I'm Svend-Erik Engh -

a Danish Storyteller and storytelling coach based in Edinburgh, Scotland.

I have been a professional storyteller for more than 30 years.

I have been a teacher and coach since 1994.

Engh is immensely personable, his easy manner making present hurt of wounds decades or centuries’ old.

WJQuinn in a five star review of the show Once Upon a Time There Was a War

Photo, Alice Fernbank

Brand new Viking Saga about a young Norwegian woman sailing to Iceland

Gullrun's saga -

She Built a Boat

Illustration Tea Bendix

We are going to create a unique music storytelling performance.

Gullrun's Saga is a brand new story, which will include new poems, traditional music/songs and original musical compositions, inspired by the Norse sagas and the Lausavisur. It is a development and deepening of ideas explored in our 2018 show Walk the Oars which addressed similar themes and narratives, but explored the bond between father and son.

In Gullrun's Saga it is the strong bond between mother and daughter that sparks the story. In addition, the narrative, artistic and historical/geographical references have been thoroughly researched and developed thanks to Creative Scotland's R&D funding in 2023, thus the work stands on stronger foundations and is rooted in the most up to date historical and cultural findings related to Viking culture.

The story addresses the underrepresentation of females as protagonists in the Norse Sagas and tells of one, young, powerful woman, which challenges the view that Vikings were led and ruled by only men who were killing, looting and raping their way around the world. The recent archaeological discoveries of graves of powerful Viking warrior women, have supported, inspired and guided its creators into dreaming the story of Gullrun in creating a new imagined saga.

Gullrun's saga is divided into three different sections:

1. Steinkjer in Norway. Gullrun has been forced by the superior King Haakon, to wed a man from the mountains whom she detests. King Haakon has arranged this marriage to give him access to iron. Gullrun builds a boat which her mother secretly finances, and she escapes by sea.

2. She lands on Shetland and meets a wise Pictish tribesman who takes her in. He then leads her to the Shetland Vikings, only to discover they are loyal to King Haakon.

3. Iceland! Here the Icelandic singer Hafdis Huld takes over the telling from Svend-Erik Engh, singing and reciting poems together with Neil. The two musicians will carry the performance to the end.

On stage you will find

Icelandic singer Hafdis Huld,

Scottish muscian Neil Sutcliffe

and Danish storyteller Svend-Erik Engh

The project's next phase is to create and rehearse the final artistic content of the story with Scottish musician Neil Sutcliffe, Icelandic singer/songwriter Hafdis Huld and Matthew Roby (Asst Prof English Global Medeival Literature, Mount St Vincent University, Toronto).

We will perform a preview at SISF 2024 and the show will premier at the Hilmar Festival, Norway 2024 and thereafter will perform at Scottish venues.

Walk the Oars 

Together with Scottish Musician Neil Sutcliffe we tell a story inspired by the Viking’s arrival in Scotland, with traditional Nordic tales and Gaelic and Scots songs woven into the narrative.

You are invited onboard a Viking Longship sailing from Jutland in Denmark to Shetland in Scotland. A young man sets off to finish his fathers work: to build a causeway out to Law Ting Holm and share his culture with the Shetlanders.

I knew it was going to be good, but I didn’t know it was going to be this good

– Lorna Shields

Walk the Oars is a treasure, an ancient oasis of delight in the sea of the modern world. The whole thing is engaging and exciting, and rekindles a semi-lost fire of storytelling

Imogen Rowe, edinburghguide.com


Once Upon a Time There Was a War

Once Upon a Time There Was a War
Commissioned by Scottish International Storytelling Festival 2023

Right To Be Human

The harsh reality of war meets the magic of love songs and art, as Danish storyteller Svend-Erik Engh shares stories from real-life soldiers gathered in a decade of research, whilst musician Mairi Campbell sings songs of peace and love, from the canon of Scottish traditional song and her own writings. Danish artist Tea Bendix illustrates words and music, bringing another dimension to the stories.

5 star review in QR

One of the last events of this year’s Scottish International Storytelling Festival, Once Upon a Time There was a War, brought a touch of magical realism to the topic of conflict. Indeed trying to approach ‘war’ directly is usually a losing proposition, the all-encompasing awfulness of the subject defying definition. So in taking a slightly oblique approach, combining the potent talents of Danish storytellerSvend-Erik Engh, award-winning trad musician Mairi Campbell, and Danish live-illustrator Tea Bendix, the show chooses wisely.

A well judged, well balanced show, Once Upon a Time There Was a War, made a lively, poignant and nuanced meditation.

Danish Folktales

Two five stars Waterstones reviews

“I like the selection”

A varied selection of stories, told with heart and presence. Written in such an accessible way that you feel that you easily can retell them yourself if you should like.

Anna Lundquist

“Gorgeous book!”

This is a wee gem of a book - a fascinating mix of tales from a master storyteller, guiding us through the folklore, history and mythology of his country. There's a lovely mix of the humorous and the serious, love and loss, war and peace - something for everyone in this book! You can lose yourself in it for hours, or just flick through on the bus.

Thoroughly recommend!

Neil Sutcliffe

First five star on Amazon (from someone who bought the book on Amazon)

Unique book

Reviewed in the United Kingdom on April 18, 2024

Verified Purchase

Lovely book with enchanting stories. Of interest to all age groups. I thoroughly enjoyed them myself and have read them to my grandchildren who were captivated by them.

Ann Hansen

A collection of tales that grew out of the sprawling flatlands, the oozing fjords, the dark forests and the waves that crash on the shores of Denmark.

How a Viking ship carried a future king into Roskilde Fjord, how a mermaid’s laughter brought fortunes to her fisherman host, how the people of Lolland survived a flood with waves 3m high and how a princess found her freedom in becoming a prince.

TV 2 Danmark

Filmen Åge takker af om min fars sidste arbejdsdag, vist TV2 Danmark 1991.

VVV - Venligt Vibrerende Vekselvirkning

Venligt Vibrerende Vekselvirkning (V.V.V) handler udelukkende om historiefortælling og var et begreb, som jeg stillede op engang i 1990'erne, da jeg underviste på Borup's Højskole. Jeg skrev det på tavlen som en modsætning til w.w.w., som voksede voldsomt på det tidspunkt. Jeg har siden skrevet flere artikler om begrebet og det er for mig det nærmeste jeg kan komme en beskrivelse af det magiske, der opstår mellem en fortæller og en lytter (eller flere lyttere!).