Scyld Scefing the legendary progenitor of the Danish royal lineage known as the Scyldings. He is the counterpart of the Skioldus or Skjöldr of Danish and Icelandic sources.
He appears in the opening lines of the epic poem Beowulf, where he is referred to as Scyld Scefing, indicating he is a descendant of Scef, Scyld son of Scef, or Scyld of the Sheaf. The Beowulf poet places him in a boat which is seen in other stories about Scef as a child in a boat. After relating in general terms the glories of Scyld's reign, the poet describes Scyld's funeral, his body was laid in a ship surrounded by treasures:
They decked his body no less bountifully
with offerings than those first ones did
who cast him away when he was a child
and launched him alone out over the waves.
William of Malmesbury's 12th century Chronicle tells the story of a Sceaf, as a sleeping child in a boat without oars, with a sheaf of corn at his head. Whether Malmesbury included the reference because of prior knowledge of the epic Beowulf or from some other source is not known.
Axel Olrik in 1910 suggested a parallel "barley-figure" in Finnish Pekko, in turn connected by Fulk (1989) with Eddaic Bergelmir.
Full article ▸