„Þæt is mid Estum þeaw þæt þærsceal ælces geðeodes man beon forbærned”. What exactly Wulfstan said about the burning of the dead by Ester in the fragment of his report on the trip to Truso? .
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Muzeum Zamkowe w Malborku
Rafał Panfil
Online publication date: 2015-12-15
Publication date: 2015-12-15
KMW 2015;290(4):557–578
In 1961 a part of Old English Orosius, the description of northernmost and central Europe, was translated into Polish and edited by Gerard Labuda. The source contains two short travel accounts by Othere and Wulfstan in the end of ninth century. The Polish editor did not avoid a number of linguistic mistakes made during the translation. Moreover, this was issued without any syntactic and grammatical analysis of the original Old English text. The Labuda’s edition only provides the Polish translation of the modern English translation by the mid-nineteenth century English scholar Joseph Bosworth. This resulted in the wrong interpretation of some important information contained in it. The subject of this paper is a one of the sentences included in the final fragment of the description of the funeral rites among the Ests/the Old Prussians – „Þæt is mid Estum þeaw þæt þær sceal ælces geðeodes man beon forbærned”. My aim is to understand this passage of the OE text correctly by providing it’s linguistic and grammatical examination to see how it corresponds with the known or presumed historical circumstances of the time and place. The interpretation of the old written source cannot be separated from its context, it this particular case especially from the local archaeological context. This will be arguing in my paper. At last,the above mentioned passage should be translated as:„And that is a custom among the Ests that people of every nationality must be cremated there”. According to this custom, the dead body of every man, that has passed away in the Witland, must be burned on the funeral pile. This Wulfstan’s description seems to be strongly supported by the number of rich equipped graves of the foreigners discovered and archaeologically investigated at the number of early medieval cemeteries located in modern day city of Elbląg area and dated to the VIII/IX/X/XI century.