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Pre-Christian Religions of the North: Sources

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Óðinn appears as an historicised ruler who establishes law in Sweden. The account describes Óðinn's laws regarding burial practice, including burning the dead, building burial mounds and raising stones. It also mentions Valhöll.


[excerpt from] Yng ch. 8b

8b. [Lagasetning Óðins]

Óðinn setti lög í landi sínu, þau er gengið höfðu fyrr með Ásum. Svo setti hann að alla dauða menn skyldi brenna og bera á bál með þeim eign þeirra. Sagði hann svo að með þvílíkum auðæfum skyldi hver koma til Valhallar sem hann hafði á bál, þess skyldi hann og njóta er hann sjálfur hafði í jörð grafið. En öskuna skyldi bera út á sjá eða grafa niður í jörð en eftir göfga menn skyldi haug gera til minningar en eftir alla þá menn er nokkuð mannsmót var að skyldi reisa bautasteina og hélst sjá siður lengi síðan.

In his country Óðinn instituted such laws as had been in force among the Æsir before. Thus he ordered that all the dead were to be burned on a pyre together with their possessions, saying that everyone would arrive in Valhöll with such wealth as he had with him on his pyre and that he would also enjoy the use of what he himself had hidden in the ground. His ashes were to be carried out to sea or buried in the ground. For notable men burial mounds were to be thrown up as memorials. But for all men who had shown great manly qualities memorial stones were to be erected; and this custom continued for a long time thereafter.

[status: referenced copy]



This episode occurs within the longer narrative Ynglinga saga, the first in the collection of kings’ sagas known as Heimskringla which were probably compiled by the 13th-century Icelandic scholar Snorri Sturluson.


(Contributed by Anna Millward.)


Main text: Ynglinga saga

Attributes: Law Mound Cremation Pyre Funeral customs Valhöll memorial stones

Named things: Óðinn Valhǫll

Text sections: Hkr Yng 8bII


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