The Sagas and Tales of Icelanders

[Click Here to Skip the Preface and Go Directly to the Saga List]

Preface

Illustrating a complex society filled with feuds, heroism, and aspects of everyday life, these sagas and tales bring Iceland’s Viking Age past back to life. Although written primarily during the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, these Icelandic works of literature reflect the collective memory of later medieval authors looking back to their own past. While they are not straightforward historical accounts of the events they claim to represent, they still contain valuable information about the social processes and concerns of the society that wrote them and later copied them. Several debates and sensitivities surround them, especially in regards to their origins and historicity.[1] Such debates, however, do not need to paralyze scholars and enthusiasts alike from delving into the world of these rather unique medieval sagas and tales.

This page serves to provide a full list of these sagas and tales. I have organized them by the region that the saga’s events take place in. As a result, I have included a map with each saga entry on this list. Some sagas have events that take place outside of the region I have highlighted, such as the geographically expansive Brennu-Njáls saga and Grettis saga. The maps for sagas like these will include a caption indicating that the region highlighted is the “Home Region,” meaning that is where the majority of action takes place (or where the main protagonists lived). Reading the sagas geographically will not only help illustrate how many sagas overlap one another, but also place them within a sense of space and community that will enrich the reader’s experience. I have drawn the majority of this information from the following two resources: Emily Lethbridge’s Icelandic Saga Map Project and Jesse L. Byock’s map of saga locations in his book Viking Age Iceland.

All the dates provided are in accordance with Íslenzk fornrit.[2] These dates are by no means concrete, nor are they agreed upon. Despite the inherent insecurities regarding these dates, however, including them may prove useful. It is always important, after all, to know the gap between the dates of composition and the dates when the events allegedly took place. I would also like to stress that these sagas have had a life beyond their original date of composition. Even later copies have a worth of their own and an audience that was interested in them; both are worthy of consideration.


Book Resources

In constructing this list, I have pulled from various books and online resources that contain these sagas and tales. In order to ensure that this list remains clean, concise, and practical, I have made use of several abbreviations. Below are the full names and citations for these abbreviations. These citations have been provided in the Chicago Manual Notation Style. In these citations, I have also provided links to each book and website listed, when appropriate.

CSI Only
Viðar Hreinsson ed., The Complete Sagas of Icelanders: Including 49 Tales, vol. I-V (Reykjavík: Leifur Eiríksson Publishing, 1997).
PSI
Örnólfur Þorsson and Bernard Scudder ed., The Sagas of Icelanders: A Selection, (New York: Penguin Books, 2001).
WPS
Örnólfur Þorsson and Bernard Scudder ed., Sagas of Warrior-Poets (London: Penguin Books, 2002).
CST
Viðar Hreinsson ed., Comic Sagas and Tales from Iceland (London: Penguin Books, 2013).
HRAF
Hermann Palsson trans., Hrafnkel’s Saga and Other Icelandic Stories (London: Penguin Books, 1971).
TIS
Magnus Magnusson ed., The Icelandic Sagas (The Folio Society, 1999).
ERO
Gwen Jones trans., Eirik The Red and Other Icelandic Sagas (New York: Oxford University Press, 2009).
PEN
Individual Saga/Small Collection Published by Penguin Books.
OXF
Individual Saga/Small Collection Published by Oxford World’s Classics.
OTHR
Individual Saga/Small Collection Published by Other Presses (These are often only available via third party sellers. They are also often expensive, and so I advise considering the ‘CSI Only’ source before spending too much money on these options.)

I intend to add an ‘eBook Only’ resource category at a later date. Most books currently listed, however, do have eBook options provided upon following the link.


Online Resources

These sources may overlap with available translations. I have provided multiple websites to accommodate possible preferences in format or accessibility. They are listed in the order of my own preference, which is based on format and reliability (but also frequency — the last three on this list are only used one time each).

ISD
 Icelandic Saga Database
VSWeb
 Viking Society Web Publications
ARC
 Archive.org
MCL
 Medieval and Classical Library
STA
 Sacred Texts Archive
NOR
 Northvegur.org
OLL
 Online Library of Liberty
NOT
 Notendur
HARV
 Harvard.edu

The Sagas of Icelanders


Sagas of the Western Quarter

Western Quarter


Gísla saga Súrssonar

Gísla saga Súrssonar
(Gisli Sursson’s Saga)

Estimated date of composition: c.1250
Date of earliest manuscript: c.1400
Dates for saga events: 950-80

Book Resources: PENPSI, OTHR
Online Resources: ISD, VSWeb, STA, NOR


Fóstbræða saga

Fóstbræða saga
(The Saga of the Sworn Brothers)

Estimated date of composition: 1270-1300
Date of earliest manuscript: 1302-10
Dates for saga events: 1000-30

Book Resources: CST, OTHR(?)


Hávarðar saga Ísfirðings

Hávarðar saga Ísfirðings
(The Saga of Havard of Isafjord)

Estimated date of composition: 1300-50
Date of earliest manuscript: c.1650
Dates for saga events: 1000-10

Book Resources: CST, OTHR
Online Resources: ISD, ARC


Króka-Refs saga
Home Region

Króka-Refs saga
(The Saga of Ref the Sly)

Estimated date of composition: 1325-75
Date of earliest manuscript: c.1475
Dates for saga events: 950-1050

Book Resources: PSI, CST, OTHR


Gull-Þóris saga

Gull-Þóris saga
(Gold-Thorir’s Saga)

Estimated date of composition: 1300-50
Date of earliest manuscript: c.1400
Dates for saga events: 900-30

Book Resource: CSI Only


Laxdæla saga

Laxdæla saga
(The Saga of the People of Laxardal)

Estimated date of composition: 1230-60
Date of earliest Manuscript: c.1275
Dates for saga events: 900-1000

Book Resources: PEN, PSI
Online Resources: ISD, STA, NOR, MCL


Eiríks saga rauða
Home Region

Eiríks saga rauða
(Eirik the Red’s Saga)

Estimated date of composition: 1200-30
Date of earliest manuscript: 1302-10
Dates for saga events: 990-1030

Book Resources: OXF, PEN, PSI, ERO, TIS
Online Resources: ISD, ARC

Grænlendinga saga
(The Saga of the Greenlanders)

Estimated date of composition: 1200-30
Date of earliest manuscript: 1387-94
Dates for saga events: 990-1030

Book Resources: PEN, PSI, TIS
Online Resource: NOT (not a complete version)


Eyrbyggja saga

Eyrbyggja saga
(The Saga of the People of Eyri)

Estimated date of composition: c.1265
Date of earliest Manuscript: c.1300
Dates for saga events: 880-1031

Book Resources: PEN, PENTIS
Online Resources: ISD, NOR, MCL
Free Audiobook (Icelandic): RÚV


Bárðar saga Snæfellsáss
Home Region

Bárðar saga Snæfellsáss
(Bard’s Saga)

Estimated date of composition: 1350-80
Date of earliest manuscript: c.1400
Dates for saga events: 1010-1025

Book Resource: OTHR


Víglundar saga

Víglundar saga
(Viglund’s Saga)

Estimated date of composition: c.1400
Date of earliest manuscript: c.1500
Dates for saga events: 900-50

Book Resource: WPS
Online Resource: ISD


Bjarnar saga Hítdælakappa

Bjarnar saga Hítdælakappa
(The Saga of Bjorn, Champion of the Hitardal People)

Estimated date of composition: 1215-30
Date of earliest manuscript: c.1375
Dates for saga events: 1000-30

Book Resources: WPS, OTHR


Egils saga Skallagrímssonar

Egils saga Skallagrímssonar
(Egil’s Saga)

Estimated date of composition: 1220-30
Date of earliest manuscript: c.1250
Dates for saga events: 850-1000

Book Resources: PEN, PSI, TIS
Online Resources: ISD, VSWeb, STA, NOR
Free Audiobook (Icelandic): RÚV


Gunnlaugs saga ormstungu

Gunnlaugs saga ormstungu
(The Saga of Gunnlaug Serpent-Tongue)

Estimated date of composition: 1270-80
Date of earliest manuscript: c.1325
Dates for saga events: 990-1010

Book Resources: WPS, PSI, TISEROOTHR
Online Resources: ISD, VSWeb


Hænsa-Þóris saga

Hænsa-Þóris saga
(Hen-Thorir’s Saga)

Estimated date of composition: 1250-70
Date of earliest Manuscript: c.1500
Date for saga events: 960

Book Resources: EROOTHR, OTHR
Online Resources: ISD, ARC


Sagas of the Southern Quarter

Southern Quarter


Harðar saga og Hólmverja
Home Region

Harðar saga og Hólmverja
(The Saga of Hord and the People of Holm)

Estimated date of composition: c.1240/14th
Date of earliest manuscript: c.1400
Dates for saga events: 940-80

Book Resource: OTHR
Online Resource: VSWeb


Kjalnesinga saga

Kjalnesinga saga
(The Saga of the People of Kjalarnes)

Estimated date of composition: 1310-20
Date of earliest manuscript: c.1475
Dates for saga events: 910-30

Book Resource: OTHR


Flóamanna saga

Flóamanna saga
(The Saga of the People of Floi)

Estimated date of composition: 1290-1330
Date of earliest manuscript: c.1400
Dates for saga events: 870-1010

Book Resource: CSI Only


Brennu-Njáls saga
Home Region

Brennu-Njáls saga
(Njal’s Saga)

Estimated date of composition: 1275-85
Date of earliest manuscript: c.1300
Dates for saga events: 950-1020

Book Resources: PEN, TISOTHR
Online Resources: ISD, OLL, STA, NOR, MCL
Free Audiobooks (Icelandic): RÚV (Einar Ól. Sveinnson), RÚV (Ingibjörg Haraldsdóttir)


Sagas of the Eastern Quarter

Eastern Quarter


Gunnars saga KeldugnúpsfíflsGunnars saga Keldugnúpsfífls
(The Saga of Gunnar, the Fool of Keldugnup)

Estimated date of composition: 1400-1500
Date of earliest manuscript: c.1650
Dates for saga events: 975-1000

Book Resource: CSI Only


Þorsteins saga Síðu-HallssonarÞorsteins saga Síðu-Hallssonar
(Thorstein Sidu-Hallsson’s Saga)

Estimated date of composition: c.1240-60
Date of earliest manuscript: c.1700
Dates for saga events: 900-50

Book Resource: CSI Only


Hrafnakels saga FreysgoðaHrafnkels saga Freysgoða
(The Saga of Hrafnkel Frey’s Godi)

Estimated date of composition: by c.1300
Date of earliest Manuscript: c.1500
Dates for saga events: 925-950

Book Resources: HRAFPSI, TISEROOTHR
Online Resource: ISD


Droplaugarsona sagaDroplaugarsona saga
(The Saga of Droplaug’s Sons)

Estimated date of composition: 1200-40
Date of earliest manuscript: c.1350
Dates for saga events: 950-1010

Online Resource: VSWeb


Fljótsdæla sagaFljótsdæla saga
(The Saga of the People of Fljotsdal)

Estimated date of composition: 1500-50
Date of earliest manuscript: c.1625
Dates for saga events: 940-1000

Online Resource: VSWeb


Vopnfirðinga sagaVopnfirðinga saga
(The Saga of the People of Vopnafjord)

Estimated date of composition: 1270-80
Date of earliest manuscript: c.1425
Dates for saga events: 970-1000

Book Resources: TIS, EROOTHR, OTHR


Þorsteins saga hvítaÞorsteins saga Hvíta
(The Saga of Thorstein the White)

Estimated date of composition: c.1300
Date of earliest manuscript: 1639
Dates for saga events: 900-50

Book Resource: OTHR


Sagas of the Northern Quarter

Northern Quarter


Reykdæla saga og Víga-SkútuReykdæla saga og Víga-Skútu
(The Saga of the People of Rekjadal and of Killer-Skuta)

Estimated date of composition: c.1250
Date of earliest manuscript: c.1400
Dates for saga events: 970-1000

Book Resource: CSI Only


Ljósvetninga sagaLjósvetninga saga
(The Saga of the People of Ljosavatn)

Estimated date of composition: c.1230-50
Date of earliest manuscript: c.1400
Dates for saga events: 990-1060

Book Resource: CSI Only


Finnboga saga ramma
Home Region

Finnboga saga ramma
(The Saga of Finnbogi the Mighty)

Estimated date of composition: 1300-50
Date of earliest manuscript: c.1350
Dates for saga events: 930-1000

Book Resource: CSI Only


Víga-Glúms sagaVíga-Glúms saga
(Killer-Glum’s Saga)

Estimated date of composition: 1220-50
Date of earliest manuscript: c.1350
Dates for saga events: 925-1003

Book Resources: OTHR, OTHROTHR
Online Resources: ISD, ARCSTA, NOR


Valla-Ljóts sagaValla-Ljóts saga
(Valla-Ljot’s Saga)

Estimated date of composition: 1220-40
Date of earliest manuscript: c.1640
Dates for saga events: 1000-20

Book Resources: OTHR, OTHR


Svarfdæla sagaSvarfdæla saga
(The Saga of the People of Svarfadardal)

Estimated date of composition: 1350-1400
Date of earliest manuscript: c.1450
Dates for saga events: 875-980

Book Resource: CSI Only


Þórðar saga hreðuÞórðar saga hreðu
(The Saga of Thord Menace)

Estimated date of composition: c.1350
Date of earliest manuscript: c.1400
Dates for saga events: 950-70

Online Resource: ISD


Vatnsdæla sagaVatnsdæla saga
(The Saga of the People of Vatnsdal)

Estimated date of composition: 1270-80
Date of earliest manuscript: c.1400
Dates for saga events: 875-1000

Book Resource: PSI


Hallfreðar saga vandræðaskáldsHallfreðar saga vandræðaskálds 
(The Saga of Hallfred the Troublesome Poet)

Estimated date of composition: c.1220
Date of earliest manuscript: c.1350
Dates for saga events: 940-1000

Book Resources: WPS, OTHR


Heiðarvíga sagaHeiðarvíga saga
(The Saga of the Slayings on the Heath)

Estimated date of composition: c.1200
Date of earliest manuscript: c.1300
Dates for saga events: 975-1025

Online Resources: ISD, NOR, MCL


Grettis saga
Home Region

Grettis saga
(The Saga of Grettir the Strong)

Estimated date of composition: 1310-20
Date of earliest manuscript: c.1500
Dates for saga events: 875-1050

Book Resources: PEN, OXF, OTHR
Online Resources: ISD, VSWeb, STA, NOR, MCL
Free Audiobook (Icelandic): RÚV


Bandamanna sagaBandamanna saga
(The Saga of the Confederates)

Estimated date of composition: c.1250
Date of earliest manuscript: c.1350
Dates for saga events: 1040-60

Book Resources: PSI, CST, TISOTHR
Online Resources: ISD, VSWeb, ARC


Kormáks sagaKormáks saga
(Kormak’s Saga)

Estimated date of composition: by 1220
Date of earliest manuscript: c.1350
Dates for saga events: 930-80

Book Resource: WPS
Online Resources: ISD, VSWeb, NOR, MCL


The Tales of Icelanders


For the time being, this section lists the Icelandic þættir (tales) in alphabetical order. I will eventually do with them what I have done for the sagas, which means that they will be organized along geographical lines. I will also include notes as to which tales have saga counterparts. Furthermore, I will also provide dates once I am able to find reliable sources for such information.


Arnórs þáttur jarlaskálds
(The Tale of Arnor, the Poet of Earls)

Book Resource: CSI Only


Auðunar þáttur vestfirska
(The Tale of Audun from the West Fjords)

Book Resources: PSI, HRAF, TIS, ERO
Online Resource: NOR


Bergbúa þáttur
(The Tale of the Mountain-Dweller)

Book Resource: CSI Only


Bolla þáttur
(Bolli Bollason’s Tale)

Book Resources: PEN, PSI

* ‘Sequel’ to Laxdæla saga


Brandkrossa þáttur
(Brandkrossi’s Tale)

Book Resource: CSI Only


Brands þáttur örva
(The Tale of Brand the Generous)

Book Resource: CSI Only


Draumur Þorsteins Síðu-Hallssonar
(Thorstein Sidu-Hallsson’s Dream)

Book Resource: CSI Only


Egils þáttur Síðu-Hallssonar
(Egil Sidu-Hallsson’s Tale)

Book Resource: CSI Only


Einars þáttur Skúlasonar
(Einar Skulason’s Tale)

Book Resource: CSI Only


Gísls þáttur Illugasonar
(Gisl Illugason’s Tale)

Book Resource: OTHR


Grænlendinga þáttur
(The Tale of the Greenlanders)

Book Resource: CSI Only


Gull-Ásu-Þórðar þáttur
(The Tale of Gold-Asa’s Thord)

Book Resource: OTHR


Gunnars þáttur Þiðrandabana
(The Tale of Gunnar, the Slayer of Thidrandi)

Book Resource: CSI Only


Halldórs þáttur Snorrasonar hinn fyrri
(The Tale of Halldor Snorrason I)

Book Resource: HRAF(?)


Halldórs þáttur Snorrasonar hinn síðari
(The Tale of Halldor Snorrason II)

Book Resources: PSI, HRAF.


Hrafns þáttur Guðrúnarsonar
(Hrafn Gudrunarson’s Tale)

Book Resource: CSI Only


Hreiðars þáttur
(Hreidar’s Tale)

Book Resources: CST, HRAF


Hrómundar þáttur halta
(The Tale of Hromund the Lame)

Book Resource: CSI Only


Íslendings þáttur sögufróða
(The Tale of the Story-Wise Icelander)

Book Resource: PSI


Ívars þáttur Ingimundarsonar
(Ivar Ingimundarson’s Tale)

Book Resource: HRAF


Jökuls þáttur Búasonar
(Jokul Buason’s Tale)

Book Resource: OTHR


Kumlbúa þáttur
(The Tale of the Cairn-Dweller)

Book Resource: CSI Only


Mána þáttur skálds
(The Tale of Mani the Poet)

Book Resource: CSI Only


Odds þáttur Ófeigssonar
(Odd Ofeigsson’s Tale)

Book Resource: CSI Only


Orms þáttur Stórólfssonar
(Orm Storolfsson’s Tale)

Book Resource: CSI Only


Óttars þáttur svarta
(The Tale of Ottar the Black)

Book Resource: CSI Only


Sneglu-Halla þáttur
(The Tale of Sarcastic Halli)

Book Resources: PSI, CST, OTHR


Stúfs þáttur hinn skemmri
(Stuf’s Tale)

Book Resource: CSI Only


Stjörnu-Odda draumer
(Star-Oddi’s Dream)

Book Resource: CSI Only


Svaða þáttur og Arnórs kerlingarnefs
(The Tale of Svadi and Arnor Crone’s-Nose)

Book Resource: CSI Only


Þiðranda þáttur og Þórhalls
(The Tale of Thidrandi and Thorhall)

Book Resources: TIS, ERO


Þorgríms þáttur Hallasonar
(Thorgrim Hallason’s Tale)

Book Resource: CSI Only


Þorleifs þáttur jarlsskálds
(The Tale of Thorleif, the Earl’s Poet)

Book Resource: CST


Þormóðar þáttur
(Thormod’s Tale)

Book Resource: CSI Only


Þorsteins saga tjaldstæðings
(The Tale of Thorstein Tent-Pitcher)

Book Resource: CSI Only


Þorsteins þáttur Austfirðings
(The Tale of Thorstein from the East Fjords)

Book Resource: OTHR


Þorsteins þáttur forvitna
(The Tale of Thorstein the Curious)

Book Resource: CSI Only


Þorsteins þáttur Síðu-Hallssonar
(Thorstein Sidu-Hallsson’s Tale)

Book Resourse: CSI Only


Þorsteins þáttur skelks
(The Tale of Thorstein Shiver)

Book Resource: PSI


Þorsteins þáttur stangarhöggs
(The Tale of Thorstein Staff-Struck)

Book Resources: PSI, HRAF, TIS, ERO
Online Resource: HARV


Þorsteins þáttur uxafóts
(The Tale of Thorstein Bull’s-Leg)

Book Resource: CSI Only


Þorvalds þáttur tasalda
(The Tale of Thorvald Tasaldi)

Book Resource: OTHR


Þorvalds þáttur víðförla
(The Tale of Thorvald the Far-Travelled)

Book Resource: CSI Only


Þorvarðar þáttur krákunefs
(The Tale of Thorvard Crow’s-Beak)

Book Resource: OTHR


Þórarins þáttur ofsa
(The Tale of Thorarin the Overbearing)

Book Resource: CSI Only


Þórarins þáttur Nefjólfssonar
(Thorarin Nefjolfsson’s Tale)

Book Resource: CSI Only


Þórarins þáttur stuttfeldar
(The Tale of Thorarin Short-Cloak)

Book Resource: CSI Only


Þórhalls þáttur knapps
(The Tale of Thorhall Knapp)

Book Resource: CSI Only


Ögmundar þáttur dytts
(The Tale of Ogmund Bash)

Book Resource: OTHR


Ölkofra saga
(Olkofri’s Saga)

Book Resources: CST, HRAF


Endnotes

[1] For fairly recent accounts regarding these debates, see Gísli Sigurðsson, The Medieval Icelandic Saga and Oral Tradition: A Discourse on Method, translated by Nicholas Jones (Cambridge, MA: Milman Perry Collection of Oral Literature, 2004) and Theodore M. Andersson, The Growth of the Medieval Icelandic Sagas (1180-1280) (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2006). [return]

[2] My organization system is based off of the chart provided in the following source: Vésteinn Ólasson, “Family Sagas,” In A Companion to Old Norse-Icelandic Literature and Culture, edited by Rory McTurk (Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing, 2007), 134-35. [return]

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