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Early Indo-European Texts

Old English

Jonathan Slocum

This page contains a text in Old English with a modern English translation. This particular text and its translation are extracted from a lesson in the Early Indo-European Online series, where one may find detailed information about this text (see the Table of Contents page for Old English Online in EIEOL), and general information about the Old English language and its speakers' culture.

Voyages of Ohthere and Wulfstan

H sde t Normanna land wre swe lang and swe sml. Eal t his man er oe ettan oe erian mg, t l wi s; and t is ah on sumum stwum swe cldig; and licga wilde mras wi astan and wi uppon emnlange m bnum lande. On m mrum eardia Finnas. And t bne land is asteweard brdost, and symle sw noror sw smlre. astewerd hit mg bon syxtig mla brd, oe hwne brdre; and middeweard rtig oe brdre; and noreweard h cw, r hit smalost wre, t hit mihte bon rora mla brd t m mre; and se mr syan, on sumum stwum, sw brd sw man mg on twm wucum oferfran; and on sumum stwum sw brd sw man mg on syx dagum oferfran.

onne is temnes m lande seweardum, on re healfe s mres, Swoland, o t land noreweard; and temnes m lande noreweardum, Cwna land. Cwnas hergia hwlum on Normen ofer one mr, hwlum Normen on h. And r sint swe micle meras fersce geond mras; and bera Cwnas hyra scypu ofer land on meras, and anon hergia on Normen; h habba swe ltle scypa and swe lohte.

hthere sde t so scr htte Hlgoland e h on bde. H cw t nn man ne bde be noran him. onne is n port on seweardum m lande, one man ht Scringes hal. yder h cw t man ne mihte geseglian on num mne, gyf man on niht wcode, and lce dge hfde ambyrne wind; and ealle hwle h sceal seglian be lande. And on t storbord him bi rest raland, and onne gland e synd betux ralande and issum lande. onne is is land o h cym t Scrincges hale, and ealne weg on t bcbord Norweg. Wi san one Scringes hal fyl swe mycel s p in on t lond; so is brdre onne nig man ofer son mge. And is Gotland on re healfe ongan, and sian Sillende. So s l mnig hund mla p in on t land.


He said that the land of the Norwegians was very long and very narrow. All that a man can either graze or plough extends alongside the sea; but it is however in certain places very rocky; and wild moors lie to the east and above, beside the inhabited land. On the moors live Finns. The inhabited land is broadest to the east, and ever narrower further north. To the east it may be sixty miles wide, or somewhat more; and towards the middle, thirty or more. To the north, he said, there it was narrowest, so that it might be three miles wide towards the moor; the moor afterwards, in some places, (is) as wide as one might cross in two weeks; and in some places as wide as one might cross in six days.
Then alongside that land on the south, on the other side of the moors, is Sweden, as far as that land to the north; and alongside that land on the north, the land of the Cwena people. The Cwenas sometimes conduct raids against the Norwegians across the moor, sometimes the Norwegians against them. There are very large fresh-water lakes throughout the moors; the Cwenas carry their ships over the land onto the lakes, and from there raid the Norwegians; they have very small and very light ships.
Ohthere said that the district is called Helgeland, which he lived in. He said that no one lived north of him. There is a port in the south of that land, which one calls Skiringssal. He said that one could not sail there in a month, if one anchored at night, and each day had a favorable wind; and all the while he shall sail near land. To the starboard of him is first Ireland, and then the islands that are between Ireland and this land. Then this land continues until one comes to Skiringssal, and all the way on the port side (is) Norway. To the south of the Skiringssal a very large sea flows up into that land; it is wider than any man is able to see across. Jutland is on the other side, opposite, and thereafter Zealand. The sea extends many hundreds of miles up into that land.