Hurstwic is pleased to announce

Old Norse Language Boot Camp
an intensive 2-day introduction to old Icelandic, the language of the sagas

the next session is tentatively scheduled for January, 2019

Whether you have taken the boot camp or not, please consider joining the Hurstwic Old Norse Reading and Study Group that meets regularly to read, translate, and discuss the sagas. For more information, please contact Hurstwic.

Odin delivers the mead of poetry to Asgard
Illustration from a late Icelandic manuscript showing Óðin carrying the mead of poetry to Ásgarður.

Have you ever wanted to read the sagas, or the eddas, or other Viking-age literature in the original language? Anyone with more than a passing interest in the Viking age should bypass the translator middleman who puts his own stamp on the material, and instead, go directly to the original.

skald and listeners
A Romantic illustration of a Viking-age skald and his listeners.

A leaf from a manuscript of Egils saga, the story of Egill Skalagrímsson

We offer a two-day introduction to Old Icelandic. Students can expect to go from having no knowledge of the language to being able to recognize enough to use a dictionary, grammar chart, and other references to work out the meaning of passages from the original saga texts.

Instructor at board
Working with the class to translate a passage from Gísla saga

Hurtwic Gisla saga DVD

In this session, we plan to take many of our saga readings from Gísla saga Súrssonar, to take advantage of the research on this saga that Hurstwic did in preparation for shooting the video and the photos for our Gísla saga DVD (left) and book (right).

So, even if you were a bootcamp student before, we encourage you to come again to read and discuss passages from Gísla saga with us.

Hurstwic Gisla saga book
Zoega cover

No other language knowledge is required, but experience in learning other languages, or extensive knowledge of modern English grammar will be helpful. Students should bring with them a copy of Zoega's book, A Concise Dictionary of Old Icelandic. A inexpensive paperback reprint is available for under $25. The book has been published in many editions, and used copies of earlier editions are available for even less. There are on-line editions as well, but we recommend that students have a paper copy at their disposal. Other printed materials, such as grammar guides, a bibliography, and sample saga texts, will be given to students in the class.

Other texts that might be useful are the volumes of A New Introduction to Old Norse which may be downloaded at no charge from the Viking Society for Northern Research (Introduction, Grammar, Reader, Glossary). Additionally, the VSNR has a downloadable English translation of Gísla saga available.

Students and instructor work together on a difficult passage.

Students present their translations to the class.

The class will run from 9AM-12N and from 1PM to 4PM both days. Morning and afternoon snacks will be provided and are included in the cost of the class. Lunch is available on-campus, or from nearby off-campus restaurants. Alternatively, students are welcome to bring a lunch.

students work on their translations in groups
Students work on their translations in small groups.

instructor Amy West
Instructor Amy West

The instructors for the next session are tentatively Amy West, and William R. Short.

Amy taught the bootcamp last year. She holds a MA in Medieval Studies from the University of Connecticut, and is now working towards a masters degree in Applied Linguistics at UMass Boston. She currently runs the Hurstwic Old Norse Reading and Study Group.

William is the manager of Hurstwic, LLC, and is an independent scholoar and the author of the book Icelanders in the Viking Age. He has taught university-level courses on the sagas in Iceland.

The fee for the class is $75, and must be paid in advance to register and to reserve your place. When a date for the next class has been set, you register using a link that will appear to the right. Please contact Hurstwic for further information.

Photo albums of the most recent boot camp session is here, in a public Facebook album.


Hurstwic Old Norse reading and study group meeting.

Students who complete the course will be in a good position to join the on-going Hurstwic Old Norse reading and study group, which meets monthly.

For more information, contact us at Hurstwic.

MS leaf from Havamal
A manuscript leaf containing the poem Hávamál with the well-known verse "Deyr fé deyia frændr..." which expresses the need to uphold one's honor and good name in Viking society.


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