View Full Version : SCYLD or SCEF.

Thursday, December 21st, 2006, 02:41 AM
SCYLD or SCEF. :sowilo: :kenaz: :isa: :laguz: :dagaz: :othala: :raido: :sowilo: :kenaz: :ehwaz: :fehu:

SCYLD [Shield], the child brought by the sea to the shores of Denmark, appears in Beowulf as the eponymous ancestor of the Danish royal line,the Scyldings.It is with him that the poem begins, setting the scene for the events of his great grandson Hrothgar,s rule.

He who arrives from the sea eventually returns to it-his body set adrift in a boat, surrounded by swords and armour; on his breast great treasures; above his head a gold standard. Thus he returns back to those mysterious and unnamed powers that set him adrift many years before.

The image of the wave-born prince is a powerful and dramatic one. It is thought that Tennyson made use of it in his Idylls of the King when he imagines Arthur arriving at Tintagel on the Cornish coast not from the womb of Ygerna, but from the dark sea itself; and, in his hour of passing, when his body is taken away by ship, Sir Bedivere hears this mysterious phrase:
From the great deep to the great deep he goes.

From the start, the figure of Scyld, like that of Arthur, seems to possess a quality more than human.Scyld, at least in the manner of his arrival into and departure from this world, was no mortal man.
There is something mythical about him and clearly we are not intended to take Beowulf at face value and see Scyld as simply a warrior ancestor, a man under whose rule the Danes achived dominance over the kings of neighbouring tribes. Fortunately, the name and deeds of Scyld do appear outside of the poem,and what they suggest is most intriguing.
In king Alfreds day, during a renaissance in education and learning, the royal genealogy of Wessex was expanded so that it contained as many generations as that of the house of David, thereby enabling the royal house to trace its ancestry all the way back to Adam rather than to Woden of their heathen forefathers.
To achieve this, the original list had to be extended and numerous gaps in the royal Wessex line somehow filled.To this end , figures from existing Anglo-Saxon tradition were used-figures who were considered worthy enough to be described as ancestors of the king.The three figures that topped the list of newcomers were the strangely named Scef[sheaf], Scyld [shield] and Beow [Barley]

The proximity of this list to the genealogy of the Scyldings in Beowulf is clear-here, too, Scyld [Scefing] is the father of Beow. But who is Scef, whose name appears above that of Scyld in the Wessex family tree? A gloss on this figure, found in the genealogy of ealdorman Aethelweard, contains some details about him:

This Sheaf came to land in a light boat, surrounded by weapons,
On an island in the sea which is called Scani. He was indeed a very
Young child and unknown to the folk of that land.However they
Took him up and looked after him as carefully as if he were one
Of their own kin and afterwards elected him king.

From this it is apparent that the figure called Scef in the Wessex genealogy fulfils the same role as attributed to Scyld Scefing in Beowulf.
It seems that the son has inherited the fathers myth-a myth that was cunningly used to link him into the biblical family tree, by recording that Scef had been born in Noahs Ark. William of Malmesbury recorded a little more about the figure he also calls Sheaf:

He was brought as a child in a ship without oars……he was asleep
And a sheaf of wheat lay at his head.Therefore he was called

William records how Sheaf was brought to an isle of Germany called Scandza and went on to reign in Hedeby in Old Anglia……from it the Angli came to Britain.
In other words , Scef and Scyld seem to share a common story, Scefs absence from Beowulf is remarkable.

To explain this, it has been suggested that perhaps he was merely an invention.
And at first glance, it is tempting to conclude that he was indeed an invented character.Scyld in Beowulf, as we have seen, bears the second name Scefing- a name that can be interpreted as meaning,with a sheaf,.
However the suffix-ing, in both Old English and the early Germanic languages, can also play the same role as the word-mac- or mab in the Celtic languages; it was the patronymic, meaning ,son of,.
In other words, Scef-ing can be read as either , with sheaf, or ,son of sheaf,. So it is possible that the the royal genealogist[the thylas] who constructed the Wessex genealogy interpreted his source as meaning the latter, and inserted at the head of the list a wholly fictitious Scef.
Such an argument would be convincing if it were not for two things. Firstly, would a completely fictional character, invented through a linguistic slip-up,
Have been allowed to head a royal genealogy if it were common knowledge that it was Scyld who was truly the progenitor of the Wessex line? Secondly, the poem Widsith , mentions one Scefa as an ancestor of the
Langobards, who believed their origins also lay in Scandinavia.
From this early clue, it must be supposed that the Wessex thylas was correct and was drawing on ancient traditions when he made Scef and not Scyld the progenitor of their royal line.

In the case of Beowulf, the poet has deliberately removed the name of the original foundling-hero Scef/sheaf in order to fit his story into what was known of the Danish sources, which, like Beowulf, do not mention Scef.
Their version of Scyld, known in Danish as Skjold, does not arrive or depart on a boat: the primary role of this thoroughly land-locked youth is that in
Childhood he wrestles with a bear and is said to be either the son of a man
Named Dan[the progenitor of the Danes-likely to have been invented soley for this purpose] or the god Odin.

Gorm the Old
Friday, December 22nd, 2006, 03:37 AM
Might not Scef be more than one generation removed from Scyld ?. As in Yngling, the "-ing" ending can mean "of the house of". Scef might have been the progenitor of a royal house of which Scyld was the scion at the time of Beowulf .:norsehelm

That the names of rulers of the Scefing line intermediate between Scef and Scyld are unknown does not disprove their existence. Perhaps their deeds were not noteworthy enough to merit a poem, or the poems have been lost. :O

Saturday, December 23rd, 2006, 10:49 PM

During the reign of Edmund 1 , a dispute over a certain piece of land the monks of Abington Abbey claimed as theirs was resolved in a very odd manner:

Appealing to the Judgement of God, the monks put a sheaf of wheat,
With a lighted taper at its head, onto a round shield and launched
The shield into the Thames.

The shield with its sheaf on board circumnavigated the disputed lands [which had flooded] and this therefore proved the land belonged to the Abbey. Not only was this a remarkable way of settling a land dispute, it is also a clue as to how the confusion over Scyld and Scef may have arisen.

I have often thought that there is a link between the stories of Scyld/ Scef and Ing/Freyr/Frothi, as Mythical frith kings, from accross the sea,

A recurring motif in the myths of the Germanic peoples is that of the king who arrives as a child on a ship from across the sea. The king generally has a long and prosperous reign and upon death is sent back across the sea.
Perhaps the most famous of these myths appears in Beowulf. There we are told how Scyld [ known in old Norse as Skjold ]came to Denmark as a child in a ship filled with treasure. The child later became king and when Scyld died the Danes filled another ship with weapons and sent the king,s corpse back across the sea. The Ing verse could describe a similar situation .Ing may have
arrived from across the sea , ruled the east Danes for awhile,then went back across the sea,just as Scyld and other kings had[ here I must point out, that
there is some disagreement as to whether he went eft, [ back ]or est, [ east]
as it is unclear whether it is an f or an s in the manuscript--I personally suspect it is eft, which would be more fitting considering these myths ].

Supporting the idea that the verse for Ing could be describing the myth of a king who comes across the sea and then goes back across it could be the fact that an Yngvi is said to have ruled the Swedes and an Ingui appears in the genealogy of the kings of the Anglo-Saxon kingdom of Bernicia.
In addition, Freyr [ who bore the byname Yngvi ] is also said to have ruled
Sweden as a king. It also seems possible that the famous king Frodi of Denmark could have been none other than Freyr himself. One of Freyr, s titles
was inn frodi, the wise, or the fruitful,

Beyond the possibility that Ing could be a name of Freyr is the fact that the
verse makes reference to Ing, s wain. Evidence suggests that it was a custom among the Germanic peoples to carry an image of a god around the countryside in order to increase the fertility of the crops for the coming year.
The most famous instance of this is described in Tacitus; Germania, where
Tacitus tells how various Germanic tribes would carry the godess Nerthus;
image about in a wain. Later we see a similar ritual described in the Icelandic
Flateyjarbok,where it tells how a wain carrying Freyr,s idol would travel
about the Swedish countryside. Archaeological evidence of this may exist
in the form of an ornate chariot found at Dejbjerg, Denmark which is generally agreed to have been built for ritual rather than practical use.
This makes it quite possible that in mentioning Ing,s wain, the verse for Ing,s wain could be referring to this custom.
As a rune which could be linked to the god Freyr and one whose verse
possibly makes reference to the ritual of carrying his image about in a wain, Ing would appear to be a rune of fertility and growth.
The possibility that the verse for Ing is describing a myth in which a king arrives from across the sea, has a long and prosperous reign, and then returns
across the sea [presumably to be replaced by another king] makes it likely
that it is also the rune of the cycle of life [the king is dead, long live the
king]. Regardless, it seems clear that the meaning of the rune Ing can probably be found in an examination of the god Freyr and the various myths
of the Germanic peoples of kings who came from across the sea

Ing was first amid the East
Danes, seen by men, but he
since went eft, over the wet
way, his wain ran after him.

:isa: :inguz:

:isa: :inguz: :fehu: :ansuz: :thurisas: :ehwaz: :raido: :othala: :fehu:
:thurisas: :ehwaz: :nauthiz: :othala: :raido: :dagaz:
:fehu: :othala: :laguz: :kenaz:

Saturday, December 23rd, 2006, 11:48 PM
It was a good point Egil, maybe Scyld did belong to a people with Sheaf as their progenitor.;)

Gorm the Old
Sunday, December 24th, 2006, 02:31 AM
I'm now beginning to wonder if Ing's Wain represents the portion of Ursa major often called the "Big Dipper" but also known as "Charles' Wain". Though lacking wheels, it does resemble a wagon and it circumnavigates the pole star.

Sunday, December 24th, 2006, 02:31 AM
I am very interested in the stories of Ing.
I,m sure i read somewhere that there was a Danish tradition that two brothes came
to Denmark in ancient times, and were culture founders., and that one of these brothers was called Ing, i am wondering if it has any bearance on what Tacitus said in Germania.

:isa: :inguz: :sowilo: :othala: :nauthiz: :othala: :fehu: :mannaz: :ansuz: :nauthiz: :uruz: :sowilo:

i Oceano Ingaevones, medii Herminones, ceteri Istaevones voc ppellationes, Marsos Gambrivios Suebos Vandilios adfirmant, eaque vera et antiqua nomina.
[In the traditional songs which form their only record of the past the Germans celebrate an earth-born god called Tuisto. His son Mannus is supposed to be the fountain-head of their race and himself to have begotten three sons who gave their names to three groups of tribes – the Ingaevones, nearest the sea; the Herminones, in the interior; and the Istaevones, who comprise all the rest. Some authorities, with the freedom of conjecture permitted by remote antiquity, assert that Tuisto had more numerous descendants and mention more tribal groups such as Marsi, Gambrivii, Suebi, and Vandilii – names which they affirm to be both genuine and ancient.]
Tuisto then, was apparently celebrated by the Germanic tribes as a proto-God, the ultimate ancestor of the people. Scholars assert that the etymology of His name is similar, if not synonymous with that of the primal giant in Norse cosmology: Ymir. The name Tuisto shares linguistic roots with the word “two” and like Ymir can mean “doubled,” or “hybrid.” Both Simek and HR Ellis Davidson assert that this is indicative that His nature may have been similar to that of the proto-giant: hermaphroditic and capable of a sort of cosmic parthenogenesis. There is also indication that His name is related to the Old Swedish word tvistra – separate, leading back to the concept of His being a two-fold being.
In addition to being born from the earth, celebrated amongst the Germanic tribes as their primeval ancestor, Tacitus also tells us that Tuisto has a son Mannus from whom are descended three major tribes of folk. Simek points out that this is strikingly similar to the Eddic cosmology wherein Buri the father of Bor, the father of the triune Odin, Vili, and Ve are the ancestors of all the other Gods and eventually humanity. Other scholars assert that this genealogy would make Mannus the first human being similar to the biblical Adam.
Interestingly enough, if we follow the genealogy put forth by Tacitus, Mannus would be the father of Ing after whom the Ingvaeones were named. Given that the Ingvaeones were located near the sea, and that Ing is one of the names of Frea (Frey), this may point to a later connection with Njord, however this is merely speculation at this time. Richard North in “Heathen Gods in Old English Literature” asserts that the various parts of Tuisto’s name, broken down may be cognate not only with the word “ twice” but also with “stand” and makes an interesting assertion that Tuisto as “terra editus” (born from the earth’), would be a “man whose feet are imagined as the roots of a growing tree.” He then draws a rather interesting if questionable parallel between what little we know of Tuisto as Primal Father of man, with Skadhi’s choosing of Njord by his feet. Skadhi is cast in the role of Terra Mater, Njord her seasonal consort and Mannus His human