Skidbladnir - The finest viking long ship in norse mythology

Skidbladnir - The finest viking long ship in norse mythology

Skíðblaðnir. Old Norse: [ˈskiːðˌblɑðnez̠], 'assembled from thin pieces of wood', sometimes anglicized as Skidbladnir or Skithblathnir

skidbladnir best ship in norse mythology

The best ship in norse mythology

Skidbladnir is said to be the best and the finest ship in norse mythology but who is the owner? How was it made and by who? What are the sources and where can we read more about the ship? Continue reading and you will find out.

Skidbladnir

Skidbladnir can be used both on land and on the sea. It always has a fair wind in its sails which gives it great speed and makes it always go straight and reach its destination. 

It sails on the sea and flies on land. Skidbladnir was so large that it could hold on board all the Aesir gods with all their weapons and wargear. And when it’s not in use it can be folded like a cloth so small that it fits in a small belt pouch.

Who made Skidbladnir?

The Sons of Ivaldi are a group of dwarfs, a pair of them, maybe the most famous ones, are Sindre and Brokk, the blacksmiths who forged Thor’s hammer Mjolnir. The Sons of Ivaldi are very skilled craftsmen and have forged several of the god's weapons, including Gungnir, the spear of Odin and Mjolnir, the hammer of Thor as mentioned. They are also the maker of the golden hair for Sif, as well as Skidbladnir.

Click here: See a video of me forging a Skidbladnir pendant 

The story how Skidbladnir was made

It all started through a trickery of the god Loki also known as the trickster. One day Loki found himself in an especially mischievous mood and cut off the gorgeous golden hair of Sif, the wife of Thor. When Thor learned of this, his quick temper was enraged and he seized Loki and threatened to break every bone in his body. But Loki managed to dodge Thor’s wrath, promising he would acquire even lovelier locks for Sif from the dwarves. Thor allowed this, and off Loki went to Svartalfheim, to the caves where the dwarves lived.

There he was able to obtain what he desired. The sons of the dwarf Ivaldi forged not only a new head of hair for Sif, but also two other marvels, Skidbladnir and the deadly spear Gungnir. Loki was charmed by their masterful work and decided he wanted more! He tricked another two dwarf brothers, Brokkr and Sindri, into crafting further fine works for him. He manipulated them by saying that he was sure the brothers could never forge three new creations equal to the ones the other brothers had made. In fact, he even bet his head on their lack of ability. Brokkr and Sindri, however, accepted the bet. Sindri then created Gullinbursti, a boar with golden hair, even though Loki had turned into a fly and tried to put him off his task. Sindri created another piece called the Draupnir, a golden ring which reproduced itself eight times every ninth night. Next, Sindri began to work on a hammer, but Loki, who had turned into a fly again, bit him on the eyelid. He managed to still produce Mjölnir even with Loki’s interference, but the weapon ended up having a shorter handle than he wished.

The two dwarf brothers, Sindri and Brokkr, went up to Asgard to claim payment for the three magnificent pieces they’d created, but unfortunately for them, Loki arrived back first. Loki gave the hammer and new hair to Thor, the ring and spear to Odin, and the ship and the golden-haired boar he gave to Freyr. The gods acknowledged Loki needed to stick to the deal he had struck with the dwarves, which now required him to offer them his head! He had bet his head on the dwarves not achieving his challenge, yet he still managed to worm his way out of the arrangement. He reminded the dwarf brothers that his head was attached to his neck and he had not promised them his neck too! In the end, the dwarves were happy to merely sew Loki’s mouth shut!

viking long ship in norse mythology

It might be the best ship in norse mythology but not the largest

Skidbladnir might be the best but it's not the largest ship in norse mythology. There is a larger ship that belongs to Muspelheim, the land of fire and home to the fire giants. The Ship is called Naglfar. 

According to Snorre Sturlasson the name “Naglfar” can be translated to “the nail farer” and that it was entirely built out of fingernails and toenails of the dead. That is why the vikings did cut the nails on their dead, otherwise they would bring more material to the ship and make it stronger. 

It is said that when Ragnarök approaches Naglfar will bring the troops of Muspelheim to the battlefield to battle the gods, and no man or god would like Naglfar to be built strong. So that is one theory why the vikings did cut the fingernails and toenails on their dead.

Who is the owner of Skidbladner?

Skidbladnir is often said to belong to the Vanir god Frey. But in the Ynglinga saga, the first section of Heimskringla, it says that the ship belongs to Odin. 

Skidbladnir is mentioned in the poetic edda, in the prose edda and in heimskringla.

The poetic edda is a modern name for an untitled collection of Old Norse anonymous narrative poems. The prose edda is an Old Norse textbook written in Iceland during the early 13th century by Snorri Sturlasson. Heimskringla is the best known of the Old Norse kings' sagas, also written by Snorri Sturlasson.

In the poetic edda it is mentioned in Grímnismál. There it says that it was the best of ships, made by the sons of Ivaldi, to the Vanir god Frey.

In the prose edda it´s mentioned in Gylfaginning and Skáldskaparmál. In Gylfaginning it also says that it is the best of ships, made by the sons of Ivaldi and given to Frey. Its size is also mentioned, that it is so large that it could hold on board all the Aesir gods, but smaller than Naglfar. That it always finds good wind and it may be folded up like cloth when not in use. In Skáldskaparmál the story of how Loki tricked the Dwarves into making the ship is told. In that story it also says it was given to Frey.

In Heimskringla there is a chapter about Odin. Odin is said to have had various magical abilities, including that "he was also able with mere words to extinguish fires, to calm the sea, and to turn the winds any way he pleased. He had a ship called Skíthblathnir with which he sailed over great seas. It could be folded together like a cloth."

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