Old English
Translations


The Voyages of ht-here and Wulf-stn
in Scandinavia and the Baltic


English Translation Old English Text
Ohthere said to King Alfred (his lord) that
he dwelt northmost of all his Norsemen. He
said that he lived on the land northwards
along the West Sea. He declared, however,
that the country extends very far north
from there; yet it is all waste, except that
Lapps camp piecemeal in occasional spots,
living by hunting in winter and in summer
fishing by the sea.


He said that he (at one time) wanted to
explore how far north the land might go, and
whether any man lives north beyond the
wasteland. Thereupon he journeyed due
north along the land: him letting all the way
wasted land stay across the starboard, and
leaving the wide sea along the larboard for
three days. Then he was as far north as the
whale-hunters farthest go. He then set forth
even farther northward, got as far as he might
sail within the second three days. Afterwards
there the land bent east, or the sea curved 
into the land, he not knowing which; he knew
though that he awaited wind westerly and
slightly northbound, following which he sailed
yonder east along the land as far as he might
get sailing for four days. Then he needed to
await a right northwind, owing that the land
curved southwards there, or the sea bent into
the land, he not knowing which.


Next he sailed from that place straight south
along the land, so far as he might get sailing 
for five days. At that point then a great river
laid up into the land. They turned then up into
the water, on account that they dared not sail
forth past the river on account of risking
hostility upon another land's border, owing
that the land was wholly settled along the 
other half of the river. He had not found 
settled land beforenonesince he from 
his own home had wandered; but across the
starboard was the whole way of desolate 
earth, except for fishers and fowlers and 
hunters, and those were all Lapps. And for
him the ocean was ever along the larboard.

In that place the Beormas had vigorously
cultivated their land entirely; however, they
dared not go there. Yet the Terfinns' land was
wholly desolate except where lodged hunters
or fishers or fowlers.

The Beormas then told him many stories about
both their own land and the lands around and
outside where they were. He, however, knew
not what was actually beyond; he had not seen
it himself. Seemed to him the Lapps and the
Beormas spoke nearly the same language.

In addition to the land's scouting, he mainly
fared to that side for the horse-whales because
they very much had costly bone within their
tusks. (They brought some of these tusks to 
the king.) And their hide will be very good for 
shiprope. This whale will be much smaller than 
other whales: he will not be longer than seven 
ells long. Yet in his own country is the best
whalehunting: those will be forty-eight ells long,
and the greatest fifty ells long. Of those he said
that he, when one hunter of six, slew sixty over
two days.

He was a very plenteous man in those things 
that are among their wealththat is, in wild 
animals. When he sought the king, he had
thereyet six-hundred tame animals unsold. The
wild animals they named reindeer. There were
six decoy-reindeer; those are extremely dear
among the Finns because they catch the wild
reindeer with them. He was among the fore-
most men in the land. Yet he lacked more than
twenty cows and twenty sheep and twenty
swine. And he plowed the little that he plowed
with horses.

Yet their wealth there is mostly tribute that the
Finns yield to them. The tribute is of deers'
vellum, and of birds' feathers, and whale's 
bone, and of ship-rope that is worked from 
whale's and seal's hides. Each man yields his
share according to his rank. The highest born
shall yield fifteen martenskins, and five reindeer
skins, and one she-bear's pelt, and ten hampers
of feathers, and a kirtle of bear or otter skin, 
and two ship-ropes. Each rope can be sixty 
ells long; one may be wrought from walrus-hide
and the other from seal-hide.
ht-here sgde his hlforde, lf-rǽde  
cyninge, t h eallra Nor-manna 
nor-mǽst bde. H cw t h bde
on ǽm lande nor-weardum wi  
West-sǽ. H sgde ah t t land 
sīe swīe lang nor anan, ac hit is eall 
wste, btan on fawum stwum 
styčče-mǽlum wīcia Finnas, on huntoe
on wintre and on sumore on fiscoe be 
ǽre sǽ.

H sgde t h t sumum čierre 
wolde fandian h lange t land 
nor-rihte lge, oe hwer ǽnig 
mann be noran ǽm wstene bde. 
 fr h nor-rihte be ǽm lande: 
lt him eallne weg t wste land on t
stor-bord and  wīd-sǽ on t 
bc-bord rīe dagas. ws h sw 
feorr nor sw hwl-huntan fierrest fara.
fr h -gīet nor-rihte sw feorr 
sw h meahte on ǽm rum rim 
dagum ge-siglan. bag t land ǽr
ast-rihte, oe so sǽ inn on t land
h niste hwerbtan h wiste t h 
ǽr bd westan-windes and hwn 
noran, and siglde  ast be lande sw 
h meahte on fower dagum ge-siglan.  
scolde h ǽr bīdan riht-noran-windes, 
for-ǽm ǽt land bag ǽr s-rihte, 
oe so sǽ inn on t landh niste 
hwer.

siglde h anan s-rihte be lande sw 
sw h meahte on fif dagum ge-siglan.  
lg ǽr n mičel a upp inn on t land.
čierdon hīe upp inn on a, for-ǽm
hīe ne dorston for be ǽre a siglan for
un-frie, for-ǽm t land ws eall 
ge-bn on re healfe ǽre a. Ne mtte 
h ǽr nn ge-bn land sian h fram his 
gnum hme fr; ac him ws eallne weg 
wste land on t stor-bord, btan 
fiscerum and fugolerum and huntum, and 
t wǽron eall Finnas. And him ws  
wīd-sǽ on t bc-bord.



Beormas hfdon swīe wel ge-bd 
hira land, ac hīe ne dorstan ǽr-on cuman. 
Ac ra Ter-Finnas land ws eall wste, 
btan ǽr huntan ge-wīcodon, oe 
fisceras, oe fugoleras.

Fela spella him sgdon Beormas ǽger 
ge of hira gnum lands ge of ǽm landum 
e ymb hīe tan wǽron, ac h niste hwt 
s soes ws, for-ǽm h hit self ne 
ge-seah. Finnas, him hte, and  
Beormas sprǽcon nah n ge-ode.

Swiost h fr ider, to acan landes
scawunge, for ǽm hors-hwlum, 
for-ǽm hīe habba swīe ele bn on
hira toum. t hīe brhton sume ǽm
cyninge. And hira hd bi swīe gd to
scip-rpum. S hwl bi mičele lssa
onne re hwalas: ne bi h lengra onne
seofon elna lang. Ac on his gnum lande is
se betsta hwl-hunto: beo eahta and
fowertiges elna lange, and mǽston
fiftiges elna lange; ra h sgde t h
siexa sum of-slge siextig on twǽm dagum.

H ws swīe spdig mann on ǽm ǽhtum
e hire spda on bo, t is, on wildrum.
H hfde -gīet, h one cyning shte,
tamra dora un-be-bohtra siex hund.  
dor hīe hta hrnas. ra wron siex
stl-hrnas; bo swīe dīere mid
Finnum, for-ǽm hīe f wildan hrnas mid.
H ws mid ǽm fyrstum mannum on ǽm
lande. Nfde he ah m onne twntig
hrīera, and twntig scapa, and twntig 
swīna. And t ltel t h erede, h erede
mid horsan.

Ac hira r is mǽst on m gafole e
Finnas him gielda. t gafol bi on dora
fellum, and on fugola feerum, and hwles
bne, and on m scip-rpum e bo of
hwles hde ge-worht and of soles. Ǽg-
hwelč gielt by his ge-byrdum. Se byrdesta
sceal gieldan fīftīene meares fell, and fīf
hranes, and n biren fell, and tīen ambra
fera, and birenne cyrtel oe yterenne, and
twgen scip-rpas; ǽger sīe siextig elna
lang, er sīe of hwles hde ge-worht, er
of soles. 

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