In Germanic and Norse mythology, Wayland the Smith (Old English: Wēland; Old Norse: VölundrVelentr; Old High German: Wiolant; Proto-Germanic:*Wēlandaz, from *Wēla-nandaz, lit. “battle-brave”) is a legendary master blacksmith. In Old Norse sources, Völundr appears in Völundarkviða, a poem in the Poetic Edda, and in Þiðrekssaga, and his legend is also depicted on the Ardre image stone VIII. In Old English sources, he appears in DeorWaldere and in Beowulf and the legend is depicted on the Franks Casket. He is mentioned in the German poems about Dietrich von Bern as the Father of Witige.

Wayland had two brothers, Egil and Slagfiðr, and they were the three sons of the king of the Finns according to Völundarkviða. In one version of the myth, the three brothers lived with three Valkyries: Ölrún, Hervör alvitr and Hlaðguðr svanhvít. After nine years, the Valkyries left their lovers. Egil and Slagfiðr followed, never to return. In another version, Wayland married the swan maiden Hervör, and they had a son, Heime, but Hervör later left Wayland. In both versions, his love left him with a ring. In the former myth, he forged seven hundred duplicates of this ring.

Later, he was captured in his sleep by King Niðhad in Nerike who ordered him hamstrung and imprisoned on the island of Sævarstöð. There he was forced to forge items for the king. Wayland’s wife’s ring was given to the king’s daughter, Bodvild. Nidud wore Wayland’s sword.

In revenge, Wayland killed the king’s sons when they visited him in secret, fashioned goblets from their skulls, jewels from their eyes, and a brooch from their teeth. He sent the goblets to the king, the jewels to the queen and the brooch to the king’s daughter. When Bodvild took her ring to him to be mended, he took the ring and raped her, fathering a son and escaping on wings he made. Wayland (Völund) made the magic sword Gram (also named Balmung and Nothung) and the magic ring that Thorsten retrieved.

Swords forged by Wayland
  • Adylok / Hatheloke, the sword of Torrent of Portyngale, according to The Romance Torrent of Portyngale.
  • Almace, the sword of Archbishop Turpin, according to Karlamagnus Saga.
  • Caliburn, in Mary Stewart’s Arthurian Legend, is the sword of Macsen, Merlin, and Arthur.
  • Curtana, the sword of Ogier the Dane, according to Karlamagnus Saga.
  • Durandal, the sword of Roland, according to Karlamagnus Saga: though in Orlando Innamorato Durandal is said to have been originally the sword of Hector of Troy.
  • Mimung, which he forged to fight the rival smith Amilias, according to ThidrekssagaKarlamagnus Saga relates that Mimung later came into the possession of Landri or Landres, nephew of Charlemagne.
  • The unnamed sword of Huon of Bordeaux, according to Lord Berners.
  • An unnamed sword whose history is related by Rudyard Kipling in Puck of Pook’s Hill.
  • The unnamed sword of the hero in the Chanson de Gui de Nanteuil.
  • "Un ouvrier de Galan", a journeyman of Wayland’s, is said to have forged the hero’s sword Merveilleuse in the Chanson de Doon de Mayence.
  • Gram, the sword of Sigmund, which would be destroyed by Odin, and is later reforged by Regin and used by Sigmund’s son Sigurd to slay the dragon Fafnir, according to the Völsunga saga.
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