aldaoþal (OSw) allda oþal (OSw) aldaeðli (ON) noun

Literally, ‘family land from ancient times’. The word occurs only in UL, DL and VmL referring to land considered to belong within a family as of right from time immemorial. Schlyter relates the first element not to the pronoun alder, ‘all’, but to the noun ald, ‘age’ and the translation in SL UL reflects this. It is linked there with the expression fasta fæþerni and the two together seem to form a synonymic parallelism, stressing that newly acquired land is specifically omitted from the provision. The meaning is the same as other combinations with oþal (q.v.) and the expression gambli byrþ used elsewhere (e.g. OSw HL). This latter phrase emphasises the birthright nature of the land. The sale of such land could only be made under certain conditions and to certain people. In specified circumstances, purchased land could be converted to family land as of right, if it were exchanged for a parcel of family land of equal value, for example.

ancestral land from time immemorial OSw UL Jb, Blb
OSw VmL Bb


at aldaeðli (ON)

permanently OIce Grg Ómb 133, 134


KLNM s.v. odelsrett; ONP s.v. aldaeðli; Schlyter 1877, s.v. alda oþal; SL UL, 178

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