Bright's Anglo-Saxon Reader/The Voyages of Ohthere and Wulfstan

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Bright's Anglo-Saxon Reader by James W. Bright
The Voyages of Ohthere and Wulfstan

[This narrative is inserted in the Alfredian version of Orosius's Compendious History of the World. The text follows the Lauderdale MS. (Helmingham Hall, Suffolk) at the beginning; after that the Cotton MS., Tiberius B. i. Brit. Mus.]

Ōhthere sǣde his hlāforde, Ælfrēde cyninge, ðæt hē ealra Norðmonna norþmest būde. Hē cwæð þæt hē būde on þǣm lande norþweardum wiþ þā Westsǣ. Hē sǣde þēah þæt þæt land sīe swīþe lang norþ þonan; ac hit is eal wēste, būton on fēawum stōwum styccemǣlum wīciað Finnas, on huntoðe on wintra, ond on sumera on fiscaþe be þǣre sǣ. Hē sǣde þæt hē æt sumum cirre wolde fandian hū longe þæt land noþryhte lǣge, oþþe hwæðer ǣnig mon be norðan þǣm wēstenne būde. Þā fōr hē norþryhte be þǣm lande: lēt him ealne weg þæt wēste land on ðæt stēorbord, ond þā wīdsǣ on ðæt bæcbord þrīe dagas. Þā wæs hē swā feor norþ swā þā hwælhuntan firrest faraþ. Þā fōr hē þā giet norþryhte swā feor swā hē meahte on þǣm ōþrum þrīm dagum gesiglau. Þā bēag þæt land, þǣr ēastryhte, oþþe sēo sǣ in on ðæt lond, hē nysse hwæðer, būton hē wisse ðæt hē ðǣr bād westanwindes ond hwōn norþan, ond siglde ðā ēast be lande swā swā hē meahte on fēower dagum gesiglan. Þā sceolde hē ðǣr bīdan ryhtnorþanwindes, for ðǣm þæt land bēag þǣr sūþryhte, oþþe sēo sǣ in on ðæt land, hē nysse hwæþer. Þā siglde hē þonan sūðryhte be lande swā swā hē meahte on fīf dagum gesiglan. Ðā læg þǣr ān micel ēa ūp on þæt land. Ðā cirdon hīe ūp in on ðā ēa for þǣm hīe ne dorston forþ bī þǣre ēa siglan for unfriþe; for þǣm ðæt land wæs eall gebūn on ōþre healfe þǣre ēas. Ne mētte hē ǣr nān gebūn land, siþþan hē from his āgnum hām fōr; ac him wæs ealne weg wēste land on þæt stēorbord, būtan fiscerum ond fugelerum ond huntum, ond þæt wǣron eall Finnas; ond him wæs āwīdsǣ on þæt bæcbord. Þā Boermas heafdon sīþe wel gebūd hiraland: ac hīe ne dorston þǣr on cuman. Ac þāra Terfinna land wæs eal wēste, būton ðǣr huntan gewīcodon, oþþe fisceras, oþþe fugeleras.

Fela spella him sǣdon þā Beormas ǣgþer ge of hiera āgnum lande ge of þǣm landum þe ymb hīe ūtan wǣron; ac hē nyste hwæt þæs sōþes wæs, for þǣm hē hit self ne geseah. Þā Finnas, him þūhte, ond þā Beormas sprǣcon nēah ān geþēode. Swīþost hē fōr ðīder, tō ēacan þæs landes scēawunge, for þǣm horshwælum, for ðǣm hīe habbað swīþe æþele bān on hiora tōþum — þā tēð hīe brōhton sume þǣm cyninge — ond hiora hȳd bið swīðe gōd tō sciprāpum. Sē hwæl bið micle lǣssa þonne ōðre hwalas: ne bið hē lengra ðonne syfan elna lang; ac on his āgnum lande is sē betsta hwælhuntað; þā bēoð eahta and fēowertiges elna lange, and þā mǣstan fīftiges elna lange; þāra hē sǣde þæt hē syxa sum ofslōge syxtig on twām dagum.

Hē wæs swȳðe spēdig man on þǣm ǣhtum þe heora spēda on bēoð, þæt is, on wildrum. Hē hæfde þā gȳt, ðā hē þone cyningc sōhte, tamra dēora unbebohtra syx hund. Þā dēor hī hātað 'hrānas'; þāra wǣron syx stælhrānas; ðā bēoð swȳðe dyre mid Finnum, for ðǣm hȳ fōð þā wildan hrānas mid. Hē wæs mid þǣm fyrstum mannum on þǣm lande: næfde hē þēah mā ðonne twēntig hrȳðera, and twentig scēapa, and twentig swȳna; and þæt lȳtle þæt hē erede, hē erede mid horsan. Ac hyra ār is mǣst on þǣm gafole þe ðā Finnas him gyldað. Þæt gafol bið on dēora fellum, and on fugela feðerum, and hwales bāne, and on þǣm sciprāpum, þe bēoð of hwæles hȳde geworht, and of sēoles. Ǣghwilc gylt be hys gebyrdum. Sē byrdesta sceall gyldan fīftȳne mearðes fell, and fīf hrānes, and ān beran fel, and tȳn ambra feðra, and berenne kyrtel oððe yterenne, and twegen sciprāpas; ǣgþer sȳ syxtig elna lang, ōþer sȳ of hwæles hȳde geworht, ōþer of sīoles.

Hē sǣde ðæt Norðmanna land wǣre swȳþe lang and swȳðe smæl. Eal þæt his man āþer oððe ettan oððe erian mæg, þæt līð wið ðā sǣ; and þæt is þēah on sumum stōwum swȳðe clūdig; and licgað wilde mōras wið ēastan and wið ūpp on emnlange þǣm bȳnum lande. On þǣm mōrum eardiað Finnas. And þæt bȳne land is ēasteweard brādost, and symle swā norðor swā smælre. Ēastewerd hit mæg bīon syxtig mīla brād, oþþe hwēne brǣdre; and middeweard þrītig oððe brādre; and norðeweard hē cwæð, þǣr hit smalost wǣre, þæt hit mihte bēon þrēora mīla brād tō þǣm mōre; and sē mōr syðþan, on sumum stōwum swā brād swā man mæg on twām wucum oferfēran; and on sumum stōwum swā brād swā man mæg on syx dagum oferfēran.

Þonne is tōemnes þǣm lande sūðeweardum, on ōðre healfe þæs mōres, Swēoland, oþ þæt land norðeweard; and tōemnes þǣm lande norðeweardum, Cwēna land. Þā Cwēnas hergiað hwīlum on ðā Norðmen ofer ðone mōr, hwīlum þā Norðmen on hȳ. And þǣr sint swīðe micle meras fersce geond þā mōras; and berað þā Cwēnas hyra scypu ofer land on ðā meras, and þanon hergiað on ðā Norðmen; hȳ habbað swȳðe lȳtle scypa and swȳðe leohte.

Ōhthere sǣde þæt sīo scīr hātte Hālgoland þe hē on būde. Hē cwæð þæt nān man ne būde be norðan him. Þonne is ān port on sūðeweardum þǣm lande, þone man hǣt Sciringeshēal. Þyder hē cwæð þæt man ne mihte geseglian on ānum mōnðe, gyf man on niht wīcode, and ǣlce dæge hæfde ambyrne wind; and ealle ðā hwīle hē sceal seglian be lande. And on þæt stēorbord him bið ǣrest Īraland, and þonne ðā īgland þe synd betux Īralande and þissum lande. Þone is þis land, oð hē cymð tō Scirincgeshēale, and ealne weg on þæt bæcbord Norðweg. Wið sūðan þone Sciringeshēal fylð swȳðe mycel sǣ ūp in on ðæt land; sēo is brādre þonne ǣnig man ofer sēon mæge. And is Gotland on ōðre healfe ongēan, and siððan Sillende. Sēo sǣ līð mænig hund mīla ūp in on þæt land.

And of Sciringeshēale hē cwæð þæt hē seglode on fīf dagan tō þǣm porte þe mon hǣt æt Hǣþum; sē stent betuh Winedum, and Seaxum, and Angle, and hȳrð in on Dene. Ðā hē þiderweard seglode fram Sciringeshēale, þā wæs him on þæt bæcbord Denamearc and on þæt stēorbord wīdsǣ þrȳ dagas; and þā, tweg_en dagas ǣr hē tō Hǣþum cōme, him wæs on þæt stēorbord Gotland, and Sillende, and īglanda fela. On þǣm landum eardodon Engle, ǣr hī hider on land cōman. And hym wæs ðā twēgen dagas on ðæt bæcbord þā īgland þe in [on] Denemearce hȳrað.


Wulfstan sǣde þæt hē gefōre of Hǣðum, þæt hē wǣre on Trūsō on syfan dagum and nihtum, þæt þæt scip wæs ealne weg yrnende under segle. Weonoðland him wæs on stēorbord, and on bæcbord him wæs Langaland, and Lǣland, and Falster, and Scōnēg; and þās land eall hȳrað tō Denemearcan. And þonne Burgenda land wæs ūs on bæcbord, and þā habbað him sylfe cyning. Þonne æfter Burgenda lande wǣron ūs þās land, þā synd hātene ǣrest Blēcinga-ēg, and Mēore, and Ēowland, and Gotland on bæcbord; and þās land hȳrað tō Swēom. And Weonodland wæs ūs ealne weg on stēorbord oð Wīslemūðan. Sēo Wīsle is swȳðe mycel ēa, and hīo tōlīð Wītland and Weonodland; and þæt Wītland belimpeþ tō Estum; and sēo Wīsle līð ūt of Weonodlande, and līð in Estmere; and sē Estmere is hūru fīftēne mīla brād. Þonne cymeð Ilfling ēastan in Estmere of ðǣm mere, ðe Trūsō standeð in stæðe; and cumað ūt samod in Estmere, Ilfing ēastan of Estlande, and Wīsle wūðan of Winodlande. And þonne benimð Wīsle Ilfing hire naman, and ligeð of þǣm mere west and norð on sǣ; for ðȳ hit man hǣt Wīslemūða.

Þæt Estland is swȳðe mycel, and þǣr bið swȳðe manig burh, and on ǣlcere byrig bið cyning. And þǣr bið swȳðe mycel hunig, and fiscnað, and sē cyning and þā rīcostan men drincað mȳran meolc, and þā unspēdigan and þā þēowan drincad medo. Þǣr bið swȳðe mycel gewinn betwēonan him. And ne bid ðǣr nǣnig ealo gebrowen mid Estum, ac þǣr bið medo genōh. And þǣr is mid Estum ðēaw, þonne þǣr bið man dēad, þæt hē līð inne unforbærned mid his māgum and frēondum mōnað, ge hwīlum twēgen; and þā kyningas, and þā ōðre hēahðungene men, swā micle lencg swā hī māran spēda habbað, hwīlum healf gēar þæt hī bēoð unforbærned, and licgað bufan eorðan on hyra hūsum. And ealle þā hwīle þe þæt līc bið inne, þǣr sceal bēon gedrync and plega, oð ðone dæg þe hī hine forbærnað. Þonne þȳ ylcan dæge [þe] hī hine tō þǣm āde beran wyllað, þonne tōdǣlað hī his feoh, þæt þǣr tō lǣfe bið æfter þǣm gedrynce and þǣm plegan on fīf oððe syx, hwȳlum on mā, swā swā þæs fēos andēfn bið. Alecgað hit ðonne forhweæga on ānre mīle þone mǣstan dǣl fram þǣm tūne, þonne ōðerne, ðonne þone þriddan, oþ þe hyt eall ālēd bið on þǣre ānre mīle; and sceall bēon sē lǣsta dǣl nȳhst þǣm tūne ðe sē dēada man on līð. Ðonne sceolon bēon gesamnode ealle ðā menn ðe swyftiste hors habbað on þǣm lande, forhwæga on fīf mīlum oððe on syx mīlum fram þǣm fēo. Þonne ærnað hȳ ealle tōweard þǣm fēo: ðonne cymeð sē man sē þæt swiftoste hors hafað tō þǣm ǣrestan dǣle and tō þǣm mǣstan, and swā ǣlc æfter ōðrum, oþ hit bið eall genumen; and sē nimð þone lǣstan dǣl sē nȳhst þǣm tūne þæt feoh geærneð. And þonne rīdeð ǣlc hys weges mid ðǣm fēo, and hyt mōtan habban eall; and for ðȳ þǣr bēoð þā swiftan hors ungefōge dȳre. And þonne his gestrēon bēoð þus ealle āspended, þonne byrð man hit ūt, and forbærneð mid his wǣpnum and hrægle; and swīðost ealle hys spēda hȳ forspendað mid þǣm langan leger þæs dēadan mannes inne, and þæs þe hȳ be þǣm wegum ālecgað, þe ðā fremdan tō ærnað, and nimað. And þæt is mid Estum þǣw þæt þǣr sceal ǣlces geðēodes man bēon forbærned; and gyf þār man ān bān findeð unforbærned, hī hit sceolan miclum gebētan. And þǣr is mid Estum ān mǣgð þæt hī magon cyle gewyrcan; and þȳ þǣr licgað þā dēadan men swā lange, and ne fūliað, þæt hȳ wyrcað þone cyle him on. And þēah man āsette twēgen fǣtels full ealað oððe wæteres, hȳ gedōð þæt ǣgþer bið oferfroren, sam hit sȳ sumor sam winter.