The Poetic Edda: A Study Guide
 The Speech of the Masked One

Codex Regius
MS No. 2365 4to  [R]
Arnamagnæan Codex
AM 748 I 4to [A]
1954 Guðni Jónsson
Normalized Text:

 Bær er sá inn þriði
er blíð regin
silfri þökðu sali;
valascialf heitir,
er velti sér
áss í árdaga.

Bær er sá inn þriði
er blíð regin
silfri þöktv sali;
vala skiálf heitir,
er vællti sér
áss í árdaga.

6. Bær er sá inn þriði
er blíð regin
silfri þökðu sali;
Valaskjálf heitir,
er vélti sér
áss í árdaga.  

English Translations
1797 Amos Simon Cottle
in Icelandic Poetry
The Song of Grimnir
1851 C.P. in
The Yale Magazine, Vol. 16
The Song of Grimner

VI. The third abode, I know it well,
Is where the Gods benignant dwell,
The roofs with silver radiance shine,
'Tis call'd Valaskialf divine;
Because a God in times unknown,
Chose to make that seat his own.

In Asgard. Valaskialf is the third home called,
Because, in the olden time, Vale for himself
Obtained it; there the cheerful gods o'er all
The house have spread untarnished silver's sheen,
'Heath which they taste of pure unending joys.

1866 Benjamin Thorpe
in Edda Sæmundar Hinns Frôða

The Lay of Grimnir
1883 Gudbrand Vigfusson
in Corpus Poeticum Boreale

The Sayings of the Hooded One

6. The third dwelling is,
where the kind powers have
with silver decked the hall;
Valaskálf ‘tis called,
which for himself acquired
the As in days of old.

There is the third mansion, which the blessed Gods thatched with silver: it is called Wale-shelf, the Anse (Thor) bought it in the olden time.

1908 Olive Bray
in Edda Saemundar
The Sayings of Grimnir
1923 Henry Bellows
in The Poetic Edda
Grimnismol: The Ballad of Grimnir

6. A third home is there whose hall is thatched
with silver by blessed Powers ;
Vala-shelf that seat is named,
which was founded in former days.

6. A third home is there,  
with silver thatched
By the hands of the gracious gods;
Valaskjolf is it,        in days of old
Set by a god himself.

1962 Lee M. Hollander
in The Poetic Edda
The Lay of Grimnir
1967 W. H. Auden & P. B. Taylor
in The Elder Edda
The Lay of Grimnir

6. A third hall still,    all thatched with silver,
   was built by the blessed gods:
   in Valaskálf  hall    did house himself
   Othin in olden days.

6. The third is a bower, thatched with silver
And built by blithe powers:
Hall of the Dead was the home chosen
Long ago by the god.

1996 Carolyne Larrington
in The Poetic Edda
Grimnir’s Sayings
2011 Ursula Dronke
in The Poetic Edda, Vol. III: Mythological Poems 
“The Lay of Grimnir”

6. There is a third home where the cheerful Powers
roofed the hall with silver;
Valaskialf it is called, which the God made for himself
in bygone days

6. There is a third home,
where the happy powers
have roofed the rooms with silver.
Vali's Terrace it is called,
where he devised for himself,
the deity in ancient days.

2011 Andy Orchard
The Elder Edda: A Book of Viking Lore
'The Lay of Grimnir"


  6. ‘There is a third home where the kind powers
thatched the hall with silver;
Válaskjálf’s the name of the place that in ancient days
the god contrived for himself.




Snorri paraphrases this verse in Gylfaginning 17:
Þar er enn mikill staðr, er Valaskjálf heitir. Þann stað á Óðinn. Þann gerðu goðin ok þökðu skíru silfri, ok þar er Hliðskjálfin í þessum sal, þat hásæti, er svá heitir, ok þá er Alföðr sitr í því sæti, þá sér hann of alla heima.
“There is also a great place called Valaskálf. This place is Odin’s. The gods built it and roofed it with pure silver, and it is there in this hall that Hlidskálf is, the throne of that name. And when All-father sits on that throne, he can see over all the world.” [Faulkes tr.]

Andy Orchard, The Elder Edda, (2011), p. 282:

"6. It is unclear who this god is: Váli might seem the most obvious option, although he was only born after Baldr's slaying; Snorri (Gylf. 17) thinks it is Odin."
John Lindow, Handbook of Norse Mythology, (2001), p. 307:

Válaskjálf: A hall or abode of the gods.
Grímnismál, stanza 6, tells us of it:
“There is a third residence, where the blissful powers
Thatched the hall with silver.
It is called Válaskjálf, where built skillfully for himself
The god in days of yore.”
Who “the god” is we do not know. Snorri Sturlusson, however, thought that it was Odin. In the Gylfaginning section of his Edda, Snorri wrote this, just after he had mentioned Himinbjörg at the end of Bilröst:
“There is yet a great place, called Válaskjálf. Odin owns it. The gods made it and thatched it with shining silver, and there [in it] is Hlidskjálf.”
Hlidskjálf is the high seat on which Odin sits himself when he sees into all the worlds.
Válaskálf could mean “Vali’s bench” or, if the form should be “Valaskálf” (we cannot know), it could mean something like “Bench of the slaughtered ones.”

 The scholarship below ventures into the realm of speculation— one (Simek) building on the other (Turville-Petre). If anyone would like an accurate book on what the Norse sources contain, with as little speculation and interpretation as possible, I would recommend Lindow’s Handbook (quoted at length above). He’s forthright and provides both the sources and the most common scholarly interpretations. Simek’s work is a good resource, but can be misleading at times as some entries invest too heavily on then-current scholarly views, which have changed in time. The Dictionary was first published in 1984.

Rudolf Simek, The Dictionary of Northern Mythology (1984), p. 346:
"Válaskálf (ON). One of the homes of the gods covered in silver, and described in Grímnismál 6 as being extremely ancient. In contrast to the other homes of the gods listed, it is not allotted to any particular god, and only Snorri (Gylfaginning 16) mentions that Válaskálf belongs to Odin. The name Válaskálf has not been explained completely, but it is probable that it is a mythological place associated with Odin’s son Vali. Válaskálf can be found as a Norwegian place-name, today Valaskioll. As there was possibly a place-name *Viðarsskjálf (today Viskiöl), it is possible that Odin and his sons Vali and Vidar were brought into direct connection with place names based on –skjálf cf. Odin’s throne Hlidskjálf. The possibility that it is a cult place-name should not be ignored."
[The (*) indicates that the word is conjectural and not actually attested in any source.]

E.O.G. Turville-Petre, Myth and Religion of the North, (1964), p. 64:

"The name Hlíðskjálf is of some interest. Its second element skjálf (skálf) has been interpreted as ‘a steep slope’, ‘a cutting off of a high plateau, while usages of the corresponding scelf, scylf in Old English might suggest a meaning as ‘crag, rock,’ ‘turret, pinnacle.’

"The first element in the name hlið-, most probably means “opening, gap”. The whole may then mean approximately ‘the hill, rock with an opening in it.” Perhaps the god looked through this opening over all the worlds.

"But why should the place where Odinn sits be called a skjálf? An interesting, if speculative explanation was offered by M. Olsen. He noticed that, in the Grimnismal (str. 6), a  Válaskálf was mentioned; it was built in days of old and roofed with silver. We could suppose that this was the home of Odinn’s son, Vali, who was born to avenge Baldur [12]. It is still more interesting, as Olsen points out, that the place-name Válaskálf  (Valaskioll) was found in south-eastern Norway, and in the same region there was probably a Viðarskálf (Viskjøl)."