Wulfstan sǣde þæt hē gefōre of Hǣðum, þæt hē wǣre on Trūsō on syfan dagum and nihtum, þæt þæt scip wæs ealne weg yrnende under segle. Weonoðland him wæs on stēorbord, and on bæcbord him wæs Langaland, and Lǣland, and Falster, and Scōnēg; and þās land eall hȳrað tō Denemearcan. And þonne Burgenda land wæs ūs on bæcbord, and þā habbað him sylfe cyning. Þonne æfter Burgenda lande wǣron ūs þās land, þā synd hātene ǣrest Blēcinga-ēg, and Mēore, and Ēowland, and Gotland on bæcbord; and þās land hȳrað tō Swēom. And Weonodland wæs ūs ealne weg on stēorbord oð Wīslemūðan. Sēo Wīsle is swȳðe mycel ēa, and hīo tōlīð Wītland and Weonodland; and þæt Wītland belimpeþ tō Estum; and sēo Wīsle līð ūt of Weonodlande, and līð in Estmere; and sē Estmere is hūru fīftēne mīla brād. Þonne cymeð Ilfling ēastan in Estmere of ðǣm mere, ðe Trūsō standeð in stæðe; and cumað ūt samod in Estmere, Ilfing ēastan of Estlande, and Wīsle wūðan of Winodlande. And þonne benimð Wīsle Ilfing hire naman, and ligeð of þǣm mere west and norð on sǣ; for ðȳ hit man hǣt Wīslemūða.
Þæt Estland is swȳðe mycel, and þǣr bið swȳðe manig burh, and on ǣlcere byrig bið cyning. And þǣr bið swȳðe mycel hunig, and fiscnað, and sē cyning and þā rīcostan men drincað mȳran meolc, and þā unspēdigan and þā þēowan drincad medo. Þǣr bið swȳðe mycel gewinn betwēonan him. And ne bid ðǣr nǣnig ealo gebrowen mid Estum, ac þǣr bið medo genōh. And þǣr is mid Estum ðēaw, þonne þǣr bið man dēad, þæt hē līð inne unforbærned mid his māgum and frēondum mōnað, ge hwīlum twēgen; and þā kyningas, and þā ōðre hēahðungene men, swā micle lencg swā hī māran spēda habbað, hwīlum healf gēar þæt hī bēoð unforbærned, and licgað bufan eorðan on hyra hūsum. And ealle þā hwīle þe þæt līc bið inne, þǣr sceal bēon gedrync and plega, oð ðone dæg þe hī hine forbærnað. Þonne þȳ ylcan dæge [þe] hī hine tō þǣm āde beran wyllað, þonne tōdǣlað hī his feoh, þæt þǣr tō lǣfe bið æfter þǣm gedrynce and þǣm plegan on fīf oððe syx, hwȳlum on mā, swā swā þæs fēos andēfn bið. Alecgað hit ðonne forhweæga on ānre mīle þone mǣstan dǣl fram þǣm tūne, þonne ōðerne, ðonne þone þriddan, oþ þe hyt eall ālēd bið on þǣre ānre mīle; and sceall bēon sē lǣsta dǣl nȳhst þǣm tūne ðe sē dēada man on līð. Ðonne sceolon bēon gesamnode ealle ðā menn ðe swyftiste hors habbað on þǣm lande, forhwæga on fīf mīlum oððe on syx mīlum fram þǣm fēo. Þonne ærnað hȳ ealle tōweard þǣm fēo: ðonne cymeð sē man sē þæt swiftoste hors hafað tō þǣm ǣrestan dǣle and tō þǣm mǣstan, and swā ǣlc æfter ōðrum, oþ hit bið eall genumen; and sē nimð þone lǣstan dǣl sē nȳhst þǣm tūne þæt feoh geærneð. And þonne rīdeð ǣlc hys weges mid ðǣm fēo, and hyt mōtan habban eall; and for ðȳ þǣr bēoð þā swiftan hors ungefōge dȳre. And þonne his gestrēon bēoð þus ealle āspended, þonne byrð man hit ūt, and forbærneð mid his wǣpnum and hrægle; and swīðost ealle hys spēda hȳ forspendað mid þǣmlangan leger þæs dēadan mannes inne, and þæs þe hȳ be þǣm wegum ālecgað, þe ðā fremdan tō ærnað, and nimað. And þæt is mid Estum þǣw þæt þǣr sceal ǣlces geðēodes man bēon forbærned; and gyf þār man ān bān findeð unforbærned, hī hit sceolan miclum gebētan. And þǣr is mid Estum ān mǣgð þæt hī magon cyle gewyrcan; and þȳ þǣr licgað þā dēadan men swā lange, and ne fūliað, þæt hȳ wyrcað þone cyle him on. And þēah man āsette twēgen fǣtels full ealað oððe wæteres, hȳ gedōð þæt ǣgþer bið oferfroren, sam hit sȳ sumor sam winter.
Around 890 AD. King Ælfred translated the History of the World by Orosius from Latin to Anglo-Saxon – or had it translated, according to his literary programme: to “turn into the tongue which we can all understand the books which are most necessary for all men to know” (J. Raith).
He added two travelogues, the first one by the Norwegian seafarer Othere (Ottar) from his homeland in Hålogaland in Northern Norway along the Northern coast and the Kola Peninsula towards the mouth of the Northern Dvina River. A second travel took him to the Danish trading town and fortress Hæthum (Haithabu, Hedeby, close to Schleswig).
Another travelogue recounts the voyage of a man named Wulfstan (Ulfstein) that led from Hæthum to Truso (close to Elbing, Elbląg) across the Baltic Sea.
These are the earliest travelogues mentioning the countries of Norway, Sweden and Denmark and describing self-experienced voyages to the White Sea and across the Baltic Sea with accurate sailing distance specifications. Their impact on our knowledge of these regions has been strong and well-spread through numerous translations mostly into English, but also into other languages since the end of the 18th century.
As one of the editors, Joseph Bosworth wrote in his comment: "It is the king's own record of Europe in his time. It is not only interesting, as the composition of Alfred, but invaluable, as an historical document, being the only authentic record of the Germanic nations, written by a contemporary, so early as the ninth century." and Johann Reinhold Forster, the father of the travellor around the world, added to the Barrington edition an interesting map and called Ohthere’s and Wulfstan’s voyages to be “die besten Nachrichten des mittleren Alters vom Norden, und geben der Erdbeschreibung ein grosses Licht” (in his German edition from 1784).
The Old English text was published in 1678 together with a translation into Latin and short notes by John Spelman as an appendix to his Latin biography over King Ælfred.
The text appears according to: James W. Bright (ed.), An Anglo-Saxon Reader. New York 1913
|Danish||1983||Niels Lund et. al.|
|German||1784||Johann Reinhold Forster|
|German||1822||Friedrich Christoph Dahlmann|
|Swedish||1800||Henrik Gabriel Porthan|