Writing (hi)stories: HM Queen Margrethe II Distinguished Research Project on the Danish-Icelandic reception of Nordic antiquity

Since 1 April 2019 I am working on the project entitled "Writing (hi)stories: Danish Antiquarians and Their Reception of Old Norse Literature (1658–1814)". The project examines the scholarly reception of Old Norse literature before N. F. S. Grundtvig (1783–1872). It takes its point of departure in the scholarly work of Thormodus Torfæus (1636–1719), the Royal Historian of the Kingdom of Denmark-Norway and the author of "Series dynastarum et regum Daniæ", and Thomas Bartholin (1659–1690), the Royal Antiquarian and author of "Antiqvitatum Danicarum". This project examines not only their approaches to the historicity of Old Norse legendary sagas but also the influence they had on later generations of Danish-Icelandic scholars.

The project is funded by Carlsberg Foundation as HM Queen Margrethe II Distinguished Research Project on the Danish-Icelandic reception of Nordic antiquity.  It is part of the collaboration between Museum of National History at Frederiksborg Castle in Denmark, National Museum of Iceland, and University of Iceland. The project covers the scholarly beginnings of the reception of Old Norse literature, as well as the most recent examples of the popular reception. It consists of two sub-projects: Writing (hi)stories by dr. Katarzyna Anna Kapitan and Writing futures by dr. Dale Kedwards.

Research outputs
Virtual Exhibition: Reception and Reinvention: Old Norse in Time and Space

The Writing Histories Exhibition

This exhibition explores the beginnings of the scholarly reception of Old Norse-Icelandic literature in Denmark in the seventeenth century, when the authority of Saxo Grammaticus and his Gesta Danorum became increasingly challenged by the rediscovery of Old Norse-Icelandic sources. With this scholarly rediscovery previously forgotten sagas gained new life as they were revitalised or reinvented by early modern antiquarians.


​The Paired Objects Exhibition

This exhibition presents a gallery of paired objects from the Museum of National History at Frederiksborg Castle in Denmark, and the National Museum of Iceland. By pairing items between these two collections, we explore the relationships between medieval traditions and the later artworks they inspired.



Kapitan KA “Revising Danish royal genealogies Anno 1664,”  the Arnamagnæan manuscript of the month, September 2020 published on manuscript.ku.dk, also in Danish: “Den Danske Kongerække Revideret Anno 1664.”

Kapitan KA “Writing histories: Legendary sagas and early modern Danish historiography.” In: Selected presentations from the network of early career researchers in Old Norse (2017–2019), edited by Kapitan KA, Leslie-Jacobsen HF, Murphy LJ, Nygaard S, Rogers B (School of Culture and Society, Aarhus University: Aarhus)

Kapitan KA “When a King of Norway Became a King of Russia: Danish Historiography and Early Transmission and Reception of Hrómundar saga Greipssonar,” Scandinavian Studies (Accepted for publication). [30 pp]


Kapitan KA “Between truth and fiction, or historiæ mediæ, sive vero falsoque mixtæ: Legendary sagas and their reception in eighteenth-century Denmark,” Arkiv för Nordisk Filologi 134 (2019), pp. 103–129.



Taler islandske sagaer sandt? - news in Danish on the webpage of Carlsberg foundation about the first research results of Writing (Hi)stories project. 


H.M. Dronning Margrethe overrakte Carlsbergfondet-stipendier - news in Danish on the webpage of Carlsberg foundation. 


Studying ancient collective Icelandic and Danish roots - news in English on the webpage of Stofnun Vigdísar Finnbogadóttur í erlendum tungumálum. 


Rannsaka sameiginlegar fornnorrænar rætur Íslands og Danmerkur - news in Icelandic on the webpage of Stofnun Vigdísar Finnbogadóttur í erlendum tungumálum.


Afhending tveggja nýdoktorastyrkja - news in Icelandic on the webpage of the National Museum of Iceland.


Hátíðardagskrá í Veröld - húsi Vigdísar á fullveldisdaginn - a video on the offical YouTube chanel of the University of Iceland.


TwitterMoments - series of tweets from Writing (Hi)stories project.

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