Giving Voice

Octavia Me Wrat

This legend appears on the title page of The Circle of Ceridwen. It means ‘Octavia wrote me’ in Old English, with ‘me’ being the book itself. The Anglo-Saxons (and Danes, who lacked any alphabet save runes) gave voice to their everyday objects, allowing them to speak for themselves.

Jewelery, mirrors, combs, and especially weapons often bore the names both of maker and owner:

Osbert me worte Sigewif me ah
Osbert made me, Sigewif (a lovely name which means ‘victory-woman’) owns me

The beautiful and important Ælfred jewell, thought to be a pointer commissioned by Ælfred the Great and sent as a gift for use in reading, is inscribed:

Ælfred mec heht gewyrcan
Ælfred ordered me to be made

An Anglo-Saxon ring made for and by two now forgotten, still proclaims:

Æthred mec an Eanred mec agrof
Æthred owns me Eanred made me

This particular inscription is written in a mixture of Old English and runes – a not unusual combination.

Swords, the supreme weapon of the elite warrior, were not only marked but also named. Sword names were sometimes inscribed upon the hilt or the blade itself. (Some warriors would keep his sword name secret, for magical reasons.) One Anglo-Saxon sword is marked in runes and named:

Aeco Soeri (or alternately, Eaca Sorg)
Increase to Pain (or Augmenter of Pain)

We have many sword names from the Vikings, all equally evocative:

Angrvadill – Rushing Harm
Brynjubitr – Mail (armour) Biter
Gullinhjalti – Golden Hilt

Give yourself voice. Write me .

{ 4 comments… add one }
  • Doc November 23, 2016, 4:18 pm

    Your books are fantastic..truly an all encompassing read…I am a voracious reader of all things viking, saxon and dark ages in general…you capture the period wonderfully and make even the mundane everyday living exciting and interesting to read….I also love the female perspective….wonderfully realized…can’t wait to read Tindr…thank you so much for giving me hours of enjoyment..Doc

    • Octavia November 25, 2016, 10:10 am

      Doc, it means a great deal to connect with new readers, especially those with pre-existing interest and knowledge of the late 9th century. Ælfred’s reign and that of his son Eadward are surely the most pivotal in English history. I write from the female perspective as it is my own, and I am interested in moving the camera slightly off-centre, as it were, from the military action…I hope you will enjoy Tindr, a book (and setting: Gotland) very dear to my heart. I am writing Book Six now – a very different book – so I promise there is still much to look forward to.

  • Jeff Deese July 29, 2015, 10:42 am

    Hi Octavia
    Just found your website and LOVE it. My mothers family is from County Sligo, Ireand and my fathers family is from the Scottish highlands so the Celtic/Viking blood runs deep in our family tree. Was just reading the “sword name” page and was hoping you’d help me pick a good name for my guitar – a Gibson Les Paul in tobacco sunburst (brown sunburst.) This is my weapon for heavy metal and rock music. Any good ideas or suggestions?
    Thanks a million.
    Jeff in Virginia USA

    • Octavia Randolph August 18, 2015, 10:50 am

      This interesting challenge that Jeff posed was great fun to respond to. He sent me photos of his guitars, and I sent him a list of suggested names in Old Norse. He chose “Alda-vinr” – “Trusted Friend” for the new Les Paul, and “Brann” – “To burn with a flame” for his Flame sunburst guitar. He’s a Wonderfully talented guitarist and treated me to some audio clips of his lightening-fast fingers making musical magic.

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