Medieval Monday: The World’s Oldest Secular Norse Song

Listen To The World’s Oldest Known Secular Norse Song From Codex Runicus – A Medieval Manuscript Written In Runes

Codex Runicus, the medieval manuscript dating from circa 1300 AD, comprises around 202 pages composed in runic characters. Known for its content of the Scanian Law (Skånske lov) – the oldest preserved Nordic provincial law, the codex is also touted to be one of the very rare specimens that have its runic texts found on vellum (parchment made from calfskin). And interestingly enough, as opposed to Viking Age usage of runes, each of these ‘revivalist’ runes corresponds to the letters of the Latin Alphabet.

Now while a significant section of the Codex Runicus covers the Scanian Ecclesiastical Law (pertaining to Danish Skåneland), the manuscript also chronicles the reigns of early Danish monarchs and the oldest region along the Danish-Swedish border. But most interestingly, the last page of the codex also contains what can be defined as the oldest known musical notations written in Scandinavia, with their non-rhythmic style on a four-line staff.

One such Norse song verse, more famously known in modern Denmark as the first two lines of the folk song Drømde mig en drøm i nat (‘I dreamt a dream last night’), is presented in the video below, performed under the tutelage of renowned Old Norse expert – the ‘Cowboy Professor’ Dr. Jackson Crawford.

Read the full article on realmofhistory.com



Learn more about the daily life in Middle Ages by browsing previous posts in the Medieval Monday Index.

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2 thoughts on “Medieval Monday: The World’s Oldest Secular Norse Song

  1. leeduigon says:

    Was *that* what Gunter sang, when they threw him in the snake pit. Wow, voices from the past! I love that! And it didn’t turn out to be anything like rap music, thus giving the lie to the claim that the vikings were barbarians.

    Liked by 1 person

    • weavingword says:

      Voices from the past, indeed! Beautiful and a bit haunting at the same time. You really feel that human connection spanning the ages. Barbarians or not, they were real people, with very real worries, hopes, and desires, just like us.

      Like

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