The Norn Hildina Ballad from the Shetland Islands: Scandinavian parallels and attempts at reconstruction/translation


Norn language
Old Norse literature
Scandinavian balladry
Shetland Islands

How to Cite

González Campo, M. (2020). The Norn Hildina Ballad from the Shetland Islands: Scandinavian parallels and attempts at reconstruction/translation. SELIM. Journal of the Spanish Society for Medieval English Language and Literature., 25(1), 61-119.


The Shetland Islands, together with the Orkney Islands, were until the nineteenth century a remarkable reservoir of the so-called Norn language, an extinct insular variety of Old Norse closely related to Icelandic and, specially, Faroese. Norn was preserved in these North-Atlantic British islands in form of single words, proverbs, or prayers. However, the longest and most complete text in Norn is the Shetlandic Hildina Ballad, collected on the small island of Foula in 1774 by George Low and consisting of thirtyfive stanzas. In this article I intend to offer a comparative approach to this Norn oral text refering to its Scandinavian parallels and the attempts at reconstruction and translation carried out by several scholars such as Marius Hægstad, Sophus Bugge, William G. Collinwood, Norah Kershaw, or Eigil Lehmann.


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