Scandinavian Mythology

The Tale of Hogni and Hedinn

14th century, Old Norse, Flateyjabók, Árni Magnússon Institute, Iceland | 13th century Icelandic found in the 14th century Codex Regius, Codex Upsaliensis, numerous copies.

A man meets three times in a forest clearing with the goddess Freyja, where he finds her seated upon a chair.

'Both this tale in the saga of King Olaf Tryggvason, from the Flateyjabók, and Snorri's bit about Hogni and Hedin in the Prose Edda, mention a gold collar. Could it have been a neck torque originally?'

'A gold ring worn around the neck, like those found in an Iron Age hoard at Snettisham in Norfolk?' asked Quintin.

'Yes, going right back to the first century BC. And look at the way the story unfolds:

'The Scandinavian goddess Freyja obtains this valuable collar that the dwarves have forged in their caves. She receives it in exchange for sleeping with all four of them. Thus, she possesses a ring that has been forged within the Earth and acquired through sex. With me so far?'


'Freyja keeps this collar within her secret bower, but Loki turns himself into a fly, finds a crack in her doorway and, changing back into himself again, unclasps the collar from Freyja's neck and runs out through the door with it. He takes it to Odin.'

'Evidence for shape-changing into other creatures,' said Quintin.

'There's too much of that to list,' replied Miranda. 'But listen – Freyja is given back the collar on condition that she will cause two armies to fight one another on an island and that no wound will cause any man his death and that this battle will continue until the Christian faith is brought to them. Every man who dies during the day is to be revived and ready to fight again the next morning – a seemingly endless cycle of death and resurrection that will be stopped only by the arrival of Christianity. How much clearer could it be? And the goddess Freyja meets three times with a man in what is termed a 'wood lawn', obviously a forest clearing, where she is seated upon a chair. Perhaps it is a memory of those sacred groves in woodland clearings that Julius Caesar mentioned in his description of the Roman military campaign in Gaul in the first century BC.

'And Snorri Sturluson outlines the very same story in the Prose Edda,' continued Miranda. 'He has Hogni's daughter run about at night on the top of a tall sea stack, using her magic to bring all the slain back to life at the beginning of every day. But in this version, these deaths and awakenings will go on until the end of the world.'

Story retold from the Saga of Hedin and Hogni, translated by Peter Tunstall from Óláfs saga Tryggvasonar en mesta, in the Flateyjarbók manuscript.

Snorri Sturluson's version of the tale of Hedin and Hogni in: Byock, Jesse L, 2005. Snorri Sturluson: The Prose Edda, Norse Mythology, translated from Old Norse with an introduction. Penguin Books Limited. Skaldskaparmal, 10: The Never-ending Battle, pp 107–8.

See for yourself

Snorri Sturluson – Wikipedia

Prose Edda (Younger Edda) – Wikipedia

Freyja – Wikipedia

Elder Edda and Younger Edda – Project Gutenberg; free out-of-copyright editions, ebooks

Flateyjarbók – Wikipedia

Sörla þáttr – Wikipedia

Sorli's Tale of the Saga of Hedin & Hogni – translated by Peter Tunstall


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