The Manuscripts


This data was prepared for Carolyne Larrington and Peter Robinson's edition of Sólarljóð, published in Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages, vol VII, Part 1, gen. ed. M. Clunies Ross (Turnhout: Brepols, 2007), pp. 287-357. Source.


The Old Norse Sólarljóð
Sól is preserved only in paper copies dating from the C17th onwards. Seventy-three copies are known to the eds, in a total of 71 mss (with 2 mss each containing 2 distinct copies).  All these copies were transcribed in full, collated, and the record of agreements and disagreements analysed to give a view of the relations among the mss. Thirty-two of these mss also contain copies of the narrative sequence Svipdagsmál. It appears that this poem has a similar textual history to Sól and conclusions about the relations of the mss for Svipdagsmál were used to check the conclusions reached for Sól. From this analysis, 9 of the 73 extant copies were selected as the basis for the present edn.

Like Svipdagsmál, all extant copies of Sól derive from a single copy surviving into the C17th. Thus, all copies contain five common errors likely to have been present in this single archetype: sofandi (5/5; emended to sofanda); virta (or virtra / virtar 13/6, mended to virkta); gala (or hala 26/4, emended to gæla); á væl, á vil etc. (28/4, emended to á  mis); the omission of a word in 80/1 (bölvi supplied), undir (80/6). In addition to these six errors, it is likely that some of the thirteen places where readings are supplied from post-1700 copies (see below) also represent errors present in the archetype.
Five copies, dating from between 1650 and 1700, appear to descend independently from the lost archetype. These five, used in this edn, are:

1. AM 166b 8°ˣ fols 45v-48v (166bˣ): mid-C17th, used as the base ms. for this edn. Some eight later copies, including 427ˣ, 428ˣ, 1871ˣ and 21 6 7ˣ, appear to descend from this copy. 166bˣ is the oldest copy and preserves several important and distinctive readings found in no other early copy (yndisheimi 33/3, seig 37/5, hardla 43/5, munadarlausir 48/4, synduz 59/5, ok himna skript 70/6, illum 80/6; the whole of st. 83).



2. AM 167 b 8°ˣ fols 1r-4v (167b 6ˣ): second half of the C17th (contains sts 1-26 and 56- 82). Textually close to 738ˣ (no. 5) with which it may share an exemplar below the archetype.


3. AM 155 a V 8°ˣ (155aˣ): second half of the C17th (contains only sts. 1-5).


4. Holm papp 15 8°ˣ 1r-8r (papp15ˣ): c. 1675. This has the best text of Svipdagsmál, and contains a text of Sól independent of any other early copy (so differing at some 150 places from 166bˣ and 738ˣ). It supplies ten readings to this edn. found in no other of the pre-1700 copies here used (váligr 4/6, kalladr 29/2, mér 50/5, véltu 63/3, eign 63/3, höfdu 67/2, myrdir 74/5, Bjúgvör 76/1, módug á munad 77/3, ór 78/5). In terms of its influence on later copies, this is the most important single copy of Sól: some 25 later copies (including all other pre-1700 copies) descend from papp15ˣ. No previous ed. has used this ms., though several have relied on copies descended from it (notably 1866ˣ, used by Sophus Bugge 1867, and 1867ˣ, used by Finnur Jónsson in Skj).


5. AM 738 4°ˣ pp. 70-84 (738ˣ): dated 1680. 167b 6ˣ, 1872ˣ and another five later copies may descend from 738ˣ. In Svipdagsmál the ‘b’ group of mss associated with 214ˣ also appears descended from 738ˣ, and this may also be true of the same mss in Sól.

The range of readings present in these five mss suggest that the first scribes had difficulty reading the lost archetype. The frequent disagreement on readings likely to have arisen from expansion of abbreviations (e.g., the Sváfar/Sváfur forms in st. 80) suggest that this archetype made heavy use of abbreviation, as indeed does 166bˣ especially. Of these five early copies, 166bˣ is the clear choice as the base text for an edn, since the distinctive and important readings listed above are present only in 166bˣ among these early copies.

However, at some 73 places 166bˣ has a reading which appears to be inferior, and a reading found in other mss is preferred. The importance of the other pre-1700 mss can be demonstrated easily: 57 of the 73 readings accepted from other mss beside 166bˣ come from one of the other four pre-1700 mss, with papp15ˣ being the most productive. In these cases, we can presume that 166bˣ has miscopied its exemplar, while at least one (and often all) of the other pre-1700 mss has preserved the archetypal readings. These presumed errors in 166bˣ, which are here corrected from the other four pre-1700 mss, most frequently involve omission or addition of function words (e.g. er 4/2, 29/6, 38/3, 69/2, en 21/6) or mishandling of abbreviations (e.g. himni 7/2, tæ 13/1; perhaps gá 25/6). Other errors are more serious: e.g. the omission of naktir teir urdu in 9/4. Overall, however, 166bˣ remains considerably closer to this edited text than is any other early copy: both papp15ˣ and 738ˣ differ from the text printed here in some 150 places, compared to the 86 where 166bx differs (the 73 places here mentioned, where readings are supplied from other mss, plus the thirteen points where we emend, to give a reading found in no ms).


As with Svipdagsmál, all extant copies descend from a single copy surviving into the C17th, a copy itself containing many errors. Thus, at ten points all copies contain the same error, or readings manifestly derived from the same error, suggesting this single copy itself contained erroneous readings at those ten points. Accordingly, emendation is required at all those points. Thus: ‘harda’ 2/2 (or ‘harla’); ‘sofandi’ 5/5; ‘æ lifa’ 7/5; ‘virta’ 13/6 (or ‘virtra/virtar’); ‘gala’ 26/4 (or ‘hala’); ‘inzta’ 41/5, ‘glæddum’ 59/3; the omission of ‘it’ 71/6 and of ‘inn’ 75/2; the omission of a word (possibly bölvi) in 80/1. At three other points, the mss show a range of impossible readings suggesting (most likely) varying attempts by the scribes to make sense of an impossible reading in the archetype, though the extent of variation makes it impossible to be sure what that original reading was: thus, the readings at 27/6, 28/4 and 49/5. In fact, there were certainly many more errors in this lost archetype than just these thirteen. It is likely that some of the places where readings are supplied from post-1700 copies also represent errors present in the archetype: thus the fifteen readings (six found in 2797ˣ alone) listed in the discussion of the four post-1700 mss used in this edition. Finally, there is 16/6, where all but two mss have ‘eldi’. There reading ‘elda’, present in only two very late mss, is considered to have been an independent scribal emendation.

On the basis of an analysis of the history of the Sól tradition (alongside that of Svipdagsmál), four post-1700 mss are also used in this edn, in addition to the five pre-1700 copies described above. These four are:

1. Lbs 214 4°ˣ fols 149r-152v (214ˣ): written by Vigfúss Jónsson after 1723, probably c. 1736. In both Sól and Svipdagsmál this is the ancestor of a group of some eight mss (including 215ˣ, 329ˣ, 64934ˣ, 818ˣ, 21 5 2ˣ) labelled as the ‘b’ text of Svipdagsmál. For both poems there is evidence suggesting that this ‘b’ text derives ultimately from the copy in 738ˣ.

2. Lbs 1441 4°ˣ fols 581r-588v (1441ˣ): (1760) this contains a text of Svipdagsmál independent of any earlier copy, and the same appears true for its text of Sól; several later copies appear descended from this ms.



3. British Library Add. 10575 Bˣ (10575ˣ): C18th (only text in ms.); contains a text of Sól apparently independent of any earlier copy; several later copies appear descended from this ms.


4. Lbs 2797 4°ˣ 230-58 (2797ˣ): written by Gísli Konrádsson in 1820. Gísli (father of Professor Konrád Gíslason) was widely learned, and may have had access to mss no longer extant. His text contains six readings found only in 2797ˣ among the mss here chosen, and which are accepted into this text (thus vályndr 3/6, tat kveda sálu sama 26/6, náum 33/6, skydrúpnis 51/6, hungri 71/3, truma 77/6). It is not possible to determine whether these are Gisli’s intelligent emendations or readings derived from now-lost mss. They are treated as readings in this edn.

These four mss give a sense of the later variation found in the tradition. Further, at least two of these four (1441ˣ and 10575ˣ), and possibly also 214ˣ, appear to represent lines of descent independent of the pre-1700 copies, and so might preserve archetypal readings not present in those copies. This may be the case with the nine readings tegjanda 28/6 (1441ˣ, 10575ˣ, 2797ˣ), leiz á marga vegu 40/4-5 (1441ˣ, 2797ˣ), höfdu 72/2 (214ˣ, 10575ˣ, 2797ˣ); eigu 74/3 (1441ˣ, 2797ˣ), mæzti 75/2 (10575ˣ, 2797ˣ); skilja 75/4 (214ˣ, 2797ˣ); eymdum 75/6 (214ˣ, 2797ˣ); firum 76/6 (10575ˣ, 2797ˣ); Bödveig 79/4 (10575ˣ). Of these nine readings, all except that in 79/4 are present in 2797ˣ, which may also represent independent descent.


These four mss give a sense of the later variation found in the tradition. Further, at least two of these four (1441ˣ and 10575ˣ), and possibly also 214ˣ, appear to represent lines of descent independent of the pre-1700 copies, and so might preserve archetypal readings not present in those copies. This may be the case with the six readings tegjanda 28/6 (1441ˣ 10575ˣ), leizk á marga vegu 40/4-5 (1441ˣ), vánardreka 54/2 (10575ˣ), höfdu 72/2 (214ˣ 10575ˣ); eigu 74/3 (1441ˣ), Bödveig 79/4 (10575ˣ). Of these six readings, four (those in 28, 40, 72, 74) are present in 2797ˣ, which may also represent independent descent.
Altogether, fifteen readings are adopted from these later four copies: six found only in 2797ˣ among these copies, and apparently arising by emendation from Gísli Konrádsson; and nine found in at least one of the other three (of which eight are also in 2797ˣ), possibly by independent descent from the lost archetype. One other reading, elda in 16/6, is found in two post-1700 mss, and is considered a scribal emendation. Thus, the edited text differs from the base ms. 166bˣ in 86 places as follows:

1. 13 emendations found in no copy


2. 57 readings preferred from the other four pre-1700 copies


3. 15 readings preferred from four post-1700 copies


4. 1 reading preferred from the other 64 copies


Mss not recorded in the apparatus to this edn

All variants present in the nine mss described in the last section are recorded in the Readings. Beside these nine, the sixty-two other mss known to contain texts of Sól (64 texts, with 2 mss each containing 2 distinct texts) are listed here. As stated above, the texts of all these were transcribed and collated, and the selection of the nine mss used based on
analysis of this collation. None of these sixty-two can be shown to derive independently from the archetype as can many of the nine here used. Indeed, it can be demonstrated that many of these sixty-two derive from mss among these nine: thus the 25 (approximately) descending from papp15ˣ, the 8 descending from 166bˣ, another 8 descending from 214ˣ.

Evidence of these ms. relations for the text of Svipdagsmál in these mss may be found in Robinson 1991; the eds propose to give a full discussion of the ms. relations for both Svipdagsmál and Sól in a separate publication. While the readings in these mss may be of interest to (for example) cultural historians investigating the reception of older Christian poetry in C18th Iceland, they are of diminishing value where the aim is the establishment of a best text for modern readers.

The 62 mss are:


Copenhagen: AM 427 folˣ (427ˣ) fols 29r-36r: 1756; AM 428 folˣ (428ˣ) pp. 70-87: 2nd half of C18th; AM 750 4°ˣ (AM750 4°ˣ) fol. 36v: 2nd half of C17th (contains only sts. 1- 10 and part of st. 11); NKS 1108 folˣ (1108ˣ) pp. 255-66: c. 1750; NKS 1109 folˣ (1109ˣ) pp. 482-501: c. 1770; NKS 1110 folˣ (1110ˣ) fols 3r-6v: C18th; NKS 1111 folˣ (1111ˣ) pp. 449-67: c. 1750; NKS 1866 4°ˣ (1866ˣ) pp. 349-55: 1750; NKS 1867 4°ˣ (1867ˣ) pp. 67-72 : 1760, written by Ólafur Brynjólfsson; NKS 1869 4°ˣ (1869ˣ) pp. 647-71: c. 1770; NKS 1870 4°ˣ (1870ˣ) fols 2r-8v, 161r-2v: after 1689, c. 1700; NKS 1871 4°ˣ (1871ˣ) pp. 127-52: 2nd half of C18th; NKS 1872 4°ˣ (1872ˣ) pp. 229-58: 2nd half of C18th; NKS 1891 4°ˣ (1891ˣ) pp. 179-91: c. 1770 (contains sts. 1-26, 57-82); Thott 773 a folˣ (773aˣ) pp. 446-60: c. 1770; Thott 1492 4°ˣ (1492ˣ) fols 156r-62v: c. 1770.


 Reykjavík: Lbs 215 4°ˣ (215ˣ) fols 262r-8v: date as for 214ˣ, c. 1736, also written by Vigfúss Jónsson; Lbs 437ˣ (Lbs437ˣ) fols 30v-3v: 1770-80?; Lbs 709 8°ˣ (709ˣ) pp. 79-94:C18th; Lbs 1199 4°ˣ (1199ˣ) fols 93r-5v: 1650-1860?; Lbs 1249 8°ˣ (1249ˣ) 62r-7r: 1791- 1805; Lbs 1393 8°ˣ (1393ˣ) pp. 1-11: C19th (contains sts. 1-49); Lbs 1458 8°ˣ (1458ˣ) fols Sólarljód 295 36r-42v: 2nd half C19th; Lbs 1562ˣ 4° (1562ˣ) fols 7r-12v: c. 1770 (contains sts. 11.2-82);
Lbs 1588ˣ (1588ˣ) fols 140r-3v: 1750-99?; Lbs 1692 8°ˣ (1692ˣ) fols 2r-12v: 1st half C19th; Lbs 1765 4°ˣ (1765ˣ) fols 17r-26v: 1854-75?; Lbs 2298 8°ˣ (2298ˣ) pp. 1-11: 1835-6; Lbs 631 4°ˣ (631ˣ) fols 90r-2v: C18th-19th; Lbs 636 4°ˣ (636ˣ) pp. 96-105: c. 1750; Lbs 719 8°ˣ (719ˣ) fols 1r-6v: c. 1750; Lbs 756 4°ˣ (Lbs756ˣ) fols 115v-19r: 1777; Lbs 818 4°ˣ (818ˣ) fols 20r-2v: 2nd half of C18th; Lbs 932 4°ˣ (932ˣ) fols 75r-8v: C18th; Lbs 966 4°ˣ (966ˣ) fols 17v-21v: c. 1792, written by Ólafur Jónsson of Purkey; Lbs 903 8°ˣ (903ˣ) fols 69v-72v: 2nd half C18th, c. 1760; JS 36 4°ˣ (JS36ˣ) fols 2r-3v: c. 1800; JS 84 8° (84) fols 170v-5r: C18th-19th; JS 542 4°ˣ (with Lat. translation) (542ˣ and 542aˣ) fols 26r-38r (marked 1-13) and 40r-3r (marked 16-19): C17th and 19th hands (contains 2 copies of poem); JS 648 4°ˣ (648ˣ) pp. 112-17 : C19th; ÍB 13 8°ˣ (13ˣ) fols 67r-72v: C18th; ÍB 539 8°ˣ (539ˣ) fols 5r-10vb (small leaf with st. 83 attached to 10v): 1836; ÍBR 36 4°ˣ (ÍBR36ˣ) pp. 309-18: first half of C19th; ÍBR 24 8°ˣ (24ˣ) pp. 97-106: c. 1840.


Edinburgh: Adv 21 4 7ˣ (21 4 7ˣ) pp. 270-82: c. 1750, possibly written by Eggert Ólafsson; Adv 21 5 2ˣ (21 5 2ˣ) pp. 462-81: written by Oddur Jónsson c. 1755; Adv 21 6 7 aˣ (21 6 7 aˣ) pp. 95-101: before 1750; Adv 21 6 7 bˣ (21 6 7 bˣ) fols 133r-8v: before 1750.

Dublin: Trinity College, Dublin 1027ˣ (1027ˣ) fols 128r-38v: C19th.

Uppsala: UppsUB R 691 4°ˣ (R691ˣ) fols 42r-49r: 2nd half C18th; UppsUB R 692 4°ˣ (R692ˣ) pp. 12-16: C18th (unreadable after v. 70); UppsUB R 682 folˣ (R682ˣ) fols 2r-9v: end C18th; UppsUB R 682 Aˣ fol (R682 Aˣ) pp. 9-45: c. 1685; a copy by Helgi Ólaffson of papp46ˣ.

London: BLAdd 4877ˣ (4877ˣ) pp. 439-55: C18th; BLAdd 11165ˣ (11165ˣ) pp. 139-44: c. 1770; BLAdd 6121ˣ (6121ˣ) fols 71v-7r: C18th; BLAdd 11173ˣ (11173ˣ) fols 11r-19r: C18th.

Stockholm: Holm papp 11 folˣ (papp11ˣ) pp. 1-27: after 1687, a copy of papp34ˣ; Holm papp 34 folˣ (papp34ˣ) pp. 285-99: c. 1684, a copy of papp15ˣ by Helgi Ólaffson; Holm papp 46 4°ˣ (papp46ˣ) pp. 3-12: c. 1682, a copy of papp15ˣ by Gudmundr Ólaffson; Nordiska Museet St. 64.934ˣ (64934ˣ) unpaginated: c. 1725.

Berlin: Berlin Staatsbibliotek Ms. germ. qu. 329ˣ (329ˣ) fols 210v-15r: written by Oddur Jónsson c. 1755.

Harvard: Houghton Library Ms Icel. 47ˣ (47ˣ) pp. 342-52: c. 1756, a copy of 1866ˣ by Jón Eíriksson. This manuscript appears to have been the base of the 1787 Arnamagnaean edn (see Robinson 1991).