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Silver Wind
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Silver Wind

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Join date : 2007-07-18
Age : 37
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PostSubject: Welund   Fri Aug 31, 2007 10:54 am

Judging from the surviving evidence found in literature, place names and from the Franks Casket, we can be quite sure that Welund was a god or mythological being that was venerated and very much celebrated by the Anglo-Saxons. Welund was a smith god who was capable of creating the most protective and wonderful armour and forging the best of weapons. And, unlike nearly all Anglo-Saxon gods or beings of mythology, we have physical evidence from the Franks Casket that actually shows us what Welund looked like and how our ancestors visually perceived him. The Franks Casket is a box made in the Kingdom of Northumbria from whale bone that is estimated to be over 1300 years old. The panels of the casket are beautifully and intricately carved with designs showing scenes from Christian, Classical and Anglo-Saxon legend. And this just shows how important the legends and the myths of Welund the smith were to the Anglo-Saxon people, to have him depicted side by side with legend from the then new, advancing and growing Christian religion. And we can see this as another example of how native Anglo-Saxon belief mixed with the new religion to form, for a while, a society that revered both the old religion and the new religion.
In literature we have numerous mentions of Welund, and mentions that relate to how skilled he was in his craft of creating the most precious and protective of battle garments. In the poem Beowulf we read:


'...if the battle takes me, send back this breast webbing that Welund fashioned and Hrethel gave me, to Lord Hygelac. Fate goes ever as fate must.'


And an example from literature that shows Welund's skill at forging the best of weapons can be found in the Anglo-Saxon poem Waldere. Here we read about the sword Mimming, one of the most famous swords in Germanic myth:


'Surely Welund's work does not betray any man who can hold Mimming hard.'


And a final example from literature can be read in the poem Deor. In this poem we don't just read about Welund's metal forging skills, but more-so we are told the legend surrounding Welund's imprisonment at the hands of King Nithhad. Nithhad lames Welund and forces him to forge all manner of jewels and armour. During his imprisonment Welund plans his revenge, which results in the murdering of Nithhad's two sons, after which he coats their skulls in silver, and the ravishing of Nithhad's daughter Beadohild. After all this is completed he escapes with the use of wings that he made. In Deor we read the following:


'Welund, entramelled, understood wrack.
He stubborn eorl, suffered privation, had,
As companions, sorrow and longing,
In wintry cold exile, experienced woes often,
Once Nithhad laid upon him,
Lithe sinew-bonds on the better man
That passed away, so may this.


Beadohild didn't for her brothers deaths
Feel as sore stricken as she did herself,
When all too plainly she'd perceived
That she was pregnant, nor ever could she
Consider boldly that outcome of that.
That passed away, so may this.


Anglo-Saxon Verse Charms, Maxims and Heroic Legends
By Louis J Rodrigues


The Franks Casket visually shows us what the poem Deor relates to us in words. On one of the panels of the casket we see Welund working whilst imprisoned by Nithhad. We also see the headless body of one of Nithhad's sons laying on the floor with his decapitated head held by Welund in a pair of tongs. In place names we have Wayland's Smithy, (Wayland is a more modern version of the name Welund), which is a name the Anglo-Saxons gave to a an ancient long barrow chamber that they believed was the work place of Welund himself. Here Welund was said to spend his time making armour and weapons for hero's and forging shoe's for horses. A legend surrounding this is that if a traveller left his horse and money for payment at the smithy for a short time, then he could return to find the money gone and the horse fashioned with new shoes. Near the smithy can also be found the Uffington Horse, a huge horse figure carved into the side of a hill. And it's not surprising, with Welund's skill at shoeing horses, that the Uffington Horse became associated with the myths surrounding Welund. And an example of the strength surrounding the myths of Welund and his smithy is that as late as the 19th century children were known to visit the smithy to listen out for the clinking of Welund's hammer as he worked away.

http://www.homestead.com/englishheathenism/welund.html

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