Thereafter Gunnlaug sailed from England with chapmen north to Dublin. In those days King Sigtrygg Silky-beard, son of King Olaf Kvaran and Queen Kormlada, ruled over Ireland; and he had then borne sway but a little while. Gunnlaug went before the king, and greeted him well and worthily. The king received him as was meet. Then Gunnlaug said, “I have made a song on thee, and I would fain have silence therefor.”


The king answered, “No men have before now come forward with songs for me, and surely will I hearken to thine.” Then Gunnlaug brought the song, whereof this is the burden,—


“Swaru’s steed

Doth Sigtrygg feed.”



And this is therein also:—


“Praise-worth I can

Well measure in man,

And kings, one by one—

Lo here, Kvararis son!

Gruageth the king

Gift of gold ring?

I, singer, know

His wont to bestow.

Let the high king say,

Heard he or this day,

Song drapu-measure

Dearer a treasure?”


The king thanked him for the song, and called his treasurer to him, and said, “How shall the song be rewarded?”


“What hast thou will to give, lord?” says he.


“How will it be rewarded if I give him two ships for it?” said the king.

Then said the treasurer, “This is too much, lord; other kings give in regard of songs good keepsakes, fair swords, or golden rings.”


So the king gave him his own raiment of new scarlet, a gold-embroidered kirtle, and a cloak lined with choice furs, and a gold ring which weighed a mark. Gunnlaug thanked him well.

He dwelt a short time here, and then went thence to the Orkneys.


Then was lord in Orkney, Earl Sigurd, the son of Hlodver; he was friendly to Icelanders. Now Gunnlaug greeted the earl well, and said he had a song to bring him. The earl said he would listen thereto, since he was of such great kin in Iceland.


Then Gunnlaug brought the song; it was a shorter lay, and well done. The earl gave him for lay-reward a broad axe, all inlaid with silver, and bade him abide with him.


Gunnlaug thanked him both for his gift and his offer, but said he was bound east for Sweden; and thereafter he went on board ship with chapmen who sailed to Norway.


In the autumn they came east to King’s Cliff, Thorkel, his kinsman, being with him all the time. From King’s Cliff they got a guide up to West Gothland, and came upon a cheaping-stead, called Skarir: there ruled an earl called Sigurd, a man stricken in years. Gunnlaug went before him, and told him he had made a song on him; the earl gave a willing ear hereto, and Gunnlaug brought the song, which was a shorter lay.


The earl thanked him, and rewarded the song well, and bade him abide there that winter.

Earl Sigurd had a great Yule-feast in the winter, and on Yule-eve came thither men sent from Earl Eric of Norway, twelve of them together, and brought gifts to Earl Sigurd. The earl made them good cheer, and bade them sit by Gunnlaug through the Yule-tide; and there was great mirth at drinks.


Now the Gothlanders said that no earl was greater or of more fame than Earl Sigurd; but the Norwegians thought that Earl Eric was by far the foremost of the two. Hereon would they bandy words, till they both took Gunnlaug to be umpire in the matter.

Then he sang this stave:—

“Tell ye, staves of spear-din,

How on sleek-side sea-horse

Oft this earl hath proven

Over-toppling billows;

But Eric, victory’s ash-tree,

Oft hath seen in east-seas

More of high blue billows

Before the bows a-roaring.”


Both sides were content with his finding, but the Norwegians the best. But after Yule-tide those messengers left with gifts of goodly things, which Earl Sigurd sent to Earl Eric.

Now they told Earl Eric of Gunnlaug’s finding: the earl thought that he had shown upright dealing and friendship to him herein, and let out some words, saying that Gunnlaug should have good peace throughout his land. What the earl had said came thereafter to the ears of Gunnlaug.


But now Earl Sigurd gave Gunnlaug a guide east to Tenthland, in Sweden, as he had asked.







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Saga of Gunnlaug the Worm-Tongue and raven the Skald



About norsesagas

This site is about bringing the Ancient Norse & Viking sagas back to life. Each day a chapter or two from a saga will be posted enabling you to read the saga from beginning to end. If you like the saga, it is available to be purchased as a paperback or as an eBook. Abela Publishing is a social enterprise prublisher. By this we mean that a percentage of our profits is donated to charities.
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