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Ingeld or Ingjaldr (Old Norse) was a legendary warrior who appears in early English and Norse legends. Ingeld was so well known that, in 797, Alcuin wrote a letter to Bishop Higbald of Lindisfarne questioning the monks' interest in heroic legends with: 'Quid enim Hinieldus cum Christo?' - What has Ingeld to do with Christ?

The legends that survive tell of Ingeld as an enemy of Hroðgar, Halga and Hroðulf. The conflict between the Scyldings Hroðgar and Hroðulf on one side, and the Heaðobards Froda and Ingeld on the other, appears both in Beowulf and in Widsith. Scholars generally agree that these characters appear in both Anglo-Saxon (Beowulf) and Scandinavian tradition (Norse sagas and Danish chronicles).However, in the Norse tradition the Heaðobards had apparently been forgotten and the conflict is instead rendered as a family feud, or as a conflict with the Saxons, where the Danes take the place of the Heaðobards.


In Beowulf, Ingeld is the son of King Froda of the Heaðobards, and they are involved in a war with the Danes. When Beowulf reports on his adventure in Denmark to his king Hygelac, he mentions that Hroðgar had a daughter, Freawaru. Since Froda had been killed by the Danes, Hroðgar sent Freawaru to marry Ingeld, in an unsuccessful attempt to end the feud.An old warrior urged the Heaðobards to revenge, and Beowulf predicts to Hygelac that Ingeld will turn against his father-in-law Hroðgar. In a version given in the Danish chronicle Gesta Danorum (see below), the old warrior appears as Starkad, and he succeeded in making Ingeld divorce his bride and in turning him against her family. Earlier in the Beowulf poem, the poet tells us that the hall Heorot was eventually destroyed by fire (Gummere's translation):

Sele hlīfade

hēah and horn-gēap: heaðo-wylma bād,

lāðan līges; ne wæs hit lenge þā gēn

þæt se ecg-hete āðum-swerian

æfter wæl-nīðe wæcnan scolde.

....there towered the hall,

high, gabled wide, the hot surge waiting

of furious flame. Nor far was that day

when father and son-in-law stood in feud

for warfare and hatred that woke again.


It is tempting to interpret the new war with Ingeld as leading to the burning of the hall of Heorot, but the poem separates the two events (by a ne wæs hit lenge þā meaning "nor far way was that day when", in Gummere's translation).


Whereas Beowulf never dwells on the outcome of the battle with Ingeld, the possibly older poem Widsith refers to Hroðgar and Hroðulf defeating Ingeld at Heorot:

Hroþwulf ond Hroðgar heoldon lengest

sibbe ætsomne suhtorfædran,

siþþan hy forwræcon wicinga cynn

ond Ingeldes ord forbigdan,

forheowan æt Heorote Heaðobeardna þrym.

Hroðulf and Hroðgar held the longest

peace together, uncle and nephew,

since they repulsed the Viking-kin

and Ingeld to the spear-point made bow,

hewn at Heorot Heaðobard's army.