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The Aethelfrith Project at the Centre for Mediaeval Studies

Welcome to the Electronic Aethelfrith Site! This edition has been especially prepared for both beginning students and advanced scholars. We have created a new edition of the Davis MS that also incorporates all known variants from both the Linn 458 and Sash B manuscripts. All passages unique to Linn are marked in bold text. All passages unique to Sash B are marked in italics. Those variants common to Linn and Sash B, but missing in Davis, are marked both with bold and italics and have a light yellow background. Access footnotes by clicking on line numbers. This edition also includes a full list of textual variants and a glossary.



1. Listen! We have heard great things about Aethelfrith,

2. son of Aethelbert, protector of the sea-riders,

3. ruler of the whale-road, open waters;

4. not unwelcome was he at the battle, strong at sea,

5. seafaring king, lord of the Sea-Danes.

6. His enemies had no need to laugh,

7. boasting bravely at mead-hall, happy in their hearts.

8. Hroth of the water-people, a man of great boasts,

9. once experienced that misery.


1. The additions from Linn and Sash throw off the alliteration in the Old English, but some scholars believe they indicate a lost half-line in the original text; "Listen": variously translated as "Hark" or "So"; "great things": both Linn and Sash B.

3. "ruler of the whale-road": Sash B.

4. "not unwelcome was he": Linn

5. The reference here to Sea-Danes and sea-riders above (line 2) have led McPherson to relate this story to the arrival of the Angles in Britain.

6. "laugh": With the connotation of scornful, derisive laughter, rather than giggling.

8. Hroth remains unidentified; "water-people": Not likely a reference to whales; "a man of great boasts": Linn.

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