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Medieval Icelandic Studies

Gísli Sigurðsson

Oral tradition, Volume 18, Number 2

In the field of medieval Icelandic studies, “the oral tradition” refers to the accumulated and encyclopedic knowledge (both sacred and profane) that was passed on from person to person before and after writing was first introduced into the newly Christianized society of Iceland. This tradition commonly used stories and poetry as a medium, as well as special training in the oratorical art of law. Iceland, which had previously lain undiscovered in the middle of the North Atlantic, was first settled by people from Scandinavia, Scotland, Ireland, Shetland, the Orkneys, and the Hebrides in the late ninth century, a mixture of pagans and others who had come into contact with Christianity.

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