg brjKar lkni,
hafi hann iM micla men 0rksingat<
Then Heimdallr, the v$tastr of the æsir1
he -ne" "ell "hat "as to come, li-e the other
vanir1said thisA ;Then let<s dress hVrr in a
bridal eil, let him "ear the nec-lace of the
great Br$singart<
Here, Heimdallr proposes that hVrr "ear "omen<s clothing to disguise himself as ?reyGa.
As hVrr points out, doing so "ould prompt the accusation that he is argr .stan=a 29, ed.
5ec-el 247$, 226/, so it is surely appropriate that the suggestion comes from the v$tastr
%sa, arguably ;the most effeminate of the æsir<. Uçlundr is described as v$tr, then, in an
allusion to his disempo"erment at the hands of a seductie "omen. )t is interesting, of
course, that Heimdallr is a vanr here, as ) hae argued aboe that the vanir "ere identical
"ith the %lfar. Some hae argued that associations of %lfar and ælfe "ith beauty e*plain
Uçlundr<s "hite nec-, or that the "hiteness is an echo of %lfr<s etymological association
"ith "hiteness .see See and others 24493, ))) 2&%/. 0oth of these points may be true. They
do not detract from the peGoratie character of v$tr in its poetic conte*tA rather, they
might be ta-en to suggest that associations of %lfar "ith feminine beauty and gender
transgression "ere old, and reflected in their !ermanic nomenclature.
)t is surely not a surprise, then, that Uçlundr is absent from the action "hen his
brothers discoer the absence of the s"an'maidens, and that unli-e them he does not set
off in search of his partner but remains at home. This critical reading of Uçlundr seems
hitherto to hae been aoided, but it is "ell'paralleled by the ?reyr in Sk$rnis!%l and (j
(hulainn in Serglige "on "ulainn. +oreoer, Uçlundr arguably does respond actiely to
his abandonment, in a "ay "hich is consonant "ith his emasculated status and "ith the
reactions to failed seduction of S-krnir and #thinusA in ma-ing .arm'/rings upon losing
his s"an'maiden .stan=a >/, Uçlundr is arguably effecting some -ind of loe'magic in an
attempt to bring his s"an'maiden bac- to him .+ot= 2486387, 7%372F +cDinnell 244%,
29328F cf. Dron-e 2449, $74/. +cDinnell argued further that subse:uent eents in the
poem are an unintended conse:uence of this action1the ring brings Uçlundr into a
se*ual relationship "ith a "oman, but neither in the "ay, nor "ith the "oman, that
Uçlundr intended. These readings are undeniably speculatieF nor "ould it be "ise to be
dogmatic about them. Bather, ) suppose that they "ere probably part of the potential
meaning of the poem in its cultural conte*t, and aailable but not ineitableF the
manufacture of rings creates at one and the same time the -ind of gift "hich a "ooer
might offer a "oman, and potentially the binding of her "ill by magical means. The
reading "ould proide a neat counterpart to my reading of the s"an'maidens< spinning to
shape the fate of Uçlundr and his brothers. The use of the :uintessential form of
(hapter 9A 5arraties and (onte*ts
"oman<s manufacture as a means of shaping the future is matched by an appropriate
male e:uialent, metal"or-ing .cf. S8A6/.
Turning to the perspectie of 0çKildr and the group to "hich she belongs,
Vçlundarkviða associates its %lfr amongst other things "ith se*ual threats. This is
consistent "ith the other narraties of other"orldly beings considered here. Li-e some of
these as "ell, Vçlundarkviða, as ) hae argued aboe .S$A6.$, $A&/, also suggests that
other"orldly beings caused harm in reenge for transgressions1in Uçlundr<s case,
aenging his maltreatment by 5kKuKr1and emphasises the ris- ta-en by 5kKuKr<s
children in leaing the safety of their immediate community. ?inally, ho"eer, it
proides an unusually clear conte*t for supposing that stories of ælfe could proide a
discourse through "hich indiiduals and communities could discuss unsanctioned se*ual
?or 0çKildr, se* "ith Uçlundr has a siler lining, ho"eerA it leads in other ersions
of the story to the birth of a hero, Uit-i in Miðreks saga and ,idia in English tradition
.see Waldere pp lines &, 4F ed. vettersten 2494, 24F cf. &eor lines 232$F ed. +alone 24&4,
$63$&/. )n another layer of meaning, then, shame is counterbalanced "ith pride, and an
e*planation of a hero<s pro"ess proided by his lineage. This narratie is not dissimilar
to that of #thinus and Binda1though the comparisons can be oerstated .e.g. Ellis
Daidson 2474, $28324/1and is "ell'paralleled by (lassical accounts of gods seducing
mortal maidens .see Lef-o"it= 2446/. 0ut comparisons in our eidence for ælfe are not
Vçlundarkviða, then, does not offer a clear and close parallel to the #ld English
medical te*ts in the "ay that narraties li-e Drkfa<s do. Ho"eer, it conte*tualises the
other eidence considered aboe in useful "ays, by repeating a number of themes and
lin-ing them le*ically "ith %lfr and more generally "ith Anglo'Scandinaian culture.
Uie"ed from Uçlundr<s perspectie, as a male seduced by an other"orldly female,
Vçlundarkviða proides a case'study in the idea that desire for a "oman might
disempo"er males, een supernatural ones, leading them to degrading ends. Uçlundr is
made v$tr by his loe, and arguably led by it to use loe'magicF either "ay, he is
captured in his sleep because of itF he is hamstrung by a :ueenF his s"ord stolenF and his
escape effected by transformation, not, as in stories of fKinn, to an eagle, but, to Gudge
by his "ebbed feet .fit7ar, stan=a $4/, to some sort of "aterfo"l, more than anything li-e
the !ey "ho first seduced him .cf. 0urson 2486, 738, 2232$/. ,hile the seductie
po"ers of "omen are clearly construed as threats to men in these te*ts, criticism falls
also upon the men in each case, for surrending their independence of mind. +oreoer,
Uçlundr<s reenge is commensurate "ith his disempo"erment, inoling the murder of
(hapter 9A 5arraties and (onte*ts
boys and the seductionIrape of a girl. These points sho" clearly that male supernatural
beings might be associated "ith characteristics and actiities "hich "ere normally
deemed improper to men, and "ill be important in establishing the relationship of ælfe to
Anglo'Sa*on gendering.
%. The +cottish witchcraft trials
I hardly need mention the chronological distance between Anglo-Saxon England and my
last comparison, but the early modern Scottish witchcraft trials cannot be ignored.
They contain our earliest clearly traceable articulations of beliefs relating to elves (Scots
elvis) from people other than members of the literate elites—in particular poor, illiterate
women, the group least-represented in Anglo-Saxon sources.
In addition, there is
reason to suppose that beliefs among such social groups had been less affected by
Christianisation and other social, political and cultural change than among the groups
which produced our medieval sources, affording special evidence for cultural strata
which may reflect and illuminate Anglo-Saxon beliefs.
Moreover, Scotland seems in
some important respects to have been culturally more conservative than England—
particularly regarding healers’ strategies for claiming special sources of power.
large number of Scottish trials and the predilection of Scottish prosecutors for viewing
all folk-healing as witchcraft has produced a not insubstantial corpus of trials in which
the accused mentions elvis or fareis.
A full survey of the material is not possible
Here, I focus on just two trials which particularly illuminate the Anglo-Saxon
material, Andro Man’s and Elspeth Reoch’s, followed by another, Issobel Gowdie’s, in
Chapter 8.
Now conveniently martialled using the Survey of Scottis Witccraft .!oodare3+artin3+iller3
deoman $%%6/, conceied as ;an e*tensie database of all people -no"n to hae been accused of
"itchcraft in Scotland bet"een 2>76 and 2967<, the :uotation being from the ;Surey of Scottish
,itchcraft Database Documentation and Description< to be do"nloaded "ith the database itself, p.
Larner 1981, 89–102; see also Goodare 1998; Yeoman 2002.
For the classic example of continuity compare the Our Lord forth raide charm (ed. Chambers
1861, II 153; cf. Catherine Caray, Orkney, 1616) with the Second Merseburg Charm (ed.
Steinmeyer 1916, 365; cf. Grendon 1909, 148–49; Branston 1957, 38–39; Larner 1981, 140; for
later, English examples see Davies 1996, 26–27). See also Niles 1980.
See Davies, forthcoming; cf. $%%6, 9%, 28$38&F Purkiss 2000, 85–193; Wilby 2000.
?or some of the debate underlying these inferences see, in addition to Daies and Pur-iss,
+acdonald .$%%$, esp. &>3&7/. The Survey of Scottis Witccraft counted 6,869 indiidual
Scottish cases, and oerloo-ed some besidesF it gae 226 cases "ith a ;fairies< characterisation
.though this figure re:uires modification1Hall forthcoming NdO1and of course most trials offer
too little eidence to be useful/. #f these 226, &%1or 6>†1also hae either or both of the
characterisations ;?ol- Healing< and ;,hite +agic< .;?ol- Healing< andIor ;,hite +agic< occur
themseles in 282 cases/.
See Henderson3(o"an $%%2F Pur-iss $%%%, especially 8>32>9F $%%2F ,ilby $%%%F Hall
forthcoming NdOF cf. +a*"ell'Stuart $%%2F Hutton $%%$, especially $936$.
(hapter 9A 5arraties and (onte*ts
The trials provide narrative evidence, but unlike the texts considered above, these
narratives are not literary. They make it possible to glimpse how narratives concerning
elvis could be part of their tellers’ day-to-day construction of reality. Unfortunately, the
trials tend to be no more informative than the Old English medical texts about the role of
elvis in causing illness, for the obvious reason that they focus instead on witches as
sources of supernatural harm (cf. Hall forthcoming [d]), but their perspectives remain
valuable. Moreover, unlike the Irish and Norse narratives considered above, much of the
Scottish evidence represents a direct continuation of the history of elf’s medieval
semantics, since most of the trials, and all those cited here, come from English-speaking
areas. Of our various sixteenth- and seventeenth-century attestations of north-west
European fairy-lore, then, Scotland’s is pertinent here in special ways. This is
particularly noteworthy because the Scottish trials are a case-study in the
historiographical assumption that fairy-lore is in origin ‘Celtic’, the trials in lowland,
English-speaking areas showing influence from the fairy-lore of Highland Gaelic-
speakers (e.g. Maxwell-Stuart 2001, 10–17, esp. 15–16, et passim; Hutton 2002, 31–32).
There is no question that English-speakers’ culture underwent different kinds and
degrees of cultural contact with Celtic- and Norse-speaking communities in Scotland
from in England. But Anglo-Saxon ælfe prove to have been at least broadly similar to the
Scottish elvis (cf. §3), and in some respects startlingly so (see also §8:3).
Of course, using the witchcraft trials as evidence for traditional beliefs is predicated
on identifying features which represent the beliefs of the accused rather than those of
their educated prosecutors—who could shape the narratives produced throughout
proceedings, from before the point of arrest to the later transcription of primary records.
However, recent approaches to the subject
tend to agree with Larner’s insight (1981,
136) that
witch confessions represent an agreed story between witch and inquisitor in which the witch
drew, through hallucination or imagination, on a common store of myth, fantasy, and nightmare,
to respond to the inquisitor’s questions. As a source for this common store the confessions are
In the absence of original depositions (used by Kieckhefer 1976), or even records of the
questions which prosecutors asked (cf. Sullivan 1999, esp. 1–20), it is hard to be sure
what elements in a confession derived from elite ideas about witchcraft and demonology.
But, as Ginzburg showed in his seminal study I Benandanti (1983 [1966]), it is relatively
easy to judge when we have elements which do not derive from these ideologies. The
literacy of the elites means that their interests and preconceptions are reasonably well-
See prominently Larner 1981, 134–74; Henderson–Cowan 2001, esp. 118–36; Macdonald
2002; and more generally Broedel 2003; Ginzburg 1983 [1966]; Kieckhefer 1976, esp. 1–9, 73–
102; cf. Burke 1994, 65–87; Sullivan 1999, esp. 1–20.
(hapter 9A 5arraties and (onte*ts
attested; we can be reasonably confident that elements in statements by the accused
which differ from these substantially, especially when the records themselves suggest
that they conflicted with prosecutors’ ideologies, are reliable evidence for some stratum
in the beliefs of the accused. This evidence can afford models for interpreting the Anglo-
Saxon material. It may even evince continuity of belief, more directly illuminating the
early medieval situation, and potentially underpinning some long-standing assumptions
in scholarship on the trials about continuity in belief between pre-conversion and early
modern Europe.
4.1 Andro Man
The recoverability of these interplays between the beliefs of the accused in the Scottish
witchcraft trials and those of their prosecutors can be shown most neatly by the famous
trial of Andro Man (Aberdeen), which took place on the twentieth of January 1598 (see
also Purkiss 2000, 133–39).
As "ith the maGority of our medieal accounts, Andro<s
focuses on the encounter of a man of the in'group "ith a female other"orldly being, but
it proides an important conte*t for proceeding to loo- at other narraties, better
represented in the "itchcraft trials than in medieal literature, in "hich "omen meet
male other"orldly beings. ;0eing bot a young boy< si*ty years before, Andro "as an old
man, born perhaps only ten or fifteen years after +artin Luther nailed up his ninety'fie
theses in 2>29, and perhaps thirty before Scotland<s official reformation in 2>7%. Some
of his ideas may reach bac- deep into pre'Beformation culture. Andro avoided
prosecution in Aberdeen’s dramatic witch-panic early in 1597 (on which see Goodare
2001; cf. Maxwell-Stuart 1998), but was prosecuted later in a smaller witch-hunt
(accusing Gilbert Fidlar and Jonat Leisk, Aberdeen 1597; ed. Stuart 1841–52, I 134–40;
cf. Goodare 2001, 26).
Andro<s indictment "as based on his confession, itself based on an unrecorded
indictment, of #ctober $2 2>49 .ed. Stuart 28&23>$, ) 2$63$&/F the confession "hich "e
hae recorded is similar to the final indictment in many points, but differs enough that
"e can be sure that the first, lost indictment differed from the one "hich suries.
Andro’s surviving indictment (ed. Stuart 1841–52, I 119–22) begins
)n the first, tho" art accusit as ane manifest and notorious "itche and sorcerar, in sa far as tho"
confessis and affermis thy selff, that be the space of thriescoir yeris sensyne or thairby, the
Deill, thy maister, com to thy motheris hous, in the li-nes and scheap of a "oman, :uhom tho"
callis the nuene of Elphen, and "as delyerit of a barne, as apperit to the their, at :uhil- tyme
tho" being bot a young boy, bringand in "atter that deilische spreit, the nuene of Elphen,
promesit to the, that tho" suld -na" all thingis, and suld help and cuir all sort of sei-ness, e*cept
) refer to Scottish trials by the names of the accused, the county in "hich they lied, and the
end'date of their trial, in the forms used by the Survey of Scottis Witccraft.
(hapter 9A 5arraties and (onte*ts
stand deid, and that tho" suld be "eill interteneit, but "ald sei- Wforsa-eX thy meat WfoodX or
tho" deit, as Thomas Bymour did.
)TE+, Tho" confessis that be the space of threttie t"a yeris sensyn or thairby, tho" begud to
hae carnall deall "ith that deilische spreit, the nuene of Elphen, on :uhom tho" begat dyeris
bairnis, :uhom tho" hes sene sensynF and that at hir first cumming, scho causit ane of thy cattell
die pone any hillo- callit the Elphillo-, bot promeist to do him gude theireftir.
The "ord El1en .;fairyland</, contains elf, establishing a le*ical connection bet"een its
:ueen and elvis, confirmed by another part of the confession :uoted belo".
fundamental releance of this material to the history of elf is, then, established.
+oreoer, it is possible to see some of the ideological tensions and layerings in Andro<s
trial. The s"itch from second to third person in the last sentence of the indictment sho"s
that parts at least are simply a rephrasing of a third'person report of Andro<s o"n
confession. The indictment mentions ;the Deill Y :uhom tho" callis the nuene of
Elphen<A Andro had spo-en of te €uene of El1en, but she had been interpreted as the
Deil, and later as ;that deilische spreit<. ,e must, then, o"e mention of the nuene of
Elphen to Andro and not to his prosecutors1nor is it the only such e*ample in the
"hile the motifs "hich Andro associated "ith elvis are mostly paralleled in later
fol-'lore .Henderson3(o"an $%%2, &7, >8, 7$, 8&F cf. (hristiansen 24>8, no. >%9%, on
the migratory legend [+id"ife to the ?airies\, "hich Andro<s indictment recalls/. The
point also emphasises that the debate about the theological status of ælfe "hich "as
under"ay by the early ninth century "as still unresoled perhaps eight centuries later,
"ith competing ideas e*isting in parallel and in contact throughout the interening
period. +ost of the other accusations against Andro concern the e*pected actiities of a
healer and cunning'man, and there is no reason to doubt that this is because Andro "as
"ell'established in this profession, his o"n actions and claims furnishing his prosecutors
"ith the material for charges of "itchcraft. )n short, certain features of the indictment
certainly reflect Andro<s o"n statements and probably his o"n beliefs or personal
+oreoer, Andro<s indictment suggests the dynamic interplay bet"een fairy'belief,
personal narratie and a community<s shared stoc- of common lore, in his comparison of
his e*perience "ith Thomas the Bhymer<s. Andro alluded here to a narratie "ell'
attested in the modern Scottish oral ballad'tradition and first attested in full in the
The etymology of El1en is obscureA although this form seems to sho" the adGectial suffi* 'en,
the form elfa!e is also attested, suggesting etymological 'a!e .;a person<s d"elling'place, or
natie country<F 0essie Dunlop, Ayr, 2>97, e.g. ;the gude "ychtis that "ynnit Nd"ellO in the (ourt
of Elfame<F ed. Pitcairn 2866, ) pt. $ >6/. 0ut "hether "e hae elf r en, perhaps as a cal:ue on fary
.;fairy'land<, analysed as fPe r adGectial y/, "ith fol-'etymologisation as elf r a!e, or the
opposite process, or something else, is unclear.
(f. the later account of Andro<s encountering the nueen and her husband (hristsonday .item 8/,
and the differences bet"een the later indictment and the earlier confession, "here processes of
negotiation are eident.
(hapter 9A 5arraties and (onte*ts
romance 2o!as of Erceldoune .in mid'fifteenth'century manuscripts, itself perhaps
originating in the fourteenth centuryF 5i*on 248%386, ) 6327, )) &&3&8F see generally
0o-lund'Lagopoulou $%%$, 2$43>8/. Here, Thomas meets a certain louely ladyF being
seduced by her beauty, he coninces her to hae se* "ith him, after "hich she ta-es him
out of !ydul ert to her o"n cuntre, and, on his departure, gies him prophetic
information .ed. 5i*on 248%386/. The record also mentions Thomas Bymour again
among the ;sundrie deid men< in the company of the nueen of Elphen .item 9/. )t is
possible that the references to Thomas o"e something to Andro<s prosecutors, see-ing to
gloss Andro<s story "ith a fairy'narratie -no"n to them. 0ut if so, it is uni:ue in the
trialsA prosecutors "ere inclined rather to gloss such narraties1as Andro<s certainly did
1in terms of diabolism. Andro "as not short of material about elvis to relate to his
prosectorsA rather, the references to Thomas seem to sere as alidation of his accounts,
sho"ing their consistency "ith a "idely -no"n fairy'narratie. Thus it seems li-ely that
stories of Thomas the Bhymer influenced Andro<s accounts of his personal fairy'
encounters, sho"ing that narraties not unli-e Serglige "on "ulainn, Vçlundarkviða or
Yonec could hae direct roles in indiiduals< construction of personal narraties and
Among Andro<s arious confessions, another of particular interest occurs as item 4A
Tho" affermis that the elphis hes shapes and claythis ly- men, and that thay "ill hae fair coerit
taiblis, and that they ar bot schaddo"is, bot are star-er WstrongerX nor men, and that thay hae
playing and dansing :uhen thay pleasF and als that the :uene is erray plesand, and "ilbe auld
and young :uhen scho pleissisF scho mac-is any -yng :uhom scho pleisis, and lyis "ith any scho
These comments, again, are unli-ely to hae been put into Andro<s mouthA in that case, a
more conentional description of a sabbat "ould be e*pected. They are aluable partly
for confirming the le*ical association of El1en "ith elf, but also because they gie us a
clear indication of "hat elf denoted in Andro<s speech. Although he said that elvis ;ar bot
schaddo"is<, the implication is other"ise that they "ere human'li-eF and both their
strength and Andro<s other encounters "ith them suggests that they "ere corporeal.
Despite the predominance of female other"orldly beings in our literary sources, it is
clear that elvis could be male.
As regards the Anglo'Sa*on association of ælfe "ith se* and illness, Andro<s record
is less enlightening. The indictment<s emphasis on Andro<s se*ual relations "ith the
nueen of Elphen may reflect the concern of prosecutors to identify se* "ith the deil, as
this "as seen as a central trait of "itchcraft .Larner 2482, esp. 2&73>%/. This does not
mean that the indictment does not reflect popular beliefs .cf. +acdonald $%%$, &>3>%/,
but it cannot be used confidently as eidence for them. The nueen of Elphen clearly
(hapter 9A 5arraties and (onte*ts
might cause illness, in this case to liestoc- rather as in Gif ors ofscoten sie, this illness
being associated "ith spatial transgression, in this case of the co" onto the El1illok.
Precisely ho" this relates to her subse:uent relationship "ith Andro is not clear1
perhaps it is a 4uid 1ro 4uo, "hereby the nueen gets the co" and Andro gets the nueen<s
*#2 Els!eth ;eoch
Andro<s trial proides a conte*t for understanding other material, sometimes briefer,
later or less archaic in its language, as part of the same cluster of beliefs relating to elvis
and illuminating the #ld English material. ,hat ) "ish to do here is to focus on eidence
that elvis could be male, but still be associated "ith narraties li-e those of the female
other"orldly beings ?ann and Drkfa. #ne of the trials inoling male elvis, )ssobell
!o"die<s, ) consider in relation to Wið færstice belo" .S8A6/. #ther"ise, one of the
clearest attestations of male elvis is the indictment of ;)sobell Strautha:uhin, alias
Scudder, and hir dochter< .Aberdeen/, "ho "ere tried during the 2>49 "itch'panic "hich
preceded Andro +an<s coniction. )sobell "as a cunning'"omanF according to the
indictment, she and her daughter ;depone that hir self confessis, that :uhat s-ill so eer
scho hes, scho hed it of hir motherF and hir motherF and hir mother learnit at ane elf man
:uha lay "ith hir< .ed. Stuart 28&23>$, ) 299/. Precisely "hose mother.s/ "e are dealing
"ith here is not certain,
but it is clear that the healing and magical s-ills "ere claimed
to hae entered )sobell<s family by a female member haing se* "ith an elf !an and
passing the s-ills do"n the female line thereafter. 5o other details of the encounter are
gien. One might seek to take an intransigently sceptical stance on this source and others
like it, seeing them as narratives of diabolism successfully imposed on the accused by
their prosecutors, with some chance failure to substitute devil for elf. But it seems far
more likely that we have a traditional elf-narrative either drawn desperately by an
accused woman from her memory of popular legends, or actively pedaled by her as part
of her self-promotion as a cunning woman and picked up on by her prosecutors. Such
encounters seem likely to have been a recurrent feature in cunning-women’s personal
narratives as a means of claiming extraordinary skills (cf. Davies forthcoming).
The closest analogue to the #ld English medical te*ts and to the 5orse and )rish
narraties considered aboe "as related by Elspeth Reoch (Orkney 1616). Unlike Isobell,
Elspeth used the increasingly dominant loan-word fary rather than elf (her prosecutors
Assuming that there is no dittography in the te*t, ) thin- that the most li-ely interpretation is that
)sobell had her s-ill from her mother and from her grandmotherF and that her great'grandmother
learned the s-ill from an ;elf man<. Ho"eer, Henderson and (o"an too- the source to be )sobell
herself .$%%2, 8&/, "hile the Survey of Scottis Witccraft chose )sobell<s mother.
(hapter 9A 5arraties and (onte*ts
for their part preferring ‘Illusiounes of the Devell’; ed. Miscelleny of the Maitland Club
1833–43, II pt. I 187–91). But Elspeth’s narrative is nonetheless worth examining, since it
still emphasises the existence and importance of male otherworldly beings in
seventeenth-century Scottish belief, providing a valuable counterweight to the biases of
medieval literary texts. At the age of twelve Elspeth went from her home in Caithness to
stay at her aunt’s house on an island in Lochaber. She was waiting at the lochside for the
boat home one day, when ‘thair cam tua men to her ane cled in blak and the uther with
ane grein tartane plaid about him And … the man with the plaid said to her she wes ane
prettie And he wald lerne her to ken and sie ony thing she wald desyre’—which he does.
Two years later, she met the other again:
And being delyerit Wof a babyX in hir sisteris hous the bla- man cam to her that first came to hir
at Loch:uhaber And callit him selff ane farie man :uha "es sumtyme her -insman callit Tohne
Ste"art :uha "es slane be +
Dy at the doun going of the soone And therfor nather deid nor
leiing bot "ald eer go betui* the heaen and the earth :uha delt Whad dealingsX "ith you tua
nychtis and "ald neer let her sleip peruading hir to let him ly "ith hir "ald gie yo" a guidly fe
And to be dum for haing teachit hir to sie and -en ony thing she desyrit He said that gif she spa-
gentlemen "old trouble hir and gar hir gie reassounes for hir doings nuhairupon she mycht be
challengeit and hurt And upoun the thrid nycht that he com to hir she being asleip and laid his
hand upoun hir breist and "al-nit her And thairefter semeit to ly "ith her And upoun the morro"
she haid na po"er of hir toung nor could nocht spei- :uhairthro" hir brother dang hir "ith ane
bran-s WbridleX :uhill she bled because she "ald nocht spei- and pat ane bo" string about hir
head to gar her spei- And thairefter tui- her three seerall tymes Sondayis to the -ir- and prayit
for hir.
Elspeth<s narratie is impressiely reminiscent, in arious "ays, of the supernatural
seductions in the medieal te*ts described aboe. ,e can again be sure that stories of
other"orldly males seducing females and subse:uently giing them supernatural
-no"ledge "ere nothing ne" in ScotlandA boo- 7, chapter 28 of Andre" of ,yntoun<s
,riginal "ronicle, finished around 2&$%x$& .ed. Amours 24%632&, )U $97394/,
describes ho" +a-beth'?ynlay- .+ac 0ethad mac ?indlgig, the eponymous hero of
Sha-espeare<s +ac*et/ "as ;gottyne Y on ferly "ys< .;begotten in a marellous "ay</,
by ;a fayr man<.
Andre" stated une:uiocally that this figure "as ;the De"ill<, but it is
reasonable to suppose that, as in Elspeth<s narratie, it relates closely to narraties of
elvis or fareis. The man thereafter prophesies about the son he has Gust begotten and, to
:uote the (otton te*t,
Eftyr Mat oft oyssyt he
Til cum til hyr in pre"ate,
And tauld hir mony thyngis to fal,
Set tro"yt noucht Mai sulde be al.
after that, he often used
to come to her in priate,
and told her many things to come,
though not all should be belieed.
(f. the +iddle English Sir &egarP .ed. Las-aya3Salisbury 244>, 2%23$4/. 5ote also Ste"art
2496 on the circulation of the #rpheus story in medieal Scotland.
(hapter 9A 5arraties and (onte*ts
5ot only does +a-beth'?ynlay-<s mother receie information from the Deil in person,
but +a-beth'?ynlay-<s o"n supernatural encounters .ed. Amours 24%632&, )U $9$39>/
implicitly occur because of his ancestry. This te*t affords eidence for beliefs concerning
the imparting of prophetic information to people by other"orldly beings already in
medieal Scottish culture. )t is paralleled in medieal England particularly by the trial, in
2&68, of Agnes Hanco- by Tohn Stafford, the bishop of 0ath and ,ells. The last of the
four accusations against her1all concerning her healing practises1"as ;quod ipsa
profitetur se sanare pueros tactos vel lesos a spiritibus aeris, quos vulgus “feyry”
appellant; et quod habet communicacionem cum hiis spiritibus immundis et ab eis petit
respona et consilia quando placet’ (‘that she professes herself to heal boys touched or
injured by incorporeal spirits, which the people call feyry; and that she has converse [or
‘holy communion’] with these foul spirits and seeks from them oracles and counsels
whenever she pleases’; ed. Holmes 1915–16, II 227).
Ho"eer, Serglige "on "ulainn probably proides the closest parallel to Elspeth<s
account. )t has a preliminary encounter "ith t"o fairies by a loch, albeit in the form of
s"ansF "hen (j (hulainn does encounter t"o fairies as such, they are, li-e those met by
Elspeth, dressed in different colours, one being dressed in green. 0oth Elspeth and (j
(hulainn are subse:uently harassed for se*. Although (j (hulainn<s year of disability
precedes se* "ith ?ann rather than follo"ing it, his Serglige is nonetheless reminiscent
of the dumbness imposed on Elspeth follo"ing se* "ith the ;farie man<F li-e"ise,
although no e*plicit connection is dra"n, (j (hulainn<s first action upon arising from
his sic-ness is to e*pound a poetic *r$atar<tecosc .;preceptual instruction</, "hich
recalls the association of Elspeth<s illness "ith learning ;to sie and -en ony thing she
desyrit< .cf. (arey 2444, esp. 24>348/. )t is also "orth noting that, li-e Elspeth, Andro
+an associated his meeting "ith the nuene of Elphen "ith se* "ith an other"orldly
being, illness .in Andro<s case of one of his animals/, and the ac:uisition of supernatural
This summary of resemblances to earlier narraties is not to diminish the comple*ities
of Elspeth<s account1"hich are legion. 0esides the fact that #r-ney "as a hub of
cultural e*change for the 0ritish )sles and Scandinaia, a comple* inter"eaing of
personal e*perience, popular belief, and response to interrogation must underlie Espeth<s
confession. Thus Pur-iss read Elspeth<s narratie1speculatiely but not unattractiely1
as a response to an incest e*perience .$%%2F cf. $%%%, 4%347/. )f Pur-iss is right, then "e
hae in Elpseth<s account a good e*ample of the direct employment of fairy'lore in
indiiduals< construction and handling of their personal e*periences. This -ind of
?or other and later e*amples see Thomas 2496, 9$93$8F Pur-iss $%%%, 2273&2, cf. 2>$3>7F
,ilby $%%%.
(hapter 9A 5arraties and (onte*ts
interaction bet"een life and story has also been argued by Spearing and Pearsall to hae
been among the potential meanings of the +iddle English poem Sir ,rfeo, in "hich ;the
terrifying e*perience that he Nthe poetO coded as being abducted by the fairies and then
being brought bac- is one that "e might code as going mad and being cured< .Spearing
$%%%, at $7>377F Pearsall 2447/. Li-e"ise, the +iddle English Sir &egarrP ma-es the
potential of fairy'encounters to reflect or encode incest narraties clear .esp. lines 2783
74F ed. Las-aya3Salisbury 244>, 2%>/. As in the other narraties mentioned here,
Elspeth<s fairy encounters begin in "hat seems to hae been liminal space, helping to
construct the danger .to "omen/ of certain areas of their enironment. This trangression
of the boundaries of safe space and the fairy assaults conse:uent on it proides a means
of constructing Elspeth<s e*periences, but as "ith Andro +an<s first encounter "ith the
nuene of Elphen, "hen she -illed his co", or "ith (j (hulainn<s sudden demonstration
of profound "isdom follo"ing his serglige, the harm dealt to Elspeth comes "ith
supernatural po"ers. This proides another means of constructing her suffering as in
some "ays a positie e*perience, and seems indeed to hae become a factor in her
successful selling of her serices as a cunning "oman.
)f nothing else, the Scottish "itchcraft trials emphasise the comple*ity of the
negotiations of belief1bet"een indiiduals, communities, classes, e*periences and
narraties1that must also hae been ta-ing place in Anglo'Sa*on society "ith regard to
ælfe. Ho"eer, the trials also consolidate arious of the arguments aboe. They sho"
that elvis "ere male and anthropomorphic in at least some strands of si*teenth' and
seenteenth'century popular belief, contrasting "ith the earlier literary eidence.
Although the trials tend to be no more informatie than the #ld English medical te*ts
about the roles of elvis in causing ailments, Elspeth Beoch<s attests to the combination of
a nocturnal se*ual assault by an other"orldly being "ith subse:uent detrimental effects
on health as a 4uid 1ro 4uo for the ac:uisition of supernatural po"er. This repeats certain
associations found for ælf in the #ld English material, but also motifs attested in the
Soutern Englis #egendary, Serglige "on "ulainn and the medieal 5orse narraties.
The Scottish "itchcraft trials sho" that narraties of other"orldly beings found in
medieal literature could1and by the seenteenth century did1hae close counterparts
in popular belief. They seem li-ely in some respects to reflect the direct continuation of
Anglo'Sa*ons< usage of ælf and conceptions of ælfe.
0. Conclusions
It emerges, then, that Irish and Scandinavian narratives from up to the early thirteenth
century tell of anthropomorphic otherworldly beings seducing or trying to seduce
(hapter 9A 5arraties and (onte*ts
members of the in-group by magically inflicting altered states of mind, or otherwise
inflicting ailments in the context of sexual contact. These are well-paralleled by the late
thirteenth-century Southern English Legendary, emphasising their potential relevance to
English culture. These texts parallel many prominent features of our evidence for the
semantics of ælf: anthropomorphicity, seductive beauty, siden, and fever and
hallucination. Although a threat to members of the in-group, these otherworldly beings
seem to threaten only individuals, mainly in response to those individuals’
transgressions. In this way, they do not threaten society as a whole and, moreover, help to
uphold its values and structures by punishing those who transgress them. This
observation is consistent with the models proposed above to explain the early semantic
evidence for álfr and ælf, associating them with human in-groups by contrast with
society-threatening monsters. It reflects a world-view whose useful life in Europe was
long. ,or-ing to interpret nineteenth'century 5or"egian fol-'medicine "ithin "ider
cognitie frame"or-s, Aler and Selberg e*amined beliefs in "itches and uldrer1
etymologically the uldufClk .;hidden people</, a euphemism for %lfar1as sources of
illness .2489/. They opposed earlier assumptions that the the propensity of uldrer to
inflict harm meant that uldrer "ere fundamentally destructie .2489, $>/A
basically, hulders are a su1erior po"er in relation to humans, not a destructie po"er. According
to tradition, there are rules about ho" humans should deal "ith hulders. )f these rules are bro-en,
the hulders punish. 0ut if rules are obsered, or a faor is done for the hulders, then they re"ard.
;This belief in supranormal beings<, they concluded, ;can function as social control<
.2489, &%/. 0y contrast, "itches ;represent the po"ers of chaos on the offensie< .2489,
$7/. 5ot only does this model apply "ell to the earlier Scottish "itchcraft trials, but the
relationship bet"een the "itches and the uldrer is fundamentally similar to that of ælfe
"ith monsters in early Anglo'Sa*on beliefs.
The idea that ælfe in the medical texts were like Judaeo-Christian-Mediterranean
demons, incompatible with beautiful anthropomorphic beings, is not disproved by the
comparative material which I have adduced, and could indeed have held for some
members of society. But I have shown that it is unnecessary: causing illness or altered
mental states is a core part of the narratives of the otherworldly beings Drífa, Fann,
Skírnir and Othinus. These texts also emphasise the extent to which such traditions could
be maintained among the Latin-literate, clerical elite in Christianised medieval societies.
Serglige Con Culainn’s effort to incorporate its síde into Christian constructions of the
supernatural world conspicuously fails to convince; the unresolved tensions between
Christian and non-Christian belief which it shows for medieval Ireland offers a paradigm
for the uneasy pairings of ælf and deofol or feond in the Old English medical texts.
Admittedly, most available medieval comparisons concern female otherworldly beings,
(hapter 9A 5arraties and (onte*ts
but I have identified enough similar narratives of males to show that a coherent
interpretation of the Old English evidence for ælf need not be compromised by problems
of gendering. But the prominence of females contextualises the rise of a female
denotation of ælf during the Old English period, as I discuss more fully below (§9:2.2).
The evidence of the Scottish witchcraft trials consolidates the medieval comparisons.
It shows the existence of narratives like those recorded in medieval texts widely in
society, and how they could be part of dynamic interactions with people’s constructions
of reality. The trials also suggest continuity in English-speaking culture of beliefs
concerning ælfe. Despite the prominence of female elves and fairies in Middle English
literature and its high medieval comparanda, and although a Queen of Elphen or a similar
otherworldly female is prominent in the trial-evidence, the trials show clearly that male
elvis existed in Scottish belief. I develop these themes further in my analysis of Issobel
Gowdie’s trial in the next chapter (§8:3). The Scottish witchcraft trials also attest to the
use of stories of elvis and fareis in cunning'fol-s< constructions and presentations of their
po"ers and processes of healing. These proide a conte*t for understanding aspects of
the meanings of ylfig•for seeing ælfe not only as sources of harm in Anglo'Sa*on
culture, but also as sources of po"er. This is a point "hich ) deelop in my final chapter
(hapter 8A Wið færstice
Chapter :
"ið f ærstic e
The reanalysis of our #ld English ælf'corpus proides a ne" conte*t for interpreting the
te*t "ith "hich ) opened this thesis, Wið færstice. Although "e cannot be sure that its
alliteratie collocation of ese and ælfe is a traditional #ld English formula, "e no" -no"
that the conceptual collocation of ese and ælfe is traditionalF moreoer, the charm "as at
least partly composed before the phonemic split of earlier #ld English IG 'I into Ig'I and
Ij'I, and so probably before the end of the tenth century .SS2A%, 6A$36/. ) hae sho"n that
ælfe "ere probably only male in earlier Anglo'Sa*on beliefs .esp. S>A6.6/, "hich brings
the charm<s collocation of ælfe "ith the female ægtessan a ne" significance. ?inally, )
hae argued that #ld English gescoten and gescot could, as "ell as denoting shooting
and proGectiles, also mean ;.pained "ith a/ sharp localised pain<F my reanalysis of
ælfsogoða found that ælfe "ere associated "ith causing such pains else"here in #ld
English, as, ) hae noted, did their counterparts in later medieal England, early modern
Scotland and !ermany .SS7A2, 7A$.$ esp. n. 2>7/. Here ) e*tend these obserations and
adduce others in a ne" reading of Wið færstice as a medical te*t and as eidence for
beliefs in ælfe.
A ne" reading must also conte*tualise Wið færstice "ithin "ider medieal European
traditions. )t is generally and plausibly supposed that the beings referred to in the first ten
metrical lines1successiely by y .;they</ and ða !itigan wif .;the po"erful "omen</
1comprise one group of supernatural females, and that this group is in turn identical
"ith .or at least includes/ the ægtessan mentioned later in the charm.
They ride loudly
oer a burial mound or hill and inflict ;isenes dLl Q hLgtessan ge"eorc< .;a piece of iron,
Q the "or-Ideed of ægtessan</.
This motif surely relates to other motifs of supernatural
females riding out in groups and causing harm attested "idely across later medieal and
early modern Europe. The earliest attestation, often :uoted, though not in this conte*t, is
Hauer, see-ing to lin- the second half of Wið færstice<s charm intimately "ith the first,
suggested that ;the "ild riders of lines 637 reappear as the esa of lines $6 and $>F the mighty
"omen of lines 932$ are represented by the ægtessan of lines $& and $7F and the smiths of line 27
occur as the ylfa in lines $6 and $>< .2499398, >$/. The identification of the smiths "ith ælfe )
discuss belo". 0ut the figures denoted by y at the beginning of the charm are probably not to be
distinguished from the !itigan wif "hich are mentioned shortly afterA ;MLr Ka mihtigan "if I hyra
mLgen berLddon< uses the demonstratie pronoun þa, implying that they are figures "hich "e
should already -no"1most obiously the figures "ho lude wæran.
This interpretation maintains the tradition of ta-ing ægtessan as a late genitie plural .see S2 n.
8/F een if ægtessan here is singular, it may still be read most easily to denote one of the larger
group of !itigan wif. The charm thus moes from the circumspect use of a pronoun to the more
descriptie but still euphemistic !itigan wif, finally defining the female threat by labelling it
(hapter 8A Wið færstice
in 0urchard of ,orms<s "orrector, the nineteenth boo- of his &ecretu! .ch. >, S29%F ed.
Hansen 24%2, &%/A
(redidisti :uod multae mulieres retro Satanam conersae credunt et affirmant erum esse, ut
credas in :uietae noctis silentio, cum te collocaeris in lecto tuo et marito tuo in sinu tuo iacente,
te dum corporea sis ianuis clausis e*ire posse, et terrarum spatia cum aliis simili errore deceptis
pertransire alere, et homines bapti=atos et (hristi sanguine redemptos sine armis isibilibus et
interficere et decoctis carnibus eorum os comedere, et in loco cordis eorum stramen aut lignum,
aut ali:uod huiusmodi ponere, et commestis, iterum ios facere et inducias iendi dare@

Hae you belieed "hat many "omen, turned bac- to Satan, beliee and declare to be true, such
that you beliee that in the peaceful silence of the night, "hen you should hae been lying in your
bed, and "ith your husband lying on your bosom, that you may be able to depart, in body,
through closed doors, and that you can pass through lands< open spaces "ith others deceied by
the same mista-e, and also to -ill people both baptised and redeemed by the blood of (hrist,
"ithout isible "eapons and that you eat their boiled flesh, and put in place of their hearts stra"
or -indling, or some other such thingF and that after you hae consumed them, you ma-e them
alie again and grant truces for staying alie@
The &ecretu! and deriatie te*ts "ere distributed "idely, raising the problem that later
attestations of similar beliefs may reflect 0urchard<s influence. 0ut although the
&ecretu! must hae been published by 2%$6, and s"iftly came to England, 0urchard put
the date of 2%2$ to one of its te*ts, so it cannot hae been aailable before then.
means that the manuscript of Wið færstice is li-ely to pre'date its publication, and the
charm itself almost certainly does. )t is admittedly not impossible that Wið færstice and
the "orrector both dre" on some lost penitential, but if so, Wið færstice represents the
astonishing translation of a proscribed belief from the genre of Latin penitential'"riting
to that of #ld English charm'composition. Bather, "e may conclude that Wið færstice is
a ital, early and independent attestation of beliefs similar to those alluded to by
0urchard. )t is also consistent "ith t"o hints of releant beliefs earlier in Anglo'Sa*on
te*ts. ) hae discussed aboe ho" Ding Alfred e*hibited an Anglo'Sa*on idea that
people<s gastas .;spirits</ might "ander as they slept .S7A6.2/. Additionally, it is hard to
aoid the conclusion that the #ld English "ord þunorrad .;peal of thunder< but literally
;thunderIThunor'ride</ presupposes a tradition of Thunor riding, suggesting another
tradition of a supernatural riding. 0urchard<s te*t compares "ell, then, "ith earlier,
independent Anglo'Sa*on eidence. Processions of the dead and supernatural hunts are
prominent else"here in medieal and early modern sources1one of the earliest being
another ernacular English account, this time of the blac- huntsmen "hose caalcade on
blac- horses and goats riding portended the installment of Henri of Peito"e as abbot of
Peterborough in 22$9.
,e hae seeral accounts by later medieal "riters "ho,
contrary to the prescription of 0urchard<s canon, did beliee in iolent, riding
#n dating see Austin $%%&, 462 n. 2>F the earliest Anglo'Sa*on copy is in part 2 of 0L. (otton
(laudius (.U), s. y)
.Dcry 2444, 2663&8, at 269/.
Ed. (lar- 249%, &43>%. See further Lecouteu* 2448F Schmitt 2448 N244&O, 4632$2.
(hapter 8A Wið færstice
supernatural "omen, suggesting that at least some of these e*tensie attestations reflect
sincerely held beliefs1problematic though 0urchard<s later influence undoubtedly is
.see (ohn 2446, 27$38%F 0roedel $%%6, 4232$2/. #ther traditions of nocturanl riding
"omen are also attestedF the earliest is a ninth'century (arolingian capitulary suriing
in a penitential by Begino of Pr]m admonishing bishops to preach against the belief that
"omen might ride out in the night on animals .Bussell 249$, 9>38$/, a belief "hich must
relate to later traditions of rides to consume food and drin- either left out for the riders or
stolen from storerooms .!in=burg 2486 N2477O, esp. &%3>%F (ohn 2446, 27739>F 0roedel
$%%6, 2%239/. This is not the place for a full e*amination of these traditionsF nor "ould )
"ish to posit one point of origin for them .cf. Schmitt 2448 N244&O, 6/. 0ut it is surely
profitable to conte*tualise Wið færstice among such similar and probably interrelated
The benefits of this conte*tualisation do not only e*tend to understanding Wið
færstice. The construction by )nstitoris and Sprenger in their +alleus +aleficaru! of an
intellectually acceptable frame"or- for incorporating traditions of supernatural
caalcades into "itchcraft prosecutions led to their e*tensie representation in the early
modern "itchcraft trials, and it is largely this "hich has gien the beliefs
historiographical prominence.
The search for their antecedents has focused on Latin
material, but our medieal ernacular eidence has ital perspecties to contribute. The
manuscript of Wið færstice is as old as 0urchard<s te*t, and it contains not episcopal
proscriptions, but ernacular medical te*ts seriously presenting the possible causes of
ailments. )ndeed, Wið færstice has a close analogue in the Scottish "itchcraft trials, the
connection illuminating both early medieal and early modern traditions. Beading Wið
færstice in a "ider conte*t of medieal European non'(hristian belief has a range of
implications, then, and ma-es it possible to orientate Anglo'Sa*on ælf'traditions in this
"ider conte*t.
1. 7hat is y lf a g es co t' And the coherence of the charm
There is no doubt that Wið færstice conceies of a iolent, stabbing pain in terms of a
proGectile1albeit magical or metaphorical. )ts concept of an ;isernes dLl< .;piece of
iron</ lodged inside the patient is "ell'paralleled anthropologically .Hon-o 24>4/, and
een seems to hae an Anglo'Sa*on analogue in 0ede<s (istoria ecclesiastica gentis
'ngloru!, "here a similar infliction is caused by demons from Hell .(olgrae3+ynors
2442, >%% n. $/. There is good reason, then, to suppose ylfa gescot to denote a proGectile.
See !in=burg 2486 N2477OF 244$ N2484O, 8432%$F (ohn 2446, 27$38%F 0roedel $%%6, 4232$2F
Pur-iss $%%%, 2&$3>2.
(hapter 8A Wið færstice
Ho"eer, ) hae argued aboe that #ld English NgeOscoten could mean ;pained< and
gescot ;sharp pain< .SS7A2F 7A$.$ esp. n. 2>7/1so esa gescot, ylfa gescot and ægtessan
gescot could also denote in literal and technical language an ailment "hich ) hae sho"n
to be characteristic of ælfe.
These obserations suggest that in important respects, Wið færstice may be an
elaborate play on "ords. (ommentators once considered the charm incoherent and
fragmentary, a perspectie abetted by their insistence on dissecting it into ;pagan< and
;(hristian< parts .see Abernethy 2486, 4&348/. Ho"eer, critics of the 249%s and 248%s
deeloped the early reisionism of S-emp to argue for Wið færstice<s coherence of
,e may no" add to their obserations that "hen the charm moes into
the passage saying ;gif Ku "Lre Y scoten<, it may not merely be saying ;if you "ere Y
shot<, but also ;if you "ere Y pained<. This deployment of the polysemous scoten
brilliantly remoes, at a linguistic leel, the distinction bet"een metaphor and realityA the
indiidual "ho is scoten "ith an internal pain is at one and the same time scoten "ith a
.magical/ proGectile. Stice, of course, is itself polysemic in this conte*t, being e:ually
able to denote internal pains and "ounds. ,e are dealing in Wið færstice "ith an
approach to healing "hich not only deploys metaphor at a discursie leel, but underpins
it "ith polysemy at a le*ical one. This analysis suggests that the remedy<s use of
ocabulary helps to bind it into a coherent compositionA the terms færstice, scoten and
gescot are all polysemic, denoting not only proGectile "ounds but also internal pains, and
are used to facilitate the te*t<s construction of an ailment as the product of a conflict "ith
supernatural beings.
". The hægtes sa n
2#1 hat is a hægtesse<
(ægtesse is one of the best attested #ld English "ords for supernatural females. )t and
its ariants appear not only in a range of glosses1"here one most often finds #ld
English "ords for supernatural beings1but in a fe" other conte*ts besides.
Despite a
dearth of +iddle English attestations, it emerged into early modern English as ag,
denoting "itches and eil spirits .+E&, s.. aggeF ,E&, s.. ag/. As the irregular
contracted form ag might lead us to e*pect, its etymology resists confident
S-emp 2422, $84346F Dos-o" 2497F Hauer 2499398F ,eston 248>, 29938%F cf. (hic-ering
There is the strong ariant ægtesNsO and the irregular contracted form ætse .for "hich see
(ampbell 24>4, S646F Hogg 244$a, S7.92F cf. witc, #E wicce, wicca H Rwitege, witega/.
(hapter 8A Wið færstice
reconstruction, but it has "ell'attested cognates in the other medieal ,est !ermanic
languages .Polomc 2489/, and (ægtesse "as eidently "idely used.
)n #ld English glosses, ægtesse not only glosses "ords for immortals of (lassical
mythology1principally .arcae and 8uriae1but 1inotissa, denoting mortal
prophetesses, and the more ambiguous striga.
Additionally, these glosses suggest that
ægtesse "as partially synonymous "ith wælcyrige ."hich glosses the personal names of
8uriae/, *urgrune ."hich glosses 8uriae and .arcae/ and perhaps ellerune ."hich
glosses 1inotissa/, a trend reminiscent of the partial synonymy of #ld 5orse d$s,
valkyr7a and norn .cf. S$A$/. This is not the place to discuss the intricate problems
produced by these te*ts, but they seem to inole seeral independent te*tual traditions
and are surely reliable eidence that ægtesse<s semantics "ere similar to those of .arca,
8uria, striga and 1inotissa on the one hand, and oerlapping "ith those of wælcyrige,
*urgrune and ellerune on the other. #utside the glosses, around 2%%%, it is of interest
that Zlfric, in his homiletic rendering of $ Dings 4A6&, used ætse to translate
;maledictam illam< .;that accursed "oman</, as Tehu calls Te=ebel after her death .ed.
,eber 249>, ) >28F ed. S-eat 2882324%%, ) &%&/. Since ægtesse does not obiously mean
;cursed one< .unli-e the synonym sceand "hich Zlfric also offers/, its deployment here
may reflect some other aspect of Te=ebel<s characterF since her efforts to seduce Tehu .$
Dings 4A6%F ed. ,eber 249>, ) >29/ dre" special censure, Zlfric<s use of ætse here may
imply that ægtesse, at least to highly (hristianised authors, hae connoted se*ual
promiscuity .cf. the similar deployment of #ld )rish !orrigu to translate HocastaF Herbert
2447, 2&8/.
(ægtesse<s glossing of "ords denoting both mortal and immortal females has
troubled arious commentators.
+eaney .2484, 29328/ argued of ægtesse .and
wælcyrige and *urgrune/ that the "ords originally denoted ;minor goddesses<, but that
the coming of (hristianity "ould hae affected these "ords in more than one "ay, all more or
less to their detriment. The *urgrune and the ægtesse "ould hae been interpreted as basically
bad, and their protectie characteristics forgotten. All three "ords "ould hae declined in use,
)n our earliest glosses, ægtes glosses striga .e.g. Pheifer 249&, &8 Nno.426OF Lindsay 24$2a,
278 NS>$8OF 0ischoff and others 2488, apinal f. 2%>rF Erfurt f. 2$rF (orpus f. >8r/, and ægtesse
Eu!enides .e.g. Lindsay 24$2a, 78 NE6>&O/. Herren<s recent e*planation of ægtes here as a
corruption of a genitie singular (ecates .2448, 44/ is unnecessary. Later, the Ant"erp'London
glossary offers ;Phinotissa . hellerune . | hLgtesse< and ;Parce . hLgtesse< .ed. Dindschi 24>>, $&9F
collated "ith +S, f. $2/. The former is surely a deelopment of the "idely'attested use of elrunan
to gloss 1itonissa! in chapter $& of Aldhelm<s .rosa de virginitate .ed. !"ara $%%2, )) $87389F
on the accreting practices of Ant"erp'London see Porter 2444, 28>/, probably reflecting eleenth'
century usage. The latter is unparalleled, though it may derie from the lost seenth' or eighth'
century )sidore'glosses "hich also included the ælfen glosses.
e.g. Lecouteu* 2486F cf. ?ell 248&, $4362F (hic-ering 2492, 8>. Although 0os"orth and Toller
gae ;a "itch, hag, fury< .2848, s.. ægtesseF cf. Toller 24$2, s../, the 2esaurus of ,ld Englis
lists ægtesse under ;a "itch, sorceress<, but not under ;a fury< or ;the ?ates< .Boberts3Day3
!rundy $%%%, ) SS27.%2.%&, 27.%2.%7.%$, %>.%&.%2/.
(hapter 8A Wið færstice
and the meanings partly forgotten, so that they could be applied to mortal "omen, at first
metaphorically, then e*clusiely.
This is a iable hypothesis, its thrust consistent "ith recent studies of other"orldly
females in #ld 5orse "hich hae tried to distinguish bet"een human ;shield'maidens<
and supernatural ;al-yries<.
These interpretations, ho"eer, are unconincing.
Tochens found that sk70ld!ær and valkyr7a are used ;interchangeably< in the sources
.2447, 4%/, "hich does not encourage the differentiation of ;shield'maidens< from
;al-yries<. &$s, indeed, can denote "omen of the in'group li-e its ,est !ermanic
counterpart ides, and our 5orse sources are at times e*plicit that valkyr7ur and d$sir are
human females in special circumstances, not unli-e the caalcades of supernatural
"omen described by 0urchard. This also has clear parallels in the Latin tradition, in
"hich strigae at least "ere in an ambiguous position bet"een mortal and immortal,
natural and supernatural beings .(ohn 2446, 27$377F Bampton $%%$, 2>328/. (ægtesse<s
#ld High !erman cognates gloss much the same range of Latin lemmata as the #ld
English "ord .'(&WB, s.. agaRussa, ‚Russa, ‚RusF cf. Lecouteu* 2486/. ) hae
discussed already ho" it is hard to distinguish meaningfully bet"een supernatural beings
and ethnic others in early 5orse and English traditions .SS$A&, 6A$3&/, so a similar
conceptual continuity bet"een supernatural females and other e*ceptional females is no
cause for surprise. Abandoning the separate categories of ;"itch< and ;supernatural
female< also remoes a perceied cru* in ,ulfstan<s Ser!o #u1i ad 'nglos, "hich
deploys wiccan and wælcyrian as a formulaic and implicitly partially synonymous pair
.ed. 0ethurum 24>9, $96/1a formula "hich, gien its recurrence in +iddle English .see
+E&, s.. wal<kirie/, probably either "as or became traditional. 0ethurum considered
that wælcyrige ;is not before this passage used for anything e*cept a supernatural being<
.24>9, 676F cf. ?ell 248&, $436%F +eaney 2484, 29/. 0ut a high degree of synonymy
bet"een wælcyrige and both wicce .as in ,ulfstan/ and 8uria .as in the glosses/ is
actually "hat our other eidence should lead us to e*pect. )t is surely preferable to accept
the #ld English and #ld High !erman eidence to reflect the usual semantics of
ægtesse, rather than trying to e*plain it a"ayA the distinctions "hich "e "ould posit
bet"een ordinary and supernatural "omen do not "or- for early medieal !ermanic'
spea-ing cultures.
e.g. Heinrichs 2487, 22>327F Tochens 2447, esp. 84347 and note the boo-<s diision into
;diine images< and ;human images<F Droesen 2449, 2$4362, 269368F cf. Damico<s ;t"o distinct,
antagonistic perceptions of al-yries< .244%, 297/F Tesch 2442, 29438%. Tochens also argued that
;shield maidens< alone ride through the air, ;al-yries< riding on the ground .2447, 4>/. 0ut this
claim has no basis in our sources .cf. the prose bet"een stan=as 4 and 2% of (elgakviða
(7çrvarðssonar, and bet"een & and >, 26 and 2&, and 28 and 24 of (elgakviða (undings*ana ppF
ed. 5ec-el 247$, 2&6, 2>6, 2>&/.
(f. Steblin'Damens-iG<s readings, 248$F Holm:ist Larsen 2486, &$F Eilola $%%$, 4327 on troll
and ?innish noita.
(hapter 8A Wið færstice
(ægtesse seems li-ely to hae been the main "ord for a class of females in Anglo'
Sa*on beliefs for "hich there "as a range of other "ords bearing different connotations
1much as ) hae argued for the relationships bet"een d$s and "ords such as valkyr7a
and norn in #ld )celandic .S$A$F 9A6/. The supernatural po"ers of ægtessan set them
apart from ordinary "omen, but, Gust as ) hae sho"n that "e cannot usefully dra" firm
distinctions bet"een groups of gods and ethnic others in traditional Anglo'Sa*on
ideologies, "e should not see- to label ægtessan e*clusiely as supernatural females or
as females "ith supernatural po"ers. To consolidate and e*tend this reading of the
le*ical eidence, ) turn no" to comparatie material.
2#2 Medieval analogues for the hægtessan in Wið færstice
) hae already emphasised the li-elihood that Wið færstice should be understood as part
of a group of traditions attested in (ontinental Latin sources. These hae been reasonably
"ell discussed in histories of European "itch'beliefs, albeit not in relation to Wið
færsticeF so ) focus here on ernacular eidence, "hich has tended to be oerloo-ed.
The closest parallel to Wið færstice in the Eddaic corpus is (elgakviða (undings*ana
p .ed. 5ec-el 247$, 26%364/. Stan=as 2>329 describe the first appearance of Sigrjn to
hg brg liVma af Logafiçllom,
enn af Meim liVmom leiptrir :VmoF
Mg ar und higlmom g Himinanga.
0rynior Vro Meira blVKi stocnar.
Enn af geirom geislar stVKo.
?rg grliga Vr jlfiKi
dçglingr at Mk dksir suKr„nar,
ef MLr ildi heim meK hildingom
Mg nVtt faraF Mrymr ar glma.
Enn af hesti Hçgna dVttir
1lkddi randa rym1 rLsi sagKiA
Then a flash bro-e from LogafGallar N;?lame'
mountains<O, and from those flashes came
lightningF then NpeopleO "ere under helmets on
Their mail'coats "ere spattered "ith blood,
and from the spears sprang rays.
?rom early on, from the "olf<s lair No"oodO,
the descendant of Dagr N"asO at the :uestion,
"hether the southern d$sir "anted to go home
"ith the "arrior that nightF there "as the noise
of elms Nobo"sO.
And from her horse the daughter of Hçgni1
the din of shields ceased1said to the prince
Stan=a >& tells for its part ho"
DVmo Mar Vr himni higlmitr ofan
1V* geira gnlr1, MLr er grami hlkfKoF
Y sgritr flugo,
gt hglo scLr af Hugins barri.
?rom the s-y there came do"n the helmet'
beings1the din of spears gre"1the "omen
"ho protected the prince Y the "ound'beings
fle", Nthere "asO eating for the "itch<s horse
No"olfO from the barley of Huginn NocorpsesO.
Sigrjn is a mortal "oman, the daughter of Hçgni, and illustrates the problems "ith trying
to distinguish human from supernatural "omen. Her ride neatly parallels Wið færstice<s
(hapter 8A Wið færstice
armed supernatural "omen riding out in a group and causing harm, in the one case from
f7allar .;mountains</ and in the other oer a læw .;.burial/ mound, hill</. (ommentators
hae perhaps shied from lin-ing Sigrjn "ith Wið færstice or 0urchard<s "orrector
because she is not seen as harmful as the "omen in the other te*ts are. 0ut "hile Sigrjn
and her d$sir here protect Helgi in the battle .see also st. 6%/, protection to one side is
harm to the other. The ambiguity is emphasised in the poem itself, in stan=a 68,
SinfGçtli<s taunt at !uKmundr that
hj ar in sc„Ka, scass, al-yria,
çtul, gmgtlig, at AlfçKurF
mundo einheriar allir beria=,
scks -ona, um sacar Mknar.
dou "ere the harmful one, "itch, valkyr7a,
cruel, @iolent, at the All'father<sF
all the einer7ar Nslain chosen to fight in
UalhçllO had to battle, you hard'headed
"oman, for your sa-e.
Admittedly, Sigrjn<s seduction of Helgi is not paralleled in Wið færstice, but our
eidence for the semantics of ægtesse may accommodate se*ual for"ardness.
(elgakviða (undings*ana p cannot be confidently dated earlier than the thirteenth
century, but there is good eidence for the anti:uity of traditions of armed supernatural
"omen in Scandinaia and the 0ritish )sles. ?or e*ample, stan=as 2%322 of Eyindr
s-gldaspillir<s s-aldic poem (%konar!%l, thought to hae been composed in 472, attest
them clearly, calling them valkyr7ur .ed. ?innur TVnsson 242$, 0) >8/F more dramatic
again is the tenth' or eleenth'century &arraðarl7Cð, "hose images of valkyr7ur "eaing
form a gory e*tended metaphor for their fighting in battle .ed. ?inur TVnsson 242$, 0)
684342F see further Poole 2442, 2273>&/. (ared and cast figures "earing "omen<s
clothes and bearing "eapons, presumably to be associated "ith these literary figures, are
found in Ui-ing Age conte*ts, and include t"o found in England .see Leahy3Paterson
$%%%, 24$F +argeson 2449, 2$/. Although they may not depict armed "omen, the
inscriptions and carings left at Housesteads on Hadrian<s "all bet"een $$$ and $6> by
a cuneus of 8risii .;?risians</ in the Boman army suggest deep roots for these beliefs
among ,est !ermanic'spea-ing cultures .see (olling"ood3,right 247>, >%2, >%938
Nnos 2>97, 2>4634&OF (layton and others 288>/. The most reealing is an altar ;Deo
+arti Thincso et duabus Alaisiagis 0ede et ?immilene< .;to the god +ars 2ingsus and
the t"o 'laisiagae, 0eda and ?immilena<F ed. (olling"ood3,right 247>, >%9 Nno.
2>46O/ and "as found associated "ith a cared stone depicting a figure holding a spear
and shield, "ith "hat seems to be a goose by his right leg, and a na-ed female on either
side holding a "reath and s"ord or baton1presumably the alaisiagae .ed. (layton and
others 288>, plate )/. Though their name is etymologically obscure .see Sime- 2446
N248&O, s.. 'laisiage/, the alaisiagae are reminiscent of the d$sir in their association
"ith a "ar'god and through his appelation tingsus, cognate "ith #ld 5orse þing
(hapter 8A Wið færstice
.;public meeting</A d$sir are associated "ith the þing by the &$saþing .;&$sir<s þing</
attested at Uppsala at the end of the thirteenth century .see Sund:ist $%%$, 2%%/. The
associations else"here of d$sir "ith helping "arriors on the battlefield and hindering
others, implicit in the term valkyr7a, also hae ,est !ermanic and )rish parallels, but are
less clearly releant to Wið færstice.
That concepts of supernatural armed "omen "ere not limited to the Scandinaians is
also suggested by chapters $73$9 of the Vita p Sancti Sa!sonis, from bet"een the early
seenth century and the early ninth .?lobert 2449, 2%$3222/1"ell before 0urchard<s
"orrector. This is almost certainly a 0reton composition, but the episode is set in ,ales,
"here Samson gre" up, and "here the author claims to hae heard oral accounts.
Hagiographically unconentional, "ith close analogues in later ,elsh literature, the
episode in :uestion must hae roots in non'(hristian insular belief.
Samson and a
deacon, ;dum irent orantes per uastissimam siluam, dirissimam audierunt uocem a
:uadam horribili ualde ad de*teram partem iu*ta illos terribiliter strepitantem< .;as they
"ent, praying, through a ast forest, heard a fearsome oice, assuredly from a -ind of
terrible NbeingO, on the right'hand side alongside them, terrifyingly ma-ing a great
noise</F as the deacon fled, Samson ;uidit theomacham hyrsutam canutam:ue, iam
uetulam anum suis uestimentis birrhatam trisulcatam:ue uenalem in manu tenentem, ac
siluas uastas ueloci cursu uolucritantem fugientem:ue recta linea inse:uentem< .;sa" an
un-empt grey'haired sorceress, already an old "oman, "ith her garments ragged
holding in her hand a bloody
three'pronged N"eaponO, and in a s"ift course traersing
the ast "oods and rushing past, follo"ing after NhimO in a straight line<F ed. ?lobert
2449, 28&/. She proes to be one of a family of nine sisters, the remnant of a once larger
See the idisi in the #ld High !erman ?irst +erseburg (harm .ed. Steinmeyer 2427, 67>/F the
#ld English Solo!on and Saturn, "hich depicts demons but still sho"s that a similar concept
e*isted in Anglo'Sa*on cultureF the same motifs also attached to the )rish +Crr$gna, sho"ing that
related beliefs circulated in the 0ritish )sles already around the eighth century .see Hennessy 289%3
9$F Donahue 24&2F Herbert 2447, esp. 2&73&4F cf. Lysaght 2447, 2423$28/. Hindering and helping
are perhaps reflected le*ically in #ld English by the probable semantic oerlap of wælcyrige and
*urgrune, both partial synonyms of ægtesse, the first of "hich hints that ægtessan might hae
been choosers of the slain and the latter of "hich, "hose first element probably means ;protection<,
suggests that they might hae had protectie functions. Ho"eer, the meaning of first element of
*urgrune is a matter for debate, "hich cannot be entered into here .for other interpretations see
&,E, s.. *ur<rƒneF +eaney 2484, 2&32>/.
See Sims',illiams 2442, &&3&>F !oetinc- 249>, $$73$9F cf. Loecy 2442, 297. (f. the
GalliRenae mentioned in the first century AD by Pomponius +ela, nine irgin priestesses "ith
magical po"ers liing on an island off 0rittany .Dillon3(had"ic- 249$, 2$4/F the magic'"or-ing
"omen "ho inscribed the Tablet of Lar=ac .ed. Doch $%%6, 63&/F and the nine sisters liing on the
pnsula 1o!oru! in !eoffrey of +onmouth<s Vita +erlini .among them +orgen, "ho herself can
change her shape and flyF ed. (lar-e 2496, 2%%/. There is a case to be made that the Vita p
Sa!sonis or its successor, the Vita pp Sa!sonis, "ere -no"n in Anglo'Sa*on England .Bauer $%%%,
4%3227/, but direct influence on Wið færstice is unli-ely.
Beading *irratis for "hich see &+#BS, s..
Venalis, of course, means ;for sale<, but "e presumably hae here a meaning influenced by a
false etymology of vena .;ein</.
(hapter 8A Wið færstice
community. The other details of the encounter need not concern us hereA "hat is crucial
is its conincing eidence that beliefs in armed, dangerous magic'"or-ing females
circulated in ,ales already by the ninth century. The "oman<s screaming is also of
interest, since the "omen of Wið færstice may themseles be described as gyllende
.;shouting</F ho"eer, gyllende there is at least as li-ely to describe their spears .see S2A%
n. 7/.
This material establishes a conincing conte*t for supposing that the supernatural,
"eapon'bearing "omen in Wið færstice are part of a pre'Ui-ing Age Anglo'Sa*on
tradition, though other English eidence is hard to come by and e:uiocal.
the le*ical eidence, albeit limited, does encourage the supposition that supernatural
"omen li-e those in Wið færstice had a longer history. Seenth' and eighth'century
Anglo'Sa*ons seem to hae had no difficulty assigning natie "ords to (lassical
concepts of the po"erful, iolent furiae and strigae, among them wælcyrige, the literal
meaning of "hose name suggests an early concept of supernatural "omen affecting the
course of battle. This le*ical approach is supported by the eidence for the meanings of
ægtesse in the thirteenth'century +iddle Dutch poem -no"n as &e natuurkunde van et
Lines 9%936%, in a section on stars and other ;fires in the s-y<, run
Uanden nacht ridderen, ende an anderen
duuelen, die in die lucht ma-en ier.
Duelen, die siGn in die lucht,
Ende den mensche dic-e doen rucht.
Die connen oec "el ma-en ier,
Dat ons "alme dunc-et hier
About the night'riders, and about other
deils, "hich ma-e fire in the s-y.
Deils, "hich are in the air,
and "hich often cause fright1
They also -no" "ell ho" to ma-e fire
"hich seems here to us li-e torches,
Beowulf<s +odMryMo is reminiscent of shield maidens .lines 246237$F ed. Dlaeber 24>%, 9$396F
cf. Damico 248&, &73&4/, and it is interesting that line 246> emphasises her ga=eA this may be
understood generally in terms of an alignment of sight and po"er .cf. Lassen $%%%/ but may also
correlate "ith the note in chapter 4 of the #ld English Wonders of te East concerning the place'
name Gorgoneus, ;MLt is, ,Llcyrginc< .;i.e. wælcyrige'place<F ed. #rchard $%%6a, 24%/. This may
associate wælcyrgan "ith the !orgons< po"er to petrify people "ith their ga=e, in "hich case "e
hae an Anglo'Sa*on correlatie for (elgakviða (undings*ana pp stan=as $3&, "here such
"omen<s eyes are vass and atall .;piercing<, ;fierce<F ed. 5ec-el 247$, 2>2/. The perceied
monstrosity of !rendel<s mother has often been played do"n, her iolent aenging of !rendel
being argued to o"e something to older traditions permitting "omen to ta-e engeance in the
absence of eligible males .on 5orse see (loer 2487F cf. 2446F on Beowulf Diernan 2487F Alfano
244$F Taylor 244&F cf. (hance 2487, 4432%9F Temple 248>387F Damico 248&, &7/F the subGect
matter of the #ld English poems Hudit and Elene and the aplomb "ith "hich the heroines ta-e on
martial masculine identities has also been attributed to the same origins .Damico 248&, esp. $73$9,
6&3&%F #lsen 244%/. 0ut one hesitates to build an argument on such disputable ground .cf.
Lionarons<s reading of Elene, 2448/F nor do Ellis Daidson<s arguments for ;al-yries< on the
?ran-s (as-et conince .2474/. Some early Anglo'Sa*on .and possibly Anglo'Scandinaian/
biological "omen "ere buried "ith "eapons .Stoodley 2444, $436%F Lucy 2449, 2>83>4F $%%2,
84F Tesch 2442, $2F cf. Shepherd 2444/F in the historical period, some "ere rulers "ho oersa" if
they did not lead military actions .e.g. Stafford 2486, 2293$%/. 0ut both categories are too rare to
be useful here.
) am indebted to Paul Sander Langeslag, Theo an HeiGnsbergen, ?em-e Dramer and !riet
(oupc for assistance "ith interpreting this passage.
(hapter 8A Wið færstice
Dat si scieten onderlinghe.
+en seyter of ele dinghen.
5acht ridders, so heten si,
Ende siGn duuele, dat segghe ic di,
Haghetissen, ende arende rou"en,
oec, en trou"en,
(obboude, nic-ers, aluen, maren,
nacht merien
Die hem tsmorghens openbaren,
Ende connen "el halen ier.
5acht merien heten "ise hier.
+inne, dit sien duuelen alle,
Die ons gherne brochten te alle.
Die duuel peynst nacht ende dach,
Hoe hi ons erlistighen mach,
Ende ten gheloue bringhen,
Ende proeft ons met menighen dinghen.
"hich they shoot among themseles.
+any things are said thereof.
5ight riders, they are called
and they are deils, that ) tell you,
agetissen, and "andering "omen,
;goodlings< Nprotectie spiritsO
indeed, cobalds, "ater'monsters, aluen,
"ho ma-e themseles -no"n in
the morning, and -no" "ell ho" to get fire.
,e call them night'!aren here,
indeed, these are deils all,
"ho brought us eagerly to the ?all.
The Deil ponders night and day,
ho" they can lead us astray,
and bring us from faith,
and tests us "ith many things.
This attests to traditions of supernatural beings riding, apparently in the air, and shooting
fire bet"een themseles. The similarity of this motif to the association of the d$sir in
(elgakviða (undings*ana p "ith a light from LogafGallar and "ith flying spar-s suggests
that "e should imagine a net"or- of oerlapping traditions regarding supernatural, riding
"omen among medieal 5orth Sea cultures. The Dutch term nact ridders also compares
"ell "ith 5orse terms1not, admittedly, applied to Sigrjn1such as kveldriða and
!yrkriða, also used of supernatural females riding, sometimes in companies, in the night
.SeinbGErn Egilsson 2462F (leasby3Uigusson 24>9, s..F cf. +itchell 2449, esp. 893
88/. Ho"eer, the Dutch tradition is also connected to Wið færstice, this time le*ically,
since it calls the riding bands of deils agetissen, the +iddle Dutch cognate of
ægtessan. (agetisse and ægtesse must hae been close in meaning as "ell as form.
The euphemistic varende vrouwen is also similar to !itigan wif. #f course, the te*t
emphasises primarily that the nact ridderen are duuelen, and ta-es the opportunity to
ma-e the same identification for a range of other supernatural beings, including aluen.
The inclusieness of this list of supernatural beings means that its mention of both aluen
and agetissen cannot be considered a conincing parallel to the similar collocation in
Wið færstice. Ho"eer, it is reasonable to infer that the first synonyms gien for nact
ridderen1agetissen and varende vrouwen1are closer in meaning. The parallels
bet"een these terms and Wið færstice connect the Dutch te*t "ith its riding "omen
shooting fire among themseles to Wið færstice<s spear'thro"ing ægtessan. Wið
færstice, (elgakviða (undings*ana p and &e natuurkunde van et geeelal form a
group, "hose arious similarities in motifs and language situate Wið færstice
conincingly among traditions of caalcades of supernatural females.
Wið færstice<s caalcade of martial "omen, then, can be ta-en plausibly to attest to
Some consternation has been caused in Dutch scholarship by the meaning of the modern Dutch
refle* agedis .;li=ard</, but this meaning is a secondary deelopment o"ing to the association of
salamanders "ith magic .Tansen'Sieben 2478, )) 7&93&8/.
(hapter 8A Wið færstice
deep'rooted Anglo'Sa*on traditions. The comparatie material also proides arious
models for hypothesising the relationship of ægtessan to Anglo'Sa*on in'groups and
out'groups. The penitential tradition suggests that the ægtessan might include "omen
from the in'group1married "omen "ho ought to be sleeping. #n the other hand, the
ægtessan may come partly or entirely from an out'group, in a model li-e that deeloped
aboe for male supernatural beings .SS$A&, 6A$3&/. They might be demons, as in &e
natuurkunde van et geeelal, or ethnic others, as in (elgakviða (undings*ana p "hich
identifies its d$sir "ith the formula d$sir suðrTnar .;southern ladies<F cf. Vçlundarkviða
st. 2, :uoted S9A6/. ,ithin this paradigm, (elgakviða (undings*ana p identifies its
leading d$s as an unmarried maiden, empo"ered by her liminal status bet"een girlhood
and "ifehood, "hich affords another, oerlapping model .cf. (loer 2487/.
$. Issobel 1owdie. the smiths/ the elves and the witches
Wið færstice proceeds from portraying the !itigan wif to describing the actions first of a
;smiK< .;craftsman</ and then of ;sy* smiKas< .;si* craftsmen</, "ho forge "eapons.
These figures "ere long seen as forces aiding the patient against the ægtessan, mainly
because of an assumed connection "ith ,eland and a further assumption1contrary to
all our maGor sources1that ,eland "as not the sort of person "ho might harm someone
else .e.g. !losec-i 2484, 26&F see also (hic-ering 2492, 2%%32F Abernethy 2486, 2%>39/.
Ho"eer, as Dos-o" pointed out .2497, 6$&/, identifying the smiths as a beneficial force
raises many more :uestions than it ans"ers. ,hy should the description in the first section of the
attac-ing forces be interrupted by the introduction of an allied force@ ,hy should the pattern of
identification of the sources of eil be suddenly bro-en to identify an ally, the single smith, only
to return to naming eil po"ers after introducing the ally@
)n addition, the s!iðas of Wið færstice are portrayed as forging ;"Llspera< .;slaughter'
spears</A the simple* s1ere is, on the four occasions "hen it occurs in the charm,
e*clusiely and formulaically identified as the cause of the ailment. 5or should "e be
surprised to find smiths causing harm in .(hristian/ Anglo'Sa*on culture. The common
assertion that smiths and smithing "ere associated "ith magical po"er in early medieal
Europe is rather ill'supported, especially if Uçlundr is remoed from consideration.
0ut Tudaeo'(hristian traditions reproduced in Anglo'Sa*on England sometimes criticised
smiths .see (oats"orth3Pinder $%%$, 2983$%6, esp. 2483$%6F ,right 2446, 28434%/,
The fact that magically'empo"ered figures are smiths does not mean that smiths are necessarily
magically'empo"ered .cf. ,ic-er 244&, esp. 2&>3&9/A one rarely hears of "eaers as inherently
magical, despite the fact that magic and "eaing are much more strongly associated than magic
and smithing in our medieal sources .see 9A6 n. 246/.
(hapter 8A Wið færstice
"hile lines &93>> of the eighth'century )rish lorica -no"n as .atrickos (y!n e*plicitly
ino-e protection ;fri brichtu ban ¯ gobann ¯ druad< .;against the incantations of "omen
and smiths and druids<F ed. Sto-es3Strachan 24%236, )) 6>9/.
(ægtessan are e*plicitly mentioned in both hales of Wið færstice. The :uestion
arises, then, "hether the ese andIor the ælfe of the second part also hae any
correspondents in the first. This idea "as long precluded by critics< insistence on the
fundamental unrelatedness of the t"o sections, but a connection bet"een the ælfe and the
s!iðas has more recently been proposed .see S8 n. $2$/. +edieal eidence to support
this is thin on the groundA Vçlundarkviða<s association of the flying !ey7ar "ith
Uçlundr, smith and %lfr, bears only a distant resemblance, and La¸amon<s ;aluisc smiK<
.for "hom see n. 266/ ta-es us no further. Ho"eer, there "as a "idespread association
of other"orldly males in medieal 5orth',est Europe "ith the manufacture of
remar-able or magical "eapons .cf. (ross 24>$, $>& N?.$29.6OF !uerreau'Talabert 244$,
7&, 79 N?$92.6, ?6&6.6O/F and although 0oberg did not identify the motif ?$92.6 8airies
skilful as s!its in #ld 5orse literature, the æsir and their ciilisation are intimately
associated "ith smithing in Vçlus1% and else"here .stan=as 9 and 72F cf. 0oberg 2477,
$6 NA2&%O/. There "as, then, a general connection bet"een other"orldly males and
smithing in 5orth',est European traditions, proiding a conte*t for lin-ing ælfe, ese and
s!iðas. The fact that the s!iðas are not e*plicitly called ælfe or ese could reflect the
charm<s use of allusion and euphemismA the supernatural beings of Wið færstice are for
t"enty lines denoted only by pronouns, wif, and s!ið. This use of allusion in the first
half of the te*t creates tension, emphasising the threat posed by the mysterious
supernatural forces, "hich go unnamed and therefore outside human controlF this is
climactically resoled by their naming as ægtessan, ælfe and ese. This moement
parallels the progression from allusion to the ailment, to a description of a ;"und s"iKe<
.;great inGury<, line 2$/, to a concluding focus on the patient<s o"n body, the patient and
his assailants being embodied precisely "hen they are e*orcised. Lin-ing ese and ælfe
"ith the s!iðas, then, increases the coherence of the charm and is consistent both "ith
its rhetorical techni:ues and "ith "ider 5orth',est European traditions.
Ho"eer, a remar-able parallel is also aailable for this reading, in the confessions to
"itchcraft of )ssobel !o"die.
Tried in 277$, )ssobel "as from Auldearn, near
)nerness, in the county of 5airn. ,e -no" that she "as married, but little else about
her. )ssobel<s confessions are comple*A "e hae four separate confessions, each recorded
by the same notary, Tohne )nnes. )ssobel made them at the pea- of Scotland<s largest
"itch'hunt, at a time "hen intellectual ideas of "itchcraft had been "idely disseminated
#n comparing Scottish "itchcraft trials "ith #ld English eidence see S9A&.
(hapter 8A Wið færstice
and fairy'beliefs relatiely "ell'assimilated to these .Henderson3(o"an $%%2, 2%73&2F
cf. Hall forthcoming NdOF on the hunt generally see Leac- 248%). )ssobel ;interspersed
fairy and diabolical beliefs in her confessions Y to a degree that is unrialled in any
other -no"n "itch trial< .Henderson3(o"an $%%2, 26&/A large parts of her confessions
are1perhaps literally1te*t'boo- e*amples of elite conceptions of "itchcraft. det
alongside these, she recounted material about 8earrie. Desirable though it "ould be, )
cannot consider the full range of European analogues to )ssobel<s confessions here. 0ut
"e can identify impressie parallels to Wið færstice<s Gu*taposition of smiths, ælfe, and
riding "itches, and it is on these that ) focus here.
#n April 26
277$, )ssobel ;appeiring penetent for hir hayno"s sinnes of ,itchcraft,
and that sho haid bein o"er lang in that sericeF "ithout ony compulsitouris WGudicial
compulsionsX, proceidit in hir (#5?ESS)#5E< .ed. Pitcairn 2866, ))) 7%$36/, confessing
again on +ay 6
, 2>
and $9
. )t is not clear "hat processes of coercion, social, Gudicial
or other"ise, the term ;"ithout ony compulsitouris< might mas-F if she had been
imprisoned for the "hole period, as (ohn assumed, then that alone "as no small
5o :uestions are recorded in the confession records, "hich instead gie
the impression of being transcriptions of monologues by )ssobel, but this does not mean
that :uestions "ere not as-ed. Een so, parts of )ssobel<s confessions are too unusual
among the "itchcraft trials to doubt that they deried from her rather than from her
prosecutors. +oreoer, the records t"ice cut off her accounts of fairies "ith ;„c?<, "hich
they do not do on other occasions, implying that these accounts "ere neither of interest
to her prosecutors, nor "ords put into her mouth .cf. Henderson3(o"an $%%2, &/.
)ssobel<s first confession begins by describing her meeting "ith the Deil,
renunciation of her baptism, and her ;carnall co"pulation and dealing< "ith himF and
ho" she and her coen spoiled crops. The confession closes "ith other conentional,
albeit unusually detailed, accounts of stealing co"s< mil-, inflicting harm using images,
and the coen<s membership. )n bet"een, ho"eer, is a passage .ed. Pitcairn 2866, )))
7%63&/ "hich is "orth :uoting in fullA
,hen "e goe to any hous, "e ta- meat WfoodX and drin-F and "e fill "p the barrellis "ith o"r
oen Wo"nX pish againF and "e put boosomes WbroomsX in our beds "ith our husbandis, till e
return again to them. ,e "er in te Earle of +urreyes hous in &ernvey and e gott ane"gh
WenoughX ther, and did eat and drin- of the best, and bro"ght pairt "ith "s. ,e "ent in at the
"indo"es. ) haid a little horse, and "old say ;H#BSE A5D HATT#(D Wlittle hatX, )5 THE D)UELL)S
5A+Et< And than e old flie Wmoe at great speedIflyX a"ay, :uhair e eold, be e"in as stra"es
"old flie "pon an hie'"ay. ,e "ill flie ly- stra"es :uhan "e pleasF "ild'stra"es and corne'
stra"es "ilbe horses to "s, an WifX e put thaim bet"i*t our foot, and say ;H#BSE A5D HATT#(D, )5
THE D)UELL)S namt< An :uhan any sies thes stra"es in a "hirle"ind, and doe not sanctifie them
selues, "e may shoot them dead at o"r pleasour. Any that ar shot be s, their so"ell "ill goe to
Hein, bot ther bodies remains "ith "s, and "ill flie as horsis to "s, als small as stra"es.
2446, 2>4F on torture, Gudicial and other"ise, in Scottish trials see Leac- $%%$, 296399F
+acDonald $%%$, 2$63&$.
(hapter 8A Wið færstice
) "as in te &ownie<illis, and got meat ther from THE n,E)5 #? ?EABB)E, mor than ) could eat.
2e €wein of 8earrie is bra"lie WfinelyX clothed in "hyt linens, and in "hyt and bro"ne
cloathes, {c.F and THE D)5! #? ?EABB)E is a bra" man, "eill faoured, and broad faced, {c. Ther
"es elf'bullis ro"tting and s-oylling "p and do"ne thair, and affrighted me.
)t is not certain that )ssobel<s use of fle, "hich is "ell'attested in the sense ;to moe "ith
the speed of flying< .&,S2, s.. 8le, .
/, attests to flight, though that does seem li-ely.
The consistency of her confession "ith the early medieal admonitions of 0urchard and
Begino is, as often in the trials, impressie, and at least some elements here are certainly
0ut the similarities to Wið færstice, in "hich the caalcade of riding
"omen also shoots its ictims, are une*pected and stri-ing. Tust as Wið færstice proceeds
from depicting the caalcade of "omen causing ailments using proGectiles to mention
ælfe, )ssobel proceeds to tal- about the :ueen and -ing of 8earrie, in one of the passages
"here Tohne )nnes bro-e off. The le*ical collocation of this royal couple "ith elf<*ullis
emphasises the releance of 8earrie to elvis, "hile their association "ith hills is
reminiscent both of Andro +an<s El1illok and of the læw in Wið færstice.
Thus, )ssobel<s first confession contains some suggestie thematic collocationsF but
her second parallels Wið færstice more closely .ed. Pitcairn 2866, ))) 7%732%/. This
confession generally complements the firstA she e*plains that ;il- on of s has an SPB)T
Wspirit, spriteX to "ait "pon "s<, listing the spritesF Tohne brea-s off "hen she mentions
;TH#+AS A ?EAB)E<. 5e*t )ssobel describes a rhyme used to raise and :uieten the "ind,
proceeding later to describe the rhymes "hich she used to change into and out of
animals< forms, and those for healing and for harming. 0et"een the "ind'spells and the
shape'changing spells, ho"eer, comes another passage .ed. Pitcairn 2866, ))) 7%9F the
ellipses are Pitcairn<s, reflecting manuscript lacunae, "ords in s:uare brac-ets being his
conGectural additions/A
As for Elf'arro"'heidis, THE D)UELL shapes them "ith his a"in hand, Nand syne deliueris thameO to
Elf'boyes, "ho "hyttis WshapesX and dightis Wfinishes offX them "ith a sharp thing ly- a pa-ing
neidle Wneedle for binding bundlesXF bot N:uhan ) "es in Elf'land @O ) sa" them "hytting and
dighting them. nuhan ) "es in the Elfes ho"ssis, they "ill ha" "erie . . . . . . . . . . them "hytting
and dightingF and THE D)UELL gi"es them to "s, each of "s so many, :uhen . . . . . . . . . Thes that
dightis thaim ar litle ones, hollo", and boss'ba-ed Wprobably ;concae'bac-ed<, connoting good
They spea- go"stie ly- WgruesomelyX. nuhen THE D)UELL gies them to "s, he sayes,
)ssobel<s phrase orse and attock is paralleled else"here in seenteenth'century Scottish
fol-lore .Pitcairn 2866, ))) 7%& n. 6F cf. Henderson3(o"an $%%2, 69368/ and attock "as probably
already archaic by )ssobel<s time, appearing other"ise in the &ictionary of te ,lder Scottis
2ongue only for 2>%2 .s.. (uttok/.
Boss<*aked has been translated as ;hunch'bac-ed< .e.g. (ohn 2446, 2>4F Henderson3(o"an
$%%2, >>/. 0ut the noun *os seems to denote forms "hich "ere at once cone* and concae
.&,S2, s.., n
/ and as an adGectie it means ;hollo", concae<, &,S2 giing ;hollo"'bac-ed<
.s.. *oss<*aNcOkedF cf. *os, a/. Either "ay, &,S2<s reading is supported by the citation ;Ther faces
seimed "hyt and as lane Wli-e fine linenX, but ther bac-is "er bos ly- fidles<, used of the dead men
by "hom (ristan 5auchty, of the presbytery of Elgin, about t"enty miles ,est of 5airn, confessed
in 27$4 to hae been ;taine a"ay "ith a "ind<. )n contrasting *os *ackis "ith "hite faces it
suggests positie connotations for *os *ackis and so *oss<*aked .ed. (ramond 24%638, )) $22/1
(hapter 8A Wið færstice
;SH##T thes in my name,
And they sall not goe heall hamet<
And :uhan e shoot these arro"es ."e say/1
;) SH##T yon man in THE D)UELL)S name,
He sall not "in heall hamet
And this salbe als"a tr"F
Thair sall not be an bitt of him on liei"t WalieX<
,e ha" no bo" to shoot "ith, but spang them from the naillis of our tho"mbes. Som tymes "e
"ill misseF bot if thay t"itch WtouchX, be it beast, or man, or "oman, it "ill -ill, tho< they haid an
Gac- "pon them.
Here, then, )ssobel describes the manufacture of the "eapons "ith "hich she and her
accomplices shot people and animalsA elf<arrow<eidis .apparently denoting neolithic
flint arro"'headsA &,S2, s.. Elf<arrowF ,E&, s.. arrow S2c, arrow<ead S2bF there is
no Scots eidence for the erb scute to mean ;afflict "ith pain< or the li-e/. The
description focuses on one manufacturer in particular, and then mentions his helpers,
identified as elf<*oyes. As ) hae interpreted it, Wið færstice also describes ho" the
proGectiles of the ægtessan are made, mentioning, li-e )ssobel, a single smith first and
then focusing on a larger number. ) hae inferred that Wið færstice<s s!iðas are ælfe, but
their counterparts in )ssobel<s confession are certainly elvis. The appearance of the Deil
may reflect pressure from )ssobel<s prosecutors .cf. (ohn 2446, 2>4/, but the smiths are
most unli-ely to hae been their inention.
)t appears that )ssobel sa" the manufacture of the "eapons ;in the Elfes ho"ssis<.
,hether these should be identified "ith 8earrie in the &ownie<illis is uncertain, but
this "ould be consistent "ith some other early modern Scottish eidence for "itches<
sources of elf<arrow<eidis.
The identification "ould also help to e*plain "hy in her
first confession )ssobel proceeded directly from an account of ho" she and her coen
could ride out and shoot people to an account of 8earrie. (onceiably, indeed, she "ent
on then to describe the manufacture of the "eapons in the part of her confession
summarised by Tohn )nnes<s „c., forestalling this loss of interest during her second
confession by introducing the Deil. (ertainly, a direct connection bet"een the rides,
shooting, and the Deil<s proision of ammunition is suggested later in the second
confession .ed. Pitcairn 2866, ))) 7%4/, "hen )ssobel says
though the motif is admittedly also reminiscent of the modern Scandinaian motif "hereby the
bac-s of other"orldly beings are hollo", li-e a rotten log .e.g. Eri*on 2472, 6&/. This note
supercedes Hall forthcoming NdO, n. 9.
Datherene Boss .Boss and (romarty, 2>4%/ "ould allegedly ;gang in Hillis to spei- the elf fol-<
.ed. Pitcairn 2866, ) 247/. 5either the purpose nor the conse:uence of this adice is recorded, but
elf occurs other"ise in Datherene<s trial only in the elf<arrow<eidis "hich she shot at images of
her ictims. Beading Datherene<s isits to the hills as :uests for elf<arrow<eidis "ould be broadly
consistent "ith the statement of Tames U) in his &ae!onologie that ;sundrie ,itches haue gone to
death "ith that confession, that they haue ben transported "ith the .airie to such a hill, "hich
opening, they "ent in, and there sa" a faire nueen, "ho being no" lighter Wi.e. haing gien
birthX, gaue them a stone that had sundrie ertues< .ed. (raigie 248$, >2/. #n the use of elf<arrow<
eidis by "itches see further Hall forthcoming NdO.
(hapter 8A Wið færstice
The first "oyage that e"er ) "ent "ith the rest of o"r (#UE5S "es NtoO Ple"ghlandisF and thair
"e shot an man betui*t the ple"gh'stiltis Wplough'handlesX, and he presentlie fell to the ground,
"pon his neise WnoseX and his mo"thF and than THE D)UELL ga" me an arro", and ca"sed me
shoot an oman in that feildisF :uhil- ) did, and she fell do"n dead.
+eaney<s point that ;there is no real eidence Y that the Anglo'Sa*ons belieed that the
malignant disease'bringing forces employed prehistoric arro"heads in their nefarious
tas-< is important .2482, $2$/A ) do not propose that Wið færtice<s NwælOs1eru are
neolithic arro"'heads. All the same, the collocation of "omen riding and shooting
proGectiles to harm members of the in'group "ith images of the supply of these
proGectiles by other"orldly smiths denoted partly by elf is stri-ing.
)ssobel<s subse:uent confessions mainly repeat the material in the first t"o. )n the
third confession she proceeds from describing the inside of the ;Do"nie'hillis< to ;the
-illing of seerall persones, "ith the arro"es :uhich ) gott from THE D)UELL<, and
thereafter to a description of ho" ;"e "old goe to seuerall ho"ssis, in the night tym< .ed.
Pitcairn 2866, ))) 72232$/. This chain of association again resembles the se:uence of
similar motifs in Wið færsticeA the læw oer "hich the !itigan wif ride, their shooting
of proGectiles to harm people, and the description of the sy3 s!iðas "ho arguably
supplied the "eapons, )ssobel then returning to describing her caalcades. The fourth
confession repeats the description in the second of the manufacture of the ;Elf'arro"es<
.ed. Pitcairn 2866, ))) 72>/.
)ssobel "ent on rides "ith her coen, on "hich she shot elf<arrows or elf<arrow<
eidis at people to cause their deaths. These "ere supplied by the Deil and his elf<*oyes,
"ho made them in the Elfes owssis. The rulers of 8earrie, le*ically associated "ith
elvis, lied in hills. This combination of motifs is a patch"or- from t"o confessions,
supported by the others, and the connections little more e*plicit than Wið færstice<s o"n
Gu*taposition of similar motifs. 0ut ta-en together, )ssobel<s confessions sho" a set of
connected motifs "hich are stri-ingly similar to those of Wið færstice. +oreoer,
)ssobel<s claims are similar to Wið færstice despite maGor counterailing trends in our
interening attestations of fairy'lore. )n other English and Scottish eidence, elves, the
"ord e*hibiting the female denotation first attested in the eleenth century, "ere
themseles being assimilated to the bands of riding "omen first attested by Begino of
Pr]m. Dancing groups of supernatural females are first attested in medieal European
literature in the later t"elfth century, in ,alter +ap<s &e nugis curialiu! .ii.2232$,
i.2%, cf. i.8F ed. Tames 2486, 2&8, 2>&, 6&4, cf. 6&>/, follo"ed by Sa*o<s Gesta
&anoru! .6.6.7F ed. #lri-3BLder 24623>9, ) 74/. 0y around 26%% "e find the caalcade
of dancing eluene in the Soutern Englis #egendary .see S9.2.6/ and the earliest
attestation of elf<ring, ;a ring of daisies caused by eles< dancing<.
Shortly after, the
+issed from the +E&, this is attested in three te*tually related lists of plant'names, the earliest
(hapter 8A Wið færstice
8asciculus !oru! deeloped the penitential tradition mentioning ;reginas pulcherrimas
et alias puellas tripudiantes cum domina Dyana, choreas ducentes dea paganorum, que in
nostro vulgari dicitur elves’ (‘beautiful queens and other girls dancing with their mistress
Dyana, leading dances with the goddess of the pagans, who in our vernacular are called
elves’; ed. Wenzel 1989, 578). 0efore the century "as out, the ,ife of 0ath<s ;elf'
:ueene, "ith hir Goly compaignye< "as declared to hae ;daunced ful ofte in many a
grene mede< .lines 8>9372, cf. 484347F ed. 0enson 2489, 227, 228/. Similar ideas are
attested in Scotland around 2>8% in the second inectie of +ontgomerie<s 8lyting
against .olwart, though this, li-e 2e Wife of Batos 2ale, also alludes to male elves and
their se*ual aggression .lines 23$7F ed. Par-inson $%%%, ) 2&63&&F cf. Simpson 244>, esp.
2%/. At the same time as )ssobel<s trial, Tohn +ilton ..aradise #ost ).982389F ed. Bic-s
2484, $9/ "as describing
Y ?aery Eles,
,hose midnight Beels, by a ?orest side
#r ?ountain some belated Peasant sees,
#r dreams he sees, "hile oerhead the +oon
Sits Arbitress, and nearer to the Earth
,heels her pale course, they on their mirth and dance
)ntent, "ith Gocund +usic charm his earY
)ssobel<s distinction bet"een riding "itches and "eapon'ma-ing elf<*oyis compares far
better "ith Wið færstice than "ith these elite literary conentions. )n her confession,
then, "e undboutedly hae remar-able glimpses into non'elite and possibly archaic
Scottish beliefs.
)ssobel !o"die<s confessions, then, parallel Wið færstice in a number of "ays, and
"hile some of the parallels represent motifs prominent in the elite ideologies of
"itchcraft of the time, some "e o"e to )ssobel and, it seems, to ancient traditions.
Prominent in )ssobel<s confessions, albeit by abstraction from partial accounts, is a
conception of "itchcraft inoling groups of "itches riding in flight, gaining magical
proGectiles from the elvis "ho manufacture them, possibly in hills, and using them to
shoot people. Li-e Wið færstice, )ssobel portrayed one smith .in her account the Deil/ in
a group of smiths. The releance of these parallels to the "hole of the #ld English charm
consolidates literary arguments for its coherence, and their e*istence sho"s that Wið
færstice is not a uni:ue imaginatie blooming. )ssobel<s use of elf1albeit only in the
compounds elf<*ull, elf<*oy and elf<arrow<eid1lin-s her narraties le*ically to the
history of ælf, and supports the inference on internal eidence that Wið færstice<s ælfe
are identical "ith its s!iðas.
being in 0ritish Library, Add. 2>$67, from about 26%%, in the "ord elferingewort .lit. ;elf'ring'
plant<F ed. Hunt 2484, 89/. This glosses ;la meine consoude<, itself apparently denoting daisies.
(hapter 8A Wið færstice
%. ealing and the supernatural in Anglo-+a*on culture
) hae argued aboe that the #ld English medical te*ts relating to ælfsiden can be
conincingly lin-ed "ith a "ider "orld of medieal narraties in "hich other"orldly
beings interact "ith members of the in'group through loe and magic, and "hich
afforded a discourse through "hich people could construct mind'altering illnesses and
other debilitating ailments, and een socially proscribed se*ual encounters. The
narraties, intimately lin-ed to concepts of supernatural threat and personal
transgression, could gie these eents meanings, causes, appropriate responses and
ameliorating benefits. Ho"eer, this comparatie material illuminates the other #ld
English medical te*ts, "hich do not suggest mind'altering illnesses, only indirectly. Wið
færstice, on the other hand, proides a paradigm for understanding ho" the attribution of
other ailments to ælfe could hae been significant in Anglo'Sa*on culture. (ameron has
sho"n that the plants prescribed in Wið færstice, if applied as a sale, "ould be li-ely to
hae been chemically effectie ;for muscular and Goint pains< .2446, 2&$3&&/. ,hy, then,
the addition of an elaborate charm, "hich dominates the remedy to the e*tent that "e
cannot een be sure that the plants "ere used as a sale@ Although other factors "ill hae
been inoled, it is reasonable to loo- for a functional interpretation, to see ho" the
charm helped the patient and the healer.
,e are hampered, of course, by not -no"ing "hat range of symptoms færstice
connoted1anything on !losec-i<s range from a stitch to a ruptured appendi* is possible
.2484, 22$326/. 0ut "e may assume that the sufferer "as sufficiently debilitated that his
or her usual contribution to the community "as diminished. Wið færstice had a potential
role not only in healing the body, then, but also the sufferer<s position in the community.
)ts impressiely deeloped metaphor of pain as a .metaphysical/ proGectile "ound
concretises the pain both for the sufferer and the community, ma-ing it possible to bring
it into a narratie of interaction and healing, and into human comprehension and control.
Specifically, it renarrates the sufferer<s e*perience in martial and heroic terms. )f recited
only ictims of the illness, the charm had the potential to help them renegotiate their self'
perception, but if intended for public performance, it could e*tend that renegotiation to
the "hole community. The techni:ue is reminiscent of the conceptualisation of
temptation to sin as arro"s and prayers as armour, "hich ta-e their scriptural precedent
primarily from Ephesians 7A27, but "ere deeloped "ith especial igour in Anglo'Sa*on
(hristianity .Atherton 2446F Dendle $%%2, 6636>F #rchard $%%6a, >23>$/. ,hether the
use of this metaphor in (hristian te*ts and Wið færstice o"e anything to one another is
hard to guess, but the po"er of the techni:ue is eident.
(hapter 8A Wið færstice
+oreoer, Gust as it proed useful in early medieal (hristianity to posit Satan as the
ultimate source of the arro"s of temptation, positing supernatural beings as the source of
the færstice opened up a "orld of meaning. )ntroducing other players into the narratie of
patient and healer gae the ailment an ultimate as "ell as a pro*imate source, and created
a narratie in "hich the healer tac-led the disease at its root, not merely through defence
or cure, but through counter'offensie. The latter element may run deeper in the charm
than has been realised. (hic-ering .2492, 47/ noted that
the nettle and the blac- heads of the rib"ort plantain ..lantago lanceolata/ resemble spears or
arro"s in shape. )f the feerfe" in the charm "ere centaury, it too might hae had magical alue
because its seeds are in the shape of small spindles.
(ameron has reidentified the referent of seo reade netele as #a!iu! 1ur1ureu!, "hich
is not a true nettle, but as it is li-e them in form, (hic-ering<s point stands .2446, 2%8/.
The remedy contains ingredients reminiscent of the s1eru directed against the sufferer. )n
addition, ho"eer, Wið færstice<s portrayal of the s!iðas forging "eapons may be more
than an aside on the origins of ægtessan<s "eapons. ) hae noted that smiths could be
associated "ith harmful magic in early medieal 5orth',est Europe, and mentioned the
arguments that in Vçlundarkviða, Uçlundr "or-s magic by smithing, much as "omen
could "or- magic by spinning and "eaing .SS9A6, 8A6/. This concept suggests that the
smithing depicted in Wið færstice itself implies a magical attac-, potentially causing the
færstice, paralleling the assault by the !itigan wif in lines 6322. )f so, then "e can also
imagine the manufacture of the sale prescribed in Wið færstice to hae been a creatie
act "ith magical potential. The charm says that the spea-er "ill return the proGectiles of
the !itigan wifA arguably, the act of ma-ing the sale could hae been understood to
effect Gust thisF if the act of creating "eapons could cause harm, then the act of creating a
sale could effect healing.
)t is possible, then, to read the recitation of the charm and the manufacture of the
concoction in Wið færstice as a symbolically integrated process, in "hich the healer
fights fire "ith fire at a number of leels. That such rituals could also help to effect the
healing of indiiduals is "ell'attested anthropologically .e.g. Lci'Strauss 2478399
N24&4O/. Lastly, Wið færstice apparently situates the origins of the ailment outside the
sphere of the community, associating the hostile, supernatural protagonists "ith the
liminal space of the natural "orld .and possibly of the burial mound/.
,e do hae one
case of a "ife, abetted by her son, murdering her husband by stic-ing pins in an image
.S2699/, "hich seres to emphasise ho" different the construction of supernatural harm
in Wið færstice is. 0y establishing a contrast bet"een in'group and out'group, the charm
#n "hich see Semple 2448344F $%%6F ,illiams 2448344F Beynolds $%%$, esp. 29>394.
(hapter 8A Wið færstice
firmly aligns the sufferer "ith his or her community, and implicitly the community "ith
the sufferer. The suffer becomes, indeed, the community<s representatie in a "ider
struggle. This implicitly also creates a po"erful position for the healerA the charm
suggests that the healer has special -no"ledge of supernatural forces and special access
to their "orld, priileging himF his o"n potentially liminal situation is, li-e the patient<s,
ameliorated by the binary diision bet"een friend and foe in the charm, since this aligns
him un:uestionably "ith the in'group.
Some of these readings are undeniably speculatie. 0ut een the more straightfor"ard
inferences from Wið færstice suggest the po"er "hich beliefs in ælfe and similar beings
could hae in Anglo'Sa*on healing, and help us to understand the meanings of their
association "ith ailments other than mind'altering ones in the #ld English medical te*ts.
0. Conclusions
Wið færstice furthers our understanding of the meanings of ælfe in Anglo'Sa*on culture
in seeral important "ays, and it situates ælfe in a comparatiely fully'portrayed
mythological conte*t, "hich has ramifications for ho" "e read ælfe<s roles in the
construction of sic-ness and healing. )n it, ælfe are lin-ed "ith ese, recalling other
eidence for the same collocation, but also ægtessan. The meanings of ægtesse and
ægtessan are comparatiely "ell'eidenced, both by #ld English eidence and "ider
sources, sho"ing that traditions of caalcades of supernatural, armed "omen causing
harm to members of the in'group are "idely'paralleled. That their collocation "ith ælfe
may reflect more than a chance combination is suggested by the early 5orse hints that
d$sir and %lfar "ere mythological counterparts, and Vçlundarkviða<s collocation of alvitr
and %lfr, but most clearly by the stri-ingly similar and other"ise distinctie combination
of motifs in )ssobel !o"die<s confessions during the early modern Scottish "itchcraft
trials. This affords a basis, better'established than any hitherto, for interpreting the
eidence for early ælfe<s male gender and lac- of a nymph'li-e counterpart, and for the
change in that situation, "hich ) consider in the concluding analyses of my ne*t chapter.
Wið færstice also sho"s ho" beliefs of this sort could be deeloped as e*planations for
harm, and ) hae presented a reading of the te*t emphasising its potential po"er to
ameliorate the suffering of indiiduals beset by færsticas by re'narrating their situations
as heroic struggles in "hich they represent the in'group in opposition to e*ternal forces.
This could certainly renegotiate a sufferer<s position in his or her community, and
potentially also facilitate the "or- of his or her o"n immune system by concretising the
disease, symbolically identifying and negating its root cause, and improing his or her
self'perception. Although "e lac- such iid eidence for other ælf'ailments, Wið
(hapter 8A Wið færstice
færstice suggests the significance "hich identifying ailments< sources as ælfe could hae
had in our other #ld English medical te*ts1and so more "idely in Anglo'Sa*on culture.
(hapter 4A The +eanings of Ælfe
Chapter ;
The Meanings of Ælf e
A close analysis of our #ld English te*ts, "ith due reference to analogous material from
medieal 5orth',est Europe, has enabled me to reconstruct a fairly full image of ælfe in
the elite cultures of Anglo'Sa*on England. 0eliefs in ælfe "ere not, of course,
monolithicA limited though our eidence is, it is possible to trace the rise of a demonised
conception of ælfe, and its competition "ith traditional concepts of ælfe1"hich
continued for oer eight centuries. )t also is possible to see the arrial of female ælfe in
Anglo'Sa*on beliefs, once more attesting to ariation and change. ) hae summarised
these conclusions aboe .S9A%/. 0ut comparatie eidence also sho"s the li-elihood that
most of ælfe<s arious associations "ere part of a coherent and significant construct .SS9,
8/. The associations of ælfe "ith dangerous seductieness and causing ailments, "hich )
hae reanalysed, need not compromise earlier eidence aligning them "ith the interests
of the in'groupA rather, comparable medieal narraties suggest that these threats can be
understood to hae been ordered, generally threatening only those members of the in'
group "ho transgressed certain boundaries .spatial or social/. ,ider and later eidence
consolidates the le*ical associations of ælfe "ith seduction, illness and the magic
denoted by siden, suggesting that these features could occur together in coherent
narraties, of seduction or of reenge for failed seduction. The associations of Llfe "ith
femininity "hich are also apparent in the #ld English material are "ell'paralleled by
these narraties, since the best comparisons for the le*ical eidence inole female
other"orldly beings, "hile similar Scandinaian narraties concerning male other"orldly
beings inole their transgression of masculine gender boundaries in "ays "hich "e may
ta-e to hae proided paradigmatic e*amples of socially abnormal behaiour.
)t is gratifying to hae been able to reconstruct these beliefs for a period "here their
attestation is so marginal. Seeral themes, ho"eer, demand further deelopment no"
that all of the eidence, primary and comparatie, has been assembled. 5arro"ing my
approach to meaning to a broadly functionalist one, ) conclude by e*amining the
relationship bet"een the beliefs ) hae identified and the society "hich maintained them,
interpreting their change and surial in terms of responses to changing social and
cultural structures. This is by no means the only alid approach to these issuesF
moreoer, beliefs may be productiely functional for a group smaller than that "hich
holds the beliefs, and may e*ist in "ays in "hich ;functions< seem more li-e
rationalisations of beliefs "hich o"e more to other social forces. 0ut functionalism
nonetheless affords one po"erful "ay of using the ne" data assembled aboe.
(hapter 4A The +eanings of Ælfe
+ost pertain to Anglo'Sa*on group identity1"hich has enGoyed considerable interest
in the conte*t of the recent scholarly debates concerning ethnicity in the post'Boman
A free man "as liable to hae a large number of complementary, oerlapping
and sometimes conflicting group identities, based on his household, settlement and -inF
lords and clientsF status, gender, dialect, language, and so forth .see Dleinschmidt $%%%,
843224/. Although the study of monsters in medieal thought, and their relationships
"ith identity, is no" "ell'established,
this research has been largely limited to
intellectual traditions "hose significance for the less learned sections of early medieal
society, and especially for the migration period, is :uestionable.
The present study,
ho"eer, proides a iable set of eidence. Additionally, models of early medieal
constructions of group identities hae generally been based on processes of inclusionA
groups, in these models, are formed through indiiduals< shared characteristics. )n earlier
scholarship, ancestry and language "ere emphasisedF more recently, material culture and
shared origin'myths hae gained prominence. 0ut my eidence suggests a model of
identity based on e*clusiityA indiiduals "ere members of a gien group because they
"ere not from outside it, in specific and historically traceable "ays.
+embers of a gien Anglo'Sa*on in'group belonged because they "ere not monstersA
monsters "ere fundamentally opposed to the in'group in a fairly straightfor"ard binary
diision. (ombining the Anglo'Sa*on data "ith models based on Scandinaian
comparatie eidence .SS$3&.2/ suggests that, traditionally, ælfe "ere mythologically
allied "ith humans in the cosmological struggle of men against monsters attested
particularly by Beowulf. ) hae e*amined these themes already in detail. They could be
deeloped further in arious "ays. #ne possibility "ould be the use of untapped place'
name eidence to facilitate their mapping directly onto Anglo'Sa*on conceptual
landscapes .cf. Appendi* $/. ,hat ) "ill focus on here, ho"eer, is ho" our #ld English
te*tual eidence as "ell as the 5orse material also suggests that ælfe had associations
"ith behaiour "hich "as normally considered transgressie of proper behaiour1once
more helping to define the in'group by "hat it "as not.
?or prominent e*amples see the articles in Hines 2449F in ?ra=er3Tyrrel $%%%F in !illet $%%$F
Smyth 2448F Higham $%%$F Ho"e 2484F cf. more generally Dleinschmidt $%%%, 843224F the
articles in other olumes in the series Studies in (istorical 'rcaeoetnology and 2e
2ransfor!ation of te Io!an World published respectiely by 0re"er in (ambridge and 0rill in
e.g. ,illiams 2447F (ohen 2444F ?riedman $%%%F cf. S$A&. #n Anglo'Sa*on England see
especially Austin $%%$F Lionarons $%%$F #rchard $%%6a.
E*cepting Scandinaia and )reland, on "hich see the essays in #lsen3Hou"en $%%2F 0orsGe
2447F (arey $%%$F and aboe S$A&.
(hapter 4A The +eanings of Ælfe
1. Æl f e as sources of danger and power
The evidence that ælfe had roles in Anglo-Saxon cultures as sources of danger is
extensive. I have studied the significance of this construct in detail in chapters 6–8,
arguing that beliefs in ælfe encoded supernatural threats to those who would cross
important social boundaries—whether spatial or behavioural. In our evidence at least,
ælfe’s main sanction against transgression seems to have been to inflict ailments, in
particular mind-altering ones and sharp internal pains. Such beliefs could also be used to
impart meaning to illnesses, potentially providing a rationale for their infliction and
certainly a set of cultural references through which the experience of illness could be
safely constructed within the community, and the curing of those afflicted facilitated.
These points suggest a further dimension to my association of ælfe with demarcating
group identity: that they not only helped to demarcate boundaries of acceptable
behaviour (whether by good or bad example), but that they were viewed as an active
force in policing at least some of those boundaries. Ælfe have long been seen as
malignant forces in Anglo-Saxon belief, but in my analysis they are understood rather as
powerful beings who would exercise their power in fundamentally ordered ways—albeit
perhaps violently and perhaps not fairly—for the long-term benefit of the community.
They presumably differed in this from the monstrous threats with which, at least in the
early Anglo-Saxon period, they were systematically contrasted, and which we may guess
to have been genuinely malignant.
Specific evidence that ælfe may have interacted with in-groups in less harmful ways is
slight, but it is important, partly because it may connect with other evidence considered
in the next section. The "ord ylfig, "hich on balance seems probably to hae been a
member of the common #ld English le*icon from at least the eighth century to the
eleenth, denoted prophetic states of mind .S>A&/. The implication of its semantics and
etymology is that ælfe could be sources of prophetic po"er to at least some sections of
the community, implying that their associations "ith altered states of mind could be
positie as "ell as negatie .and conceiably both at once/. The same point is suggested
by the eidence that some Anglo'Sa*ons, at least around the seenth century, "ould
employ a plant called, amongst other things, ælfþone .etymologically ;ælf'ine</ for its
mind'altering :ualities, though other e*planations for the name are possible. The idea of
supernatural sources of healing or prophetic powers was familiar in Christian Anglo-
Saxon society: it is ubiquitous in the saints’ lives and homilies produced or otherwise
circulated in the region, while religious specialists were deemed to have special access to
divine power for healing purposes (e.g. Jolly 1996, 170 et passim); and Anglo-Saxons’
invocation of divine power in cursing is likewise extensively attested (Niles 2003, 1120–
(hapter 4A The +eanings of Ælfe
46). It is not unlikely, then, that certain Anglo-Saxons should have claimed supernatural
sources for their powers. The putative existence of ælfe in these roles after conversion
need not only represent inertia in belief: access to Christian supernatural power was
jealously guarded by a limited group of ritual specialists—monks and priests—but other
members of the Anglo-Saxon community might have wanted or needed to claim
supernatural power, making non-Christian traditional sources a significant resource.
These speculations are to some e*tent supported by later eidence. That non'(hristian
supernatural beings might be the source of other"orldly information is attested in
England in the fourteenth century, in the poem -no"n, li-e its eighteenth'century
Scottish counterpart, as 2e Wee Wee +an .on "hich see Lagopoulou'0o-lund $%%$,
2&93>$/. The spea-er of the poem encounters a ;litel man< of strange appearance, "hom
he interrogates for prophetic information .ed. ,right 2877378, )) &>$377/. +uch the
same implications arise from other te*ts discussed aboe .S9A&.$/A ,yntoun<s ,riginal
"ronicle, from the 2&$%s .admittedly identifying its other"orldly informant as the
Deil/F 2o!as of Erceldoune, of the fourteenth or fifteenth centuryF and the trial in
2&68 of Agnes Hanco-. Thomas’s interrogation of his lady at their parting, in the face of
her oft-repeated desire to leave, is also strikingly reminiscent of Óðinn’s interrogation of
the vçlva in the Eddaic poem Baldrs draumar (ed. Neckel 1962, 277–79), emphasising a
wider and older context. Supernatural beings providing wisdom—whether prophetic, as
in Vçluspá, Baldrs draumar and Grípispá, or concerning healing and protection, as in
Sigrdrífumál—are prominent in Old Norse poetry; though usually female, they may be
male, like Fáfnir in Fáfnismál or fKinn himself in Gr$!nis!%l. 0ut the potential po"er
of non'(hristian other"orldly beings, male and female, to proide -no"ledge in English'
spea-ing cultures is sho"n most dramatically by the Scottish "itchcraft trials, "hich
suggest that at least by the early modern period, such ideas "ere a reasonably "idespread
and important part of healers< construction and representation of their -no"ledge.
#ther narraties concerning the beneficence of other"orldly beings also recall the
better'attested po"er of ælfe to harm, because they associate the receipt of supernatural
po"er from other"orldly beings "ith harm from them .S9/. Serglige Con Culainn
associates Cú Chulainn’s awakening from his serglige with his recitation of a *r$atar<
tecosc. Elspeth Beoch "as struc- dumb but gained special -no"ledgeF Andro +an lost
a co" to the nuene of Elphen. +ore tangentially, Uçlundr punishes 5kKuKr<s social
transgression and ta-es adantage of 0çKildr<s spatial one, but according to other
accounts, 0çKildr receies a son from this eent "ho brings glory to his -in. Limited
though they are, then, the Anglo'Sa*on hints that ælfe could be positie sources of
supernatural po"er are "ell conte*tualised. Ælfe<s po"er to harm suggests that they
(hapter 4A The +eanings of Ælfe
established boundaries which it was dangerous to cross, but the comparative evidence
helps to suggest that risking transgression could bring benefits instead or as well.
,hether people could martial the po"ers of ælfe to harm others is unclear. Ælf occurs
often enough as a simple* in the #ld English medical te*ts to sho" that ælf'ailments
"ere at least sometimes caused by ælfe themselesF but would-be magic-workers in
medieval Scandinavia invoked álfar, and Luther’s Tischreden attest to elbe acting as
witches’ familiars, as they did in some Scottish trials.
The idea of sending ylues to
afflict an individual may also underlie the verse lament of the hero Wade quoted in a
sermon (v!ilia!ini su* 1otenti !anu dei ut vos e3altet in te!1ore visitationis in the
twelfth-century manuscript Peterhouse College Cambridge 255 (ed. Wilson 1972, 15; on
dating see James 1899, 314; collated with MS, )) f. &4r):
Su!me sende ylues { summe sende nadderes.
sumne sende ni-eres the biden pates
5ister man nenne bute ildebrand onne.
Some send elves and some send snakes; some
send nikeres which dwell by the water [reading
pater]; no one knows but Hildebrand alone.
The impliction here seems to be that some hostile force sent ylues to beset ,ade,
implying an ability to co'opt them into causing harm to members of the in'group. Though
early and English, ho"eer, ,ade<s complaint is too short and ill conte*tualised to be
)t is also "orth noting an area "here there is no eidence for ælfe causing harm.
Although there is circumstantial eidence for associating ælfe "ith socially unsanctioned
pregnancy, no Anglo'Sa*on comparisons emerge for the prominent later association of
supernatural beings "ith changelings1replacing healthy children .or occasionally
adults/ "ith sic-ly or deformed ones .see Pur-iss $%%%, 1assi!F S-Gelbred 2442, $243$2/
1or een for harming children especially. #ur Anglo'Sa*on eidence is not "ithout
mention of malformed or ailing children,
and though the silence concerning
changeling'lore still proes nothing, "e should be cautious about assuming that it already
e*isted in early medieal culture. The idea that the children begotten on members of the
in'group by other"orldly beings "ould be malformed is attested in England by the
thirteenth century and e*emplifed by my :uotation aboe from the +an of #awos 2ale.
+ean"hile, associations of supernatural beings "ith changelings in Europe are attested
bac- into the thirteenth century .Schmitt 2486 N2494O, esp. 9&38$/, and in Anti:uityF but
such associations begin to be attested for elves only in the fifteenth century.
Cf. Edwards 1994, 21; Wilby 2000; Hall forthcoming [d]; §§6:1, 7:4, 8:3.
The last letter is ill'formed and unclear.
See +eaney 2484, $%3$$F (ra"ford 2444, 4832%% ."hose reference in n. $8 should be to
(oc-ayne 287&377, ))) 2&>/.
S7A6.2F cf. &e nugis curialiu! ii.22 .ed. Tames 2486, 2>837%/F Miðreks saga ch. 274 .ed.
0ertelsen 24%>322, ) 6243$$/F and the rise of elf as a term of abuse, see ,E& .s.. elf SS$b, 6, oaf/.
0eginning "ith associations of elf "ith la!ia in the .ro!1toriu! 1arvuloru! .ed. ,ay 28&63
(hapter 4A The +eanings of Ælfe
Anglo'Sa*ons had other traditional discourses handling babies< malformity or failure to
thrie. (omparison "ith Scandinaia suggests culturally'sanctioned abandonmentF if so,
non'(hristian changeling lore might hae been a response to the strong (hristian
opposition to abandoment.
The combined Old English evidence, thus contextualised, suggests something of the
potential significance of ælfe as a source of supernatural power, hinting at complex
interrelationships between ælfe’s power to help and their "ell'attested po"er to harm.
The po"er aailable from contact "ith ælfe may hae been proportional to the ris-s
"hich that contact entailed, and possibly indeed to the harm "hich it caused. )f so, ælf'
beliefs potentially also afforded not only a means to manipulate illness at a psychological
and social'psychological leel to facilitate curing the afflicted, but a means of
constructing certain -inds of suffering in a positie "ay, as sources of -no"ledge and
po"er in themseles. These are themes "hich can be e*plored through the eidence for
the relationship bet"een ælfe, Anglo'Sa*ons, and the social boundaries of gendering.
". 1endering
#ur eidence concerning the relationship bet"een ælfe and gendering gies rise to t"o
main issues. ?irstly, it seems that early Anglo'Sa*on ælfe "ere e*clusiely male, but that
they "ere associated "ith traits "hich Anglo'Sa*ons considered effeminate .see SS&A$,
>A6.$36, 7A6F cf. 9/. ,hat does this mean@ Secondly, ælf came by the eleenth century to
be able to denote females as "ellF this usage seems not only to e*hibit a change in ælf<s
semantics, but a ne" addition to Anglo'Sa*on inentories of belief .S>A6.$36F cf. 9A2.6,
9A&.2, 8A6/. ,hat does tis mean@ These are difficult :uestions, so it is "orth
emphasising first of all that the ery fact that "e can no" as- them is an e*citing
deelopment. ,hereas nineteenth'century historians< assumptions about gendering hae
in other fields been reised because they proed incompatible "ith the primary sources1
as in 5orse or ancient Hellenic material1the Anglo'Sa*on "ritten sources challenge
them less obiously .see respectiely +eulengracht Sirensen 2486 N248%OF Halperin3
,in-ler3veitlin 244%F +agennis 244>/. #ur perspecties on "omens< positions in
7>, ) 268F for later eidence see !reen $%%6, &23&>/.
(ra"ford do"nplayed the prospect of abandonment in her recent "ildood in 'nglo<Sa3on
England, emphasising parental loe .2444, 4$/, and oblation "as of course generally accepted by
(hurchmen .0os"ell 2488, $$83>>/F but these are not necessarily e*clusie of practices of
abandoment. Problematic sources though they are, )ne<s la"s e*plicitly coer infanticide, along
"ith at least one recently'noted hint in an anonymous homily .(aie 2448F contrast (ra"ford 2444,
4634&/. See further 0os"ell .2488, esp. 2483$$9, $>7377/ and compare recent assessments of
infanticide in medieal ScandinaiaA (loer 2488, 2>%39$F Penti-einen 244%F Tochens 244>, 8>3
46F ,ic-er 2448.
(hapter 4A The +eanings of Ælfe
Anglo'Sa*on culture are concomitantly limited. Serious efforts hae begun in recent
years to redress this, but our approaches are ery much in a process of transition,
meaning that there is no firm frame"or- in "hich to assess the ne" eidence.
"or- has proceeded through ne" analyses of under'used te*ts such as the Anglo'Sa*on
penitentials, and through the use of cultural and critical theory to try to penetrate the
ideologically dominant discourses of Anglo'Sa*on "riters1principally those associated
"ith the tenth' and early eleenth'century monastic reform moement1to assess "hat
they conceal and reeal about the multifarious Anglo'Sa*on constructions of gender
"hich they sought to control. ,hat the eidence assembled in this thesis allo"s us to do
is return to issues of Anglo'Sa*on gendering from an entirely ne" standpoint. Doing so
is daunting, not least because it inoles proGecting closely'reasoned conclusions dra"n
from difficult eidence into another eidentially problematic, and ideologically charged,
area. 0ut if nothing else, the eidence for ælfe encourages us to as- ne" :uestions and to
loo- for ne" ans"ers.
An important preliminary concern is ho" far it is appropriate to tal- of ;masculine<
and ;feminine< gender in Anglo'Sa*on culture. (loer has argued that in early medieal
Scandinaian cultures, before (hristianisation and "hat she tentatiely called
;mediealisation< prompted a departure on the long road to"ards the alignment of gender
"ith se*, gender could better be diided into the t"o groups vatr and *lauðr. (vatr
meant ;bold, independent, po"erful, igorous<, and *lauðr ;"ea-, soft, po"erless<
.2442/. The alignment had more to do "ith po"er and independence than biological se*,
but aristocratic men dominated the vatr group, and "omen the *lauðr group. Although
this approach is certainly useful .cf. ,oolf 2449F ,hitney 2444F !rado"ic='Pancer
$%%$/, ) hae preferred the traditional terms !asculine and fe!inine, as these are
established in "or- on Anglo'Sa*on gendering, and hae generally proed appropriate
labels for obGectiely obserable groupings in Anglo'Sa*on societies .e.g. Stoodley
2444/. 0ut (loer<s "or- proides important caeats. ) neither claim, then, nor intend to
offer definitie interpretations of the data presented here. 0ut ) do aim to sho" the -inds
of ne" perspecties "hich "e can gain through eidence li-e that assembled already in
this thesis, and through integrating it thoroughly "ith eidence from other -inds of
souces, such as archaeology and legal te*ts.
Stafford 244& mar-s the historiographical shift. ?or some maGor contributions see ?rant=en
2449F 2448F Lees3#ering $%%$F Taylor 2448, 663>$F 2486F !odden 244>. ?or "or- on gender
and the 0enedictine reformists see further Stafford 2444F (ubitt $%%%bF ?oot $%%%, esp. ) 8>322%F
,areham $%%2F cf. Tayatila-a $%%6. See also the late and, in origin, non'Anglo'Sa*on1but at
times refreshingly le"d1"ar!ina "anta*rigensia .ed. viol-o"s-i 244&/.
(hapter 4A The +eanings of Ælfe
2#1 The effe%inac, of ælfe: earl, Anglo-/axons and %,thological transgressions
As ) hae said, ælfe<s associations "ith seductie feminine beauty, nymphs, siden and the
eentual semantic deelopment of ælf to denoting females as "ell as males ma-e the
conclusion that ælfe had feminine traits1at at least some times in some discourses1
hard to aoid. )f nothing else, this poses a po"erful challenge to the image of Anglo'
Sa*on culture dominant in our sources, "hich generally minimises any hint of gender
disturbance or transgression. 0ut one "ould "ish at least to attempt to interpret the
meaning of this cultural construct of effeminate ælfe further. ?ortunately, Wið færstice
situates ælfe in a comparatiely fully'articulated system of belief .S8/. Wið færstice
Gu*taposes ælfe ."ho may, moreoer, be identical "ith the charm<s non'combatant and
arguably magic'"or-ing s!iðas/ "ith armed and iolent "omen .themseles "ell'
paralleled/. That this Gu*taposition "as not uni:ue to the charm is suggested by its
recurrence in )ssobel !o"die<s confessions and by hints that %lfar and d$sir "ere also
systematically Gu*taposed as male and female counterparts in 5orse traditions .SS$A$/.
,hat is stri-ing for present purposes is that Wið færstice ostentatiously inerts eeryday
Anglo'Sa*on gendering. ,eapon'bearing "as associated "ith masculinity, and freedom,
at profound and ideological leels1but in Wið færstice, it is "omen "ho bear and use
,e do not simply hae eidence, then, that in Anglo'Sa*on belief ælfe "ere
effeminateA "e also find them Gu*taposed "ith ægtessan "ho are in important respects
masculine, arguably as co'authors of supernatural harm, in "hat is conceiably a
systematic structural pairing.
,e may interpret the contrast bet"een effeminate ælfe and martial ægtessan as a
feature in a system of belief, "hereby other"orldly beings "ere belieed to trangress the
gender boundaries e*perienced in eeryday life. These other"orldly beings, then, "ere
not an idealised image of society or a straightfor"ard model of proper behaiour. 0ut nor
"ere they monsters1though there may, of course, hae been a degree of ambiguity about
these categories. Bather, "e may understand ælfe and ægtessan as society<s mirror'
imageA in the mirror, "e do not see ourseles distorted, but "e do see ourseles, on one
a*is, inerted. This "as presumably not the only system through "hich these groups
could relate in Anglo'Sa*on cultures. )ts concern "ith "eapon'bearing is arguably .male/
aristocratic in its orientation. +y assumption of symmetricality bet"een male and female
The gendering is clear in early Anglo'Sa*on burial assemblages, "eapons correlating "ith male
s-eletons and "eaing'-it "ith female .Stoodley 2444, esp. 9938%/F li-e"ise, #ld English
specified male !enn "ith wæ1ned!ann .;armed person<, as opposed to wif!ann, ;"oman'
person</F one<s patrilineal ancestry "as the s1ereealf or s1ereand .;spear'side<, as opposed to
s1inelealf, ;spindle'side</. A ariety of sources point to the further ideological association of
"eapon'bearing "ith freedom .0roo-s 2498, 8$386/. The association of "eapon'bearing "ith
masculine gender has continued in England since that time.
(hapter 4A The +eanings of Ælfe
mythological transgression is reminiscent of 0ynum<s argument that in later medieal
sources, men ;use images of reersal to e*press liminality<, one of the main reersals
being in gender. The male e*perience of liminality or crisis could inole adopting
feminine traits. +oreoer, men ;tended to assume that reersal "as symmetricalY men
"riting about "omen assumed that "omen "ent through sharp crises and conersions
and that their liminal moments "ere accompanied by gender reersal< .248&, at 22%,
222/. This proides a neat parallel to my readingA male Anglo'Sa*ons construed the
liminality of the supernatural beings around their societies through gender reersal. )n
liminal space, males "ere seductiely beautiful and "or-ed magic, and females bore and
used "eapons. 0ut 0ynum also argued that "omen and other less po"erful groups in fact
did not e*perience liminality as gender reersal .248&, 22$328/. )f my model of a belief'
system inoling systematic gender inersion holds, then, it may do so only for the
aristocratic men "ho created our sources.
)magining a range of Anglo'Sa*on discourses besides medical te*ts li-e Wið færstice
1a range li-e the one "hich "e hae attested for Scandinaia1"e might suppose that
se*ually transgressie mythological figures could, depending on conte*t, hae been
discomforting, laughable or een contemptible. 0ut it is clear from all our sources1for
ælfe, ægtessan and analogous figures1that they "ere po"erful. )n the cases of both
ægtessan and ælfe, gender transgression is associated "ith gaining the po"ers
associated "ith the other se*A martial s-ills on the one hand and magical ones on the
other. The putatie systematic contrast bet"een ælfe and ægtessan, then, "as arguably
one of the "ays in "hich Anglo'Sa*on social mores "ere enculturated and maintainedA
these beings sho"ed "hat the in'group "as not.
(ultural strategies of this sort are not "hat the monstic reformers "ould hae had us
thin- of "hen "e thought of Anglo'Sa*on England, but sparse though the eidence is, it
is sufficient to suggest that such non'(hristian belief'systems did operate in shaping and
maintaining Anglo'Sa*on norms. +oreoer, this reading suggests a ne" conte*t for
approaching an increasingly prominent issue in debate on early Anglo'Sa*on gendering.
A number of confidently'se*ed male s-eletons from the period in "hich grae'goods
"ere still deposited "ith bodies, from the fifth century to the earlier part of the eighth,
hae been found "ith artefacts associated in the ast maGority of cases "ith female
s-eletons, such as dress fasteners and Ge"elleryF furthermore, they lac- artefacts
associated "ith males1principally "eapons. There are also a fe" females "ith "eaponsF
these are too fe" for reliable interpretation, but one case remains note"orthy because the
osteological se*ing has no" been confirmed by D5A analysis, encouraging the idea that
such transgressie burials are not to be dismissed as accidents by bone'specialists .Lucy
$%%2, 84F see further S8A$.$ n. $$9/. These inhumations hae been most e*tensiely
(hapter 4A The +eanings of Ælfe
studied in Stoodley<s recent analysis of 2767 undisturbed adult Anglo'Sa*on burials,
from forty'si* sites coering most of early Anglo'Sa*on England.
Stoodley counted
nineteen confidently'se*ed males buried "ith "omen<s dress accessories12.27† of his
"hole sample and &.76† of his confidently'se*ed males1and there are other cases.
Ho" "ell these statistics reflect either Anglo'Sa*on burial practices .in particular, they
e*clude cremation burials/ or eeryday life .of "hich mortuary practice is a notoriously
problematic indicator/ is an open :uestion, but the figures suggest that a demographically
significant proportion of early Anglo'Sa*on biological males sometimes dressed in "ays
normally associated "ith "omen, such cross'dressing being ideologically important
enough to find e*pression in burial practice.
This sort of mismatch has traditionally been e*plained as mis'se*ingsF the burials do
not generally sho" special treatment in other respects.
(omparisons from other regions
are hard to come by, as the establishment of se*ing "ithout reference to grae'goods is
nascent .cf. Effros $%%%F Solli $%%$, $283$2/1though e*amples are emerging from the
!ermanic'spea-ing (ontinent and Scandinaia.
0ut the recent studies by Stoodley,
Lucy, Shepherd, and Dn]sel and Bipley emphasise that "e "ould be un"ise simply to
dismiss this une*pected data. There are also a fe" females "ith "eaponsF these are too
fe" for reliable interpretation, but one case remains note"orthy because the osteological
se*ing has no" been confirmed by D5A analysis, encouraging the idea that such
transgressie burials do not solely represent the uncertainties inherent in s-eletal se*ing
.Lucy $%%2, 84F see further S8A$.$ n. $$9/. +oreoer, there is comparatie eidence
suggesting conte*ts in "hich a proportion of men may dress in "ays "hich transgress
their gender. Dn]sel and Bipley emphasised anthropologically'obsered societies
containing biological men "ho routinely dress as "omen, usually because they hae a
ritual status in the society in :uestion as a shaman or in a similar function.
The same
interpretation has been plausibly offered in a Scandinaian conte*t, in particular
regarding the man buried at Uiallen in S"eden bet"een around 8%% and 22%% "earing a
"oman<s linen dress, "ith other artefacts associated "ith female burials, as "ell as "ith
more unusual obGects .Price $%%%, 283$2F Solli $%%$, $$2/. The potential correlation
bet"een a burial li-e this and the Scandinaian association of men performing seiðr "ith
cross'dressing .see SS7A6.2F 9A$.$/ has not gone unnoticed, and ,i-er has recently
) am grateful for Dr Stoodley for clarifying the character of this sample.
2444, 97399, $28 table &>F Lucy 2449, 2>937$F $%%%, 84F cf. Shepherd 2444, $623&2F Dn]sel3
Bipley $%%%, 288342.
e.g. Her-e 2449, 26$366F Dic-inson $%%$, 86F cf. Stoodley 2444, 2%, 6636&. Een the figure of
&.7† does not transcend the 7† error rate conentionally rec-oned "ith in osteological se*ing.
Lucy $%%%, 8434%F vachrisson and others 2449, >93>8F cf. Price $%%%, 28324F Tesch 2442, $23
$$, 6%F more generally Solli $%%$, $28362.
$%%%, esp. 27&374F Shepherd 2444, esp. $$$3$9, $&$3&6F for other anthropological e*amples
see Saladin D<Anglure $%%6 N244$OF 0al=er $%%6 N2447O.
(hapter 4A The +eanings of Ælfe
conte*tualised this by pointing to the blurring of borders bet"een genders and bet"een
human and animal prominent in )ron'Age Scandinaian small arts up to around the mid'
si*th century .$%%2/. #ther, problematic, linguistic and te*tual hints suggesting similar
conceptions else"here in medieal Europe do e*ist,
but "hat is more important is the
undoubted fact that, not unli-e the saints studied by 0ynum, arious men at arious times
hae gained liminality through sartorial gender'transgression, and in gaining liminality,
they hae also gained supernatural po"er. )t is important to recognise that the male
gender transgression "hich these sources suggest need not necessarily hae inoled the
assumption of female identity. The fact of transgression may hae been more important
than the outcomeF it could rather be interpreted as a sho" of special independence
predicated on the symbolic transgression of cultural boundaries, bringing "ith it special
#ur eidence for ælfe, then, presents us "ith supernatural males "ith clear effeminate
traits, argubly part of a systematic belief'system, "hile early Anglo'Sa*on culture
appears, if mis'se*ing of s-eletons does not "holly deceie us, to hae included a
number of men "ho "ore "omen<s clothes. The possibility that there "as some cultural
connection bet"een the t"o phenomena demands e*ploration. )f beliefs concerning ælfe
sered to establish gender norms by sho"ing "hat normal men "ere not, they also
proided potential paradigms for men<s socially meaningful gender transgression.
As Stoodley noted, "e do hae a tempting Anglo'Sa*on te*tual comparison for the
male s-eletons "ith feminine burial assemblagesA 0ede<s account of the pagan
5orthumbrian ;primus pontificum< .;chief of bishops</ (oifi .2444, 97F for 1ontife3 as
;bishop< see Page 244>, 224/. (oifi, deciding to conert, ta-es up a s"ord and a spear,
mounts a stallion, and attac-s his o"n fanu! .;shrine</. 0ede e*plains the symbolism of
this action "ith the comment ;non enim licuerat pontificem sacrorum uel arma ferre uel
praeter in e:ua e:uitare< .;for the bishop of NtheirO religion "as not permitted to bear
arms or to ride e*cept on a mare<F ed. (olgrae3+ynors 2442, 28&387 at 28&/F and, as
Hines concluded, ;the t"o constraints upon the priest Y impose an emblematic
femini=ation upon him<1potentially a stri-ing parallel to our putatie cross'dressing
Anglo'Sa*on ritual specialists.
Unfortunately, it is altogether possible that this episode
The note ;Hos !alli Eluesce "ehte uocant< .;the Galli call these NhallucinationsO Eluesce
wete</ discussed aboe ostensibly enisages some Anglo'Sa*on speech'community e:uialent to
the castrated priests of (ybele .S>A>/, but can hardly be relied on. The possible further meaning of
the #ld High !erman agaRussa as ;in "eiblicher Dleidung auftretender fahrender Schauspieler,
Spielmann< .;a traelling actor, minstrel, performing in "omen<s clothing<F '(&WB, s..
agaRussa S>/ may hint that men might hae dressed as "omen in order to be agaRussan. As
0ullough noted, the early medieal Penitential of Silos includes an intriguing reference "ithin a list
concerning incantations, consultation of demons and proscribed healing practices to men "ho
dance "earing "omen<s clothes .0ullough 2497, 67$F 0ullough30ullough 2446, 72F see also
Dumc=il 2496b, 22&3$2/.
2449, 69438%. Page :uestioned the representatieness of (oifi<s portrayal on the grounds that
(hapter 4A The +eanings of Ælfe
is purely 0ede<s inention1a deice "hereby he imposed his o"n conceptions of a
priesthood on the pagan past, deeloping distinctie features for it in his narratie so that
(oifi could transgress them at the dramatic moment of conersion .cf. Page 244>, 2$23
0ut een disregarding 0ede, "e do hae Anglo'Sa*on comparisons for the idea that
early Anglo'Sa*on ritual specialists ac:uired po"er through gender transgressionA mon-s
and to some e*tent priests "ere e*pected to do Gust this. At least in theory, mon-s
established their ritual status by ta-ing on celibacy, distinctie haircuts and dress, and
esche"ing "eapons. This practice "as usually construed theologically in terms of the
transcendence rather than the transgression of gender, and Zlfric, doubtless mindful that
;non Y ir utetur este feminea abominabilis enim apud Deum est :ui facit haec< .;a
man must not use "omanly clothes, for he is abhorrent to !od "ho does these things<,
Deuteronomy $$A>F ed. ,eber 249>, ) $7&/, certainly did not see it as gender
transgression .cf. ch. $%7 of his first #ld English letter to ,ulfstan and ch. 22&32> of his
pastoral letter for ,ulfsigeF ed. ,hiteloc-30rett30roo-e 2482, 6%%, $24/. Ho"eer,
section 6> of Alfred<s la"'code suggests that other Anglo'Sa*ons1perhaps because they
lied earlier, but perhaps also because they "ere laymen1construed the mar-s of the
(hristian ritual specialist other"ise .ed. Liebermann 24%6327, ) 78374 at 78/A
!if mon cierliscne mon gebinde unsynnigne, gebete mid y scill.
!if he hine on bismor to homolan bescire, med y scill. gebete.
!if he hine to preoste bescire unbundenne, mid yyy scill. gebete.
!if he Kone beard Vfascire, mid yy scill.gebete.
!if he hine gebinde ¯ Monne to preoste bescire, mid Ly scill. gebete.
)f anyone binds an innocent man of the ceorl'class, he "ill compensate "ith 2% shillings.
)f, as an insult, he cuts his hairIshaes him to a ma-e him a o!ola .@man "ith head'hair shaen
he "ill compensate "ith 2% shillings.
)f he cuts his hairIshaes him, unbound, .as though/ to ma-e him a priest, he "ill compensate
"ith 6% shillings.
)f he completely shaes the beard, he "ill compensate "ith $% shillings.
)f he binds him and then cuts his hairIshaes him .as though/ to ma-e him a priest, he "ill
compensate "ith 7% shillings.
This la" is in a "idespread tradition of legislation in early medieal la"'codes against
certain insults, many of "hich, particularly in Scandinaia, inoled impugning
;in the iolent life of the times fe" prominent men could afford to renounce self'defence< .244>b,
229328 at 229/, but if random iolence really "ere an eer'present threat, Anglo'Sa*on "omen,
children, slaes and clerics "ould hae had to be armed no less than men. )n fact, the access to and
direction of iolence in Anglo'Sa*on society must hae been culturally constructed, certain groups
as a rule being spared it.
The meaning of o!ola is unclear .cf. &,E, s.. *ys!or SA.&/, but as 0os"orth and Toller
.2848, s.. o!ola/ pointed out, the "ord must be related to a!elian .;mutilate</ and to #lder
Scots o!!ill, u!!ill .of liestoc-, ;"ith horns remoed<F of ears of corn ;"ith the bristles
remoed<F &,S2, s../
(hapter 4A The +eanings of Ælfe
masculinity .see e.g. +eulengracht Sirensen 2486 N248%O/, and many of "hich again
concern forcible hair'cutting.
Alfred<s la", "hich does not seem hitherto to hae been
noted in this conte*t, sho"s that "hile it "as "ell and good for an Anglo'Sa*on to hae
a priest<s haircut if he "ere a priest, it "as an insult to impose such a haircut on a layman
1as Tames also found in his "ider surey of early medieal !ermanic'spea-ing Europe
.248&, 8434>/. )t "as an insult of the same order as tying someone up .depriing him,
amongst other things, of his physical po"er/ or shaing off his beard .depriing him of
an out"ard mar-er of masculinity, "hich "ould appear to hae been "orseF cf. the
importance of beards in early )rish society, Sayers 2442, 27>379/. )ndeed, if the fines
imposed do not simply reflect the implicit disrespect done to the (hurch, then giing
someone a priest<s haircut "as a "orse insult than either of these. +y Gu*taposition of
0ede<s account of (oifi "ith Alfred<s la" is not to argue for any direct crinicultural
continuity bet"een pre' and post'conersion Anglo'Sa*on ritual specialists1though +c
(arthy<s recent and detailed study of the )nsular tonsure has rescued precisely this
prospect from its not entirely enerable historiography.
Bather Alfred<s la"'code
sho"s conincingly that it "ould not be at all inconsistent "ith "hat "e -no" of later
Anglo'Sa*on culture to hypothesise that earlier Anglo'Sa*on ritual specialists also
mar-ed their special status by ta-ing on appearances "hich "ould ordinarily be
considered degrading, and arguably transgressie of normal gender'practices.
To press the analogy bet"een pre'conersion Anglo'Sa*on ritual specialists and
mon-s, mon-s had a mythological paradigm for their transcendence of genderA the angels
of the heaenly city. The eidence for ælfe offers a basis for supposing that earlier
Anglo'Sa*on men li-e"ise had a mythological model for their systematic gender
transgressions. )n ta-ing on feminine trappings to gain supernatural po"er, they "ere
underta-ing a transgression for "hich ælfe, in their "orld'ie"s, proided a model.
,hether or not ælfe dressed as "omen to effect siden as fKinn seems to hae done to
effect seiðr, ælfe<s eident supernatural po"er and feminine characteristics are sufficient
to suggest that they could hae proided a po"erful model for systematic male cross'
dressing in early Anglo'Sa*on society in pursuit of ritual andIor supernatural po"er.
)ndeed, "e might een speculate that the early Anglo'Sa*on men dressed as "omen
gained po"er not only from a gender transgression conceptualised through mythologies
See section 66 of Zthelberht<s la"s .ed. Liebermann 24%6327, ) >/, "hich has close ?risian
analogues .Stanley 2497/F Sayers 2442, 29&399 on medieal )reland .cf. the e*amples concerning
horses in medieal ,ales, Hall $%%$, 6236$/F more "idely Tames 248&, 84346. #n the symbolic
po"er of early medieal hair more generally, see 0artlett 244&, esp. >93>4F Diesenberger $%%6.
+c (arthy emphasised ho" not only arious )rish "riters but also Aldhelm and (eolfrid
identified Simon +agus1the prototypical sorcerer in early +edieal (hristian ideologies1as the
originator of the )nsular tonsure. The basis for this seems not to be any tradition about Simon,
ho"eer, but an identification of the )nsular tonsure "ith that of natie, albeit possibly only )rish,
!agi .$%%6, esp. 272376, 277F cf. Uenclog $%%$, esp. &7739%/.
(hapter 4A The +eanings of Ælfe
concerning ælfe, but specifically from ælfe themseles1"hich "ould fit neatly "ith the
eidence of ylfig that ælfe might bring about states of prophetic speech.
Before concluding this topic, it is worth emphasising that it is risky to speculate
further on how beliefs in ælfe related to more formal elements of what we might, for
want of better terms, label pre-conversion public religion: our evidence at this point is
vanishingly slight. We may at least recall the interrelationships in early medieal
Scandinaian belief of dngi'?reyr, %lfar and vanir discussed aboe. Though parts of his
arguments are untenable, 5orth has sho"n that there "as probably a deity )ng in early
Anglo'Sa*on belief'systems, and that he "as arguably an especially prominent deity
.2449a/. This figure seems not only to be cognate "ith ?reyr in name .insofar as ?reyr is
also referred to as dngi'?reyr/, but to hae shared "ith him and his mythological
relaties the motifs of trael in a "agon .see for e*ample Turille'Petre 2474F 5orth
2449a, &&3&8/ and possibly a ieros ga!os .Tol-ien 2486 N247&O, 2$93$8F for other
resonances bet"een Beowulf and #ld 5orse mythological material see #rchard $%%6b,
2273$6/. The 5orse mythological parallel to this marriage is itself most fully recounted
in the Eddaic Sk$rnis!%l, "hich further inoles seiðr'li-e magic, and many other
features of "hich seem to hae close Anglo'Sa*on counterparts .S9A$.2 n. 289/. The
paradigmatic importance of the Sk$rnis!%l myth in ritual is suggested by Adam of
0remen<s association of ?ricco "ith the celebration of marriages .S$A2.$/. #ur eidence
is not inconsistent, then, "ith a hypothetical pre'conersion Anglo'Sa*on god paralleling
dngi'?reyr, lord of the %lfar and arguably an %lfr himself, associated "ith the use of
seiðr in seductionA a god )ng and a people of ælfe, the latter at least associated "ith siden
and seduction. ,hile, as ) hae indicated aboe, Taylor and Salus<s analyses are
unsatisfactory .see S&A2 n. 48/, it is also "orth noting that their argument that the
putatie alfwalda of Beowulf is to be identified "ith ?reyr fits "ell into this reading
.248$, &&2F cf. Taylor 2448, 4432%7/. #ur Anglo'Sa*on eidence is not, ho"eer, of a
-ind "hich "ill permit the confident reconstruction of mythologies of this sort.
Although certainty is impossible, then, there are reasons to think that male, effeminate
ælfe were of systematic social significance in Anglo-Saxon society, as a model of
unmasculine behaviour. They were also paired with supernatural females most
prominently called hægtessan, who transgressed female norms of behaviour by
exhibiting masculine traits; I have argued that this represents a systematic symmetry,
these females presumably serving as models of unfeminine behaviour. There is also
reason to think that men might gain supernatural powers like ælfe’s by entering liminal
cultural space through gender transgression. If this was the case, it certainly did not last:
insofar as the Christian ritual specialists who dominated post-conversion Anglo-Saxon
(hapter 4A The +eanings of Ælfe
culture used similar techniques, they constructed them through ostentatiously different
mythological paradigms.
2#2 The fe%ale ælfe%elven
These changing patterns in Anglo-Saxon society advert to the possibility that Anglo-
Saxons’ norms and constructions of gender were changing between the migration and the
Norman Conquest. This being so, it is of especial interest that at some point in the early
Middle Ages, female equivalents of male ælfe entered Anglo-Saxon belief-systems,
attested first as equivalents of nymphae. Around the eighth century, at least in written
registers, there was no common Old English word for a nymph-like female, or a female
ælf. But by around 1200, La¸amon’s female aluen enjoyed supernatural powers to shape
the child Arthur’s future and to heal him in their otherworld over the sea (cf. Edwards
2002). By the time when Edward I commissioned his own round table, elven~elves were
seducing men and dancing through woods and meadows, daisies flowering in their wake
(§§7:1.3; 8:3). How early this change began is hard to guess, but my demonstration that it
appeared in writing by the early eleventh century demands that we revise previous
assumptions that it represents ;(eltic< influence through the rise of fol-lorically'inspired
literature in the Anglo'5orman t"elfth'century renaissance (§5:3.3). We must no"
situate the arrial of female elven in the changing culture of Anglo'Sa*on England prior
to the early eleenth century. )f nothing else, this is po"erful eidence against the
traditional assumption that non'(hristian belief suried conersion only in a more or
less fossili=ed stateA female elven sho" rather that it continued to lie and change.
Ho"eer, they may also be added to the gro"ing eidence that, contrary to older ie"s,
"e are not to loo- to the 5orman (on:uest to e*plain maGor changes in English
Detecting "hether there may be a lin- bet"een deelopments in the gendering of ælfe
and that of Anglo'Sa*on society is difficult. The history of Anglo'Sa*on "omen is
oer"helmingly the history of :ueens and nunsF neither group need be ery
representatie of "omen and femininity generally, and "hile their positions in Anglo'
Sa*on society changed oer time, the reasons for this and so its significance for the
history of gender relations are hard to disentangle.
The rise of female elven may sho"
deelopments in ho" myth reflected society rather than in the structure of society itself.
,e also -no" too little about the origins of the female elven. Their emergence in the
eleenth century could represent the adoption of a popular belief by the aristocracy or of
#n :ueens see Stafford 2486F 2449F on nuns ?oot $%%%, ) esp. 6%36&, 7238&F see further the
references in S4A$.% n. $&9.
(hapter 4A The +eanings of Ælfe
"omen<s belief by menF alternatiely, they may hae arisen as an innoation in
aristocratic society, representing one of many strategies "hereby this group effected
social change. 5or does the non'(hristian character of these changes mean that
churchmen "ere not inoled.
Ho"eer, obscure though the rise of female elven is, the prominence of other"orldly
females across high medieal Europe suggests that "e are dealing "ith a general trend in,
or an English alignment "ith, "ider medieal European culture. +oreoer, although the
eidence is scanty, this seems li-ely to hae been part of "ider reshaping of beliefs. T"o
releant deelopments may be hypothesisedA the stripping of gender'transgressing
features from male elvenselves, aligning their characteristics "ith masculine onesF and
the decline in traditions of martial supernatural females. #ur medieal eidence is too
scanty to be sure of either of these deelopments, and Wið færstice and )ssobel !o"die<s
confessions in particular sho" ho" slo"ly beliefs must hae changed in some sections of
society. 0ut the heluenbok in Non habebis deos alios seems to denote a grimoire—like
the Canon’s Yeoman’s elvish nice loore, in the domain of learned, masculine magic.
Chaucer equated his one male elf with an incubus—an active, violent and demonic being
(cf. Yamamoto 1993–94 and the similar Middle High German meanings of alp). That
male elves continued to cause ailments was consistent with the behaviour of indubitably
male demons. The Scottish conceptions of elvis and fareis suggest gender inversion
insofar as their female ruler is more prominent than her husband (cf. Purkiss 2000, 66–
68; Green 2003, 37). But her power does not extend to making her male subjects seem
effeminate; there is no suggestion that their special knowledge or power to cause harm
reflects magic-working rather than innate ability. This provides enough evidence to
guess, at least, that late Anglo-Saxon ælfe were on a road to losing their more markedly
effeminate traits.
As for the weapon-bearing women, the words hægtesse, and to a lesser extent
wælcyrige, were to have long histories in English, but are poorly attested in Middle
English, so it is hard to trace changes in their meanings; their apparent decline may owe
more to restructuring in the Middle English lexicon than to wider cultural change.
However, although martial, otherworldly women did enjoy a long life in medieval
literature—and only partly because of the revival of Classical traditions of Amazons—
otherworldly females whose femininity is not compromised by weapon-bearing are far
more prominent.
The power of otherworldly females to seduce and patronise heroes
In addition to Icelandic literature, which may have been unusually conservative (see, e.g.,
Clover 1986; Kroesen 1997), the story of the powerful, unmarried queen who kills her suitors or
has them killed is prominent in the late thirteenth-century Nibelungenlied (Aventiure 6–7; ed. Boor
1972, 60–85) and occurs in the lai Doon, surviving in a late thirteenth-century manuscript (ed.
Paris 1879, 61–64). On traditions of Amazons see Crane 1994, esp. 18–26, 76–84; Solterer 1991.
For non-martial, otherworldly females, see in addition to those cited here §7:2.0 n. 186.
(hapter 4A The +eanings of Ælfe
suggested by Norse and Irish evidence for martial otherworldly females is still attested in
high medieval Britain, but while this assistance may constitute advice or magical objects
(as with Rhiannon in Pwyll Pendeuic Dyuet), finance (as with the anonymous
otherworldly woman in Lanval), or beneficial prophesying and healing (as with Argante
and her elven in La¸amon’s Brut), it never extends to offering a helping hand in battle:
the closest these otherworldly females come to gender transgression is in their occasional
achievement of the sovereignty which all their sex, we are told, desire (Wife of Bath’s
Tale, lines 1037–40; ed. Benson 1987, 119). We have just enough continuity of evidence
in Ireland from early medieval to modern times to trace how traditions of the valkyrie-
like badb were combined into traditions of non-martial síd-women there (Lysaght 1996,
191–218); some similar development must probably be assumed for Scandinavia.
Perhaps the meyjar of Vçlundarkviða, "hose lac- of "eaponry is probably one reason
"hy they hae so long been e*cluded from histories of Scandinaian supernatural
females .cf. S9A6, esp. n. 24&/, lie at the cusp of this change in Anglo'Scandinaian
aristocratic cultureA they lac- the ostentatious armaments of Eddaic heroines li-e Sigrjn,
their seductieness conse:uently gaining a ne" prominence, but they retain their
formidable po"er to protect men and determine the course of their actions.
)t "ould appear, then, that in aristocratic discourses at least, the martial ægtessan of
Wið færstice and our early glosses "ere gradually losing their prominence and
significance in England during the medieal period. The decline of martial otherworldly
females which I have sketched fits neatly with Clover’s hypothesis of a process of
‘medievalisation’ in gendering, whereby Europe’s iron-age societies, to which gender
transgression was ideologically important and empowering, developed into the medieval
societies whose concern was rather to align gender with sex (1993, esp. 385–86). )f the
)rish situation is anything to go by, ho"eer, these ægtessan did not leae a acuum in
belief systemsA their place "as ta-en by ideologically more acceptable replacements. )n
England, it is not unli-ely that this replacement "as the ne" female elven. 5o longer
e*pressing gender norms by an inersion "hich also proided models for transgression
by members of the in'group, Anglo'Sa*ons increasingly construed femaleness by
constructing paragons of femininityA beautiful, seductie, unarmed but magic'"or-ing
other"orldly elven.
In this model, Anglo-Saxon gender norms do not change substantially. Rather, the
means by which they are constructed change. But a change in the means by which gender
was constructed inevitably had effects on the ways in which gender could be performed
—arguably, in this case, removing the availability of a paradigm for transgressive
behaviour. Christian ideologies must, as Clover suggested, have played an important part
in these processes. Accordingly, it is tempting to speculate that the putative displacement
(hapter 4A The +eanings of Ælfe
of martial hægtessan by female elven relates to two other developments in Anglo-Saxon
culture: a decline in nuns’ autonomy and a rise in the fear of female sexuality. The po"er
and autonomy of virgines1unmarried or once'married chaste "omen1in the early
Anglo'Sa*on (hurch is stri-ing .#rtenburg $%%2, esp. 7& n. 27/. Suggesting that this
po"er "as paralleled in non'(hristian beliefs, and later curtailed, has unfortunate
overtones of the narratives still circulating in Norse scholarship whereby mythological
women are understood as echoes of some prehistoric matriarchy.
0ut although the
argument that martial females in #ld 5orse literature echo the .one'time/ capacity of
unmarried or "ido"ed "omen to become culturally male "hen re:uired to pursue feuds
may hold "ater .(loer 2487/, "e hae no reliable eidence for Anglo'Sa*on institutions
of this sort .cf. S8A$.$ n. $$9/. 5o simple cut'off for the prominent place of "omen in the
early Anglo'Sa*on (hurch can be arguedA as #rtenburg emphasised, "omen "ithout
husbands hae continued, as a rule, to hae more po"er than married "omen in English
cultures .$%%2, 78/, and ?oot has sho"n both that the decline in female religious life
during the Anglo'Sa*on period "as not as e*tensie as it once seemed and that its causes
and effects "ere probably comple* .$%%%, esp. ) 7238&/. Despite all these caeats,
ho"eer, it is possible that the po"er and independence of the armed supernatural
females of "hich "e hae hints in early Anglo'Sa*on beliefs proided mythological
paradigms for certain independent actions by early Anglo'Sa*on "omen, attested in the
po"er of "omen in the early Anglo'Sa*on (hurch, and that the diminution nuns< po"er
is reflected in the rise of elven in Anglo'Sa*on beliefs.
Turning to se*uality, "e cannot tell ho" far martial, supernatural Anglo'Sa*on
females "ere also associated "ith seduction, but it does seem li-ely that their loss of
martiality if nothing else encouraged a shift in emphasis to"ards seductieness. )t is
difficult to guess ho" far "omen "ere seen as a se*ual threat to men in early Anglo'
Sa*on culture. )t is easy to suppose a general ideological trend in early medieal Europe
"hereby "omen and se* "ere increasingly both seen as a threat and eer more intimately
lin-ed "ith one another .e.g. +orris 2442, esp. 2$43>6/, but hard eidence is thin on the
ground. ?eli*, partly modelling his vita of the Anglo'Sa*on !uthlac on Eagrius<s Vita
Sancti 'ntonii in the eighth century, dispensed completely "ith the se*ual temptations
"hich Anthony endured .Durt= 24$7, 22%326/. This might reflect incompatibility "ith a
culture "hich did not e*pect "omen either to ta-e the se*ual initiatie, or to pose a threat
to men if they didF if so, it "ould be consistent "ith a pattern for "hich (orma- .244$/
and Tochens .244>, 99398/ hae argued in early (hristian Scandinaia. 0ut Durt= ie"ed
e.g. Heinrichs 1986, esp. 113–14, 140; Jochens 1996, esp. 34–35; for the seminal critique of
such ideas see Bamberger 1974. It is worth noting, however, that Glosecki has recently offered a
careful and detailed case for a degree of matriarchy in the early Germanic-speaking world (2001).
(hapter 4A The +eanings of Ælfe
it simply as an e*ample of Anglo'Sa*on prudishness, and he may hae been right. Anglo'
Sa*on la"s punishing only male seductors, abductors or rapists need not suggest that
"omen "ere not also punished for their parts in such eents, merely that they "ere
outside patterns of reparationF Ed"ard and !uthrum<s proscriptions against orcwenan
.no. 22F ed. Liebermann 24%6327, ) 26&36>/ and the appearance of mutilation and the
stripping of property for adulteresses in the la"'code )) (nut .no. >6F ed. Liebermann
24%6327, ) 6&83&4/, could represent our first codifications rather than innoations. 0ut,
ta-en at face alue, eidence of this sort does suggest a gro"ing concern not only "ith
formally regulating secular se*ual actiity, but "ith the role of "omen in it .see ?rant=en
2448, 2&$3&&F cf. ?ell 248&, 7&F Shippey $%%2, para 2>/F and it seems li-ely that
(hristianisation introduced concepts of sin and associations of sin "ith se*ual behaiour
"hich had not preiously e*isted in Anglo'Sa*on culture and "ould hae encouraged the
idea of female seductieness as a spiritual threat to men. )f so, then the rise of female
elven in Anglo'Sa*on beliefs may reflect ne" constructions of the danger posed by
"omen to men<s spiritual "ell'being1a purpose to "hich they "ere certainly put in the
Soutern Englis #egendary, and one paralleled in )reland by Serglige "on "ulainn
.SS9A2.$36/. (hristianisation is unli-ely, ho"eer, to be the "hole storyA thus, for
e*ample, the decline in gender-blurring images on Iron-Age Scandinavian small arts
analysed by Wiker (2001) dates to around the sixth century, long before Scandianvia’s
conversion. Christianisation was only one of many forces behind Europe’s
‘medievalisation’, and may be as much a symptom as a cause.
There are, then, plausible conte*ts in "hich "e can understand the rise of female
ælfeselven, principally a drie in Anglo'Sa*on culture oer time more rigorously to align
se* "ith gender. Their appearance may also relate to the gradual curtailment of "omen<s
po"er and independence, and possibly "ith more e*tensie study of Anglo'Sa*on gender
history, this idea "ill become testable. ,hat is undoubted, ho"eer, is that the female
elven sho" Anglo'Sa*on non'(hristian belief to hae remained dynamic after conersion
1een among mon-s1in "ays "hich challenge preious assumptions about the causes
and pace of Anglo'Sa*on cultural change.
$. Christianisation
Ælfe did not al"ays retain their positie associationsA they might be demonised, being
aligned "ith monsters and "ith the Deil and demons. This demonisation did not ta-e
longA our earliest clearly datable e*ample is early ninth'century if not earlier. )t may be
compared "ith the later eighth'century #ld Sa*on (atechism, "hose language suggests
;an Anglo'Sa*on imperfectly ac:uainted "ith #S N#ld Sa*onO adapting a presumably #E
(hapter 4A The +eanings of Ælfe
N#ld EnglishO te*t as best he could for #S addressees< .!reen 2448, 6&>/A ;end ec
forsacho allum dioboles uuercum and uuordum, Thunaer ende Uuoden ende Sa*note
ende allum them unholdum the hira genotas sint< .;and ) renounce all the Deil<s deeds
and "ords, Thunaer and UU‡den and Sa*n‡t and all those eil beings "hich are their
companions<F ed. 0raune 2474, 64/. ,ith themes li-e these in early Anglo'Sa*on
catechisms, it is no surprise that ælfe should hae been aligned "ith the Deil.
Ho"eer, the implication here that conersion had s"ift and substantial effects on
beliefs in ælfe comes "ith caeats. The first is that the catechism1een "here it "as
heard, understood and remembered1may not hae prompted any paradigm shift in those
catechised. Eidence for pre'conersion and to some e*tent post'conersion
Scandinaian beliefs suggests that an indiidual might see- the patronage of one god,
and both criticise other gods and face their displeasure .5orth $%%%/F transferring the
concept to Anglo'Sa*on culture, Tohn inferred that ;the nearest parallel to ,oden in the
modern "orld "ould be a Premier League football manager< .2447, $6/. The #ld Sa*on
(atechism can be understood in the same "ayA the catechised transfers his allegiance to
one god .and the god<s gen|tas/ and denigrates the others ."hose e*istence is not
denied/. These obserations proide some conte*t for the eidence that the demonisation
of ælfe "as an e*tremely slo" process. )n the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries,
preachers "ere propounding conseratie'loo-ing elf'traditions, but trying to conince
their audiences that elves "ere at the same time fallen angels1but not necessarily
damned ones .S9A2.6/. 0y the seenteenth century in Scotland, "itchcraft prosecutors did
not refer to elvis and fareis, labelling them ;deils< and the li-e as a matter of course, but
this "as far from the case for the people they tried .see S9A&, cf. 8A6/. The eidence of
our Anglo'Sa*on medical te*ts sho"s unease. 5ot only "ere Anglo'Sa*on clerics1latin'
literate men of royal courts1coninced of the po"er of ælfe, but "hen it came to the
crunch they "ere far from confident that chasing a"ay deoflas "ould also undo the harm
of ælfe .S7, esp 7A$.$/.
)t has been possible to sho", then, "hat has long been suspected but hitherto
undemonstrated, that beliefs in ælfe e*perienced considerable continuity in Anglo'Sa*on
"orld'ie"s. They remained potentially positie forces and sources of po"er to at least
some sections of community for oer a millennium after the Anglo'Sa*on settlements.
5or did they Gust remainA they changed "ith the times, maintaining their releance to
culture and society een as (hristianisation proceeded. This does not only tell us about
Anglo'Sa*on culture. )t also illuminates, for e*ample, the history of themes "hich
became so prominent in the early modern "itchcraft trials.
(hapter 4A The +eanings of Ælfe
%. #uture directions
This study opens up a range of ne" possibilities for understanding the medieal past,
only some of "hich ) hae deeloped here. )t has proided a case study in the po"er of
detailed analyses of the meanings of medieal ernacular "ords, "hen suitably
conte*tualised in an anthropologically'based frame"or-, to afford information about the
societies in "hich they "ere "ritten and spo-en. #ne hopes that these approaches might
be adopted and deeloped. )n particular, the study suggests the alue of further
e*aminations of medieal English "ords for supernatural beings. ) hae sho"n that to
understand the meanings of ælf and of ælfe, one needs to understand "ords of related
meaning, and hae often "ished to understand better "hat þyrs or wælcyrige meant.
Such detailed studies hae become immeasurably easier "ith the completion of
electronic corpora and maGor research dictionaries of medieal EnglishA one profitable
use of the research time saed is to "or- to integrate this le*ical data into Anglo'Sa*on
cultural history. The place of monsters and supernatural females in Anglo'Sa*on "orld'
ie"s is reconstructable and can proide re"arding insights into Anglo'Sa*on societyF
magic and illness also emerge as ripe for close assessment.
The research in this thesis specifically inites fuller e*tension into post'Anglo'Sa*on
England and Scandinaia, deeloping the ne" potential for assessing change and
continuity. 0ut there is more to be said about Anglo'Sa*on ælfe too. ) hae only been
able to hint at the place'name eidence for the situation of supernatural beings in
landscapes, but these hints, alongside my analyses of other eidence for early Anglo'
Sa*on conceptions of space, are sufficient to sho" that "e may be able to integrate
supernatural beings .(hristian and non'(hristian/ into ne" reconstructions of Anglo'
Sa*on cosmologies and identity .see Appendi* $/. Deeloping these approaches "ould
afford an e*cellent opportunity for integrating literary, archaeological and linguistic
eidence along the lines recently propounded by Hines .$%%&, 6939%/.
) hae also emphasised ho" Anglo'Sa*on traditional beliefs included beings "hich
"e hae hitherto dissociated from early !ermanic'spea-ing cultures, connecting them
instead "ith early )reland and the high +iddle Ages. ) hae, of course, used high
medieal and )rish comparatie material to interpret the Anglo'Sa*on material, but our
independent #ld English eidence is nonetheless e*tensie enough that the conclusion
"ill stand. 0eliefs in other"orldly beings can no longer be assumed to hae been
peripheral to the po"erful !ermanic'spea-ing cultures of early medieal Europe. +uch
as the rich medieal Scandinaian eidence for "itchcraft beliefs has in recent years
made Scandinaia something of a case'study for European "itchcraft1comprising, for
e*ample, one of three contributions to the medieal olume of the Athlone History of
(hapter 4A The +eanings of Ælfe
,itchcraft and +agic in Europe series .Baudere $%%$F cf. An-arloo $%%$/1medieal
)reland proides an outstanding candidate for a case'study in "hat "e might call
European fairy'belief. This prospect has perhaps been oerloo-ed because of discourses
1from "ithin )reland and outside1emphasising the distinctieness of its early medieal
eidence .or, to put it another "ay, marginalising it/. ) do not claim that )rish beliefs "ere
European beliefs, any more than Scandinaian ones "ere. 0ut they may proide us "ith a
ne" frame"or- for understanding patchier (ontinental eidence. +oreoer, although
"itchcraft and "itchcraft trials are prominent in the study of early modern Europe, the
maGority of areas did not e*perience "itch'panics. Among the many e*planations "hich
must be adduced for this, Hutton has suggested that some societies conceied of other
-inds of supernatural culprits, from outside the community, suggesting a correlation
bet"een the prominence of fairy'belief and the dearth of trials in the !aelic'spea-ing
"orld .$%%$, 6236$ at 6$/. A fuller understanding of medieal Europe<s other"orldly
beings may yield an e*tensie harest for historians.
Appendi* 2A The Linguistic History of Elf
Appendi* 1. The Linguistic istor! of Elf
1# The !honological and %or!hological histor, of elf
#ld English ælf sho"s i'mutation and a nominatie plural in 'e, establishing it as an
etymological i'stem. The !erman cognates alongside a fe" early #ld English name'
forms in ael* .e.g. an Els 249$, 2$2/ and the uni:ue #ld English spelling ;Llbinne<
sho" that the #ld English f deries from !ermanic BF
they and the 5orse cognates also
confirm the #ld English eidence that it "as masculine. An etymon RIAlBi'zI is thus
clear. The morphological history of #ld English i'stems is largely one of analogical
transference to other classes1though, for reasons "hich ) hae discussed aboe, ælf
maintained the i'stem plural inflections for longer than most .S6A6/.
The phonological history of ælf in each of the conentionally distinguished #ld
English dialects is gien in the follo"ing table ."hich presents the nominatie singular
formF other forms do not differ/. There has been debate about some of the deelopments
inoled .see Hogg 2449, $%932$/, but the processes releant to the deelopment of ælf
are clear enoughF since the phonetic alue of the ,est Sa*on spelling HieJ is unclear, )
repeat it in the table oerleaf.
p'mutation might be e*pected to fail in compounds beginning in RIAlBi'I, since long'
stemmed i'stems seem at least sometimes to hae lost their 'i in this conte*t before i'
mutation occurred .Hogg 244$a, S>.8>.22/. This "ould hae produced compounds in
Southern ealf' and Anglian alf'. 0ut ealf' occurs only in names in a fe" post'(on:uest
copies of #ld English charters, probably reflecting hypercorrect spellings by late scribesF
li-e"ise, 'lf' forms in personal names are probably usually to be attributed ariously to
Latinate spelling and late confusion of æ and a. Ho"eer, a genuine alf'form, sho"ing
failure of i'mutation, may occur in the compound alfwalda in Beowulf .usually emended
to alwaldaF S&.2 n. 48/. 5or is Rielf, the i'mutated form of ,est Sa*on RI&
lBiI, attested
.the form H)EL?J on coins being an epigraphic ariant of HZL?JA (olman 244$, 2723
7$F 2447, $$3$6/F the absence is "orth noting because ielf is fre:uently cited in
grammars and dictionaries.
(f. S>A6. "ontra (olman 244$, $%2 and 2449, $$ "ho deried the f in #ld English ælf from
Proto'!ermanic NfO.
E.g. Hogg 244$a, S>.8&, n.&F (ampbell 24>4, S$%%.2 n. &F Holthausen 246&, s. ielfF ,right3
,right 24$>, S68>.








Earliest texts =seventh centur,> Tenth centur,
Pre'#E, "ith loss
of 'R .Hogg
244$a, S&.2%/
?irst fronting .r
Anglian retraction
or failure/ .Hogg
244$a, SS>.2%32>/
0rea-ing .Hogg
244$a, S>.$%/
p'mutation, 'i'
deletion .Hogg
244$a, SS>.94.$a/,
>.8$, 7.28, 7.$%/
NfO .Hogg
244$a, S9.>>/
,est Sa*on HieJ J HyJ, IyIF
second fronting in some
+ercian arieties .Hogg 244$a,
SS>.276378, >.89/F final
*AlBiz J *AlBi RAlBi RAlBi &lB &lf &lf
*AlBiz J *AlBi RAlBi RAlBi &lB &lf &lf, elf
,est Sa*on
*AlBiz J *AlBi *&lBi *&
lBi RielB Rielf ylf
*AlBiz J *AlBi *&lBi *&
lBi *elB elf elf
8igure rB te 1onological develo1!ent of qælfo
Appendi* 2A The Linguistic History of Elf
)n +iddle English, refle*es of ælf, ylf and elf are all attested, in topological
distributions consistent, as far as can be Gudged, "ith the #ld English dialects. The ,est
Sa*on o"el is retained in the compound vluekecce ."ith the Anglo'5orman influenced
spelling HCuJ for yF see +ossc 2478, SS22, $4F ed. +]ller 24$4, 84/ and may, Ditson
has suggested, be the etymon of early modern English ou1e and its later counterpart oaf
.$%%$, 2%> n. $>/. #ther"ise, it "as unrounded to IiI, as in ylues in the ,ade'fragment
:uoted aboe .§9:1/, and in the refle*es of personal names in the place'names
plfraco!*e .H RYlfredes'/, El!scott .H RYlf!undes'/ and perhaps plsington .putatiely H
RYlfstan'F ,atts $%%&, s..F cf. (olman 2449, $63$&/. )n the ,est +idlands, Anglian æ
deeloped before Il(I as in other conte*tsA unaffected by second fronting .Hogg 244$a,
S>.89/, it coalesced "ith a, giing the forms alue, aluen found in both manuscripts of
La¸amon<s Brut. Ho"eer, in the other refle*es of Anglian dialects, #ld English æ from
RIAl(iI became e giing elf .Luic- 242&3&%, ) S677F Tordan 249&, S7$F cf. Hogg 2449,
$%932$/. This "as more or less identical "ith the South'Eastern elf, so it "as natural that
elf became the standard English form, being the root used by (haucer and almost all
other later +iddle English te*ts, regardless of their place of origin. #ften "hen elf forms
the first element of a compound it is follo"ed by "hat is presumably an inorganic
composition o"el, as in elvene lond, vluekecce .cf. (ampbell 24>4, S679/.
An e*ception to this regularity is that early ,est Sa*on sho"s the ;Anglian< form ælf
1to the e*tent that ylf is neer attested in the myriad pre'(on:uest attestations of Anglo'
Sa*on personal names, its e*istence there being ouched for only by the fe" later
attestations of place'names Gust mentioned. ,hat is important for this thesis is that there
is no serious doubt that ælf "as an accepted ,est Sa*on form. That it "as not merely a
scribal form is sho"n by other later refle*es of place'names containing Ælf'names, and
#ld English hypercorrect forms "ith ælf' for æl' .see Appendi* 6/. The form ælf "ould
not hae presented a strange or difficult combination of sounds in historical ,est Sa*onA
loan'"ords and the i'mutation of æ retracted by bac-'mutation had independently
restored I&l(I.
+oreoer, early ,est Sa*on sho"s Anglian'type retraction of RIA/ in
brea-ing conte*ts, in forms li-e waldend for later wealdend .cf. Stanley 2474F Lut=
248&/. ,e might understand the ariation bet"een early and late ,est Sa*on to reflect
competing regional dialects .cf. Hogg 244$a, S>.2>/ or competing registers .cf. ?ul-<s
(oo-e has argued that vluekecce and some other "ords sho" a singular Relfe', originating in
morphological leellings related to the transference of ælf to the "ea- declension .on "hich see
S>A6.6/. Ho"eer, this form is poorly attested as a simple* and e*amples are generally late enough
that the 'e may be merely orthographic. His comparisons, delfCdelve and selfCselve, occur only
as the first element of compounds .$%%6, 739 n. 28/. He interpreted compounds such as eluene
lond to contain fossilised "ea- genitie plurals .$%%6, $36/, but inorganic theme o"els e*plain
these more elegantly.
E.g. æl!æsse .;alms< H Latin ele…!osyna/, 1ælle .H Latin 1alliu!/, ælfter .;halter<, probably
from #ld English RaluftriF cf. the restoration of I&r(I by metathesisF Hogg 244$a, S9.4&/.
Appendi* 2A The Linguistic History of Elf
demonstration that waldend'type forms "ere part of the poetic register of Southern #ld
English, 244$, SS628364/, but some sort of ariation is clear .cf. !retsch $%%%, 8432%7F
(olman 2447, $$3$> on the South'Eastern eidence for further ariation/. The IAl(I
forms, "hen i'mutated, should hae produced the I&l(I form found in ælf .cf. ,est
Sa*on ælfter, probably from Raluftri/. )n practice, these outcomes almost neer occur
e*cept in ælf and probably1depending on the processes of metathesis in the "ord<s
history1wærc .traditionally considered an ;Anglian< form, but "ell'attested in early
,est Sa*onF see Hogg 244$a, S>.8$, n. &F ?ul- 244$, S66>.&F ?ran- $%%$, 7%37$/. 0ut I
Al(iI "as not a ery fre:uent combination in prehistoric #ld EnglishA so although some
"ords in this group "ere common, such as RIAldir-I .;older</, "e should not be surprised
to see some"hat hapha=ard leellings "ithin the set. )t is not unli-ely, then, that ariation
in the deelopment of RIAl(I in ,est Sa*on produced corresponding ariation in the
deelopment of RIAl(iIF but that leelling follo"ed in "hich the ariants produced by the
wealdend'arieties dominated, "ith rare adoptions from the waldend'arieties. )t is
tempting to suggest that ælf specifically gained faour oer ylf because so many early
,est Sa*on'spea-ing nobles had names in Ælf'A gien the political dominance of +ercia
during much of ,est Sa*on history, this social group "as perhaps also the most li-ely to
e*hibit +ercian'style waldend arieties, and to insist on +ercian'style pronunciations of
their names. )t is also conceiable that the singular ælf and the plural ylfe "ere
sometimes interpreted to sho" a morphologically significant o"el'alternation. 0ut both
points are speculation.
As "ell as arying phonologically, elf aried morphologically. The infle*ions of ælf
are poorly attested1"e hae nominatie singular and plural e*amples .see notably
SS&A2, 7A6F cf. >A$/, probably the datie singular .though the e*ample could be an
accusatie pluralF S6A7/, and the genitie plural .SS2A%, 6A2/F the genitie singular is
attested only in place'names in "hat seem to be e*amples of a personal name Ælf
.Appendi* $/, "hich may not be representatie .see (olman 2447, 26329/. The e*tensie
analogical alterations to the masculine i'stems ma-e it hard to reconstruct ho" the
masculine i'stem paradigms declined in early #ld English,
but the follo"ing paradigm
for ælf in the historical #ld English period, after the collapse of unstressed front o"els,
may be inferredA
?ul- 244$, &$23$$F cf. (ampbell 24>4, SS>4437%2F 0ammesberger 244%, 2$63$9F Hogg
244$b, 26236$.
Appendi* 2A The Linguistic History of Elf
Singular Plural
5ominatie Llf Llfe
Accusatie Llf Llfe
!enitie Llfes Llfa
Datie Llfe Llfum
?igure 9A te !or1ology of qælfo
Li-e almost all English nouns, elf "as eentually transferred to the paradigm deried
from the masculine a'stems, "ith nominatie and accusatie plurals in 'es, as in the form
ylues mentioned aboe. Ho"eer, its plural forms "ere in non',est Sa*on dialects
identical to those of the large feminine 9'stem declension and it may at times hae been
analysed as a member of this class .cf. SS$A6.$ n. &8F >A$.6/, before transference to the a'
stem declension, "hich presumably too- place in the 5orth by early +iddle English
times .+ossc 2478, S>>3>9/. +ean"hile, in some Southern and ,est'+idland arieties,
ælf "as first transferred to the "ea- noun class inherited from the )ndo'European n'
stems. This "as a natural deelopment, since the long'stemmed masculine i'stem
declension to "hich ælf belonged "as morphologically rather anomalous. #ther members
occasionally e*hibit "ea- forms already in early ,est Sa*on .e.g. leodan, sea3an,
waranF (ampbell 24>4, S72%.9F S$A6.$ n. &>/, and as unstressed o"els collapsed, ælf
"as liable to be associated een in ,est Sa*on "ith the feminine 9'stems, "hich "ere
particularly prone to transference to the "ea- declension .e.g. d<Ardenne 2472, $2632&/.
As (oo-e has argued, the transference of ælf to the "ea- declension accounts for
+iddle English plurals in aluen or eluenNeO. )t is matched in the (ontinental ,est
!ermanic dialects, and accounts also for the plural elfen in the eleenth'century
Ant"erp'London !lossary.
This is important, because +iddle English forms such as
elven hae traditionally been deried from #ld English ælfen .H ælf r enNnO ;female ælf</
1"hich occurs only in a fe" interrelated glossaries1rather than from ælf itself .+E&,
s.. elvenF ,E&, s..F cf. s.. elfF apparently follo"ed by the &,E, s.. ælfenF cf. S>A6/.
#ddly, (oo-e, sho"ing most of these e*amples really to be "ea- forms, did accept one
citation to sho" a +iddle English deriatie of ælfenA La¸amon<s line ;To Argante Mere
:uene, aluen s"iKe sceone< .;to the :ueen Argante, a ery beautiful aluen<, line 2&$98F
ed. 0roo-3Leslie 2476398, )) 9&%F (oo-e $%%6/. 0ut this too is probably simply a "ea-
datie singular, as in line 22$9$, ;And forK he gon "endenF to ArKure Man -ingen< .H #E
cyning, datie singular cyningeF ed. 0roo-'Leslie 2476398, )) >88/.
See S>A6.6F Heinrich on +orungen<s famous line ;Uon den elben "irt entsehen il manic man<
.;+any a man indeed is enchanted by the el*en<F ed. +oser3Terooren 2499, ) $&6/.
Appendi* 2A The Linguistic History of Elf
2# ?er%anic cognates
The principal medieal !ermanic cognates of ælf are %lfr in #ld 5orse, ariants along
the lines of al1 and al* in medieal High and Lo" !erman dialects, and alf in medieal
?risian. The elf'"ord occurs in East !ermanic only in personal names .see ?Erstemann
24%%327, s.. '#8pF cf. ,oolf 2464, $$6, $6%/, but this is unsurprising in ie" of the
limited subGect matter of our !othic corpus. )n #ld 5orse, RIAlBizI became an a'stem,
and then under"ent the regular deelopments IBI J NvO IfI J IvI .Uoyles 244$, S>.2.22F cf.
5oreen 24$6, SS28&.6, 24$/ and later the lengthening of IAI before IlfI .5oreen 24$6,
S2$&.6/. +ean"hile, in the !erman dialects, RIAlB'I produced al* and al1 by IBI J IbI .J
II/ .Uoyles 244$, SS4.2.2>, 4.2.$2/, and alf in ?risian by IBI J IfI .Uoyles 244$, SS9.2.8,
8.2.28/. #ld ?risian a did not undergo i'mutation before Il(I .Uoyles 244$, S9.2.4/F the
history of i'mutation in the other medieal !erman dialects has been a subGect of
considerable debate .see Uoyles 244$, S6.>.6/. ,e "ould e*pect #ld High !erman al1
to deelop li-e its i'stem counterpart gast .;guest</, "ith al1 in the nominatie singular
and el1e in the plural, though some plurals, such as al1e and al1en, demand deriation
from RIAlBA 'I if "e are not to assume some analogical leelling. Álfr remained in the a'
stem declension, but the (ontinental ,est !ermanic dialects, li-e southern +iddle
English, e*tended the n'stem declension to deelop "ea- forms.
See 5oreen 24$6, SS689388, contra Peters 2476, $>$F another e*ample is #ld )celandic þurs,
;ogre<, cf. #ld English þyrs.
Appendi* $A Place'5ames (ontaining Ælf
Appendi* ". &lace-)ames Containing Ælf
Particularly in ie" of my concern to situate ælfe in Anglo'Sa*on constructions of space,
place'names might in theory be a ital source of eidence. #ld English place'names
containing "ords for supernatural beings are a little'tapped resourceA hitherto, research
on ;pagan place'names<, in a microcosm of the e*tensie "or- done in Scandinaia, has
focused on names li-ely to denote ritual sites or to contain names of indiidual gods.
Ho"eer, the #ld English material is too problematic to be useful here. As (ameron
.2447, 2$$/ commented,
there are some names "hich reflect a popular mythology, a belief in the supernatural "orld of
dragons, eles, goblins, demons, giants, d"arfs, and monsters. Such creations of the popular
imagination lied on long after the introduction of (hristianity and traces of these beliefs still
e*ist today, but "e really hae no idea "hen the place'names referring to them "ere gien.
)ndeed, despite (ameron<s inclusion of eles in his list .cf. !elling 2498, 2>%/, no ælf'
place'name can be confidently identified for Anglo'Sa*on England .cf. !elling 247$, 28
on os/. Sometimes etymological dithematic personal names can appear to attest to ælfA
thus Aleston in ,ar"ic-shire, appearing already in Domesday as 'lvestone and loo-ing
li-e Rælfes tun .putatiely ;the ælf<s enclosure</, is earlier attested as NætO Eanulfestun
.;Ean"ulf<s estate<F ,atts $%%&, s.. '#VES2,- Warw/. Post'#ld English forms, then,
cannot as a rule offer secure eidence for ælf.
+oreoer, a monothematic #ld English
personal name RÆlf has been reconstructed, in "hich case no ælf' place'name is
This usage might be thought to brea- the rule of thumb in !ermanic
#n Scandinaian historiography see Holmberg 244%F 244$bF 244&F Andersson 244$. The dearth
of Scandinaian studies inoling other aspects of belief is emphasised by Dousgprd Sirensen
.244$, esp. $$$/. ?or prominent recent studies of theophoric and sacral place'names in
Scandinaia see 0rin- 2447F 2449F 2444a, bF $%%2F cf. Hedeager $%%2F ?abech 244&F 2444F
Sund:ist $%%$, 4432%2. These hae English counterparts particularly in ,ilson 244$, >3$2F 0lair
244>F +eaney 244>F (ubitt $%%%b.
(f. ,atts $%%&, s.. E#VE&E-. To banish some ghostsA "e must ignore Ailey Hill in Bipon,
attested in 2$$8 as Eluesov, Eluesowe and etymologised by Smith as #ld English elf r #ld
5orse augr, ;the elf<s mound< .2472376, U 278/1tempting though the site is, "ith its long history
as a burial site and pro*imity to St ,ilfrid<s minster .see Hall3,hyman 2447/. E-"all<s
etymologisation of a late thirteenth'century alvedene as ælfa r denu .24$$, 7&F accepted by
(ameron 2447, 2$$/ is also unreliable. The name elfaledes .etymologised by Smith as ; [eles<
seat\, v. elf, hl`da<, 247&37>, ))) 2&9/ suries in copy of an undated #ld English boundary clause,
the releant te*t reading ;#f scirann more on elfaledes, of elfaleden on hreodan burnan< .;from the
shiny bog to elfaledes, from elfaleden to the reedy steam<, S2>>2F ed. ?inberg 2472, 8%/. 0ut the
language sho"s influence from its fifteenth'century scribeA the #ld English te*t must hae been Rof
sciran !ore on †<as6 of †<u! on reodan *urnan, the masculine plural underlying elfaledes
precluding leda .for "hich Smith in any case offered no secure toponymic parallels, 24>7, s..
l;da/. The etymology of elfaledes is thus bac- up for grabs, and it is clear that our forms may
reflect fifteenth'century English1so etmya such as Relfet<lædas .;s"an< r ;drains, "atercourses</
and Rel!'faledas .;elm< r ;.cattle/ folds</ are iable.
5ote Smith 247&37>, ))) 2243$%, cf. )) 2%63&1contra &,E, s.. ælf S$b. ?or the #ld English
sources see Pelteret 244%, 87389, 2$23$$ Nnos 76, 2&9O.
Appendi* $A Place'5ames (ontaining Ælf
onomastics that ;nobody "as simply called by the name of a heathen god< .Dousgprd
Sirensen 244%, 64>F cf. Holmberg 244%, 678/, and ?eilit=en found that there is ;no safe
independent eidence for #E Ælf< e*cept in place'names .247%, 7 at n. 2F contra Bedin
2424, 6, >4, 2$2/. 0ut Ælf may hae been a shortened form of dithematic names, and is
attested as such in manuscript .ed. ?Erster 2429, 2>63>&/F the place'name eidence is, at
any rate, hard to disputeA a number of names, such as Alingham .Domesday 'luingNeO
ao/, must originate in a population name RÆlfingas, and 'ingas compounds seem al"ays
to be formed on masculine personal names or place'names .thus ;the people of Zlf<F
,atts $%%&, s.. '#Vp-G('+, '#8p-G2,-, '#.(p-G2,-, '#Vp-G('+,
'#Vp-G2,-, West '#Vp-G2,-F (ameron 2447, 77379, 9239$/. ,hether a
monothematic name, then, or an abbreiated dithematic one, Ælf occurred in place'
names, meaning that almost no place'name in ælf' can be reliably assumed to include the
common noun.
There may be one e*ceptionA ælfrucge, in Dent, occurring in a copy of a charter from
the first half of the fifteenth century, considered to be genuine, from 447 .S 899F +iller
$%%2, 2&4/. The releant te*t runs ;of At ersce HtoJ Llfrucge, of ealfruige to peallestede<
.;from oa-'stubble'field Nreading acO to ælfrucge, from ealfruige to ledge'place<F ed.
+iller $%%2, 2&7/. Place'names in the South of England "hose first element "as a
personal name usually formed it in the genitie case .e.g. !elling 244%3, ) 2632&/, so
although there are e*ceptions to this, "e probably hae here ælf and rycg .;ridge</, "ith
some post'Anglo'Sa*on interference in the spelling.
0ut one place'name is a slender
basis on "hich to reconstruct the place of ælfe in Anglo'Sa*on landscapes.
A conte*t for interpreting the place of ælfe in the landscape could be proided by
analysing other place'names, containing names of gods or "ords for monsters.
Although gods and monsters are both associated "ith .burial/ mounds, the place'names
,allenberg 2462, 6&9F cf. +iller $%%2, 2>7. Although it "ould be possible to read ælf', ealf' as
Realf .;half</, assuming ' loss and ta-ing æ to be a hypercorrect spelling for ea, each of Smith<s
e*amples of names in ealf' has "ords for portions of land as its second element .id ;hide<, æcer
;field<, snæd ;detached area of land<F 24>7, s.. alf/. ,allenberg "as disconcerted by the form in
a ersion of the te*t updated to +iddle English, alfryng .ed. +iller $%%2, $%4/. 0ut ) ta-e this form
to be a mista-e, fre:uent in the scribe<s "or- .Lo"e 2446, 2>324/. )n the case of 'lfryng, the
scribe presumably misread the minims in 'ruige as 'ringe ."hich he then spelt 'ryngNeO/, possibly
encouraged by the "ord elf<ring .;elf'ring<, ;ring of daisies<, on "hich see S8A6 esp. n. $67/.
The corpus of pagan theophoric place'names "as established by !elling 2496, 2$%3$9, "hich
needs only slight updatingA the remoal of Thurstable .0ronnen-ant 2486/ and the addition of
frigedene .;?rig<s alley</, from a copy of a charter discoered after !elling "rote .S92$aF cf.
Scherr $%%$/. Sandred sho"ed that pnga!'names in East Anglia could contain the potentially
theophoric name png, but did not accept that conclusion .2489/. #ther "ords for supernatural
beings are not coneniently listed. +y conclusions are based on data gathered arious pre'22%%
sourcesA the collections of charter'boundaries in the &ictionary of ,ld Englis "or1usF Sean
+iller<s online corpus of Anglo'Sa*on charters at HhttpAII""".anglo'sa*ons.netIh"aetJF 2e
Voca*ulary of Englis .lace<-a!es .Parsons3Styles 24493/ "here aailable1) am indebted to
Daid Parsons and his team for -indly supplying me in adance of publication "ith data for dwerg,
elf, elfen and ent1and the earlier sureys of Tente and Peters .24$2F 2472/.
Appendi* $A Place'5ames (ontaining Ælf
generally associate gods "ith clearings, alleys and hills, by contrast "ith monsters,
associated "ith pits, pools, bogs and streams. The topographical associations of the gods
correlate "ith ælfrycg and "ith the haunts of elves as portrayed later by the Soutern
Englis #egendary and 2e Wife of Batos 2ale .though the correlation is complicated by
the associations of aluen "ith "ater at seeral points in La¸amon<s Brut/, and hae
Eddaic comparisons.
The topographical associations of monsters correlate
impressiely "ith Anglo'Sa*on literary eidence .cf. ,hiteloc- 24>2, 9$397/. This
suggests that gods and monsters "ere associated "ith different -inds of places, their
mutual e*clusiity reflecting the conceptual distinction bet"een them apparent in the #ld
English morphological and anthroponymic eidence .see SS6A$3&/. The possible
ramifications of this for understanding ho" early Anglo'Sa*ons constructed their
enironment, and ælfe in it, are considerable. 0ut the difficulties "ith the data are
profoundA proper and common nouns are not necessarily comparable, nor need the t"o
sets originate in the same periodF the significances of theophoric place'names could ary
oer time .cf. 5orth 2449a, $643&%/F there are gaps in our data "hich cannot be random,
such as the absence of theophoric names north of the Humber .cf. Hough 2449F
Dousgprd Sirensen 244%, 6493&%$/F and so forth.
?or the #egendary see S9A2.6F 2e Wife of Batos 2ale lines 87%382 .ed. 0enson 2489, 2273
29/F for the Brut Ed"ards $%%$. At the end of Sk$rnis!%l, ?reyr is to meet !erKr in a lundr
.;groe< stan=a &2F ed. 5ec-el 247$, 99/. )n stan=a 27 of Vçlundarkviða, 5kKuKr<s :ueen says of
Uçlundr, ;Era sg nj hlrr, er Vr holti ferr< .;He is unnering no", "ho traels from the "ood<F ed.
5ec-el 247$, 224/. #ther high medieal English literature occasionally lin-s elves "ith "oods
.e.g. 2e Seege or Batayle of 2roye line >%632$F ed. 0arnicle 24$9, &2/, but in "or-s based
directly on ?rench or Anglo'5orman literature ."here the association of fPes "ith "oods is "ell'
attestedF see !allais 244$, 1assi!/.
Appendi* 6A T"o 5on'Eles
Appendi* $. Two )on-Elves
Seeral occurrences of ælf' hae been e*cluded from this thesis. #ne is a scribal error, as
the correction of another Anglo'Sa*on scribe confirmsA the form ;se ylfa god< .putatiely
;the god of the ylfe</ for ;se sylfa god< .;!od Himself</ in psalm >4 of the Paris Psalter
.ed. Drapp 2466, 26/. Some other e*amples of ælf, ho"eer, stand unaltered in their
manuscripts, but hae not been considered here because ) ta-e them to be hypercorrect
forms of "ords in æl'. This position is "orth Gustifying, and offers some tangential
support to my arguments aboe. Ælf!itig occurs three times in a short te*t in (orpus
(hristi (ollege (ambridge +S 6$%, folio 229, containing formulas and directions for
pastoral use, and dating from around 2%%% .Der 24>9, 2%>37 Nno. >8O/A ;!elyfst Ku on
god Llfmihtine<F ;)c Me bidde { beode MLt Mu gode Llfmihtigum gehyrsum sy<F ;!od
Llfmihtig gefultumige us< .;0eliee in !od Almighty<F ;) as- and command that you be
obedient to !od Almighty<F ;+ay !od Almighty help us<F ed. &ictionary of ,ld Englis
"or1us, (onf 2%.$ .(((( 6$%/ 022.2%.$/. Æl!itig neer occurs here. The proenance
of this manuscript is un-no"n, but its language is consistently late ,est Sa*onF there is
no other instance of initial ILl'I in the te*t for comparison. Ælfþeod' occurs t"ice in
0russels, 0ibliothe:ue Boyale, +S. 27>%, but curiously the e*amples are attributed to
different hands .both from about the first :uarter of the eleenth centuryF see !"ara
$%%2, ) 4&R32%2R, 284R/A it "ould appear that hypercorrection "as contagious. Hand A,
deriing material from the lost, early (ommon Becension glossary .on "hich see S>A&.$/,
glossed 1eregre .;as though foreign</ "ith ;LlfMeodelice<, for ælþeodelice .;as though
foreign<F ed. !"ara $%%2, )) 9%F cf. !oossens 249&, 29$ Nno. 682O/. The largely
indistinguishable hands (D, deriing once more from a lost body of glosses .see !"ara
$%%2, ) $28R36&R/, gloss e3ternç 1eregrinationis "ith ;dre LlfMeodi<, presumably for
fre!dre ælþeodignysse .;foreign Gourney abroad<F ed. !"ara $%%2, )) $&8F !oossens
249&, $>$ Nno. 27$%O/. The hypercorrect forms may or may not originate "ith the
0russels scribes themselesF each has a correct counterpart in #*ford, 0odleian +S.
Digby 2&7 .ed. !"ara $%%2, ) 9%, $&8/, "hich is te*tually related, but the principle of
lectio difficilior could be ino-ed.
The hypercorrection here must relate to the fact that groups of three consonants "ere
liable to lose their middle consonant in ,est Sa*on .Hogg 244$a, SS9.8&387F cf.
!oossens 249&, 2%>/, "hich "ould affect ælf'compounds "hose second element began
"ith a consonant. Ho" "idespread this "as or ho" profound its effects "ere in the
common le*icon is open to doubt, but it had e*tensie effects on personal names, "here
æl' for ælf' is "ell'attested in late #ld English .e.g. (olman 244$, $%236/. #bsering
Appendi* 6A T"o 5on'Eles
that "ords, and perhaps particularly names, "hose first syllable "as spelt as HLlf'J
could be pronounced as N&l'O, some scribes presumably inferred that some historical æl'
compounds "ere actually ælf' compounds. This suggests clearly that ,est Sa*on HLlfJ
is not merely a scribal form of the e*pected ,est Sa*on form ylf1,est Sa*ons
eidently might say N&lfO. 0ut the hypercorrection may hae inoled an element of fol-'
etymology, in "hich case the "ords must reflect a semantic congruence of ælf "ith
'!itig and 'þeodig. )n this reading, !od "as not ;all'mighty<, but ;mighty as an ælf is
mighty<F a foreigner not ;of another people< .æl' H Ral7a' ;other, foreign, strange</, but
;from an ælf'people<. 0oth of these readings are "ell'paralleled in other #ld English
eidence and "ould help to emphasise ho" late such associations lasted for ælf1but
unfortunately, such eidence is too tangential to be relied on.

Ælfþeodig may also hae a correlatie in the manusripts of La¸amon<s BrutA "hereas the more
conseratie (aligula manuscript has Ding Locrin reGect his "ife !uendoline, in the "ords of his
accusers, ;for alMeodisc meiden< .;for a foreign maiden<, line 22>2/, the later #tho manuscript calls
her ;one aluis maide< .;an elish maid<F ed. 0roo-3Leslie 2477398, ) >83>4/. 0ut "e should
perhaps rec-on "ith the meaning ;delusory< in the #tho te*t .cf. S>A>/A alþeodisc seems to occur in
+iddle English only in the Brut, and alþeodi is rare and restricted to the ,est +idlands .+E&,
s../, so the meanings of alþeodisc may not hae been obious to the redactor.s/ behind the #tho
,or-s (ited
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0remmer, Bolf H. 2488. ;The #ld ?risian (omponent in Holthausen<s 'ltenglisces
ety!ologisces W)rter*uc<, 'nglo<Sa3on England, 29A >326
0rin-, Stefan. 244>. ;HomeA The Term and the (oncept from a Linguistic and
Settlement'Historical Uie"point<, in 2e (o!eB Words6 pnter1retations6 +eanings6
and Environ!ents, ed. by Daid 5. 0enGamin .AldershotA Aebury/, pp. 293$&
0rin-, Stefan. 2447. ;Political and Social Structures in Early Scandinaia<, 2or, $8A $6>3
0rin-, Stefan. 2449. ;Political and Social Structures in Early Scandinaia ))A Aspects of
Space and Territoriality1the Settlement District<, 2or, $4A 6843&69
0rin-, Stefan. 2444a. ;Social #rder in the Early Scandinaian Landscape<, in Settle!ent
and #andsca1eB .roceedings of a "onference in •rus6 &en!ark6 +ay A‹• FŒŒŠ, ed.
by (harlotte ?abech and Tytte Bingted .HiGbGergA Tutland Archaeological Society/,
pp. &$6368
0rin-, Stefan. 2444b. ;?orns-andinais- religion1fErhistoris-t samhelleA En
bosettningshistoris- studie a centralorder i 5orden<, in Ieligion oc sa!‡lle i det
f)rkristna -ordenB Et sy!1osiu!, ed. by Ulf Drobin and others .#denseA #dense
Uniersitetsforlag/, 223>>
0rin-, Stefan. $%%2. ;+ythologi=ing LandscapeA Place and Space of (ult and +yth<, in
Kontinuit‡ten und BrLce in der IeligionsgescicteB 8estscrift fLr 'nders
(ultgˆrd Ru seinen r@? Ge*urtstag a! >‰?F>?>==F in Ver*indung !it ,lof Sund4vist
und 'strild van -al, ed. by +ichael Strausberg, Ergen=ungsbende =um Bealle*i-on
der germanischen Altertums-unde, 62 .0erlinA de !ruyter/, pp. 97322$
0roedel, Hans Peter. $%%6. 2e q+alleus !aleficaru!o and te "onstruction of
WitccraftB 2eology and .o1ular Belief .+anchesterA +anchester Uniersity Press/
0ronnen-ant, L. T. 248$386. ;Thurstable Beisited<, 2e Englis .lace<-a!e Society
Hournal, 2>A 4324
0roo-, !. L. and B. ?. Leslie .ed./. 2476398. #a¸a!onB Brut, Early English Te*t
Society, $>%, $99, $ ols .LondonA #*ford Uniersity Press/
,or-s (ited
0roo-s, 5. P. 2498. ;Arms, Status and ,arfare in Late'Sa*on England<, in Etelred te
5nreadyB .a1ers fro! te +illenary "onference, ed. by Daid Hill, 0ritish
Archaeological Beports, 0ritish Series, >4 .#*fordA 0AB/, pp. 8232%6
0ro"n, +ichelle P. $%%2. ;?emale 0oo-'#"nership and Production in Anglo'Sa*on
EnglandA The Eidence of the 5inth'(entury Prayerboo-s<, in #e3is and 2e3ts in
Early EnglisB Studies .resented to Hane Io*erts, ed. by (hristian Day and Louise
+. Sylester, (osterus 5e" Series, 266 .AmsterdamA Bodopi/, pp. &>379
0ullough, Uern L. 2497. Se3ual Variance in Society and (istory .(hicagoA The
Uniersity of (hicago Press/
0ullough, Uern L. and 0onnie 0ullough. 2446. "ross &ressing6 Se36 and Gender
.PhiladelphiaA Uniersity of Pennsylania Press/
0ur-e, Peter. 244&. .o1ular "ulture in Early +odern Euro1e, re. repr. .AldershotA
Scolar Press/
0ur-e, Peter. 2449a. ;Strengths and ,ea-nesses of the History of +entalities<, in
Varieties of "ultural (istory .(ambridgeA Polity/, pp. 27$38$ .re. from (istory of
Euro1ean pdeas, 9 .2487/, &643>2/
0ur-e, Peter. 2449b. ;Unity and Uariety in (ultural History<, in Varieties of "ultural
(istory .(ambridgeA Polity/, pp. 2863$2$
0urro", T. A. 244>. ;Elish (haucer<, in 2e Endless KnotB Essays on ,ld and +iddle
Englis in (onor of +arie Borroff, ed. by +. Teresa Taormina and B. ?. deager
.(ambridgeA 0re"er/, pp. 2%>322
0urson, Anne. 2486. ;S"an +aidens and SmithsA A Structural Study of V)lundarkviða<,
Scandinavian Studies, >>A 2324
0u*ton, Bichard. 244&. p!aginary GreeceB 2e "onte3ts of +ytology .(ambridgeA
(ambridge Uniersity Press/
0ynum, (aroline ,al-er. 248&. ;,omen<s Stories, ,omen<s SymbolsA A (riti:ue of
Uictor Turner<s Theory of Liminality<, in 'ntro1ology and te Study of Ieligion, ed.
by Bobert L. +oore and ?ran- E. Beynolds .(hicagoA (enter for the Scientific Study
of Beligion/, pp. 2%>3$>
(ahen, +aurice. 24$2. #e !ot qdieuo en vieu3<scandinave, (ollection linguisti:ue
publice par la Socictc de Linguisti:ue de Paris, 2% .ParisA (hampion/
(ahen, +. 24$&. ;L<adGectif [diin\ en germani:ue<, +Planges offerts • +? "arles
'ndler 1ar ses a!is et ses Pl‘ves, Publications de la ?acultc des Lettres de
l<Uniersitc de Strasbourg, $2 .StrasbourgA Librairie )stra/, pp. 9432%9
(aie, !raham D. 2448. ;)nfanticide in an Eleenth'(entury #ld English Homily<, -otes
and €ueries, n.s. &>A $9>397
(ameron, Denneth. 2447. Englis .lace<-a!es, ne" edn .LondonA 0atsford/
(ameron, +. L. 248>. ;Aldhelm as 5aturalistA A Be'E*amination of some of his
,or-s (ited
Enig!ata<, .eritia, &A 229366
(ameron, +. L. 244$. ;The Uisions of Saints Anthony and !uthlac<, in (ealt6 &isease
and (ealing in +edieval "ulture, ed. by Sheila (ampbell, 0ert Hall and Daid
Dlausner .0asingsto-eA +acmillan/, pp. 2>$3>8
(ameron, +. L. 2446. 'nglo<Sa3on +edicine, (ambridge Studies in Anglo'Sa*on
England, 9 .(ambridgeA (ambridge Uniersity Press/
(ampbell, A. 24>4. ,ld Englis Gra!!ar .#*fordA #*ford Uniersity Press/
(ampbell, Alistair. 249$. 'n 'nglo<Sa3on &ictionaryB Enlarged 'ddenda and
"orrigenda .#*fordA (larendon Press/
(arey, Tohn. 244&. ;The Uses of Tradition in Serglige "on "ulainn<, in 5lidiaB
.roceedings of te 8irst pnternational "onference on te 5lster "ycle of 2ales6
Belfast and E!ain +aca6 Š‹F> '1ril FŒŒA, ed. by T. P. +allory and !erard
Stoc-man .0elfastA December/, pp. 9938&
(arey, Tohn. 244>. ;5atie Elements in )rish Pseudohistory<, in "ultural pdentity and
"ultural pntegrationB preland and Euro1e in te Early +iddle 'ges, ed. by Doris Edel
.0lac-roc-A ?our (ourts Press/, pp. &>37%
(arey, Tohn. 2444. ;(j (hulainn as Ailing Hero<, in 'n Snaid! "eilteacB
Gn’o!arran F=! "o!dail Eadar<-•iseanta na "eiltis6 p!leadar a <'on
"•nain6 #itreacas6 Eacdraid6 "ultar/"eltic "onnectionsB .roceedings of te
2ent pnternational "ongress of "eltic Studies6 Volu!e ,ne6 #anguage6 #iterature6
(istory6 "ulture, ed. by Bonald 0lac-, ,illiam !illies and Boibeard f +aolalaigh
.East LintonA Tuc-"ell/, pp. 24%348
(arey, Tohn. $%%$. ;,ere"oles in +edieal )reland<, "a!*rian +edieval "eltic
Studies, && .,inter/, 6939$
(arney, Tames. 24>>. Studies in pris #iterature and (istory .DublinA Dublin )nstitute for
Adanced Studies/
(arr, (harles T. 2464. -o!inal "o!1ounds in Ger!anic, St Andre"s Uniersity
Publications, &2 .LondonA #*ford Uniersity Press/
(a"s, Peter. $%%%. Structuralis!B ' .iloso1y for te (u!an Sciences, $nd edn .5e"
dor-A Humanity 0oo-s/
(had"ic-, 5. D. 24&7. ;5orse !hosts .a Study in the &raugr and the (aug*Gi/<, 8olk<
#ore, >9A >%37>, 2%73$9
(had"ic-, 5ora Dersha". 24>63>9. ;Literary Tradition in the #ld 5orse and (eltic
,orld<, Saga<Book of te Viking Society, 2&A 27&344
(hamber, B. ,. 242$. WidsitB ' Study in ,ld Englis (eroic #egend .(ambridgeA
(ambridge Uniersity Press/
(hambers, Bobert. 2872. &o!estic 'nnals of ScotlandB 8ro! te Iefor!ation to te
Ievolution, $ ols .EdinburghA ,. { B. (hambers/
,or-s (ited
(hance, Tane. 2487. Wo!an as (ero in ,ld Englis #iterature .SyracuseA Syracuse
Uniersity Press/
(hance, Tane. 244&3$%%%. +edieval +ytogra1y, $ ols .!ainesilleA Uniersity Press
of ?lorida/
(hesnutt, +ichael (hesnutt. 2478. ;An Unsoled Problem in #ld 5orse')celandic
Literary History<, +ediaeval Scandinavia, 2A 2$$36&
(hic-ering, Ho"ell D. Tr. 2492. ;The Literary +agic of Wið 8ærstice<, Viator, $A 8632%&
(hristiansen, Beidar Th. 24>8. 2e +igratory #egendsB ' .ro1osed #ist of 2y1es wit a
Syste!atic "atalogue of te -orwegian Variants, ?? (ommunications, 29> .Helsin-iA
Suomalainen Tiedea-atemia/
(lar-, (ecily .ed./. 249%. 2e .eter*oroug "ronicle F=•=<FF@A, $
edn .#*fordA
(larendon Press/
(lar-, (ecily. 244$. ;#nomastics<, in 2e "a!*ridge (istory of te Englis #anguage6
Volu!e FB 2e Beginnings to F=rr, ed. by Bichard +. Hogg .(ambridgeA (ambridge
Uniersity Press/, pp. &>$384
(lar- Hall, Tohn B. 247%. ' "oncise 'nglo<Sa3on &ictionary, &
re. edn by Herbert D.
+eritt .(ambridgeA (ambridge Uniersity Press/
(lar-e, 0asil .ed. and trans./. 2496. #ife of +erlinB Geoffrey of +on!out6 qVita
+erlinio .(ardiffA Uniersity of ,ales Press/
(layton, Tohn and others. 288>. ;#n the Discoery of Boman )nscribed Altars, {c., at
Housesteads, 5oember, 2886<, 'rcaeologia 'eliana, n.s. 2%A 2&839$
(layton, +ary. 244&. ;Zlfric<s HuditA +anipulatie or +anipulated@<, 'nglo<Sa3on
England, $6A $2>3$9
(leasby, Bichard and !udbrand Uigfusson. 24>9. 'n pcelandic<Englis &ictionary, $
edn by ,illiam A. (raigie .#*fordA #*ford Uniersity Press/
(lemoes, Peter. 244>. pnteractions of 2ougt and #anguage in ,ld Englis .oetry,
(ambridge Studies in Anglo'Sa*on England, 2$ .(ambridgeA (ambridge Uniersity
(loer, (arol T. 2487. ;,arrior +aidens and other Sons<, Hournal of Englis and
Ger!anic .ilology, 8>A 6>3&4
(loer, (arol T. 2488. ;The Politics of ScarcityA 5otes on the Se* Batio in Early
Scandinaia<, Scandinavian Studies, 7%A 2&9388
(loer, (arol T. 2446. ;Begardless of Se*A +en, ,omen, and Po"er in Early 5orthern
Europe<, S1eculu!, 78A 676389
(lunies Boss, +argaret. 2487. Sk%ldska1ar!%lB Snorri Sturlusonos 'rs .oetica and
+edieval 2eories of #anguage, The Ui-ing (ollection, & .#denseA #dense
Uniersity Press/
(lunies Boss, +argaret. 244&348. .rolonged EcoesB ,ld -orse +yts in +edieval
,or-s (ited
-ortern Society , The Ui-ing (ollectionA Studies in 5orthern (iili=ation, 9, 2%, $
ols .N#denseOA #dense Uniersity Press/
(oats"orth, Eli=abeth and +ichael Pinder. $%%$. 2e 'rt of te 'nglo<Sa3on Golds!itB
8ine +etalwork in 'nglo<Sa3on England6 its .ractice and .ractitioners, Anglo'
Sa*on Studies, $ .(ambridgeA 0oydell/
(oc-ayne, #s"ald .ed./. 287&377. #eecdo!s6 Wortcunning and Starcraft of Early
England, The Bolls Series, 6>, 6 ols .LondonA Longman and others/
(ohen, Teffrey Terome. 2447. ;+onster (ulture .Seen Theses/<, in +onster 2eoryB
Ieading "ulture, ed. by Teffrey Terome (ohen .+inneapolisA Uniersity of +innesota
Press/, pp. 63$>
(ohen, Teffrey Terome. 2444. ,f GiantsB Se36 +onsters6 and te +iddle 'ges, +edieal
(ultures, 29 .+inneapolisA Uniersity of +innesota/
(ohn, 5orman. 2446. Euro1eos pnner &e!onsB 2e &e!oniRation of "ristians in
+edieval "ristendo!, re. edn .LondonA Pimlico/
(olgrae, 0ertram .ed. and trans./. 24>7. 8eli3os #ife of Saint Gutlac .(ambridgeA
(ambridge Uniersity Press/
(olgrae, 0ertram .ed. and trans./. 2478. 2e Earliest #ife of Gregory te Great6 *y an
'nony!ous +onk of Wit*y .La"renceA Uniersity of Dansas Press/
(olgrae, 0ertram and B. A. 0. +ynors .ed./. 2442. Bedeos Ecclesiastical (istory of te
Englis .eo1le, corr. repr. .#*fordA #*ford Uniersity Press/
(olling"ood, B. !. and B. P. ,right. 247>. 2e Io!an pnscri1tions of Britain pB
pnscri1tions on Stone .#*fordA #*ford Uniersity Press/
(olman, ?ran. 2488. ;,hat is in a 5ame@<, in (istorical &ialectologyB Iegional and
Social, ed. by Tace- ?isia-, Trends in LinguisticsA Studies and +onographs, 69
.0erlinA +outon de !ruyter/, pp. 222369
(olman, ?ran. 244$. +oney 2alksB Ieconstructing ,ld Englis, Trends in LinguisticsA
Studies and +onographs, >7 .0erlinA +outon de !ruyter/
(olman, ?ran. 2447. ;5ames "ill neer Hurt me<, in Studies in Englis #anguage and
#iteratureB q&ou*t Wiselyow .a1ers in (onour of E? G? Stanley, edited by +. T.
Tos"ell and E. +. Tyler .LondonA Boutledge/, pp. 263$8
(olman, ?ran. 2449. ; [Eles\ and #ld English Proper 5ames<, in 8ro! Iunes to
Io!anceB ' 8estscrift for Gunnar .ersson on is Si3tiet Birtday6 -ove!*er Œ6
FŒŒ•, ed. by +ats Bydcn and others, Umep Studies in the Humanities, 2&% .UmepA
Umep Uniersitet/, pp. $2362
(onnor, ,. B. 2488. ;Sei=ed by the 5ymphsA 5ympholepsy and Symbolic E*pression in
(lassical !reece<, "lassical 'nti4uity, 9A 2>>384
(oo-, Bobert and +attias Teitane .ed./. 2494. StrengleikarB 'n ,ld -orse 2ranslation
of 2wenty<one ,ld 8renc #ais, 5ors- Historis- DGeldes-rift'institutt, norrine
,or-s (ited
te-ster, 6 .#sloA DGeldes-riftfondet/
(oo-e, Tessica. 244&. ;The Harley +anuscript 6697A A Study in Anglo'Sa*on
!lossography< .unpublished doctoral dissertation, Uniersity of (ambridge/
(oo-e, Tessica. 2449. ;,orcester 0oo-s and Scholars, and the +a-ing of the Harley
!lossaryA 0ritish Library +S. Harley 6697<, 'nglia, 22>A &&2378
(oo-e, ,illiam. $%%6. ; [Aluen s"iKe sceone\A Ho" Long did #E Ælfen/Elfen Surie
in +E@<, Englis #anguage -otes, &2A 237
(orma-, +. 244$. ; [?Gçl-unnigri -ono scalltu k faKmi sofa\A Se* and the Supernatural in
)celandic Saints< Lies<, Sk%ldska1ar!%l, $A $$23$8
(raig, ,.T. .ed./. 24%>. Sakes1eareB "o!1lete Works .LondonA #*ford Uniersity
(raigie, Tames .ed./. 248$. +inor .rose Works of King Ha!es Vp and pB &ae!onologie6
2e 2rve #awe of 8ree +onarcies6 a "ounter*laste to 2o*acco6 a &eclaration of
S1orts, Scottish Te*t Society, &
Series, 2& .EdinburghA Scottish Te*t Society/
(raigie, ,. A. .ed./. 24243$9. 2e +aitland 8olio +anuscri1tB "ontaining .oe!s *y Sir
Iicard +aitland6 &un*ar6 &ouglas6 (enryson6 and ,ters, $ ols, The Scottish Te*t
Society, Second Series, 9, $% .EdinburghA Scottish Te*t Society/
(ramond, ,illiam .ed./. 24%638. 2e Iecords of Elgin F>‰A‹FŠ==, 5e" Spalding (lub,
$9, 6>, $ ols .AberdeenA The 5e" Spalding (lub/
(rane, Susan. 244&. Gender and Io!ance in "auceros q"anter*ury 2aleso .PrincetonA
Princeton Uniersity Press/
(ranstoun, Tames .ed./. 2842346. Satirical .oe!s of te 2i!e of te Iefor!ation,
Scottish Te*t Society, $%, $&, $8, 6%, $ ols .EdinburghA Scottish Te*t Society/
(ra"ford, T. 2476. ;Eidences for ,itchcraft in Anglo'Sa*on England<, +ediu! 'evu!,
6$A 443227
(ra"ford, Sally. 2444. "ildood in 'nglo<Sa3on England .StroudA Sutton/
(ra"ford, S.T. .ed./. 24$8. ;The ,orcester +ar-s and !losses of the #ld English
+anuscripts in the 0odleian, together "ith the ,orcester Uersion of the 5icene
(reed<, 'nglia, >$A 23$>
(ric-, Tulia. 2444. ;,omen, Posthumous 0enefaction, and ?amily Strategy in Pre'
(on:uest England<, Hournal of Britis Studies, 68A 6443&$$
(ross, Tom Peete. 242%. ;The (eltic #rigin of the Lay of Yonec<, Ievue "elti4ue, 62A
(ross, Tom Peete. 24>$. +otif<pnde3 of Early pris #iterature, )ndiana Uniersity
Publications, ?ol-lore Series, 9 .0loomingtonA )ndiana Uniersity/
(ro"ley, Toseph. $%%%. ;Anglici=ed ,ord #rder in #ld English (ontinuous )nterlinear
!losses in 0ritish Library, Boyal $. A. yy<, 'nglo<Sa3on England, $4A 2$63>2
(ubitt, (atherine. $%%%a. ;Sites and SanctityA Beisiting the (ult of +urdered and
,or-s (ited
+artyred Anglo'Sa*on Boyal Saints<, Early +edieval Euro1e, 4A >6386
(ubitt, (atherine. $%%%b. ;Uirginity and +ysogyny in Tenth' and Eleenth'(entury
England<, Gender and (istory, 2$A 236$
(ur=an, Anne. $%%6. Gender Sifts in te (istory of Englis .(ambridgeA (ambridge
Uniersity Press/
Damico, Helen. 248&. Beowulfos Wealteow and te Valkyrie 2radition .+adisonA The
Uniersity of ,isconsin Press/
Damico, Helen. 244%. ;The Ual-yrie Befle* in #ld English Literature<, in -ew Ieadings
on Wo!en in ,ld Englis #iterature, ed. by Helen Damico and Ale*andra Hennessey
#lsen .0loomingtonA )ndiana Uniersity Press/, pp. 29734%
d<Ardenne, S. B. T. #. .ed./. 2472. Me liflade ant te 1assiun of Seinte puliene, Early
English Te*t Society, $&8 .#*fordA #*ford Uniersity Press/
Daidson, Andre" B. 244>. ;The Legends of Miðreks saga af Bern< .unpublished
doctoral thesis, Uniersity of (ambridge/
Daies, #"en. 2447. ;Healing (harms in Use in England and ,ales 29%%324>%<,
8olklore, 2%9A 2436$
Daies, #"en. 2449. ;Hag'Biding in 5ineteenth'(entury ,est'(ountry England and
+odern 5e"foundlandA An E*amination of an E*perience'(entred ,itchcraft
Tradition<, 8olk #ife, 6>A 673>6
Daies, #"en. $%%6. "unning 8olkB .o1ular +agic in Englis (istory .LondonA
Hambledon and London/
Daies, #"en. ?orthcoming. ;A (omparatie Perspectie on Scottish (unning'fol- and
(harmers<, in Witccraft and Belief in Early +odern Scotland, ed. by Tulian !oodare,
Lauren +artin and Toyce +iller
De!regorio, Scott. 2444. ;Theori=ing )rony in BeowulfA The (ase of Hrothgar<,
E3e!1laria, 22A 6%43&6
Dendle, Peter. $%%2. Satan 5n*oundB 2e &evil in ,ld Englis -arrative #iterature
.TorontoA Uniersity of Toronto Press/
Derole=, Benc. 2484. ;!ood and 0ad #ld English<, in 2e (istory and te &ialects of
EnglisB 8estscrift for Eduard Kol*, ed. by Andreas ?ischer, Anglistische
?orschungen, $%6 .HeidelbergA ,inter/, pp. 4232%$
Derole=, B. 244$. ;Anglo'Sa*on !lossographyA A 0rief )ntroduction<, in 'nglo<Sa3on
Glossogra1yB .a1ers Iead at te pnternational "onference (eld in te Koninkli7ke
'cade!ie voor Wetensca11en #etteren en Scone Kunsten van Belgi…6 Brussels6 Š
and Œ Se1te!*er FŒŠr, ed. by B. Derole= .0russelsA Donin-liG-e Academie oor
,etenschappen, Letteren en Schone Dunsten/, pp. 43&$
d<Eelyn, (. and A. T. +ill .ed./. 24>73>4. 2e Sout Englis #egendary, The Early
English Te*t Society, $6>, $67, $&&, 6 ols .LondonA #*ford Uniersity Press/
,or-s (ited
Dic-ins, 0ruce. 2466. ;English 5ames and #ld English Heathenism<, Essays and Studies
*y +e!*ers of te Englis 'ssociation, 24A 2&837%
Dic-inson, Tania +. 2446. ;An Anglo'Sa*on [(unning ,oman\ from 0idford'on'
Aon<, in pn Searc of "ultB 'rcaeological pnvestigations in (onour of .ili1 IatR,
ed. by +artin (arer .,oodbridgeA 0oydell/, pp. &>3>&
Dic-inson, Tania +. $%%$. ;,hat<s 5e" in Early +edieal 0urial Archaeology@<, Early
+edieval Euro1e, 22A 92389
&ictionary of +edieval #atin fro! Britis Sources. 249>3 .LondonA #*ford Uniersity
&ictionary of ,ld Englis. 24883 .TorontoA Pontifical )nstitute of +ediaeal Studies for
the Dictionary of #ld English ProGect, (enter for +edieal Studies, Uniersity of
&ictionary of ,ld Englis "or1us. $%%%. .TorontoA Dictionary of #ld English/F accessed
from HhttpAIIets.umdl.umich.eduIoIoecIJ, &363$%%>
&ictionary of te ,lder Scottis 2ongue. 24623$%%$ .(hicagoA Uniersity of (hicago
PressF #*fordA #*ford Uniersity Press/F accessed from HhttpAII""", 223
&ictionary of ,ld -orse .rose/,rd*og over det norr0ne 1rosas1rog. 24863
.(openhagenA NArnamagnLan (ommissionIArnamagnLans-e -ommissionO/
Diesenberger, +a*imillian. $%%6. ;Hair, Sacrality and Symbolic (apital in the ?ran-ish
Dingdoms<, in 2e "onstruction of "o!!unities in tr Early +iddle 'gesB 2e3ts6
Iesources and 'rtefacts, ed. by Bichard (orradini, +a* Diesenberger and Helmut
Beimit=, The Transformation of the Boman ,orld, 2$ .LeidenA 0rill/, pp. 2963$2$
Dillon, +yles. 24&23&$. ;#n the Te*t of Serglige (on (ulainn<, Žigse, 6A 2$%3$4
Dillon, +yles .ed./. 24&93&4. ;The Trinity (ollege Te*t of Serglige con "ulainn<,
Scottis Gaelic Studies, 7A 26439>
Dillon, +yles .ed./. 24>6. Serglige "on "ulainn, +ediaeal and +odern )rish Series, 2&
.NDublinOA Dublin )nstitute for Adanced Studies/
Dillon, +yles and 5ora D. (had"ic-. 249$. 2e "eltic Ieal!s, $
edn .LondonA
,iedenfeld and 5icolson/
Doane, A. 5. .ed./. 2498. Genesis 'B ' -ew Edition .+adisonA The Uniersity of
,isconsin Press/
Doane, A. 5. 2442. 2e Sa3on GenesisB 'n Edition of te West Sa3on qGenesis Bo and
te ,ld Sa3on Vatican qGenesiso .+adisonA The Uniersity of ,isconsin Press/
,or-s (ited
Doane, A. 5. 244&a. ;Editing #ld English #ralI,ritten Te*tsA Problems of +ethod
.,ith an )llustratie Edition of (harm &, Wið 8ærstice/<, in 2e Editing of ,ld
EnglisB .a1ers fro! te FŒŒ= +ancester "onference, ed. by D. !. Scragg and Paul
E. S=armach .(ambridgeA 0re"er/, pp. 2$>3&>
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Englis .roseB Basic Ieadings, ed. by Paul E. S=armach, 0asic Beadings in Anglo'
Sa*on England, 9I!arland Beference Library of the Humanities, 2&&9 .5e" dor-A
,or-s (ited
!arland/, pp. $6937> .first publ. Dlaus B. !rinda, ;vu Tradition und !estaltung des
Dir-e'mythos in DEnig Alfreds Boetius<, in +otive und 2e!en in
engliscs1raciger #iteratur als pndikatoren literaturgescictlicer .roResseB
8estscrift Ru! r@? Ge*urtsdag von 2eodor Wol1ers, ed. by Hein='Toachim
+]llenbroc- and Alfons Dlein .T]bingenA 5iemeyer, 244%/, pp. 23$$/
!uKni TVnsson .ed./. 2467. Grettis saga Ás!undarsonarw Banda!anna saga, Šslen=-
fornrit, 9 .Bey-Gak-A HiK Šslen=-a ?ornritfclag/
!uKni TVnsson and 0Garni UilhGglmsson .ed./. 24&63&&. 8ornaldars)gur norðurlanda, 6
ols .BeyG-Gak-A 0V-ajtggfan ?orni/
!uerreau'Talabert, Anita. 244$. pnde3 des !otifs narratifs dans les ro!ans 'rturiens
fran”ais en vers N†ppe<†pppe si‘clesOI+otif<pnde3 of 8renc 'rturian Verse
Io!ances N†ppt<†pppt "ent?O, Publications romanes et franzaises, $%$ .!eneaA
!ureis, Elena A. 2487 N248$O. ;The ?ormulaic Pair in Eddic PoetryA An E*perimental
Analysis<, in Structure and +eaning in ,ld -orse #iteratureB -ew '11roaces to
2e3tual 'nalysis and #iterary "riticis!, ed. by Tohn Lindo", Lars LEnnroth and !erd
,olfgang ,eber, The Ui-ing (ollectionA Studies in 5orthern (iilisation, 6 .#denseA
#dense Uniersity Press/, pp. 6$3>> .first publ. E. A. !ureis, ;ParnaGa formula
eddises-oi poe=ii .#pyt anali=sa/<, in "udo–estvenny7 7aRyk srednevekovo7a, ed. by
U. A. Dorpusin .+osco"A Nn. publ.O, 248$/, pp. 7238$/
!ureich, A. da. 2474. ;Time and Space in the Welt!odell of the #ld Scandinaian
Peoples<, +ediaeval Scandinavia, $A &$3>6
!ureich, Aaron. 244$. (istorical 'ntro1ology of te +iddle 'ges, ed. by Tana Ho"lett
.(ambridgeA Polity/
!"ara, Scott .ed./. $%%2. 'ldel!i +al!es*iriensis .rosa de virginitateB cu! glosa
latina at4ue anglosa3onica, (orpus (hristianorum, Series Latina, 2$&3$&a, $ ols
.TurnhoutA 0repols/
!"ynn, Ed"ard. 24%63$&. 2e +etrical &indsencas, Todd Lecture Series, 8322, & ols
.DublinA Hodges, ?iggis, { (o./
Hec-er, +artina. 2447. ;The #riginal Length of the #ld English HuditA +ore Doubt.s/
on the [+issing Te*t\ <, #eeds Studies in Englis, $9A 2328
Hagen, ?riedrich Heinrich on der. 28>%. Gesa!!ta*enteuer? (undert altdeutsce
ErR‡lungenB Iitter< und .faffen<+‡ren6 Stadt< und &orfgescicten6 Sw‡nke6
Wundersagen und #egenden, 6 ols .StuttgartA (otta/
Haines, Boy +. 2497. ; [#ur +aster +ariner, #ur Soereign Lord\A a (ontemporary
Uie" of Henry U<, +ediaeval Studies, 68A 8>347
,or-s (ited
Hald, Dristian. 249239&. .ersonnavne i &an!ark, $ ols .(openhagenA Dans- Historis-
Hall, Alaric. $%%2a. ;!"yr y !ogledd@ Some )celandic Analogues to Branwen 8erc
#yr<, "a!*rian +edieval "eltic Studies, &$ .,inter/A $93>%
Hall, Alaric. $%%2b. ;#ld +acDonald had a 8yr!, eo, eo, yA T"o +arginal
Deelopments of HeoJ in #ld and +iddle English<, €uaestioB Selected .roceedings
of te "a!*ridge "ollo4uiu! in 'nglo<Sa3on6 -orse and "eltic, $A 7%34%F accessed
from HhttpAII""", $832%3$%%&
Hall, Alaric. $%%$. ;The )mages and Structure of 2e Wifeos #a!ent<, #eeds Studies in
Englis, 66A 23$4
Hall, Alaric. ?orthcoming NaO. ;(hanging Style and (hanging +eaningA )celandic
Historiography and the +edieal Bedactions of (eiðreks saga<, Scandinavian Studies
Hall, Alaric. ?orthcoming NbO. ;The Eidence for !aran, the Anglo'Sa*on
[5ightmares\ <, -eo1ilologus
Hall, Alaric. ?orthcoming NcO. ;(alling the ShotsA The #ld English Bemedy Gif ors
ofscoten sie and Anglo'Sa*on [Elf'Shot\ <, -eu1ilologisce +itteilungen
Hall, Alaric. ?orthcoming NdO. ;!etting Shot of ElesA Healing, ,itchcraft and ?airies in
the Scottish ,itchcraft Trials<, 8olklore, 227 .$%%>/
Hall, B. A. and +ar- ,hyman. 2447. ;Settlement and +onasticism at Bipon, 5orth
dor-shire, from the 9
to 22
(enturies A.D.<, +edieval 'rcaeology, &%A 7$32>%
Hallberg, Peter. 247$. Snorri Sturluson oc Egils saga Skalla<Gr$!ssonar, Studia
)slandica, $% .Bey-Gak-A 0V-ajtggfa +enningarsGVKs/
Halperin, Daid +., Tohn T. ,in-ler and ?roma ). veitlin. 244%. ;)ntroduction<, in Before
Se3ualityB 2e "onstruction of Erotic E31erience in te 'ncient Greek World, ed. by
Daid +. Halperin, Tohn T. ,in-ler and ?roma ). veitlin .PrincetonA Princeton
Uniersity Press/, pp. 63$%
Hamel, A. !. an. 246&. ;Aspects of (eltic +ythology<, .roceedings of te Britis
'cade!y, $%A $%93&8
Hansen, Toseph. 24%2. €uellen und 5ntersucungen Rur Gescicte des (e3enwans
und der (e3enverfolgung i! +ittelalter .HildesheimA #lms/
Harf'Lancner, Laurence. 248&. #es fPes au +oyen —geB +organe et +Plusinew la
naissance des fPes, 5ouelle bibliothm:ue du +oyen •ge, 8 .ParisA (hampion/
Her-e, Heinrich. 2449. ;Early Anglo'Sa*on Social Structure<, in 2e 'nglo<Sa3ons fro!
te +igration .eriod to te Eigt "enturyB 'n Etnogra1ic .ers1ective, ed. by
Tohn Hines, Studies in Archaeoethnology, $ .,oodbridgeA 0oydell/, pp. 2$>39%
Harris, Anne Leslie. 248$. ;Hands, Helms, and HeroesA The Bole of Proper 5ames in
Beowulf<, -eu1ilologisce +itteilungen, 86A &2&3$2
Harris, Toseph. $%%$. ;(ursing "ith the ThistleA [Sk$rnis!%l\ $2, 738, and #E +etrical
,or-s (ited
(harm 4, 27329<, in 2e .oetic EddaB Essays on ,ld -orse +ytology, ed. by Paul
Ac-er and (arolyne Larrington .5e" dor-A Boutledge/, pp. 94346 .updated from
-eu1ilologisce +itteilungen, 97 .249>/, $7366/
Hastrup, Dirsten. 248>. "ulture and (istory in +edieval pcelandB 'n 'ntro1ological
'nalysis of Structure and "ange .#*fordA #*ford Uniersity Press/
Hatha"ay, E. T. and others .ed./. 249>. 8ouke le 8itR Waryn, Anglo'5orman Te*t
Society, $73$8 .#*fordA 0lac-"ell/
Hauer, Stanley B. 2499398. ;Structure and Unity in the #ld English (harm Wið
8ærstice<, Englis #anguage -otes, 2>A $>%3>9
Ha"-es, Tane. 2449. ;Symbolic LiesA The Uisual Eidence<, in 2e 'nglo<Sa3ons fro!
te +igration .eriod to te Eigt "enturyB 'n Etnogra1ic .ers1ective, ed. by
Tohn Hines, Studies in Archaeoethnology, $ .,oodbridgeA 0oydell/, pp. 6223&&
Hedeager, Lotte. $%%2. ;'sgard Beconstructed@ !udme1a [(entral Place in the 5orth\
<, in 2o1ogra1ies of .ower in te Early +iddle 'ges, ed. by +ay-e de Tong and
?rans Theu"s "ith (arine an BhiGn, The Transformation of the Boman ,orld, 7
.LeidenA 0rill/, pp. &793>%9
Heinrich, ?rit= .ed./. 2847. Ein !ittelenglisces +ediRin*uc .HalleA 5iemeyer/
Heinrichs, Anne. 2487. ;'nnat er v%rt eðliA The Type of the Prepatriarchal ,oman in
#ld 5orse Literature<, in Structures and +eaning in ,ld -orse #iterature, ed. by
Tohn Lindo", Lars LEnnroth and !erd ,olfgang ,eber, .#denseA #dense Uniersity
Press/, pp. 22%3&%
Heinrichs, Anne. 2446. ;The Search for )dentityA A Problem After the (onersion<,
'lv$ss!%l, 6A &637$
Heinrichs, Anne. 2449. ;Der liebes-ran-e ?reyr, euhemeristisch entmythisiert<,
'lv$ss!%l, 9A 6367
Helm, Bdolfs .ed./. 249% N2848O. 8a*ii .lanciadis 8vlgentii V?"? o1era .LipsiaeA
TeubnerF repr. StuttgartA Teubner/
Helms, +ary ,. 2488. 5lysseso SailB 'n Etnogra1ic ,dyssey of .ower6 Knowledge6
and Geogra1ical &istance .PrincetonA Princeton Uniersity Press/
Henderson, Li=anne and Ed"ard T. (o"an. $%%2. Scottis 8airy BeliefB ' (istory .East
LintonA Tuc-"ell/
Hennessy, ,. +. 289%39$. ;The Ancient )rish !oddess of ,ar<, Ievue "elti4ue, 2A $93
Henning, Sam. .ed./. 24>&. Siælinna tr0stB f0rste delin aff te *okinne so! kallas
Siælinna tr0st, Samlingar utgina a Sens-a ?orns-ift'sells-apet, >4 .UppsalaA
Alm:ist { ,i-sell/
Henslo", !. .ed./. 2844. +edical Works of te 8ourteent "entury .LondonA (hapman
and Hall/
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Herbert, +gire. 2447. ;Transmutations of an )rish !oddess<, in 2e "once1t of te
Goddess, ed. by Sandra 0illington and +iranda !reen .LondonA Boutledge/, pp. 2&23
Hermann Pglsson. 2447. Keltar % kslandi .NBey-Gak-OA Hgs-Vlajtggfan/
Hermann Pglsson. 2449. Ur landnorðriB Sa!ar og ystu rætur $slenskrar !enningar,
Studia )slandica, >& .Bey-Gak-A 0V-menntafrLKistofnun Hgs-Vla Šslands/
Herren, +ichael ,. 2448. ;The Transmission and Beception of !raeco'Boman
+ythology in Anglo'Sa*on England, 79%38%%<, 'nglo<Sa3on England, $9A 8932%6
Herschend, ?rands. 2449. #ivet i allenB 2re fallstudier i den yngre 7‡rnˆlderns
aristokrati, #ccasional Papers in Archaeology, 2& .UppsalaA )nstitutionen fEr
Ar-eologi och Anti- Historia, Uppsala Uniersitet/
Herschend, ?rands. 2448. 2e pdea of te Good in #ate pron 'ge Society, #ccasional
Papers in Archaeology, 2> .UppsalaA Department of Archaeology and Ancient
Herschend, ?rands. $%%2. Hourney of "ivilisationB 2e #ate pron 'ge View of te (u!an
World, #ccasional Papers in Archaeology, $& .UppsalaA Department of Archaeology
and Ancient History/
Herschend, ?rands. $%%6. ;+aterial +etaphorsA Some Late )ron and Ui-ing Age
E*amples<, in ,ld -orse +yts6 #iterature and Society, ed. by +argaret (lunies
Boss, The Ui-ing (ollectionA Studies in 5orthern (iilisation, 2& .N#denseOA
Uniersity Press of Southern Denmar-/, pp. &%37>
Hessels, Tohn Henry .ed./. 24%7. ' #ate Eigt<"entury #atin‹'nglo<Sa3on Glossary
.reserved in te #i*rary of te #eiden 5niversity .(ambridgeA (ambridge Uniersity
Higham, 5icholas. $%%$. ;The Anglo'Sa*onI0ritish )nterfaceA History and )deology<, in
2e "eltic Ioots of Englis, ed. by +ar--u ?ilppula, Tuhani Dlemola and Heli
Pit-enen, Studies in Languages, 69 .ToensuuA Uniersity of Toensuu, ?aculty of
Humanities/, pp. $43&7
Higley, Sarah. 244&. ;Dirty +agicA SeiKr, Science, and the Parturating +an in +edieal
5orse and ,elsh Literature<, in 8igures of S1eecB 2e Body in +edieval 'rt6
(istory6 and #iterature, ed. by Allen T. ?rant=en and Daid A. Bobertson, Essays in
+edieal Studies, 22 .(hicagoA )llinois +edieal Association/, pp. 2693&4
Hines, Tohn. 2449. ;BeligionA The Limits of Dno"ledge<, in 2e 'nglo<Sa3ons fro! te
+igration .eriod to te Eigt "enturyB 'n Etnogra1ic .ers1ective, ed. by Tohn
Hines, Studies in Archaeoethnology, $ .,oodbridgeA 0oydell/, pp. 69>3&2%
,or-s (ited
Hines, Tohn .ed./. 2449. 2e 'nglo<Sa3ons fro! te +igration .eriod to te Eigt
"enturyB 'n Etnogra1ic .ers1ective, Studies in Archaeoethnology, $ .,oodbridgeA
Hines, Tohn. $%%6. ;+yth and BealityA The (ontribution of Archaeology<, in ,ld -orse
+yts6 #iterature and Society, ed. by +argaret (lunies Boss, The Ui-ing (ollectionA
Studies in 5orthern (iilisation, 2& .N#denseOA Uniersity Press of Southern
Denmar-/, pp. 24364
Hines, Tohn. $%%&. Voices in te .astB Englis #iterature and 'rcaeology .(ambridgeA
Hoad, Terry. 244&. ;#ld English ,ea- !enitie Plural 'anA To"ards Establishing the
Eidence<, in 8ro! 'nglo<Sa3on to Early +iddle EnglisB Studies .resented to E? G?
Stanley, ed. by +alcolm !odden, Douglas !ray and Terry Hoad .#*fordA (larendon
Press/, pp. 2%83$4
HEfler, +. 2844. &eutsces Krankeitsna!en<Buc .+unichA Piloty { Loehele/
Hofstetter, ,alter. 244$. ;The #ld English AdGectial Suffi* 'cund<, in Words6 2e3ts and
+anuscri1tsB Studies in 'nglo<Sa3on "ulture .resented to (el!ut Gneuss on te
,ccasion of is Si3ty<8ift Birtday, ed. by +ichael Dorhammer .(ambridgeA
0re"er/, pp. 6$>3&9
Hogg, Bichard +. 244$a. ' Gra!!ar of ,ld Englis6 Volu!e FB .onology .#*fordA
Hogg, Bichard +. 244$b. ;Phonology and +orphology<, in 2e "a!*ridge (istory of
te Englis #anguage6 Volu!e FB 2e Beginnings to F=rr, ed. by Bichard +. Hogg
.(ambridgeA (ambridge Uniersity Press/, pp. 793279
Hogg, Bichard +. 2449. ;Using the ?uture to Predict the PastA #ld English Dialectology
in the Light of +iddle English Place'5ames<, in Studies in +iddle Englis
#inguistics, ed. by Tace- ?isia-, Trends in Linguistics, Studies and +onographs, 2%6
.0erlinA de !ruyter/, pp. $%93$%
Holbe-, 0engt. 2489. 2e pnter1retation of 8airy 2alesB &anis 8olklore in a Euro1ean
.ers1ective, ?? (ommunications, $64 .Helsin-iA Suomalainen Tiedea-atemia/
Holmberg, 0ente. 244%. ;Uie"s on (ultic Place'5ames in Denmar-A A Beie" of
Besearch<, in ,ld -orse and 8innis Ieligions and "ultic .lace<-a!es6 Based on
.a1ers Iead at te Sy!1osiu! on Encounters Between Ieligions in ,ld -ordic
2i!es and "ultic .lace<-a!es (eld at •*o6 8inland6 on te FŒ
'ugust FŒŠ•,
ed. by Tore Ahlbec- .‹boA Donner )nstitute for Besearch in Beligious and (ultural
History/, pp. 682346
Holmberg, 0ente. 244$a. ;AsbGirn, Astrid og ‹sumA om den hedens-e as som naneled<,
in Sakrale navneB Ia11ort fra -,I-'s sekstende sy!1osiu! i Gillele7e ‰=?FF?‹
,or-s (ited
>?F>?FŒŒ=, ed. by !illian ?ello"s'Tensen and 0ente Holmberg, 5#B5A'rapporter, &8
.UppsalaA 5orna'?Erlaget/, pp. $6>3&4
Holmberg, 0ente. 244$b. ;Žber sa-rale #rtsnamen und Personennamen im 5orden<, in
Ger!anisce IeligionsgescicteB €uellen und €uellen1ro*le!e, ed. by Heinrich
0ec-, Detle Ellmers and Durt Schier, Ergen=ungsbende =um Bealle*i-on der
germanischen Altertums-unde, > .0erlinA de !ruyter/, pp. >&23>2
Holmberg, 0ente. 244&. ;Becent Besearch into Sacral 5ames<, in &evelo1!ents 'round
te Baltic and te -ort Sea in te Viking 'ge, ed. by 0GErn Ambrosiani and Helen
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Holmes, Thomas Scott .ed./. 242>327. 2e Iegister of Hon Stafford6 Biso1 of Bat and
Wells6 FA>@‹FAA‰B 8ro! te ,riginal in te Iegistry at Wells, Somerset Becord
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Holm:ist Larsen, 5. H. 2486. +0er6 sk7old!0er og krigereB En studie i og o!kring •?
*og af Sa3oos Gesta &anoru!, Studier fra sprog' og oldtidsfors-ning, udgiet af Det
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HolmstrEm, Helge. 2424. Studier )ver svan7ungfru!otivet i Volundarkvida oc
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Holtsmar-, Anne. 247&. Studier i Snorres !ytologi, S-rifter utgift a det 5ors-e
Uidens-aps'a-ademi i #slo, )). Hist.'filos. -lasse, ny serie, & .#sloA
Holtsmar-, Anne. 249%. -orr0n !ytologiB 2ro og !yter i vikingtiden .#sloA 5ors-e
Hol=mann, Uerena. $%%6. ; [)ch bes"er dich "urm nd "yrminY\A Die magische Dunst
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Hon-o, Lauri. 24>4. Krankeits1ro7ektileB 5ntersucung L*er eine urtL!lice
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+S? #aud6 F=Š6 in te Bodleian #i*rary, Early English Te*t Society, 89 .LondonA
Hough, (arole. 2449. ;The Earliest #ld English Place'5ames in Scotland<, -otes and
€ueries, &6A 2&83>%
Ho"e, 5icholas. 248>. ;Aldhelm<s Enig!ata and )sidorian Etymology<, 'nglo<Sa3on
England, 2&A 693>4
Ho"e, 5icholas. 2484. +igration and +yt!aking in 'nglo<Sa3on England .5e"
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HaenA dale Uniersity Press/
Ho"e, 5icholas. 2446. ;The (ultural (onstruction of Beading in Anglo'Sa*on England<,
in 2e Etnogra1y of Ieading, ed. by Tonathan 0oyarin .0er-eleyA Uniersity of
(alifornia Press/, pp. >8394
Ho"lett, Daid. 2448. ;Hellenic Learning in )nsular LatinA An Essay on Supported
(laims<, .eritia, 2$A >&398
Hult-rant=, ‹-e. $%%2. ;Scandinaian and Saami Beligious BelationshipsA (ontinuities
and Discontinuities in the Academic Debate<, in Kontinuit‡ten und BrLce in der
IeligionsgescicteB 8estscrift fLr 'nders (ultgˆrd Ru seine! r@? Ge*urtstag a!
>‰? F>? >==F, ed. by +ichael Stausberg, Ergen=ungsbende =um Bealle*i-on der
germanischen Altertums-unde, 62 .0erlinA de !ruyter/, pp. &2$3$6
Hume, Dathryn. 249&. ;The (oncept of the Hall in #ld English Poetry<, 'nglo<Sa3on
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)lling"orth, B. 5. 247%372. ;(eltic Tradition and the #ai of Yonec<, Žtudes "elti4ues, 4A
)nsley, Tohn, ;The Study of #ld English Personal 5ames and Anthroponymic Le*i-a<, in
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.ersonenna!en*uces des 8rL!ittelalters, ed. by Dieter !euenich, ,olfgang
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Altertums-unde, 6$ .0erlin, $%%$/, pp. 2&8397
)rine, Susan. 2447. ;Ulysses and (irce in Ding Alfred<s BoetiusA A (lassical +yth
Transformed<, in Studies in Englis #anguage and #iteratureB q&ou*t Wiselyow
.a1ers in (onour of E? G? Stanley, edited by +. T. Tos"ell and E. +. Tyler .LondonA
Boutledge/, pp. 6893&%2
)ring, Ed"ard 0., Tr. 248&. ;The 5ature of (hristianity in Beowulf<, 'nglo<Sa3on
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Tacobsen, Lis and Eri- +olt-e .ed./. 24&23&$. &an!arks Iuneindskrifter, 6 ols
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Tames, +. B. .ed. and trans./. 2486. Walter +a1B &e -ugis "urialiu!? "ourtierso 2rifles,
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!iddelnederlands leerdict, Academie Boyale de 0elgi:ueA (lasse des lettres et des
sciences morales et politi:ues, collection des anciens auteurs belges, nouelle scrie, 9,
$ ols .0russelsA Palais des Acadcmies/
Tayatila-a, Bohini. $%%6. ;The #ld English 0enedictine BuleA ,riting for ,omen and
+en<, 'nglo<Sa3on England, 6$A 2&93289
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Tohnson, Daid ?. 244>. ;Euhemerisation Uersus DemonisationA The Pagan !ods and
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te Second Ger!ania #atina "onference (eld at te 5niversity of Groningen6 +ay
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Tolly, Daren Louise. 2448. ;Eles in the Psalms@ The E*perience of Eil from a (osmic
Perspectie<, in 2e &evil6 (eresy and Witccraft in te +iddle 'gesB Essays in
(onor of Heffrey B? Iussell, ed. by Alberto ?erreiro, (ultures, 0eliefs and Traditions,
7 .LeidenA 0rill/, pp. 243&&
TVn Helgason .ed./. 24$&. (eiðreks sagaB (ervarar saga ok (eiðreks konungs, Samfund
til Udgielse af !ammel 5ordis- Litteratur, &8 .(openhagenA Samfund til Udgielse
af !ammel 5ordis- Litteratur/
TVn Hnefill AKalsteinsson, ;?ol- 5arratie and 5orse +ythology<, 'rvB -ordic Year*ook
of 8olklore, &7 .244%/, 22>3$$
TVn Hnefill AKalsteinsson. 2446. ;The Testimony of ,a-ing (onsciousness and Dreams
in +igratory Legends (oncerning Human Encounters "ith Hidden People<, 'rvB
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TVnas DristGgnsson. 2448. ;)reland and the )rish in )celandic Tradition<, in preland and
Scandinavia in te Early Viking 'ge, ed. by Ho"ard 0. (lar-e, +gire 5k +haonaigh
and Baghnall f ?loinn .DublinA ?our (ourts Press/, $>4397
Tones, Timothy. 244&. ;!eoffrey of +onmouth, 8ouke le 8itR Waryn, and 5ational
+ythology<, Studies in .ilology, 42A $663&4
Tordan, Bichard. 249&. (and*ook of +iddle Englis Gra!!arB .onology, re. and
trans. by Eugene Toseph (oo-, Tanua Linguarum, Series Practica, $28 .The HagueA
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#iterature, (ambridge Studies in Anglo'Sa*on England, 6$ .(ambridgeA (ambridge
Uniersity Press/
Dalin-e, +arianne. $%%6. ;Transgression in (rClfs saga kraka<, in 8ornaldarsagornas
struktur oc ideologiB (andlingar frˆn ett sy!1osiu! i 511sala ‰F?Š‹>?Œ >==F, ed.
by brmann Ta-obsson, Annette Lassen and Agneta 5ey, 5ordis-a te*ter och
undersE-ningar, $8 .UppsalaA Uppsala Uniersitet, )nstitutionen fEr 5ordis-a Sprp-/,
pp. 2>9392
Dastos-y, Dieter. 248>. ;Deerbal 5ouns in #ld and +odern EnglishA ?rom Stem'
?ormation to ,ord'?ormation<, in (istorical Se!antics6 (istorical Word<8or!ation,
ed. by Tace- ?isia-, Trends in LinguisticsA Studies and +onographs, $4 .0erlinA de
!ruyter/, pp. $$2372
Dastos-y, Dieter. 244$. ;Semantics and Uocabulary<, in 2e "a!*ridge (istory of te
Englis #anguage6 Volu!e FB 2e Beginnings to F=rr, ed. by Bichard +. Hogg
.(ambridgeA (ambridge Uniersity Press/, pp. $4%3&%8
Daufmann, Henning. 2478. 'ltdeutsce .ersonenna!en Erg‡nRungs*and .+unichA
Da=anas, 5. D. $%%2. ;)ndo'European Deities and the ∑ Igveda<, Hournal of pndo<
Euro1ean Studies, $4A $>9346
Deats'Bohan, D. S. 0. and Daid E. Thornton. 2449. &o!esday -a!esB 'n pnde3 of
#atin .ersonal and .lace -a!es in &o!esday Book .,oodbridgeA 0oydell/
Deightley, Thomas. 28>%. 2e 8airy +ytologyB pllustrative of te Io!ance and
Su1erstition of Various "ountries, re. edn .LondonA 0ohn/
Deil, +a*. 2467. 'ltisl‡ndisce -a!enwal, PalaestraA Untersuchungen und Te*te aus
der deutschen und englischen Philologie, 297 .Leip=igA +ayer { +]ller/
Dellogg, Bobert. 2488. ' "oncordance to Eddic .oetry, +edieal Te*ts and Studies, $
.,oodbridgeA 0oydell and 0re"er/
Delly, 0irte. 2486. ;The ?ormatie Stages of Beowulf Te*tual ScholarshipA Part ))<,
'nglo<Sa3on England, 2$A $6439>
Delly, S. E. 2444. 2e Electronic SawyerB 'n ,nline Version of te Ievised Edition of
,or-s (ited
Sawyeros q'nglo<Sa3on "arterso6 Section ,ne tS F<Fr=>u .0ritish AcademyIBoyal
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Dennedy, (harles ,. 24&6. 2e Earliest Englis .oetryB ' "ritical Survey of te .oetry
Written *efore te -or!an "on4uest wit pllustrative 2ranslations .LondonA #*ford
Uniersity Press/
Der, 5. B. 24>9. "atalogue of +anuscri1ts "ontaining 'nglo<Sa3on .#*fordA (larendon
Dcry, Lotte. 2444. "anonical "ollections of te Early +iddle 'ges Nca? A==‹FFA=OB '
Bi*liogra1ical Guide to te +anuscri1ts and #iterature, History of +edieal (anon
La", 2 .,ashington, D.(.A The (atholic Uniersity of America Press/
Diec-hefer, Bichard. 2497. Euro1ean Witc 2rialsB 2eir 8oundations in .o1ular and
#earned "ulture6 F‰==‹F@== .LondonA Boutledge { Degan Paul/
Diec-hefer, Bichard. 2484. +agic in te +iddle 'ges .(ambridgeA (ambridge Uniersity
Diernan, Dein S. 2447. qBeowulfo and te qBeowulfo +anuscri1t, $
edn .Ann ArborA
Uniersity of +ichigan Press/
Diessling, 5icolas D. 2478. ;!rendelA A 5e" Aspect<, +odern .ilology, 7>A 2423$%2
Dindschi, Lo"ell. 24>>. ;The Latin'#ld English !lossaries in Plantin'+oretus +S 6$
and 0ritish +useum +S Additional 6$,$&7< .unpublished doctoral thesis, Stanford
Ditson, Peter. 2484. ;?rom Eastern Learning to ,estern ?ol-lore<, in Su1erstition and
.o1ular +edicine in 'nglo<Sa3on England, ed. by D. !. Scragg .+anchesterA (entre
for Anglo'Sa*on Studies, Uniersity of +anchester/, pp. >9392
Ditson, Peter B. $%%$. ;Ho" Anglo'Sa*on Personal 5ames ,or-<, -o!ina, $>A 423262
Dittlic-, ,olfgang. 2448. &ie Glossen der (s? Britis #i*rary6 "otton "leo1atra '? pppB
.onologie6 +or1ologie6 Wortgeogra1ie, Europeische HochschulschriftenA Beihe
y)U, Angelsechsische Sprache und Literatur, 6&9 .?ran-furt am +ainA Lang/
Dlaeber, ?r. 24>%. Beowulf, 6
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pdeas and 'ttitudes in te +edieval World .,oodbridgeA 0oydell/
Dlemming, !. E. .ed./. 2886387. #‡ke< oc )rte<*)cker frˆn sveriges !edeltid
.Stoc-holmA 5orstedt/
Dluge, ?riedrich. 24$7. -o!inale Sta!!*ildungslere der altger!aniscen &ialekte,
Sammlung -ur=er !rammati-en germanischer Diale-te, 2, 6
edn .HalleA 5iemeyer/
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Anglo'Sa*on England and Early +edieal Europe<, in Social pdentity in Early
,or-s (ited
+edieval Britain, ed. by ,illiam #. ?ra=er and Andre" Tyrrell .LondonA Leicester
Uniersity Press/, pp. 2>9342
Doch, Tohn T .ed./. $%%6. 2e "eltic (eroic 'geB #iterary Sources for 'ncient "eltic
Euro1e „ Early preland „ Wales, (eltic Studies Publications, 2, &
.Aberyst"ythA (eltic Studies Publications/
Doht, Haldan. 24$6. ;Uar finanne alltid finnar@<, +aal og !inne, 27239>
Dousgprd Sirensen, Tohn. 244%. ;The (hange of Beligion and the 5ames<, in ,ld -orse
and 8innis Ieligions and "ultic .lace<-a!es6 Based on .a1ers Iead at te
Sy!1osiu! on Encounters Between Ieligions in ,ld -ordic 2i!es and "ultic .lace<
-a!es (eld at •*o6 8inland6 on te FŒ
'ugust FŒŠ•, ed. by Tore Ahlbec-
.‹boA Donner )nstitute for Besearch in Beligious and (ultural History/, pp. 64&3&%6
Dousgprd Sirensen, Tohn. 244$. ;Stednane og fol-etro<, in Sakrale navneB Ia11ort fra
-,I-'s sekstende sy!1osiu! i Gillele7e ‰=?FF?‹>?F>?FŒŒ=, ed. by !illian ?ello"s'
Tensen and 0ente Holmberg, 5#B5A'rapporter, &8 .UppsalaA 5orna'fErlaget/, pp.
Drag, (laus. 2442. Ynglingatal og YnglingesagaB En studie i istoriske kilder, Studia
humaniora .Bpdet for humanistis- fors-ning/, $ .#sloA Bpdet for humanistis-
fors-ning, 5AU?/
Drapp, !eorge Philip .ed./. 2466. 2e .aris .salter and te +eters of Boetius, Anglo'
Sa*on Poetic Becords, > .LondonA BoutledgeF 5e" dor-A (olumbia Uniersity Press/
Droesen, Biti. 2449. ;The Ual-yries in the Heroic Literature of the 5orth<,
Sk%ldska1ar!%l, &A 2$4372
Dro-er, E. .ed./. 242$3$2. 2iscreden, D. +artin Luthers ,er-eA Dritische
!esamtausgabe, 7 ols .,eimerA 0Ehlau/
Duhn, Hans. 2474398. ;Philologisches =ur altgermanischen Beligionsgeschichte<, in
Kleine ScriftenB 'ufs‡tRe und IeRensionen aus den Ge*ieten der ger!aniscen und
nordiscen S1rac<6 #iteratur< und Kulturgescicte, & ols .0erlinA de !ruyter/, )U
pp. $$636$2
Kulturistorisk leksikon for nordisk !iddelalder
Durt=, 0enGamin P. 24$7. 8ro! St? 'ntony to St? GutlacB ' Study in Biogra1y,
Uniersity of (alifornia Publications in +odern Philology, 2$.$ .0er-eleyA Uniersity
of (alifornia Press/, pp. 2%63&7
Duypers, A. 0. .ed./. 24%$. 2e .rayer Book of 'edeluald te Biso16 "o!!only "alled
te Book of "erne .(ambridgeA (ambridge Uniersity Press/
Lagerholm, ‹-e .ed./. 24$9. &rei #ygisçgurB Egils saga einenda ok Ás!undar
*erserk7a*ana6 Ála flekks saga6 8lCres saga konungs ok sona ans, Altnordische
Saga'0ibliothe-, 29 .Halle .Saale/A 5iemeyer/
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La-off, !eorge. 2489. Wo!en6 8ire and &angerous 2ingsB Wat "ategories Ieveal
a*out te +ind .(hicagoA Uniersity of (hicago Press/
Lang, Tames T. 2497. ;Sigurd and ,eland in Pre'(on:uest (aring from 5orthern
England<, 2e Yorksire 'rcaeological Hournal, &8A 8634&
Langenhoe, !. an .ed./. 24&2. 'ldel!os &e laudi*us virginitatis wit #atin and ,ld
Englis Glosses? +anuscri1t Fr@= of te Ioyal #i*rary in Brussels, BiG-suniersiteit
te !ent, ,er-en uitgegeen door de ?aculteit an de ,iGsbegeerte en Letteren, E*tra
Serie, $ .0rugesA Saint (atherine Press/
Lapidge, +ichael. 248$. ;Beowulf, Aldhelm, the #i*er !onstroru! and ,esse*<, Studi
+edievali, 6
series, $6A 2>234$
Lapidge, +ichael. 2447 N2487O. ;The School of Theodore and Hadrian<, in 'nglo<#atin
#iterature r==‹ŠŒŒ .LondonA Hambledon Press/, pp. 2&2378 .first publ. 'nglo<Sa3on
England, 2> .2487/, &>39$/
Lapidge, +ichael. 2447 N2488O. ;The Study of !ree- at the School of (anterbury in the
Seenth (entury<, in 'nglo<#atin #iterature r==‹ŠŒŒ .LondonA Hambledon Press/,
pp. 2$6364 .first publ. 2e Sacred -ectar of te GreeksB 2e Study of Greek in te
West in te Early +iddle 'ges, ed. by +ichael Herren .LondonA Ding<s (ollege
London, 2488/, 27434&/
Lapidge, +ichael. 2447 N2488384O. ;An )sidorian Epitome from Early Anglo'Sa*on
England<, in 'nglo<#atin #iterature r==‹ŠŒŒ .LondonA Hambledon Press/, pp. 2863
$$6 .first publ. Io!ano*ar*arica, 2% .2488384/, &&6386/
Lapidge, +ichael. $%%%. ;The Archetype of Beowulf<, 'nglo<Sa3on England, $4A >3&2
Lapidge, +ichael and Peter S. 0a-er .ed. and trans./. 244>. Byrtfertos Enciridion,
Early English Te*t Society, s.s. 2> .#*fordA #*ford Uniersity Press/
Lapidge, +ichael and +ichael Herren .trans./. 2494. 'ldel!B 2e .rose Works
.(ambridgeA 0re"er/
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Larrington, (arolyne. 244$. ; [,hat Does ,oman ,ant@\ +ær und +unr in
Sk$rnis!%l<, Álv$ss!%l, 2A 6327
Larrington, (arolyne. 2444. ;The ?airy +istress in +edieal Literary ?antasy<, in
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Las-aya, Anna and Ee Salisbury .ed./. 244>. 2e +iddle Englis Breton #ays
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the Symbolic Ualue of the Eyes of HçKr, fKinn and hVrr<, in ,ld -orse +yts6
#iterature and SocietyB .roceedings of te FF
pnternational Saga "onference6 >‹•
Huly >===6 5niversity of Sydney, ed. by !eraldine 0arnes and +argaret (lunies Boss
.SydneyA (entre for +edieal Studies, Uniersity of Sydney/, pp. $$%3$8F accessed
from HhttpAII""", 832%3$%%&
Lassen, Annette. $%%6. ;Den prosais-e #dinA ?ortidssagaerne som mytografi<, in
8ornaldarsagornas struktur oc ideologiB (andlingar frˆn ett sy!1osiu! i 511sala
‰F?Š‹>?Œ >==F, ed. by brmann Ta-obsson, Annette Lassen and Agneta 5ey, 5ordis-a
te*ter och undersE-ningar, $8 .UppsalaA Uppsala Uniersitet, )nstitutionen fEr
5ordis-a Sprp-/, pp. $%>324
La==ari, Loredana. $%%6. ;)l Glossario latino'inglese antico nel manoscritto di Anersa e
Londra ed il Glossario di ZlfricA dipenden=a diretta o deria=ione comune@<,
#inguistica e filologia, 27A 2>434%
Leahy, Dein and (aroline Paterson. $%%2. ;5e" Light on the Ui-ing Presence in
LincolnshireA The Artefactual Eidence<, in Vikings and te &anelawB Select .a1ers
fro! te .roceedings of te 2irteent Viking "ongress6 -ottinga! and York6 >F<‰=
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5. Parsons .#*fordA #*bo"/, pp. 2823$%$
Lecouteu*, (laude. 2486. ;Haga=ussa'Striga'He*e<, Žtudes Ger!ani4ues, 68A 272398
Lecouteu*, (. 2489. ;+ara3ephialtes3incubusA Le couchemar che= les peuples
germani:ues<, Žtudes ger!ani4ues, &$A 23$&
Lecouteu*, (laude. 2449. #es nains et elfes au +oyen 'ge, $
edn .ParisA )mago/
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Lee, Alin A. 249$. 2e Guest<(all of EdenB 8our Essays on te &esign of ,ld Englis
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the Social Symbolic in Anglo'Sa*on England<, in Gender in &e*ate fro! te Early
+iddle 'ges to te Ienaissance, ed. by Thelma S. ?enster and (lare A. Lees .5e"
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?ranzaises d<Athmnes et de Bome, 28% .ParisA 0occard/
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'nglo<Sa3on Glosses and Glossaries .AldershotA Uariorum/, pp. 23$7
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Leac-, 0rian P. 248%. ;The !reat Scottish ,itch Hunt of 27723277$<, Hournal of
Britis Studies, $%A 4%32%8
Leac-, 0rian P. $%%$. ;The Decline and End of Scottish ,itch'Hunting<, in 2e
Scottis Witc<(unt in "onte3t, ed. by Tulian !oodare .+anchesterA +anchester
Uniersity Press/, pp. 277382
Lci'Strauss, (laude. 2478399 N24&>O. ;Structural Analysis in Linguistics and in
Anthropology<, in Structural 'ntro1ology, trans. by (laire Tacobson and others, $
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linguisti:ue et en anthropologie<, WordB Hournal of te #inguistic "ircle of -ew York,
2 .24&>/, 23$2/
Lci'Strauss, (laude. 2478399 N24&4O. ;The Sorcerer and His +agic<, in Structural
'ntro1ology, trans. by (laire Tacobson and others, $ ols .LondonA Allen Lane/, )
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Lci'Strauss, (laude. 2478399 N24>6O. ;Linguistics and Anthropology<, in Structural
'ntro1ology, trans. by (laire Tacobson and others, $ ols .LondonA Allen Lane/, )
pp. 7938% .first publ. Iesults of te "onference of 'ntro1ologists and #inguists, ed.
by (laude Lci'Strauss and others, )ndiana Uniersity Publications in Anthropology
and Linguistics, +emoir 8 .0altimoreA ,aerly Press/ .o Su11le!ent to pnternational
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edn .(ambridgeA (ambridge Uniersity Press/
Le*er, +atthias. 2874397. +ittelocdeutsces (andw)rter*uc .Leip=igA Hir=el/
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!inneA 69377
Liebermann, ?. .ed./. 24%6327. &ie GesetRe der 'ngelsacsen, 6 ols .Halle a. S.A
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Lind, E. H. 24%>32>. -orsk<isl‡ndska do1na!n ock fingerade na!n frˆn !edeltiden
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97A &943>%&
Lindo", Tohn. 249>. "o!itatus6 pndividual and (onorB Studies in -ort Ger!anic
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Lindo", Tohn. 244>. ;Supernatural #thers and Ethnic #thersA A +illenium of ,orld
Uie"<, Scandinavian Studies, 79A 8362
Lindo", Tohn. $%%6. ;(ultures in (ontact<, in ,ld -orse +yts6 #iterature and Society,
ed. by +argaret (lunies Boss, The Ui-ing (ollectionA Studies in 5orthern
(iilisation, 2& .N#denseOA Uniersity Press of Southern Denmar-/, pp. 8432%4
Lind:ist, Sune .ed./. 24&23&$. Gotlands Bildsteine, Ar-eol. monog., $8, $ ols
.Stoc-holmA ,ahlstrEm { ,idstrand/
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of the Philological Society, 8 .LondonA #*ford Uniersity Press/
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Saint (hristopher<, in +arvels6 +onsters6 and +iraclesB Studies in te +edieval and
Early +odern p!aginations, ed. by Timothy S. Tones and Daid A. Sprunger, Studies
in +edieal (ulture, &$ .Dalama=ooA +edieal )nstitute Publications/, pp. 27938$
Liu==a, Boy +ichael. $%%2. ;Anglo'Sa*on Prognostics in (onte*tA A Surey and
Handlist of +anuscripts<, 'nglo<Sa3on England, 6%A 2823$6%
Lloyd, Albert L. and #tto Springer. 24883. Ety!ologisces W)rter*uc des
'ltocdeutscen .!EttingenA Uandenhoec- { Buprech/
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and +eaning in ,ld -orse #iteratureB -ew '11roaces to 2e3tual 'nalysis and
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Lo"e, Dathryn. 2446. ; [As ?re as Tho"t\@A Some +edieal (opies and Translations of
#ld English ,ills<, Englis +anuscri1t Studies FF==<F•==, &A 23$6
Lo"e, Dathryn A. $%%2. ;#n the Plausibility of #ld English DialectologyA The 5inth'
(entury Dentish (harter +aterial<, 8olia #inguistica (istorica, $$A 26739%
Lucy, S. T. 2449. ;House"ies, ,arriors and Slaes@ Se* and !ender in Anglo'Sa*on
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Euro1ean 'rcaeology, ed. by Tenny +oore and Eleanor Scott .LondonA Leicester
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Lucy, Sam. $%%%. 2e 'nglo<Sa3on Way of &eatB Burial Iites in Early England
.StroudA Sutton/
Luic-, D. 242&3&%. (istorisce Gra!!atik der engliscen S1race, $ ols .Leip=ig,
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Lu-man, 5iels. 2499. ;An )rish Source and Some )celandic 8ornaldars)gur<, +ediaeval
Scandinavia, 2%A &23>9
Lumians-y, B. +. and Daid +ills .ed./. 249&387. 2e "ester +ystery "ycle, The
Early English Te*t Society, s.s. 6, 4, $ ols .LondonA #*ford Uniersity Press/
Lut=, Angeli-a. 248&. ;Spellings of the Waldend !roup1Again<, 'nglo<Sa3on England,
26A >237&
Luyster, Bobert. 2448. ;2e Wifeos #a!ent in the (onte*t of Scandinaian +yth and
Bitual<, .ilological €uarterly, 99A $&939%
Lyons, Tohn. 2499. Se!antics, $ ols .(ambridgeA (ambridge Uniersity Press/
Lysaght, Patricia. 2447. 2e BanseeB 2e pris Su1ernatural &eat<+essenger, $
.DublinA #<0rien/
+acDonald, Stuart. $%%$. 2e Witces of 8ifeB Witc<(unting in a Scottis Sire6 F@r=‹
F•F= .East LintonA Tuc-"ell/
+achan, Tim ,illiam. $%%6. Englis in te +iddle 'ges .#*fordA #*ford Uniersity
+ac-ey, T. P. 244$. ;+agic and (eltic Primal Beligion<, •eitscrift fLr celtisce
.ilologie, &>A 7738&
+adan, ?alconer and others. 284>324>6. ' Su!!ary "atalogue of Western +anuscri1ts
in te Bodleian #i*rary at ,3ford wic ave not iterto *een "atalogued in te
€uarto Series, corr. repr., 9 ols .#*fordA (larendon Press/
+agennis, Hugh. 244>. ; [5o Se* Please, ,e<re Anglo'Sa*ons\@ Attitudes to Se*uality
in #ld English Prose and Poetry<, #eeds Studies in Englis, $7A 23$9
+agennis, Hugh. 2447. p!ages of "o!!unity in ,ld Englis .oetry, (ambridge Studies
in Anglo'Sa*on England, 28 .(ambridgeA (ambridge Uniersity Press/
+alone, Demp .ed./. 24&4. &eor, +ethuen<s #ld English Library, $, $
edn .LondonA
,or-s (ited
+alone, Demp .ed./. 2476. 2e -owell "ode3B Britis +useu! "otton Vitellius '? †V6
Second +S, Early English +anuscripts in ?acsimile, 2$ .(openhagenA Bosen-ilde
and 0agger/
+ann, Stuart E. 248&389. 'n pndo<Euro1ean "o!1arative &ictionary .HamburgA 0us-e/
+archand, Hans. 2474. 2e "ategories and 2y1es of .resent<&ay Englis Word<
8or!ationB ' Syncronic<&iacronic '11roac, $
edn .+unichA 0ec-/
+arenbon, Tohn. 2494. ;Les sources du ocabulaire d<Aldhelm<, Bulletin du "ange, &2A
+argeson, Sue. 2449. 2e Vikings in -orfolk .5or"ichA 5or"ich +useums Serice/
+athisen, Stein B., ;5orth 5or"egian ?ol- Legends about the Secret Dno"ledge of the
+agic E*perts<, 'rv, &4 .2446/, 243$9
+aurus, P. 24%$. &ie Wielandsage in der #itteratur, +]nchener 0eitrege =ur
romanischen und englischen Philologie, $> .ErlangenA 0Ehme/
+ayr'Harting, Henry. 2442. 2e "o!ing of "ristianity to 'nglo<Sa3on England, 6
.LondonA 0atsford/
+ayrhofer, +anfred. 24>738%. KurRgefa˜tes ety!ologisces W)rter*uc des
'ltindiscen/' "oncise Ety!ological Sanskrit &ictionary, & ols .HeidelbergA
+a*"ell'Stuart, P. !. 2448. ;,itchcraft and the Dir- in Aberdeenshire, 2>47349<,
-ortern Scotland, 28A 232&
+a*"ell'Stuart, P. !. $%%2. Satanos "ons1iracyB +agic and Witccraft in Si3teent<
"entury Scotland .East LintonA Tuc-"ell/
+c (arthy, Daniel. $%%6. ;#n the Shape of the )nsular Tonsure<, "eltica, $&A 2&%3279
+cDinnell, Tohn. 2487384. ;+otiation in #okasenna<, Saga<Book of te Viking Society,
$$A $6&37$
+cDinnell, Tohn. 244%. ;The (onte*t of Vçlundarkviða<, Saga<Book of te Viking
Society, $6A 23$9
+cDinnell, Tohn. $%%2. ;Eddic Poetry in Anglo'Scandinaian 5orthern England<, in
Vikings and te &anelawB Select .a1ers fro! te .roceedings of te 2irteent
Viking "ongress6 -ottinga! and York6 >F‹‰= 'ugust FŒŒ•, ed. by Tames !raham'
(ampbell, Bichard Hall, Tudith Tesch and Daid 5. Parsons .#*fordA #*bo"/, pp.
+eaney, Audrey L. 2498. ;Alfred, the Patriarch and the ,hite Stone<, 'u!laB Hournal of
te 'ustralasian 5niversities #anguage and #iterature 'ssociation, &4 .+ay/, 7>394
+eaney, Audrey L. 2482. 'nglo<Sa3on '!ulets and "uring Stones, 0ritish
Archaeological Beports, 0ritish Series, 47 .#*fordA 0AB/
+eaney, A. L. 248&. ;Uariant Uersions of #ld English +edical Bemedies and the
,or-s (ited
(ompilation of 0ald<s #eec*ook<, 'nglo<Sa3on England, 26A $6>378
+eaney, Audrey L. 2484. ;,omen, ,itchcraft and +agic in Anglo'Sa*on England<, in
+edicine in Early +edieval EnglandB 8our .a1ers, ed. by D. !. Scragg and +arilyn
Deegan, corr. reissue .+anchesterA (entre for Anglo'Sa*on Studies, Uniersity of
+anchester/, pp. 43&%
+eaney, Audrey L. 244$. ;The Anglo'Sa*on Uie" of the (auses of )llness<, in (ealt6
&isease and (ealing in +edieval "ulture, ed. by Sheila (ampbell, 0ert Hall and
Daid Dlausner .0asingsto-eA +acmillan/, pp. 2$366
+eaney, Audrey. 244>. ;Pagan English Sanctuaries, Place'5ames and Hundred +eeting'
Places<, 'nglo<Sa3on Studies in 'rcaeology and (istory, 8A $43&$
+eaney, Audrey L. $%%2. ;?eli*<s Life of !uthlacA Hagiography andIor Truth<,
.roceedings of te "a!*ridgesire 'nti4uarian Society, 4%A $43&8
+earns, Adam Tonathan. $%%$. ;The Le*ical Bepresentation of +onsters and Deils in
#ld English Literature<, $ ols .unpublished doctoral thesis, Uniersity of 5e"castle
Upon Tyne/
+ebius, Hans. $%%%. ;Dag StEmbec- och den fornnordis-a seGden<, in Se7d oc andra
studier i nordisk s7‡lsu11fattning av &ag Str)!*‡ck !ed *idrag av Bo 'l!4vist6
Gertrud Gidlund6 (ans +e*ius, ed. by !ertrud !idlund, Acta Academiae Begiae
!ustai Adolphi, 9$ .HedemoraA !idlund/, pp. $9636%7
+eissner, Budolf. 24$2. &ie Kenningar der SkaldenB Ein Beitrag Rur skaldiscen .oetik,
Bheinische 0eitrege und H]lfsb]cher =ur germanischen Philologie und Uol-s-unde, 2
.0onnA Schroeder/
+eletins-iG, E. 2496a. ;Scandinaian +ythology as a System, )<, Hournal of Sy!*olic
'ntro1ology, 2A &63>9
+eletins-iG, E. 2496b. ;Scandinaian +ythology as a System, ))<, Hournal of Sy!*olic
'ntro1ology, $A >9398
+enn, Lise, ;Elish Loan"ords in )ndo'EuropeanA (ultural )mplications<, in 'n
pntroduction to Elvis, ed. by Tim Allen .HayesA 0ran<s Head 0oo-s, 2498/, pp. 2&63
+eritt, Herbert Dean .ed./. 24&>. ,ld Englis GlossesB ' "ollection, The +odern
Language Association of America, !eneral Series, 27 .5e" dor-A +odern Language
Association of AmericaF LondonA #*ford Uniersity Press/
+eritt, Herbert Dean .ed./. 24>4. 2e ,ld Englis .rudentius Glosses at Boulogne<sur<
+er .StanfordA Stanford Uniersity Press/
+eroney, Ho"ard. 24&>. ;)rish in the #ld English (harms<, S1eculu!, $%A 29$38$
+eulengracht Sirensen, Preben. 2486. 2e 5n!anly +anB "once1ts of Se3ual
&efa!ation in Early -ortern Society, trans. by Toan Turille'Petre, 2e Viking
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"ollectionB Studies in -ortern "iviliRation, 2 .N#denseOA #dense Uniersity Press/
.first publ. -orr0nt nidB 8orestillingen o! den u!andige !and i de islandske sagaer
.N#denseOA #dense Uniersitetsforlag, 248%//
+eulengracht Sirensen, Preben. 2484. ;Star-aKr, Lo-i, and Egill S-allagrkmsson<, in
Sagas of te pcelandersB ' Book of Essays, ed. by T. Tuc-er .5e" dor-A !arland/, pp.
2&73>4 .first publ. ;Star-aKr, Lo-i, og Egill S-allagrkmsson<, S7)t$u Iitgerðir
elgaðar Hako*i Benediktssynni6 >=? 7Gl$ FŒ••, Bit .Stofnun brna +agnjssonar g
Šslandi/, 2$, $ ols .Bey-Gak-A Stofnun brna +agnjssonar, 2499/, )) 9>4378/
+eyer, Duno .ed./. 24%4. Iawlinson B? @=>B ' "ollection of .ieces in .rose and Verse
in te pris #anguage6 "o!1iled during te Elevent and 2welft "enturies .#*fordA
(larendon Press/
+iddle Englis &ictionary. 24>$3$%%2. .Ann ArborA Uniersity of +ichigan Press/F
accessed from HhttpAIIets.umdl.umich.eduImImecIJ, accessed &363$%%>
+iller, ?ran- Tustus .ed. and trans./. 248&. ,vidB +eta!or1oses, 6
re. edn by !. P.
!ould, The Loeb (lassical Library, &$3&6, $ ols .(ambridge +AA Harard
Uniersity Press/
+iller, Sean .ed./. $%%2. "arters of te -ew +inster6 Wincester, Anglo'Sa*on
(harters, 4 .#*fordA #*ford Uniersity Press/
+ilroy, Tames. 244$. #inguistic Variation and "angeB ,n te (istorical
Sociolinguistics of Englis, Language in Society, 24 .#*fordA 0lac-"ell/
+in-oa, Don-a. $%%6. 'lliteration and Sound "ange in Early Englis, (ambridge
Studies in Linguistics, 2%2 .(ambridgeA (ambridge Uniersity Press/
+iscellany of te +aitland "lu*B "onsisting of ,riginal .a1ers and ,ter &ocu!ents
pllustrative of te (istory and #iterature of Scotland, 28663&6. 6 ols .NEdinburghOA
The +aitland (lub/
+itchell, 0ruce. 248>. ,ld Englis Synta3, $ ols .#*fordA #*ford Uniersity Press/
+itchell, Stephen A. 2486. ;8çr Sk$rnis as +ythological +odelA frið at kau1a<, 'rkiv f)r
nordisk filologi, 48A 2%83$$
+itchell, Stephen. 2449. ;Blˆkulla and its AntecedentsA Transection and (onenticles
in 5ordic ,itchcraft<, 'lv$ss!%l, 9A 8232%%
+itchell, Stephen. $%%%a. ;?ol-lore and Philology BeisitedA +edieal Scandinaian
?ol-lore@<, in -orden og Euro1aB 8agtradis7oner i nordisk etnologi og folkloristikk,
ed. by 0Garne Bogan and 0ente !ulleig Aler, #ccasional Papers from the
Department of (ulture Studies, Uniersity of #slo, $ .#sloA 5ous/, pp. $8734&
+itchell, Stephen A. $%%%b. ;S-krnir<s #ther TourneyA The Biddle of !leipnir<, in Gudar
1ˆ 7ordenB 8estskrift till #ars #)nnrot, ed. by Stina Hansson and +ats +alm
.Stoc-holmA •stling/, pp. 7939>
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+itterauer, +ichael. 2446. 'nen und (eiligeB -a!enge*ung in der euro1‡iscen
Gescicte .+unichA 0ec-/
+olt-e, Eri-. 248>. Iunes and teir ,riginB &en!ark and Elsewere, trans. by Peter
?oote, re. edn .(openhagenA 5ational +useum of Denmar-/
+oreschini, (laudio .ed./. $%%%. BoetivsB &e "onsolatione .iloso1iae6 ,1vscvla
teologica .+unichA Saur/
+orris, Datherine. 2442. Sorceress or Witc~ 2e p!age of Gender in +edieval pceland
and -ortern Euro1e .5e" dor-A Lanham/
+orris, B. .ed. and trans./. 289&38%. 2e Blickling (o!ilies of te 2ent "entury, Early
English Te*t Society, >8, 76, 96 .LondonA Tr]bner/
+ossc, ?ernand. 2478. ' (and*ook of +iddle Englis, trans. by Tames A. ,al-er, >
edn .0altimoreA Tohns Hop-ins Press/
+ot=, Lotte. 249639&. ;#f Eles and D"ares<, 'rvB -ordic Year*ook of 8olklore, $43
6%A 6263$%
+ot=, Lotte. 248&. ;!ods and Demons of the ,ildernessA A Study in 5orse Tradition<,
'rkiv f)r nordisk filologi, 44A 29>389
+ot=, Lotte. 2487384. ;5e" Thoughts on Vçlundarkviða<, Saga<Book of te Viking
Society, $$A >%378
+]ller, !. .ed./. 24$4. 'us !ittelengliscen +ediRinte3tenB &ie .rosareRe1te des
stockol!er +isRellan Kode3 †?Œ=, DElner anglistische Arbeiten, 2% .(ologneA
DElner anglistische Arbeiten/
+]ller, !. 249%. Studien Ru den terio1oren .ersonenna!en der Ger!anen,
5iederdeutsche Studien, 29 .(ologneA 0Ehlau/
+undal, Else. 2447. ;The Perception of Saamis and their Beligion in #ld 5orse Sources<,
in Sa!anis! and -ortern Ecology, ed. by Tuha Penti-einen, Beligion and Society,
67 .0erlinA +outon de !ruyter/, pp. 493227
+undal, Else. $%%%. ;(oe*istence of Saami and 5orse (ulture1Beflected in and
)nterpreted 0y #ld 5orse +yths<, in ,ld -orse +yts6 #iterature „ SocietyB .a1ers
of te FF
pnternational Saga "onference, ed. by !eraldine 0arnes and +argaret
(lunies Boss .Sydney, $%%%/, pp. 6&73>>F accessed from
HhttpAII""", 832%3$%%&
+undal, Else. $%%6. ;+ageplas- i +imes brinn. 5o-re refle-sGonar -ring terrfagleg
fors-ing i til-nyting til 0rit SolliA Seid, myter, sGamanisme og -Ginn i i-ingenes
erden<, +aal og !inneA 673&8
5esstrEm, 0ritt'+ari. 244>. 8rey7aB 2e Great Goddess of te -ort, Lund Studies in
History of Beligions, > .LundA Uniersity of Lund/
,or-s (ited
5ec-el, !usta .ed./. 247$. EddaB &ie #ieder des "ode3 Iegius ne*st verwandten
&enk!‡lernB p? 2e3t, &
re. edn by Hans Duhn .HeidelbergA ,inter/
5edoma, Bobert. 244%. ;The Legend of ,ayland in &eor<, •eitscrift fLr 'nglistik und
'!erikanistik, 68A 2$43&>
5ealainen, Terttu and Helena Baumolin'0runberg. $%%6. (istorical SociolinguisticsB
#anguage "ange in 2udor and Stuart England .LondonA Longman/
5eille, Tennifer. 2444. Ie1resentations of te -atural World in ,ld Englis .oetry,
(ambridge Studies in Anglo'Sa*on England, $9 .(ambridgeA (ambridge Uniersity
5iles, Tohn D. 248%. ;The Æcer*ot Bitual in (onte*t<, in ,ld Englis #iterature in
"onte3t, ed. by Tohn D. 5iles .(ambridgeA 0re"erF Toto"a, 5.T.A Bo"man {
Littlefield/, pp. &&3>7
5iles, Tohn D. $%%6a. ;The Problem of the Ending of 2e Wifeos #a!ent<, S1eculu!, 98A
5iles, Tohn D. $%%6b. ;The Tric- of the Bunes in 2e (us*andos +essage<, 'nglo<Sa3on
England, 6$A 2843$$6
5i*on, )ngeborg .ed./. 248%386. 2o!as of Erceldoune, Publications of the Department
of English, Uniersity of (openhagen, 4, $ ols .(openhagenA A-ademis- ?orlag/
5orberg, (atherine. 2447. ;(haucer<s ,omenA ?emale #ccupational Terms in 2e
"anter*ury 2ales<, in +ale and 8e!ale 2er!s in EnglisB .roceedings of te
Sy!1osiu! at 5!eˆ 5niversity6 +ay FŠ‹FŒ6 FŒŒA, ed. by !unnar Persson and +ats
Bydcn, Acta Uniersitatis UmensisA Umep Studies in the Humanities, 2$4 .UmepA
S"edish Science Press/, pp. 22>36&
5ordal, SigurKur .ed./. 2466. Egils saga Skallagr$!ssonar, Šslen=- fornrit, $ .Bey-Gak-A
HiK Šslen=-a ?ornritfclag/
5oreen, Adolf. 24$6. 'ltnordisce Gra!!atik pB 'ltisl‡ndisce und altnorwegisce
Gra!!atik N#aut< und 8le3ionslereO unter BerLcksictigung des 5rnordiscen,
Sammlung -ur=er !rammati-en germanischer Diale-te, &, &
edn .Halle .Saale/A
5ormand, La"rence and !areth Boberts .ed./. $%%%. Witccraft in Early +odern
ScotlandB Ha!es pVos q&e!onologyo and te -ort Berwick Witc 2rials .E*eterA
Uniersity of E*eter Press/
5orth, Bichard. 2449a. (eaten Gods in ,ld Englis #iterature, (ambridge Studies in
Anglo'Sa*on England, $$ .(ambridgeA (ambridge Uniersity Press/
5orth, Bichard .ed. and trans./. 2449b. 2e q(austlçng of M7CðClfr of (vinir .Enfield
Loc-A Hisarli- Press/
5orth, Bichard. $%%%. ;Goð Gey7aA The Limits of Humour in #ld 5orse')celandic
,or-s (ited
Paganism<, €uaestioB Selected .roceedings of te "a!*ridge "ollo4uiu! in 'nglo<
Sa3on6 -orse and "eltic, 2 .$%%%/, 23$$F also published in ,ld -orse +yts6
#iterature and SocietyB .roceedings of te FF
pnternational Saga "onference6 >‹•
Huly >===6 5niversity of Sydney, ed. by !eraldine 0arnes and +argaret (lunies Boss
.SydneyA (entre for +edieal Studies, Uniersity of Sydney $%%%/, pp. 68734>,
accessed from HhttpAII""", 832%3$%%&
#denstedt, 0engt. 244>. ;5uns and +id"ies, Slaes and AdulteressesA #ld English
Terms Denoting ,omen<, in -ew 2rends in Se!antics and #e3icogra1yB
.roceedings of te pnternational "onference at KaRi!ierR6 &ece!*er F‰‹F@6 FŒŒ‰,
ed. by Henry- Dardela and !unnar Persson, Acta Uniersitatis UmensisA Umep
Studies in the Humanities, 2$9 .UmepA Umep Uniersity/, pp. 2623&2
#<Donoghue, Heather. $%%6. ;,hat has 0aldr to Do "ith Lamech@ The Lethal Shot of a
0lind +an in #ld 5orse +yth and Te"ish E*egetical Traditions<, +ediu! Ævu!, 9$A
f !iollgin, Diarmuid. 2489. ;+yth and HistoryA E*otic ?oreigners in ?ol-'0elief<,
2e!enos, $6A >438%
#liphant, Bobert T. .ed./. 2477. 2e (arley #atin<,ld Englis Glossary Edited fro!
Britis +useu! +S (arley ‰‰•r, Tanua Linguarum, Series Practica, $% .The HagueA
+outon, 2477/
#lri-, A*el. 247> N24%4O. ;Epic La"s of ?ol- 5arratie<, in 2e Study of 8olklore, ed. by
Alan Dundes .Engle"ood (liffs, 5.T.A Prentice'Hall/, pp. 2$43&2 .first publ. ;Epische
!eset=e der Uol-sdichtung<, •eitscrift fLr deutsces 'ltertu! und deutsce
#iteratur, >2 .24%4/, 232$/
#lri-, T.and H. BLder .ed./. 24623>9. Sa3onis Gesta &anoru!, $ ols .HauniLA Lein {
#lsan, Lea. 244$. ;Latin (harms of +edieal EnglandA Uerbal Healing in a (hristian
#ral Tradition<, ,ral 2radition, 9A 2273&$
#lsen, Ale*andra Hennessey. 244%. ;(yne"ulf<s Autonomous ,omenA A
Beconsideration of Elene and Tuliana<, in -ew Ieadings on Wo!en in ,ld Englis
#iterature, ed. by Helen Damico and Ale*andra Hennessey #lsen .0loomingtonA
)ndiana Uniersity Press/, pp. $$$36$
#lsen, Darin. $%%2. ;0ragi 0oddason<s Iagnarsdr%1aA A +onstrous Poem<, in +onsters
and te +onstrous in +edieval -ortwest Euro1e, ed. by D. E. #lsen and L. A. B. T.
Hou"en, +ediaealia !roningana, n.s. 6 .LeuenA Peeters/, pp. 2$6364
#lsen, D. E. and L. A. B. T. Hou"en .ed./. $%%2. +onsters and te +onstrous in
+edieval -ortwest Euro1e, +ediaealia !roningana, n.s. 6 .LeuenA Peeters/
,or-s (ited
#rchard, Andy. 244&. 2e .oetic 'rt of 'ldel!, (ambridge Studies in Anglo'Sa*on
England, 8 .(ambridgeA (ambridge Uniersity Press/
#rchard, Andy. 2449. ;The Sources and +eaning of the #i*er +onstroru!<, in p
z!onstra{ nelloinferno &antescoB tradiRione e si!*ologie6 atti del †††ppp convegno
storico internaRionale6 2odi6 F‰‹Fr otto*re FŒŒr, ed. by E. +enest•, Atti dei
conegni del (entro italiano di studi sul 0asso +edioeo, Accademia Tubertina e del
(entro di studi sulla spiritualit‘ medieale, nuoa serie, 2% .SpoletoA (entro italiano
di studi sull<alto +edioeo/, pp. 9632%>
#rchard, Andy. $%%6a. .ride and .rodigiesB Studies in te +onsters of te
qBeowulfo<+anuscri1t, re. edn .TorontoA Uniersity of Toronto Press/
#rchard, Andy. $%%6b. ' "ritical "o!1anion to qBeowulfo .(ambridgeA 0re"er/
f Biain, Pgdraig. 2487. ;(eltic +ythology and Beligion<, in (istory and "ulture of te
"eltsB .re1aratory "onference6 >@‹>Š ,cto*er FŒŠ> in Bonn6 #ectures/Gescicte
und Kultur der KeltenB Vor*ereitungskonferenR >@?‹>Š? ,kto*er FŒŠ> in Bonn6
Vortr‡ge, ed. by Darl Horst Schmidt and Bolf DEdderit=sch .HeidelbergA ,inter/, pp.
#rtenberg, Ueronica. $%%2. ;Uirgin nueensA Abbesses and Po"er in Early Anglo'Sa*on
England<, in Belief and "ulture in te +iddle 'gesB Studies .resented to (enry
+ayr<(arting, ed. by Bichard !ameson and Henrietta Leyser .#*fordA #*ford
Uniersity Press/ pp. >4378
#rton, P. B. 2484. ;2e Wifeos #a!ent and Sk$rnis!%l<, in Ur d)lu! til dalaB
Guð*randur VigfGsson "entenary Essays, ed. by Bory +cTur- and Andre" ,a"n,
Leeds Te*ts and +onographs, n.s. 22 .LeedsA Leeds Studies in English/, pp. $%>369
#rton, Peter. 2444. Beie" of on See and others 2449, Saga<Book of te Viking Society,
$> .2444/, $$73$4
#rton, Peter. $%%6. ;Stic-s or Stones@ The Story of )mma in (ambridge, (orpus (hristi
(ollege, +S &2 of the ,ld Englis Bede, and #ld English 2•n .;T"ig</<, +ediu!
Ævu!, 9$A 232$
,3ford Englis &ictionary. 2484. $
edn .#*fordA (larendon Press/F accessed from
,E& ,nline H httpAIIdictionary.oed.comIJ, $832%3$%%&
,3ford #atin &ictionary. 247838$. .#*fordA (larendon Press/
Page, B. ). 248$. ;The Study of Latin Te*ts in Late Anglo'Sa*on England N$OA The
Eidence of English !losses<, in #atin and te Vernacular #anguages in Early
+edieval Britain, ed. by 5icholas 0roo-s .LeicesterA Leicester Uniersity Press/, pp.
Page, B. ). 244>a. ;Anglo'Sa*on Bunes and +agic<, in Iunes and Iunic pnscri1tionsB
"ollected Essays on 'nglo<Sa3on and Viking Iunes, ed. by Daid Parsons
,or-s (ited
.,oodbridgeA 0oydell/, pp. 2%>3$> .updated from Hournal of te Britis
'rcaeological 'ssociation, $9 .247&/, 2&362/
Page, B. ). 244>b. ;Anglo'Sa*on PaganismA The Eidence of 0ede<, in .agans and
"ristiansB 2e pnter1lay *etween "ristian #atin and 2raditional Ger!anic
"ultures in Early +edieval Euro1eB .roceedings of te Second Ger!ania #atina
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Stuart, H. 2497. ;The Anglo'Sa*on Elf<, Studia -eo1ilologica, &8A 6263$%
Stuart, Heather. 2499. ;Spider in #ld English<, .arergon, 28A 693&$
Stuart, Tohn .ed./. 28&23>$. 2e +iscellany of te S1alding "lu*, Spalding (lub
Publications, 6, 7, 27, $%, $&, > ols .AberdeenA Spalding (lub/
Sullian, Daren. 2444. 2e pnterrogation of Hoan of 'rc, +edieal (ultures, $%
.+inneapolisA Uniersity of +innesota Press/
Sund:ist, #lof. $%%$. 8reyros ,ffs1ringB Iulers and Ieligion in 'ncient Svea Society,
Acta Uniersitatis UpsalensisA historia religionum, $2 .UppsalaA Acta Uniersitatis
SeinbGErn Egilsson. 2462. #e3icon 1oeticu! anti4uæ linguæ se1tentrionalis/,rd*og
over det -orsk<pslandske Sk7aldes1rog, $
edn by ?innur TVnsson .(openhagenA
S"anton, +ichael. 2488. ;Die altenglische TudithA ,eiblicher Held oder frauliche
Heldin<, in (eldensage und (eldendictung i! Ger!aniscen, ed. by Heinrich 0ec-,
Ergen=ungsbende =um Bealle*i-on der germanischen Altertums-unde, $ .0erlinA de
!ruyter/, pp. $8436%&
S"anton, +ichael. $%%$. Englis .oetry Before "aucer .E*eterA Uniersity of E*eter
Tangherlini, Timothy B. 244&. pnter1reting #egendB &anis Storytellers and teir
Ie1ertoires .5e" dor-A !arland/
Taylor, Paul 0ee-man. 244&. ;V)lundarkviða, Mry!skviða and the ?unction of +yth<,
-eo1ilologus, 98A $76382
Taylor, Paul 0ee-man. 2448. Saring StoryB +edieval -orse<Englis #iterary
Ielationsi1s, A+S Studies in the +iddle Ages, $> .5e" dor-A A+S Press/
Taylor, P. 0. and P. H. Salus. 248$. ;#ld English 'lf Walda<, -eo1ilologus, 77A &&%3&$
Tem-in, #"sei. 2492. 2e 8alling SicknessB ' (istory of E1ile1sy fro! te Greeks to
te Beginnings of +odern -eurology, $
re. edn .0altimoreA Tohns Hop-ins Press/
Temple, +ary Day. 248>387. ;Beowulf 2$>832$77A !rendel<s Lady'+other<, Englis
,or-s (ited
#anguage -otes, $6A 2%32>
Thomas, Deith. 2496. Ieligion and te &ecline of +agicB Studies in .o1ular Beliefs in
Si3teent< and Seventeent<"entury England .Harmonds"orthA Penguin/
Thun, 5ils. 2474. ;The +alignant ElesA 5otes on Anglo'Sa*on +agic and !ermanic
+yth<, Studia -eo1ilologica, &2A 6983647
Tol-ien, T. B. B. 2486 N2467O. ;0eo"ulfA The +onsters and the (ritics<, in 2e +onsters
and te "ritics and ,ter Essays, ed. by (hristopher Tol-ien .LondonA Allen {
Un"in/, pp. >3&8 .first publ. .roceedings of te Britis 'cade!y, $$ .2467/, $&>34>/
Tol-ien, T. B. B. 2486 N247&O. ;#n ?airy'Stories<, in 2e +onsters and te "ritics and
,ter Essays, ed. by (hristopher Tol-ien .LondonA Allen { Un"in/, pp. 2%4372
.corr. from 2ree and #eaf .LondonA Allen and Un"in, 247&/, pp. 6386/
Toller, T. 5orthcote. 24$2. 'n 'nglo<Sa3on &ictionaryB Su11le!ent .#*fordA (larendon
Toon, Thomas E. 2486. 2e .olitics of Early ,ld Englis Sound "ange .5e" dor-A
Academic Press/
Trier, Tost. 2496. &er deutsce WortscatR i! Sinn*eRirk des VerstandesB Von de!
'nf‡ngen *is Ru! Beginn des F‰? Harunderts, $
edn .HeidelbergA ,inter/
Tripp, Baymond P. Tr. 2486. +ore a*out te 8igt wit te &ragonB qBeowulfo >>=Š*‹
‰FŠ>6 "o!!entary6 Edition and 2ranslation .Lanham, +DA Uniersity Press of
Tripp, Baymond P. 2487. ;0eo"ulf 262&aA The Hero as 'lfwalda, [Buler of Eles\ <,
-eo1ilologus, 9%A 76%36$
Turner, Edith. $%%6 N244$O. ;The Beality of Spirits<, in Sa!anis!B ' Ieader, ed. by
!raham Harey .LondonA Boutledge/, pp. 2&>3>$ .first publ. IeVision, 2> .244$/,
Turille'Petre, E. #. !. 247&. +yt and Ieligion of te -ort .LondonA ,eidenfeld and
Turille'Petre, E. #. !. 2474. ;?ertility of 0east and Soil in #ld 5orse Literature<, in
,ld -orse #iterature and +ytologyB ' Sy!1osiu!, ed. by Edgar (. Polomc .AustinA
Uniersity of Te*as Press/, pp. $&&37&
Turille'Petre, E. #. !. 2497. Scaldic .oetry .#*fordA (larendon Press/
Uebel, +ichael. 2447. ;Unthin-ing the +onsterA T"elfth'(entury Besponses to Saracen
Alterity<, in +onster 2eoryB Ieading "ulture, ed. by Teffrey Terome (ohen
.+inneapolisA Uniersity of +innesota Press/, pp. $7&342
Ualente, Boberta L. 2488. ;!"ydion and AranrhodA (rossing the 0orders of !ender in
+at<, Bulletin of te Board of "eltic Studies, 6>A 234
UalgerKur 0rynGVlfsdVttir. $%%6. ;A Ualiant Ding or a (o"ard@ The (hanging )mage of
Ding HrVlfr -ra-i from the #ldest Sources to (rClfs saga kraka<, in
,or-s (ited
8ornaldarsagornas struktur oc ideologiB (andlingar frˆn ett sy!1osiu! i 511sala
‰F?Š‹>?Œ >==F, ed. by brmann Ta-obsson, Annette Lassen and Agneta 5ey, 5ordis-a
te*ter och undersE-ningar, $8 .UppsalaA Uppsala Uniersitet, )nstitutionen fEr
5ordis-a Sprp-/, pp. 2&23>7
Uenclog, 5atalie. $%%$. ;The Uenerable 0ede, Druidic Tonsure and Archaeology<,
'nti4uity, 97A &>8392
Uer"iGs, E., T. Uerdam and ?. A. Stoett. 288>324&2. +iddelnederlandsc Woorden*oek,
22 ols .<S'!raenhageA 5iGhoff/
Uoyles, Toseph 0. 244$. Early Ger!anic Gra!!arB .re<6 .roto<6 and .ost<Ger!anic
#anguages .San DiegoA Academic Press/
Uriend, Hubert Tan de .ed./. 248&. 2e ,ld Englis (er*ariu! and +edicina de
€uadru1edi*us, The Early English Te*t Society, $87 .LondonA #*ford Uniersity
Uries, Tan de. 246$366. ;Žber Sigats blfablVtstrophen<, 'cta .ilologica Scandinavica,
9A 274328%
Uries, Tan de. 24>73>9. 'ltger!anisce Ieligionsgescicte, !rundriss der
germanischen Philologie, 2$ .0erlinA de !ruyter/
Uries, Tan de. 2472. 'ltnordisces ety!ologisces W)rter*uc .LeidenA 0rill/
Uries, Tan de. 2492. -ederlands ety!ologisc woorden*oek .LeidenA 0rill/
,allenberg, T. D. 2462. Kentis .lace<-a!esB ' 2o1ogra1ical and Ety!ological Study
of te .lace<-a!e +aterial in Kentis "arters &ated *efore te "on4uest, Uppsala
Uniersitets prss-rift 2462A ?ilosofi, sprp-etens-ap och historis-a etens-aper, $
.UppsalaA Lunde:uists-a 0o-handeln/
,areham, Andre". $%%2. ;The Transformation of Dinship and the ?amily in Late Anglo'
Sa*on England<, Early +edieval Euro1e, 2%A 69>344
,atson, Tonathan. $%%$. ;The 8inns*ur S-aldA Dennings and (ruces in the Anglo'
Sa*on ?ragment<, Hournal of Englis and Ger!anic .ilology, 2%2A &493>24
,atts, Uictor .ed./. $%%&. 2e "a!*ridge &ictionary of Englis .lace<-a!es Based on
te "ollections of te Englis .lace<-a!e Society .(ambridgeA (ambridge
Uniersity Press/
,ay, Albertus .ed./. 28&637>. .ro!1toriu! 1arvuloru! sive clericoru!B le3icon 'nglo<
#atinu! 1rince1s6 auctore 8ratre Galfrido Gra!!atico &icto, (amden Society
Publications, $>, >&, 84, 6 ols .LondonA (amden Society/
,eber, Bobert .ed./. 249>. Bi*lia SacraB pu3ta Vulgata! Versione!, $
re. edn, $ ols
.StuttgartA ,]rttembergische 0ibelanstalt/
,en=el, Siegfried .ed. and trans./. 2484. 8asciculus !oru!B ' 8ourteent<"entury
.reaceros (and*ook .Uniersity Par-A The Pennsylania State Uniersity Press/
,en=el, Siegfried. 244$. ;The +iddle English Le*iconA Help from the Pulpit<, in Words6
,or-s (ited
2e3ts and +anuscri1tsB Studies in 'nglo<Sa3on "ulture .resented to (el!ut Gneuss
on te ,ccasion of is Si3ty<8ift Birtday, ed. by +ichael Dorhammer .(ambridgeA
0re"er/, pp. &79397
,eston, L. +. (. 248>. ;The Language of +agic in T"o #ld English +etrical (harms<,
-eu1ilologisce +itteilungen, 87A 297387
,haley, Diana. 2442. (ei!skringlaB 'n pntroduction, Ui-ing Society for 5orthern
Besearch, Te*t Series, 8 .LondonA Ui-ing Society for 5orthern Besearch/
,hite, Hayden. 249$. ;The ?orms of ,ildnessA Archaeology of an )dea<, in 2e Wild
+an WitinB 'n p!age of Western 2ougt fro! te Ienaissance to Io!anticis!, ed.
by Ed"ard Dudley and +a*imillian E. 5oa- .NPittsburghOA Uniersity of Pittsburgh/,
pp. 6368
,hiteloc-, Dorothy. 24>2. 2e 'udience of Beowulf .#*fordA (larendon Press/
,hiteloc-, D., +. 0rett and (. 5. L. 0roo-e. 2482. "ouncils „ Synods wit ,ter
&ocu!ents Ielating to te Englis "urcB p6 '?&? Š•F‹F>=A6 1art p6 Š•F‹F=rr
.#*fordA (larendon Press/
,hitney, Elspeth. 2444. ;,itches, Saints and #ther [#thers\A ,omen and Deiance in
+edieal (ulture<, in Wo!en in +edieval Western Euro1ean "ulture, ed. by Linda E.
+itchell, !arland Beference Library of the Humanities, $%%9 .5e" dor-A !arland/,
pp. $4>362$
,horf, 0enGamin Lee. 24>7. #anguage6 2ougt and IealityB Selected Writings of
Ben7a!in #ee Worf, ed. by Tohn 0. (arroll .5e" dor-A The Technology Press of
+assachusetts )nstitute of TechnologyI,iley { Sons/
,ic-er, 5ancy L. 244&. ;The #rgani=ation of (rafts Production and the Social Status of
the +igration Period !oldsmith<, in 2e 'rcaeology of Gud!e and #unde*orgB
.a1ers .resented at a "onference at Svend*org6 ,cto*er FŒŒF, ed. by P. #. 5ielsen,
D. Bandsborg and H. Thrane, Ar-Lologis-e studier, 2% .(openhagenA A-ademis-
?orlag/, pp. 2&>3>%
,ic-er, 5ancy L. 2448. ;Selectie ?emale )nfanticide as Partial E*planation for the
Dearth of ,omen in Ui-ing Age Scandinaia<, in Violence and Society in te Early
+edieval West, ed. by !uy Halsall .,oodbridgeA 0oydell/, pp. $%>3$2
,i-er, !ry. $%%2. ;#m -onstru-sGon a ny mennes-elig identitet i Gernalderen<,
.ri!itive tider, &A >239$
,ilby, Emma. $%%%. ;The ,itch<s ?amiliar and the ?airy in Early +odern England and
Scotland<, 8olklore, 222A $8636%>
,illiams, Daid. 2447. &efor!ed &iscourseB 2e 8unction of te +onster in +ediaeval
2ougt and #iterature .E*eterA Uniersity of E*eter Press/
,illiams, )for .ed./. 246%. .edeir Keinc y +a*inogi6 allan o #yfr Gwyn Iydderc
.(ardiffA !"asg Prifysgol (ymru/
,or-s (ited
,illiams, Ho"ard. 2448344. ;+onuments and the Past in Early Anglo'Sa*on England<,
World 'rcaeology, 6%A 4%32%8
,illiams, 5oel. 2442. ;The Semantics of the ,ord 8airyA +a-ing +eaning out of Thin
Air<, in 2e Good .eo1leB -ew 8airylore Essays, ed. by Peter 5arge=, !arland
Beference Library of the Humanities, 2697 .5e" dor-A !arland/, pp. &>9398
,ilson, Daid. 244$. 'nglo<Sa3on .aganis! .LondonA Boutledge/
,ilson, B. +. 249$. 2e #ost #iterature of +edieval England, $
edn .LondonA
,olff, Lud"ig. 24>$. ;Eddisch's-aldische 0l]tenlese<, in Edda6 Skalden6 SagaB
8estscrift Ru! •=? Ge*urtstag von 8eli3 GenR!er, ed. by Hermann Schneider
.HeidelbergA ,inter/, pp. 4$32%9
,ood, Tuliette. 244$. ;The ?airy 0ride Legend in ,ales<, 8olklore 2%6A >739$
,oolf, Ale*. 2449. ;At Home in the Long )ron AgeA A Dialogue bet"een Households
and )ndiiduals in (ultural Beproduction<, in pnvisi*le .eo1le and .rocessesB Writing
Gender and "ildood into Euro1ean 'rcaeology, ed. by Tenny +oore and Eleanor
Scott .LondonA Leicester Uniersity Press/, pp. 7839&
,oolf, Henry 0osley. 2464. 2e ,ld Ger!anic .rinci1les of -a!e<Giving .0altimoreA
Tohns Hop-ins Press/
,right, (. E. .ed./. 24>>. Baldos #eec*ookB Britis +useu!6 Ioyal +anuscri1t F> &?
3vii, Early English +anuscripts in ?acsimile, > .(openhagenA Bosen-ilde and 0agger/
,right, (harles D. 2446. 2e pris 2radition in ,ld Englis #iterature, (ambridge
Studies in Anglo'Sa*on England, 7 .(ambridgeA (ambridge Uniersity Press/
,right, Toseph and Eli=abeth +ary ,right. 24$&. ,ld Englis Gra!!ar, 6
.LondonA #*ford Uniersity Press/
,right, Thomas .ed./. 2877378. 2e "ronicle of .ierre de #angtoftB pn 8renc Verse6
8ro! te Earliest .eriod to te &eat of King Edward p, Bolls Series, &9, $ ols
.LondonA Longmans, !reen, Beader and Dyer/
,]st, ,alther on. 24>&. ;Ein "eiterer idg.Ifinnisch'ugrischer vusammenhang@<, 5ral<
altaisce Har*Lcer, $7A 26>368
damamoto, Dorothy. 244634&. ; [5oon oother incubus but he\A Lines 898382 in the
Wife of Batos 2ale<, "aucer IeviewB ' Hournal of +edieval Studies and #iterary
"riticis!, $8A $9>398
deoman, Louise. $%%$. ;Hunting the Bich ,itch in ScotlandA High'Status ,itchcraft
Suspects and their Persecutors, 2>4%327>%<, in 2e Scottis Witc<(unt in "onte3t,
ed. by Tulian !oodare .+anchesterA +anchester Uniersity Press/, pp. 2%73$2
vachrisson, )nger and others. 2449. +)ten i gr‡nslandB Sa!er oc ger!aner i
+ellanskandinavien, Statens Historis-a +useumIStoc-holm +onographs, &
.Stoc-holmA Statens Historis-a +useum/
,or-s (ited
vettersten, Arne .ed./. 2494. Waldere .+anchesterA +anchester Uniersity Press/
viol-o"s-i, Tan +. .ed. and trans./. 244&. 2e "a!*ridge Songs Nq"ar!ina
"anta*rigensiaoO, The !arland Library of +edieal Literature, Series A, 77 .!arlandA
5e" dor-/
vupit=a, Tulius .ed./. 289>397. 2e Io!ance of Guy of WarwickB 2e Second or F@
"entury Version, The Early English Te*t Society, e*tra series, $>3$7, $ ols
.LondonA Tr]bner/
vupit=a, Tulius .ed./. 2886342. 2e Io!ance of Guy of WarwickB 2e 8irst or FA
"entury Version, The Early English Te*t Society, e*tra series, &$, &4, >4, 6 ols
.LondonA D. Paul, Trench, Tr]bner/
hVrhallur Uilmundarson and 0Garni UilhGglmsson .ed./. 2442. (arðar saga, Šslen=-
fornrit, 26 .Bey-Gak-A HiK Šslen=-a ?ornritfclag/