The song My mother told me

Two words of the song annoy me. One is Galleys and the other are Braque.  Both words are mainly about ship types from other times and places, although the English language are a bit unclear about that. The song are a part of the poem from Egils Saga Skall-Grímssonar or Egill’s Saga in English.

Song version: Someday I will buy (buy) Galleys with good oars

Old Norse version:  at mér skyldi kaupa  fley ok fagrar árar,

Crawford Jackson translation: They ought to buy me a ship and good oars

Song version: Noble barque I steer

Old Norse version: stýra dýrum knerri,

Crawford Jackson translation: steer the good ship.

Whar are a Barque?

Wikipedia gives the following definition: “A barque, barc, or bark is a type of sailing vessel with three or more masts having the fore- and mainmasts rigged square and only the mizzen (the aftmost mast) rigged fore and aft. Sometimes, the mizzen is only partly fore-and-aft rigged, bearing a square-rigged sail above” It’s a post-medieval ship, and not associated with the Viking age. The picture are a 1993 replica of HM Bark Endeavour.

What are a Galley define a Galley: “large seagoing vessel propelled primarily by oars” and that technically fit with Viking long ships. However, the word was about ancient Greek ships, then it gives wrong images in the head of listeners to use it about Viking ships. An example of a Galley are the The trireme “Olympias,” the world’s only working model of an ancient trireme build in 1987.

WHat are a Knarr

I actually also have problem with Crawford Jacksons translation, since a Knarr are a specific shiptype. A Knarr (the Knerri mentioned in the song) are a large trading ship. The Viking ship replica Ottar from Roskilde are such a ship based on the Skuldelev 1 find.


Crawford Jacksons version are here:

Old norse text from here:

You can read about Ottar here

Wikiepedia about Barques:

Britannica about Galleys

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