Book Series Medieval Texts and Cultures of Northern Europe, vol. 29
  • Pages: xii + 439 p.
  • Size:156 x 234 mm
  • Illustrations:8 b/w, 1 tables b/w.
  • Language(s):English
  • Publication Year:2019

  • ISBN: 978-2-503-57902-3
  • Hardback
  • Available
  • ISBN: 978-2-503-57904-7
  • E-book
  • Available


“This extraordinary volume combines the breadth and ambition of an edition with the clarity of purpose of a monograph (. . . ) A combination of linguistic and literary analysis with a healthy appreciation for contemporary historical chronology results in a novel methodology capable of providing new interpretations and understanding of the thirteenth-century North Atlantic.” (Annie C. Humphrey, in Scandinavian Studies, 92/2, 2020, p. 252-53)

“Overall, Norse-Gaelic Contacts in a Viking World has much to offer scholars interested in detailed textual and linguistic analysis of Irish and Norse texts. There is a comprehensive bibliography for ease of reference, and the inclusion of text and translations for the sources is quite useful (…) Ultimately, this book is most effective in its portrait of a complex and sophisticated multilingual world in which ideas, motifs, and narratives moved as freely and as extensively as the people.” (Larissa Tracy, in The Medieval Review, 20.09.07)

“At a time when costly hard copy collections have become, de facto, the medium du jour of academic publication, for aspiring and established academics alike, a volume such as this comes along and one’s faith can be restored in this system of knowledge production, for this volume offers new and challenging findings, in a manner that is truly collaborative.” (Roderick McDonald, in Parergon, 37/2, 2020, p. 208)

“This book is an admirable example of in-depth collaborative research across disciplinary boundaries and will be especially welcomed by an interdisciplinary audience. It is written jointly

by experts in Celtic and Scandinavian literature, history, and culture, presenting evidence-driven case studies on the linguistic, cultural, and political connections between the Gaelic and Norse world in what the authors term “a long thirteenth century.” (Sarah Künzler, in Speculum, 96/3, 2021, p. 808)

“This is another well-presented book as we have come to expect from Brepols (…) it can be recommended to anyone interested in Norse-Gaelic relations during the thirteenth century, both political and in terms of cultural and linguistic exchange. For those working on any of the four primary texts investigated, this volume is likely to become mandatory reading.” (Shane McLeod, in Journal of the Australian Early Medieval Association, 24.02.2022, p. 215-216)

“Insgesamt ist der Band mit seinen kenntnisreichen und kritisch abwägenden Analysen mögli­cher Kontexte für die Aufnahme von Traditionen, ihre Verarbeitung in neuen Texten und schließ­lich die Transmission dieser Texte eine überzeugende Demonstration der Anwendbarkeit einer dezidiert historisch-kontextualisierenden Methode – und nicht zuletzt auch ein beeindruckendes Zeugnis gelungener wissenschaftlicher Zusammenarbeit.” (Prof. Dr. Erich Poppe, in Zeitschrift für deutsches Altertum und deutsche Literatur 151/1, 2022, p. 121)


This multi-disciplinary volume draws on the combined expertise of specialists in the history and literature of medieval Ireland, Iceland, Norway, and Scotland to shed new light on the interplay of Norse and Gaelic literary traditions. Through four detailed case-studies, which examine the Norwegian Konungs skuggsjá, the Icelandic Njáls saga and Landnámabók, and the Gaelic text Baile Suthach Sith Emhna, the volume explores the linguistic, cultural, and political contacts that existed between Norse and Gaelic speakers in the High Middle Ages, and examines the impetus behind these texts, including oral tradition, transfer of written sources, and authorial adaption and invention. Crucially, these texts are not only examined as literary products of the thirteenth century, but also as repositories of older historical traditions, and the authors seek to explore these wider historical contexts, as well as analyse how and why historical and literary material was transmitted. The volume contains English translations of key extracts and also provides a detailed discussion of sources and methodologies to ensure that this milestone of scholarship is accessible to both students and subject-specialists.

‘This is a brilliant and genuinely ground-breaking book, representing a significant step forward in literary and historical analysis of the Norse-Gaelic interface’. (Professor Ralph O’Connor, University of Aberdeen).



List of Illustrations

Note on Orthography of Names


Chapter 1: Norse–Gaelic Contacts in a Viking World: Concept and Context

Chapter 2: The ‘Wonders of Ireland’ in Konungs skuggsjá: Text, Sources, Context

Chapter 3: Baile Suthach Síth Emhna, a Poem to Raghnall, King of Man: Text and Context

Chapter 4: The Battle of Clontarf in Icelandic Sources

Chapter 5: Kjarvalr Írakonungr and Gaelic Ancestry in Iceland

Chapter 6: Textual Reflexes of Norse–Gaelic Contacts

Works Cited