The Kalvestene ship settings on the small Danish island of Hjarnø is a relatively obscure site. However, it was well-known in early modern Scandinavia, at least partly due to its inclusion in Saxo Grammaticus’ Gesta Danorum in which he relates the story of the legendary King Hiarni who is said to be buried on the island. This article examines how Saxo Grammaticus came to know of the island and analyses his account. For, although Saxo’s narrative is not a reliable source for the events surrounding the establishment of the Kalvestene, it does reveal a range of other historical information. In this article, we compare Saxo’s account to the archaeological record and then argue that there are three related influences on Saxo’s account of the legend: stories circulating in Scania, intertextual borrowings, and experience of other similar sites. In so doing, we use linguistic, onomastic and source analysis to establish what Saxo is likely to have known about the site and its implications.
- Viking age