Who Were the Scyldingas?

Ancient legends describe the Scyldingas, called Skjoldunger in Danish, as the descendants of the mythical King Skjold.

Once upon a time, a long time ago, there was war and unrest in the area surrounding Lejre. The people were suffering and prayed to the god Odin to come to their aid. Early one morning a ship in full sail entered Roskilde Fjord. The fishermen on the beach were puzzled because they could not see a single person on board. The ship sailed directly toward the coast of the inlet Lejre Vig. Once it was on shore the people peered over the railing and found a little boy encircled by weapons and shields all alone on the deck, his head resting on a sheaf of corn. Convinced that the boy was the son of Odin, the people picked him up, set him on the sheaf and proclaimed him as their king, King Skjold.

King Skjold grew big and strong. He united the people, expanded the kingdom to include all of Zealand and became the progenitor of mythical kings like Halfdan and Frode, Roar and Helge, Rolf Krake and Harald Wartooth. Upon his death, King Skjold was laid to rest on his ship, the wind carrying it away once again.

Ancient legends about the Scyldingas originate from the Icelandic sagas and the Danish historian Saxo. Perhaps the ancient kings really did live in the distant past – perhaps they are a myth – excavations of numerous impressive royal halls in the hamlet of Gl. Lejre, however, testify to a reign of great and powerful people in the Iron and Viking Ages.