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Wayland the Smith

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Title: Wayland the Smith  
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Subject: Elf, Wade (folklore), Franks Casket, Norse mythology, Germanic paganism
Collection: Germanic Deities, Medieval Legends, Norse Mythology, Smithing Gods, Swordsmiths
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Wayland the Smith

An illustration of Völundr.

In Germanic and Norse mythology, Wayland the Smith (Old English: Wēland; Old Norse: Völundr, Velentr; Old High German: Wiolant; Proto-Germanic: *Wēlandaz, from *Wēla-nandaz, lit. "battle-brave"[1]) is a legendary master blacksmith. In Old Norse sources, Völundr appears in Völundarkviða, a poem in the Poetic Edda, and in Þiðrekssaga, and his legend is also depicted on the Ardre image stone VIII. In Old English sources, he appears in Deor, Waldere and in Beowulf and the legend is depicted on the Franks Casket. He is mentioned in the German poems about Dietrich von Bern as the Father of Witige.

Contents

  • Old Norse references 1
  • Old English references 2
  • Toponyms 3
  • Swords described as having been forged by Wayland 4
  • See also 5
  • References 6
  • Other sources 7
  • External links 8

Old Norse references

Völund's smithy in the centre, Niðhad's daughter to the left, and Nidud's dead sons hidden to the right of the smithy. Between the girl and the smithy, Völund can be seen in an eagle fetch flying away. From the Ardre image stone VIII.

According to Völundarkviða, the king of the Finns had three sons: Wayland and his two brothers Egil and Slagfiðr. In one version of the myth, the three brothers lived with three Valkyries: Ölrún, Hervör alvitr and Hlaðguðr svanhvít. After nine years, the Valkyries left their lovers. Egil and Slagfiðr followed, never to return. In another version, Wayland married the swan maiden Hervör, and they had a son, Heime, but Hervör later left Wayland. In both versions, his love left him with a ring. In the former myth, he forged seven hundred duplicates of this ring.

Later, King Bodvild. Nidud wore Wayland's sword.

In revenge, Wayland killed the king's sons when they visited him in secret, fashioned goblets from their skulls, jewels from their eyes, and a brooch from their teeth. He sent the goblets to the king, the jewels to the queen and the brooch to the king's daughter. When Bodvild took her ring to Wayland for mending, he took the ring and raped her, fathering a son. He then escaped, using wings he made.

Wayland (Völund) made the magic sword Gram (also named Balmung and Nothung) and the magic ring that Thorsten retrieved.

Old English references

The hamstrung smith Weyland from the front of the Franks Casket (see text).

The Old English poem Deor, which recounts the famous sufferings of various figures before turning to those of Deor, its author, begins with "Welund":

Welund tasted misery among snakes.
The stout-hearted hero endured troubles
had sorrow and longing as his companions
cruelty cold as winter - he often found woe
Once Nithad laid restraints on him,
supple sinew-bonds on the better man.
That went by; so can this.
To Beadohilde, her brothers' death was not
so painful to her heart as her own problem
which she had readily perceived
that she was pregnant; nor could she ever
foresee without fear how things would turn out.
That went by, so can this.[2]

Weland had fashioned the mail shirt worn by Beowulf according to lines 450–455 of the epic poem of the same name:

"No need then
to lament for long or lay out my body.
If the battle takes me, send back
this breast-webbing that Weland fashioned
and Hrethel gave me, to Lord Hygelac.
Fate goes ever as fate must." (Heaney trans.)

The Bodvild, Niðhad's daughter, who he then rapes when she is unconscious. Another female figure is shown in the centre; perhaps Wayland's helper, or Bodvild again. To the right of the scene Wayland (or his brother) catches birds; he then makes wings from their feathers, with which he is able to escape.[4]

During the Viking Age in northern England, Wayland is depicted in his smithy, surrounded by his tools, at Halton, Lancashire, and fleeing from his royal captor by clinging to a flying bird, on crosses at Leeds, West Yorkshire, and at Sherburn-in-Elmet and Bedale, both in North Yorkshire.[5][6]

Toponyms

Wayland is associated with Wayland's Smithy, a burial mound in the Berkshire Downs. This was named by the English, but the megalithic mound significantly predates them. It is from this association that the superstition came about that a horse left there overnight with a small silver coin (groat) would be shod by morning. This superstition is mentioned in the first episode of Puck of Pook's Hill by Rudyard Kipling, "Weland's Sword", which narrates the rise and fall of the god.

Swords described as having been forged by Wayland

Böðvildr in Weyland's Smithy
John Gehring (1883)

See also

References

  1. ^ see Hellmut Rosenfeld, Der Name Wieland, Beiträge zur Namenforschung (1969).
  2. ^ Translation by Steve Pollington
  3. ^ (London: Dent) 1954:65.Anglo-Saxon Poetry.R.K. Gordon, ed. Partial text of the Walder fragments in modern English - see the start of fragment A for Wayland
  4. ^ G. Henderson, Early Medieval Art, 1972, rev. 1977, Penguin, p. 157
  5. ^ All noted in Richard Hall, Viking Age Archaeology (series Shire Achaeology) 1995:40.
  6. ^ "Depictions of Wayland's Wings". Retrieved 12 January 2015. 

Other sources

  • Heaney, Seamus (2000). Beowulf: A New Verse Translation. W. W. Norton. ISBN 978-0-393-32097-8.
  • Larrington, Carolyne (transl.) (1996). The Poetic Edda. Oxford World's Classics. ISBN 0-19-283946-2.
  • Mortensson-Egnund, Ivar (transl.) (2002). Edda: The Elder Edda and the Prose Edda. Oslo: Samlaget. ISBN 82-521-5961-3.

External links

  • Article on Wayland the Smith; also deals with Egil
  • (PDF)The Cipherment of the Franks CasketAustin Simmons,
  • Weland on the Franks Casket; essay on the Saga
  • Völundarkviða - Heimskringla.no
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