Old Norse Language and Literature

About Old Norse

Old Norse is the language spoken and written in Iceland, Norway, Denmark, Sweden and the colonies of the Faroes, Greenland, Shetland, the Orkneys and Vinland (North America) between the earliest recorded texts (c. 8th century) and the early modern period.

The main literary products of Norway and Iceland during the period are: the sagas (in prose); the Poetic Edda (a collection of mythological and heroic poems); Snorri Sturluson's Prose Edda (an account of Norse mythology and of poetic techniques), and a large body of complex court poetry known as skaldic verse. There are also histories, romances, saints' lives, translations of European literature.

The set texts for the two examined papers are family sagas - prose historical novels about the first generations to settle Iceland - parts of the Prose Edda, and poems from the Poetic Edda. Islendingabók,the first history of the settlement of Iceland and a short tale are also included. Texts read for B17, the extended essay paper, include a wide range of Old Icelandic literature.

B15 set texts and reading list
B16 set texts and reading list
General saga bibliography
Old Norse myth bibliography

<>links to other useful sites:

Viking Society for Northern Research

Society for the Advancement of Scandinavian Study

Egil gateway

Fornaldarsögur Norðurlanda    Fornaldarsögur Bibliography at AMI, Copenhagen

Skaldic Poetry website        Old Norse News


Old Norse Grammar on a Single Sheet


Smithsonian Viking Exhibition