Wada (Wade)

Old English Modern English
Name Wada Wade
Pronunciation /ˈwɑdɑ/ /weɪd/
Etymology Cognate with Old Norse Vaði and Middle High German Wate.1Stephen Pollington, The Elder Gods: The Otherworld of Early England (2011) pg. 274
Note Probably the agent noun of Old English wadan “to go, move, stride, advance; traverse” (> Modern English wade) < Proto-Germanic *wadaną “to wade, walk” < Proto-Indo-European *weh₂dʰ- “to go, proceed; pass, traverse”. Cognate with Old Frisian wada, Old Saxon wadan, Old Dutch waden, Old High German watan, Old Norse vaða “to wade”.2Dirk Boutkan and Sjoerd Michiel Siebinga, Old Frisian Etymological Dictionary (2005)  pg. 427 Related to wæd “ford, shallow water” < Proto-Germanic *wadą “ford, shallow water”. More distantly cognate with Latin vādere “to go, walk, rush”, vadāre “to ford, wade through”, and vadum “ford, shoal”.

Wada is the father of Wēland and is a giant and/or a sea god.

His earliest mention is in Widsith (< Old English wīdsīþ “far journey, long travel”), compiled in the Exeter Book in the late 10th century, as the lord of the Hælsingas.3Widsith, line 22 The Hælsingas may be the residents of Helsingborg, Sweden, or Helsingør, Denmark.4Stephen Pollington, The Elder Gods: The Otherworld of Early England (2011) pg. 274 These two cities are only 4 km (2 miles) apart. Both are coastal cities.

According to Thomas Speght, an editor of Chaucer’s works in 1598:5Stephen Pollington, The Elder Gods: The Otherworld of Early England (2011) pg. 274

Concerning Wade and his bote called Guingelot, as also his strange exploits in the same, because the matter is long and fabulous, I passe it over.

In 1894 Walter William Skeat Anglicises this as Wingelot.6Walter William Skeat, The Complete Works of Geoffrey Chaucer: Notes to the Canterbury Tales (1894) pg. 357 In either case, we’re no closer to knowing what this boat’s name means.

This boat is mentioned in Chaucer’s The Merchant’s Tale:7Translated by Peter G. Beidler (2006)

And eek thise old widwes, God it woot,
They conne so muchel craft on Wades boot,
So muchel broken harm whan that hem leste,
That with hem sholde I never live in reste.

And besides, God knows, these old widows
have so much skill in Wade’s boat—
can cause so much vexation when they want to—
that I should never live in peace with them.

Wada is mentioned by Chaucer another time in the third book of Troilus and Criseyde: “He song; she pleyde; he tolde tale of Wade.”8Troilus and Criseyde, book 3, line 614. Translation.

In Beves of Hamtoun from around the year 1300, he is mentioned as having fought a fire-breathing dragon.9Beves of Hamtoun, line 2605

According to Þiðreks saga, whose earliest extant manuscript dates to the late 13th century, Vaði is the giant son of King Vilkinus and a sjókona “mermaid”. He is specifically named the father of Völundr/Velentr.10Þiðreks saga, 194.

At Mulgrave near Whitby, Yorkshire, England, is Waddes Grave between two stones.11John Leyland, The Yorkshire Coast and the Cleveland Hills and Dales (1892) pg. 57 Mulgrave and Pickering castles were said to be built by him and his wife, Bell. During construction the couple shared a single hammer, which they threw back and forth. It was during this time that their child was impatient for milk and threw a boulder that hit Bell with such force that it broke apart.12John Leyland, The Yorkshire Coast and the Cleveland Hills and Dales (1892) pg. 84 Bell often milked the cows “a long way off upon the hills”; she and Wada laid a road for her usage, which was later called Wade’s Causey or Wade’s Causeway. A broken apron string caused Bell to drop twenty cartloads of stones upon the moor.13John Leyland, The Yorkshire Coast and the Cleveland Hills and Dales (1892) pg. 57

His name may be found in several places in England, such as Waddenhoe14Hoe only appears in place names now, but it’s a piece of land that juts out into the sea. It is from Old English hōh “heel; point of land, promontory”. in Northamptonshire, Wadhurst in Sussex, and Waddingham, Waddington (twice), and Waddingworth in Lincolnshire.15Stephen Pollington, The Elder Gods: The Otherworld of Early England (2011) pg. 274

Footnotes   [ + ]

1, 4, 5, 15. Stephen Pollington, The Elder Gods: The Otherworld of Early England (2011) pg. 274
2. Dirk Boutkan and Sjoerd Michiel Siebinga, Old Frisian Etymological Dictionary (2005)  pg. 427
3. Widsith, line 22
6. Walter William Skeat, The Complete Works of Geoffrey Chaucer: Notes to the Canterbury Tales (1894) pg. 357
7. Translated by Peter G. Beidler (2006)
8. Troilus and Criseyde, book 3, line 614. Translation.
9. Beves of Hamtoun, line 2605
10. Þiðreks saga, 194.
11, 13. John Leyland, The Yorkshire Coast and the Cleveland Hills and Dales (1892) pg. 57
12. John Leyland, The Yorkshire Coast and the Cleveland Hills and Dales (1892) pg. 84
14. Hoe only appears in place names now, but it’s a piece of land that juts out into the sea. It is from Old English hōh “heel; point of land, promontory”.