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Grímr Kveldúlfsson (usually called Skalla-Grímr, or "bald Grim") was a Norwegian who lived in the ninth and tenth centuries. He is an important character in Egils saga and is mentioned in the Landnámabók . [1]

Norway constitutional monarchy in Northern Europe

Norway, officially the Kingdom of Norway, is a Nordic country in Northwestern Europe whose territory comprises the western and northernmost portion of the Scandinavian Peninsula; the remote island of Jan Mayen and the archipelago of Svalbard are also part of the Kingdom of Norway. The Antarctic Peter I Island and the sub-Antarctic Bouvet Island are dependent territories and thus not considered part of the kingdom. Norway also lays claim to a section of Antarctica known as Queen Maud Land.


Landnámabók, often shortened to Landnáma, is a medieval Icelandic written work which describes in considerable detail the settlement (landnám) of Iceland by the Norse in the 9th and 10th centuries CE.




Skalla-Grímr was the son of Kveldúlfr Bjálfason and Salbjörg Káradóttir. He had one brother, Þorolfr, and was related to Ketil Trout on his mother's side. [2] He was married to Bera Yngvarsdóttir and had two sons, Þorolfr and Egill, and two daughters, Sæunn and Þórunn. [3] His ancestor, Hallbjorn, was Norwegian-Sami. [4]

Ulf Bjalfason was a renowned hersir and landowner in ninth century Sogn, Norway. He is a main character in the early chapters of Egils saga and appears in the Landnámabók and other Icelandic sources. Kveldulf is described as an ulfhéðinn, a shape-shifter (hamrammr), or a berserker.

Salbjorg Karadottir was a Norwegian woman of the late ninth century. She was the daughter of Berle-Kari and sister of Eyvind Lambi and Olvir Hnufa. Salbjorg married Kveldulf Bjalfasson and had two children, Thorolf Kveldulfsson and Skallagrim Kveldulfsson, with him.

Thorolf Kveldulfsson was the oldest son of Kveldulf Bjalfasson and brother of the Norwegian/Icelandic goði and skald Skalla-Grimr. His ancestor Hallbjorn was nicknamed "halftroll", possibly indicating Norwegian-Sami ancestry.

Feud with King Harald

Skalla-Grímr's brother Þorolfr was a member of King Haraldr Fairhair's retinue, although Kveldúlfr refused to swear allegiance to the king. [5] When Haraldr had Þorolfr killed, Skalla-Grímr and Kveldulfr attacked a ship of King Haraldr's, and killed all but two of those on the ship, including two of the King's cousins. [1] [6]

Harald Fairhair Legendary first King of Norway

Harald Fairhair is portrayed by medieval Icelandic historians as the first King of Norway. According to traditions current in Norway and Iceland in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, he reigned from c. 872 to 930. Supposedly, two of his sons, Eric Bloodaxe and Haakon the Good, succeeded Harald to become kings after his death.

Settlement in Iceland

Following these killings, Skalla-Grímr and Kveldúlfr set out for Iceland. Kveldúlfr fell sick and died early in the voyage. Before he died, he commanded his son to put his casket in the ocean, and to settle wherever he found the casket. Skalla-Grímr did as his father directed, and when he arrived in Iceland, he discovered the casket had come ashore in the Mýrar district, near Borg. [7] Skalla-Grímr built his house at Borg, and settled the entire region. [8]

Iceland island republic in Northern Europe

Iceland is a Nordic island country in the North Atlantic, with a population of 348,580 and an area of 103,000 km2 (40,000 sq mi), making it the most sparsely populated country in Europe. The capital and largest city is Reykjavík, with Reykjavík and the surrounding areas in the southwest of the country being home to over two-thirds of the population. Iceland is volcanically and geologically active. The interior consists of a plateau characterised by sand and lava fields, mountains, and glaciers, and many glacial rivers flow to the sea through the lowlands. Iceland is warmed by the Gulf Stream and has a temperate climate, despite a high latitude just outside the Arctic Circle. Its high latitude and marine influence keep summers chilly, with most of the archipelago having a tundra climate.

Mýrasýsla County in Western Region, Iceland

Mýrasýsla or Mýrar is a county in Iceland, located in the Western Region of the country. Settlements include Borgarnes with a population of around 1,800 — Hvanneyri and Bifröst with around 250 inhabitants each, and Kleppjárnsreykir with around 50 inhabitants.

Borg á Mýrum human settlement

Borg á Mýrum is a farm and church estate due west of Borgarnes township in Iceland. Its recorded history reaches back to the settlement of Iceland. One of the country's original settlers was Skallagrímur Kveldúlfsson, who claimed the area around Borg as his land, built a farm and made his home there. His son Egill Skallagrímsson then continued to live and farm at Borg á Mýrum.

Skalla-Grímr lived to an old age and died at Borg.


Skalla-Grímr was a prolific poet, and composed this stanza:

Nú's hersis hefnd
við hilmi efnd;
gengr ulfr ok örn
of ynglings börn.
Flugu höggvin hræ
Hallvarðs á sæ.
Grár slítr undir
ari Snarfara. [1]

Now the nobleman (Kveldúlfr) has exacted revenge upon the king (Harald Fairhair);
now wolf and eagle tread on the king's children.
The hewn corpses of Hallvarðr (Hallvarðr Harðfari and his people, that is the enemies) flew into the sea;
the grey eagle tears the wounds of Snarfari (Sigtryggr Snarfari was the brother of Hallvarðr Harðfari).

  1. ^ Cite error: The named reference Egil27 was invoked but never defined (see the help page).

According to the late scholar Bjarni Einarsson this poem, by using end rhyme, "if authentic" is a unique phenomenon in late ninth-century Old Norse poetry. [9]

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  1. 1 2 Landnámabók , § 18
  2. Egils saga , § 1
  3. Egils saga, § 31
  4. Pálsson, Hermann. "The Sami People in Old Norse Literature." Nordlit 3.1 (2012): 29-53. "The following nouns were used about people of mixed parentage:".."halftroll 'a half troll'. This is used as the nickname of Hallbjorn of Ramsta in Namdalen, father of Ketill hoengr, and ancestor of some of the settlers of Iceland, including Skalla-Grimr."
  5. Egils saga, § 5
  6. Egils saga, § 27
  7. Landnámabók, § 19
  8. Egils saga, § 28
  9. See Egils saga (tr. of Bjarni Einarsson 2003), p. 187, available at Einarsson states: “The third preserved major poem, Head-ransom, is in the runhenda metre (i.e. with end-rhyme), which would be a unique phenomenon in tenth-century Old Norse poetry (apart from the second stanza of Egils saga, spoken by Skalla-Grímr, which, if authentic, would belong to the late ninth century).”