The Sigurd Portal


  1. Location

  2. History and Description

  3. Outline of the Story

  4. Photographs

  5. Related Links


Hylestad, Setesdal, Norway.

History and Description

Carved figures in wooden panels at the sides of the entrance to a medieval stave church in Norway illustrate the story of Sigurd the dragon slayer. This tale is alluded to in Beowulf, Njal's Saga, and other ancient works, and is recited with substantial detail in the Prose Edda of Snorri Sturluson and in the thirteenth-century anonymous Icelandic works Saga of the Volsungs and Dietrich's Saga.

Outline of the Story

  1. Sigurd and Regin, a master swordsmith, plan to kill the dragon Fafnir and take possession of his treasure.

  2. Sigurd positions himself in a trench beneath the dragon's trail, and stabs him from beneath when Fafnir leaves his lair for water.

  3. Regin asks Sigurd to cook the dragon's heart and give it to him to eat. While cooking the heart, Sigurd tests its doneness by putting some of its juice into his mouth with his finger.

  4. Upon thus tasting the dragon's blood, Sigurd can understand the language of the two nearby birds, who are conversing with one another as to how the treacherous Regin plans to betray Sigurd.

  5. Forewarned by the birds, Sigurd kills Regin.

  6. Sigurd then loads Fafnir's treasure onto his horse Grani and departs for new adventures.

  7. Sigurd marries Gudrun. Her brothers Gunnar, Hogni, and Guttorm plot to kill Sigurd in order to (among other reasons) take possession of Fafnir's treasure.

  8. Gunnar sinks the treasure in the Rhine.

  9. Gudrun marries Atli (Attila the Hun).

  10. Atli, in a vain attempt to discover the location of Fafnir's treasure, throws Gunnar into a snake-pit. Gunnar, for a time, pacifies the snakes by playing a harp with his toes.


Related Links

Revised October 2, 2010.