The Sagas and Tales of Icelanders

Preface

Illustrating a complex society filled with feuds, heroism, and even aspects of everyday life, these sagas and tales bring Iceland’s Viking Age past back to life. Written primarily during the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries by anonymous authors, these Icelandic works 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, with the sagas having been listed in chronological order, according to Íslenzk fornrit.2 These dates are by no means concrete, nor are they agreed upon. However, despite the inherent insecurities regarding these dates, organizing the sagas by date may help fellow historians apply a given saga (or set of sagas) to a research topic. Yet, I would like to stress that these sagas have a life beyond their original date of composition. Even later copies have a life of their own, and an audience interested in them, that is definitely worth considering. Nonetheless, these sagas have been ordered by three categories, which each correspond to an estimated time frame: Early sagas (c.1200-80), Classical sagas (c.1240-1310), and Late sagas (c.1300-1450). Since these categories were formed on the basis of saga features, they overlap one another temporally. Furthermore, each category has been ordered alphabetically with their Icelandic name first, followed by their name in English. The tales of Icelanders, however, will only appear in an alphabetically ordered list all together under ‘Short Sagas‘.

SAMPLE ENTRY:

Icelandic Title (English Title)
(Date according to Íslenzk fornrit or other scholar; Date of oldest manuscript or fragment) // Book Resources: SAMP, SAMP. Online Resource: SAMP.


Guide and Reference

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.

BOOK SOURCES

CSI Only = Viðar Hreinsson ed., The Complete Sagas of Icelanders (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.)

ONLINE SOURCES

These sources may overlap in 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.

(An ‘eBook Only’ resource category will likely be added at a later date. Most books currently listed, however, do have eBook options provided upon following the link.)


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The Sagas and Where to Find Them

EARLY SAGAS (c.1200-80)

Bjarnar saga Hítdælakappa (The Saga of Bjorn, Champion of the Hitardal People)
(1215-30; c.1375) // Book Resources: WPS, OTHR.

Droplaugarsona saga (The Saga of Droplaug’s Sons)
(1200-40; c.1350) // Online Resource: VSWeb.

Egils saga Skallagrímssonar (Egil’s Saga)
(1220-30; c.1250) // Book Resources: PEN, PSI, TIS. Online Resources: ISD, VSWeb, STA, NOR.

Eiríks saga rauða (Eirik the Red’s Saga)
(1200-30; 1302-10) // Book Resources: OXF, PEN, PSI, ERO, TIS. Online Resources: ISD, ARC.

Fóstbræðra saga (The Saga of the Sword Brothers)
(c.1200; 1302-10) // Book Resources: CST, OTHR(?).

Grænlendinga saga (The Saga of the Greenlanders)
(1200-30; 1387-94) // Book Resources: PEN, PSI, TIS. Online Resource: NOT (not a complete version).

Hallfreðar saga vandræðaskálds (The Saga of Hallfred the Troublesome Poet)
(c.1220; c.1350) // Book Resources: WPS, OTHR.

Heiðarvíga saga (The Saga of the Slayings on the Heath)
(c.1200, before 1210; c.1300) // Online Resources: ISD, NOR, MCL.

Kormáks saga (Kormak’s Saga)
(by 1220; c.1350) // Book Resource: WPS. Online Resources: ISD, VSWeb, NOR, MCL.

Ljósvetninga saga (The Saga of the People of Ljosavatn)
(1230?-50; c.1400) // Book Resource: CSI Only.

Reykdæla saga og Víga-Skútu (The Saga of the People of Rekjadal and of Killer-Skuta)
(c.1250; c.1400) // Book Resource: CSI Only.

Valla-Ljóts saga (Valla-Ljot’s Saga)
(1220-40; c.1640) // Book Resources: OTHR, OTHR.

Vopnfirðinga saga (The Saga of the People of Vopnafjord)
(1225-50; c.1425) // Book Resources: TIS, EROOTHR, OTHR.

Vatnsdæla saga (The Saga of the People of Vatnsdal)
(1270-80; c.1400) // Book Resource: PSI.

Víga-Glúms saga (Killer-Glum’s Saga)
(1220-50; c.1350) // Book Resources: OTHR, OTHROTHR. Online Resources: ISD, ARCSTA, NOR.

CLASSICAL SAGAS (c.1240-1310)

Bandamanna saga (The Saga of the Confederates)
(c.1250; c.1350) // Book Resources: PSI, CST, TISOTHR. Online Resources: ISD, VSWeb, ARC.

Eyrbyggja saga (The Saga of the People of Eyri)
(c.1265; c.1300) // Book Resources: PEN, PENTIS. Online Resources: ISD, NOR, MCL.

Gísla saga Súrssonar (Gisli Surrson’s Saga)
(c.1250; c.1400) // Book Resources: PENPSI, OTHR. Online Resources: ISD, VSWeb, STA, NOR.

Gunnlaugs saga ormstungu (The Saga of Gunnlaug Serpent-Tongue)
(1270-80; c.1325) // Book Resources: WPS, PSI, TISEROOTHR. Online Resources: ISD, VSWeb.

Hrafnkels saga Freysgoða (The Saga of Hrafnkel Frey’s Godi)
(by c.1300; c.1500) // Book Resources: HRAFPSI, TISEROOTHR. Online Resource: ISD.

Hænsna-Þóris saga (Hen-Thorir’s Saga)
(1250-70; c.1500) // Book Resources: EROOTHR, OTHR. Online Resources: ISD, ARC.

Laxdæla saga (The Saga of the People of Laxardal)
(1230-60; c.1275) // Book Resources: PEN, PSI. Online Resources: ISD, STA, NOR, MCL.

Njáls saga (Njal’s Saga)
(1275-85; c.1300) // Book Resources: PEN, TISOTHR. Online Resources: ISD, OLL, STA, NOR, MCL.

LATE SAGAS (c.1300-1450)

Bárðar saga Snæfellsáss (Bard’s Saga)
(1350-80; c.1400) // Book Resource: OTHR.

Finnboga saga ramma (The Saga of Finnbogi the Mighty)
(1300-50; c.1350) // Book Resource: CSI Only.

Fljótsdæla saga (The Saga of the People of Fljotsdal)
(1500-50; c.1625) // Online Resource: VSWeb.

Flóamanna saga (The Saga of the People of Floi)
(1290-1330; c.1400) // Book Resource: CSI Only.

Grettis saga (The Saga of Grettir the Strong)
(1310-20; c.1500) // Book Resources: PEN, OXF, OTHR. Online Resources: ISD, VSWeb, STA, NOR, MCL.

Gull-Þóris saga (Gold-Thorir’s Saga)
(1300-50; c.1400) // Book Resource: CSI Only.

Gunnars saga Keldugnúpsfífls (The Saga of Gunnar, the Fool of Keldugnup)
(1400-1500; c.1650) // Book Resource: CSI Only.

Harðar saga og Hólmverja (The Saga of Hord and the People of Holm)
(1235-45 or 14th century; c.1400) // Book Resource: OTHR. Online Resource: VSWeb.

Hávarðar saga Ísfirðings (The Saga of Havard of Isafjord)
(1300-50; c.1650) // Book Resources: CST, OTHR. Online Resources: ISD, ARC.

Kjalnesinga saga (The Saga of the People of Kjalarnes)
(1310-20; c.1475) // Book Resource: OTHR.

Króka-Refs saga (The Saga of Ref the Sly)
(1325-75; c.1475) // Book Resources: PSI, CST, OTHR.

Svarfdæla saga (The Saga of the People of Svarfadardal)
(1350-1400; c.1450) // Book Resource: CSI Only.

Þórðar saga hreðu (The Saga of Thord Menace)
(c.1350; c.1400) // Online Resource: ISD.

Þorsteins saga Síðu-Hallssonar (Thorstein Sidu-Hallsson’s Saga)
(1240-1260 or later; c.1700) // Book Resource: CSI Only.

Víglundar saga (Viglund’s Saga)
(c.1400; c.1500) // Book Resource: WPS. Online Resource: ISD.

SHORT SAGAS (TALES OF ICELANDERS)

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)
* Related to Laxdæla saga // Book Resources: PEN, PSI.

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 Hvíta (The Saga of Thorstein the White) // Book Resource: OTHR.

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.

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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).
  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.