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Ullr, the god, stands on a frozen lake near a forest and a building by Friedrich Wilhelm Heine from 1882

In Norse mythology, Ýdalir ("yew-dales"[1]) is a place where the god Ullr lives. This information comes from the Poetic Edda, a collection of old Norse stories and poems written down in the 13th century. Scholars have different ideas about what Ýdalir might mean in the mythology.

Attestations[change | change source]

Ýdalir is mentioned only in stanza 5 of the poem Grímnismál, found in the Poetic Edda. In this stanza, Odin (disguised as Grímnir) informs young Agnar that Ullr has a home in Ýdalir. Here's a translation of the stanza (Ýdalir is translated as Ydalir):

Ydalir it is called, where Ullr
has himself a dwelling made.
Alfheim the gods Frey gave
in days of yore for a tooth-gift.[2]

Theories[change | change source]

Talking about Ýdalir, Henry Adams Bellows says that "the wood of the yew-tree was used for bows in the North just as it was long afterwards for England".[3] Rudolf Simek also says that "this connexion of the god with the yew-tree, of whose wood bows were made, has led to Ullr being seen as a bow-god".[4] Andy Orchard suggests that Ýdalir is a fitting home for the archer-god, Ull.[1] Hilda Ellis Davidson mentions that while Valhalla is well-known in Norse mythology for its association with warfare and death, the significance of other halls like Ýdalir and the goddess Freyja's afterlife realm, Fólkvangr, has been largely forgotten.[5]

Udale in Cromarty, Scotland, was first recorded in 1578, which is believed to have its roots in the Old Norse word "y-dalr". Robert Bevan-Jones suggests a connection between the veneration of Ullr and Ýdalir among the Norse settlers in Scotland, possibly influencing the naming of the location as "ydalr".[6]

Notes[change | change source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 Orchard (1997:185).
  2. Thorpe (1907:21).
  3. Bellows (2004:88).
  4. Simek (2007:375).
  5. Davidson (1993:67).
  6. Bevan-Jones (2002:134).

References[change | change source]

  • Bellows, Henry Adams (Trans.) (2004). The Poetic Edda: The Mythological Poems. Courier Dover Publicans. ISBN 0-486-43710-8
  • Bevan-Jones, Robert (2002). The Ancient Yew: A History of Taxus baccata. Windgather Press. ISBN 0-9538630-4-2
  • Davidson, Hilda Roderick Ellis (1993). The Lost Beliefs of Northern Europe (illustrated edition). Routledge. ISBN 0-415-04937-7
  • Thorpe, Benjamin (Trans.) (1907). The Elder Edda of Saemund Sigfusson. Norrœna Society.
  • Orchard, Andy (1997). Dictionary of Norse Myth and Legend. Cassell. ISBN 0-304-34520-2
  • Simek, Rudolf (2007) translated by Angela Hall. Dictionary of Northern Mythology. D.S. Brewer. ISBN 0-85991-513-1