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“London Bridge is Falling Down” is Viking Verse?
“London Bridge is Falling Down” is Viking Verse?

“London Bridge is Falling Down” is Viking Verse?


Yes, the nursery rhyme “London Bridge is Falling Down” might have come from a Viking verse. As they say on Wikipedia:

“One hypothesis of origin is that the rhyme relates to the supposed destruction of London Bridge by Olaf II in 1014 (or 1009). The nineteenth-century translation of the Norse saga the Heimskringla, published by Samuel Laing in 1844, included a verse by Óttarr svarti, that looks very similar to the nursery rhyme:

“London Bridge is broken down. —
Gold is won, and bright renown.
Shields resounding,
War-horns sounding,
Hild is shouting in the din!
Arrows singing,
Mail-coats ringing —
Odin makes our Olaf win!

“However, modern translations make it clear that Laing was using the nursery rhyme as a model for his very free translation, and the reference to London Bridge does not appear at the start of the verse and it is unlikely that this is an earlier version of the nursery rhyme. Some historians have raised the possibility that the attack never took place. However, the original document detailing the attack was written only about 100 years after what would be a famous event in a highly populated area, leading the majority of historians to conclude that the account is at least relatively accurate.”

They say about Ottarr:

“Óttarr svarti[a] (‘Óttarr the Black’) was an 11th-century Icelandic skald. He was the court poet first of Óláfr skautkonungr of Sweden, then of Óláfr Haraldsson of Norway, the Swedish king Anund Jacob and finally of Cnut the Great of Denmark and England. His poems are significant contemporary evidence for the careers of Óláfr Haraldsson and Cnut the Great.”

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