Wayland Smith is the Volund of the Eddic poem Volundarkvitha. The Volund story had its origin among the Saxon tribes, but spread all over the Teutonic area. It was known to the Anglo-Saxons, and “Welandes Smiththan” is mentioned in a document dating from a few years before the Norman Conquest. The name had been given to the remains of a chambered tumulus or “Long Barrow” (or, as some regard it, a chambered dolmen) at Ashbury, Berkshire. For the legend connected with this, see p. 271, and Sir W. Scott’s Kenilworth, chapter xiii and note 2. The Anglo-Saxon poem, Deor’s Lament, refers to the Volund story, and in a document of the year 903 A.D. mention is made of a place in Buckinghamshire called “Welandes Stocc.” The phrase “Welandes geweorc” was also used by the Anglo-Saxons to denote weapons and ornaments of exceptional value.


When this Series was first projected, Professor Axel Olrik, Ph.D., of the University of Copenhagen, was asked to write the volume on Eddic Mythology, and no one more competent than he could have been chosen. He agreed to undertake the work, but his lamented death occurred before he had done more than sketch a plan and write a small part of it.

Ultimately it was decided that I should write the volume, and the result is now before the reader.

Throughout the book, the names of gods, heroes, and places are generally given without accents, which are meaningless to most readers, and the spelling of such names is mainly that which accords most nearly with the Old Norse pronunciation. “Odin,” however, is preferred to the less usual “Othin,” and so with a few other familiar names, the spelling of which is now stereotyped in English.

Several of the illustrations are from material which had been collected by Professor Olrik, with which the publisher supplied me. The coloured illustrations and those in pen and ink drawing are by my daughter. I have to thank the authorities of the British Museum for permission to use their photographs of the Franks’ Casket and of Anglo-Saxon draughtsmen; the Director of the Universitetets Oldsaksamling, Oslo, for photographs of the Oseberg Ship; Mr. W. G. Collingwood, F.S.A., for permission to reproduce his sketches of Borg and Helga-fell; and Professor G. Baldwin Brown, L.L.D., of the Chair of Fine Art, University of Edinburgh, for photographs of the Dearham, Bewcastle, and Ruthwell Crosses.


October 8, 1929