RMN Newsletter 12-13



Editor’s Column 6


Icelandic Folklore, Landscape Theory, and Levity: The Seyðisfjörður Dwarf-Stone 8

Matthias Egeler

This paper discusses the relationship between a folk tale about the Dvergasteinn [‘Dwarf-Stone’] on the fjord of Seyðisfjörður in eastern Iceland and the details of the tale’s landscape setting. It argues that storytelling for storytelling’s sake might have been neglected in current theorising on the conceptualisation and narrative use of landscape. This, as well as the intensity with which landscape is used in Iceland for the construction of narratives, might also affect the use of place-lore for retrospective approaches.

The Lithuanian Apidėmė: A Goddess, a Toponym, and Remembrance 18

Vykintas Vaitkevičius

This paper is devoted to the Lithuanian apidėmė, attested since the 16th century as the name of a goddess in the Baltic religion, as a term for the site of a former farmstead relocated to a new settlement during the land reform launched in 1547–1557, and later as a widespread toponym. Apidėmė has been researched by linguists, historians, and mythologists. An archaeological perspective is applied here for the first time.

Freyja’s Bedstraw, Mary’s Bedstraw or a Folkloristic Black Hole? 26

Karen Bek-Pedersen

This article reviews the sources behind the alleged tradition that the plant galium verum, commonly known as ‘bedstraw’, was associated with Freyja in pre-Christian times. All references to this link ultimately go back to the same Latin document from ca. 800. Unfortunately, the relevant section of this document is unintelligible without textual emendation and, of the three commonly suggested emendations, ‘bedstraw’ is the least likely.

Goddesses Unknown III: On the Identity of the Old Norse Goddess Hlín 30

Joseph S. Hopkins

Like previous entries in the Goddesses Unknown series, the present article focuses on heretofore little-studied goddesses in the Germanic corpus, in this case the obscure Old Norse goddess Hlín and her association with the widely attested Germanic goddess Frigg.

Sámi Religion Formations and Proto-Sámi Language Spread: Reassessing a Fundamental Assumption 36


Any historical study of Sámi religions links religion to the history of the language. Here, Proto-Sámi language spread is reviewed and the fundamental (and often implicit) assumption that religion spread with Proto-Sámi language is challenged. An alternative model that language spread as a medium of communication adopted by different cultures is proposed and tested against the Common Proto-Sámi lexicon.

Forgotten Laxdæla Poetry: A Study and an Edition of Tyrfingur Finnsson’s Vísur uppá Laxdæla sǫgu 70

Ilya V. Sverdlov and Sofie Vanherpen

The paper discusses the metre and the diction of a previously unpublished short poem composed in the 18th century about characters of Laxdæla saga. The stanzas are ostensibly in skaldic dróttkvætt. Analysis shows them to be a remarkably successful imitation of the classical metre, implying an extraordinarily good grasp of dróttkvætt poetics on the part of a poet who was composing several centuries after the end of the classical dróttkvætt period.

How Did the First Humans Perceive the Starry Night? – On the Pleiades 100

Julien d’Huy and Yuri E. Berezkin

This study applies phylogenetic software to motifs connected with the Pleiades as identified in Yuri Berezkin’s database, The Analytical Catalogue of World Mythology and Folklore. The aim of analysis is to determine which, if any, of the analysed motifs are likely to have spread in conjunction with the earliest migrations out of Africa and to the Americas. The Pleiades analysis is compared to an analysis of Orion motifs.

The Ecology of ‘Eddic’ and ‘Skaldic’ Poetry 123

Helen F. Leslie-Jacobsen

Scholars have traditionally reflected on the Old Norse cultural area’s poetic output on the basis of a binary classification of the poetry into two types: the categories are labelled as ‘eddic’ and ‘skaldic’. This paper explores the formation of the dichotomy and how the application of these categories in scholarship may obscure rather than clarify the nature of Old Norse poetry


What to Call the Poetic Form – Kalevala-Meter or Kalevalaic Verse, regivärss, Runosong, the Finnic Tetrameter, Finnic Alliterative Verse or Something Else? 139

Kati Kallio and Frog with Mari Sarv

Frog, “Linguistic Multiforms in Kalevalaic Epic: Toward a Typology”: Some Comments from an Editorial Perspective 162

Clive Tolley

The Concept of Postmortem Retribution: The Surveyor's Soul as ignis fatuus (in Lithuanian Material) 165

Jūratė Šlekonytė


The Hurford Center’s 2017 Mellon Symposium “Songs for the Dead: Cross-Cultural Perspectives on Lament and Elegy” 171

Oliver Hughes, Maria Mitiuriev and Katelyn St. Onge

Versification: Metrics in Practice 173

Erika Laamanen

The Viking World – Diversity and Change 174

Elisabeth Maria Magin

Interdisciplinary Student Symposium on Viking and Medieval Scandinavian Subjects 177

Filip Missuno


Svyatogor: Death and Initiation of the Russian Epic Hero 180

Jiří Dynda

Master Poets, Ritual Masters: The Art of Oral Composition among the Rotenese of Eastern Indonesia 184

James J. Fox

(Magic) Staffs in the Viking Age 184

Leszek Gardeła


Mediaeval Transfer, Transmission, and Reception of the Latin Culture in the Saga of the Romans (Rómverja saga, AM 595 a–b 4o and AM 226 fol.) 188

Grzegorz Bartusik

Berserkir: A Re-Examination of the Phenomenon in Literature and Life 192

Roderick Thomas Duncan Dale

Runes, Runic Writing and Runic Inscriptions as Primary Sources for Town Development in Medieval Bergen, Norway 196

Elisabeth Maria Magin

Between Unity and Diversity: Articulating Pre-Christian Nordic Religion and its Spaces in the Late Iron Age 199

Luke John Murphy

The Birth of the Iamb in Early Renaissance Low Countries 203

Mirella De Sisto


Bodies Become Stars: Numinous Transformation of Physical Damage in Heathen Cosmology 207

Ross Downing

A Heathen Mecca: Interpreting the International Germanic Contemporary Pagan Response to the Icelandic Temple 207

Ross Downing

Weaponry from the 9th to 11th Centuries from Watery Locations in North-Western Poland 208

Klaudia Karpińska