St Paul's

Medieval Icelandic Sagas

The Saga of Grettir the Strong

14th century, Old Norse.

"Now it is to be said about Gretir, that he struck one blow after another until the giant was dead."

Grettir tied a rock to the end of a long rope and lowered it into the water.

'What are you intending to do?' asked the priest, standing beside the stake that he had beaten into the ground, and to which the other end of the rope was tied. 'The cave behind that waterfall lies opposite this sheer cliff-face and it is eighty feet from here down to the water.'

'I don't want to be tied to this rope, I want to have both hands free when I enter that cave,' replied Grettir. Then he climbed down the rope and followed it into the water. He was only lightly-clothed and wore a short sword. The priest watched the soles of his feet disappearing into the bubbling pool.

Grettir had to dive to the very bottom of the splash pool to get to the cave at the back of the waterfall. There was a lot of turbulence to overcome. But he managed somehow to get into the cave behind the cascading water and here he found a great fire on a pile of burning logs. Grettir saw a horribly big giant lying there. He was terrifying to see… Now it is to be said about Gretir, that he struck one blow after another until the giant was dead.’

Story fragment recounted from: Faulkes, Anthony, Johnston, George and Foote, Peter, 2001, reprinted 2004. Three Icelandic Outlaw Sagas: Saga of Gisli, Saga or Grettir, Saga of Hord. Viking Society for Northern Research. The Saga of Grettir. 65–6, pp 210–3.

See for yourself

Icelandic saga – Wikipedia

Sagas of Icelanders – Wikipedia

Grettis saga – Wikipedia

Grettir's Saga – Text obtained at the Online Medieval and Classical Library. Code and format by Northvegr.


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