The term Old Norse refers broadly to the varieties of North Germanic spoken in Scandinavia and in Viking settlements overseas from roughly the 8th to 13th centuries. In this sense Old Norse comprises three dialects: Old West Norse, Old East Norse, and Old Gutnish. Less accurately, the term Old Norse is sometimes used to refer specifically to Old Icelandic, the dialect of Old West Norse brought to Iceland when the island was settled by seafaring Norwegians in the 9th century.
Old Norse is an important and well-attested source of medieval Germanic literature. Old Iceland texts preserve mythological and heroic poetry, such as the Poetic Edda, skaldic poetry, and medieval sagas. Runic inscriptions, which include our oldest sources of Old Norse, are widely attested in the North Germanic linguistic area.
The Harvard collection is rich in materials for the study of Old Norse. Among its holdings are numerous handbooks, grammars, lexica, and primary materials for the study of Old Icelandic and other Old Norse materials. Of further value to Norse specialists are the many scholarly journals and online resources available to the Harvard community.