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18.12.2019

Weohstan

Weohstan, Wēohstān or Wīhstān (Proto-Norse *Wīhastainaz, meaning "sacred stone", Old Norse Vésteinn and Wǣstēn) is a legendary character who appears in the Anglo-Saxon epic poem Beowulf and scholars have pointed out that he also appears to be present in the Norse Kálfsvísa.

In both Beowulf and Kálfsvísa, Weohstan (Vésteinn) fought for his king Onela (Áli) against Eadgils (Aðils).

Beowulf

According to Beowulf, Weohstan is the father of Wiglaf, and he belongs to a clan called the Wægmundings. Ecgþeow, the father of Beowulf, also belonged to this clan, so Weohstan is in some degree related to Beowulf. Thus he counts Weohstan's son Wiglaf as his kinsman.

Weohstan is referred to as having died of old age before the action of the later part of the poem. Weohstan is first mentioned in Beowulf at line 2602. We learn that he had held an estate and rights in common land in Geatland, which Beowulf gave to him.

When the Scylfing prince Eanmund rebelled against his uncle, Onela, the king of Sweden, Weohstan fought in the service of Onela and killed Eanmund in battle; for this Onela gave Weohstan Eanmund's sword and armor. In his old age, Weohstan gave this sword and armor to his son Wiglaf. By that time both Weohstan and Wiglaf "lived among the Geats". His name appears in several places where Wiglaf is described as "the son of Weohstan".

The scholar Frederick Klaeber speculates that though Onela himself did not seek a feud with Weohstan, once Onela was dead and Eanmund's brother Eadgils became king of the Swedes, Weohstan found it prudent to leave the service of the Scylfings, and this is how he came to be living among the Geats.

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