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Wayland the Smith in Britain and Scandinavia

Wayland's Smithy, Oxfordshire

Wayland the Smith (O.E: Wēland; O.N: Völundr, Velentr; O.H.G: Wiolant; Proto-Germanic: *Wēlandaz, from *Wēla-nandaz, meaning "battle-brave") is known throughout Germanic mythology.

In Old Norse, Völundr appears in Völundarkviða, a poem in the Poetic Edda, and in Þiðrekssaga. In Old English Wēland appears in Deor, Waldere and in Beowulf.

There are also a number of sculptures in Scandinavia and in Britain which refer to the legend.

The Norse sources give the fullest account of the legend:

Völundr had two brothers, Egil and Slagfiðr. In one version of the legend, the three brothers lived with three Valkyries: Ölrún, Hervör alvitr and Hlaðguðr svanhvít. After nine years, the Valkyries left their lovers. Egil and Slagfiðr followed, never to return.

In another version version of the legend, Völundr married the swan maiden Hervör, and they had a son, Heime, but Hervör later left Völundr. In both versions, his wife left him with a ring when she departed.

Völundr was captured in his sleep by King Niðhad (also Níðuðr or Niðung) in Nerike who ordered him hamstrung and imprisoned on the island of Sævarstöð. There he was forced to work as a smith for King Niðhad. Völundr's wife's ring was given to the king's daughter, Bodvild. The King took Völundr's sword.

In revenge, Völundr killed the king's sons, fashioned goblets from their skulls, jewels from their eyes, and a brooch from their teeth. He sent the goblets to the king, the jewels to the queen and the brooch to the king's daughter.

When Bodvild took her ring to him to be mended, he took the ring and raped her, fathering a son and escaping on a pair of wings that he made.

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