hals (OSw) hals (ODan) hals (OGu) halsar (pl.) (ON) noun

Literally ‘neck’, appears in several expressions for execution, presumably referring to beheading, possibly also to hanging, or, if understood metonymically as ‘life’, to other methods. It seems generally assumed that capital punishments were carried out by the plaintiffs, but in ODan JyL 3 it is specified that the king is responsible for the execution of highwaymen and for those breaking settled cases. Other cases concerning the hals were treason (OSw HL, SdmL), grain theft and moving boundary markers (OSw SdmL), marriage by force without the family’s permission and misappropriating land (OGu GL). Appearing in expressions such as firigera hals (OSw) ‘forfeit one’s life’ and ganga a hals ‘lose one’s neck’. In ONorw, in the plural, hooding ends for ships in the navy; neglect to provide these was punished with a fine of half a mörk (GuL ch. 306).

hooding ends ONorw GuL Leb
life OSw HL Mb
neck ODan JyL 2, 3
OGu GL A 21, 63
OSw SdmL Bb, Mb


fælder æpter hand, hals liif ællæ goz ok pæninga (OSw)

sentenced to lose hand, neck, life or lands and money OSw MEL Kgb

gælda sin hals (OSw)

pay with the neck OSw BjR


Hertzberg s.v. hals; KLNM s.v. dødsstraf; Schlyter s.v. hals

  • ‘hals’. A Lexicon of Medieval Nordic Law.

  • http://www.dhi.ac.uk/lmnl/nordicheadword/displayPage/1963