Song of the Shieldwall


Hasten, O sea-steed, over the swan-road

Foamy-necked ship o'er the froth of the sea

Hengest has called us from Gotland and Frisia

To Vortigern's country, his army to be

We'll take our pay there in sweeter than silver

We'll take our plunder in richer than gold

For Hengest has promised us land for our fighting

Land for the sons of the Saxons to hold

Hasten, O Fyrdsmen, down to the river

The dragon ships come on the in-flowing tide

The linden-wood shield and the old spear of ash-wood

Are needed again by the cold waterside

Draw up the shield-wall, O shoulder-companions

Later, whenever our story is told

They'll say that we died guarding what we call dearest

Land that the sons of the Saxons do hold

Hasten, O Huscarls, north to the Danelaw

Harald Hardrada's come over the sea

His longships he's laden with baresarks from Norway

To gain Canute's crown and our master to be

Bitter he'll find here the bite of our spear-points

Hard ruling Northmen too strong to die old

We'll grant him six feet, plus as much as he's taller

Of land that the sons of the Saxons do hold

Make haste, son of Godwin, southward from Stanford

Triumph is sweet and your men have fought hard

But William the Bastard has landed at Pevensey

Burning the land you have promised to guard

Draw up the shields on the hill-top at Hastings

Fight till the sun drops and evening grows cold

And die with the last of your Saxons around you

Holding the land you were given to hold

Notes: This song was originally written by Malkin Gray and Peregrynne Windrider. Although not originally a Calontir song, it was learned by Master Eric at some point who brought it back to Calontir with some minor changes. In particular, the "huscarls" were originally "house-carls." Eric modified it in order to make it more directly match the GOA fighting level of our kingdom. Additionally, it was originally spears that were drawn up on the hilltop of Hastings. But since Calontir is known for its shield walls and the title is "Song of the Shieldwall" you often find it sung both ways.

The song tells of the rise and fall of the Ango-Saxon culture, beginning with Hengest promising the Saxons land if they would fight for him, which they did. The end of the song references the Battle of Hastings in 1066 CE. More information about the history relating to this song can be found here.

Because of how well this song has fit with Calontir's identity, it has been adopted and is often considered Calontir's national anthem. It is always heard as Calontir marches to the battlefield and can also be heard around almost any Calontir bardic circle. The version I have sung here is slightly more geared for presentation than the version sung in the previous situations as in those circumstances the rhythm is more even as it is meant to be sung while marching.

As previously noted, Huscarls are Calontir's GOA level rattan combat order. The Iren Fyrd are our AOA level. Since both are referenced in this song, there is another cultural oddity such that members of the respective orders will always rise (if seated) and shout the word instead of singing it.