Skip to main content

Full text of "Northern mythology : comprising the principal popular traditions and superstitions of Scandinavia, North Germany, and The Netherlands"

See other formats


NORTHERN MYTHOLOGY, 

COMPRISING THE PRINCIPAL 

POPULAR TRADITIONS AND SUPERSTITIONS 

OF 

SCANDINAVIA, NORTH GERMANY, 

AND 

THE NETHERLANDS. 

COMPILED FROM ORIGINAL AND OTHER SOURCES, 

BY 

BENJAMIN THORPE, 

MEMBER OF THE ROYAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES AT MUNICH. 

IN THREE VOLUMES. 

VOL. II. 

SCANDINAVIAN POPULAR TRADITIONS AND 
SUPERSTITIONS 



LONDON : 
EDWARD L U M L E Y, 

SOUTHAMPTON STREET, BLOOM SBURY SQUARE. 
MDCCCLI. 



PRINTED BY RICHARD TAYLOR, 
RED LION COURT, FLEET STREET. 



CONTENTS. 



SCANDINAVIAN POPULAR TRADITIONS. 

I. NORWEGIAN TRADITIONS. 

Page 

Introduction xi to xxviii 

Thurser, Vsetter, Dwarfs, etc 1 

Huldra or Hulla 2 

Jutuls and Mountain-Giants 4 

The Jutul on Hestmandoe 5 

The Jutul s Bridge ib. 

The Girl at the Sfeter 6 

Gurri Kunnan 7 

The Bridal Crown 9 

The Bishop s Cattle 10 

The Midwife 11 

The Oiestad Horn 14 

Huldre Marriage 15 

The Nisse or Niss 16 

The Werwolf 18 

The Mara (Qvseldrytterinde) A. 

Ghosts 19 

The Nok , 20 

The Grim, or Fossegrim 23 



iv CONTENTS. 

Page 

The ilore-Trold 23 

The Brunmigi ib. 

The Qvsernknurre ib. 

The Finngalkn 24 

Gertrud s Bird 25 

Aasgaardsreia (Wild Hunt) ib, 

The Merman (Marmennill) and Mermaid (Margygr) 27 

The Sea-Snake 28 

Dragons 31 

The Severed Hand 32 

Of St. Olaf 34 

Of St. Olaf and the first Church in Norway 39 

St. Olaf at Vaaler 40 

St. Olaf at Ringerige 42 

Axel Thordsen and Fair Valdborg 43 

The Signe-Kjserring, or Witch , 47 

II. SWEDISH TRADITIONS. 

Christmas or Yule Pastimes 49 

Modern Traditions of Odin 50 

Modern Traditions of Thor 51 

Of Rocking Stones and Thundering Stones 54 

Superstitious Usage in Case of Theft ib. 

Finnish Superstition , 55 

Of Giants and Dwarfs 56 

King Eric s Dream 58 

Of Biorn the Swede, Ulf Jarl, and Cnut the Great 59 

Christian-Heathen Traditions of Trolls, etc 61 

OF ELVES 62 

Of the Mount-Folk 63 

Elfin Gardens 67 

Of Bergtagning (Mount-taking) ib. 

The Flying Elves 68 

Lofjerskor 71 

The Skogsra. The Siora 73 



CONTENTS. V 

Page 
OF WATER ELVES. 

I. The Mermaid 76 

II. Fountain Maidens 77 

III. The Neck and the Stromkarl 78 

The Wild Hunt 83 

Mystic Animals ib. 

The Mountain Troll 1 85 

II. Sten of Fogelkarr 86 

Ill 87 

IV 88 

The Trolls celebrate Christmas 89 

Origin of the Noble Name of Trolle 91 

The Giant s Path ib. 

The Tomte or Swedish Niss ib. 

Ravens. Pyslingar and Mylingar. Skrat 94 

The Werwolf % 

Jack o Lantern 97 

The Ram in the Getaberg ib. 

The Dragon, or White Serpent 98 

The Uninvited Wedding Guests 100 

Of Lund Cathedral 101 

The Church-grim and the Church-lamb 102 

Helige Thor s Kalla (Well) 103 

Of the Virgin Mary ib. 

Yule-Straw 104 

The Biaraan, or Bare 105 

Midsummer Eve 106 

Christmas 107 

The Cuckoo ib. 

Swedish Popular Belief 108 

III. DANISH TRADITIONS. 
TROLLS BARROW- OR MOUNT-FOLK, ELF-FOLK, AND 

DWARFS. 

Origin of Trolls . 115 



vi CONTENTS. 

Page 

Elf-Folk 116 

The Klint-King on the Isle of Moen 124 

The Underground Folk in Bornholm 125 

The Mount-Folk borrow Beer 126 

The Elf-Folk under the Hearth 127 

Fru Mette ib. 

The Underground Folk fetch a Midwife 128 

Trolls at Uglerup 130 

The Midwife of Fuur 131 

Skotte 132 

King Pippe is dead ib. 

The Troll at Msehred 133 

The Man in the Oxnebierg 134 

The Unbidden Guests ib. 

Ellevilde, or Elf-crazed 136 

The Brudehb i, or Bride Mount ib. 

Hans PuntMer 137 

The Aged Bride 138 

Bondevette ib. 

The Giant s Daughter and the Ploughman 140 

Svend Fselling 141 

Altar-Cups 144 

Trolls in the Red Stone 148 

The Troll s Glove 149 

The Troll outwitted ib. 

Raginal 150 

Gillikop 151 

The Trolls desire to be saved ib. 

The Trolls Fear of the Cross 152 

The Trolls Fear of Thunder ib. 

The Trolls Hatred of Bells 154 

The Trolls forsake Vendsyssel 155 

The Elf-folk forsake ^Ero 156 

The Trolls cast Stones at Churches 158 

The Nisse or Niss ib. 



CONTENTS. All 

Page 

The Kirkegrim (Church-grim) 166 

The Kirkegrim and the Strand-varsel ib. 

Hyldemoer. Elder 167 

The Werwolf 168 

The Mara 169 

Mermen and Merwives 170 

Changelings 174 

How to distinguish a Changeling 175 

THE DEVIL. 

Friar Ruus 1/7 

The Devil at Cards 179 

A Scholar assigns himself to the Devil 180 

The Devil s Footstep ib. 

Jens Plovgaard 181 

How the Devil allowed himself to be outwitted 182 

The Lady of Kiolbygaard 183 

A Feast with the Devil 184 

The Book of Cyprianus 186 

Of Witches 188 

The Shipmaster of Aarhuus and the Finlap 193 

Of Frit Skud 194 

TRADITIONS OF SPECTRES. 

The Flying Huntsman 195 

Gron- Jette ib. 

Pame-Jseger, or Paine the Hunter 196 

Horns Jaeger 197 

Jons Jseger 198 

King Abel s Hunt ib. 

King Valdemar s Hunt 199 

Punishment for removing Land-marks 202 

A Sunday s Child 203 

Spectres in St. Knud s Church at Odense 204 

Hans Nseb ib. 

A Sagacious Woman 205 

Master Mads and Herr Anders .. 206 



Vlll CONTENTS. 

Page 

Of Dragons 207 

The Dam-Horse 208 

The Hel-Horse 209 

The Church-Lamb 210 

The Grave-Sow ib. 

The Night-Raven ib. 

The Jack o Lantern 211 

The Basilisk 212 

The Jerusalem Shoemaker, or Wandering Jew, in Jutland ib. 

OF LAKES, BOTTOMLESS POOLS, ETC. 

Tiis Lake 213 

The Sunken Mansion ,., 214 

TRADITIONS OF WELLS. 

Helen s Well 215 

St. Knud s Well 217 

Snogskilde (Snake s Well) ib. 

The Sand-Hills at Nestved 218 

OF TREES ib. 

The Lonely Thorn 219 

Of the Pestilence in Jutland ib. 

The Rat-hunter ib. 

HISTORICAL. 

Habor and Signelil 220 

Feggeklit 221 

Jellinge Barrows ib. 

Holger the Dane under Kronborg 222 

Bishop William s Foot-mark 223 

Bishop William s Death and Burial ib. 

The Punishment of Inhumanity 225 

Svend Grathe s Military Chest 226 

The Two Church Towers ib. 

Archbishop Absalon s Death 227 

Dannebrog ib. 

Dannebrog Ships 228 

St. Niels (Nicholas), the Patron of Aarhuus ib. 



CONTENTS. IX 

Page 

Little Kirsten s (Christine s) Grave 232 

Marsk Stig ib. 

King Valdemar and Queen Helvig 233 

Queen Helvig and Falk Lohman 23(> 

Queen Margaret when a Child ib. 

Prophecy of King Frederic the First s Accession to the Throne 237 
Spectacles Ducats ib. 

OF HISTORICAL PERSONS, FAMILY TRADITIONS, ETC. 

The Arms of the Bille Family 238 

Herr Eske Brok ib. 

The Half-full Bottle 23<> 

Ilerr Erland Lhnbek 240 

The Family of Monrad 241 

The Name and Arms of the Rosenkrandses ib. 

The Arms of the Trolle Family 243 

Major General Svamvedel ib. 

TRADITIONS OF TOWNS AND OTHER PLACES. 

The Ramparts of Copenhagen 244 

The Image of St. Oluf ib. 

Secret Passages under Aalborg 245 

OF CHURCHES AND CONVENTS. 

Of Churches 24(1 

The Tower of St. Mary s in Copenhagen ib. 

The Chimes in the Tower of St. Nicholas 24 7 

The Sea-Troll in the Issefiord ib. 

Roeskilde Cathedral 24s 

Veiby Church ib. 

Kallundborg Church ib. 

Rachlov Church , 24.9 

The Altar-piece in Soro Church 250 

Blood Spots on the Wall of Karise Church ib. 

The Church at Falster 251 

Maribo Church 252 

Aarhuus Cathedral ib. 

Ribe Cathedral ib. 

A 5 



X CONTENTS. 

Page 

The Church at Erritso 253 

The Altar-piece in Sleswig Cathedral 255 

TRADITIONS RELATING TO MANSIONS. 

Herlufsholm 255 

Vaargaard 256 

TRADITIONS OF PRIESTS AND WISE MEN. 

St. Andrew of Slagelse 258 

Master Laurids 260 

The Priest of Norre-Vilstrup 261 

St. Kield of Viborg 262 

TREASURES AND TREASURE-DIGGERS. 

The Treasure in Hvirvel Bakke 263 

The Treasure in Daugbierg-Daus ib. 

The Treasure on Fuur 264 

The Treasure in Lodal ib. 

TRADITIONS OF ROBBERS. 

Thyre Boloxe and her Sons 265 

Stserk Olger 266 

Voldborg s Day ib. 

Friar Ruus 267 

Danish Popular Belief 270 



INTRODUCTION . 



AMID the lofty Fjelds 2 of Norway the gigantic Jutul has 
fixed his home, of whose fingers and feet traces may be 
seen in the hard stone, and whom fragments of rock and 
ponderous grave-stones serve for weapons ; in the lower 
ridges the wily Troll and the beautiful Huldra have their 
dwelling ; in mounds and by lofty trees the countless 
swarms of Elves have their haunt, while beneath the 
earth the small but long-armed and skilful dwarfs exercise 
their handicrafts. In the evening twilight Thusser and 
Vaettir still wander about, and the merry, wanton Nisser 
frisk and dance by moonlight. In the rivers and lakes 
lurks the fell Nok, and through the air flies the Aasgaards- 
reia s frantic crew 3 , announcing bloodshed and war, while 
a guardian, warning Fb lgie attends each mortal on his 
earthly career. Thus speaks tradition, and that this be 
lief is of long standing in the North may be concluded 



1 From Faye s Norske Folke-Sagn. Cliristiania, 1844. 

2 I have preserved the native orthography of this word (signifying a i ar 
outstretched stony mountain), to prevent confusion with the English word 
field. It is our north of England fell. 3 See p. 25. 



Xll INTRODUCTION. 

from the testimony of Procopius : The Thulites worship 
many gods and spirits, in heaven, in air, on earth, in the 
sea, and some even that are said to inhabit the waters of 
springs and rivers. They constantly make to them all 
kinds of offerings l " 

The question that naturally first presents itself to us, on 
hearing these wondrous stories, is : What can have given 
birth to, and indelibly imprinted and quickened in the 
imagination of the people a superstition, which is the more 
remarkable, as similar opinions are found among the 
majority of the people in the north of Europe ? 

It is probable that unacquaintance with nature and her 
powers, combined with the innate desire of finding a reason 
for and explaining the various natural phenomena, that 
must daily and hourly attract the attention of mankind, 
has led them to see the causes of these phenomena in the 
power of the beings who, as they supposed, had produced 
them, and afterwards frequented and busied themselves 
with and in their own productions. These phenomena 
were too numerous and various to allow the ascribing of 
them to a single being, and therefore a number of super 
natural beings were imagined, whose dangerous influence 
and pernicious wrath it was sought to avert by sacrifices 
and other means. 

The hollow thundering that is at times heard among 
the mountains, the smoke and fire that ascend from some 
of them, the destruction often caused by a sudden earth-slip 
or earthquake, all of which in our times are easily explained 
from natural causes, might to the rugged peasant, wholly 
unacquainted with nature and her hidden powers, appear 
1 Geijer, Svea Hikes Hafder, p. 87. 



INTRODUCTION. Xlll 

as supernatural, and as the operations of Jutuls, Giants, 
and similar mighty, evil beings, that were supposed to 
dwell in the mountains, and of whose huge feet and fingers 
a lively imagination easily found marks in the hard rocks. 
Fear and superstition gradually invested these imaginary 
beings with all sorts of terrific forms l , and people fancied 
they saw these direst foes of man transformed into stone 
all over the country. 

Crystals and other natural productions were found, 
which could not have been made by human hands ; a 
voice, a sound, was sometimes heard where least expected, 
either an echo, or arising from other natural causes, and 
which could now be easily accounted for ; footsteps of men 
were seen where no one had ever chanced to meet a human 
being ; among many comely children there was a deformed 
one, which either by its ugliness or its excessive stupidity 
was distinguished from the others. All these things, it 
was said, must have a cause, and from ignorance of nature, 
joined to superstition and a lively imagination, the idea 
suggested itself of conjuring up beings, to whom all these 
phenomena might be ascribed, and who, according to the 
places of sojourn assigned them, were called Forest-trolls, 
Huldres, Mountain-trolls, Vsettir, Elves, Dwarfs, Nisser, 
Mares, etc. 

The sea s smooth surface, its hidden, unfathomable 
depth, the raging of the storm, and the foamy billows of 
the troubled ocean, make a deep and often a wonderful 
impression on the human mind. This state of feeling, 

1 In Orvarodd s Saga, c. 15, a giant is thus described: He was quite 
black except his eyes and teeth, which were white ; his nose was large 
and hooked ; his hair, which hung down over all his breast, w r as as coarse 
as fish s gills, and his eyes were like two pools of water. 



XIV INTRODUCTION. 



together with the extraordinary creatures of the ocean that 
are sometimes caught, and the terrific marine monsters that 
are sometimes seen, must supply the ignorant fisherman, 
in his sequestered home, with such abundant food for his 
invention or fancy, that it is almost a wonder there are not 
even more stories of mermen, mermaids, and other crea 
tions of the deep. 

The monotonous roar of the waterfalls, the squalls and 
whirlpools that render our fiords and rivers so dangerous, 
and in which many persons annually perish, together with 
the circumstance, that in several fresh waters, when a thaw 
is at hand, the ice splits through the middle with a fearful 
crash, leaving an open strip, have given occasion to super 
stition to imagine the depths of the water inhabited by 
malignant sprites, that yearly at least require a human 
being for a sacrifice, and which, under the names of Noks, 
Grims and Qusernknurrer, are sufficiently known. 

When it suggested itself to the imagination to peo 
ple the mountains, the earth and the water with super 
natural beings, it could not be long before it must also 
give inhabitants to the boundless space above our heads. 
In the countless stars, in the extraordinary figures often 
assumed by the clouds and the mist, in the balls of fire 
and the blazing northern lights, in the pealing thunder 
and the wind howling through the narrow mountain-val 
leys, the uninstructed might easily see and hear the pass 
ing of the gods, the Aasgaardreia s wild course, the Troll- 
w r ives ride, and thence draw omens of impending misfor 
tune. The lightning oftenest strikes downward among 
the high mountains, what then can be more reasonable 
than the belief that the god who reveals himself in thunder 



INTRODUCTION. XV 

and lightning, the mighty Thor, is chastising the demons 
of earth, who dwell in the places that have been struck by 
the lightning ? 

Wicked, and injurious to man were the greater number 
of these supernatural beings, who may strictly be regarded 
as personified powers of nature, and as there hangs a de 
gree of obscurity over their whole being, the night was 
supposed to be the season of their activity, when imagina 
tion and fear are most disposed to create all kinds of 
terrific images. 

Although personified powers of nature are to be regarded 
as the primary elements of mythic tradition, it would, ne 
vertheless, be a great error to suppose that every individual 
myth or tradition of supernatural beings can be explained 
on that principle. The explanation would in such case 
often be not only far-fetched but false ; for, in the first 
place, many a myth, or some particular part of it, is mere 
poetic embellishment, and, secondly, it often contains an 
obscure tradition of the country s earliest history. An 
almost inscrutable blending of various traditions is a pe 
culiar characteristic of a myth. In the representations of 
the gods and other beings, their wars and other relations, 
lies the oldest history of a people in the guise of a myth. 
That it must be dark and fabulous is a consequence both 
of its antiquity and the rudeness in which most nations 
live in their earliest infancy, when it never occurs to them, 
nor in fact have they the means, to transmit to after-ages 
accounts of their transactions. Consequently the earliest 
history of every people consists of traditions, which in the 
course of time may have been subjected to various changes. 
Through the mist that envelops the primitive history of 



XVI INTRODUCTION. 

the North, the historic inquirer thinks that he discerns a 
struggle between the primitive inhabitants and a more 
civilized invading people ; and in our popular traditions 
of Jutuls, Trolls, Elves and Dwarfs, are sought traces of 
these elder and more rugged people, the conquest and 
expulsion of whom, as dark monuments of times long 
gone by, is alluded to and eternized in the old skaldic 
songs and sagas 1 . 

That these primitive inhabitants consisted of one and 
the same people it is not necessary to assume. On the 
contrary, the great difference found in the sagas between 
the huge Jutul, who plays with fragments of rock, and the 
little wily dwarfs, who conceal themselves in the earth and 
its caverns, seems to indicate that they were as different as 
could well be, although in particular places they may have 
lived together, and combined in opposition to and as com 
mon enemies of the invading Goths. In some places it 
would seem as if the intruding conquerors had mingled 
with the older inhabitants, settled among them and formed 
intermarriages with them. " In ancient times," a Thelle- 
mark saga relates, " the Thusser were so numerous that 
Christians could not inhabit Norway, nor Norway be co 
lonized, before they formed intermarriages/ And in our 
old sagas mention frequently occurs of historic personages, 
who, on the father s or mother s side, descended from 
giants, or were half-trolls/ 

In other places it would appear that it was only after 

1 Thor himself is made to relate that Norway in ancient times was 
inhabited by giants, who all perished suddenly except two women ; but 
that after the people from the east countries began to inhabit the country, 
these women were a great annoyance, until Thor slew them. See the 
story in vol. i. p. 176. 



INTRODUCTION. XV11 

an obstinate struggle that the original inhabitants were 
driven from the plains and valleys to the wooded and 
mountainous regions, where caves were their dwelling- 
places,, the chase afforded them sustenance, and the skins 
of beasts covering. That they continued to stand in a 
hostile relation to their conquerors, and that, whenever an 
opportunity presented itself, they attacked, plundered and 
murdered the intruders, in the tracts nearest to their 
hiding-places, and then disappeared with their booty, is in 
the highest degree probable. Their sudden attacks and 
disappearance, the bloody traces they left behind them, 
their vast strength, savage aspect and garb, together with 
the darkness, under cover of which they chose to visit their 
enemies stores or to attack them, must give to these 
people a terrific, demonlike colouring in the eyes of the 
peaceful inhabitants of the valley. The less often they 
showed themselves the more wonderful were the stories 
told of them ; and so formidable did they at length appear, 
dressed out in all the terrors of imagination and super 
stition, that, according to the general opinion, it required 
powers greater than human to contend with them. It 
was, therefore, a fitting task for the Thunder-god himself, 
who sometimes crushed them with his bolt, or for his 
earthly representative, who in the old skaldic poem is de 
scribed as the overthrower of the altars of the Forniotish 
gods, the mountain folk s, the fj eld-wolves , the sons of the 
rock s and the giants terror and destroyer ! . 

In the Norse Sagas we read not only of the mighty 
Jutuls, Giants (Riser) and Mountain-trolls, but also, and 

1 Comp. Thorsdrapa, pp. 1G-22, and Thiodolf hin Hvinerske s poem 
Hostlanga, also Geijer s Svea Hikes Iliifder, p. 276. 



XV111 INTRODUCTION. 

even more frequently, of Thusser and Dwarfs. The tra 
dition of a former dwarf-race may probably in part be 
ascribed to an obscure reminiscence that the Lapps once, 
during Norway s savage state, inhabited tracts whence 
they have been driven away. If the diminutive Lapps 
were not formidable to the invading Goths in battle, they 
might, nevertheless, through their acquaintance with the 
secrets of nature, their cunning and their dexterity, be 
dangerous neighbours, who could drive off the cattle, 
change children (whence probably the numerous stories 
about changelings), steal household utensils and provisions, 
give persons stupefying drinks, entice them into their 
caves with songs, presents, etc., traits which supply us with 
the key to many a tradition of the subterraneans. 

These views are confirmed by the testimony of history. 
Adam of Bremen, who lived in the eleventh century, re 
lates from oral information given him by the Danish king 
Svend Estrithson, that in Sweden "there was a people 
who were in the habit of suddenly descending from the 
mountains in sledges, laying all around waste, unless most 
vigorously opposed, and then retiring." " In Norway/ 
he says in another place, " I have heard there are wild 
women and men, who dwell in the forests, and seldom 
make their appearance ; they use the skins of wild beasts 
for clothing, and their speech is more like the growling of 
animals than the talk of human beings, so that they are 
hardly intelligible to their neighbours." 

At the first glance it must appear wonderful, that after 
Christianity has been established in the North for eight 
hundred years, there should still be so many remains of 
heathen superstitions there. On closer consideration, 



INTRODUCTION. XIX 

however, the enigma may be solved. The first Christian 
teachers, finding the old ideas too deep-rooted, and, as it 
were, too fast interwoven with the physical condition of 
the country, its ancient history and poetry, to be imme 
diately eradicated, strove to render the heathen supersti 
tion less offensive by giving it a Christian colouring. The 
heathen festivals, which had formerly been held in honour of 
the gods of Valhall,were now transferred to Christian saints, 
and in St, Olaf the Norse clergy were so fortunate as to 
get a saint of such high repute for his wonderful strength, 
that they could well place to his account the marvellous 
deeds that had been previously ascribed to the mighty 
Thor and the gods of Valhall. These latter, who were 
sometimes regarded by the Christians as mere human 
beings, and at others as evil spirits, were at length almost 
totally forgotten by the people, as it was but seldom that 
any visible sign appeared before them which could tend to 
retain them in remembrance; while belief in the other 
supernatural beings, that were attached to the surround 
ing nature, could not be so easily eradicated. As giants 
and other beings of that class had never been objects of 
adoration, but of hatred and aversion, they were allowed 
to retain their old denominations and character, and even 
served to confirm the Christian doctrine of the devil and 
his angels, among whom the giants and other supernatural 
beings were reckoned. 

The Lutheran reformation, instead of checking this 
superstition as it had done many other errors, let it re 
main unheeded; the belief in the devil and his angels 
(the common name for the supernatural beings), together 
with their influence, both on mankind and all nature, 



XX INTRODUCTION. 

seems rather to have acquired new life. Persecutions for 
witchcraft, and assignments to the fiend belonged to the 
order of the day. 

It was, it is true, considered an impiety to have any 
concern with the subterraneans and other such " petty 
devils;" but to the untutored and superstitious people it 
was a necessity to have some beings of whom they could 
ask counsel ; and as the reformed clergy had made an end 
of the Catholic saints and relics, superstition was driven 
to betake itself secretly to its old heathen friends, the sub 
terraneans, the Nisser, and the like, whose favour it was 
sought to gain, or whose enmity it was hoped to avert 
by offerings at hollow trees, in woods, or under vast, 
venerable stones, on a Thursday evening, or the eve of a 
holyday. 

The more expanded ideas which began to prevail to 
wards the end of the last century, and the increase of 
knowledge, which has manifested itself in so many ways 
in these latter times, have greatly contributed to diminish 
the belief in these supernatural beings. In many parts 
such traditions are already sunk into oblivion, in some 
they are regarded as pleasant stories, or are related merely 
to frighten children; while in other places, among the 
less enlightened and more superstitious peasantry, many 
are still to be found who are convinced of the existence of 
these mythic beings, who played so important a part in 
the imagination of their fathers. They themselves or, 
more usually, an aunt, a father or mother, have seen the 
underground folk and their dogs and cattle, heard their 
sweet music, known persons that have been taken into the 
fjelds, or had their infants changed for those of the subter- 



INTRODUCTION. XXI 

rancans 1 . The places where such beings were supposed 
to have their resort are in some parts still looked upon 

1 We ought not in fact greatly to wonder that the belief in the suhter- 
ranean people still finds followers among the uninstructed peasantry, when 
we read, that it is scarcely a hundred years since learned men disputed 
whether the subterraneans were created by God, whether they were pre- 
adamites, whether they can hold intercourse with mankind, etc. Herman 
Huge, clergyman of Slidre in 1754, in his Rational Thoughts on various 
curious matters/ was of opinion " that the subterraneans formed, as it 
were, the boundary between brutes and human beings !" The said clergy 
man, Ruge, who has dedicated a whole chapter of his book to the subject 
of changelings, informs us (as an ancient method to be applied with regard 
to such children), that if a mother has been so unfortunate as to have her 
child changed, she must take the changeling on three successive Thursday 
evenings and whip it unmercifully with rods on a heap of sweepings ; for 
then the subterranean mother, taking pity on her infant, will come and 
restore the genuine child and take back her own. The helief in change 
lings is universal also out of Norway. As many persons will, no doubt, 
be gratified to know what the great German reformer, Martin Luther, 
thought and said with regard to changelings, we will give an extract or 
two from his Table Talk : " Changelings (Wechselbiilge) and Kielkropfs 
Satan lays in the place of the genuine children, that people may be tor 
mented with them. He often carries off young maidens into the water, 
has intercourse with them, and keeps them with him until they have been 
delivered ; then lays such children in cradles, takes the genuine children 
out, and carries them away. But such changelings, it is said, do not live 
more than eighteen or twenty years." 

" In the year 1541 Dr. Luther mentioned this subject at table, adding, 
that he had told the Prince of Anhalt that such changelings should be 
drowned. On being asked why he had so advised ? he answered, that it 
was his firm helief that such changelings were only a lump of flesh, a 
massa carnis, as there was no soul in them, for such the devil could easily 
make, as well as he can destroy men, who have body, reason and soul, 
when he possesses them bodily, so that they neither hear nor see nor feel 
anything ; he makes them dumb, deaf and blind ; the devil is therefore in 
such changelings as their soul." 

" Eight years ago there was a changeling in Dessau, which I, Dr. Martin 
Luther, have both seen and touched ; it was twelve years old and had all 
its senses, so that people thought it was a proper child ; hut that mattered 
little ; for it only ate, and that as much as any four ploughmen or thrashers, 
and when any one touched it it screamed ; when things in the house went 
wrong, so that any damage took place, it laughed and was merry ; but if 
things went well, it cried. Thereupon I said to the Prince of Anhalt : 



XX11 INTRODUCTION. 

as sacred. No superstitious peasant, who has a regard 
for his health and property, dares venture to meddle with 
a Vsettir-mound, a Butree or Thunbede, which is fre 
quented by the invisible folk ; but, on the contrary, that 
they may not, in their anger, pass their dwelling and 
take the luck of the house with them, the people wait 
upon them on holyday eves with cakes, sweet porridge 
and other offerings 1 . 

An example or two will serve to show how deeply im 
printed is the belief in the subterraneans, in many places, 
even at the present day. " At Luro in the Northlands," 
the Rev. G. Faye writes to me, "an incredible degree of 
superstition prevails, particularly with regard to the sub 
terraneans, who have their sojourn in certain places, how 
they take in persons and make away with them ; they are 
even said to have a church somewhere here in the parish, 
of which one of my parishioners, a great ghost-seer, is, as 
I am told, the priest. It is, moreover, said that in the 
neighbourhood of the parsonage there dwelt a subterranean, 

If I were prince or ruler here, I would have this child thrown into the 
water, into the Moldau that flows by Dessau, and would run the risk of 
being a homicide. But the Elector of Saxony, who was then at Dessau, 
and the Prince of Anhalt would not follow my advice. I then said : 
They ought to cause a Pater noster to be said in the church, that God 
would take the devil away from them. That was done daily at Dessau, 
and the said changeling died two years after." See Dobeneck, i. p. 168. 

Then follows a story almost identical with The Kielkropp in vol. iii. 
p. 46. 

1 " In Moland, in the Upper Thellemark," writes Pastor Buch, " they 
paid adoration to the Thusser, under the name of Vetir, by offering to 
them some of their best meat and drink, upon up-raised mounds, particu 
larly buttermilk, or wort when they brewed. Such a libation was called 
a saup, i. e. a sup or gulp. Those who had not such Vetir-mounds poured 
out a little cup of drink on the hearth. The friendship of these beings 
was very useful to the peasant both for his cattle and general welfare." 



INTRODUCTION. XX111 

who had a pleasure-boat, whom people that were synsk 
often saw sailing on the lake. I have repeatedly endea 
voured to talk them out of this superstition; but before 
me they will never confess that they entertain such belief; 
because, as I afterwards learned, they think it is to the 
priest s advantage to suppress all belief in the subterra 
neans : l For/ say they, he is as sensible of it as we are ; 
he has read it in the sixth book of Moses, which does not, 
it is true, stand in the Bible, but which the priests keep 
to themselves/ That the Sonderfjeld Norwegians stand 
on about the same level with regard to belief in the sub 
terraneans will appear from the following traditions, but 
to which I will add a passage from my college days. 

In company with some University friends, I undertook, 
in the summer of 1824, a foot-journey to the Kiukanfoss 
and Gaustafjeld. As a guide on the Gausta, we took an 
active peasant from Vestfiorddal, a man singularly well- 
informed for his station, but who was, nevertheless, 
thoroughly convinced of the existence of the subterraneans. 
" I once myself," said he, " saw in the fjeld a man who 
suddenly sank down in the earth before my eyes, and it is 
well known," added he, " that one of the subterraneans, 
who in outward appearance perfectly resembled one of us, 
courted a girl who rejected him, although he promised her 
a house, chattels and as much silver plate as she desired." 
On our objecting that either his imagination must have 
played him a trick, and the courtship have been a mere 
idle invention on the part of the girl ; or that some per 
son for a joke had imposed upon her, by giving him 
self out for a subterranean, he continued : " But it is 
known for certain, that a man, who one day went into the 



XXIV INTRODUCTION. 

forest, came suddenly upon a mansion with its appurte 
nances, the inmates of which, on his coming, instantly 
abandoned it. The man, who from fear of troll-craft did 
not venture to take up his abode in the mansion, an 
nounced the incident to the authorities, who took posses 
sion of the place in the king s name, which to this day, 
in remembrance of the event, bears the name of Findland" 
As we still continued incredulous, and suggested that the 
persons mentioned might have been culprits, who on the 
man s coming betook themselves to flight, through fear of 
being discovered, our guide came forth with his last and 
weightiest argument : <e But it stands in the Bible, that 
every knee, both of those who are in heaven and on earth, 
and under the earth, shall bow before the Lord. And who 
then are those under the earth, if they are not the sub 
terraneans ?" Thus may even passages in the Bible itself, 
when misunderstood, serve to confirm superstition ! 

Having thus endeavoured to explain how the belief in 
these supernatural beings originated, and by some exam 
ples shown that in certain parts of the country it is still 
the popular belief, it only remains to lay before the reader 
a slight sketch of the similar ideas and kindred supersti 
tions existing in the other Northern countries. In this 
sketch we shall confine ourselves chiefly to the subter 
raneans, who, according to both the old mythology and 
the popular traditions, are divided into several classes, as 
Thusser, Vsettir, Dwarfs, Elves, etc. In the old mythology 
the dwarfs under which denomination seem to be com 
prised several of the species which now constitute the sub 
terraneans play an important part. They came forth, as 
we have already seen, as maggots in the rotten carcase of 



INTRODUCTION. XXV 

the giant Ymir, and at the behest of the gods received 
human form and understanding, and had habitations 
assigned them in the earth and in stones 1 . 

From these we may consider the subterraneans in all 
the Northern countries to derive their origin. We will 
first direct our attention to Iceland. As in Norway, the 
subterraneans here also dwell in hills and mounds, they 
are neat and cleanly, comely and flighty, readily hold con 
verse with Christians, by whom they formerly had chil 
dren. These they strove to exchange for the children of 
Christians before they were baptized, that their own might 
enjoy the benefit of baptism. Such substituted children 
were called Umskiptingar, and are usually stupid and 
weakly. The subterraneans have beautiful cattle, which, 
like themselves, are invisible, though they sometimes let 
themselves be seen in the bright sunshine, which they 
lack in their dwellings, and in which they therefore from 
time to time recreate themselves. On New Year s night 
they sometimes change their habitations, at which time it 
was formerly a custom, in Iceland to leave well-provided 
tables standing, and the doors open, in order to gain the 
good will both of the comers and goers. According to 
old traditions, the subterraneans of Iceland were governed 
by two chieftains, who are changeable every second year, 
when, accompanied by some of their subjects, they sailed 
to Norway, to appear before the king of the whole race, 
who had his residence there, to renew their oath of fealty, 

1 See vol. i. p. 9. According to one tradition, the subterraneans de 
scend from Adam s children by his first wife Lileth. Goethe alludes to 
her in Faust. 



XXVI INTRODUCTION. 

and render an account of their administration, which, if 
found good and just, was continued to them ; but in the 
contrary case they were instantly deposed; justice and 
equity being in high estimation among these elves 1 . 

In the Faro isles the subterraneans are, as in some 
parts of Norway, called Huldefolk, and resemble the Norse 
Vsettir, being described as full-grown, clad in grey, with 
black hats. Their large, fat cattle graze, though invisible, 
among those of the inhabitants ; a sight of them is, how 
ever, sometimes obtained, as also of their dogs. They are 
fond of Christian females and of their children, which they 
exchange for their own. 

In Sweden the people have nearly the same ideas with 
regard to the subterraneans. Of their origin they have a 
singular tradition, viz. that they are fallen angels, and that 
when God cast down from heaven the adherents of Lucifer, 
they did not all fall into hell, but that some fell on the 
earth, others into the sea. Those that fell in the woods 
and forests became Wood-trolls (Skovtroll, Skogsnufvor) ; 
those that fell in the green fields and groves, Vattir or 
Lysgubbar-, those that were cast into the sea or waters 
became Nacher; those that fell among houses, Tomte- 
gubbar, and those in trees, Elfvar. 

In Denmark we meet with the same ideas as in the rest 
of Scandinavia, though, in consequence of the nature 
of the country, somewhat modified. The subterraneans 
there dwell in mounds, in which they often have merry 
makings ; they brew, bake, steal beer from the peasants, 

1 Finni Johannaei Hist. Eccles. Islandise, ii. p. 368 ; Pref. to Hist. Hrolfi 
Krakii ; F. Magimsen ; Eddalaere, iii. p. 308. 



INTRODUCTION. XXV11 

if they neglect to mark the casks with a cross, punish 
tattlers with blindness, cannot endure the sound of bells, 
thunder, drums or water, are jealous, and can transform 
themselves into cats. Steel, as needles, keys, scissors 
and the like, either laid in the cradle or crosswise over 
the door, will, as in Sweden, prevent them from ex 
changing children; but if such an exchange is accom 
plished, there is no other remedy than to ill-treat the 
changeling. 

The subterraneans or dwarfs of Germany resemble their 
Scandinavian brethren, and are officious, good-humoured 
and patient ; they wear a mist-mantle or cap (Nebelkappe), 
which renders them invisible. They also exchange chil 
dren; and if the changeling is ill-treated, its mother 
brings back the stolen child. The black dwarfs of Riigen 
bear a near resemblance to the Norwegian dwarfs ; they 
are ugly of aspect, but are able smiths, particularly in steel, 
are unsocial, seldom leave their hills and mounds, and are 
no lovers of music. The white dwarfs, on the contrary, 
who in summer sport among the trees and dance on the 
grass, resemble the Danish, Swedish and Norwegian elves. 
With the brown dwarfs of Riigen, who are eighteen inches 
high, wear glass shoes, have delicate hands and feet, are 
skilful smiths, but roguish, there are none to be compared. 

In Pomerania there was formerly a number of earth- 
sprites or dwarfs, who eagerly exchanged their own ugly 
offspring for comely, human children. They also fell in 
love with handsome girls and courted them. By day they 
crawled about in the form of toads and other reptiles, but 
at night they appeared in their own form, and danced 



XXV111 INTRODUCTION. 

merrily by moonlight. The people called them Uellerkens. 
Like the Nisser, they often lived in cellars. The German 
subterraneans differ from those of Scandinavia, in having 
adopted the true faith, and in sometimes wandering 
abroad. 



SCANDINAVIAN POPULAR TRADITIONS, 



i. 

NORWEGIAN TRADITIONS. 

THURSER, V.ETTER, DWARFS, ETC. 

IN Norway the subterranean people under which deno 
mination are comprised Thurser (Thusser), Vsetter and 
Dwarfs, and sometimes Huldres, Nisser and Elves are 
exceedingly numerous. The Thusser or Trolls, who are 
as large as men, inhabit the mountain-ridges and hills. 
In former days they were in such multitudes that no 
Christians could dwell in Norway, until they formed mar 
riages with them. Like ourselves, they have houses, 
churches, chattels, and beautiful cattle, which graze in the 
night, and are watched by female keepers and black dogs. 
The Thusser are well formed, but of a pale or blue colour, 
When the sun is set and the twilight (Thus-mork) begins, 
they are in full activity ; then it is dangerous for persons, 
more particularly young females, for whom they have an 
especial liking, to pass by the places where they resort, 
where most delightful music is to be heard ; and many are 
the instances, particularly in former days, of young maidens 



2 NORWEGIAN TRADITIONS. 

having been conveyed by them into the mountains and 
hills. They are also partial to little children, and formerly 
would often exchange them for their own, which were 
neither so handsome nor so thriving. But a cross made 
on the child, or steel in any shape laid in its cradle, is an 
effectual preventive of all such exchanges 1 . 

With respect to these supernatural beings, the belief 
current in the North is, that when our Lord cast down the 
fallen angels, some fell to hell, while those who had not 
sinned so deeply were dispersed in the air, and under the 
earth, and in the waters 2 . 

A similar belief with regard to fairies prevails in Ireland. Keightley, 
F. M. p. 363. 

HULDRA OR HULLA. 

Over the whole of Norway the tradition is current of a 
supernatural being that dwells in the forests and moun 
tains, called Huldra or Hulla. She appears like a beautiful 
woman, and is usually clad in a blue petticoat and a white 
snood ; but unfortunately has a long tail, like a cow s, 
which she anxiously strives to conceal, when she is among 
people. She is fond of cattle, particularly brindled 3 , of 
which she possesses a beautiful and thriving stock. They 
are without horns. She was once at a merry-making, 
where every one was desirous of dancing with the hand 
some, strange damsel ; but in the midst of the mirth, a 
young man, who had just begun a dance with her, hap 
pened to cast his eye on her tail. Immediately guessing 
whom he had got for a partner, he was not a little 
terrified ; but collecting himself, and unwilling to be 
tray her, he merely said to her, when the dance was over, 
"Fair maid, you will lose your garter." She instantly 
vanished, but afterwards rewarded the silent and consi- 

1 Faye, p. 20. 2 Asbjornsen, Huldreeventyr, i. 29. 

3 In the original drandede, the meaning of which is doubtful. 



NORWEGIAN TRADITIONS. 3 

derate youth with beautiful presents and a good breed of 
cattle l . 

The idea entertained of this being is not everywhere the 
same,, but varies considerably in different parts of Norway. 
In some places she is described as a handsome female, 
when seen in front, but is hollow behind, or else blue 2 ; 
while in others she is known by the name of Skogsnerte, 
and is said to be blue, but clad in a green petticoat, and 
probably corresponds to the Swedish Skogsnufvor 3 . Her song 
a sound often heard among the mountains is said to be 
hollow and mournful 4 , differing therein from the music of 
the subterranean beings,\vhich is described by ear-witnesses 
as cheerful and fascinating. But she is not everywhere 
regarded as a solitary wood-nymph : Huldre-inen and 
Huldre-folk are also spoken of, who live together in the 
mountains, and are almost identical with the subterra 
nean people. In Hardanger the Huldre-people are always 
clad in green, but their cattle are blue, and may be taken 
when a grown-up person casts his belt over them. They 
give abundance of milk. The Huldres take possession of 
the forsaken pasture-spots in the mountains, and invite 
people into their mounds, where delightful music is to be 
heard 5 . 

The belief in Huldra is very ancient. We read that as far back as the 
year 1205, the queen of Magnus Lagabaeter, when detained by an ad 
verse wind at Bergen, having heard that the Icelander Sturli Thordsen 
was an excellent story-teller, desired him to relate to her the Saga of the 
giantess Huldra. Her name appears to be derived from the Old Norsk 
ho\\r,Jidus, propitius 6 . 

1 Faye, p. 39. 2 Hallager, Norsk Ordsamling, p. 48, voce Huldre. 

3 Linnasi Gotlandske Resa, p. 312. 

4 " Huldre dwells in the mountains and in the valley ; hers are all the 
riches, splendour and beauty of the North ; but hers is also its deep me 
lancholy ; to this her music and her song bear witness, which cannot be 
heard without a feeling of sadness and tears." Norske Huldreeventyr, i. 
p. iv. 

5 Faye, p. 42. 6 Sagabibl. i. 367. Grimm, D. M. p. 249, 

B2 



4 NORWEGIAN TRADITIONS. 

JUTULS AND MOUNTAIN-GIANTS. 

The Jutul is large and strong, and has his dwelling in 
the highest mountains, where riches and costly treasures 
are to be found in abundance. He is of evil disposition, 
hates churches and the sound of bells, and is greedy after 
Christian blood. When a storm is at hand, or a whirlwind 
howls among the rocks, he shakes himself in the moun 
tain, so that the pots and kettles resound, in which his 
wife Gyvri or Giogra prepares their food. All over the 
country traditions and traces of these monstrous beings 
are to be found. Marks of their footsteps are often to be 
seen in the mountains. 

Of all the supernatural beings of the North, none bear 
so evident a mark of high antiquity as the gigantic Jutuls. 
The traditions concerning them rise always to the mon 
strous, and harmonize with the cloud-capt mountains 
among which they dwell. 

On comparing the traditions of the vulgar with the old 
mythology, we find a great accordance between them, and 
at once recognise in the Jutuls and Roser (giants) the 
Jotuns and Risar, the foes of gods and men, who in Thor, 
the mighty god of thunder, found a dangerous enemy. 
The Jotuns in the Northern mythology are considered as 
chaotic beings, ruling over the dark and cold regions of 
the earth, shunning the light of day, and by the sun s rays 
(as we have already seen) 1 becoming changed to stone 2 . 

In Old Norse a giantess was called gyfr or gygr, a word 
to be recognised in the Gyvri and Giogra of the vulgar. 

Besides Jutuls or Jotuns, we meet with Riser and Bierg- 
riser (giants and mountain-giants), who dwelt in moun 
tain-caves, and are supposed to be the earliest inhabi 
tants of the North. In the Sagas they are often called 
Trolls, which may be considered a common denomination 
for all noxious, supernatural beings. 

1 See vol. i. p. 8, note 3 . 2 F a y C) p. 7. 



NORWEGIAN TRADITIONS. 5 

THE JUTUL ON HESTMANDOE . 

On Hestmandoe in the Nordlands there is a mountain, 
which at a distance resembles a horseman with a large 
cloak over him. This mountain was once a Jutul, who 
dwelt on the spot. Twelve miles to the south, on Lekoe 
in Nummedal, there lived at the same time a maiden to 
whom he made love ; but the haughty damsel, who was 
skilled in all kinds of magic, not only rejected him, but 
turned all his messengers to stone, who are still to be seen 
as rocks round the northern part of the isle. Exasperated 
at such conduct, the Jutul bent his bow, to take instan 
taneous vengeance. The mighty arrow new and passed 
clean through the lofty mountain called Torgehat, where is 
still to be seen the large hole made by the arrow through 
the hard rock 2 . " That straw stands in the way," ex 
claimed the Jutul. Being somewhat checked in its night, 
by forcing its way through the Torgehat, the arrow did 
not quite reach its destination, but fell at the feet of the 
maiden on the north side of Lekoe, where it yet lies in 
the form of a huge, long stone. By their mutual magic 
they were both changed to stone, and shall so remain, 
looking on each other until doomsday. 

Even at the present time a Nordlander seldom sails by 
without taking his hat off to the maid of Lekoe 3 . 

THE JUTUL S BRIDGE. 

In Spirillen, at low water, a sort of stone bridge is to 
be seen, about the eighth of a mile in length. It owes its 
origin to a Jutul that dwelt on the Elsrudkolle. This 
Jutul courted a Huldra on the Engerkolle, which lies on 
the opposite side of the water. That he might visit her 

1 Horseman s isle. 

2 That the size of the hole is considerable, may be inferred from its 
height, which is estimated at 600 feet. s j- ayCj p< 13> 



6 NORWEGIAN TRADITIONS. 

without getting wet, which sorely grieved his beloved, he 
resolved to construct a bridge, but burst in pieces, when 
the sun rose and surprised him at his work l . 



THE GIRL AT THE S^TER 2 . 

A land proprietor in Norway was betrothed to a very 
pretty young woman, who, although a farmer s daughter, 
went out with the cattle to their summer pasture, where 
she employed herself in weaving a piece of drill. Being, 
however, unable to finish her work by the time when the 
cattle should return home, she resolved to stay behind till 
she had accomplished her task : but no sooner had her 
lover received intelligence of her design, than he set out 
for the pasture, justly thinking it hazardous to leave the 
damsel alone exposed to the attempts of Huldres and other 
subterranean beings. He reached the spot in the nick of 
time, for he found the cattle-house surrounded by black 
horses ready saddled. Suspecting, therefore, that there 
was something wrong in the wind, he stole into the pas 
ture, and peeping through a little window in the hut, saw 
his intended sitting in a bridal dress with a golden crown 
on her head, and by her side an old red-eyed Huldreman. 
Seizing his pistol, which he had wisely loaded with a silver 
bullet 3 , he fired over the head of the girl, before the 
witchery could be dissolved, rushed into the hut, seized her, 
placed her behind him on his horse, and rode off, followed 
by the whole company of Trolls. One of these held out to 
him a well-filled golden horn, to retard* his flight : he took 

1 Faye, p. 15, and vol. i. p. 8, note 3 . 

2 The Saetere are grassy spots among the mountains of Norway, to 
which the cattle are sent for summer pasture. They are frequently a 
considerable distance from the dwelling. 

3 Great in the good days of yore was the efficacy of a silver bullet, or a 
silver button, when fired at a witch, or wizard, or the like. See Anecdotes 
and Traditions, by Thorns (Camd. Publ.) pp. Ill, 112, and the note. 



NORWEGIAN TRADITIONS. / 

the horn, but cast the liquor it contained behind his horse, 
and galloped off with both horn and girl. At length he 
reached a steep mountain near his dwelling, in which some 
subterranean folk had their abode, who were on terms of 
hostility with his pursuers, and who cried to him, " Hide 
on the rough, and not on the smooth." He followed their 
advice, and rode through a rye-field, where the Trolls 
were unable to follow him, but in their exasperation cried 
after him, "The red cock shall crow over thy dwelling l ." 
And behold ! his house stood in a blaze 2 . 

GURRI KUNNAN 3 . 

At Osterraad there dwelt formerly a rich and powerful 
man, who had a daughter named Aslaug, the fairest dam 
sel far and near. She had, as may be easily imagined, 
many a gallant suitor, but she preferred to every other a 
young man who had been fostered with her in her father s 
mansion, notwithstanding that he was of low extraction. 
As they could not hope that the proud father would 
consent to their union, they fled secretly, and sought con 
cealment and shelter in a deep cave, which is to be seen 
at this day not far from Osterraad. By chance the en 
raged father, in the following spring, got intelligence of 
the place where his daughter was concealed, and instantly 
proceeded thither, for the purpose of punishing the auda 
cious seducer ; but just as he reached the cave there fell 
down such a quantity of stones and rubbish, that the 
entrance was completely closed, so that the fugitives were 

1 The symbol of a red cock for fire is of remote antiquity (See Voluspn, 
34, 35). " I will set a red cock on your roof," is the incendiary s threat 
in Germany, where fire is compared to a cock flying from house to house. 
Grimm, D. M. p. 568. 2 Faye, p. 25. 

3 Mr. Keightley (F. M. p. 130) gives a more elaborate version of this 
story from an oral tradition communicated to Dr. Grimm, and inserted in 
Hauff s Marchenalmanach for 1827. The simpler form, in which it here 
appears, I take to be the older. 



8 NORWEGIAN TRADITIONS. 

not to be taken. When the first danger was over, the 
loving pair succeeded, though with difficulty, in working 
their way out from amid the fallen stones. They then 
took a boat, that was lying near the shore, and through 
many perils succeeded in reaching the uninhabited group 
of islands called Tarven, which at that time served as a 
retreat for Trolls. The chief among these, the Huldre, 
Gurri Kunnan, received them kindly, and allowed them 
to stay in her habitation, though on condition that they 
should never make the sign of the cross, which she could 
not endure. One Yule-eve, when Gurri, with a countless 
number of Trolls, were assembled at a festivity, the wonder- 
struck Aslaug forgot her promise and crossed herself, at 
the same time pronouncing the name of Jesus. On a 
sudden all the witchery vanished, and of the whole parade 
a huge copper kettle alone remained, which for time out 
of mind has since been kept in the largest isle of the 
group, the now inhabited Hunsoe 1 . 

This Gurri was the daughter of a giant, who dwelt on 
the isle of Kunnan off Helgoland. Being very beautiful, 
she had many suitors, who fought for the possession of the 
fair giantess, and round about Kunnan 2 is to be seen a 
cluster of rocks formed of the stones they hurled at each 
other. All were, however, forced to cede to the giant 
Anfind, who married the beautiful Gurri, and lived hap 
pily with her, until her father was slain, together with the 
powerful Sout/ by the mighty Gout/ who came from 
the east, when the whole family was driven from Kunnan, 
and Anfind with his wife sought shelter with Froi, who 
gave them Tarven for a residence. Here they lived in 

1 The other isles are used merely for the grazing of cattle, in conse 
quence of the superstition that no one can inhabit them, on account of 
the Trolls and other devilish beings. The copper kettle, as I have been 
assured, is still preserved by the inhabitants of the isle. 

2 Kunnen is a promontory on the north side of Helgeland. 



NORWEGIAN TRADITIONS. 

peace until St. Olaf came to the island, who, with the 
sign of the cross and the name of Jesus, not only quelled 
the storm that the giant had raised, but turned the giant 
himself into a hard block of stone 1 . 

The above is the story on which the beautiful poem of Gurri Kunnan 
is founded. Its author, Professor Steenblock, kindly communicated the 
tradition to me, as he had heard it in his youth. A prose paraphrase of 
the poem is given in the Mythologie der Feen und Elfen/ by Prof. Wolff, 
i. 234. This in many respects interesting story seems to point to a re 
mote antiquity, when the original inhabitants of the North were forced to 
retire before the invading Goths (the Gout of the tradition), who, by 
means of their greater civilization and superior skill, destroyed or expelled 
their adversaries 2 . 

THE BRIDAL CROWN. 

I. 

In Nummedal there once lived a young girl so beauti 
ful that a Thuss fell in love with her ; but notwithstanding 
that he promised her a sumptuous mansion, abundance of 
cattle, and in short whatever she could desire, if she would 
betroth herself to him, she continued faithful to her old 
lover. When the Thuss found that nothing was to be 
done by gentle means, he carried her off. Accompanied 
by a numerous body of Thusser, he was already on his 
road with his prey to the subterranean people s church, 
there to be married to her, when her lover was so fortu 
nate as to get traces of their route. Having overtaken the 
bridal party, he shot with steel over his betrothed s head, 
when the whole witchery vanished, and he not alone re 
covered the maiden, but got a splendid silver crown, which 
the Thuss had placed on her head. The crown still exists 
in the ( dal/ and as it is supposed to bring good luck to 
every bride that wears it, it is let out at almost every wed 
ding of the better class. 

1 See vol. i. p. 8, note 3 . 

2 Faye, p. 10. Henceforth when no authority is given, the traditions 
are generally from Faye. 

B 5 



10 NORWEGIAN TRADITIONS. 

II. 

It is not long beyond the memory of man since a young 
man in Nummedal, when passing by a forsaken sseter-hut, 
saw in it a gay Huldre- wedding party. Through a win 
dow he was witness to all that passed among the moun 
tain-folk; but his attention was chiefly directed to the 
bride,, by her beauty and elegant attire, especially by a 
massive, glittering silver crown that she wore. The young 
man continued gazing on her till he contracted a violent 
passion for her, and soon resolved on depriving the wed 
ding party of their mirth, and the bridegroom of his rich 
and lovely bride. Quickly he drew forth his knife, and as 
quickly flew the shining steel through the window and 
over the head of the bride. The company vanished in the 
twinkling of an eye, the maiden alone remaining spell 
bound by the steel. The pair came soon to an under 
standing ; the Huldre bride accompanied him to the vil 
lage and then to the altar, after having been baptized. 
But her magnificent bridal attire was insufficient to with 
draw attention from an ugly cow s tail, which, however, 
after a time, gradually disappeared. They lived long and 
happy together, and of her rich wedding ornaments, the 
fame of which is yet preserved, there is still to be seen at 
Mserabru the costly silver crown. 

THE BISHOP S CATTLE. 

One summer, a long time ago, the bishop of Drontheim 
sent his cattle to the mountains to graze. They were the 
finest cattle in all Norway ; and the bishop, when he sent 
them away, strictly enjoined those who were to watch 
them, not, on any account, to suffer them, for one mo 
ment, to be out of sight, as the mountains thereabouts 
swarmed with subterranean people, who, however, had no 
power over any animal, as long as it was under a human 
eye. The cattle were then sent up to the mountains. One 



NORWEGIAN TRADITIONS. 11 

day, while the animals were grazing, and the keepers sit 
ting in various places with their eyes directed towards 
them, there appeared suddenly, on the highest point of 
the mountain, an elk of an extraordinary size. At this 
apparition, the eyes of the three keepers were drawn off 
from the cattle, and for an instant fixed on the elk ; but 
when they again looked down into the valley, they saw 
their beautiful large cattle transformed to a set of dimi 
nutive mice, running along the mountain s side, and be 
fore the keepers could approach them, they all vanished 
through a crevice in the earth. Thus did the bishop of 
Drontheim get rid of his three hundred head of cattle. 

Conway, in his Journey through Norway, p. 240, relates this story, 
and adds: "This tradition is universally credited in the mountainous 
parts." A woman, who was watching cattle on a hill, was more fortunate ; 
she saw her cattle suddenly vanish, but while she was bewailing her loss, 
she heard a voice from the mountain, desiring her to hasten home, and 
lo ! there she found not only her own cows, but also a new one, which, 
although it never calved, yet had a greater abundance of milk than the 
others. 

THE MIDWIFE. 

There was once a man and his wife that had an only 
daughter. Suddenly she disappeared, and notwithstand 
ing that her parents who took the loss of their dear 
child sorely to heart sought for her in every direction, 
they could not discover the faintest trace of her. A con 
siderable time had elapsed, when late one evening there 
came a stranger to the house and asked the woman, who 
was at home alone, whether she would visit her daughter, 
who abode in the neighbourhood, and was in labour, and 
required her aid. The mother, who was both glad and 
grieved at this unexpected intelligence, instantly made 
herself ready, and by means of a thread, which the stranger 
gave her, was in one moment with her daughter, who gave 
birth to a lively, well-formed child. Before it was dressed, 
the man gave her a liquid, desiring her to rub it over the 



12 NORWEGIAN TRADITIONS. 

infant s body, at the same time cautioning her not to let 
any of it come in contact with herself. But her eye be 
ginning to itch, she inadvertently rubbed it, and thus got 
some of the liquid in her eye. When her help was no 
longer required, the man who was her daughter s hus 
band and a Troll told her she might depart, when by 
means of the thread she found herself in a few seconds 
again at home. The following day, while at work with 
her husband in the field, she on a sudden saw her daugh 
ter with her subterranean spouse walking close at her 
side. On her addressing them, her son-in-law asked her 
with astonishment, whether she really could see them? 
" Yes, surely, I can see you with my right eye," said the 
woman ; but at the same instant the Troll touched her eye, 
and from that time she saw no more with it. 

The superstition of anointing the eyes, and being thereby enabled to 
see what would else be invisible, appears to have been generally current 
among the inhabitants of western Europe, both Keltic and Germanic. 
Instances of its prevalence in Denmark we shall see hereafter; of its ex 
istence in other countries, our own included, we give the following proofs. 

Mrs. Bray (Letters to Southey) relates a story of the sage femme of 
Tavistock, who was one night summoned to a fairy labour, and who, on 
receiving an ointment to rub the child s eyes with (thinking, no doubt, that 
what was good for the baby must be equally so for herself), applied a little 
of it to one of her own eyes, when lo ! all things around her suddenly ap 
peared in their true form, all delusion was dissipated. On the next market 
day she saw the old fellow who had conveyed her, pilfering from the stalls 
in the market, and accosted him. " What," exclaimed he, " do you see 
me to-day ?" " See you ! to be sure I do, and I see you are busy too." 
" And pray with which eye do you see all this ?" " With my right. 
" Take that for meddling with what did not belong to you : you shall see 
me no more." He then struck her eye, and from that hour till the day of 
her death she was blind of that eye 1 . 

A similar story is related of a cottager and his wife at Nether Whitton. 

The author of Round about our Coal fire (quoted by Brand, Pop. 
Antiq.) says, "The moment any one saw them (the fairies), and took no 
tice of them, they were struck blind of an eye 2 ." 

Ritson (Fairy Tales) relates that a woman who had been in their (the 

1 Keightley, F. M. p. 301. 2 i^, p< 293. 



NORWEGIAN TRADITIONS. 13 

fairies ) society, challenged one of the guests, whom she espied in the 
market selling fairy-butter. This freedom was deeply resented, and cost 
her the eye she first saw him with 1 . 

In a Scottish tradition it is related that a fairy left a child to be suckled 
with a young woman of Nithsdale, and rubbed her eyes with a wonderful 
salve, by virtue of which she could discern the otherwise invisible fairy 
folk. Some of the salve she contrived to secure. Happening one day to 
meet the fairy lady, she attempted to shake hands with her. " What ee 
d ye see me wi ? " whispered she. " Wi them baith," said the woman. 
The fairy breathed on her eyes, and the salve lost its efficacy 2 . 

Mr. Keightley relates (F. M. p. 417), from a communication made to 
him by a lady in North Wales, of a gipsy, that desired the narrator, who 
wished to see fairies, to meet her by moonlight on the top of Craig y Dim s. 
She there washed his eyes with the contents of a phial which she had, 
and he instantly saw thousands of fairies, all in white, dancing to the 
sound of numerous harps. 

Gervase of Tilbury, who lived in the 12th century (I quote from Dobe- 
neck, i. 45), speaks of certain water-sprites in the south of France called 
Drakes. These assume a human form and appear in the public market. 
They are said to inhabit the caverns of rivers, and to allure women and 
children while bathing, under the form of gold rings and cups, striving to 
obtain which they are suddenly dragged down to the bottom. This oftenest 
happens to women giving suck, whom the Drakes seize to suckle their 
own unblest offspring. These, after seven years thus past, sometimes 
return rewarded to our hemisphere. They relate that with the Drakes and 
their wives they dwelt in spacious palaces in the caverns and banks of the 

rivers On men thus seized the Drakes are said to feed. One day 

a Drake having given a woman in his service some eel-pasty, she happened 
to draw her fingers, greasy with the fat, over one eye and one side of her 
face, and thereby acquired a most clear and sharp power of vision under 
water. Having completed the third year of her servitude, and being re 
turned home, she one morning early met the Drake in the market-place 
of Beaucaire, whom she accosted, and inquired after her mistress and 
nursling. " With which eye did you recognise me ? " asked the Drake. 
She pointed to the eye she had greased with the fat of the pasty. Having 
ascertained this, the Drake thrust his finger into that eye, and thus con 
tinued thenceforth unseen and unknown by all. 

A story somewhat similar is told of a Countess Ranzau. 



1 Keightley, F. M. p. 309. 

2 Cromek s Remains of Nithsdale and Galloway Song, quoted by Keight 
ley, p. 353. 



14 NORWEGIAN TRADITIONS. 

THE OIESTAD HORN. 

Near the river Nid in Nedenses there is a mansion called 
Neersteen, in which there once dwelt a man named Siur, 
who was both powerful and rich ; for besides Neersteen he 
owned six other mansions, and a considerable salmon 
fishery in the Nid; but what was more than all these, he 
had a daughter, who was the fairest maid of all the sur 
rounding neighbourhood. She was courted by a Westland 
man named Ring, but the wealthy Siur rejected him for a 
son-in-law, although his daughter was fondly attached to 
him. The lover, how r ever, was not disheartened, so while 
the father one St. John s day was at matins in Oiestad 
church, Ring came to the mansion and found his lass, 
although her father had taken the precaution of locking 
her up in one of the presses which, according to the cus 
tom of the time, were made at the foot of the bed a 
corner of her apron having protruded and betrayed her. 
They now fled, and Siur, the instant he was apprized of 
their elopement, mounted his horse and went in pursuit 
of them. On the way he was stopped by a Troll, who 
came out of a mount, and bade him welcome, at the same 
time presenting to him a full drinking-horn. Instead of 
emptying it, he cast its contents behind him, but some 
drops that fell on the horse s loins instantly singed the 
hair off. Siur, who had from the first suspected mischief, 
put spurs to his horse, and galloped away with the horn 
in his hand and the Troll whining after him. He was 
now in a most serious dilemma, from which he was unexr 
pectedly rescued by another Troll, who was on terms of 
hostility with the former one, who called to him when he 
had just reached a large field : " Ride through the rye and 
not through the wheat." Following this counsel he got 
the start of his pursuer, who could not proceed so rapidly 
through the tall rye. The danger was not, however, com- 



NORWEGIAN TRADITIONS. 15 

pletely over until he came near the mansion of Bringsvser, 
when the cock crew and the Troll vanished. Siur now 
continued his pursuit without further delays,, and overtook 
the fugitives on a hill where they had stopt to take a few 
moments rest. When the men got sight of each other, 
they immediately drew their knives,, and a contest ensued, 
the result of which was, that Siur stabbed King in the 
belly, who instantly gave up the ghost. 

In expiation of this homicide, Siur \vas compelled to 
make heavy compensation. The horn, which he kept, was 
preserved in the family down to our times. Of the 
daughter s fate tradition makes no mention. 

The (or rather a) horn, which had long been an heirloom in Siur s 
family, has lately been presented by Shipmaster Bergetothe public library 
and museum of Arendal school, where it now is. It is very handsome, 
and has on its three silver-gilt rings the following inscription, in monkish 
characters : potum servorum benedic deus alme [tuorum reliqvam unus 
benede le uu~\ ? Caspar, melchior, baltazar. 

A similar occurrence to the above took place many years ago near 
Hahauger in Hallingdal, where one Christmas eve a subterranean woman 
presented drink in a horn to a man named Gudbrand Goelberg, which he 
threw over his shoulder and rode off with the horn; but down to the 
ninth generation, his posterity, as a penalty, were afflicted with some 
bodily blemish or defect, as the Troll had threatened. This horn, which 
was long preserved at Halsteensgaard in Aal, contained nearly three quarts, 
and was encircled by a strong gilt copper ring about three inches broad, 
on which, in monkish characters, stood melchior, baltazar, Caspar. In the 
middle was a small, gilt copper plate, in which an oval crystal was set. 

HULDRE MARRIAGE. 

It is related that an active young fellow in Nordland, 
by laying the barrel of his rifle over a Huldre in a forest, 
got her into his power and made her his wife. They lived 
happily together and had a child; but on a sudden, as 
the child was one evening playing by the fireplace, where 
the Huldre was sitting and spinning, while the man was 
at his work, something of her savage nature came over 
her, during which she said to her husband, alluding to 



16 NORWEGIAN TRADITIONS. 

the child, that it would make a capital roast for supper. 
The man was horrified, and the woman, who was conscious 
that she had grievously committed herself, changed her 
tone, and begged her words might be forgotten. But they 
were not : the man bore them in remembrance ; the horrid 
sounds rung incessantly in his ears ; he perceived in them 
a proof of his now no longer blooming wife s real nature, 
and their domestic peace was at an end. From being a 
good man he became morose, frequently upbraided his 
wife with her diabolical proposal, cursed the hour when 
he resolved on marrying her, beat and ill-used her. Thus 
it continued for a season. The woman suffered and re 
pented. One day she went to the smithy, to see with a 
friendly eye her husband at his work ; but he began as 
before, and on its coming to blows, she, by way of proving 
her superior strength, seized an iron bar and twisted it 
round her husband as if it had been a wire. The husband 
was now forced to submission and to promise domestic 
peace. 

THE NISSE OR NISS. 

This is a supernatural being, nearly resembling our 
Goblin, the Scottish Brownie, the German Kobold, and 
the Kaboutermanneken of the Netherlands. In the good 
old times they were infinitely more numerous than they 
are in our days. They are not larger than small children, 
are clothed in grey, and wear a red, pointed cap. Their 
habitation is usually in barns and stables, where they help 
to tend the cattle and horses, for which they show the 
same partiality as for men. There are many instances of 
the Nisse having drawn the hay from the cribs of the other 
horses to that of the one for which he entertains a predi 
lection. He is fond of pranks, will sometimes let all the 
cows loose in the cowhouse, plague the milkmaids, either 
by blowing out the light, or by holding the hay so fast 



NORWEGIAN TRADITIONS. 17 

that the poor girls cannot draw out a particle ; then, while 
they are tugging with all their might, he will suddenly let 
go his hold, so that they fall at full length on the ground. 
This delights the Nisse exceedingly, and causes him to set 
.up a horse-laugh. If he feels attached to the master of 
the house, he will do all he can for his benefit. Instances, 
indeed, are not wanting of his having endeavoured to 
abstract hay and other things from his neighbours, for the 
use of his master ; whence contention and conflicts some 
times take place between the Nisser of the two houses, so 
that the hay and straw may be seen flying about in all 
directions. As they are obliging to those they favour, but 
spiteful and vindictive when any one slights or makes 
game of them, it is not surprising that their good will is 
deemed worth the gaining. On Christmas eve, therefore, 
and on Thursday evenings, in many places, they set sweet 
porridge, cakes, beer, etc. for the Nisse, which he gladly 
consumes, provided they are to his taste ; for he is some 
times dainty. Ridicule and contempt he cannot endure, 
and as he is strong, notwithstanding his diminutive size, 
his opponent often comes off second best. A peasant, who 
one winter evening met a Nisse on the road, and in an 
authoritative tone ordered him to get out of the way, found 
himself, before he knew a word of the matter, pitched over 
the hedge into a field of snow. With a girl also, who 
one Christmas eve brought him food accompanied with 
mockery, he danced such a dance, that she was found, on 
the following morning, lying dead in the barn. 

They love the moonlight, and in winter may sometimes 
be seen amusing themselves in little sledges, or in leaping 
over the fences. Although they are lively, yet they do 
not at all times like noise and bustle, particularly on 
Christmas eve, or a Thursday evening. In general the 
Nisse is liked, and is, therefore, in many places called 
good fellow. 



18 NORWEGIAN TRADITIONS. 

Of all the beings that live in the imagination of the 
Norwegian peasantry, the Nisse is that of whose existence 
they are the most thoroughly convinced. Though belong 
ing to the dwarf-race, he nevertheless differs from the 
dwarfs by his sprightliness and well-proportioned figure, 
as well as by his sojourn in houses and barns, for which 
his predilection is so strong, that he cannot endure a re 
moval ; for he will then forsake the family, and take their 
good luck with him. It is this partiality to old tofts that 
has obtained for him the names of Toft-va3tte, Tomte- 
vsette 1 , and Gardbo. 

Neither in the Eddas nor the Sagas is there any men 
tion of the Nisse. Akin to him are, the Niagriusar of the 
Fseroe isles, who are described as diminutive, with red 
caps, and bringers of luck ; also the Swedish Tomtegubbe. 

They frequently dwell in the high trees that are planted 
round the house, on which account care should be taken 
not to fell them, particularly the more ancient ones. Many 
a one has paid for his disregard herein by an incurable 
disease 2 . 

THE WERWOLF. 

That there were persons who could assume the form of 
a wolf or a bear (Huse-bjorn), and again resume their 
own, is a belief as wide-spread as it is ancient. This pro 
perty is either imparted by Trollmen, or those possessing 
it are themselves Trolls. In the Volsunga Saga we have 
very early traces of this superstition 3 . 

THE MARA (QV^LDRYTTERINDE). 

The Mara (Eng. mare, in nightmare) belongs to the same 
family with the Vardogl, Draug 4 , etc. In appearance she 
resembles a most beautiful woman, but in acts the most 

1 Toft and tomt are synonymous, and signify the space on which a 
messuage has stood. 

2 Arndt, iii. 15. 3 See vol. i. p. 93, and note \ 4 Ib. p. 113. 



NORWEGIAN TRADITIONS. 19 

malignant Troll. She passes through locked doors, assails 
persons sleeping by setting herself across them, and tor 
menting them so that it is horrible. The person afflicted 
by such a nightly visit is said to be Mare-ridden, and is 
often nearly suffocated. She is not satisfied with torment 
ing persons, but will ride both sheep and horses. In the 
Thellcmark she is called Muro, and there, as in other places, 
they have many methods of getting rid of her ; one of the 
most effectual is to wrap a knife in a cloth, and, in a 
manner prescribed, let it turn three times round the body, 
while uttering certain rimes. 

Like other supernatural beings, the Mara can enter by the smallest hole, 
but, like them, she must also make her exit by the way through which she 
entered, even though every door and window should be open (Thiele, 
ii. 282). Hence Mephistopheles, in answer to Faust s inquiry ivhy he did 
not depart through the window ? says 

s ist ein Gesetz der Teufel und Gespenster, 
wo sie hereingeschliipft, da miissen sie hinaus. 
See also Holberg s Uden Hoved og Hale, Act I. Sc. 4. 

The Ynglingasaga, cxvi. has a story of a King Vanlandi in Upsala, who 
was trodden to death by a Mara. When his men held his head, she trod 
on and almost crushed his legs ; and when they held his feet, she so 
pressed his head as to cause his death. 

GHOSTS. 

The belief that the souls of the departed find pleasure 
in revisiting the places where they have experienced joy 
or sorrow arid pain, is universal among almost every peo 
ple. Hence the current opinion, that the soul of a mur 
dered person willingly hovers around the spot where his 
body is buried, and makes its appearance, for the purpose 
of calling forth vengeance on the murderer. The eye of 
superstition sees them sometimes as white spectres in the 
churchyard, where they stop horses, terrify people, and 
make a disturbance; sometimes as executed criminals, 
who in the moonlight wander round the place of execu 
tion, with their head under their arm. Sometimes they 



20 NORWEGIAN TRADITIONS. 

pinch people while asleep both black and blue, and such 
marks are called ghost-spots (Dodningepletter), or ghost- 
pinches (Dodningeknib). Such spectres cannot find peace 
in the grave, in consequence of the crimes either of them 
selves or of others, before they are asked what it is they 
want ; after which they do not appear again. Bullets, gun 
powder, and weapons are wasted on them ; but at the sight 
of a cross and from exorcisms they must retire. Under this 
head may be included the so-called Udburrer or Udbore, 
who in some districts cry like children in the woods, and 
entice people to them, and in other places, have their 
abode in steep mountains, and retired spots near the sea, 
and are supposed to derive their origin from murdered 
children. 

The Danish word for ghost is Gjenganger, or Gjenfserd, answering exactly 
to the French revenant. The belief in ghosts was deeply impressed on the 
minds of the heathen Northmen ; a belief closely connected with their ideas 
of the state after death. The soul, they believed, returned to the place 
whence it sprang, while the body and the grosser life bound to it passed 
to the abode of Hel or Death. Herewith was naturally combined the 
belief that the soul of the departed might, from its heavenly home, revisit 
the earth, there at night-time to unite itself in the grave-mound with the 
corporeal shadow released from Hel. Thus the dead could show them 
selves in the opened grave-mounds in the same form which they had in 
life. See Volsungakv. I. Str. 37, 38, in Edda Saem. 

In the Eyrbyggiasaga is a story of an ejectment of a whole troop of 
ghosts from a house by judicial process. 

THE NOK. 

The Norwegian Nok (0. Nor. Nikr, Sw. Neck) gene 
rally has its abode in rivers and lakes, sometimes also in 
friths (Fiorde) . It requires a human sacrifice every year ; 
for which reason one person at least is annually missing 
in the vicinity of every river or water that is inhabited by 
a Nok. When any person is drowned the Nok is often 
heard to cry in a hollow, unearthly voice : " Sset over ! " 
(Cross over). The Nok can transform himself into all 
kinds of things. Sometimes he will appear like half a 



NORWEGIAN TRADITIONS. 21 

boat in the water, at others like a half horse on the bank, 
sometimes like gold and other valuables. If a person 
touches any of these things, the Nok instantly gets power 
over him. He is particularly greedy after little children. 
He is, however, dangerous only after sunset. On ap 
proaching any water, it is not amiss to say : " Nyk ! Nyk ! 
Naal i Vatn ! Jomfru Maria kastet Staal i Vatn ! Du saek, 
sek flyt!" ("Nyk! Nyk! needle in water! The Virgin 
Mary cast steel into water ! Thou sink, I float ! ") This 
formula requires some explanation, which will be found 
hereafter in what is related of the Swedish Neck. 

The Nok is known in many places under the name of 
the Soetrold (water-sprite), which is said to abide always 
in the water, and to have many heads. If persons are in 
danger of shipwreck, they must promise him a son or a 
daughter for their deliverance ; for which he, on the other 
hand, bestows on them riches and good fortune as much 
as they desire. He frequently changes his form, and takes 
his name from the place where he has his abode. In one 
place in Norway, whenever it is stormy, or a tempest is 
gathering, he appears in the form of a large horse, plashing 
with his monstrous hoofs in the water, which he causes 
almost constantly to be in violent motion. In the same 
water, another being, called the Vigtrold, has its habita 
tion, which shouts terrifically when any danger is at hand. 

Although the Nok is a dangerous being, he neverthe 
less sometimes meets with his master. In the waterfall 
of Sund, as the story goes, there dwelt for a long time a 
Nok, who caused the loss of many persons, when they 
rowed up or down the fall. The priest, who apprehended 
danger from this Nok, took with him on his passage four 
stout men, whom he ordered to row with all their might 
up the fall. They made the attempt twice, but at each 
time glided back. In making the third attempt, it was 
observed that, at the upper part of the fall, the priest, 



22 NORWEGIAN TRADITIONS. 

dashing his hand into the water, drew up a black creature 
resembling a little dog. He then ordered the men to row 
further up, at the same time placing the animal firmly 
between his feet, and keeping a constant silence. Having 
now reached the stone-mound at Tvet, he conjured the 
Nok into it. From that time no one has perished in the 
fall. 

In Iceland, where the Nok is called Hnikur, he appears like a handsome 
grey horse, though with his hoofs turned backwards, and strives to tempt 
people to mount him, when he will gallop off with them into the water. 
Some efforts to tame him have been partially successful, and he has been 
made to work, though for a short time only. 

In the Faroe islands the Nikar has his abode in fresh waters or lakes, 
where he will drag people down and drown them. 

In Scotland the Nok is sometimes represented by Shellycoat, who is 
covered with sea-weed and muscle-shells ; sometimes by the Kelpie who, 
at least in the Highlands, appears in a horse s shape. In the Orkneys he 
appears either as a little horse, or as a man under the name of Tangie 1 . 
In Shetland he is called Shoopiltee, and appears as a handsome little horse, 
tempting persons to mount him, when he runs with his rider into the sea. 
In the Scottish islands they make him an offering, in the shape of a cup 
of good beer 5 *. 

Grimm (D. M.p.479) interprets the name of Shellycoat by the German 
Schellenrock (Bell-coat), supposing him so named from his coat being 
hung with bells ; and cites the instance of a Puck, who for thirty years 
served in the kitchen and stable of a Meklenburg monastery. He appeared 
always well-disposed, and only stipulated for tunicam de diversis coloribus 
et tintinnabulis plenum. 

The Norwegian Nok and the Kelpie of Scotland are identical beings. 
When one of the Grahams of Morphie was building the old castle, he 
secured the assistance of the water-kelpie or river-horse, by the accredited 
means of throwing a pair of branks (a sort of yoke) over his head. When 
released from his labour, and about to return to the water, he said : 
" Sair back and sair banes, 

Drivin the Laird o Morphie s stanes ! 

The Laird o Morphie 11 never thrive 

As lang s the kelpie is alive 3 ! " 

1 In Ben s Descript. of Orkney (1599) he is thus described: "Indutus 
est algis marinis toto corpore, similis est pullo equino convoluto pilis 
membrum habet simile equino, et testiculos magnos." Hibbert 504 

See Hibbert, 5. 26. 3 Chambers Pop. Rh. p 35 



NORWEGIAN TRADITIONS. 23 

THE GRIM, OR FOSSEGRIM. 

Closely allied to the Nok is the musical Grim or Fosse- 
grim of Norway, a being whose sojourn is by waterfalls 
and mill-works. He generally plays in still and dark 
evenings, to entice persons to him, and teach those to play 
on the violin or other stringed instrument, who, on a 
Thursday evening, offer to him, with averted face, a white 
kid, which is to be cast into a waterfall running north 
wards. If the offering is lean, the learner s progress will 
extend only to the tuning of the violin ; but if it is fat, 
the Fosscgrim will grasp the player s right hand, and move 
it backwards and forwards until the blood springs out 
at the end of every finger. The pupil is then fully in 
structed, and can play so incomparably that the very trees 
will dance and the waterfalls stop their course. 

THE RORE-TROLD. 

In the Rorevand in Nedenses, a lake enclosed within 
steep mountains, and much exposed to squalls of wind, a 
Troll, called the liore-trold, has his abode. He appears 
under various forms, sometimes as a horse, sometimes as 
a load of hay, sometimes as a huge serpent, and sometimes 
as a number of persons. In the winter, and when the 
ice is thickest, there may be seen, on one night, a long, 
broad chasm, with fragments of ice lying in it, all which 
is the work of the Rore-trold. 

THE BRUNMIGI. 

Another somewhat noxious Troll is the Brunmigi, who 
is supposed to dwell near and infest springs. His name 
(from Brunn, funs, and miga, minyere] sufficiently indicates 

his nature. 

THE QV^IRNKNURRE. 

This being seems in many respects identical with the 
Fossegrim. In Gierrestad it was formerly the custom to 



24 NORWEGIAN TRADITIONS. 

place a soft loaf, a cup of beer, or something of the kind, 
by the millstone, that the Qvsernknurre might increase 
the flour in the sacks. For some time he took up his 
abode in Sandager waterfall, where a man had a mill. As 
often as the man began to grind corn the mill stopt. 
Knowing that it was the Qvsernknurre that caused this 
annoyance, he took with him one evening, when he was 
about to grind, some pitch in a pot, under which he made 
a fire. As soon as he had set the mill in motion it stopt 
as usual. He then thrust downwards with a pole, in the 
hope of driving away the Qvsernknurre, but in vain. At 
last he opened the door to see, when lo ! there stood the 
Qvsernknurre with extended jaws, and of such magnitude 
that while its lower lip rested on the threshold, its upper 
one touched the top of the doorway. It said to the man : 
" Hast thou ever seen such great gaping ? " Instantly 
seizing the boiling pitch-pot, the man dashed it into his 
mouth, with the words : " Hast thou ever tasted such hot 
boiling ? " With a howl the Qvsernknurre vanished, and 
was never again seen. 

A being nearly resembling the Qvaernknurre is the Urisk of the Scottish 
Highlands, which is described as a rough hairy sprite that sets mills at 
work in the night, when there is nothing to grind. He is sent howling 
away by a panful of hot ashes thrown into his lap while he is sleeping l . 

THE FINNGALKN. 

This monster is often named, though not accurately 
described in the later romantic Sagas. According to these 
it has a human head with enormous teeth, a beast s body 
and a large heavy tail, terrific claws and a sword in every 
claw 2 . 

1 Keightley, F. M. p. 396, from the Quarterly Review, 1825. 

2 Keyser, p. 163. See Snorra-Edda, edit. Rask, p. 342. 



NORWEGIAN TRADITIONS. 25 

GERTRUD S BIRD. 

In Norway the red-crested, black woodpecker is known 
under the name of Gertrudes Bird. Its origin is as fol 
lows : " When our Lord,, accompanied by St. Peter, was 
wandering on earth, they came to a woman who was occu 
pied in baking ; her name was Gertrud, and on her head 
she wore a red hood. Weary and hungry from their long 
journeying, our Lord begged for a cake. She took a little 
dough and set it on to bake, and it grew so large that it 
filled the whole pan. Thinking it too much for alms, she 
took a smaller quantity of dough, and again began to bake, 
but this cake also swelled up to the same size as the first ; 
she then took still less dough, and when the cake had be 
come as large as the preceding ones, Gertrud said : You 
must go without alms, for all my bakings are too large for 
you/ Then was our Lord wroth, and said : Because thou 
givest me nothing, thou shalt for a punishment become a 
little bird, shalt seek thy dry food between the wood and 
the bark, and drink only when it rains/ Hardly were 
these words spoken, when the woman was transformed to 
the Gertrud s bird, and flew away through the kitchen 
chimney ; and at this day she is seen with a red hood and 
black body, because she was blackened by the soot of the 
chimney. She constantly pecks the bark of trees for 
sustenance, and whistles against rain; for she always 
thirsts and hopes to drink J ." 

AASGAARDSREIA (WILD HUNT). 

This band consists of spirits who have not done so 
much good as to deserve heaven, nor so much evil as to 
be sent to hell. It consists of drunkards, brawlers, sing 
ers of slanderous songs, crafty deceivers, and those that 
for the sake of lucre have perjured themselves. Their 

1 Asbjornsen og Moe, No. 2. Grimm, D. M. p. 639. 

C 



26 NORWEGIAN TRADITIONS. 

punishment is to ride about till the end of the world. At 
the head of the troop rides Guro-Rysse or Reisa-Rova 
with her long tail, by which she is distinguished from the 
rest. After her follows a multitude of both sexes. If 
seen in front, they appear tall and comely, both riders 
and horses ; but behind, nothing is to be seen but Guro s 
long tail. The horses, which are coal-black, and have 
eyes that glow in the dark like fire, are guided with red 
hot rods and iron reins, which, together with the scream 
ing of the riders, cause such a terrific noise that it may 
be heard at a vast distance. They ride as easily over water 
as over land, their horses hoofs scarcely touching the sur 
face of the water. Wherever they cast a saddle on a roof, 
there a person must soon die ; and where they understand 
there will be fighting and murder in a drinking bout, 
there they enter, and set themselves on the ledge above 
the door. They conduct themselves quietly as long as 
nothing is going forwards, but set up a horse-laugh and 
make a loud rattling with their iron rods, when the fighting- 
is begun and murder committed. The troop rides about 
chiefly at Christmas, when the great drinking bouts are 
held. When a person hears the troop coming, he should 
get out of the way or fall down on his face, and appear to 
be asleep; for there are instances of men having been 
caught up by them, and either carried back to the place 
whence they were taken, or found half stupified at a di 
stance from it. A good man who takes this precaution 
has nothing more to apprehend than that each of the 
troop will spit on him. When all are passed by, he must 
spit in his turn ; otherwise he would receive injury there 
from. 

This remarkable tradition, the title even of which points to heathenism, 
is known, at least by name, over the greater part of the diocese of Chris- 
tiansand, but it is found most complete in the Upper Thellemark, where 
I myself have heard it ; where it is called the Aaske-Rei or Asanerfcerd, 



NORWEGIAN TRADITIONS. 27 

which cannot be seen but only heard. It devours the Fladbrod (thin 
cakes), butter, etc., that have been prepared for Christmas, unless they be 
crossed previously to being put away. In one district of Norway, if any 
one, on hearing the troop, does not throw himself down, his soul must 
accompany it, while his body remains lying. When the soul returns to 
the body, the latter is quite enfeebled, and remains so ever after. In some 
places this noisy troop is called Aaskereia, in others Hoskelreia. Some 
times they ride with a rushing noise through the air ; sometimes they are 
to be met by night, on the roads, riding on black horses with glowing eyes. 
On Christmas eve, and the three nights of Christmas, they are the most 
riotous, and the countryman who has neglected the precaution of placing 
a bar before his horses, or a cross over his door, may be certain of finding 
them the next morning dripping wet and almost broken-winded ; for the 
Hoskelreia will have used them, and they are not the people to treat them 
gently. 

THE MERMAN (MARMENNILL) AND MERMAID (MARGYGR). 

Sailors and fishermen, when the weather is calm, some 
times see Mermen and Mermaids rise from the bosom of 
the tranquil deep. The Mermen are of a dusky hue, 
with a long 1 beard, black hair, and from the waist upwards 
resemble a man, but downwards are like a fish. The Mer 
maids are beautiful upwards, but downwards, like the 
Mermen, have a fish s form. Their children are called 
Marmseler. These are sometimes caught by fishermen, 
who take them home, that they may gain from them a 
knowledge of future events ; for both they, as well as 
the Mermen and Mermaids, can see into futurity. It 
is now rare to hear a Mermaid speak or sing. Mariners 
are not pleased at the sight of them, as they forbode a 
storm. 

It is dangerous to hurt them. A sailor once enticed a 
Mermaid so near, that she laid her hand on the gunwale 
of the vessel, which he struck off. For his barbarity he 
was overtaken by a storm, in which he nearly perished. 
St. Olaf, on one of his piratical expeditions, fell in with a 
Mermaid, who by her sweet song was wont to lull ma 
riners to sleep, and then drag them down. If, in diving 



28 NORWEGIAN TRADITIONS. 

under water, they turn towards a ship, it betokens mis 
fortune; if they turn from the ship, it is a good sign 1 . 

Belief in Mermen and Mermaids is as old as it is general. According 
to Gervase of Tilbury, we had Mermaids in our seas, and they are men 
tioned in the Icelandic Sagas. See Dobeneck, i. pp. 38 sgq., also for an 
account of the German Water-nix. In Ireland they are called Merrows, 
and legends are told of them similar to those of other countries. 

THE SEA-SNAKE. 

In fresh waters and rivers, as well as along the coasts 
of Norway, enormous snakes are said to exist, but varying 
with regard both to their appearance and magnitude. Ac 
cording to the general belief, they are brought forth on 
the land, and have their first abode in forests and mounds 
of stone, whence, when they grow large, they betake them 
selves to the great lakes or inland seas, or to the ocean, 
where they grow to a tremendous size. They seldom make 
their appearance, and when they do, are regarded as fore 
runners of important events. In most of the lakes and 
rivers of any considerable magnitude, these monsters have, 
in former times, on one or other extraordinary occasion, 
been seen to rise from the water s depth. In the fresh 
waters none have been seen within the memory of man, 
but they sometimes, when there is a dead calm, appear in 
the fiords or firths. Some time after the Black Death 2 
there came, according to tradition, two large snakes from 
the Foksoe, by the town down to the loug (bath), 
where one, it is said, is still to be found ; but the other 
attempted, about two hundred years since, to go down to 
the river s mouth, where it perished in the fall and was 
driven across in the vicinity of Drontheim, where it be 
came putrid, and emitted such a stench that no one could 
approach the place. 

1 Keyser, p. 162. 

2 A.D. 1350. Two-thirds of the people of Norway are said to have 
perished. It visited England two years earlier. 



NORWEGIAN TRADITIONS. XV 

In the Lundevand, on Lister, there is a Sea-Snake that 
appears only before a king s death or some great revolu 
tion. Some assert that they have seen it. 

In Bollarnvatn also, in Bahuus l , there was formerly a 
Sea-Snake, whose body was as thick as a calf s of a year 
old, and whose tail was about six ells in length. It de 
stroyed the fish, and had its abode in a little isle called 
Svanviksoe. It never showed itself, except when some 
calamity was at hand. But of all the snakes inhabiting 
the waters of the North, none are so celebrated as those 
that were and are to be found in Mios. In an old writing 2 , 
we are told of a tremendous snake, that seemed to approach 
from the island, and to go from thence to the King s 
land/ but instantly vanished. In like manner, many 
large snakes appeared day after day in Mios, which twisted 
themselves into a variety of curves, and cast the water to 
a considerable height. At length the first-mentioned enor 
mous snake made its appearance a second time, and darted 
with rapidity up on a rock. Its eyes were as large as the 
bottom of a barrel, and it had a long mane that hung far 
down its neck. As it could not get off the rock, but lay 
and beat its head against it, one of the bishop s servants, 
who was a daring fellow, took a steel bow, and shot so 
many arrows into its eye, that the water round about was 
coloured green from the outflowing humour. This snake, 
which displayed a variety of colours, was appalling to look 
upon. It died of the wounds it had received, and sent 
forth such a stench, that the people thereabouts, by the 
bishop s order, united for the purpose of burning it, which 
was done. Its skeleton lay for many years on the shore. 
A grown-up youth could hardly carry the smallest portion 
of its backbone. It is also said that there is a Sea- Snake, 

1 This tradition belongs strictly to those of Sweden, but is left here, 
in order not to divide the several accounts of the Sea-Snake. 
- Beskrivelse over Hammer. 



30 NORWEGIAN TRADITIONS. 

which winds itself round the great bell from Hammer, 
which was sunk during the seven years war in the Akers- 
vig, and when the water is clear may still be discerned. 
All attempts to raise it have been in vain, though it was 
once lifted to the water s surface. 

That this Mios snake was not a thing to be played with, 
will appear from an account of the year 1656, given in 
Pontoppidan s Natural History of Norway, 2, 65. Such 
a water-snake made aland trip from Mios to Spirillen, and 
is probably the same with the one that was wont to appear 
in that lake against evil and perilous times. tf It was in 
appearance like a huge mast, whatever stood in its way it 
overthrew, even trees and huts. With its loud hissing 
and horrid roaring it terrified all the people round about." 
That in calm weather such enormous Sea-Snakes some 
times appear on the coast of Norway, can hardly be denied, 
as credible persons, even in our own time, declare that 
they have seen them 1 ; to whose testimony may be added 
that of Hibbert, who says : " The existence of the Sea- 
Snake, a monster fifty -five feet long, is placed beyond a 
doubt by the animal, that was thrown on shore in Orkney, 
the vertebrae of which are to be seen in the Edinburgh 
Museum 2 ." 

The writer, who among us has most amply treated of 
the Sea-Snake, is Eric Pontoppidan, in his Natural Hi 
story of Norway, in which two representations of Sea- 
Snakes are given. According to his testimony, founded 
on the accounts of Bergen and Nordland mariners, as well 
as of other eye-witnesses, these monsters live in the depths 
of the ocean, except in July and August, when in calm 
weather they come up to the surface ; but sink again the 

1 Compare the Vestlandske Tidende No. 22, and Sorenskriver Blom s, 
also Bishop Neumann s paa trovaerdige Folks Beretninger grundede Vid- 
nesbyrd, Budstikken 6te Aargang 159 and 578. 

2 Description of Shetland, p. 565. 



NORWEGIAN TRADITIONS. 31 

moment the wind begins to ruffle the watery mirror. Ac 
cording to the testimony of Commander de Ferry s in 
1746, given before a court, "the Sea- Snake seen by him 
in the vicinity of Molda, had a head resembling in shape 
that of a horse, which it held about an ell above the water, 
of a greyish hue, the snout quite black, very large black 
eyes, and a long white mane, which hung from its neck 
into the sea. Seven or eight coils of its body, which was 
very thick, were also seen : according to conjecture, there 
was a fathom between the coils l ." According to the tes 
timony of the priest Tuchsen of Heroe, and of some neigh 
bouring priests, these Sea-Snakes were as thick as a double 
hogshead (Oxehoved), had large nostrils and blue eyes, 
which at a distance resembled a couple of bright pewter 
plates. On the neck there was a mane, which from afar 
appeared like sea-weed. 

DRAGONS. 

Traditions of Dragons that fly through the air by night 
arid spit forth fire, are very general, and holes in the earth 
arid the mountains are yet shown over all the country, 
whence they have been seen issuing like a glowing fire, 
when war or other public calamity was at hand. When 
they return to their habitations, where they brood over 
vast treasures and precious things, which, according to 
some traditions, they have collected in the bottom of the 
sea the sound may be heard of the great iron doors, which 
close after them. As they are fierce and spit pernicious 
fire, it is dangerous to contend with them. Under Agers 
church, which stands on four golden pillars, a dragon 
broods over immense riches. It has been seen, even within 
the memory of persons living, or a short time before the 
last war, issuing from a hole near the church. From the 

1 Pontoppidan, 2, 321. 



32 NORWEGIAN TRADITIONS. 

Dragon s Hole on Storoe in Aadal, from the Dragon s 
Hill on Rasvog, and numerous other places, firedrakes 
with long tails were to be seen issuing in former times, 
and sometimes even in our days. That they are not in 
vincible appears from an old tradition, which tells of a 
priest, named Anders Madsen, who is said to have lived 
about 1631, that shot a dragon which brooded over silver 
in the so-called Dragon Mount near the Tvedevand. 

The important part played by dragons, firedrakes and the like in the old 
songs, legends and romances, where the killing of a dragon forms one of a 
hero s earliest proofs of valour, has probably given birth to the innume 
rable traditions concerning these monsters ; an accidental electric fire, a 
fire-ball or the like, being enough to keep the belief alive. 

THE SEVERED HAND 1 . 

There was a miller whose mill was burnt down on two 
successive Whitsun-eves. In the third year, just before 
Whitsuntide, he had a tailor in his house to make holyday 
clothes. 

(C I wonder how it will go with the mill this time ; 
whether it will be burnt again to-night/ said the miller. 

" You need not fear that," said the tailor, " give me 
the key, and I will keep watch in it. 9 

This seemed to the miller both good and highly ac 
ceptable; and when it drew towards evening the tailor 
got the key and went to the mill, which was still empty, 
having but just been rebuilt. So placing himself in the 
middle of the floor, he chalked round him a large circle, 
on the outside of which he wrote the Paternoster ; and 
thus fortified, would not have feared if the arch-enemy 
himself had made his appearance. In the dead of the 
night the door suddenly flew open, and there came in such 
a multitude of black cats, that the place literally swarmed. 
But a short time had elapsed when they set a large earthen 

1 Asbjornsen, Norske Huldreeventyr, i. pp. 11-14. 



NORWEGIAN TRADITIONS. .3d 

pot in the chimney,, and lighted a fire under it, so that it 
began frying and hissing in the pot as if it were full of 
boiling pitch and tar. 

"Oho," thought the tailor, "is that what you are 
after ? " And scarcely had he given utterance to the 
thought when one of the cats put its paw behind the pot 
and tried to upset it. 

" Whisht cat, you 11 burn yourself ! " cried the tailor. 

" Whisht cat, you 11 burn yourself ! the tailor says," 
said the cat to the other cats, and all ran from the chimney, 
and began hopping and dancing round the circle ; but in 
the meanwhile the cat again sneaked to the chimney and 
endeavoured to upset the pot. 

" Whisht cat, you 11 burn yourself ! " cried the tailor, 
and drove it from the chimney. 

" Whisht cat, you 11 burn yourself, the tailor says/* 
said the cat to the other cats, and all began dancing arid 
hopping again, but in a moment the same cat was away 
trying a third time to overturn the pot. 

" Whisht cat, you 11 burn yourself ! " cried the tailor 
in a rage, and so terrified them that they tumbled one 
over another, and then began to jump and dance as before. 

They then formed a circle without the tailor s circle, 
and began dancing round it with an ever-increasing velo 
city, till at length it seemed to the tailor that every thing- 
was whirling round before him. All this while the cats 
were staring at him with their large, fierce eyes, as if they 
would swallow him. 

While they were in the thick of it, the cat that had tried 
to upset the pot, put her paw within the circle, as if she 
felt inclined to seize hold of the tailor, but who seeing her 
design, drew out his knife and stood on his guard. After 
a few moments the cat again put her paw within the ring, 
when the tailor in one instant chopped it off; and all the 
cats took to their heels, screaming and howling, as speedilv 

c 5 



34 NORWEGIAN TRADITIONS. 

as they could, and left the tailor in quiet possession of the 
field. 

The tailor then lay down in the circle till long after the 
sun had been shining in upon him. He then rose, locked 
the mill-door and proceeded to the miller s house. 

When he entered the room the miller and his wife were 
still in bed, it being Whit-sunday. 

" Good morning," said the tailor, giving the miller his 
hand. " Good morning/ said the miller in return, and 
was both glad and surprised to see the tailor again. 

" Good morning, mother," said he, holding out his hand 
to the miller s wife. 

" Good morning," said she, but appeared pale and sor 
rowful, and kept her hand under the bed-clothes, but at 
last offered him her left hand. The tailor now saw how 
matters stood ; but what afterwards took place is not said. 

The North-German story, Die Katzenmiihle, closely resembles the 
above, but is much simpler. The Norwegian one is probably embellished 
by the author, from whose work it is extracted. 

OF ST. OLAF. 

St. Olaf was the Norwegian people s hero, and yet lives 
in their remembrance, while few only and imperfect tradi 
tions are occasionally to be met with of his equally valiant 
predecessors and successors. Let us, therefore, consider 
this man, in order more easily to comprehend the causes 
of his great celebrity. 

Olaf was born in 995 ; his father, Harald Gramske, was of 
the race of Harald Harfager, and his mother, Asta, the 
daughter of Gudbrand, from the Uplands. In his third 
year he was baptized, King Olaf Tryggvason standing god 
father to him. In his youth he sailed on piratical expedi 
tions, in which he acquired great experience and fitness for 
warfare. Supported by powerful relations and friends, as 
well as by his own sagacity and military skill, he gained 



NORWEGIAN TRADITIONS. 35 

possession of his paternal kingdom, over which he reigned 
for fifteen years with great vigour and reputation. His 
exertions were chiefly directed to the complete establish 
ment of the Christian faith in Norway, which, after the 
death of Olaf Tryggvason, had greatly declined; but the 
violence with which he proceeded, together with his ambi 
tion and severity, rendered him so hateful, that he found 
it advisable to flee from the country to Gardarike l , from 
his discontented subjects, who were, moreover, instigated 
and supported by the ambitious Dano-English king, Cnut 
the Great. Olaf, who in the school of adversity had begun 
to act the saint, was on the eve of starting for Jerusalem, 
when Olaf Tryggvason, in a dream, bade him return to 
Norway. He obeyed the behest and marched with an 
army into the country, where, in an obstinate battle at 
Stiklastad in Vserdal, he was defeated and slain by his re 
volted subjects, on the 29th July 1030. 

Shortly after the death of Olaf, the fame of his sanctity 
and the miracles said to have attended his corpse formed 
a topic of conversation among the people, who found them 
the more credible, as they were highly dissatisfied with what 
they had got in exchange for him. Olaf s body, which had 
been buried in a sand-bank at Stiklastad, was taken up, arid 
being found, after the expiration of a year, unchanged, with 
the hair and nails grown, Grhnkell, Olaf s court-bishop, de 
clared him a holy person, and the commonalty thereupon 
determined that Olaf was a true saint. His body was by 
his son, King Magnus the Good, laid in a costly shrine, 
and placed by the high altar in the church of St. Clement 
at Nidaros (Drontheim), where, as well as afterwards in 
the magnificent Christchurch (the present cathedral), it is 
said to have wrought numerous miracles, St. Olaf s festi 
val, the 29th July, was by law commanded to be celebrated 
throughout the country as the chief solemnity, and churches 
1 Russia, in its then restricted signification. 



36 NORWEGIAN TRADITIONS. 

to his honour were erected not only in Norway, but in 
Denmark, Sweden, Russia, England, and even by his 
countrymen at Constantinople. Pilgrims journeyed in 
crowds to St. Olafs shrine, and legends of cripples who 
had there recovered the use of their limbs, and of other 
miracles soon became numberless. 

St. Olafs shrine of silver, inlaid with gold and precious 
stones, a single one of which cost Archbishop Walkendorf 
twenty lasts of butter 1 , was on solemn occasions, such as 
the Saint s yearly festival, or the election of a king, borne 
in procession by sixty men, and was an abundant source 
of revenue to the clergy and the cathedral. The last arch 
bishop, Olaf Engelbretson, carried it with him to his strong 
castle of Steinviksholm, where, after his flight, it fell into 
the hands of the Danish commander, Christopher Hvit- 
feld, who sent St. Olafs shrine of silver gilt, weighing 
about 3200 ounces, together with another silver shrine, in 
which the Saint s shirts were preserved, and many other 
valuables, to the Danish treasury. 

When the Swedes in 1564 had taken possession of 
Drontheim, they found nothing remaining of St. Olafs 
treasures, except his helmet, spurs, and the wooden chest 
that had contained his body 2 . The helmet and spurs 
they took with them to Sweden, where they are still pre 
served in the church of St. Nicholas at Stockholm; but 
the chest they left behind in a church, after having drawn 
out the silver nails, which had been left by the Danes. 
After the expulsion of the Swedes, St. Olafs body and 
chest were, with great solemnity, carried back to the cathe* 
dral, where, a contemporary bears witness, that the body 
was found entire in a grave of masonry in 1567, and "his 

1 Equal to about forty tons. 

2 This was, without doubt, one of the cases in which his silver shrine 
was preserved. What became of his armour, battle-axe, spear, and the 
banner given him by an angel, while he slept on the place where he was 
martyred, is not known. 



NORWEGIAN TRADITIONS. O/ 

blood is seen to this day in a barn, and can never be 
washed out by water or human hands." In the following 
year St. Olafs body was by a royal ordinance covered with 
earth. 

St. Olafs sanctity is no more thought of, even his last 
resting-place is forgotten, but his name still lives, as is 
proved by the numerous traditions still fresh in the me 
mory of the Norwegian people. Throughout the land are to 
be found traces of St. Olaf s deeds and miraculous power. 
Fountains sprang forth when he thirsted, and acquired 
salutary virtue when he drank ; rocks were rent at his 
bidding, and sounds (sunde) were formed at his nod ; 
churches were raised, and Trolls found in St. Olaf a foe as 
formidable as they had formerly had in the mighty Thor, 
whose red beard even was inherited by St. Olaf. In many 
places Trolls are still shown, who at St. Olaf s command 
were turned into stone. 

Out of Norway also St. Olaf lived long in popular tra 
dition. In Denmark and in Sweden are many places 
where traditions are yet current of St. Olaf and the Trolls 
he turned into stone. Thus, as he was one day riding by 
Dalby church in Varmeland, he was addressed by a Troll- 
wife in these words : 

" Kong Olaf med dit pipuga Skagg 1 ! King Olaf with thy pointed beard ! 
Du seglar for nar min Badstugu- Thou sailest too near my bath- 
vag." room wall. 

To which he answered : 

" Du Troll med din Rack och Thou Troll-wife with thy rock 

Ten and wheel 

Skal bli i Sten, Shall turn to stone, 

Och aldrig mer gora Skeppare And never more do shipman 

Men." harm. 

In the Shetland isles, we learn from Hibbert, the in- 

1 The same probably as Sw. Pipskiigg (Grimm, D. M. p. 517), tbe little 
pointed beard on tbe under lip. 



38 NORWEGIAN TRADITIONS* 

habitants, as late as the eighteenth century, maintained 
that they had their ancient, but now lost, law-book from 
St. Olla/ of whom they relate wonderful things in their 
songs, which they call Vissacks/ A Faroe tradition 
ascribes it to St. Olaf, that they have now no woods on 
the islands. St. Olaf having inquired of some of the in 
habitants whether they had any woods at home, they sus 
pecting that he made the inquiry with the view to taxing 
them, answered in the negative. "Be it so," said the 
king, and at the same time the Faroe woods sank into 
the earth. 

If it be asked what can be the origin of many of these 
wondrous traditions, we answer, that it must be sought 
for in the same ignorance of nature and its effects, together 
with the desire of finding a reason for everything that 
seems uncommon, which has given birth to so many tra 
ditions of supernatural beings. What heathenism attri 
buted to the gods of Valhall and to the mighty Thor, the 
cunning Catholic ecclesiastics, with their earliest converts, 
no doubt transferred to the powerful suppresser of the 
Asa-faith, St. Olaf, whose axe supplanted Thorns Miolnir, 
and whose steed, renowned in tradition, the goats of 
the Thunder-god 1 . Olaf s own renown, the tales of pious 
pilgrims and monkish legends have gradually combined to 

1 The numerous representations, which in the days of Catholicism were 
no doubt to be found in many of the churches dedicated to St. Olaf, are 
now for the most part destroyed ; but from the notices which we have of 
them, the hero was generally represented with a battle-axe in his hand, 
and treading on a Troll or a dragon. In Ladvig church there is a re 
markable processional banner, on which is the figure of St. Olaf, in com 
plete armour, treading on a dragon. In St. Mary s church at Lubeck I 
have seen an old, but very good painting, the principal figure in which is 
St. Olaf completely armed, with his battle-axe in his hand and a roval 
mantle over his shoulders. With one foot he is treading on a dragon, 
but which has a human head. In the Kollmann chapel, in the same 
church, there is likewise an ancient picture of St. Olaus. Even in Lon 
don there are two or three churches dedicated to St. Olave. 



NORWEGIAN TRADITIONS. 39 

make of St. Olaf a hero, whom the superstitious and igno 
rant multitude believed capable of performing the most 
impossible things. 

OF ST. OLAF AND THE FIRST CHURCH IN NORWAY. 

In Norrland there is the following tradition respecting 
the first church erected in Norway 1 : 

As St. Olaf was one day wandering among the woods 
and mountains, deeply meditating how, without laying 
heavy burthens on his people,, he could accomplish the 
construction of a church he had planned in his mind, of 
such magnitude that its like should hardly be found, he 
met a man of gigantic size, who asked him what he was 
pondering over. " I may well be pondering," answered 
the king, " having made a vow to build a church for mag 
nitude and magnificence without its like in the whole 
world." The Troll thereupon undertook by a certain 
fixed time to complete such a structure, but only on con 
dition that, if the work should be finished at the time 
appointed, St. Olaf would engage to give him, in remu 
neration for his labour, the sun and moon, or St. Olaf 
himself. The king agreed to the condition, but fancied 
he could form such a vast plan for the edifice, that the 
giant would find it impossible to finish the work by the 
time agreed on. The church was to be so spacious that 
seven priests might preach in it at the same time without 
hearing or disturbing one another. The pillars and orna 
ments, both within and without, were to be of the hardest 
flint ; besides which many other and equally difficult con 
ditions were included in the bargain. But within a much 
shorter time than the period agreed on, St. Olaf saw the 
church finished, with the exception of the spire, which 
was still to be erected. Seeing this the Saint went out 

1 For other versions of this story, see Danish Traditions and Swedish 
Traditions. 



40 NORWEGIAN TRADITIONS. 

again among the woods and mountains, in deep tribula 
tion, thinking of his unfortunate engagement ; when sud 
denly he heard a child crying in the mountain, and a 
giantess comforting it with the following song : 

" Vys ! vyss ! sonen min ! Hush ! hush ! my son ! 

I morgon kommer Vind och To-morrow comes Wind and 

Vader, fader din, Tempest, thy father, 

Och bar med sig Sol och Mane, And has with him sun and moon, 

Eller sjelfver Sanct Olof." Or St. Olaf himself. 

Now the king was overjoyed, because Trolls, as we are 
told, always lose their power when a Christian man calls 
them by their name. On his return he saw the giant 
standing on the top of the tower, in the act of placing the 
spire, and called to him : 

" Vind och Vader, Wind and Tempest, 

Du har satt spiran sneder !" Thou hast set the spire awry ! 

From the summit of the church the Troll now fell with 
a terrific smash, and was shivered in fragments, all which 
were mere flints. According to another version the giant s 
name was Slatt, and St. Olaf cried out : 
" Slatt ! satt spiran ratt !" Slatt ! set the spire straight ! 

According to another, he is called Blaster, and St. Olaf 
calls to him : 

" Blaster ! satt spiran vaster ! " Blaster ! set the spire westward ! 
The same tradition is also current in Norway itself, 
where the giant is called Skalle, and the magnificent cathe 
dral of Nidaros (Drontheim) is the church erected by him 1 . 
A similar tradition respecting the name of the Troll is 
found also in Germany 2 . 

ST. OLAF AT VAALER. 

When travelling over the country, for the purpose of 
introducing the Christian faith, St. Olaf came to a place 

1 Afzelius, iii. 97, 98 ; Grimm, D. M. pp. 515, 516. 

2 Grimm, K. and H. M. No. 55. 



NORWEGIAN TRADITIONS. 41 

on the east bank of the Glommen, which, together with 
its church and the whole parish,, acquired the name of 
Vaaler in the following manner : In the above-named 
place,, St. Olaf held an assize, at which, after some hesi 
tation, it was decided that the God whom the king wor 
shiped should also be worshiped by the people, and that 
Odin s religion should give place to that of Christ. It 
was further decided, on the king s proposal, that a church 
should be erected there, as at other places, where the new 
faith had been adopted. With respect, however, to the 
spot where it should be built, a great difference of opinion 
arose; whereupon, as the tradition informs us, St. Olaf 
bent his bow, sent forth an arrow, and declared that on 
the spot where it fell the church should stand. The king 
was standing at the time by the fountain that still bears 
the name of St. Olaf s, and the arrow fell in a Vaal 1 , 
where a wooden church was afterwards built, which, to 
gether with the house and parish, was by St. Olaf named 
Vaaler. This church, at which the sick and dying were 
wont to make offerings, existed till the year 1805, when a 
new one was erected, in the vestment-chest of which there 
is an elaborate iron wire clasp, called St. Olaf s clasp, 
which, according to tradition, was placed in the old church 
by the king himself, and is said to have belonged to the 
halter of his horse. This horse the king was accustomed 
to water in the crystal spring, which is never dry in sum 
mer nor frozen in winter, and also bears St. Olaf s name. 
Miraculous powers were formerly ascribed to it. The sick 
placed money or anything of silver in it, for the recovery 
of their health ; and great misfortune was supposed to 
await the person who should make free with these sacred 
deposits. Only a few years ago it was customary for the 
people, on the first day of every celebration, to strive who 

1 A Vaal is a quantity of trunks and roots of trees, piled in a heap for 
fuel. 



42 NORWEGIAN TRADITIONS. 

should first arrive at the fountain, and it was regarded as 
something to boast of by him who was the first to water 
his horse at St. OlaPs well. 

ST. OLAF AT RINGERIGE. 

When St. Olaf was journeying from place to place, for 
the purpose of introducing the Christian faith and erecting 
churches in the place of the heathen temples, he found 
much opposition and hindrance not only from his refrac 
tory pagan subjects, but also from the numerous Trolls, 
Jutuls and Giantesses inhabiting the mountains round 
about. The Trolls could not endure St. Olaf, partly be 
cause, by using the sign of the cross, he did them much 
harm, and partly because he founded so many churches, 
the sound of whose bells disturbed their quiet. But not 
withstanding their frequent efforts, they could effect nothing 
against the holy king, who, on the other hand, turned 
them at once to stone. Such petrified Trolls are still to 
be seen in all parts of the country. Thus, when St. Olaf 
was on one of his progresses, a fierce giantess suddenly 
sprang from a steep rock, crying aloud : 

" St. Olaf xned det brede skjseg ! St. Olaf with the broad beard ! 
Du rider saa naer min Kjelder- Thou ridest so near my cellar- 
vaeg ! " wall ! 

St. Olaf instantly answered : 

" Stat du der i Stok og Steen, Stand thou there in stock and 

stone, 

Til jeg kommer her tilbars Till I come hither back again, 
igjen." 

The petrified giantess is yet to be seen there. 

When St. Olaf came to Steen, where his mother at that 
time dwelt, he resolved on building a church there. With 
this resolution a giantess (gyvri) that lived in the moun 
tain (which is two thousand feet high, and after her was 
called Gyrihauge) was highly displeased ; and, although 



NORWEGIAN TRADITIONS. 43 

slie might^ from the above-mentioned example, have known 
that St. Olaf was not a person to be trifled with, she de 
termined to try her strength,, and challenged him to a 
competition. " Before thou art ready with thy church," 
said she, " I shall have laid a stone bridge across Steen s 
fiord/ Olaf accepted the challenge, and before she was 
half ready with her bridge, the sweet tones of the bells 
were heard from St. Olaf s already finished church. In 
her rage the Troll hurled the stones, which she had des 
tined for the completion of the bridge, from Gyrihauge, 
straight across the fiord, at the church ; but as none of 
them hit the mark, she was so exasperated that she tore 
off one of her legs and cast it at the church-tower. Some 
say that it carried the tower along with it, others that she 
aimed too high. But be that as it may, the leg sank 
down in a swamp behind the church, where it causes a 
foul stench even to this day. The swamp is still called 
by the country folk Giograput, and the stones which she 
cast at the church were not long since to be seen in the 
neighbouring fields. The bridge begun by the giantess 
is now completed, and at Steen are still to be seen the 
ruins of St. Olaf s church, which deserve to be preserved 
more carefully than they now are. Formerly service was 
performed on every St. John s day, but about a hundred 
and fifty years ago the building was struck by lightning. 

AXEL THORDSEN AND FAIR VALDBORG. 
In the land of Norway there lived in former days a 
maiden so fair, that she was universally denominated the 
Fair Valdborg. Her father, Sir Immer, died in her tender 
infancy, and her mother, the Lady Julli, rested also in the 
dark earth before her daughter was grown up. Being of 
noble race she had powerful relatives all over the country, 
but the choicest of them all was Axel Thordsen, who chose 
her for his bride, while she was yet a child, and was be- 



44 NORWEGIAN TRADITIONS. 

trothed to her, previous to his departure from the country 
to visit foreign courts, among which he took service under 
the emperor Henry. 

His young bride was, in the meanwhile, placed in a 
cloister, that she might learn to sew, and there she re 
mained for eleven years, when Queen Malfred received the 
fair maiden into her court, where she was held in high 
honour ; for Malfred and the Lady Julli had been intimate 
acquaintances and often played at tables together. Axel 
was, in the mean time, beginning to feel a longing after 
his betrothed, and having been informed by a pilgrim of 
Valdborg s race, that she was the most beauteous maiden in 
the whole land, and that her powerful kindred had destined 
her for the king s son, Hagen, he obtained leave of absence 
from the emperor, and hastened back to his native country. 
Thirty attendants followed him, but when he reached his 
mother s mansion, he rode alone. At the gate he was 
met by his fair sister, the Lady Helfred, who advised him 
to disguise himself as a messenger, at the same time giving 
him a letter to Valdborg, whom he found, attending the 
queen, just coming from vespers. In the letter, which 
was filled with expressions of love, lay five gold rings, on 
which roses and lilies were embossed. On reading the 
letter, she plighted to him her faith anew, and adhered to 
her oath, although eleven knights made love to her, be 
sides Hagen, the king s son, who was the twelfth. The 
young prince was sunk in despair and weary in spirit, when 
fair Valdborg would not be moved, and his mother, Queen 
Malfred, answered his complaint with : " By force thou 
canst not gain her." He nevertheless recovered hope, 
when he by chance met his confessor, the black friar Knud, 
who gave him the unexpected consolation, that Axel could 
not be united to Valdborg, because they were cousins 
german, and one woman had held them both over the 
font. 



NORWEGIAN TRADITIONS. 45 

Hagen now addressed himself to Valdborg s three ma 
ternal uncles, who were jarls of high degree, and of them 
demanded her in marriage. Joyfully they gave their con 
sent, but Valdborg said : " Axel is my dearest friend, I 
will never deceive him." Hagen then caused letters to 
be written and the archbishop summoned, together with 
seventy ecclesiastics, and declared that the two lovers 
should be cited before the archbishop. 

With beating hearts the loving pair attended before the 
archbishop in St. Mary s church, where the black friar 
Knud stept forth, and with the pedigree in hand, showed 
that they could not be joined in wedlock, as they were 
cousins on the mother s side, and were besides godchildren 
of the same sponsor. They then went up to the altar, 
where a handkerchief was delivered to them, which was 
then cut in two between them, and a part retained by each. 
Thus were they parted for ever. The gold ring was then 
taken off Valdborg s finger and the bracelet from her arm, 
both of which were returned to Axel, who casting them on 
the altar, made a present of them to St. Olaf, at the same 
time swearing, that for the remainder of his life he would 
be the friend of Valdborg. 

At this oath Hagen waxed wroth, and stepping forth 
swore, that Axel should on the following day make oath 
on sword and holy writ, that Valdborg was a virgin for 
him. Not only did the two lovers swear on the mass- 
book, but eleven jarls of the same race, with gilded swords 
and yellow locks, attended to swear with the fair maiden, 
with whom Hagen offered to share his throne whenever 
he became king ; but she declared to the sorrowful Axel 
that she would never forget him, but would pass her days 
in solitude. 

Thus stood matters for a considerable time. Axel and 
his beloved never entered into any amusements and never 
were seen to laugh. At length a war broke out, and 



46 NORWEGIAN TRADITIONS. 

Hagen, who had now become king, summoned all his men 
to the field. He made Axel his general, and the bold 
knight, in whose shield of white and azure stood two red 
hearts, was ever at hand wherever his country s honour or 
his own required him. The conflict was obstinate. Axel 
slew King Amund s sons and many of the nobles of Up 
land. But King Hagen fell, mortally wounded, from his 
horse, requesting, at his last moments, Axel to avenge his 
death, to receive the kingdom of Norway, and take to wife 
the beloved of them both. Axel now again rushed into 
the thickest of the fight, slaughtering the enemy until his 
sword brake, and he had received seven mortal wounds. 
His last words were of his betrothed. 

Valdborg divided all she possessed of value among her 
relations, and retired to the convent of St. Mary, where 
she was consecrated a nun by Archbishop Aage. 

The foregoing notice of the story of Axel and Valdborg is abridged from 
the beautiful old Danish ballad of Axel Thordsen og Skjon Valdborg, of 
which we know neither the name of its author nor the time of its compo 
sition. It is printed in the Udvalgte Dauske Viser (Bd. iii. pp. 257 sqq.~), 
aiid a German translation by W. C. Grimm is given in his Altdanische 
Heldenlieder, pp. 357 sqq. It has been dramatized by Oehlenschlsger. 

If the ballad has any historic worth beyond the circumstance that it 
affords an accurate picture of Norwegian costume in the middle age, and 
that in it may be seen, as in a mirror, the spirit and manners of the time, 
it seems most probable that its scene was in Romsdal and the neighbour 
ing Sondmor. At the mansion of Houe in Sondmor, tradition tells of a 
battle fought there, in which both Axel Thordsen and the king s son, 
Hagen, were slain ; and on the little isle of Gidske, by the church, there 
is a marble slab, shaped like a coffin lid, about six feet long and in the 
widest part scarcely an ell broad, on which are some illegible runic cha 
racters, which has always been known as Fair Valdborg s grave. On the 
other side of the quire, tradition further says, Axel Thordseu lies buried, 
but without a memorial. By each grave an ash was planted, both of 
which grew to an equal height, and when they had risen above the roof 
of the church, they inclined towards each other, and entwined their boughs 
together. Axel s tree yet stands flourishing, but Valdborg s is dead. 



NORWEGIAN TRADITIONS. 47 

THE SIGNE-K.LERRING, OR WITCH. 

To ascertain under what disease a sickly child was 
labouring, recourse was and, perhaps, is had to a signe- 
kjcerring 1 , who employed for that purpose the process of 
melting or casting. This was done by melting lead taken 
from church windows after sunset, into water drawn from 
a stream running from the north. Over the vessel con 
taining the water there was laid a barley cake, having in 
it a hole made with a darning needle, through which the 
molten lead was slowly poured into the water. This ope 
ration was usually performed in the case of rickets, in 
order to discover under which of the nine species of that 
disease for such was the number of its varieties the 
child was suffering. According to the form assumed by 
the lead in the water, the species was determined ; if, for 
instance, it resembled a man with two large horns, it was 
the troldsvek (troll-rickets) ; if a mermaid, the vassvek 
(water-rickets) . 

While pouring the lead the sorceress muttered the fol 
lowing spell : 

I charm for guile, and I charm for rickets ; 

I charm it hence, and I charm it away ; 

I charm it out, and I charm it in ; 

I charm in weather, and I charm in wind ; 

I charm in the south, and I charm in the east ; 

I charm in the north, and I charm in the west ; 

I charm in the earth, and I charm in water ; 

I charm in the mountain, I charm in the sand ; 

I charm it down in an alder-root ; 

I charm it into a colt s foot ; 

I charm it into the fire of hell ; 

I charm it into a north-running stream ; 

There shall it eat, and there shall consume, 

Till harm for the babe there shall be none 2 . 

1 From at signe, i. e. to exorcise, and Kjaerring (Nor. for Kjaerliug) an 
old crone ; an undoubted descendant of the Vala of the heathen times. 

2 Asbjornsen, Huldreeventyr, ii. pp. 158 sqq. 



SCANDINAVIAN POPULAR TRADITIONS, 



n. 

SWEDISH TRADITIONS 1 . 

CHRISTMAS OR YULE PASTIMES. 

MANY Christmas customs and pastimes derive their origin 
from the sacrifices, which, in the days of heathenism, were 
appointed, in order to render the gods propitious. The 
sacrifices consecrated to Odin, which sometimes consisted 
of human beings, were celebrated with games and dancing. 
In Gothland, where most memorials of Odin are to be met 
with, a game still exists in some places, which represents 
such a sacrificial dance. It is performed, amid many 
nimble springs and changes of motion, by young men dis 
guised, with their faces blackened or coloured. One of these 
represents the victim, everything required for the sacri 
fice is brought forth, which is apparently carried into effect 
to the sound of music or of song. Sometimes the person 
selected as the victim sits clad in skin on a stool, holding 
a wisp of straw in his mouth, which, cut sharp at the ends 
and standing out from his ears, is intended to resemble a 

1 From Afzelius, Svenska Folkets Sago-Hafder, unless otherwise expressed. 

I) 



50 SWEDISH TRADITIONS. 

swine s bristles ; he is thus supposed to represent the sa 
crifice made at Yule to Frey, and which consisted of a hog. 
In many places a loaf or cake is baked, which is called the 
Yule-hog (Julgalt), and is kept till the spring, when it is 
given to the cattle with which the labours of spring are to 
be executed ; all in commemoration of the pagan sacrifices 
at midwinter or Yule for a good year. Even the name of 
Yule (O. Nor. Jol, Dan. Sw. Jul) is derived from the cir 
cular motion of the sun l ; the first half-year till Yule 
with decreasing days, the second from Yule with increas 
ing days ; whence the time when both these halves meet 
is called the Jula-mot/ This was the ancient new year : 
it began with the longest night of winter, which was called 
the Modernatt (Mother night). The new year s wish of 
old was, a good Jula-mot/ 

The hog of propitiation (sonargbltr) offered to Frey was a solemn sa 
crifice in the North, and in Sweden, down to modern times, the custom 
has been preserved of baking, on every Christmas eve, a loaf or cake in the 
form of a hog. Verelius, in his remarks on the Hervararsaga (p. 139) re 
lates that the Swedish peasants dry the baked Yule-hog, and preserve it 
till the spring ; then having pounded a part of it in the vessel out of which 
the seed is to be scattered, they give it mixed with barley to the plough- 
horses, leaving the other part to be eaten by the servants that hold the 
plough, in the hope of having a plentiful harvest 2 . 

MODERN TRADITIONS OF ODIN. 

In Gothland, and particularly in Smaland, many tra 
ditions and stories of Odin the Old still live in the mouths 
of the people. In Bleking it was formerly the custom to 
leave a sheaf on the field for Odin s horses. In Kraktorps 
gard in Smaland, a barrow was opened about a century 
ago, in which Odin was said to have been buried, and 
which, after the introduction of Christianity, was called 
Helvetesbacke (HelFs mount). In it was found a vault, 
from which when opened there burst forth a wondrous 

1 From O. Nor. hjol, Dan. Sw. hjul (wheel). See Grimm, D. M. p. 664. 

2 Ib. pp. 45, 1188. 



SWEDISH TRADITIONS. 51 

fire, like a flash of lightning. A coffin of flints also and a 
lamp were found at the same time. Of a priest, named 
Peter Dagson, who dwelt near Troienborg, it is related, 
that when the rye he had sown there sprang up, Odin came 
riding from the hills every evening, of stature so lofty that 
he towered above the buildings in the farm-yard, and with 
spear in hand. Stopping before the entrance, he hindered 
every one, during the whole night, from going in or out. 
And this took place every night until the rye was cut. 

A story is also current of a golden ship, which is said 
to be sunk in Runemad, near the Nyckelbcrg, in which, 
according to the tradition, Odin fetched the slain from the 
battle of Bravalla to Valhall. Kettils-as, it is said, derives 
its name from one Kettil Runske, who stole Odin s runic 
staves (runekaflar), with which he bound his dogs and 
bull, and at length even the mermaid herself, who came 
to Odin s help. Many such traditions have been and may 
still be found in those parts ; all of which, it may well be 
conceived, are not regarded as articles of faith ; it is, ne 
vertheless, a pleasure for the countryman, when, walking 
over his fields, he comes to a mount, a water, a pile of 
stones, to know what old traditions were current concern 
ing them, and have given names to villages and dwellings. 

It is worthy of remark that one of our (Swedish) hand 
somest birds of passage, the black heron (Ardea nigra, 
Linn.) was in ancient times called Odin s swallow. 

MODERN TRADITIONS OF THOR. 

Thor, as well as Odin the Old, came to the North with 
some immigration, which in remote times took place from 
Asia and Asgard. Here he had to contend with the land s 
earliest inhabitants, who from their dwelling in mountain- 
caverns and dens, as well as from their gigantic stature 
and ferocity, were called Jiittar (Giants), Trolls and Bergs- 
boar (mountain-dwellers). Hence have all the traditions 

D 2 



52 SWEDISH TRADITIONS. 

about giants and the like their origin. Those smooth, 
wedge-shaped stones, which are sometimes found in the 
earth, are called Thorwiggar, i. e. Thor s wedges : these, 
it is said, have been hurled by Thor at some Troll. In 
many places where the meadows border on the mountains, 
stories were once rife of the terror felt by the Trolls when 
it thundered, and how they then, in various shapes, though 
most frequently as large balls or clews, would come rolling 
down the mountain, seeking shelter among the mowers 
who, well aware of their danger, always held them back 
with their sithes ; on which occasions it has often hap 
pened that the thunder has struck and shivered the sithe, 
when the Troll with a piteous piping sound would again 
return to the mountain. 

Aerolites are found in many places and are memorials 
of Thor. Although not always of great magnitude, they 
are, nevertheless, so heavy that there is now scarcely any 
man who can lift them. These, it is said, Thor handled 
like playthings. Of the aerolite at Linneryd in Smaland 
it is related, that Thor, as he was once passing by with his 
attendant, met a giant, whom he asked to what place he 
was going. " To Valhall," answered he, " to fight with 
Thor, who with his lightning has burnt my cattle-house." 
t{ It is hardly advisable for thee to measure strength with 
him," answered Thor, "for I cannot imagine that thou 
art the man to lift this little stone up on the large one 
here." At this the giant waxed wroth, and grasped the 
stone with all his might, but was unable to raise it from 
the earth, so wonderfully had Thor charmed it. Thorns 
follower then made the attempt, and lifted the stone as 
though it had been a glove. The giant now aimed a blow 
at Thor which brought him on his knees ; but Thor with 
his hammer struck the giant dead. He lies buried under 
the great stone heap hard by. 

Thor was worshiped in Gothland above and more than 



SWEDISH TRADITIONS. 5o 

the other gods. The Thorbagge (scarabseus stercorarius) 
was sacred to him. Relative to this beetle a superstition 
still exists, which has been transmitted from father to son, 
that if any one in his path finds a Thorbagge lying help 
less on its back, and turns it on its feet, he expiates seven 
sins ; because Thor in the time of heathenism was regarded 
as a mediator with a higher power, or All-father. On the 
introduction of Christianity, the priests strove to terrify the 
people from the worship of their old divinities, pronoun 
cing both them and their adherents to be evil spirits and 
belonging to hell. On the poor Thorbagge the name was 
now bestowed of Thordjefvul or Thordyfvel (Thor-devil), by 
which it is still known in Sweden Proper. No one now 
thinks of Thor, when he finds the helpless creature lying 
on its back; but the good-natured countryman seldom 
passes it without setting it on its feet, and thinking of his 
sins atonement. 

That the remembrance of and veneration for Thor were 
long retained in Norway and in Bohuslan,, appears from 
many traditions. Of some sailors from Bohuslan, about 
a hundred years since, it is related, that while out in a 
Dutch ship from Amsterdam, on the whale fishery near 
Greenland, being driven out of their known course, they 
observed for many nights the light of a fire from an island 
or shore, at which some of the sailors, and among them 
one of the men from Bohuslan, were seized with a desire 
to visit the place and see what people were there. They 
therefore took the ship s boat and rowed to the spot. 
Having landed and approached the fire, they found sitting 
by it an old man warming himself, who immediately asked 
them whence they came. " From Holland," answered the 
man from Bohuslan. " But from what place art thou thy 
self ?" inquired the old man. " From Safve on Hisingen," 
answered the sailor. ft Art thou acquainted with Thorsby?" 
"Yes, well." "Dost thou know where the Ulfveberg 



54 SWEDISH TRADITIONS. 

is ? " " Yes, I have often passed it, because there is a 
direct way from Gothenborg to Marstrand across Hisingen 
through Thorsby." " Do the great stones and the earth- 
mounds still stand in their places ? " " Yes, all but one 
stone which is ready to fall." " Tell me further/ said 
the old heathen, " dost thou know where Glosshed s altar 
is, and whether it is still safe and sound ? " On the sailor 
answering that it was not, the old man said : " Wilt thou 
desire the people in Thorsby and Thores-bracka not to 
destroy the stones and mounds under the Ulfveberg, and 
above all things to keep the altar at Glosshed safe and 
whole, so shalt thou have a good wind to the place for 
which thou art bound." All this the sailor promised to 
perform on his return home. On asking the old man his 
name, and why he so anxiously inquired about such ob 
jects, he answered the sailor : " My name is Thorer Brack, 
and my habitation is there but I am now a fugitive. In 
the great mound by the Ulfvesberg my whole race lies 
buried, and at Glosshed s altar we performed our worship 
to the gods." They then parted from the old man and 
had a fair wind home. 

OF ROCKING STONES AND THUNDERING STONES. 

With Rocking Stones, like those in England and else 
where, and with Thundering Stones, or such as when 
passed over give forth a dull, hollow sound, much sorcery 
is practised, because they are regarded as a resort for 
Elves and Trolls. 

SUPERSTITIOUS USAGE IN CASE OF THEFT. 

The following barbarous superstition is still practised 
in an enlightened Christian age. 

If a person is robbed, he goes to a so-called cunning 
man, who engages to strike out the eye of the thief. The 



SWEDISH TRADITIONS, OD 

following is the process. The Trollman cuts a human 
figure on a young tree, mutters certain dire spells to ob 
tain the devil s aid, and then drives some sharp instrument 
into the eye of the figure. It was also a practice to shoot 
with an arrow or bullet at one of the members of the 
figure, by which pain and sore are, it is believed, inflicted 
on the corresponding member of the living person. 



FINNISH SUPERSTITION. 

With the foregoing may be classed the Finnish super 
stition of producing the image of an absent person in a 
vessel of water and aiming a shot at it, and thereby wound 
ing or slaying a hated enemy at many hundred miles 
distance. Even on a neighbour s cattle this degrading 
superstition has been practised. Apoplexy and other 
sudden diseases have hence acquired the name of shots, 
Troll-shots. 

A young Swede had, during his wanderings in Finland, 
engaged himself to a handsome Finnish girl, but after his 
return home, had quite forgotten both his love arid his 
promise to return to his betrothed. A Lapp skilled in the 
magic of his country coming one day to him, it occurred 
to the young man to inquire of him how it fared with his 
betrothed in Finland. " That you shall see yourself," 
answered the Lapp, who having, while muttering divers 
spells, filled a bucket with water, bade him come and look 
into it. There, we are told, the young man saw the well- 
known country round the cottage of his betrothed, and 
his heart beat violently on perceiving her pale and in tears 
stepping out at the door, followed by her father, with an 
angry countenance and holding a gun in his hand. The old 
Fin now approached a pail filled with water, looked in the 
direction whence the young man had been expected, shook 
his head, and cocked the gun, while the daughter stood 



56 SWEDISH TRADITIONS. 

wringing her hands. "Now/ said the Lapp,, "he will 
shoot you, if you do not prevent it by shooting him. Make 
haste and take aim with your gun." The Fin, having 
levelled his piece, went to the pail. " Shoot now/ said 
the Lapp, " or you are a dead man." He fired accord 
ingly, and the Fin fell lifeless on the earth. Conscience 
some time after prompted the young Swede to revisit the 
scene of his perfidy, where he learned that the old man 
had died of apoplexy on the very day that the Lapp had 
displayed his magical skill J . 

OF GIANTS AND DWARFS. 

According to the testimony of several Sagas and other 
writings, there dwelt in Sweden, in remote times, a gi 
gantic, wild, cruel race called Jotens (Jotnar), and the 
country they inhabited, about the Gulf of Finland and 
thence northwards, was named Jotunaland, or Jattehem. 
But when a more enlightened people from Asia, who knew 
the God of the whole universe, and worshiped him under 
the name of All-father, entered Sweden across its eastern 
boundary, there arose between them and the Jotnar or 
Jatte-folk a war which lasted for many centuries. And 
as David slew the presumptuous giant Goliah, so did the 
new Asiatic settlers in the North, through skill and supe 
rior understanding, overcome the earlier, savage inhabitants 
o the country, who withdrew more and more into the 
deepest forests, and took up their abode in mountain- 
caves and dens. From these times are derived all our 
popular traditions of Mountain-trolls, Giants, and Moun 
tain-dwellers. They are described as possessing vast stores 
of gold and other valuables, as bad, but credulous. Their 
women are described as ugly. 

A distinct species of Berg- or Mountain- troll were the 

1 For more on this curious subject, see Grimra. D. M. p. 1045 sq. and 
note. 



SWEDISH TRADITIONS. 57 

Dwarfs. These were good mechanics and cunning, their 
wives and daughters are spoken of as very beautiful. This 
Dwarf-race seems to spring from a people that migrated 
from the eastern countries at a later period, as they were 
acquainted with runes, which they used in sorcery, ac 
companied by the harp, as we read in the old ballad of 
Sir Tynne : 

" That was Ulfva, the little dwarfs daughter, 
To her maiden thus she spoke : 
Thou shalt fetch my harp of gold ; 
Sir Tynne will I cause to love me. 
Ye manage well the runes V 

* * * * 



A similar art of enchanting and bewitching the Lapp- 
landers are supposed to possess even at the present day, 
and with some probability it may be conjectured that the 
Asiatic people, who in the Sagas are mentioned under the 
name of Dwarfs, was no other than an immigration of 
oriental Lapps, and the origin of the race among us which 
still bears that name : also that the Fins descend from the 
giants, and are thus the oldest of the races that now in 
habit Sweden. These peoples had no unanimity, no general 
government and laws, and were therefore so easily con 
quered by the combined /Esir-race, who led by their drafts 
or kings, in two separate invasions (the Swedes and Goths) 
arrived in the North. 



At a period when self-defence was the first duty of man 
and victory his greatest happiness, and even Gimle itself, 
or heaven, was to be gained by valour and a good sword, 
it was natural that well-tempered, efficient weapons should 
be regarded as one of the most precious possessions. A 

1 The old Danish ballad of Herr Tonne, or Runernes Magt, is only 
a variety of the Swedish one. It is printed in the Danske Viser, i. 281. 

D 5 



58 SWEDISH TRADITIONS. 

good armourer was said to be instructed by the Elves or 
Dwarfs. A well-hardened, good and elastic sword was 
usually regarded as of Dwarf workmanship. Other pre 
cious things also, particularly armlets of gold, set with 
jewels or of beautiful colours, were called sometimes Elfin- 1 
and sometimes Dwarf-ornaments. In the smith s art the 
Giants and the Mountain-dwellers were considered as emi 
nently skilful, and among the mountains are sometimes 
found smaller rocks detached from the larger ones, which 
by the common people are called Giants anvils, on which 
it is supposed the Giants executed their works. 

KING ERIC S DREAM. 

It was long believed by the people that King Eric was 
a great magician (Trollkarl) and conversant in hidden 
knowledge, also that he gained from Odin information 
concerning things that were hidden from other men. After 
his victory at Fyriswall, he had no more enemies to con 
tend with him the tranquil possession of his dominions. 
He saw Christianity spread itself more and more in every 
direction, and felt conscious that he was the last heathen 
king in the North. He therefore made a sacrifice to Odin, 
that he might learn from him how many Christian kings 
after him should sit on the throne of Sweden. In a dream 
he received for answer, that he must burst King Sverker s 
rock, in which he would find a tablet that would elucidate 
all that he wished to know concerning his successors. 
This instruction he followed ; but who this Sverker was 
and where his rock was, our chronicles tell us not. When 
the rock in question was split, there was found in it a 
stone tablet set round with golden plates and precious 
stones. On the one side was represented an oblong, 
quadrangular table, around which were thrice nine crowns 
distinguished by the names of kings ; on the other side 
1 In the VblundarkviJ>a Volund is called lord ofalfa, companion of alfs. 



SWEDISH TRADITIONS. 59 

was a triangular table or plate with thrice seven crowns. 
All these crowns were distinguished by colours, to indicate 
the race of the several princes, as blue for the Swedes, 
green for the Norse, red for the Danes, and yellow for the: 
Germans. This tablet, we are told, was long preserved 
among the treasures of the kingdom in the state trea 
sury, until Archbishop Gustaf Trolle in the war time car 
ried it with him to Denmark, and, after the precious stones 
were taken out, left it in the custody of a priest in Roes- 
kilde. This priest took it with him to Sofde in Scania, 
and had it entered in the inventory of the church there. 
Here it was found by Nils Hvide, bishop of Lund, who 
stole it. A priest in Scania, named Master Jacob, com 
posed a lampoon in verse, charging the bishop with the 
theft, but was unable to prove the charge, and w r as there 
fore condemned and executed at Copenhagen. His last 
words at the place of execution, and which stand on his 
grave-stone, are said to have been : 

" Skall nu Master Jacob miste Though now Master Jacob shall 

sitt lif, lose his life, 

For hanen gal, Ere the cock crows, 

Saa er dog Bispen en tyff, Yet is the bishop a thief, 
For stenen han stal." For he stole the stone. 

In a book belonging to Frosunda church in Roslagen, 
this story of King Eric s dream is to be found, also a 
representation of the tablet in Sverker s rock. 

OF BIORN THE SWEDE, ULF JARL, AND CNUT THE GREAT. 
There dwelt once in Sweden a rich man, who had a 
young daughter of exquisite beauty. Near the town where 
they dwelt there was a green and pleasant place, to which 
the youth of both sexes were wont to resort for amuse 
ment. It befell one day that when the damsel above- 
mentioned was out playing with her companions, a bear 
came out of the forest, rushed in the midst of the terrified 



60 SWEDISH TRADITIONS. 

children, and seizing her with his fore paws, hastened with 
her to his den in the forest. He showed her the greatest 
affection, every day procured for her both game and fruits, 
and let her want for nothing. But the bear having killed 
much cattle for his own subsistence, the people assembled 
in a general hunt and destroyed him. The damsel was 
now found again, and soon after was delivered of a son 
who was called Biorn (Bear). He grew up, became 
stronger than other men, and possessed great understand 
ing. In this he seems to have taken after his forefathers, 
according to the old saying : " A bear has twelve men s 
understanding and six men s strength." A grandson of 
this Biorn was Ulf Jarl in Scania, who, against her bro 
ther s will, married Estrid, the sister of Cnut the Great. 
It was this Ulf who aided King Cnut, when his fleet was 
on the point of falling into the hands of the enemy at the 
isle of Helge. Yet, notwithstanding this aid, Ulf could 
never gain the king s friendship, and was ill rewarded in 
the end, as we shall presently see. 

King Cnut and Ulf Jarl were sitting one day after the 
battle of Helge playing at chess in Roeskilde. Cnut 
moved a pawn, but wished to put it back ; at this Ulf was 
so irritated that he overthrew the board and was rushing 
from the apartment, when the king in anger called to him : 
"Art thou running away, cowardly Ulf?" Ulf answered : 
" Thou wouldst have run farther in the fight at Helge, had 
I not come: I was not called cowardly Ulf when the 
Swedes were beating you like dogs, till I came to your 
relief." It soon appeared how unwise it is for an inferior 
person to speak too freely to a superior. On the morrow 
the king was informed that the jarl had taken refuge in 
the church of St. Lucius, and thereupon sent a man who 
slew him before the high altar. After the extinction of 
the house of Cnut in the male line, Svend, the son of Ulf 
Jarl and Estrid, ascended the Danish throne, the last of 



SWEDISH TRADITIONS. 61 

whose descendants was the celebrated Queen Margaret, 
ob. A.D. 1412. 

CHRISTIAN-HEATHEN TRADITIONS OF TROLLS, ETC. 

The first light of Christianity was insufficient to dispel 
all the darkness of heathenism. There still remained on 
the public ways and in fields small oratories built over 
some pagan idol, for the accommodation both of travellers 
and of those employed in the fields. From these oratories 
or scurds/ as they were called, the heathen images were 
indeed removed, but those of saints were set up in their 
place, and many a neophyte prayed sometimes to the 
Virgin Mary, St. Peter and other saints, and at others to 
Thor and Freyia. The Christians, therefore, strove now 
with all their might to suppress among the people all faith 
in these heathen deities, condemning them as spirits of 
hell that sought the ruin of mankind. The spectres of 
heathenism, Trolls and Elves, together with those, in their 
mounds or barrows, who had died in the time of idolatry, 
were represented as bugbears to Christian men, so that 
they were always held in fear, and trembled on their way, 
particularly by night, for the evil meeting/ that is, the 
meeting with Trolls or Elves, whence, it was said, many 
diseases and troubles were caused to mortals ; nor was 
self-interest behindhand in finding remedies for all such 
calamities. The simple people paid dearly to monks, troll- 
wives and exorcising women for these remedies, consisting 
in superstitious mummery with incense and spells, per 
formed in crossways, churches, and at Elf-stones. At such 
places strange prayers were said, mingled with the invo 
cation and misuse of the names of Jesus and the saints. 
These prayers, which were for the most part composed in 
the monasteries, were sometimes in rime. We could ad 
duce some that have been in use even in our time ; but, 
as offensive to Christian ears, they had better be forgotten. 



62 SWEDISH TRADITIONS. 

What still remains of these superstitions of Elves, Trolls 
and the like, either in traditions or popular belief, shall be 
here briefly related. 

OF ELVES. 

Both in the heathen and the Christian supernatural 
world, Elves occupy the most conspicuous place. What we 
have already communicated concerning the pagan belief in 
Elves has been propagated by traditions, from age to age, 
until our times, with the addition of much Christian fable. 
There are still to be found elf-altars, where offerings are 
made for the sick. The so-called wise women the Horga- 
brudar of our days anoint with swine s fat, which was 
used in the pagan offerings, and read prayers, which they 
say are mystic ; after which something metallic, that has 
been worn or borne by the sick person a small coin or 
even a pin is sufficient and lastly a cross (as a token that 
the Saviour s power is also here superstition sly invoked), 
are laid upon the elf-mill (alf-qvarn) or, as it is also 
called, elf-pot (alf-gryta). These conjuring women (sig- 
nerskor), when they are called to the sick, usually begin 
with pouring melted lead into water, and from the forms 
which the fluid metal assumes, they usually pretend to 
judge that the disease has been caused by Elves 1 ; when 
having secured payment, they commence a new juggle, 
which they call striking down/ or anointing for the 
Elves/ at sunset on the following Thursday. Some country 
people will anoint the elf-mill without applying to a cun 
ning woman ; these read no prayers, but instead only sigh 
out : " Lord, help me V 

Among the. oldest popular traditions concerning Elves, 
is that which is to be read on the runic stone at Lagno, 
on Aspo, in Sodermanland. Within a serpentine line of 
runes, there sits, cut out of the rock, an Elf with out- 

1 See pp. 47 sq. for a spell repeated on such an occasion. 



SWEDISH TRADITIONS. 63 

stretched legs, seizing with his hands the heads of two 
serpents. The runes inform us, that " Gislog caused those 
characters to be executed after (in memory of) Thord ; and 
Slodi caused true witness to be taken concerning the Elves 

that he saw, and something else what was that ?" 

These seem to have been cut with the object of bearing 
testimony to the Elves and other Trolls that Slodi had 
seen about the rock. 

The traditions concerning Elves current among the peo 
ple divide them into three classes : those belonging to the 
earth, the air and the water. 

OF THE MOUNT-FOLK. 

Among the Elves belonging to the earth, or, perhaps 
more correctly, the subterranean Elves, the Mount- or 
Berg-folk occupy the most prominent place. It seems 
probable that Christian compassion for those that died in 
the time of heathenism, without participation in the bless 
ings promised in the Gospel, but in heathen wise have been 
placed in unhallowed earth, is the foundation for the cheer 
less notion, that, awaiting in their green mounds the great 
day of universal redemption in fear and trembling, they 
are tormented by sensual desires, as formerly in life ; that 
they long for the love and society of Christians, yet, when 
they come in contact with them, cause them injury, and 
if speedy rescue come not, even death itself. In stature 
the Elves are said to be equal to the generality of the 
human race, but are more slim and delicate. Their young 
females are described as extremely beautiful, slender as 
lilies, white as snow, and with sweet, enticing voices. Their 
time for playing and dancing is from sunset till cock- 
crowing; but when the cock has crowed they have no 
longer permission to stay above ground. Of all the spectre 
world it is said, that if they do not go to rest when the 
cock has crowed thrice, they become " dagstand," that is, 



64 SWEDISH TRADITIONS. 

stationary on the spot where the third cock-crowing reached 
their ears 1 . It is said to be dangerous for a person to 
come in contact with such an invisible dagstand on his 
way, and many are believed to have contracted pain and 
sickness from that cause. If the wanderer in a summer s 
evening lays himself to rest by an elf-mount, he soon hears 
the tones of a harp with sweet singing. If he then pro 
mises them redemption, he will hear the most joyful notes 
resound from numerous stringed instruments ; but if he 
says, " Ye have no Redeemer," then with cries and loud 
lament they will dash their harps in pieces ; after which 
all is silent in the mount. In the green woods and val 
leys, in the meadows and on the hills, the Elves perform 
their nightly ( stimm/ that is, play and dance, from which 
cause the grass grows luxuriant and of a darker green in 
circles ; these by the people are called elf-dances, and must 
not be trampled on. 

In nearly all the most distinguished families of Sweden 
are to be found jewels or ornaments connected with tra 
ditions of Trolls and Elves. Thus it is related of the State- 
councillor Harald Stake s wife, how late one summer s 
evening an elf-woman came to her, who desired to borrow 
her bridal dress to wear at an elfin wedding. After some 
consideration the lady resolved on lending it to her. In 
a few days it was returned, but set with gold and pearls 
on every seam, and had hanging from it a finger-ring of 
the finest gold set with the most costly stones, which after 
wards, together with the tradition, passed for several cen 
turies as an heirloom in the Stake family. 

Among the simple country folks, even at the present 
day, a bridegroom stands in dread of the envy of the Elves, 
to counteract which it has long been a custom to lay in 
the clothes on the wedding day certain strong-smelling 

1 See vol. i. p. 8, note 3 . 



SWEDISH TRADITIONS. 65 

plants, as garlic or valerian. Near gates and in crossways 
there is supposed to be the greatest danger. If any one 
asks a bridegroom the reason of these precautions, he will 
answer : " On account of envy." And there is no one 
so miserable whose bride will not think herself envied 
on her wedding day, if by no others, at least by the Elves. 
Hence the tenour of most of the elfin traditions is nearly 
as follows : 

The bride sits ready in her bridal bower, in anxious ex 
pectation and surrounded by her bridesmaids. The bride 
groom saddles his grey steed, and clad in knightly attire, 
with his hawk perched proudly on his shoulder, he rides 
forth from his mother s hall, to fetch home his bride. But 
in the wood where he is wont to hunt with hawk and 
hound, an elfin maiden has noticed the comely youth, and 
is now on the watch for an opportunity, though for ever 
so short a time, to clasp him to her breast in the flowery 
grove; or, at least, to the sweet tones of their stringed 
instruments, lightly to float along with him, hand in hand, 
on the verdant field. As he draws near to the elf-mount, 
or is about to ride through the gateway of the castle, his 
ears are ravished with most wondrous music, and from 
among the fairest maidens that he there sees dancing in a 
ring, the Elf-king s daughter herself steps forth fairer 
than them all, as it is said in the lay : 

The damsel held forth her snow-white hand : 
" Come join in the merry dance with me." 

If the knight allows himself to be charmed, and touches 
the fascinating hand, he is conducted to Elfland, where in 
halls indescribably beautiful, and gardens such as he had 
never beheld, he wanders about, on his Elf-bride s arm, 
amid lilies and roses. If at length the remembrance of 
his mourning betrothed enters his mind, and the Elves, 
who do not deliberately desire evil to mankind, are moved 



66 SWEDISH TRADITIONS. 

to lead him out on his way, he sees, it is true, his former 
home again, but he has been absent about forty years, 
though to him it seemed an hour only. On his return no 
one knows him, he is a stranger on whom all look with 
wonder. The old people remember a young knight who 
disappeared about forty years before, when he rode forth 
to fetch his bride : and his bride ? she has died of grief. 
According to another turn of the story, the knight answers 
the elfin damsel s invitation to dance with her thus : 

" I may not tread the dance with thee ; 
My bride in her bower is awaiting me." 

The elves are then compelled to leave him, but pale and 
sick to death he returns to his mother, who anxiously 
addresses him : 

" But tell me now, my dearest son, 

Why are thy cheeks so deadly pale ? " 
" Oh well may my cheeks be deadly pale ; 

For yonder I ve been at the elfin dance." 
" And w r hat shall I answer, oh tell to me, 

When thy fair young bride asks after thee ?" 
" Oh say I have ridden to the gay green wood, 
To chase the deer with hawk and hound." 
But he will return, 

While the leaves of the forest are green. 
The young bride waited two long long days, 
Then rode with her maids to the bridegroom s hall. 
But he will return, etc. 

And there they pour d mead and there they pour d wine : 
" But where is my bridegroom, thy dear young son ? " 

But he will return, etc. 

" Thy bridegroom s gone to the gay green wood, 
To chase the deer with hawk and hound." 
But he will return, etc. 

But the bride had a presentiment that he would never 
return, and going to his bed, and drawing the sheet aside, 



SWEDISH TRADITIONS. 



67 



there saw him lying cold and pale. At the sight her 
heart brake, and when morning came, three corpses were 
borne from the bridal hall ; for his mother had also died 
of grief. 

In the old Danish ballad (Elveskud) the elfin lady, on Oluf s refusal to 
dance with her, says : 

" If then thou wilt not dance with me, 
Sickness and death shall follow thee." 

She then strikes him violently between the shoulders, lifts him on his 
horse, and desires him to ride home to his betrothed, etc. 

The Swedes have a similar ballad, and the Breton ballad of Lord 
Nann and the Korrigan bears a striking resemblance to the Scandina 
vian ] . 

ELFIN GARDENS. 

In most country places traditions are current of magic 
gardens. The spot where such are said to exist, is pointed 
out by the country people, and some person is always 
named who has been conducted into them, has wandered 
about under trees of a finer verdure than any to be seen 
elsewhere, has tasted fruit the like of which is not to 
be found in any other place ; seen flowers of extraordinary 
beauty, but afterwards, when all this has been sought 
for on the same spot, not a trace was to be found : all was 
either wild wood or plain open fields. 

OF BERGTAGNING (MOUNT-TAKING). 
In old writings many stories are told of persons that 
have been mount-taken/ that is, carried off by the 
Elves into their mounts. Examinations before magistrates 
and the clergy have taken place even in our time into 
cases of individuals, who have imagined themselves to 
have been so carried off, and who in the delirium of fever 
have believed that they saw elves and wood-demons, which 

1 See a translation of it in Keightley, F, M. p. 433, and the original in 
Villemarque, Chants Populaires. 



68 SWEDISH TRADITIONS. 

distempered state of body has not seldom been followed 
by death itself. 

Elfin halls or elfin rooms are grots or subterranean 
houses in mountains and hills, into which sometimes the 
wanderer enters and reposes ; but when he again seeks 
for the place, he finds it no more. At Estorp on Mosse 
berg there dwelt an intelligent man, who related as truth, 
how in returning home one beautiful summer evening 
from Fahlkoping, he took a wrong path, and among the 
rocks unexpectedly found one of these elf-halls, which he 
entered and seated himself on a mossy bench in a delight 
ful coolness. On leaving it, he particularly noticed the 
spot, in order that he might again find so remarkable a 
place, but could never discover it afterwards. 

Three sisters (thus relates the survivor of them) went 
out one beautiful summer s day to a meadow near the 
mansion of Boda in Bohuslan. Near the meadow there 
is a mountain, about which they had often played, and 
knew the place well. To their great astonishment, however, 
they found themselves at the entrance of a most beautiful 
grotto. It was an elf-hall, of a triangular form, with 
moss-covered seats around it. In the middle there stood 
a little fir-tree, as an ornament, on the floor. They en 
tered, reposed themselves in the refreshing cool, took accu 
rate notice of the place, but could never find it again. 

THE FLYING ELVES. 

Mention of these occurs but rarely. They are described 
as extremely beautiful, with small wings on their snow- 
white shoulders ; but whether these wings are a borrowed 
plumage, or belong to the body of these tender beings, 
has not been decided ; though the first opinion seems most 
in accordance with the Sagas, seeing that mortal men have 
taken such elfin maidens to wife. Transformed to swans, 



SWEDISH TRADITIONS. 69 

in full plumage, the people say they have often seen them 
coming through the air, and descending into some water 
to bathe ; but as soon as they enter the water, they assume 
the fairest human forms. 

A young hunter once saw three such swans descend on 
the sea-shore. With astonishment he observed that they 
laid their plumages aside, which bore a resemblance to 
linen, and that, instead of swans, three damsels of daz 
zling whiteness were swimming in the water. He soon 
saw them leave the water, draw on their linen coverings, 
which then became changed to swans plumage, and fly 
away. One of them, the youngest and fairest, had so 
captivated the heart of the young man, that he could rest 
neither by night nor day, for thinking of her lovely form. 
His foster-mother soon perceived that neither the chase 
nor the other pastimes, in which he formerly found de 
light, afforded him any more pleasure, and therefore re 
solved to discover the cause of his sorrow. From himself 
she soon learned the wondrous sight he had witnessed, 
and that he must either win the fair maiden or never again 
enjoy happiness. His foster-mother assured him : " I can 
advise a remedy for thy affliction. Go next Thursday at 
sunset to the spot where thou last sawest her. The three 
swans will not fail to come. Observe where thy chosen 
damsel lays her linen ; take it, and hasten with it from the 
shore. Soon thou wilt hear two of the swans fly away 
with a great noise, but the third, in search of her plumage, 
will in her distress come to thee ; but although she be 
seech thee on her knees, do not give back the linen, if 
thou wilt have the maiden in thy power." The young 
man was not backward in following this counsel. Long 
seemed the days till the coming of Thursday, but longer 
still seemed to him the hours of that day. At length the 
sun sank, and ere long a rustling was heard in the air, 
and the three swans descended on the shore. They were 



70 SWEDISH TRADITIONS. 

instantly changed to three most beauteous damsels, and 
having laid their linen on the grass, they hastened to the 
white sands, and were soon covered with the waves. From 
his hiding-place the young hunter had closely watched his 
beloved, and where she had laid her plumage, which was 
now fine snow-white linen. He then stole forth, carried 
it off and concealed it among the foliage. Shortly after 
he heard two of the swans flying away with a great rust 
ling; but the third, as his foster-mother had said, came 
and fell before him on her snowy knees, praying him to 
restore her plumage. But the hunter refused, and taking 
her in his arms, wrapped his cloak round the tender damsel, 
lifted her on his good steed, and bore her to his home. 
His foster-mother soon made all things ready for their 
marriage, and they both lived happily together. Of their 
children it was said, that fairer never played together. But 
when seven years had passed, the hunter, one Thursday 
night, when they were going to bed, related to his wife 
how he had obtained possession of her ; and at her request 
showed her the white linen, which he had till then con 
cealed ; but no sooner had she got it in her hand, than she 
became changed to a swan, arid vanished like lightning- 
through an open window. The husband, it is said, did 
not live long after that luckless day 1 . 



The grass which, in luxuriant circles, called, as we have 
seen, elf-dances, is here and there to be observed in the 
fields, is said so to flourish from the dancing of the elves, 
and is thence called alfexing (cynosurus cseruleus). The 
miliary fever is said by the country people to be caused 
by the elf-mote, or meeting with elves, as a remedy for 

1 The origin of this and other kindred tales must, no doubt, be sought 
for in the East. The Peri-wife, from the Bahar Danush, is almost iden 
tical with the above. See Keightley, F. M. p. 20. 



SWEDISH TRADITIONS. 71 

which the lichen called alfnafver (lichen aphosus, or li 
chen caninus) is to be sought for. In old topographical 
works there is no lack of accounts of families, which, on 
the mother s side, are supposed to descend from such 
beings. In Smaland a tradition has been credited of a 
well-known family, whose ancestress, a young, beautiful 
elfin girl, is said to have flown with the sunbeams through 
a knot-hole in the wall, and by the heir of the family to 
have been taken to wife. After having given her husband 
seven sons, she vanished by the way she came. 

LOFJERSKOR. 

The Lof jerskor named in the old Swedish catechism 
seem identical with the Grove-damsels (Limdjungfrur), a 
species of Elves which is also called the Grove-folk (Lund- 
folk). The sacred groves of the heathens which, by the 
ecclesiastical law, it was forbidden to approach with super 
stitious worship, were believed, in the time of paganism, 
to be protected by invisible deities. If a lime or other 
tree, either in a forest or solitary, grew more vigorously 
than the other trees, it was called a habitation-tree (bo- 
trad), and was thought to be inhabited by an Elf (lla, 
Radande), who, though invisible, dwelt in its shade, re 
warded with health and prosperity the individual that took 
care of the tree, and punished those who injured it. 

Thus did our heathen forefathers hold in reverence and 
awe such groves and trees, because .they regarded them as 
given by the Almighty as ornaments to his noble creation, 
as well as to afford protection to the husbandman and 
cattle against the scorching heat of the midday sun. In 
this and in many other instances, simple Antiquity may 
serve us as a lesson not wantonly to destroy the life even 
of a shoot, which may one day become a useful, umbra 
geous tree, or to injure and profane a grove, into which 
no reflecting Christian can enter, for the purpose of en- 



72 SWEDISH TRADITIONS. 

joying its refreshing shade, without thinking of the Crea 
tor s goodness, and calling to mind how the Saviour of 
the world had a grove, a garden, to which he oftentimes 
went, with his disciples, when he would discourse with 
them on heavenly things and on the immortality of their 
souls. It was under the shade of a tree that he prayed, 
and there the comforting angel appeared and strengthened 
him. Let a Christian meditate on this, and let him have 
a care of all planting for the ornament and benefit of the 
earth ; and if, when out on his way, he feels tempted to 
break off a growing shoot, thus let him think : " I will 
not destroy a growing life, I will not spoil the embellish 
ment of my mother-earth ; it is my neighbour s property, 
to injure it is unjust, and all injustice is sin." 

The sanctity of the heathen groves and trees originated, 
it would seem, from the custom of hanging there the limbs 
of the human and other victims, after they had been for 
a time immersed in the sacred fountain. But rational 
Christians have had another reason for retaining the super 
stition, namely on account of its aid in withholding mis 
chievous persons from violence to the woods and trees. 
Even at the present day the people in many places point 
out such groves and trees as no one may approach with 
an axe. These noted trees often stand alone, and have a 
singular aspect. Stories are in some places not wanting 
among the common people of persons, who by cutting a 
chip or branch from a habitation tree/ has in consequence 
been struck with death. Such a famed pine was the 
f klinta talP in Westmanland. Old and decayed it ap 
peared to the traveller standing on the bare rock, until a 
few years ago it fell down from age. A mermaid, who 
ruled in the neighbouring creek of the Malar lake, was 
said to inhabit the mountain under the pine, and to have 
been that tree s Ra. The country people had frequently 
seen snow-white cattle driven up from the lake to the 



SWEDISH TRADITIONS. 73 

meadow beneath it. The trunk and branches of the tree 
still lie untouched on the rock. In an old writing there 
is a story of a man, who was about to cut down a juniper 
bush in a wood, when a voice was heard from the earth, 
saying, "Friend, hew me not!" But he gave another 
stroke, when blood flowed from the root. Terrified and 
sick he hastened home 1 . In ballads and traditions stories 
occur of young maidens that have been transformed to 
trees and bushes through sorcery, but of the Lb fjerskor 
there are not many tales ; nor is it easy to arrive at the 
origin of the name. But the ( Horgabrudar in the groves 
of the heathen divinities were much consulted by the peo 
ple in cases of doubt and difficulty, whence may probably 
be derived the superstition, in later times, of seeking help 
of the lias that inhabit trees, and are called Lofjerskor, 
in cases of sickness and trouble, against which there stands 
a prohibition in our ancient catechism. Lokr s mother 
was named Lofja (Laufey) ; it seems, therefore, not im 
probable that evil Troll-wives and Lof-maids derive their 
name from her. The heathen, in all countries, have ce 
lebrated their idolatrous rites in groves and under trees. 
In the Lives of the Saints it is related of St. Martin, how 
among a heathen people, who were willing to adopt 
Christianity, he demolished a temple, and met with no 
opposition ; but on his proceeding to cut down a fir that 
stood close by, the people rushed forward, and would on 
no account allow the tree to be destroyed. 

THE SKOGSRA. THE SJORA. 2 

Of the same race with the Elves already mentioned, the 
Skogs- or Forest-elves seem to have been originally, and 
have undoubtedly belonged to the time of heathenism. As 

1 Manifestly from the story of Polydorus in the .Eneis, iii. 21, sgy. et 
alibi. 

- Compounds of skog, wood, forest ; sjd. sea, lake; and w, fairy, goblin. 

K 



74 SWEDISH TRADITIONS. 

the merwife for fishermen,, so is the Skogsra for hunters 
regarded among the unlucky objects to meet with. Ac 
cording to old hunting traditions, the Skogs-elf announces 
her approach by a peculiar, sharp, rushing whirlwind, that 
shakes the trunks of the trees so that they seem ready 
to snap asunder. If then the hunter spits and strikes 
fire, there is no danger, because it is mere noise, there 
being no power in such winds. The Skogsra, according 
to the popular belief, is only of the female sex ; whence 
comes the superstition, that it presages badly for the 
hunter s luck, if, on leaving home, the first person he meets 
is a female. He then spits and calls it karingmb te (lit. 
crone-mote). In the Sagas these forest- wives are repre 
sented as evil, wanton and foreboders of misfortune; 
though stories are, nevertheless, told by hunters of their 
having seen these beings come very friendly to their fires, 
who, when they have been suffered to remain in peace, 
have said at their departure : " There will be excellent 
sport to-day." On which occasions they have invariably 
killed an abundance of game. When the hunters are re 
posing in the forest at midnight, they will come to warm 
themselves by their fires, taking care to show their front 
side only, and always moving so that their backs may not 
be exposed to view. Those who have tales to tell of these 
beings, usually conclude by saying something like the 
following : " Just as she was standing before the fire, quite 
proud and showing her beautiful person, I took a brand 
from the fire and struck her, saying : Go to the woods, 
thou odious Troll ! She then hurried away with a whining 
cry, and a strong wind rose, so that the very trees and 
stones seemed as if they would be torn up. When she 
turned her back she appeared as hollow as a hollow tree 
or a baker s trough/ If a Christian man has intercourse 
with a forest-woman, there will be born a pernicious 
being, to the sorrow and misfortune of others. 



SWEDISH TRADITIONS. /5 

The Skogsra is further described as a female spirit of the 
woods, and as a young* person in elegant attire, of friendly 
demeanour and small figure, but with claws instead of 
nails ! An eye-witness of her existence relates, that once 
when out grouse-shooting, having just kindled a fire, and 
while taking his repast, she appeared before him, and 
kindly greeted him. To his invitation to warm herself 
she responded by a friendly nod. He then offered her a 
share of his fare, holding it, however, at the end of his 
axe, as he felt somewhat diffident at the sight of her talons ; 
but she declined his offer, smiled and vanished. He now 
shot five grouse. If he had not offered a part of his fare 
to the Skogsra, he would not have killed a single bird. 

He, with seven others, was once sitting watching grouse, 
when a Skogsra darted past them from a tree. Never 
before had they seen the birds so numerous, but they 
missed every one. For fourteen days their shooting seemed 
bewitched, until at length he was so fortunate as to sec 
another Ra come rustling by from a tree, and to throw 
his knife over her, whereby the spell was broken. These 
little goblins milk the cows and deprive the horses of their 
strength, but anything of steel cast over them hinders 
them from doing harm. The narrator of the above 1 
secured his horses with garlic and asafoatida, which must 
be placed concealed somewhere about the head. 

The same individual relates, that being with several of 
his neighbours on a fishing expedition, they began to joke 
about the Sib ra and beings of a similar kind, treating 
them as ridiculous fictions, when on a sudden a Siora ap 
peared before them, and with a loud plash plunged into 
the lake. They saw fish in abundance, but could not 
catch one. 

1 He was Arndt s postillion during a part of his journey. 

E 2 



76 SWEDISH TRADITIONS. 

OF WATER ELVES. 

I. 
THE MERMAID. 

Learned men, who have given attention to the wonders 
of the creation, have described a water to be found in cer 
tain lakes, called spectre-water (spokvatten) . It has the 
property, when warmed by the sun, of sending up a thick, 
snow-white mist, resembling at one time a human form, 
at another that of an animal, changing its appearance and 
course as it is driven by the wind. The simple people, 
that dwell by such lakes, bewildered by this phenomenon, 
relate as a fact that they have seen, innumerable times, a 
Mermaid sitting by the lake, combing her long locks with 
a golden comb, or standing on the islets, spreading out her 
snowy linen on the bushes, or driving before her her 
snow-white cattle. The Mermaid is thought to be false 
and deceitful, and is spoken of by the fishermen as the 
Skogsra is by the hunters. They all have something to 
say about her, and anticipate a bad capture, storm and 
tempest, when she makes her appearance. It is said to 
be good and advisable, when the fisher sees one of these 
beings, not to speak of it even to his comrades, but to 
take his flint and steel and strike fire. From the time 
that Thor hurled his thunder at the Trolls, they lost, it is 
said, both power and courage. Hence it is, that in our 
country places, in every house where there is a new-born 
child, either fire on the hearth, or a light, must burn by 
day and night, until the child is christened ; else it is to 
be feared that the Trolls may come and carry off the child, 
and leave one of their own in its stead. Of the Mermaids 
it is said that they dwell at the bottom of the ocean or of 
an inland sea, have castles and mansions, also domestic 
animals and cattle, which are called brands-cattle, the sig 
nification of which is far from evident 1 . 
1 Qu. Angl. brindled. 



SWEDISH TRADITIONS. / / 

In West Gothland, in the district of Biarke, there is a 
lake with beautifully wooded shores,, called Anten. On 
an isle in this lake there was formerly an ancient castle,, 
remains of which are still to be seen, called Loholm, in 
which dwelt Sir Gunnar, a renowned knight, and ancestor 
of the famous family of Leionhufvud, or Lewenhaupt. 
Once, when out on the lake he had fallen into danger, a 
Mer-wife came to his aid, but exacted from him the pro 
mise, that on a certain day he should meet her again at 
the same place. One Thursday evening she sat expecting 
the knight ; but he forgot his promise. She then caused 
the water of the lake to swell up over Loholrn, until Sir 
Gunnar was forced to take refuge in a higher apartment ; 
but the water reached even that. He then sought safety 
in the drawbridge tower; but there the billows again 
overtook him. He next committed himself to a boat, 
which sank near a large stone, called to this day Gunnar s 
stone ; from which time Sir Gunnar, it is said, lives con 
stantly with the Mer-wife. When fishermen or the coun 
try people row by the stone, they usually lift their hats, 
as a salutation to Sir Gunnar, in the belief that if they 
neglected to do so, they would have no success. From 
that time no one dwelt at Loholm, of the materials of 
which was built the noble castle of Grafsnas, on a penin 
sula in the same lake, with towers, ditches, and draw 
bridges, remains of which are still visible. From this Sir 
Gunnar descended Erik Abrahamsson, father-in-law of 
Gustavus the First. 

ii. 

FOUNTAIN MAIDENS. 

Mention has been already made of the priestesses of 
the heathen gods, or Horgabrudar, who watched by the 
sacred fountains, in which the members of the victims 



78 SWEDISH TRADITIONS. 

were washed, and received gifts from the people for advice 
in cases of sickness, as well as on other occasions. After 
the country became Christian, the monks and priests took 
the fountains under their care, placed by them images of 
saints or a cross, and caused the people to make offerings 
to, and seek health from, the saint that was supposed to 
have the well under his protection. Thus did Christian 
superstition step into the place of pagan, and continues 
even to the present day. But the heathen Horgabrudar, 
who died without baptism or sacrament, were still in the 
remembrance of the people, and had become Elves, who 
await salvation, dwelling till doomsday under their foun 
tains silvery roof. In song and in story the beauty of the 
Fountain-maids is praised, when they have been seen by 
mortal man and displayed their fair forms either in the 
depth of a fountain, or reposing by its side on a bed of 
flowers. To the person who cleanses a fountain, or plants 
over it an umbrageous tree, the Fountain-maid will be 
kind and propitious ; while he who profanes or sullies the 
fountain s salubrious stream will be followed by sickness 
and misfortune. 

in. 

THE NECK AND THE STROMKARL. 

The Neck appears sometimes in the form of a grown 
man, and is particularly dangerous to haughty and pert 
damsels ; sometimes in that of a comely youth, with his 
lower extremities like those of a horse ; sometimes like an 
old man with a long beard ; and occasionally as a hand 
some youth, with yellow locks flowing over his shoulders 
and a red cap, sitting in a summer evening on the surface 
of the water with a golden harp in his hand. If any one 
wishes to learn music of him, the most welcome remune 
ration that can be offered to him is a black lamb, espe 
cially if the hope of his salvation which the Neck has 



SWEDISH TRADITIONS. 79 

greatly at heart be at the same time expressed to him. 
Hence when two boys once said to a Neck, " What good 
do you gain by sitting here and playing ? you will never 
enjoy eternal happiness," he began to weep bitterly ] . 

If one of the common people has a disease, for which 
they cannot otherwise account,, they imagine that it is 
caused by the spirit of the place where the disease was 
contracted, or was supposed to be contracted ; whence the 
expression, which is often to be heard, " He has met with 
something bad in the air, in the water, in the field." In 
such case the Neck must be propitiated, which is done 
in the following manner : They pour a drink into a cup, 
and mix with it the scrapings from the wedding ring, from 
silver, brass, or any other metal possessed by inheritance, 
but so that the odd number, particularly three, be observed. 
With this mixture they repair to the place where they sup 
pose the disease was contracted, arid pour it out over the left 
shoulder. On the way they must neither turn about nor 
utter a sound. If there be any uncertainty as to the 
place, the pouring is made on the door-post, or on an 
ant-hill 2 . 

A Neck at Bohuus, in West Gothland, had transformed 
himself into a horse and gone on the bank to eat ; but a 
cunning man, whose suspicions were roused, threw such 
a curiously contrived halter over him, that he could not 
get loose again. The man now kept the Neck with him 
all the spring, and tormented him most thoroughly, by 
making him plough all his fields. At length the halter 
accidentally slipping off, the Neck sprang like lightning 
into the water, dragging the harrow after him 3 . 

A Neck who takes up his abode under a bridge or in a 
stream, is commonly called a Stromkarl. He always plays 
on the viol ; and when any musician plays with extraordi- 

1 Faye, p. 54. Svenske Folk-Visor, iii. 127. 

- Arndt. iii. 15. j Faye, p. 53. 



80 SWEDISH TRADITIONS. 

nary boldness and skill, he is said to play with the Strom- 
karPs touch. Near Hornborgabro, in West Gothland, a 
Stromkarl was once heard singing, to a pleasant melody, 
these words thrice repeated : " I know, and I know, 
and I know that my Redeemer liveth." As seen by 
sailors, the Neck is described as an old man, sitting on a 
rock, wringing the water out of his large, green beard. 
Their appearance is said to forebode storm and tempest. 
Under this form they may be more correctly called Mer 
men. He is sometimes seen on the shore under the form 
of a handsome horse, but with his hoofs reversed. 

A priest riding one evening over a bridge, heard the 
most delightful tones of a stringed instrument, and, on 
looking round, saw a young man, naked to the waist, sit 
ting on the surface of the water, with a red cap and yellow 
locks, as already described. He saw that it was the 
Neck, and in his zeal addressed him thus : ff Why dost 
thou so joyously strike thy harp ? Sooner shall this dried 
cane that I hold in my hand grow green and flower, than 
thou shalt obtain salvation." Thereupon the unhappy 
musician cast down his harp, and sat bitterly weeping on 
the water. The priest then turned his horse, and con 
tinued his course. But lo ! before he had ridden far, he 
observed that green shoots and leaves, mingled with most 
beautiful flowers, had sprung from his old staff. This 
seemed to him a sign from heaven, directing him to preach 
the consoling doctrine of redemption after another fashion. 
He therefore hastened back to the mournful Neck, showed 
him the green, flowery staff, and said : " Behold ! now my 
old staff is grown green and flowery like a young branch 
in a rose garden ; so likewise may hope bloom in the 
hearts of all created beings ; for their Redeemer liveth ! " 
Comforted by these words, the Neck again took his harp, 
the joyous tones of which resounded along the shore the 
whole livelong night. 



SWEDISH TRADITIONS. 81 

The StromkarPs melody (Stromkarlslag) has eleven varie 
ties, ten only of which may be danced, the eleventh belongs 
to the night-spirit and his troop ; for if any one were to 
cause it to be played, tables and benches, pots and cups., 
old men and grandmothers., blind and lame, even babes in 
the cradle, would begin to dance 1 . 

Those who are desirous of learning the StromkarFs ten 
variations, must place their violin for three Thursday nights 
under a bridge, where there is a constantly running stream. 
On the third night, the Neck, or Strornkarl, will come and 
strike the strings of his instrument, when the learner must 
tune his fiddle and accompany him. If the eleventh me 
lody is played, inanimate things, as trees and stones, will 
dance . 

An equally wonderful composition is the Elf- king s tune, 
which no musician will venture to play ; for having once 
begun it, he cannot cease from playing, unless he can 
play it backwards, or some one behind him cuts the strings 
of the violin 2 . 

The same anxiety as to their state hereafter prevails among the Daoine 
Shi of the Scottish Highlands, one of whom, issuing from a lake, ques 
tions a clergyman on the subject. Like the Neck, they also have melo 
dious music 3 . 

Of the earths which gather among the foam in the still 
creeks, and of river waters, there is formed a loose, white, 
porous kind of stone, resembling picked or pulled bread : 
this is called Necke-brod ; the masses or cakes of 
which are called marlekor (marekor), because the mare 
(still water) cements them together. The beautiful white 
or yellow flowers, that grow on the banks of lakes and 
rivers, and are called Neck-roses/ are well-known me 
morials of the popular idea of the Neck. The poisonous 

1 Arndt, iv. 241. 
- Thiele, i. 166, sq. edit. 1820. 

3 Stewart, Superstitions of the Highlands, quoted by Keightley, F. M. 
p. 385. 

E 5 



82 SWEDISH TRADITIONS. 

root of the water hemlock (cicuta virosa) formerly bore the 
name of the Necke-root. 

In Beowulf frequent mention occurs of the Nicor (pi. Niceras) l . Con 
nected with the name is that of Odin, Hnikarr, in his character of a 
sea-god 2 . 

The following extract may serve as a commentary on 
what is related both of the Swedish Neck and Danish Nb k. 
" Husby is very pleasantly situated, and its church is said 
to be one of the oldest in Sweden. Here is shown St. 
Siegfried s well,, with the water of which the holy man Sig- 
fridus, according to the tradition, baptized king Olov 
Skotkonung. The well is still famous, and is said on 
many occasions to be used nightly by the country people. 
Fifty years ago " (the author travelled in 1803) " many su 
perstitions and ceremonies were practised at wells. Almost 
every province had some that at certain periods of the 
summer were visited, and into which a piece of money, 
iron or any metal was cast as an offering. But this illu 
sion is now almost extinct. Still it is, nevertheless, worth 
inquiring, what power, and why a power is everywhere 
ascribed to metal of counteracting the influence of witch 
craft and of evil spirits ? For no other reason than to 
propitiate the Neck of the well, did people throw into it 
anything metallic. Connected with the above is the popular 
belief, that, when bathing in the sea, a person should cast 
into it, close by him, a fire-steel, a knife, or the like, to 
prevent any monster from hurting him. The steel, or 
whatever it may be, may be taken out again. Formerly 
a fire-steel, or a pair of scissors, was laid on the cradle of 
a child, until it was christened. Even to the present day 
the custom exists of pouring melted silver or other metal 
on the spot where it is believed that a person is suffering 
from the work of the evil one. With such a pouring the 
injury is also poured out." 

1 Ver. 838, 1144, 2854. 

2 Edda-Sa3m. 46, 91, 184. Edda-Snorra, 3, 24, 322. 



SWEDISH TRADITIONS. 83 

Having thus propitiated, or rather neutralized the per 
nicious propensities of, the Neck, it was not unusual while 
bathing to address him scoffingly in the following words : 
Neck, Neck, Naleputa, du ar pa lann, men jag ar i vann 
(Neck, Neck, needle-thief, thou art on land, but I am in 
the water). On quitting the water, the person took the 
steel again, saying : Neck, Neck, needle-thief, I am on 
land, and thou art in the water 1 / 

THE WILD HUNT. 

In Scania the sounds like voices, that are at times heard 
in the air in November and December, are by the common 
people called Odin s hunt 2 . Grimm also connects the 
Wild Hunt (Wiitendes Heer) with Odin (Ohg. Wuotan), 
the tradition of which is current over almost all Germany. 
In the course of time, after the introduction of Christi 
anity, the pagan deity degenerated into a wild hunter, 
regarding whom almost every place where he is said to 
ride has its tradition. 

MYSTIC ANIMALS, 

According to the Swedish popular belief, there are cer 
tain animals which should not at any time be spoken of 
by their proper names, but always with euphemisms, and 
kind allusions to their character. If any one speaks- 
slightingly to a cat, or beats her, her name must not be 
uttered; for she belongs to the hellish crew, and is inti 
mate with the Bergtroll in the mountains, where she often 
visits. In speaking of the cuckoo, the owl, and the mag 
pie, great caution is necessary, lest one should be ensnared, 
as they are birds of sorcery. Such birds, also snakes, one 
ought not to kill without cause, as their associates might 
avenge them. It is particularly sinful to tread toads to 

1 Arndt, i. 259, sq. ; iii. 17, sq. 

2 These sounds are by Nilsson (Skandiv. Fauna, ii. 106) ascribed to 
certain water-fowls on their wav to the South. 



84 



SWEDISH TRADITIONS. 



death, as they are often enchanted princesses. Many a 
one has become lame without fall or fracture, but as a 
penalty for such wantonness. In speaking of the Troll- 
pack or Witch-crew, one must name fire and water, and 
the name of the church to which one belongs ; then no 
injury can arise. The weasel must not be so called, but 
the aduine the fox, blue-foot, or he that goes in the forest ; 
and the bear, the old one (Gubbe, Gammeln), grandfather 
(Storfar), Naskus; rats, the long -bodied ; mice, the small 
grey the seal, brother Lars ; the wolf, (/old-foot or grey- 
foot, grey-tosse, not varg, because it is said that formerly, 
when the now dumb animals could speak, the wolf made 
this announcement : 

Kallar du mig Varg, sa blir jag dig arg, 

Men kallar du mig of Guld, sa blir jag dig huld. 

If thou callest me Varg, I will be wroth with thee, 
But if thou callest me of gold, I will be kind to thee. 

Even inanimate things are not at all times to be called 
by their usual names : fire, for instance, is on some occa 
sions not to be called eld or ell but hetta (heat) ; water 
used for brewing, not vatn, but lag or lou, else the beer 
would not be so good 1 . 

The magpie like others of the raven or crow family 
is also a mystic bird, a downright witches bird, belonging 
to the devil and the other hidden powers of night. When 
the witches, on Walpurgis night, ride to the Blakulle, they 
turn themselves into magpies. When they are moulting 
in summer, and become bald about the neck, the country 
people say they have been to the Blakulle, and helped the 
evil one to get his hay in, and that the yoke has rubbed 
their feathers off. 

The above superstition of the wolf is very ancient and wide-spread, an 

1 Arndt, i. 49; iii. 18, 19. Thiele, iii. 122, edit. 1820. Finn Magnu- 
sen, Den ^Eldre Edda, ii. 9. 



SWEDISH TRADITIONS. 85 

evident trace of it existing in Anglo-Saxon and Old Norse: " gryre sceal 
for greggum " (terror shall there be for the grey one} 1 . 

THE MOUNTAIN-TROLL. 
I. 

The extraordinary tales of Mountain-trolls and their 
kidnappings that are told by credible persons,, and con 
firmed by very singular circumstances, might afford ground 
for the supposition that the primitive inhabitants of Sweden, 
the wild mountaineers, had not altogether died out, but that 
in the recesses of the great mountain-forests some in recent 
times might have still resided. Memorials of the hostility 
entertained by these people against the light of Christi 
anity are preserved in the traditions concerning the several 
stones or masses of rock called giant-casts. These are 
shown by the people in all country places, and arc usually 
in such situations as to give birth to the tradition of their 
having been hurled from a mountain towards some church. 
"The Giant," as the story goes, "could not endure the 
noise of the bells from the holy edifice, and therefore cast 
this rock, in the hope of knocking it down, but being too 
strong, he hurled it far beyond the church." Or it is said : 
" The stone was too heavy, and the church too far away, 
so that it fell short of the mark." In some of these stones, 
as in the one near Erikoping, are to be seen marks as if 
made by the five fingers of a gigantic hand. Near the 
celebrated church of Warnhem lies the Himmelsberg, in 
which, as we are told, a giant dwelt, until the convent 
bells ringing for prayers drove him away. It is related 
that, on leaving the mountain, he inquired of a lad, that 
worked in the neighbourhood, in which direction Alleberg 
lay ? for thither he intended to take his course. The lad 
having directed him, he went off as in a whirlwind, and 
the lad now discovered, to his no small astonishment, that 
his forefinger, with which he had pointed out the way, 

1 Cod, Exon. p. 342. Kraka Mai, p. 54, edit. Rafn. 



86 SWEDISH TRADITIONS. 

had followed along with the giant. In the Description of 
Uppland there is a story of a mountain near Lagga church, 
and how a giant with his family quitted it on account of 
the bells, "the sound of which he was not inclined to 
hear." "When wilt thou come again ?" asked a man 
standing by, and witnessing their departure j whereupon 
the man of the mountain answered : tf When Lagga fiord 
is field, and Ost-tuna lake meadow." The fiord and the 
lake are now like to become field and meadow ; but the 
Troll s return seems by no means so certain. 

II. 

STEN OF FOGELKARR. 

In an old Description of Bohuslan the following event 
is related. Sten of Fogelkarr was an excellent marksman. 
One day when out hunting, he came to a mountain, where 
he saw a young, beautiful girl sitting on a stone ; and as 
he instantly formed the design of obtaining her, he cast 
his fire-steel between her and the mountain, for that pur 
pose. He then heard a loud laugh within the mountain. 
It was the damsel s father, who at the same moment opened 
his door and said : " Wilt thou have my daughter ?" Sten 
answered : " Yes," and as she was stark naked, he wrapped 
her in his cloak, and so took her home with him, and had 
her christened. Before, however, he left the mountain, 
the damsel s father gave him this injunction : " When 
thou celebratest thy marriage with my daughter, thou 
Shalt send to the mountain in which I dwell twelve barrels 
of beer, together with bread, and the meat of four oxen ; 
and when the bridal gifts are to be given, mine shall not 
be wanting." Nobly did the man of the mountain keep 
his promise; for while the company was sitting at the 
nuptial board, and the guests, according to ancient custom, 
were bestowing the bridal presents, the roof was suddenly 
raised, and a large purse of money thrown down ; at the 
same time was heard the old man s voice : " Here is my 



SWEDISH TRADITIONS. 87 

bridal gift, and when thou wilt have thy dower, drive to 
the mountain with four horses and take thy share." Sten 
did so, and got copper kettles of various sizes, besides 
f brand -cattle 1 , descendants from which good stock were 
long to be found in those parts. Sten became a rich and 
influential man, and had many comely children by his 
wife ; even now families exist in the neighbourhood, that 
profess to derive their descent from Sten of Fogelkarr 
and the damsel of the mountain 2 . 

in. 

A peasant, in a village named Fyrunga, had in like 
manner married a giant s daughter, with whom he had 
received considerable wealth ; but he lived unhappily with 
her, beat and misused her, although she was of a meek 
and compliant disposition. When the giant was apprized 
of this, he withdrew from his son-in-law, so that he be 
came poor. This peasant being one day about to shoe his 
horse, in the absence of other aid, ordered his wife to hold 
up the horse s feet. With astonishment he saw that she 
not only lifted up the horse s feet with the utmost ease, 
but that when a shoe did not fit, she bent it as if it had 
been wax instead of cold iron. Not without signs of fear 
the man said to her : " As thou art so strong, why dost 
thou allow me to strike thee?" "I bear in mind," said 
she, " what the black man said who united us, that I shall 
be obedient to thee, and I will hold to my engagement, 
although thou hast often broken thine ; else I could have 
chopped thee up like cabbage." From that moment the 
man became so changed through his wife s good sense and 
forbearance, that he ever after treated her with affection. 
When apprized of this change, the giant again bestowed 

1 See page 7G. 

- Grimm (D. M. p. 435) gives the story with some variations from Od- 
mau s Bahusliin. The cattle are there distinguished as white-headed (hiel- 
meta), 0. Nor. hjalmottr, verlice albus, alias discolor ; dc pecudibus dicitur. 



88 SWEDISH TRADITIONS. 

on them all sorts of good, so that they became rich and 
prosperous. 

IV. 

In the district of Nas in Warmland there is an immense 
stone, having in it a cavity like a room, in which the pea 
sant children sit and play while they are out with the 
cattle. By some it is called Stygges stone, by others 
Halvar s room. In this hollow, so says the tradition, there 
dwelt, in the time of heathenism, a giant, who lived on 
the best terms possible with a farmer in the nearest grange. 
One day as the farmer and another man came out of the 
forest from their labour, they found the giant sitting out 
side of the stone. "Can I barter with thee?" said the 
giant ; " six she-goats and the he-goat seven I will give 
thee for a cow." The farmer expressed his willingness. 
On the following morning when the fanner s wife entered 
the cowhouse, she saw to her surprise that the cow was 
gone and that there were seven goats in its place. The 
bargain proved a good one, for they were lucky with the 
goats. Once when they were out raking in the field they 
saw before them a great frog big with young. The far 
mer s wife had pity on the heavy creature and wound a 
woollen band round its body. In the evening the giant 
came to the farm requesting the wife to come and loose 
that which she had bound. The woman followed him to 
the stone, where she found that the frog was no other than 
the giant s wife, who had assumed that form. She loosed 
the band and delivered her. In reward for this service, 
they desired her to come with a bag, into which the giant 
poured as much silver money as she could carry. It is 
further related that one evening, when the people were at 
work in the field, there came from the giant s habitation 
such a quantity of cattle and goats that they were forced 
to leave the field. One Easter eve, the farmer was passing 
by, when the giant, who was sitting on his stone seat, said 



SWEDISH TRADITIONS. 89 

to him : " Wilt tliou come in and eat milk porridge with 
me?" "No," answered the other; "if thou hast more 
than thou canst eat,, keep it till to-morrow." " Thanks," 
said the giant ; " had I known that before, I should now 
be rich." The giant was never seen afterwards. 

When the Trolls and Giants were driven away by the 
Christians, they took refuge out at sea, on uninhabited 
rocks and on desert strands, where, according to general tra 
dition, they have in later times been seen by mariners. 
Some sailors belonging to Bohuslan, when once driven on 
a desert shore by a storm, found a giant sitting on a stone 
by a fire. He was old and blind, and rejoiced at hearing 
the Northmen, because he was himself from their country. 
He requested one of them to approach and give him his 
hand, " that I may know," said he, " whether there is yet 
strength in the hands of the Northmen." The old man 
being blind, was not sensible that they took a great boat- 
hook, which they heated in the fire and held out to him. He 
squeezed the hook as if it had been wax, shook his head 
and said, " I find the Northmen now have but little 
strength in their hands compared with those of old." 

THE TROLLS CELEBRATE CHRISTMAS. 

Of the manner in which the Trolls celebrate Christmas 
eve there are traditions throughout the whole North. At 
that time it is not advisable for Christian men to be out. 
On the heaths Witches and little Trolls ride, one on a wolf, 
another on a broom or a shovel, to their assemblies, where 
they dance under their stones. These stones are then 
raised on pillars, under which the Trolls dance and drink. 
In the mount are then to be heard mirth and music, dan 
cing and drinking. On Christmas morn, during the time 
between cock-crowing and daybreak, it is highly dangerous 
to be abroad. 

One Christmas night in the year 1490, as Fru Cissela 



90 SWEDISH TRADITIONS. 

Ulftand was sitting in her mansion at Liungby in Scania, 
a great noise was heard proceeding from the Trolls as 
sembled at the Magle stone, when one of the lady s boldest 
servants rode out to see what was going on. He found 
the stone raised, and the Trolls in a noisy whirl dancing 
under it. A beautiful female stept forth, and presented 
to the guest a drinking horn and a pipe, requesting him 
to drink the Troll-king s health and to blow in the pipe. 
He took the horn and pipe, but at the same instant clapped 
spurs to his horse, and galloped straight, over rough and 
smooth, to the mansion. The Trolls followed him in a 
body with a wild cry of threats and prayers, but the man 
kept the start, and delivered both horn and pipe into the 
hands of his mistress. The Trolls promised prosperity 
and riches to Fru Cissela s race, if she would restore their 
pipe and horn ; but she persisted in keeping them, and 
they are still preserved at Liungby, as memorials of the 
wonderful event. The horn is said to be of an unknown 
mixture of metals with brass ornaments, and the pipe of a 
horse s leg-bone. The man who stole them from the Trolls 
died three days after, and the horse on the second day. 
Liungby mansion has been twice burnt, and the Ulftand 
family never prospered afterwards. This tradition teaches 
that Christians should act justly even towards Trolls. 

It is also related of some priests, who were riding before 
daybreak by a mount on a Christmas morning, while the 
Trolls were at their sports, how a Berg- or Mount-woman 
came out and offered them drink in metal bowls ; and how 
they cast the drink behind them, but that some drops 
chanced to fall on the horses loins and burned the hair off. 
The bowls they carried away with them, and such are still 
to be found in several churches, where, it is said, they were 
formerly used as chalices l . 

This drink, which the Trolls were in the habit of offer- 
1 For more on this subject see Danish Traditions. 



SWEDISH TRADITIONS. 91 

ing so liberally, was believed to have the property of ob 
literating from the memory all the past, and of rendering 
the guest who partook of it contented with all he met with 
in the mount. 

ORIGIN OF THE NOBLE NAME OF TROLLE. 

On the wall of Voxtorp church in Smaland there is a 
painting representing a knight named Herve Ulf, when 
one Christmas morning he received a drinking horn from a 
Troll-wife with one hand, while with his sword he struck off 
her head with the other, kept the horn and rode to church. 
In remembrance of this deed, the king commanded him 
to call himself Trolle, and to take a Troll without a head 
for his armorial bearing. Such is the origin of the noble 
name of Trolle. This wonderful horn was of three hun 
dred colours, and was first preserved in the cathedral of 
Wexio; but when the Danes in 1570 burned Wexio, the 
horn was carried to Denmark. 

It is said that the Trolls are very prolific, but that their 
offspring for the most part dies when it thunders ; whence 
the saying : " Were it not for thunder, the Trolls would 
destroy the world." 

THE GIANT S PATH. 

In a large cleft in the mountain of Billingen in West 
Gothland, called the Jattestig (Giant s Path), it is said there 
was formerly a way leading far into the mountain, into 
which a peasant once penetrated, and found a man lying 
asleep on a large stone. How he came there no one could 
tell, but every time the bell tolls for prayers in Yglunda 
church, he turns round and sighs. So he will continue 
till doomsday. 

THE TOMTE, OR SWEDISH NISS, 
Two husbandmen dwelt in a village ; they had like 



92 SWEDISH TRADITIONS. 

arable land, like meadow, like wood and pasture, but the 
one grew richer and the other poorer from year to year. 
The one had a house painted red, well tarred, with boarded 
walls and a sound turf roof; the other s habitation was 
moss-clad, with bare, rotten walls and a leaky roof. Whence 
all this difference ? Many a one will answer : " The rich 
man had a Tomte in his house." He appears before the 
master, and, if she is kind to him, before the mistress also. 
" But what are they like, these propitious little beings ? " 
In magnitude like a child of a twelvemonth old, but with 
an ancient and sagacious looking face under a little red 
cap; with a gray, coarse woollen jacket, short breeches, 
and shoes like those worn by peasant children. He ap 
pears at noontide, in summer and autumn, and has gene 
rally a straw or an ear of corn, which he drags slowly 
along, panting at every step, like one under the heaviest 
burthen. On such an occasion the poor peasant had once 
laughed at a Tomte, and said : " What difference is there 
whether thou bringest me that or nothing ? " This vexed 
the little, weary collector, and he transferred himself to 
the other peasant s abode, who was at that time a poor 
new beginner. From that day prosperity withdrew itself 
from him who had despised the diminutive being. But the 
other man, who esteemed the industrious little Tomte, and 
took care of the smallest straw or ear, became rich, and 
cleanliness, order and abundance reigned in his dwelling. 



If a stable-man takes care of his horses, speaks kindly 
to them, feeds them at ten o clock at night, and again at 
four in the morning, he has no cause to stand in fear of 
the Tomte. But the careless one, who maltreats the cattle, 
curses and swears when he enters the stable, forgets their 
nightly food, and sleeps till day, must take good care of 
himself, lest when he steps into the stable he get a buffet 



SWEDISH TRADITIONS. 93 

on the ear from the unseen but hard fist of the Tomte, 
that brings him to a stand on his nose. 

It has been believed that the souls of those who in 
heathen times were slaves, and while the master and his 
sons were engaged in piracy,, had charge of the land and 
buildings, and were employed in agriculture, are repre 
sented in these small, gray beings, as pursuing their former 
earthly labours until doomsday. There are still many 
Christians who believe in these Tomt-spirits, and annually 
make them a kind of offering, or, as they now term it, 
" give them a reward." This takes place on the day when 
joy was proclaimed to all the world, and salvation even to 
the Tomtar Christmas morning; and consists in some 
small pieces of coarse, gray woollen cloth, a little tobacco, 
and a shovelful of earth. 

Tomtar are also called Nissar. " For the good Niss," 
the country folks in Blekinge and other places are wont to 
say, when out at work in the fields and sitting at their re 
past, they lay a piece of bread, cheese, etc. under a green 
turf, whereby they hope to gain his good will. 

A peasant in Scania was in the habit of placing food on 
the stove daily for the Tomtar or Nissar. This came to 
the knowledge of the priest, who thereupon searched the 
house, for the sake of convincing its inmates that no Nissar 
were to be found. " How then does the food disappear 
every night ?" asked the peasant. "That I can tell you/ 
said the priest. " Satan takes it all and collects it in a 
kettle in hell, in which kettle he hopes to boil your souls 
to all eternity." From that time no more food was set 
out for the Nissar. 

Where building and carpenters work are going forward, 
it is said that the Tomtar, while the workmen are at 
their dinner, may be seen going about and working with 
small axes. When a tree is felled in the forest, it is said : 
"The woodman holds the axe, but the Tomte fells the 



94 SWEDISH TRADITIONS. 

tree." When the horses m a stable are well tended and 
in fine condition, it is said : " The groom lays the food in 
the crib, but it is the Tomte who makes the horse fat." 



A housewife when she sifted meal had long remarked 
that there was an uncommon weight in the tub, and that 
although she had frequently taken considerable quantities 
from it, the weight exceeded all belief. But once, when 
going to the storeroom, she chanced to look through the 
keyhole, or through a chink in the door, and beheld a 
little Tomte in tattered gray clothes sitting and busily 
sifting in the meal-tub. The woman withdrew softly, and 
made a new, handsome kirtle for the industrious little 
fellow, and hung it on the edge of the tub, at the same 
time placing herself so that she might see what he thought 
of his new garment. When he came he immediately put 
it on and began to sift most sedulously ; but seeing that 
the meal dusted and damaged his new kirtle, he exclaimed, 
casting the sieve from him : 

" The young spark is fine ; 
He dusts himself : 
Never more will he sift." 

RAVENS. PYSLINGAR AND MYLINGAR. SKRAT. 

Ravens scream by night in the forest-swamps and wild 
moors. They are said to be the ghosts of murdered per 
sons, who have been concealed there by their undetected 
murderers, and not had Christian burial. 

In forests and wildernesses the spirits of little children 
that have been murdered are said to wander about wailing, 
within an assigned space, as long as their lives would have 
lasted on earth, if they had been permitted to live. As a 
terror for unnatural mothers that destroy their offspring, 
their sad cry is said to be : " Mamma ! Mamma \" When 



SWEDISH TRADITIONS. 95 

travellers by night pass such places, these beings will hang- 
on the vehicle, when the liveliest horses will toil as if they 
were dragging millstones, will sweat, and at length be un 
able to proceed a step further. The peasant then knows 
that a ghost or Py sling has attached itself to his vehicle. 
If he goes to the horses heads, lifts the headstall, and 
looks through it towards the carriage, he will see the little 
pitiable being, but will get a smart blow on the ear, or 
fall sick. This is called ghost-pressed (gastkramad) . 

The Myling, as well as the Tomte and Skogsra, are ex 
posed to persecution from the wolves. Some hunters, who 
had one evening taken up their quarters in a barn in the 
forest, were waked in the middle of the night by the howl 
ing of wolves and an extraordinary noise ; and on seeking 
the cause, they saw a Skogsra fleeing before a number of 
wolves that were pursuing her. On reaching the barn 
she jumped up to the little window that stood open, 
whence she jeered the wolves standing beneath, showing 
them first one foot then the other, and saying : ff Paw this 
foot ! Paw that foot ! If you get both, take them/ One 
of the hunters, tired of her proximity, gave her a push in 
the back, so that she fell down among the wolves, saying : 
" Take her altogether ! " She was instantly devoured by 
the wolves. Similar stories are related of Mylingar and 
Tomtar. 

Of the Myling it is related that it can assume the form 
of persons both living and dead, thereby deluding the 
nightly traveller; also that it can imitate the speech, 
laugh and singing of persons. 

The Skrat 1 is a species of Myling that with a horse 
laugh makes game of persons that are out at night in the 
forests or fields. A peasant in Westmanland had while 
digging found a ring that shone like gold, and would, as 
he said, have certainly become possessor of it, had not the 
1 See Grimm, D. M. p. 447. 



yb SWEDISH TRADITIONS. 

Skrat, before he had well got hold of it, laughed it away. 
So it is said frequently to happen to treasure-diggers. He 
comes at midnight, chiefly in winter, out of the forests, to 
the public roads, and hangs on the hinder part of a sledge 
or other vehicle, when on a sudden it becomes so heavy, 
that the horses, however good they may be, become jaded, 
sweat, and at length stop ; then the Skrat generally runs 
off with a malicious laugh, and vanishes. 

THE WERWOLF. 

In a hamlet within a forest there dwelt a cottager, named 
Lasse, and his wife. One day he went out in the forest 
to fell a tree, but had forgotten to cross himself and say 
his Paternoster, so that some Troll or Witch (Vargamor) 1 
got power over him and transformed him into a wolf. His 
wife mourned for him for several years ; but one Christmas 
eve there came a beggar woman, who appeared very poor 
and ragged : the good housewife gave her a kind recep 
tion, as is customary among Christians at that joyous sea 
son. At her departure the beggar woman said that the 
wife might very probably see her husband again, as he 
was not dead, but was wandering in the forest as a wolf. 
Towards evening the wife went to her pantry, to place in 
it a piece of meat for the morrow, when on turning to go 
out, she perceived a wolf standing, which raising itself 
with its paws on the pantry steps, regarded the woman 
with sorrowful and hungry looks. Seeing this she said : 
" If I knew that thou wert my Lasse, I would give thee 
a bone of meat." At that instant the wolf-skin fell off, 
and her husband stood before her in the clothes he had 
on when he went out on that unlucky morning. 

1 Old women dwelling in the forests, who not unfrequently give them 
selves out as sorceresses, have got the name of Vargamor (Wolf-crones), 
and are believed to have the wolves of the forest under their protection 
and control. 



SWEDISH TRADITIONS. 97 

The heathen sorcery of transforming a person to the likeness of a wolf, 
is still believed by many to be transmitted to some wicked individuals, 
even to our days. Fins, Lapps and Russians are held in particular aver 
sion on this account ; and when, during the last year of the war with 
Russia, Calniar was unusually overrun with wolves, it was generally said 
that the Russians had transformed the Swedish prisoners to wolves, and 
sent them home to infest the country. 

JACK LANTERN. 

A flaming light moves backwards and forwards on the 
hearth, not unlike a lantern borne by one in search of 
something. It is Jack with the lantern/ who, as many a 
simple person, after old traditions, will tell us, was a 
mover of landmarks, and is thus doomed to wander with 
a light in his hand. 

According to the old popular belief, a man, who during 
life has rendered himself guilty of such a crime, is 
doomed to have no rest in his grave after death, but to 
rise every midnight, and with a lantern in his hand to 
proceed to the spot where the landmark had stood which 
he had fraudulently removed. On reaching the place, he 
is seized with the same desire which instigated him in his 
lifetime, when he went forth to remove his neighbour s 
landmark, and he says as he goes, in a harsh, hoarse voice : 
"It is right ! it is right ! it is right V s But on his re 
turn, qualms of conscience and anguish seize him, and he 
then exclaims : " It is wrong ! it is wrong ! it is wrong ! " 

THE RAM IN THE GETABERG. 

Near Ingelstad, in the district of Oxie, in Scania, there 
is a mount called the Getaberg, where before misfortunes 
and public calamities, a ram, terrible to look upon, makes 
its appearance. The neighbouring peasantry can tell, both 
with year and day, of calamities that have been so fore 
boded. One evening a boy passed over the mount singing 
a song about the ram, that was current in the neighbour- 

F 



98 SWEDISH TRADITIONS. 

hood, and by his ill-timed mirth waked the ram, which 
soon stuck him on his horn, and would have killed him, 
had not a handsome young damsel come and saved him ; 
for when young girls come to him the ram becomes as 
gentle as a lamb. 

THE DRAGON, OR WHITE SERPENT. 

Among the fabulous beings of former days must be 
reckoned the Dragon, concerning which many traditions 
and songs are extant. In the heathen Sagas no mention 
is made of its colour; but in later writings we find it 
usually designated the White Serpent. This must not be 
confounded with the white Tomt-serpent (Tomtorm), which 
in the southern parts is numbered among good domestic 
sprites, and is gladly fed by the inmates of the house in 
which it vouchsafes to take up its abode under the flooring. 
The White Serpent now to be spoken of is very rarely 
seen, some suppose only every hundred years, and in desert 
places. Sorceresses were in the habit of seeking for it, 
and boiling it in their magical compounds, for the attain 
ment of profound knowledge in the secrets of nature ; for 
by insinuating itself, in the innermost parts of the earth, 
around the roots of rocks and mountains, among the lowest 
fibres of the trees and plants, it is believed to have imbibed 
their occult virtues, and to communicate them to the indi 
vidual by whom it allows itself to be found. If any one 
finds a White Serpent, he should instantly grasp it by the 
middle of its body, when it will leave its skin. Only to 
lick this is thought to strengthen the inward powers of 
man, so that, without previous instruction, he will know 
the virtues of plants, earths and stones, how to heal wounds 
and cure all kinds of diseases. This is called To become 
cunning 1 / 

A poor little peasant boy, who had wandered out of his 
1 Att blifva klok. 



SWEDISH TRADITIONS. 99 

path, came to a small hut in the forest, in which one of 
these so-called cunning women and serpent-boilers dwelt. 
When the boy entered she was not at home ; but a large 
kettle was standing on the fire, in which a white serpent 
was boiling. The boy was hungry, and seeing bread on 
a table, and a thick, fat scum in the kettle, which he 
supposed to arise from boiling meat, he dipped a piece of 
bread in the kettle and ate it. The old beldam, who now 
came in, was instantly aware of what had taken place ; 
but feeling convinced that the boy, however he might 
excel others in wisdom, would not surpass her, and that 
he could not do any harm to her, suffered him to depart, 
and accompanied him until he was again in his right path, 
instructing him on the way how he should apply the 
wondrous gift he was possessed of. 

Of Sven in Bragnum in West Gothland, who was so 
famous that he was visited by Linnaeus, the story goes, 
that he found a White Serpent, the skin of which he 
licked, whereby he became cunning (klok), so that he knew 
the virtues of all kinds of creeping things and plants, which 
he sedulously collected about Mosseberg and the meadows 
of Bouloin, for the cure of diseases. It is remarkable that 
he knew beforehand that he should lose his knowledge as 
soon as he married ; so that from the day of his marriage 
he never would receive a visit from a patient. 

The Swedish people ascribe the virtue of certain medicinal springs to 
White Serpents. In 1809 thousands nocked from Halland and West 
Gothland to the wonder-working Helsjo (a small lake near Rampegarda). 
It was said that some children on its hanks tending cattle had in that year 
often seen a beautiful young female sitting on its shore, holding in her 
hand a white serpent, which she showed them. This water-nymph with 
the serpent appears only every hundred years. Bexell s Halland, quoted 
by Grimm (D. M. p. 554). See Danish traditions. According to a Ger 
man story, by eating of a white serpent, a person acquires a knowledge 
of the language of all animals l . 

1 Grimm, K. and H. M. No. 17. 

F2 



100 SWEDISH TRADITIONS. 

THE UNINVITED WEDDING GUESTS. 

A farmer in Bahuus was celebrating his daughter s 
marriage, but scarcely was the table covered and the 
viands brought in, before all even before the guests had 
seated themselves was eaten up. When the master came 
in and saw this, he said : " Now Hale has been here and 
eaten up all the meat." He then ordered other viands to 
be brought in, of which the company began immediately 
to partake; but whatever the guests might eat, it was 
evident that more vanished than was consumed by them. 
Near the door stood an old cavalry soldier, who knew more 
than the others, and who, on hearing what was being talked 
of at table, mounted his horse and rode to a neighbouring 
mount, where he knocked. On the mountain being 
opened, the soldier said to its inhabitant : " Lend me thy 
hat ; thou shalt have mine in the mean time." Such a 
hat was called an uddehat, and made the person that wore 
it invisible. The old man of the mount answered : et Thou 
shalt have it ; but thou must promise me to return it be 
fore sunset." No sooner said than done. The old soldier 
now hastened back to the wedding party, where he saw 
that by the side of every guest there sat two Trolls, who 
helped themselves from the dishes with both hands and 
ate to their hearts content. Grasping his whip, he lashed 
the spunging intruders so smartly over the fingers, that 
they lost all inclination to make further havoc among the 
dishes, and turned them head over heels out of the apart 
ment. Then taking off the borrowed hat, which had till 
then made him invisible to the company, he said : " Till 
this moment the fiend has been feasting with you ; but 
now set more meat on the table, and I will bear you com 
pany." They did so, ate in peace, and had a quantity 
over. When evening approached, the old man remounted 
his horse and rode to the mount, where he cast down his 



SWEDISH TRADITIONS. 101 

borrowed hat and hastened away with all possible speed ; 
and had scarcely turned his horse, before a multitude of 
Trolls came running, and even got hold of the horse s tail, 
as he rode over a bridge : but the horse was strong and 
active, so that the rider escaped, and the Trolls returned 
to whence they came l . 

OF LUND CATHEDRAL 2 . 

The cathedral of Lund was regarded as a miracle of 
Gothic architecture, with respect both to its magnitude 
and decorations, which monuments of an early age are for 
the most part still preserved. The giant Finn is said to 
have built it, and his effigy with those of his wife and 
child are yet to be seen in the undercroft, concerning whom 
there is the following legend. The holy St. Lawrence (or 
Lars), when walking among the mountains and forests, and 
thinking how he could raise a spacious temple worthy of 
the Lord, was met by a huge giant from a mountain, who 
engaged to accomplish his wish, but on condition of re 
ceiving as a remuneration the sun and moon and both St. 
Lawrence s eyes. The time, however, fixed for the com 
pletion of the work was so short, that the undertaking 
seemed impracticable. But the holy man soon saw the 
building drawing too near its completion, and the day ap 
proaching when the Troll should come and demand his re 
ward. He now again went wandering about sad and 
sorrowful in the mountains and forests, when he one day 

1 Faye, p. 30. The old soldier s horse was more fortunate than Tarn 
o Shanter s Maggie, which at 

"Ae spring brought off her master hale, 
But left behind her ain grey tail." 

2 Lund, a famous city and university in Skania (Skane), with a noble 
old cathedral. It is called the Canterbury of the North, and before the 
cession of the province by Denmark to Sweden in 1658 was the metro 
politan see of the former kingdom. It lies nearly opposite to Copen 
hagen. 



102 SWEDISH TRADITIONS. 

suddenly heard a child crying in the mountain, and the 
mother, a giantess, singing to appease it : 

" Hush, my babe, hush ! 
Thy father, Finn, comes home to-morrow ; 
Then shalt thou play with sun and moon, 
And with St. Lars two eyes." 

St, Lawrence now knew the giant s name, and so had 
power over him. When the Trolls were aware of this, they 
both came down into the undercroft, where each seized a 
pillar, with the intention of throwing down the whole edi 
fice; but St. Lawrence, making the sign of the cross, 
cried out : ee Stand there in stone till doomsday ! " They 
instantly became stone as they are yet to be seen; the 
giant embracing one pillar, and his wife, with a child on 
her arm, another l . 

THE CHURCH-GRIM AND THE CHURCH-LAMB. 

Heathen superstition did not fail to show itself in the 
construction of Christian churches. In laying the founda 
tion, the people would retain something of their former re 
ligion, and sacrificed to their old deities, whom they could 
not forget, some animal, which they buried alive, either 
under the foundation or without the wall. The spectre of 
this animal is said to wander about the churchyard by 
night, and is called the Kyrkogrim, or Church-grim. 

A tradition has also been preserved, that under the altar 
in the first Christian churches a lamb was usually buried, 
which imparted security and duration to the edifice. This 
is an emblem of the genuine Church-lamb, the Saviour of 
the world, who is the sacred corner-stone of his church 
and congregation. When any one enters a church at a 

1 See the story of King Olaf, p. 39, and of Eshern Snare and Kallund- 
borg church in Danish Traditions. The original is manifestly the Eddaic 
story of the builder that engaged to fortify Asgard. 



SWEDISH TRADITIONS. 103 

time when there is no service, he may chance to see a little 
lamb spring across the quire and vanish. That is the 
Church-lamb. When it appears to a person in the church 
yard, particularly to the gravediggers, it is said to fore 
bode the death of a child that shall be next laid in the 
earth. 

HELIGE THOR S KALLA (WELL). 

From the time of heathenism there is a well in Smaland, 
in the parish of Skatelof, which is remarkable for a de 
plorable event. On the spot where the well now is, a 
young damsel, it is said, met her lover, and from some 
suspicion of his infidelity, murdered him. The god Thor 
caused the well to spring up from his blood. In conse 
quence of the change that the heathen religion underwent 
in the minds of the people, the name of the god Thor 
became altered to Helige Thor (Saint Thor), the festival 
of our Saviour s Ascension was called c Helig Thor j s-dag 
(Holy Thursday), and Skatelofs Kalla was named f Helige 
Thor s Kalle/ From ancient documents it appears that 
a particular song was formerly sung in the neighbourhood 
of this well, when the country folks, every Holy Thursday 
eve, assembled there to play and make offerings. 

OF THE VIRGIN MARY. 

All that is most beautiful and glorious in the creation 
was dedicated to the Virgin Mary, memorials of which 
exist even at the present day. One of the earliest and 
fairest flowers of spring was, and in many places still is, 
called Our Lady s bunch of keys (primula veris ; common 
cowslip) ; the galium verum luteum is Our Lady s bed- 
straw l ; a very green grass, with flowers of a more beau- 

1 N. Poussin has painted this plant, instead of straw, under the infant 
Jesus in the manger, with its bright yellow flowers gilded, as it were, by 
the rays emanating from the child. 



104 SWEDISH TRADITIONS. 

tiful blue than those of the common flax, is Our Lady s 
flax ; in low, wild places a flower called Our Lady s hand 
lifts its rose-coloured spike : it has two roots like hands, 
one white the other black, and when both are laid in 
water, the black one will sink this is called Satan s hand , 
but the white one called Mary s hand will float. This 
plant the peasant shows to his children, and tells of the 
holy mother and of Him who overcame the powers of hell. 
The pretty, small green seed-vessels of the shepherd^s 
purse (thlaspi bursa pastoris) are called Our Lady s pin 
cushion ; and the dew-flower (alchemilla vulgaris) with its 
plaited leaves, Our Lady s mantle. 

As the Thorbagge 1 , in the time of heathenism, was 
sacred to Thor, so was the Lady-bird (coccinella septem- 
punctata) dedicated to the Virgin Mary, and is to this day 
called Our Lady s key-maid (nyckelpiga) . It is thought 
lucky when a young girl in the country sees this little 
creature in the spring ; she then lets it creep about her 
hand, and says : " She measures me for wedding gloves." 
And when it spreads its little wings and flies away, she 
particularly notices the direction it takes, for thence her 
sweetheart shall one day come. This little messenger from 
the Virgin Mary is believed to foretell to the husbandman 
whether the year shall be a plentiful one or the contrary : 
if its spots exceed seven, bread-corn will be dear ; if they 
are fewer than seven, there will be an abundant harvest 
and low prices. 

YULE-STRAW. 

It was a custom in many places to carry Yule-straw 
(Julhalm) into the fields, in the belief that it would be of 
avail in bringing forth an abundant harvest, for the sake 
of the Child, through whom come all grace and blessings. 
It is in remembrance of the Virgin Mary, who laid the 

1 See page 53. 



SWEDISH TRADITIONS. 105 

Saviour of the world on hay and straw ; therefore all little 
children may well play and rejoice in the Yule-straw, the 
infant Jesus having celebrated Yule on a bed of straw. 

It is also said, that of the Yule-straw (as of the Yule- 
hog, or loaf) 1 a part should be preserved and given to the 
draught horses and other cattle in the spring, to preserve 
them against sickness and mishaps, and to keep them 
together, so that they shall not be dispersed, although 
they should go to graze on large heaths or in forests. 

In some places it is the custom to make a so-called fra 
ternal bed (syster-sang) on the floor, in which the children 
and domestics sleep together on Yule-straw. On this 
night all the shoes must be put in one place close together, 
in order that all may live in harmony throughout the 
coming year. Great is the virtue of Yule-straw. To the 
nests of the fowls and geese, in which it is laid, no martens 
nor any witchcraft dare approach ; strewn on the earth 
it promotes the growth of fruits and corn. If given 
to the cows before they are driven to their summer pasture, 
it secures them against distempers, and prevents them 
from separating. 

THE BJARAAN, OR BARE. 

This was a milk-pail composed of nine kinds of stolen 
weaver s knots. Three drops of blood from the little finger 
were to be dropt into it, and the following formula uttered : 

Pajorden skaltufor mig springa, On earth shalt thou before me 

spring, 
I Blakulla skal jag for thig brinna ! In Blakulla shall I for thee bum ! 

Blakulla (the Blue mountain) is the Swedish Blocksberg, 
a rock between Smaland and Oland 2 . 

1 See p. 50. A part of this was given to the household, that they 
might live together in harmony. 

2 Grimm, D. M. pp. 1004, 1044. 

F 5 



106 SWEDISH TRADITIONS. 

MIDSUMMER EVE. 

On St. John s eve they gather and bind together all 
sorts of flowers and plants, which they call Midsommars- 
qvastar (midsummer-posies). These are hung up in 
every house, particularly in the stables, the cattle then 
cannot be bewitched. The St. John s wort (hypericum) 
must be among the rest, as possessing extraordinary virtue. 
On St. John s eve much may happen, and much be fore 
seen of importance for a person s remaining life. Some 
then mount, under white blankets, up on the roof, and 
lie down to listen and see ; whatever words they then by 
chance may hear, or whatever face they may see, will have 
a meaning, which must be interpreted. Whoever, braving 
all risk of annoyance from witches and spirits of the night, 
will look more boldly into futurity, proceeds to a spot 
where three ways diverge, and there awaits what may 
happen or suggest itself as prophecy or warning. But 
what shall the love-sick do ? The forest is lonely, and 
the gathering of plants in remote places, on mountains 
and in crossways, is too formidable. But it is to the soli 
tary only that the divinities appear with the keys of fu 
turity. The oppressed heart has, nevertheless, a resource. 
Thoughtful the sufferer goes forth, entwines wreaths of nine 
sorts of flowers, and lays them under his, or her, pillow. 
How many then are the sweet thoughts and wishes ! How 
slowly comes the light sleep ! At length it is there, and 
with it the desired dreams, and whatever they whisper 
over such flowers will prove true. 

The witch- crew also may at this joyous season be con 
strained and seen, Witches butter is to be found both 
on the corn and on flowers, and is either an exudation 
from the plants, or what is usually called honey- dew, and 
the production of some insect. This the wanton forest - 
sprites, or old witches are said to spread abroad. If nine 
kinds of wood be formed into a pile and kindled, and some 



SWEDISH TRADITIONS. 107 

of this witches 5 butter be cast into it ; or if the fire be 
only beaten with nine kinds of wood, those who have 
justly been suspected as witches must come and discover 
themselves 1 . 

CHRISTMAS. 

At Christmas it was formerly the custom to set little 
bowls of Yule-porridge (Julgrot) and other eatables on 
the barn-floor, together with a jacket, for the Tomte- 
gubbe, in order that he might continue to bring pros 
perity to the house 2 . 

Another old custom, but now obsolete, it was, to go on 
Christmas night, in the morning twilight, into a wood or 
forest, without uttering a word or letting a sound be 
heard, without looking around, without eating or drink 
ing, or seeing any fire, or hearing a cock crow. If any 
one so qualified goes on the path leading to the church as 
the sun is rising, he will see as many funerals as will pass 
that way during the ensuing year ; and see how the pro 
duce will be in the meadows and pastures, and whether 
any fires will break out, within the same period 3 . 

THE CUCKOO. 

When the cuckoo is first heard in spring-tide, it is a 
custom in Sweden to ask him tf How many years shall I 
live ?" or, " When will this or that happen ?" Such in 
quiries are comprised in the following rimes, which are 
uttered line by line, on every cry of the bird : 

Goker gra, cantat cucullus Gucku. Cuckoo grey, 

Sseg mig da, Gucku. Tell me now, 

Uppa qvist, Gucku. Up on bough, 

Sant och vist, Gucku. True and sure, 

Hur manga ar Gucku. How many years 

Jag leva far ? or, Gucku. I have to live ? or, 

Jag ogift gar ? I shall unmarried go ? 

1 Arndt, iii. pp. 73 sqq. 2 Ib. p. 84. 3 ib. p> 8 6. 



108 SWEDISH TRADITIONS. 

As many times as lie repeats his note so many years will 
the person live, or pass in single blessedness. But the 
maidens are wary and provident withal. That he may 
not afflict them by declaring too many years of maiden 
hood, they have established the rule that ten is the highest 
number he may lawfully cry. If he cries oftener than 
ten times, they say he sits on a bewitched bough (pa galen 
qvist), and give no heed to his prediction. 

Much depends on the quarter whence the note of the 
cuckoo is first heard. If heard from the north, the year 
will be one of sorrow ; if from the west or east, one of 
prosperity ; if from the south, it will be a good butter 
year; or a year of death, according to another account 1 . 

SWEDISH POPULAR BELIEF 2 . 

1. Be careful not to meet with sweepings in the door 
way, if you wish to be married in the same year. 

2. If a maiden and a youth eat of one and the same 
beet-root, they will fall in love with each other. 

3. If on midsummer night nine kinds of flowers are 
laid under the head, a youth or maiden will dream of his 
or her sweetheart. 

4. A youth may not give a knife or pins to a girl, be 
cause they sever love. 

5. A girl must not look in a looking-glass after dark, 
nor by candle-light, lest she lose the good will of the 
other sex. 

6. A bride must endeavour to see her bridegroom before 
he sees her ; she will then have the mastery. 

7. She must, for the same reason, during the marriage 
ceremony, place her foot before his. 

8. For the same reason, she must take care to sit down 
first in the bridal chair. 

1 Thiele, iii. 108 sg. edit. 1820. Grimm, D. M. pp. 640 sg. 

2 Grimm, D. M. Anhang, p. cviii. edit. 1835. 



SWEDISH TRADITIONS. 109 

9. For the same reason, she must, as if by accident, let 
her shoe slip off, or her handkerchief, or anything else 
fall on the floor, which the bridegroom from politeness 
will stoop to pick up. It will then be his lot to submit 
(lit. to bend his back) during the whole continuance of 
their marriage. 

10. The bride must stand near to the bridegroom, that 
no one thenceforward may press between them. 

11. In the church let them hold a riband or napkin 
between them, that they may live solely for each other. 

13. The bride shall touch with so many fingers on her 
naked body, while sitting in the bridal chair, as she de 
sires to have children. 

14. That she may have an abundance of milk, let her 
mother meet her, when she comes home from church, with 
a glass of milk to drink. 

15. As food in her first confinement, let her provide 
herself with a cake and a cheese, which she should have 
lying by her in the bridal bed. 

16. When children are newly born, a book is to be 
placed under their head, that they may be quick at read 
ing. 

17. When they are bathed for the first time, let money 
be put into the water, that they may become rich. A purse 
with money in it should also be sewed round their neck. 

18. A part of the father s clothes should be laid on a 
female child, and the mother s petticoat on a male child ; 
to find favour with the opposite sex. 

19. The mother should meet the child at the door, 
when it is carried out to be christened but when it is 
carried home after it is baptized, it should be met at the 
door with a loaf, that it may never want bread. 

20. As long as a child remains unnamed, the fire must 
not be extinguished. 



110 SWEDISH TRADITIONS. 

21. No one may pass between the fire and a sucking 
babe. 

22. Water may not be brought in late where there is a 
sucking child, without throwing fire into it. 

23. No one that enters a house may take a child in his 
hands, without previously having touched fire. 

24. When a child gets teeth early, other children may 
be expected soon after. 

25. An empty cradle must not be rocked, the child will 
else be given to crying and noisy. 

26. If a first-born child, that is born with teeth, bites 
a whitlow, it will be cured. 

27. A child may not read and eat at the same time, 
else it will get a dull memory. 

28. A child should first touch a dog, but not a cat. 

29. If a child plays with fire, it will with difficulty 
retain its water. 

30. A child may not creep through a window, nor may 
any one step over a child, or walk round a child that is 
sitting on the floor or is in a carriage ; for then, it is be 
lieved, it will never grow bigger than it is. 

31. If a sick person gets strange food, he becomes well. 

32. If thanks are given for a remedy (medicine), it 
will have no effect. 

33. If a person walks over graves with an open sore, it 
will heal either very slowly or never. 

34. One must not mention before morning whether one 
has seen a spectre, lest one be pressed 1 and spit blood. 

35. After dark one must not go by water, for fear of 
getting a whitlow. 

36. For the same reason, or also that one may not be 
pressed, one should spit thrice in crossing the water after 
dark. 

1 Qu. by the night-mare ? 



SWEDISH TRADITIONS. Ill 

37. For the sick one ought to cause prayers to be said 
in three churches, one of which should be an ofFering- 
church, if there be one near. It will then speedily be 
decided whether the sick is to recover or die. 

38. The teeth of large fish should be burnt, in order to 
be lucky in fishing. 

39. One ought to tell no one when one goes out to 
fish, and not mention whether one has caught many or 
few. 

40. Nor should any stranger see how many fish one 
has taken. 

41. When one rows out from land to fish, one must 
not turn the boat against the sun. 

42. Pins found in a church and made into fish-hooks 
catch the best. 

43. If a woman passes over the rod, no fish will bite. 

44. Stolen fishing tackle is lucky, but the person robbed 
loses his luck. 

45. A light must not be held under the table, lest the 
guests should fall out. 

46. One should not turn round when going on any 
business, that it may not turn out ill. 

47. One must not return thanks for pins. 

48. There must be no spinning on a Thursday evening, 
or in Passion week ; for else there \vill be spinning in the 
night. 

49. If a stranger comes in where a pudding (sausage) 
is being boiled, it will split asunder. 

50. If you turn your slippers or shoes with the toes to 
wards the bed, the mara will come in the night. 

51. On Easter-eve a cross should be made over the 
door of the cattle-house, against harm from witches. 

52. When you sleep for the first time in a house, you 
should count the beams ; then \vhat you dream will come 
to pass. 



112 



SWEDISH TRADITIONS. 



53. If a person forgets something when setting out on 
a journey, there is good hope of his safe return ; but to look 
behind is not a good sign. 

54. When cats wash themselves, or magpies chatter 
near the house, they expect strangers. If a slothful house 
wife, or a careless servant, has not already swept the 
floor, it ought forthwith to he done. 

55. The person that comes first home from church on 
Christmas day, will be the first to die. 

56. If a person walks thrice round a bed of cabbages, 
after having planted them, they will continue free from 
worms. 

57. An empty sack must never be carried untied. If 
a pregnant woman follows it, her child will never be 
satisfied with food. 

58. When you bathe, be careful to put steel in the 
water to bind the Neck, and cry, "Neck, Neck, steel 
in strand, thy father was a steel-thief, thy mother was a 
needle-thief; so far shalt thou be hence as this cry is 
heard." Then let all cry as loud as they can, "ho hagla 1 ." 

59. On Easter-saturday, a long horn (lur) is to be 
blown through the window of the cattle-house : so far as 
the sound is heard, so far away will beasts of prey con 
tinue during that year. 

60. If a person seeking cattle in the forest meets with 
a titmouse on his right hand, the cattle sought for will be 
found. 

61. If swine are let out on St. Lucius day, they get 
vermin. 

62. If the cattle, on Michaelmas eve, are driven in with 
out noise, they will be quiet in the cattle-house the whole 
year. 

63. All labour when completed is to be signed with 
the cross. 

1 See p. 82. 



SWEDISH TRADITIONS. 113 

64. If a grain of corn is found under the table in sweep 
ing on a new year s morn, there will be an abundant crop 
that year. 

65. If a suspicious female enters the yard, to counteract 
the effects of witchcraft, you must either strike her so that 
the blood runs, or cast a firebrand after her. 

66. When a bride comes from church, she must her 
self unharness or unsaddle the horse, that she may easily 
have children. 

67. If a bride dances with money in her shoes, no 
witchery can affect her. 

68. In Sweden, as well as in Norway and Finland, the 
belief is general that when wolves appear in great multi 
tudes it forebodes war. The same superstition prevails 
also with regard to squirrels ] . 

1 Afzelius, i. 172. 



SCANDINAVIAN POPULAK TRADITIONS, 



m. 

DANISH TRADITIONS l . 

TROLLS. 
BARROW- OR MOUNT-FOLK, ELF-FOLK AND DWARFS. 



ORIGIN OF TROLLS. 

I. 

THE people in Jutland relate, that when our Lord cast the 
fallen angels out of heaven, some of them fell down on the 
mounds or barrows and became Barrow-folk, or, as they 
are also called, Mount-folk, Hill-folk others fell into the 
elf-moors, who were the progenitors of the Elf -folk while 
others fell into dwellings, from whom descend the do 
mestic sprites or Nisser. 

n. 

While Eve was one day washing her children by a 
spring, our Lord unexpectedly appeared before her, whereat 
she was terrified, and concealed those of her children that 

1 From Danmark s Folkesagn samlede af J. M. Thiele, 2 Bd. Kioben- 
havn, 1843. 



116 DANISH TRADITIONS. 

were not yet washed. Our Lord asked her if all her 
children were there ; she answered c yes/ to avoid his 
anger, if he should see that they were not all washed. Then 
said our Lord, that what she had concealed from him 
should thenceforth be concealed from mankind; and at 
the same moment the unclean children disappeared and 
were concealed in the hills. From these descend all the 
underground folk. 

In a rabbinic tradition it is said, that after Adam had eaten of the tree 
of knowledge he was accursed for a hundred and thirty years. During all 
these years, as we are informed by Rabbi Jeremias ben Elieser, he pro 
created only schedim, i. e. demons and the like. 

ELF-FOLK. 

The Elf-folk dwell in the Elf-moors. The male ap 
pears as an old man with a broad-brimmed hat ; the female 
Elf is young and seducing in appearance, but behind she 
is as hollow as a dough-trough. Young men should be 
particularly on their guard against her, for it is difficult 
to withstand her, and she has besides a stringed instru 
ment, when she touches which she infatuates every heart. 
The male is often to be seen by the Elf-moors basking in 
the sunbeams ; but if any one approach him too near, he 
will stretch his jaws and blow on them, which causes sick 
ness and pestilence l . The females are most frequently to be 
seen in the moonlight, when they dance their circling dance 
in the high grass with such lightness and grace, that they 
seldom get a refusal, when they offer a young man their 
hand. Good care must be taken to prevent cattle from 
grazing where the Elf-folk have been ; for if an animal 
come on a place where they have either spat or done worse, 
it will be seized with grievous complaints, which can be 
remedied only by giving them to eat a handful of St. 

1 That the blast of the elves is dangerous, is also a popular belief in 
Scotland. 



DANISH TRADITIONS. 117 

John s wort, gathered on St. John s night at twelve 
o clock. It may also happen that they receive injury by 
mingling with the Elf-folk s cattle, which are particularly 
large and of a blue colour. Such are sometimes to be 
seen in the fields licking the dew from the grass, for it is 
on that they live. The peasant may, however, provide 
against the evils above-mentioned, if, before he lets his 
cattle loose, he goes to the Elf-barrow and says : " Thou 
little Troll ! may I graze my cows on thy mount ? " If 
he gets no refusal, he may feel easy. 

Between Terslose and Sobierg lies Sobierg-Banke, which 
is the richest barrow in all Seeland ; it is in fact impos 
sible to tell the precious things to be found there. In this 
hill there dwells a Troll-wife, to whom there was once a 
grand procession from Steenlille field, when the Troll in 
Galtebierg took her to wife. 

It often happens, in fine weather, that the passer-by 
sees the most beautiful copper utensils and choicest bed 
dings lying on the mound to be aired ; and on approach 
ing still nearer, he may see the young Elflings labouring 
to get them all in with the utmost speed. 



In Illerup field near Kallundborg there is a mount called 
Fibierg-Bakke, in which there is a vast number of Trolls, 
who have much property and gold there. It may be 
plainly seen that they have a hole in the mount through 
which they drag those on whom they seize. At Yule one 
may see how they bring out their silver and gold to sun 
it, at which time it is dangerous to go on the mount. But 
on St. John s night the entire mount is set on red pillars, 
and then dancing and merry-making may be seen there. 
At this time any one may approach, and may also see how 
they drag great chests full of money backwards and for 
wards. 



118 DANISH TRADITIONS. 

In Laanehoi on JEro the Troll-folk may frequently be 
heard slamming their coffer-lids. Some harvest-people 
once sitting on the mount at their repast, heard, by placing 
their ear to the earth, that they were grinding corn in it. 



That Mount-folk formerly dwelt in Gallehoi on 
there can hardly be entertained a doubt; for not only 
have people heard them slam their coffer-lids, but the 
smith in Lille-Rise, who in the war time kept watch there, 
heard every morning a clock strike five in the mount. 



Near Ostrel, between Aalborg and Thisted, there is a 
mount, in which there dwells an elfin smith. At night 
one may plainly hear that smith s work is going on there ; 
and in the side of the mount there is a hole, by which in 
the morning slag and flakes of iron may be found. 



In the neighbourhood of Sundby, on the isle of Mors, 
there is a mount inhabited by a Troll who is a smith. 
At night one may hear when he is at work. Opposite to 
this mount there is a sand-hill, where the same smith has 
another workshop, whence may be heard the strokes of 
ponderous hammers. At midnight he often rides through 
the air from one workshop to the other, on a horse with 
out a head, with hammer in hand, followed by all his 
apprentices and journeymen. 



In the parish of Buur there are three large mounts. In 
one of them dwells a Troll who is a smith and has his 
workshop there. At night fire may frequently be seen 
issuing from the top of the mount, and, singular enough, 



DANISH TRADITIONS. 119 

entering again at the side ; but it is by that means he 
keeps his iron hot. If any one is desirous of having a 
piece of iron forged, he needs only to lay it on the mount, 
together with a silver skilling, at the same time saying 
what he wishes done, and the next morning the skilling 
will have disappeared, and the piece of work desired will 
lie ready and well executed 1 . 

Once some of the country people of Buur determined 
to dig up this Troll s treasure; for which purpose they 
one night assembled with spades and pickaxes. After all 
had been informed that they must beware of uttering even a 
single word, however strongly they might be tempted, they 
set to work. But scarcely had they put a spade in the 
ground before all sorts of frightful sights came out of the 
mount. Still they dug on unconcerned in the most per 
fect silence, until they arrived at a spacious stone apart 
ment. There lay the treasure before them, to wit, a large 
copper kettle full of gold money, close by which was an 
enormous black dog asleep. One of the men then taking 
off his coat, laid the dog gently upon it, for the purpose 
of carrying him away. At this moment came a great 
load of hay out of the mount, drawn by two cocks, which 
drew their load thrice round the mount ; still no one 
uttered a syllable, until one of the cocks kicked out be 
hind with such force that he broke the thick pole of the 
wagon, at which one of the men exclaimed : " That was a 
deuce of a kick for a cock ! " But scarcely had he said 
the words when all the men, many as they were, were 
projected to a considerable distance out of the mount, 
which was instantly closed again. On making a second 
experiment, it seemed to them that the whole Oster- 
Buur was in flames, at which sight, casting away their 

1 The Wavland smith of Kenilworth. 



120 DANISH TRADITIONS. 

spades, they ran to their several homes ; but on reaching 
the village they found all safe and quiet. 

In these goblin smiths may evidently be recognised the descendants of 
the dwarfs of the Eddaic mythology. 



At Gamtofte, not far from Assens, there is a mound in 
a field in which a Troll is said to have taken up his abode. 
Of this Troll it is related that he is very obliging when 
persons wish to borrow anything ; on which occasion it is 
simply necessary to go to the mount and knock thrice on 
the north side, at the same time naming the things re 
quired, whether pots, pans or other domestic utensils, 
when they instantly get what they need, but may be reckon 
ed as dead, if they do not return them at the time fixed. 



On the isle of Moen l there is a mount called Osted- 
Hoi. Once when Margaret Skselvigs was passing it on 
her way to Elmelund castle, an old woman met her and 
asked : " Whither art thou going, my child ? " Margaret 
answered that she was on her way to Elmelund castle, to 
borrow a gown of Peter Munk s wife, to be married in. 
Then said the old woman : " If thou wilt be here on 
Saturday, I will lend thee a bridal dress." On the Satur 
day following Margaret went accordingly to Osted-Hoi, 
and the woman brought her beautiful clothes of gold em 
broidery, ordering her to bring them back in a week ; if 
then no one appeared to receive them, she might consider 
them her own property. Thus did Margaret Skselvigs 
appear as a bride in clothes of gold embroidery ; and when 
she took them back at the time appointed, no one was 

1 One of the Danish islands, lying close to the most southern point of 
Seeland. 



DANISH TRADITIONS. 121 

there to receive them, so she rightfully kept them as her 
own. 



In Thyholm there is a series of lofty mounts which 
were formerly inhabited by the Mount-folk. A peasant 
once passing them on his way to Vestervig market, hap 
pened at the moment to utter complaints that he was 
mounted on such a sorry jade. On his way back, he saw 
lying precisely on the spot where he had sent forth his 
lamentations, four horseshoes, which he took home and 
shod his horse with them. But from that time no other 
horse in the neighbourhood could go with such speed as 
his. 

Another time, some peasants, who were passing by the 
mounts, by way of joke prayed the Mount-folk to give 
them some good beer. At the moment a little Troll 
came out of the mount with a large silver can, which he 
held out to the men, one of whom had no sooner got it in 
his grasp, than he set spurs to his horse, with the inten 
tion of keeping it. But the little man of the mount being 
quicker than he, soon overtook him and compelled him to 
give back the can. 

At length these Mount-folk grew weary of their abode 
in Thyland, and one day departed in a body to the ferry, 
for the purpose of crossing the fiord. When the ferry 
man was to be paid, they threw something into his hat 
which burned through it and sank under the floor, and 
which must have been gold ; for otherwise it would be 
impossible to account for the comfort which afterwards 
prevailed in the ferry -house. 



A little Elf-girl once came to a man in Dunkiscr on the 
isle of ^Ero with a peel, the handle of which was loose, 
begging him to fasten it, which he refused to do. Where- 

G 



122 DANISH TRADITIONS. 

upon a lad, who was standing by, undertook to assist her, 
and in reward for his service found lying by his plate at 
dinner-time a dainty slice of fine bread with butter on it. 
The man, who well knew whence the present came, ad 
vised him not to eat it, saying it would cause his death ; 
but the lad ate it without fear, and was well and cheerful 
when he rose the following morning; but the man lay 
stone-dead in his bed. 



In the neighbourhood of Lynge, near Soro, there is a 
mount called Bodedys, not far from which dwelt an aged 
peasant that had an only son, who made long voyages. 
For a considerable time the father had received no tidings 
of his son, and thinking that he had perished, mourned 
for his loss. One evening as he was passing by Bodedys 
with a full load, the mount opened and the Troll came out, 
who desired him to drive in. At this the man felt some 
what disconcerted, but knowing that it would not turn to 
his profit if he refused compliance with the will of the 
Troll,, he turned his horses and drove into the mount. 
There the Troll began to deal with him, and paid him 
liberally for all his wares. When he had unloaded his 
wagon and was about to drive out, the Troll said : " If 
thou canst keep thy mouth shut with regard to what has 
taken place, I shall look to thy advantage hereafter ; and 
if thou wilt come again to-morrow, thou shalt find thy 
son here." At the first moment the man knew not what 
to answer, but believing that the Troll was able to keep 
his promise, he felt extremely glad, and at the time fixed 
returned to Bodedys. There he sat waiting for a consi 
derable time, and at length fell asleep. When he awoke 
his son was lying by his side, and both father and son 
found it no easy matter to say how all this had come to 
pass. The son now related how he had been in prison and 



DANISH TRADITIONS. 123 

there suffered great hardships ; but that one night he had 
dreamed that a man came to him and said: "Dost thou 
still hold thy father dear V and on his answering " Yes," 
it was as if all chains and w r alls were broken. During 
this narrative happening to raise his hand to his neck, he 
found that a piece of the iron cnain still remained there. 
At this they were struck dumb with amazement, and went 
to Lyngc, where they hung the piece of chain up in the 
church as a memorial. 



Not far from Soro is the village of Pedersborg, a little 
beyond which is another called Lynge. Between these 
two places there is a mount called Brondhoi, which is said 
to be inhabited by Troll-folk. Among these there was an 
old jealous Troll, on whom the others had bestowed the 
name of Knurremurre; because through him there was 
often dissension and ill-feeling in the mount. It once 
reached the ears of this old Knurremurre that there was too 
close an intimacy between his young wife and a young Troll, 
which the old Troll took so much amiss that he threatened 
the life of the other, who consequently deemed it advisable 
to flee from the mount, and betake himself, transformed 
into a yellow cat, to the village of Lynge, under which 
form he ingratiated himself with a poor housekeeper named 
Platt. With him he lived a considerable time, got milk 
and porridge every day, and lay from morning till night 
in the easy-chair behind the stove. One evening Platt 
came home just as puss in his usual place was lapping 
some porridge and licking the pot. " Well, mother," 
said the man, " I will now tell thee what happened to me 
on my way home. As I was passing by Brondhoi, a Troll 
came out and called to me, saying : ( Holla you, Platt ! 
tell your cat that Knurremurre is dead/ " At these words 
the cat rose on his hind legs, let the pot roll and said, 

G 2 



124 DANISH TRADITIONS. 

while stealing out at the door : " What ? is Knurremurre 
dead ? I must then hasten ho/me." 



THE KLINT-KING ON THE ISLE OF MOEN. 

There is a Klint-king who rules over the klints (cliffs) 
of Moen, Stevn 1 and Riigen. He has a curious chariot, 
drawn by four black horses, in which he rides from one 
klint to another, over the sea, which then becomes agi 
tated. On these occasions the neighing of the horses may 
be distinctly heard. 

By the Queen s chair on Moen s Klint, there are 
some caverns high up in the rock, where in former times 
dwelt the Jode 2 of Upsala. A foolhardy person, it is said, 
once undertook to visit him in his abode, and suffered 
himself to be let down by a rope, but he never appeared 
again. 

Sometimes the said Jode of Upsala may be seen driving 
over the sea with his black horses ; and in the last Swedish 
war he passed with his green hunters over the rocks, for 
the purpose of defending the land, which he has promised 
to do once more. It is said that he has now betaken him 
self to Stevn s Klint. 

Not far from the Queen s chair there is a falling in the 
cliff, which is called the Orchard fall. There he had a 
beautiful orchard. To this Jode, or Giant, of Upsala the 
peasants of Moen were, until a few years since, in the 
habit of giving the last sheaf, when they had housed 
their corn. 

In Moen s Klint there are said to be two caverns, in one 
of which dwells Jon Opsal himself, in the other his dog 
and white horse. 

1 A remarkable cliff on the east side of Seeland. 

2 Jode, i. e. Jew, but no doubt a corruption for Jotn, giant. The white 
horse and his denomination of Upsala manifestly identify him with Odin. 



DANISH TRADITIONS. 125 

Twice already he has ridden the king s ride/ and saved 
the land from danger, and he will now soon ride a third 
time. He will then transform all the stones on the beach 
to cavalry, and with them overcome the foes of the country. 
Sometimes he rides to Stevn s Klint, and visits the king 
there. 

It is not long since that he came riding through Busse- 
rup, and stopt before the house of an old woman, of whom 
he begged a drink of water for himself and his white horse. 
The old woman told him she had only a sieve to give him 
the water in. " It s no matter," said he, " only fill it." 
And the sieve held the water, so that both he and his 
horse could drink from it. 

THE UNDERGROUND FOLK IN BORNHOLM 1 . 

In Bornholm, particularly in foggy weather, the Under 
ground folk are sometimes to be seen on the sides of the 
heaths practising the use of arms. They have a captain 
who is called the Ellestinger, and who, as well as all the 
other chieftains in this army, rides on a horse that has 
only three legs. These troops, as far as it is possible to 
discern, are clad in light blue or steel-gray uniforms, and 
have red caps, though sometimes three-cornered hats. The 
sound of their drums is often to be heard, and small, 
round stones are sometimes found, which are said to be 
their bullets. Whenever any hostile power has threatened 
Bornholm, these subterraneans have always made their 
appearance, fully prepared to defend the country ; so that 
the enemy, at such a formidable spectacle, has frequently 
retired with all possible speed. 

Thus it happened on the 6th Feb. in the year 1645, 
when two Swedish ships of war appeared off the Ham 
mer/ with the intention of effecting a landing, that they 

1 A small island, belonging to Denmark, in the Baltic, to the north 
east of Rugen. 



126 DANISH TRADITIONS. 

saw the whole mountain covered with troops swarming 
forth from every side, and although there were but two 
companies of soldiers on the island, the enemy was led to 
believe that the place was so strongly defended, that it 
would be vain to attempt a landing, and withdrew ac 
cordingly. 

In the parish of Ulvsborg there is a high mount, in 
which dwells a Troll, whom many persons have seen, when 
in the night he has all his bright copper utensils out in 
the moonlight. This Troll once came to a woman and 
requested her to lend him a loaf, promising to bring her 
another in two days ; but the woman made him a present 
of the loaf. Then said the Troll : " Thou shalt not have 
given me this for nothing; from this day forwards all 
shall go well with thee; and thy race shall share the 
benefit until the fourth generation." And so it proved. 

THE MOUNT FOLK BORROW BEER. 

At Holmby near Aarhuus, as a woman was standing at 
her door, there came to her a little Troll with a peaked 
hump, who said : " To-day Store-Bierg is to be married 
to Lille-Bierg : if mother will be so good as lend us a cask 
of beer for a few days, she shall have it back equally 
strong and good." Hereupon the woman followed the 
Troll to the brewhouse, and desired him to take which 
ever cask he liked best ; but as there was a cross marked 
on all of them, the Troll was unable to take one, but only 
pointed and said : " Cross off!" The woman now under 
stood that she must first remove the cross ; and when she 
had so done, the little Troll took the largest cask upon 
his hump and walked off with it. On the third day he 
came again, bringing with him a cask of beer equally 
good with that which he had borrowed. From that time 
prosperity prevailed in the house. 



DANISH TRADITIONS. 127 

THE ELF-FOLK UNDER THE HEARTH. 

In a mansion in Lille-Rise, on the isle of /Ero, the 
Elf-folk dwell under the stove. A little Elf-girl once 
came to the mistress of the house,, begging the loan of a 
pair of scissors, to cut out her bridal dress with. When 
the woman heard that there was to be a wedding, she felt 
a wish to be present, and promised to lend her the scissors, 
provided she would let her see what took place at the wed 
ding. The girl directed the woman to peep through a 
crack in the hearth, but at the same time cautioned her 
against laughing ; for if she laughed the whole spectacle 
would vanish before her eyes. 

When the wedding-day arrived the woman went to the 
crack and peeped in, and there saw the entire festivity, 
how the Elf-folk sat at table in their best clothes and 
enjoyed the beer and eatables. At this moment it hap 
pened that a quarrel arose between two of the guests, 
which proceeded so far that they both sprang on the table. 
There they pulled each other s hair, and at length fell into 
the soup-bowl, out of which they crept quite crest-fallen. 
As the whole company laughed at the two heroes in the 
soup-bowl, the woman could not refrain from doing the 
like ; when at the same moment the whole vanished. 

These same Elf-folk were at one time so offended with 
two girls that served in the house, that they took them 
out of their bed and carried them to a remote apartment, 
where after much search they were found in a deep sleep, 
though it was long past noon. 

FRU METTE 1 . 

On the isle of Mors in Jutland there is a mansion 
called Overgaard, in which there once dwelt a lady named 

1 Females of the higher classes are styled Frue (Ger. Frau), while those 
of an inferior grade, as merchants and tradesmen s wives, are called 
Madame. 



128 DANISH TRADITIONS. 

Fru Mette. To this lady a little Troll one day came, 
saying : " Fra Mette of Overgaard ! wilt thou lend thy 
silken skirt to Fru Mette of Undergaard, to be married 
in ?" Having lent the skirt and waited a long time in 
vain for its return, she went one day to the mount, and 
cried : " Give me back my skirt." At this the Troll came 
out and gave her the skirt quite covered with drippings 
of wax, and said : As you have demanded it, take it ; 
but if you had waited a few days, there should have been 
a diamond in the place of every drop of wax." 

THE UNDERGROUND FOLK FETCH A MIDWIFE. 

One Christmas eve, as a woman was preparing meat for 
the family, an Elf-man came to her, begging her to ac 
company him and help his wife who was in labour. The 
woman having consented to accompany him, he took her 
on his back and descended with her into the earth through 
a fountain. Here the woman learned that the Elf-wife 
could not be delivered without the aid of a Christian 
woman, she being herself a Christian, but had been carried 
off by the Elf-man. 

When the child was born, the Elf-man took it in his 
arms and went away with it, which, as the mother told 
the woman, he did for the reason, that if he could find 
two newly married persons, in the bridal bed, before they 
had repeated their Paternoster, he could, by laying the 
child between them, procure for it all the good fortune 
that was designed for the newly married pair. The wife 
then instructed her helper as to what she had to do when 
the Elf-man returned : " First," said she, you must eat 
nothing, if he asks you; for I ate, and therefore never 
returned. Next, if he will make you a present, and 
gives you the choice between something that looks like 
silver and something that looks like potsherds, do you 



DANISH TRADITIONS. 129 

choose the latter. And when he again bears you hence, 
seize, if you can, on a gooseberry bush, and say : Now, 
in the name of God, now I am on my own ! " 

In an hour the man returned with the child, quite angry 
that he had not found what he had been seeking after. 
He then offered the stranger woman some refection, and 
on her refusal to take any, said : f< They did not strike 
thee on the mouth who taught thee that." He then 
offered her a present, but she accepted only some black 
potsherds ; and when she again found herself on the face 
of the earth, she did as she had been directed. With the 
potsherds in her apron, she now proceeded to her dwelling, 
but before she entered she cast them into the ash-hole, 
and refused to tell her husband where she had been. But 
when the maid-servant came running into the room, say 
ing that something shone like silver in the ash-hole, and 
when she herself saw that it was pure silver, she told her 
husband where she had been, and they came into good 
circumstances through that Christinas eve. 



One night a Troll came to a midwife in Bingsbierg and 
requested her to accompany him down through a mound 
to help his wife. She followed him into the earth, without 
suffering any injury ; but having afterwards divulged what 
she had seen in the mound, she lost her sight. 



An Elf-wife who was in labour sent a message to a mid 
wife, requesting her aid. Having received the child, the 
Elf-folk gave her an ointment to rub over its eyes ; but 
in doing which some adhered to her fingers, so that she 
inadvertently anointed her own eyes with it. On her way 
home she remarked that something had happened to her 
sight; for as she passed by a rye-field she saw that it 

G 5 



130 DANISH TRADITIONS* 

swarmed with small Elf-folk, who went about clipping off 
the ears. " What are ye doing there ? " cried the woman, 
on seeing them steal the corn from the field ; and got for 
answer : ft If thou canst see us, thus thou shalt be served." 
They then thronged about her and put out her eyes. 

TROLLS AT UGLERUP. 

In Uglerup there once dwelt a man well to do in the 
world, named Niels Hansen. The wealth he possessed, 
it was said, he acquired through the Trolls. One day, to 
wit, as his wife was raking hay together in the field, she 
caught a large fat toad between the teeth of her rake, 
which she gently released, saying : ( Poor thing ! I see 
that thou needest help : I will help thee." Some time 
after, a Troll came to her by night, desiring her to accom 
pany him into the mount where he dwelt. When, in 
compliance with the TrolPs request, she had entered into 
the mount, she there found a Troll-wife lying in bed, and 
at the same time remarked a hideous serpent hanging 
down just above her head. Thereupon said the Troll-wife 
to her : " As you are now frightened at the serpent that 
hangs over your head, so frightened was I when I stuck in 
your rake. But as you were kind to me, I will give you 
good advice. When you go from this place, my husband 
will offer you a quantity of gold ; but, unless you cast this 
knife behind you when you go out, it will be nothing but 
coal when you reach home. And when he causes you to 
mount and rides away with you, be mindful to glide down 
from the horse, when you come over a slough ; else you 
will never see your home again." 

While Niels Hansen s wife was thus in the mount, she 
went into the Troll s kitchen, where she saw her own 
serving-man and maid standing and grinding malt. As 
they did not know her, she went up to them and cut a 



DANISH TRADITIONS. 131 

piece out of the linen of each, which she kept. At length, 
the Troll made her a costly present of gold, and she did 
as the Troll- wife directed ; and when she was riding home 
with him, she slipt from him, according to the instruc 
tions she had received, and before morning reached her 
house with all her treasure. 

The next day, when the man and maid appeared before 
her, they both complained of pain in the arms, as if from 
excessive fatigue. She then told them that they should 
recite a prayer and make the sign of the cross before going 
to bed, seeing that, unknown to themselves, they had 
been in the mount during the night, and had there ground 
rnalt for the Trolls. At this they laughed and thought 
she was joking ; but when she showed them the piece* 
of linen, they could no longer withhold their belief, see 
ing that the pieces corresponded with the holes. She then 
related to them the adventure of the night. 

THE MIDWIFE OF FUUR. 

Many years ago there was a midwife on the isle of 
Fuur, who was one night waked by a violent knocking at 
her door. On opening it she saw a diminutive creature 
who begged of her to follow him to attend an Elf-wift . 
She yielded to his entreaties, and was missing for a long 
time after. At length her husband happening one night 
to pass by the Elf-mount, saw that it was illuminated, that 
there was great parade and merry-making within, and, on 
taking a more accurate survey, that among the gayest of 
the company was his own wife. He beckoned to her, and 
they conversed together for a while ; and when, in spite of 
her caution, he called her by name, she was compelled to 
accompany him ; but from that time he never had the 
least good of her : she sat constantly by the kitchen table, 
and was dumb ever after. 



132 DANISH TRADITIONS. 

SKOTTE. 

At Gudmandstrup there is a mount called Hiulehoi. 
The Troll-folk that inhabit this mount are well known in 
the neighbouring villages, and if any person forgets to 
make a cross on his beer cask, the Trolls will sneak out 
of Hiulehoi and steal his beer. One evening late a pea 
sant passing by the mount,, saw that it was standing on red 
pillars, and that beneath were music, dancing and a grand 
festivity. While he stood viewing the joyous spectacle, 
the music and dancing ceased on a sudden, and amid much 
lamentation he heard a Troll cry out : " Skotte has fallen 
into the fire ! Come and help him out ! " The mount 
then sank and all the merry-making was at an end. 

In the mean time the peasant s wife was at home alone, 
and while she was sitting spinning her flax, she was not 
aware that a Troll had crept in at the window of the adjoin 
ing room and was standing by the cask drawing beer into 
his copper kettle. At this moment the peasant entered the 
apartment quite bewildered at what he had seen and heard. 
" Now, mother/ said he, " now I will tell you what has 
just happened to me" The Troll was all attention 
"As I passed by Hiulehoi, there was a great merry 
making; but when it was at the highest, there was an 
outcry in the mount that Skotte had fallen into the fire." 
On hearing this, the Troll, who was still standing by the 
beer cask, was so startled that he let the beer run, the 
kettle fall, and hurried away as quickly as possible through 
the window. By the noise the people were soon led to 
discover what had been going on at the beer cask ; but as 
they found the copper kettle, they took it as an equivalent 
for the spilt beer. 

KING PIPPE IS DEAD! 

Between Nordborg and Sonderborg, on the isle of Als, 
there is a mount called Stakkelhoi, which in former days 



DANISH TRADITIONS. 133 

was inhabited by a multitude of the subterranean folk, 
who were noted for their diligent researches in the neigh 
bouring pantries. One evening late, as a man was passing 
over Stakkelhoi to Hagenbierg, he heard some one in the 
mount exclaim : " Now King Pippe is dead ! " These 
words he retained in his memory. At the same time, one 
of the mount-people of Stakkelhoi was paying a visit at a 
peasant s in Hagenbierg, for the purpose of letting some 
of his beer flow into a silver jug that he had brought with 
him. The Troll was just sitting cheek by jowl with the 
cask, when the aforesaid man entered the house and told 
the peasant how, as he was passing over Stakkelhoi, he 
heard a voice in the mount saying : " Now King Pippe is 
dead ! " At this the Troll in a fright exclaimed : " Is 
King Pippe dead ? " and rushed out of the house with such 
haste that he forgot to take his silver jug with him. 

THE TROLL AT M/EHRED. 

At Msehred near Prsesto, as a smith was one day ham 
mering at his forge, he heard a great moaning and sobbing 
outside. Looking out at his door he saw a Troll driving 
a pregnant woman before him and crying without inter 
mission : " A little further yet ! a little further yet ! " 
At this spectacle the smith sprang forwards with a red hot 
iron, which he held behind the woman, so that the Troll 
was forced to abandon his prey and take to flight. He 
then took the woman under his protection, who was 
shortly after delivered of two sons. Thereupon he went 
to her husband, in the supposition of finding him incon 
solable for her loss ; but on stepping into the apartment, 
he perceived a woman, exactly resembling the man s wife, 
lying in bed. He at once saw how the matter stood, 
seized an axe, and with it struck the witch on the head as 
she lay. While the man was bewailing the death of his 



134 DANISH TRADITIONS. 

supposed wife, the smith brought him the genuine one 
together with the two new-born babes. 

THE MAN IN THE OXNEBIERG. 

At Rolfsted there is a mount called the Oxnebierg, by 
which there runs a rivulet, but between the mount and 
the rivulet there is to be seen a pathway trodden down in 
the corn, and which, according to the testimony of three 
men, who lay one night on the mount, is known to be so 
trodden by the Man in the Oxnebierg/ who rides out 
every night on his dapple-gray horse, which he waters in 
the rivulet. 

There was a similar path from the mount down to a 
spring in a garden at Baekstrup. It passed through a break 
in the hedge, which, how often soever it might be filled 
up, was always found open again on the following day. In 
the dwelling to which the spring belonged the mistress 
was hardly ever in good health ; but her husband, in 
consequence of advice given him, having filled up the well 
and dug another in another place, the woman from that 
time recovered her health, and the hole in the hedge was 
no more opened. 

THE UNBIDDEN GUESTS. 

In a house in the neighbourhood of Ostrel, between 
Aalborg and Thisted, the master and mistress remarked 
that the meat at dinner always disappeared very speedily, 
however large the quantity might be. They consulted 
with their serving-man, who was a knowing fellow, as to 
the cause, who being aware that a neighbouring mount 
was inhabited by a swarm of little Trolls, hit upon the 
idea that some of these probably partook of the fare, and 
therefore resolved to keep watch. On the following day, 
when the dinner was nearly ready, he went to the mount, 
where, applying his ear, he heard a great bustle arid con- 



DANISH TRADITIONS. 135 

fusion beneath, and one saying to another : " Give me my 
hat, dinner is ready." Hearing this, the man also cried 
out : " Give me my hat/ and was answered : " Here s 
none but old dad s." " That will do," said the man, and 
instantly a hat was flung to him out of the mount. 
Having put it on his head, he saw the Trolls coming out 
of the mount in swarms, and running towards his master s 
house. He speedily followed them, and on entering the 
apartment saw them already seated at the table, and busily 
regaling themselves with a pancake, which the mistress 
had just served up. The man also sat down and ate with 
them ; but in a few seconds the pancake vanished. Angry 
that there was no more, one of the little Trolls leaped on 
the table and untrussed his points over the empty dish. 
On seeing this, the man took up his knife and gave the 
shameless little wretch a slash, who uttered a loud scream 
and all ran away. The man now took off his hat, called 
his mistress and the people of the household, and asked 
them whether they had seen anything. They answered, 
that they had heard the door bang, also a scream, but 
seen nothing. 

In the evening, when the man was going to bed, he 
heard the bucket in the well drawn up and down. Where 
upon he put on the hat, went into the yard and saw the 
Trolls watering their little horses. He asked them whe 
ther they wished for a repetition of what they had expe 
rienced at dinner ? but they besought him earnestly to 
allow them to water their horses at the well, as there was 
no water in the mount. This the man allowed them to 
do, on condition that they should never more steal the 
dinner. 

On the following morning the man found two gold 
pieces hanging to the well ; and from that day the good 
housewife has kept her dinner secure from uninvited 
guests. 



136 DANISH TRADITIONS. 

ELLEVILDE, OR ELF-CRAZED. 

Not far from Ebeltoft, as a boy was watching cattle, 
there came to him a beautiful damsel, who asked him 
whether he was hungry or thirsty. But he, observing that 
she was particularly careful not to let him see her back, 
felt convinced that she was an Elf, the Elves being hollow 
behind. He would therefore hold no converse with her, 
but endeavoured to avoid her. When she remarked this, 
she presented her breast that he might suck her, in which 
there was so much fascination, that he had no more power 
to resist. After he had done as she bade him he was no 
longer master of himself, so that she found it no difficult 
matter to induce him to go with her. For three days he 
was absent. In the mean time his parents were at home 
bewailing his loss ; for they felt certain that he had been 
decoyed away. But on the fourth day the father saw him 
coming at a distance, and desired his wife to set a pan on 
the fire with bacon as speedily as possible. Immediately 
after the son entered and sat down without uttering a 
syllable. Nor did the old man speak a word, but acted as 
if everything was as it should be. The mother then set 
the meat before her son, and the father desired him to 
eat ; but he let the food stand untouched, saying that he 
knew where he could get better fare. The man now grew 
angry, and taking up a heavy stick, again ordered him to 
take his food. The lad was then compelled to eat, and 
when he had once tasted the bacon, he devoured it greedily, 
and then fell into a profound sleep. He slept as many 
days as the fascination lasted, but never from that time 
recovered the use of his understanding. 

THE BRUDEHOI, OR BRIDE MOUNT. 
Near Borbierg church, in the diocese of Kibe, there is 
a mount called Brudehoi, or The Bride s Mount, which 



DANISH TRADITIONS. 137 

name it is said to have derived from the following 
event. 

When King Cnut the Great was engaged in building 
Borbierg church, there dwelt in the above-mentioned 
mount a vicious Troll,, who every night demolished what 
had been erected during the day, so that the work could 
not proceed. Thereupon the king made an agreement 
with the Troll,, promising him the first girl that should 
come to the church as a bride. The building now went 
on prosperously and was soon completed. There then 
sat the Troll, waiting in his mount till a bridal company 
should pass. On the first opportunity he seized the bride 
and dragged her into the mount. From that time the 
place has been held in such dread, that all bridal couples, 
on their way to Borbierg church, rather go a mile or more 
about than pass by the mount. 

In Reiersen s Description of St. Bent s church at Riugsted, it is said of 
that structure : " There are two entrances to the church, viz. a large gate 
in the north chapel, through which the people usually pass into the 
church ; and a smaller one on the same side towards the end of the edifice, 
through which all children that have been christened and all corpses are 
brought ; also all bridal pairs pass that have been united in the church ; 
nor would it be possible to get any of these to be conveyed or pass through 
the large door, though from what cause no one can tell." In Scania there 
is also a Bride-mount, where a Troll named Gyllebert carried off a bride, 
on which account no bride ever passes by it. 

HANS PUNTL^DER. 

In the field of Bubbelgaard in Fyen there are three 
mounts, which from the following event are known by the 
name of the Dandse-hoie/ At Bubbelgaard there was a 
serving-lad named Hans, who one evening passing through 
the field above-mentioned, saw that one of the mounts 
was raised up on red pillars 1 , and that there were dancing 

1 In a Sleswig tradition the pillars are said to be golden. Miillenhoff, 
No. CDII. 2. 



138 DANISH TRADITIONS. 

and merriment beneath. Struck with the beauty of the 
spectacle which he witnessed, he felt singularly attracted 
nearer and nearer, until the fairest of all the fair lasses 
approached him and gave him a kiss. From that moment 
he was no more master of himself, and became so un 
manageable that he tore all his clothes to tatters, until at 
length it was found necessary to make him a garment of 
sole leather (puntlseder), which he was unable to tear 
asunder ; for which reason he ever after went by the name 
of Hans Puntlseder. 

THE AGED BRIDE. 

At a marriage at Norre-Broby near Odense, the bride 
during a dance left the apartment and walked without re 
flection towards a mount in the adjacent field, where at the 
same time there were dancing and merriment among the 
Elf-folk. On reaching the mount, she saw that it was 
standing on red pillars, and at the same moment an Elf 
came and presented to her a cup of wine. She took the 
cup, and having emptied it, suffered herself to join in a 
dance. When the dance was ended she bethought her 
self of her husband and hastened home. Here it appeared 
to her that everything in and about the place was changed, 
and on entering the village, she recognised neither house 
nor farm, and heard nothing of the noisy mirth of the 
wedding. At length she found herself standing before 
her husband s dwelling, but on entering saw no one whom 
she knew, and no one who knew her. One old woman 
only, on hearing the bride s lamentation, exclaimed : " Is 
it then you, who a hundred years ago disappeared at my 
grandfather s brother s wedding ? " At these words the 
aged bride fell down and instantly expired. 

BONDEVETTE. 
In Bornholm there was once a peasant named Bonde- 



DANISH TRADITIONS. 139 

vette, who, it was said, was born of a Mer-wife. His fa 
ther, as it is related, going once down to the sea-shore, saw 
a Mer-wife there, with whom he had intercourse. At their 
parting she said to him : " In a year thou shalt return, 
when thou shalt find a son here, who shall drive away the 
Mountain- imps and Trolls." It befell as she had said; 
for the man, on returning exactly a year after, found a 
little male child lying on the shore, which he took with 
him, fostered it, and called it Bondevette, because its 
father was a bunde l and its mother a vette 2 . As the child 
grew up he became large and strong, and also synsk, so 
that he could see what was invisible to others. When 
his father died, Bondevette succeeded to the farm and took 
to himself a wife. 

Not far from his dwelling there was a mount called 
Korshoi. As he was one day passing by, he heard the 
Trolls within, who were busied in carving a piece of wood, 
utter the words, " Cut it, Sncf ! that s almost like Bon 
devette s wife." His wife was just at that time lying in, 
and the Trolls had made a wooden image of her, which 
they intended to lay in her place, when they had carried 
her off. And this they accomplished ; for while she was 
lying in bed, and the women were sitting around her, the 
Trolls brought their wooden figure into the room, took the 
woman out of bed, and laid the image in her place, as if 
it were the woman herself. Their next object was to 
convey her through the window to some other Trolls, who 
stood without to receive her; but Bondevette, who had 
had an eye upon their proceedings, placed himself by the 
window, took his wife and concealed her in the house, un 
known to the other women. He then caused the oven 
to be heated very hot, took the image that lay in the bed, 
and thrust it into the oven, where it blazed and crackled 
prodigiously, while the women who were sitting in the 
1 A countryman, peasant of free condition. - See vol. i. p. 116. 



140 DANISH TRADITIONS. 

room and saw what he had done, made a woful outcry, 
thinking that he had burnt his wife. But he afterwards 
set their minds at ease, by showing them where he had 
laid his own wife. 

Another time, as he was passing by Korshoi, he heard 
the Trolls within say : " To-morrow Bondevette/s wife 
brews, so we will away and steal her beer." Whereupon 
he went home and ordered the brewing kettle to be filled 
with water, and the water to be heated to boiling. He 
then said to his men ; " Wherever I cast water do you 
strike with stout cudgels." So when the Trolls came with 
their bucket and a strong iron rod to fetch the beer, Bon- 
devette cast the boiling water over them and scalded them, 
while the men beat about with their cudgels, but without 
seeing that they were belabouring the Trolls. In this 
manner he drove them off with such speed that they had 
no time to take with them either bucket or iron rod. The 
latter Bondevette afterwards gave to the church ; and it is 
the same on which the church door yet hangs. 

Once, as he was passing the same mount by night, he 
saw how the Trolls were dancing around it. When they 
saw him they would drink to him, and handed him a cup ; 
but he cast the liquor over his shoulder, some of which 
falling on his horse, burnt both its hide and hair. Bonde 
vette hastened away with the cup, which he afterwards 
gave to the church, and which was subsequently made into 
a chalice and paten. It is furthermore said of him, that 
he continued in the same course towards the Trolls, until 
they at last grew tired of inhabiting Korshoi. 

THE GIANT S DAUGHTER AND THE PLOUGHMAN. 

In Trostrup Mark there is a barrow, in which a giant 
lies buried, of whom it is related that he had a daughter 
of gigantic form and power. As she was one day crossing 
a field, she found a man ploughing, and thinking it was 



DANISH TRADITIONS. 141 

some sort of plaything, she took him with his team and 
plough up in her pinafore, and carried them to her father, 
saying : " See what I have found in the fields, while I was 
raking in the ground." But her father answered : " Let 
them go : they will drive us away l ." 

SVEND FUELLING. 

Svend Fselling was a doughty champion, born at Fsell- 
ing in Jutland. For a considerable length of time he 
served on the farm of Aakiser near Aarhuus, and as the 
roads were not secure, on account of Trolls and other sub 
terranean beings, who bear enmity towards all Christian 
folk, he undertook the office of letter-carrier. As he was 
once passing along, there came to him the Troll from 
Jelshoi, requesting his aid in a battle with the Troll of 
Borum-Eshoi. Svend Fselling expressed his willingness, 
thinking himself sufficiently strong and daring. To try 
his strength, however, the Troll held out to him a thick 
iron bar, but which, strong as he was, he was unable to 
lift. The Troll then handed him a horn, desiring him to 
drink from it, and when he had drunk a little, he could 
lift the bar ; and when he had again drunk, it was still 
lighter to him ; but when he had emptied the horn, he 
was able to brandish the bar, and learned from the Troll 
that he had the strength of twelve men. He then made 
ready to proceed against the Troll of Borum-Eshoi, and 
was told that he would meet a black and a red bull 
on the way, and that he should attack the black one, and 
drive him with all his might from the red bull. This he 
did, and afterwards learned that the black bull was the 
Troll from Borum-Eshoi, and the red one the Troll from 
Jelshoi, from whom, in recompense, he received, as a 
permanent gift, the strength of twelve men, though with 
the condition that if he ever divulged to any one how he 
1 See more on this subject in Grimm, D. M. pp. 505, sq. 



142 DANISH TRADITIONS. 

had acquired such power, he should, as a punishment, re 
ceive also the appetite of twelve. 

From that time the report of Svend Fselling s strength 
became wide-spread throughout the country, seeing that 
he was constantly displaying it in divers manners. It is 
related of him that being once offended at a milk-maid, he 
so threw her that she found herself sitting across the gable 
of a house. When this feat was reported to the proprietor 
of Aakiser, he ordered Svend Fuelling to be called before 
him, and commanded him to relate how he had acquired 
such vast bodily strength. But as Svend well remem 
bered the Troll s warning, he refused until he got his 
master s promise that he should have as much to eat as 
he desired. From that day he ate and drank the portion 
of twelve men. At Aakiser there is still shown a flesh- 
pot which he emptied daily, and which is called Svend 
Fselling s flesh-pot. At the same place there is also said 
to be a huge two-handed sword three ells long, which 
once belonged to him ; also an ancient beech with a large 
ring in it, to which he was accustomed to tie his horse. 



According to other accounts, Svend Fselling served as 
a boy at the farm of Siellevskov, and it once happened, 
when he had ridden on a message to Ristrup, that it was 
evening before he reached home. As he passed by the 
mount called Borum-Eshoi, he observed the Elf-girls, 
who kept incessantly dancing round his horse. One of 
these approaching him, presented to him a costly drink 
ing horn and invited him to drink. Svend took the horn, 
but having no great faith in what it contained, he threw 
it out behind him, so that it fell on his horse s back and 
singed the hair off. The horn he held fast, and clapping 
spurs to his horse, rode away with all possible speed, fol 
lowed by the Elf-damsel, until he reached Trigebrand s 



DANISH TRADITIONS. 143 

mill, where lie rode over the running water, across which 
the Elves cannot follow. Thereupon the Elf-damsel ear 
nestly implored him to give her the horn back, promising 
him in recompense the strength of twelve men ; on which 
assurance he returned the horn to her, and got what she 
promised him. But he thereby frequently found him 
self in difficulty, seeing that he had at the same time 
acquired the appetite of twelve. When he returned home 
in the evening of that day, the people were just having 
their Christmas beer; and feeling disposed to be merry 
at his expense, they sent him to fetch beer, saying : 
" Svend ! do thou go and fetch us our beer, then we will 
drink no more this Christmas." Svend said nothing and 
went, but came back with a cask in each hand and one 
under each arm. 

Near the village of Steenstrup there is a mount called 
Havbierg, on which the doughty Svend Fselling was wont 
to sit while washing his hands and feet in Sender strand, 
which is distant about an eighth of a mile. In Holmstrup 
the peasants cooked meat for him, which they brought 
him in huge brewing vessels. When he was dead, he 
was buried at Dalhoi, between Loms and Holmstrup. 

In the old Danish ballad of Svend Folding s Kamp med Risen, Svend 
is described as going on a pilgrimage to Rome, and on his way arriving 
at a city called Hovdingso, the princess of which informs him that the 
land is being made desolate by a giant who feeds only on women and 
maidens. Svend undertakes to encounter this monster, and a number of 
horses are led forth, that he may select one qualified to bear him in the 
ensuing combat. These proving either too shy or too weak, he wishes 
for a Jutland horse, when a miller passes by, who informs him that he 
has a Jutland horse that can carry fifteen skippund. This horse is so 
powerful and violent that he bursts every saddle-girth that is applied to 
him, until fifteen maidens knit a girth of silk and gold, seven ells long, a 
quarter of an ell thick and five spans broad, which fully answers its pur 
pose. Svend finally kills the giant l . 

1 Danske Viser fra Middelalderen, i. 150. 



144 DANISH TRADITIONS. 

In Borberg church, in the diocese of Ribe, there is a remarkable gilt 
altar-piece with figures of alabaster, representing the history of Svend 
Felding, so celebrated in the Danish chronicles, as well as that of the 
giant, who would have only women and maidens ; also the Danish horse 
that could carry fifteen skippund of corn, which the miller gave to Svend 
Felding to bear him in the combat; the giant s head, which Svend Feld 
ing cut off ; the damsels who wove the thick saddle-girth ; the priest who 
absolved Svend Felding of his sins before he went to the encounter l . 

ALTAR-CUPS. 

In Holbek amt, in Seeland, between Marup and Aage- 
rup, there was once a large castle, the ruins of which may 
still be seen on the shore. At this place, tradition tells 
us, there are vast riches, and that a dragon under the 
earth broods over three kings ransoms. The underground 
folk are often to be seen here, particularly on solemn oc 
casions, when they have dancing and merry-making on 
the shore. 

One Christmas eve a man in Aagerup asked his master 
to let him ride down to see the Trolls merry-making. 
The master allowed him to take the best horse in the 
stable. On reaching the spot, he sat a while on his horse 
witnessing the festivity, and while wondering to see the 
mount-folk dance, a little Troll came to him, who invited 
him to dismount and partake of their mirth. Another then 
came springing, who took his horse s rein and held it while 
the man dismounted and danced with them the whole night. 
When the morning drew nigh, he thanked them for their 
hospitality and mounted his horse, when they invited him 
to come again on the following new year s night, when 
there would be another merry-making. A damsel then 
brought him a gold cup, bidding him take a parting 
draught; but feeling some mistrust, he, while feigning 
to put the cup to his lips, cast the liquor over his shoulder, 
so that it fell on the horse s back, the hairs of which it 

1 J. Hofman, Fundgr. iv. 613. 



DANISH TRADITIONS. 145 

singed. Applying then the spurs to his horse s sides, he 
rode away cup in hand over a ploughed field, followed by 
all the Trolls, who finding it very difficult to traverse the 
deep furrows, cried incessantly : " Ride on the smooth 
and not on the rough ! " But it was riot until he ap 
proached the village that he found it necessary to ride on 
the level road, whereby he was exposed to great peril, as 
the Trolls came nearer and nearer at every moment. In 
his extremity he put up a prayer, and for his safety pro 
mised to give the cup to the church. Having now reached 
the churchyard, he threw the cup over the wall, that that 
might at all events be secure. He then quickened his 
pace and entered the village, and just as the Trolls were 
about to seize the horse, it darted through the gateway of 
the house, and the man slammed the gate after him. He 
was now safe, but the Trolls were so exasperated that they 
fetched an enormously large stone, which they hurled with 
such force against the gate that four of the planks flew 
out. Of the house not a vestige remains, but the stone 
yet lies in Aagerup village. The cup was given to the 
church, and the man got as a reward the best farm on the 
estate of Ericsholm. 

It is well worthy of remark, that William of Newbridge, who lived as early 
as the twelfth century, relates a story of a man in Yorkshire, who returning 
home one night, saw a mound open, in which a number of persons were 
feasting, one of whom offered him a cup, the contents of which he poured 
out, arid rode off with the cup. The cup was presented to Henry L, 
from whose hands it passed into those of David, king of Scotland, and 
was finally given by William the Lion to King Henry II. The province 
of Deiri, the scene of this tradition, it must be recollected was chiefly in 
habited by the descendants of the Northmen l . 

In Scotland " it is still currently believed, that he who has courage to 
rush upon a fairy festival, and snatch from them their drinking cup or 
horn, shall find it prove to him a cornucopias of good fortune, if he can 
bear it in safety across a running stream. A goblet is still carefully pre 
served in Edenhall, Cumberland, which is supposed to have been seized 

1 Keightley, F. M. p. 283. 



146 DANISH TRADITIONS. 

at a banquet of the elves, by one of the ancient family of Musgrave ; or, 
as others say, by one of their domestics, in the manner above described. 
The fairy train vanished, crying aloud, 

If this glass do break or fall, 
Farewell the luck of EdenhallM " 



Between North and South Kongerslev are two mounts, 
one of which is called Ornehbi, the other Kiserlinghoi ; both 
are inhabited by Troll-folk, who are at enmity with each 
other. 

One Christmas eve, a farmer in South Kongerslev was 
sitting at table talking with his man : " Christian," said 
he, "what may the Mount-folk in Kiserlingbierg be about ?" 
" What are they about ? " answered the man, " what can 
that concern us ? " The farmer then said that it would 
be amusing to see the mount standing on four pillars and 
all the merriment beneath. To which the man replied, 
that if he might take the one-coloured horse that stood in 
the stable, he would go and bring him back the informa 
tion he wished, and also a token that he had been there. 
The farmer allowed him to take the horse, and when he 
reached the spot he found the mount standing on four 
pillars, and great feasting and mirth beneath. For a 
while he sat quiet on the horse and looked on, but when 
just about to return, he began crying out : " hou ! vildt ! 
hou ! vildt ! " which people are wont to cry when they 
have lost their way. As soon as the Mount-folk saw him, 
a little boy, with a red cap on his head, came out and 
offered him drink from a gold cup. He took the cup, 
but cast out the liquor and hastened away at full speed. 
Being followed by all the Trolls, he was nearly overtaken by 
them just as he passed by Ornebierg ; but the Trolls there, 
seeing him pursued by those of Kiserlingbierg, cried out : 

1 Scott s Minstrelsy, ii. p. 130. 



DANISH TRADITIONS. 147 

<c Ride off the hard, up on the fallow, and you will escape 
them ! " This the man understood quite well, quitted 
the road, rode up into the ploughed field, and so escaped, 
the little Trolls of the mount being unable to follow him 
over the furrows. On reaching the farm, he made a cross 
at the gate, a cross on the horse, a cross on the door, and 
a cross on the cup, which he still held in his hand. 

Now he must tell his master all he had seen and heard : 
first, that all the Trolls in Kiserlinghoi are called either 
Vidrik or Didrik, so that during their feast it was to be 
heard on every side : Your health, Vidrik ! " Thank 
you, Didrik ! " " Your health, Vidrik s wife ! " " Thank 
you, Didrik s sweetheart ! " and the like. He further told 
him that they could not say a merry feast. At length, in 
proof of the truth of his story, he drew forth the costly 
cup that he had taken from the Trolls, which precious ac 
quisition was highly valued in the house, and brought 
forth only on extraordinary occasions. 

On the following Christmas eve a little man in tatters 
came to the house and begged a night s lodging of the 
mistress. cf Yes, certainly," said the woman, " come into 
the room and get something to live on/ She then cut 
him an excellent luncheon of fine bread with butter and 
other good things upon it, but the miserable fellow would 
not touch it. In the evening, when supper was brought 
in, the mistress invited him to sit down and partake of 
their meal, but still he would touch nothing. " What if I 
were to offer him a drink of good beer in our beautiful 
cup/ thought the woman within herself ; and did so ac 
cordingly ; but no sooner had the beggar received it, than 
both he and the cup vanished from her sight, although 
the door continued closed. 



H 2 



148 DANISH TRADITIONS. 

TROLLS IN THE RED STONE. 

As a man on horseback, accompanied by his dog, was 
passing one evening late by the Red-stone, a projecting 
crag on the isle of Fuur in the Liimfiord, he saw by the 
moonlight the Trolls carrying their gold and silver trea 
sures out to the little knolls thereabout, for the purpose of 
exposing them to the air. The man happened to have his 
gun with him, and having heard that, if any one can shoot 
three times over them, the Trolls must go into the mound 
and leave their treasure behind them, he shot accordingly ; 
but being unable to restrain his cupidity until daybreak, 
when he could convey the treasure home at his ease with 
out hindrance, he put the whole into a bag and hurried 
away. As he was riding along between two banks, he 
heard something puffing and panting behind him, and on 
looking round, saw a little man with a long beard, on a 
horse not larger than a cat, but without a head, and with 
a diminutive black dog by his side. He easily guessed 
that it was the Troll of the Red-stone. " Wilt thou let 
thy horse fight with mine ? " said the little man. " No, 
God forbid ! " answered the man. " Or thy dog with 
mine ? " No, God forbid ! " " Or wilt thou thyself 
engage with me, little as I am ? " " No, God forbid ! " 
At the same time the man whipped his horse and rode 
away as fast as he could. When he got home and was 
within his own doors, there seemed to be a storming and 
hissing without, and the whole house appeared to be in a 
blaze. Being well aware what sorcery was going forward, 
he took up the bag with the treasure and flung it out. 
The sorcery thereupon ceased, and a voice without cried : 
" Thou hast still enough ! " Next morning he found a 
heavy silver cup that had fallen behind a chest of drawers. 



DANISH TRADITIONS. 149 

THE TROLL S GLOVE. 

Near Hvidovre in Seeland there is a large mount in 
which a Troll dwelt, who went every night from the mount, 
through a neighbouring farm-yard, down to the rivulet, 
to fetch water : his foot-marks might easily be traced in 
the grass. One morning, as the farmer was going to his 
turf-field, he found on this path a glove so large that the 
thumb could hold a barrel of rye. When he brought it 
home, all were amused with it, and were unanimous that 
it must belong to the Troll. The following midnight, as 
the man lay asleep, he was awaked by a loud knocking at 
the window, followed by the words : 

" Vante, Ven ! The glove, friend ! 

Giv mig min Vante igien ; Give me my glove again ; 

Ellers ligge to af dine Heste, Else shall lie two of thy horses, 

De storste og de bedste, The largest and the best, 

Dode imorgen paa Mosen ! " Dead to-morrow on the moor. 

Thereupon the farmer took the glove, went out of the 
house, and hung it on a beam-end over the window, and 
having made a cross on the door, again went in. In the 
morning the glove was away and the beam-end was found 
snapped off level with the wall. From that time nothing 
more was ever heard of the Troll ; his path became grown 
over and was no longer to be traced. 

The idea of the gigantic glove is evidently derived from that of Skry- 
mir, in the story of Thor and Udgarda-Loki. 1 

THE TROLL OUTWITTED. 

A husbandman, who had a little mount on his field, re 
solved not to let it lie waste, and began to plough it up. 
At this the Troll, who dwelt in the mount, came out and 
demanded who it was that dared to plough on his roof. 
The husbandman said that he did not know it was his 
roof, and at the same time represented to him that it 
1 Vol. i. p. 56. 



150 DANISH TRADITIONS. 

was disadvantageous for both to let such a piece of land 
lie uncultivated ; that he was willing to plough, sow and 
reap every year, and that the Troll should alternately have 
that which in one year grew on the earth, and the man 
that which grew beneath, and the next year the reverse. 
To this the Troll agreed, and the man in the first year 
sowed carrots, and in the year following, corn, and gave 
the Troll the tops of the carrots and the roots of the corn. 
From that time there was a good understanding between 
them. 

RAGINAL. 

A farmer fell into poverty because he could not keep 
any cows in his stalls, the necks of all having been broken 
one after another. He therefore left the dwelling, which 
was sold to another. When the new proprietor came into 
the cowhouse one evening arid saw that everything was 
in tolerable condition, he exclaimed : " Good evening, 
Raginal ! " whereupon a voice answered : " What ! dost 
thou know me ? " " Yes, I have known thee for many a 
year ! " " If/ said the Troll, who dwelt beneath, " thou 
wilt move thy cowhouse to some other place, thou shalt 
then become an opulent man. I have my habitation under 
the cows, and their dirt falls down on my table every day, 
so that I have been obliged to break their necks." The 
man removed the cowhouse, and thrived from that time. 

That a similar superstition was known in Scotland, will appear from the 
following : " The Scottish fairies, in like manner, sometimes reside in sub 
terranean abodes, in the vicinity of human habitations, or, according to 
the popular phrase, under the door-stane, or threshold ; in which situa 
tion they sometimes establish an intercourse with men, by borrowing and 
lending, and othei- kindly offices, In this capacity they are termed the 
good neighbours, from supplying privately the wants of their friends, and 
assisting them in all their transactions, while their favours are concealed. 
Of this the traditionary story of Sir Godfrey Macculloch forms a curious 
example. 

" As this Gallovidian gentleman was taking the air on horseback, near 
his own house, he was suddenly accosted by a little old man, arrayed in 



DANISH TRADITIONS. 151 

green, and mounted upon a white palfrey. After mutual salutation, the 
old man gave Sir Godfrey to understand, that he resided under his habita 
tion, and that he had great reason to complain of the direction of a drain, 
or common sewer, which emptied itself directly into his chamber of dais. 
Sir Godfrey was a good deal startled by this extraordinary complaint ; but , 
guessing the nature of the being he had to deal with, he assured the old 
man, with great courtesy, that the direction of the drain should be al 
tered ; and caused it to be done accordingly. Many years afterwards. 
Sir Godfrey had the misfortune to kill, in a fray, a gentleman of the neigh 
bourhood. He was apprehended, tried, and condemned. The scaffold, 
upon which his head was to be struck off, was erected on the Castle-hill of 
Edinburgh ; but hardly had he reached the fatal spot, when the old man 
upon his white palfrey, pressed through the crowd, with the rapidity of 
lightning. Sir Godfrey, at his command, sprung on behind him ; the good 
neighbour spurred his horse down the steep bank, and neither he nor the 
criminal were ever again seen V 

A woman was returning late one night from a gossiping. A pretty 
little boy came up to her and said: " Coupe yere dish-water farther frae 
yere door-step ; it pits out our fire 2 ." 

GILLIKOP. 

Some Jutlanders having got a little Troll into their 
power, thought they could not do better than make him a 
Christian, and therefore set him in a cart for the purpose 
of driving him to church and having him baptized. A* 
he there sat peeping out, the men heard a voice in the road 
calling aloud : " Where now, Gillikop ?" to which the little 
Troll in the cart responded : " A long way, Slangerop ! I 
am going to a little water yonder, where I hope to be 
come a better man." 

THE TROLLS DESIRE TO BE SAVED. 

One night as a priest was going from Hiorlunde to 

Rolskilde, he passed by a mount in which there were rnnsic, 

dancing and other merriment. At this moment some 

Dwarfs sprang forth from the mount, stopped the priest s 

1 Scott s Minstrelsy, ii. pp. 169, sg. 

2 Cromek, Nithsdale and Galloway Song, quoted by Keightley. F. M. 
p. 353. 



152 



DANISH TRADITIONS. 



vehicle, and said: "Whither art thou going?" "To 
Landemode," answered the priest. They then asked him 
whether he thought they could be saved ; to which he re 
plied that he could not then inform them. They then 
appointed him to meet them with an answer in a year. 
In the mean time it went ill with the coachman, who the 
next time he passed by the mount was overturned and 
killed on the spot. When the priest came again at the 
end of a year, they again asked him the same question, 
to which he answered : " No ! you are all damned ! " 
Scarcely had he uttered the words before the whole mount 
was in a blaze. 

A similar story is told of the Nok, see p. 80. In the Irish story named 
The Priest s Supper, a fisherman, at the request of the fairies, asks a 
priest who had stopt at his house, whether they would be saved or not at 
the last day. The priest desired him to tell them to come themselves and 
put the question to him, but this they declined doing, and the question 
remained unanswered l . 

THE TROLLS FEAR OF THE CROSS. 

Near Aarhuus there dwelt a smith, who one day, on his 
way to church, observed a Troll sitting by the road-side 
on a heap of coals and busied with two straws that were 
accidentally lying across each other on the heap ; but in 
spite of all his labour, being unable to get them to lie 
otherwise, he besought the smith, who stood looking at 
him, to take the straws away. But the smith, who well 
knew the real state of the case, took the whole heap toge 
ther with the cross, paying little attention to the outcry 
made by the Troll. It was found afterwards, when he 
reached home, that what appeared like coals was a great 
treasure over which the Troll had no longer power. 

THE TROLLS FEAR OF THUNDER. 

The Mount-folk are exceedingly terrified at thunder, 
1 Keightley, F. M. p. 365. 



DANISH TRADITIONS. 153 

and therefore hasten to get into their mounts when they 
see a storm drawing up to windward. In consequence of 
this terror they cannot endure the beating of drums, which 
is, in their opinion, a species of thunder 1 . A good me 
thod, therefore, to get rid of them is, to drum vigorously 
every day in the neighbourhood of their mounts ; for 
then they will at length pack up, and wander to a more 
peaceful spot. 

A countryman once lived in good fellowship with a 
Troll, who had his mount in the countryman s field. 
When his wife was once lying-in, he was a little embar 
rassed because he could not well avoid inviting the Troll to 
the birthday feast, which would give him a bad reputation 
both with the priest and with the other townsfolk. In this 
state of perplexity, from which he knew not how to extricate 
himself, he sought counsel of his swineherd, who was a 
shrewd fellow, and had often helped him on other occa 
sions. The swineherd undertook to settle the matter with 
the Troll, so that, without being offended, he should not 
only stay away, but should give a handsome present. In 
pursuance of his plan, taking a bag with him, he went to 
the mount, knocked, and was admitted. He then in the 
name of his master invited the Troll to honour them with 
his presence at the lying-in festival. The Troll thanked 
him and said : " So, I shall then have to give you a gossip- 
gift ; " at the same time opening his money chest and 
causing the man to hold the bag up, while he poured 
money into it. " Is there enough now ? " --" Many 
give more, few give less," answered the swineherd. There 
upon the Troll began again to pour into the bag, and 
again asked, " Is there enough now ? " The swineherd 
lifted the bag a little as a trial whether he could carry 
more, and answered, " Most people give as much." The 

1 Thor, the god of thunder, was the deadly foe of the Trolls. See 
vol. i. p. 36. 

H 5 



154 DANISH TRADITIONS. 

Troll thereupon emptied the whole chest into the bag, 
and asked : ee Is there now enough ? " The man finding 
that he had now as much as he could carry, answered : 
" None give more, most people give less." "Well/ 
said the Troll, " let us now hear who is to be there 
besides." "Ah," said the man, "we shall have great 
personages : first three priests and a bishop." " Umph ! " 
growled the Troll; "though such high dons generally 
look only after w r hat J s to eat and drink ; they are not 
likely to notice me. Now, who else ? " " Then there s 
the Virgin Mary." " Umph ! umph ! Still there will 
be a retired place for me behind the stove. Now, who 
next ? " " Then our Lord is to be there." " Umph ! 
urnph ! umph ! Still such exalted guests come late and 
make a short stay; but what music are you to have?" 
" Drums," answered the swineherd. " Drums," repeated 
the Troll, startled, "no thank you; I remain at home. 
Greet thy master from me, and thank him for his invita 
tion ; but I shall not come ; for once, when I went out 
for a little walk, the folks began to drum, and when I was 
hastening away and had just reached my own door, they 
threw a drumstick after me and broke one of my thighs. 
From that time I have been lame, and shall beware of 
such music ! " With these words he helped to lift the 
bag on the man s shoulders, and again desired him to 
greet his master. 

The dread entertained by the Trolls for thunder dates from the time of 
paganism, Thor, the god of thunder, being the deadly foe of their race l . 

THE TROLLS HATRED OF BELLS. 

In Egens Mark a multitude of the dwarf race once made 
their appearance. They were all clad in gray jerkins and 
wore red caps. With respect to their persons, they were 
hump-backed, and had long hooked noses. Whitherso- 

1 See vol. i. p. 36. 



DANISH TRADITIONS. 155 

ever they came they made sad havoc among the pantries, 
and people found it no easy task to get rid of them, until 
a pious and experienced man advised that a bell should be 
hung in the tower of Ebeltoft church. When this was 
done, people saw no more of the Trolls. 
The Korrigan of Brittany have a similar abhorrence of bells. 



In Dishoi a Troll had lived undisturbed for many years, 
because at that time there was no church in the neigh 
bourhood. But when at length a church was built hard 
by, and the bells for the first time rung in the tower, the 
Troll in great tribulation came riding on a gold-shod 
horse to a peasant his neighbour, and delivered to him the 
keys of his treasure, as he himself must take his departure. 
The next day the peasant went to the mount to get the 
treasure : he found the door, but in his joy exclaimed ; 
" Now I have it ! " At the same instant both door and 
key vanished. 

A peasant once observed a Troll in deep affliction sitting 
on a stone between Mullerup and Dalby. At first he 
imagined him to be a proper Christian man, and asked 
him to what place he was going. " I am going out of the 
country," answered the Troll, "for no one can now stay 
in it for sheer ringing and tolling/ 

THE TROLLS FORSAKE VENDSYSSEL. 
It happened one evening that a stranger came to Sundby 
ferry and agreed with all the ferrymen, that during the 
whole night they should ferry over from Vendsyssel, with 
out knowing what lading they were to have. They were 
told that half a mile east of Sundby they were to take in 
their freight. At the time appointed the stranger was on 
the spot, when the ferrymen, although they saw nothing, 
yet remarked that their boat sank more and more, whence 



156 



DANISH TRADITIONS. 



they concluded that they had received an exceedingly 
heavy lading on board. In this manner the ferry boats, 
during the whole night, passed backwards and forwards 
across the water ; and although they at each time took a 
new freight, the same stranger was always present, that 
all might be done according to his orders. At the ap 
proach of morning the ferrymen received the stipulated 
payment, and on inquiring what it was they had con 
veyed across, could get no information. Among the ferry 
men there was, however, a shrewd fellow, who knew much 
more about such matters than the others. He sprang on 
shore, took the earth from under his right foot and put it 
into his cap, and having set it upon his head, he perceived 
that all the sand-hills east of Aalborg were entirely co 
vered with small Trolls, having red, peaked caps on their 
heads. From that time no dwarfs of that description have 
been seen in Vendsyssel. 

THE ELF-FOLK FORSAKE ^RO. 

After that the miller in Dunkiser had repeatedly dis 
turbed the subterranean folk in Elleshoi, and at length 
even ploughed over their mount in every direction, which 
they could not possibly endure, they prepared to quit the 
country and migrate to Norway. 

There came one day a little old man to a poor skipper, 
who had no employment, and asked him whether he would 
like to have charge of a vessel. The man answered that 
he would gladly; but when the little man led him down 
to the shore at Gravendal, and showed him an old wreck, 
the skipper objected, telling him that such a wreck could 
not possibly keep the sea. The little man answered, that 
he might make himself quite easy on that score, might 
hire a sailor, and meet him again in three days, when the 
vessel should be ready to sail. The skipper in the mean- 



DANISH TRADITIONS. 157 

while found it difficult to hire a sailor, for all that he ap 
plied to turned their backs on him and laughed, as soon 
as they heard that he was going to sail in the old wreck at 
Gravendal. At length he met with a poor lad who, in 
the hope of getting something to eat, allowed himself to 
be hired. 

On the third day the skipper and his helpmate were at 
Gravendal, where they found the bark lying at anchor 
and, instead of sails, hung with rags. The wind being fair 
they departed instantly. When on their way, the skipper 
being curious to see what sort of cargo he had on board, 
peeped down the hatchway, where he perceived the whole 
place swarming as with innumerable rats and mice. And 
now the little man taking off his hat, placed it on the 
head of the skipper, who thereby became so clear-sighted 
that he could see a multitude of small elves in travelling 
dresses, and withal a vast quantity of gold and silver, 
which they were taking with them. 

On their arrival in Norway, the old man said : " Do 
thou go on shore : I will unload the vessel." The skipper 
did so, and when he came back the bark was empty, and 
on their return the little man desired him within three 
days to expect another freight. The skipper having ful 
filled his engagement, the old man desired him to follow 
him and take with him two sacks. " Now thou shalt be 
paid for thy labour," said he, at the same time filling one 
of the sacks with shavings and the other with coals. " Give 
the lad his share," added he, and took his departure. With 
such payment the skipper was not over-satisfied. " Yes ! " 
he muttered to himself, " we have, sure enough, got our 
pockets full." When they had been sailing about an 
hour, the skipper said, " Go, lad, and make us a drop of 
tea." " Yes, master," answered the lad, "but I have no 
fuel." " Take a handful of shavings out of the sack." 
" Master, they shine ! " cried the lad. " What shines ? " 



158 DANISH TRADITIONS. 

asked the skipper; " take from the other sack." " Master, 
they shine ! " cried the lad a second time. The skipper 
himself now looked at the sacks, and found that one was 
full of gold coin and the other of silver. On their return 
they divided their treasure and became wealthy people. 

The North German traditions of the departure of the " little people " 
resemble the foregoing in every essential particular, excepting that the 
water they have to cross is the Eider, the Weser, or the Aller, in place of 
those above-mentioned 1 . 

THE TROLLS CAST STONES AT CHURCHES. 

Before the Trolls had forsaken the country, in conse 
quence of the constant din of the church-bells, the erec 
tion of a new church was an intolerable vexation to them. 
Hence the numerous traditions, how during the night 
they destroyed the work, particularly when a church was 
to be raised near their habitations. Equally numerous, 
too, are the traditions all over the country, which tell how 
the Trolls hurled huge stones against the churches already 
built ; a circumstance which affords a most satisfactory ex 
planation of the manner in which the vast stones, which 
are scattered about, came into places where no human hand 
could have deposited them. 

THE NISSE OR NISS. 

In a house in Jutland a Nisse had long been accustomed, 
after the servant was gone to bed, to fetch his porridge 
from the kitchen, where it was set for him in a little 
wooden bowl. But one evening, on taking his porridge, 
he saw that the girl had forgotten to put butter in it, and 
in his anger at the omission went to the cowhouse and 
wrung the neck of the best cow. Afterwards feeling 

1 See Miillenhoff, No. CDXXIX. Kulm and Schwartz, No. 270. Grimm, 
D. M. 428, sq. See also The Departure of the Fairies in Keigtyley, 
F. M. p. 356, from Cromek s Nithsdale and Galloway Song. 



DANISH TRADITIONS, 159 

hungry, he sneaked back, deeming it advisable to put up 
with the despised porridge, when after he had eaten a 
little, he discovered that there was butter in it, but that 
it had sunk to the bottom. For having thus wronged the 
servant he was sorely grieved, and to repair the injury he 
had done to the good folks, he went again to the cowhouse 
and placed a chest full of money by the side of the dead 
cow. 

A similar tale is current in Holstein, with the difference only, that in 
stead of a chest full of money, the Niss procures a cow similar in appear 
ance to the one killed by him 1 . 



At a farm in Seeland, there was a Nisse who was active 
and cheerful at all kinds of work, provided only that he 
got butter in his porridge every night ; for any reward 
beyond that he did not require. One morning, as the men 
were going to plough, he went to the farmer and requested 
him to let him drive the plough. The man thought that he 
was too little to drive four horses, but he answered : " I 
can very well sit up in the ear of one of the horses 2 and 
drive with four : I have done it before now." The man 
then let him have his way, and afterwards could not help 
confessing that he had never before had so excellent a 
driver. It was, moreover, highly amusing when any one 
passed and could not see the driver, who sat in the horse s 
ear, but only heard him crying out : " Hyp so ! Hop so ! 
Will ye go, ye old jades ! Ye 11 get your hides curried ! 
that ye may swear to ! " When the farmer died the 
Nisse would no longer remain there, but transferred him 
self to the manor-house, where he continued for some time 
in concealment. Some days after, the proprietor got a 
new man, who was to thrash the winter corn. The first 

1 See Mullenhoff, No. CDXXXVIII. 

2 See the story of Daumesdick, in K. and H. M. No. 37. 



160 DANISH TRADITIONS. 

day, when the man came into the barn, he did nothing,, 
but merely looked at the corn ; the second day he did no 
more than the first, until Nis towards evening said to him : 
" Hear ! I will come and help thee." To this the man 
had nothing to object, so it was settled that Nis should 
every night have for his supper porridge with butter in it. 
On the following morning, when the man came into the 
barn, Nis had already thrashed a heap of corn, containing 
about twenty-five loads. " Thou canst now cut up the 
straw by noon/ said Nis, and as he helped him, so it was 
done. Then said the man : (t But how shall we get the 
chaff separated from the barley ? " " That I will soon 
show thee," said Nis. " Just go up outside on the top of 
the barn, and make a large hole in the roof, we shall then 
easily separate the chaff." When the man had so done, 
the Nisse opened every door in the barn, then went up to 
the hole, laid himself on his face, thrust his head through 
the hole, and sent forth a loud scream, so that all the 
chaff flew about over the whole yard. This brought the 
proprietor out, who on seeing what had been done was 
highly incensed : " I believe thou art mad, fellow ! " said 
he. " Dost thou let the chaff, that we should have for 
the cattle in the winter, fly away in that manner ?" " ! 
is that all, master?" said the man: "if you want the 
chaff in again, that you can soon have." The Nisse now 
helped the man to gather up the chaff and carry it in 
again, all which was accomplished in half an hour. tf Go 
now in to your master," said the Nisse, " and tell him that 
the corn is thrashed, and the chaff gathered in a heap, if 
he will now come out and measure, that we may know 
how many bushels there are. But tell him, at the same 
time, that we must be paid for every bushel of chaff as 
well as for every bushel of corn ; and that if he refuses, 
we will throw down the whole barn." When the man 
had delivered this message, the master answered laugh- 



DANISH TRADITIONS. 



161 



ing : " Yes, do so, if you can ; but I am not so silly as to 
pay the same for chaff as for corn." When the Nisse re 
ceived this answer, he merely said : " Well ! if he will not, 
then come ; we shall soon overthrow it." Both then went 
and placed their backs against one of the side walls, when 
it instantly began to totter. Seeing this, the proprietor 
ran out into the yard and yielded to the demand. So the 
man got well paid for his trouble, and did not forget to 
give his due recompense to the Nisse. 



It is difficult to get rid of a Nisse. A man dwelt in a 
house where a Nisse carried his jokes so far, that he re 
solved to quit it, and leave the Nisse by himself. Just as 
he was about to send off the last load of his chattels, con 
sisting chiefly of empty tubs and the like, and had taken 
a last farewell of the house and, as he thought, of the 
Nisse also, he went by chance to the back part of the 
cart, where to his unutterable dismay and astonishment, 
he espied the Nisse seated in a tub, and ready to accom 
pany him. The man was of course excessively vexed at 
finding all his labour in vain, but the Nisse burst into a 
hearty laugh, and popping up his head from the tub, said, 
" So ! we are moving to-day." 

A being in many respects similar to the Niss is the Yorkshire Boggart, 
by whose pranks an honest farmer was nearly driven from his habitation. 
When his chattels were already in the cart, a voice from a deep upright 
churn cried out, " Aye, aye, Georgey, we re flitting ye see." 

Such, too, is the Irish Cluricaun. To get rid of one, the householder 
had resolved on removing, and the last cart, filled with empty barrels, etc., 
was just moving off, when from the bung-hole of one of them Wildbean 
cried out, " Here, master ! here we go all together ! " " What," said the 
master, " dost thou go also ? " " Yes, to be sure, master ; here we go all 
together J ! " 



Keightley, F. M. pp, 308, 369. 



162 DANISH TRADITIONS. 

In the parish of Alstrup there once lived a man who 
had a beautiful white mare, which for many years had de 
scended from father to son, and was the cause that a Nisse 
and, consequently, good luck were attached to the farm. 
This Nisse had such an affection for the mare that he could 
not endure to see her used for labour, and every night fed 
her in the best manner ; and as he was accustomed to bring 
a superabundance of corn, both thrashed and unthrashed, 
from a neighbour s barn, all the other cattle had benefit 
thereof. But the farm at length got a new proprietor, 
who would not believe what was told him about the mare, 
and sold her to a poor neighbour. When five days had 
elapsed, the poor peasant, who had bought the mare, 
began to find his condition manifestly improving, while 
the other s circumstances became every day narrower, so 
that at length he could scarcely make shift to subsist. Had 
now the man that bought the mare only known how to 
profit by the good fortune that was come to him, his 
children s children would have been in affluence to this 
day ; but seeing the great quantity of corn that was every 
night brought in, he felt a strong desire to see the Nisse 
also, and therefore concealed himself one night in the 
stable. At midnight he perceived the Nisse coming from 
his neighbour s barn, and bringing with him a sack full 
of grain ; but the Nisse, having discovered that he w r as 
watched, was grievously vexed, and after having fed the 
mare tended her for the last time ; then turning towards 
the place where the man lay watching, he bade him fare 
well. From that time the condition of both neighbours 
continued alike, seeing that each enjoyed the fruits of his 
own labour. 

Of the predilection entertained by the Nisser for horses there are also 
many Swedish traditions. 



DANISH TRADITIONS. 163 

Jutland once literally swarmed with Nisser. At Vos- 
borg they found such good cheer that their abode there 
was characterized by their great diligence and care for the 
welfare of the proprietor. Every evening they got in their 
sweet porridge a large lump of butter,, for all which they 
once gave a strong proof of zeal and gratitude. In a very 
severe winter, a remote cowhouse, in which were six calves, 
was so overwhelmed with snow, that for fourteen days no 
human being could get access to it. When the snow dis 
appeared, it was naturally thought that the calves would 
be found starved to death, but quite the contrary ; they 
were all found strong and well, the stalls were swept, and 
the cribs full of excellent corn. It may easily be guessed 
who had taken care of them. 

But the Nisse is, at the same time, sure to have revenge 
for any injury done him. One day, when a Nisse had 
run up into the loft over the cowhouse, a plank gave way, 
so that one of his legs went through. The farmer s boy, 
who happened just at the moment when this happened to 
be in the place beneath, on seeing the Nisse s leg hanging 
down, snatched up a dung-fork and gave it a violent blow. 
At dinner, when the people were all sitting at table in the 
servants hall, the boy was constantly laughing to himself, 
and on being questioned by the overseer, he answered : 
" I Ve had such a bout with Nis this morning, and given 
him an infernal bang with my fork, as he poked his leg 
down through the floor of the loft." " Nay," cried Nis 
from outside the window, "thou didst not give one, 
thou gavest me three ; for the fork had three prongs ; 
but it shall be paid thee back." On the following night, 
while the boy lay asleep, came Nis, seized him, and threw 
him over the house, but was so instantaneously on the 
other side that he caught him and again cast him back. 
This game was continued until the boy had been eight 
times over the house ; the ninth time he let him fall into a 



164 



DANISH TRADITIONS. 



large pool of water, and then set up a horse-laugh, so 
that all who were in the dwelling were waked by it. 



In a farm-house in Jutland there was a Nisse, who 
every evening got his porridge in proper time, and there 
fore helped both man and maid, and saw to the master s 
interest in every way possible. But there once entered 
into the farmer s service a mischievous lad, who took every 
opportunity of annoying the Nisse, and one night, when 
all were gone to rest, and the Nisse had taken his little 
wooden bowl, and was about to enjoy his evening meal, he 
discovered that the boy had concealed the butter at the 
bottom, in order to make him first eat the porridge and 
then find the butter when the porridge was consumed. 
Hereupon he resolved on giving the boy like for like. 
Going then up into the loft where the boy and the man 
servant lay sleeping in the same bed, he took the coverlid 
off, when seeing the short lad by the side of the long carle, 
he said : " Short and long unequal," and so saying pulled 
the legs of the boy down, to make them even with those 
of the man. He then went to the head of the bed, and 
dragged the boy up again, uttering the same words. But 
as this process, in whichever way applied, did not succeed 
in making the boy as long as the man, he continued 
dragging the boy up and down until broad daylight ; 
when feeling himself tired, he crept up and seated himself 
in the window-sill. At the sight of him, all the dogs in 
the yard dogs bearing a great aversion to Nisser began 
to bark, at which the Nisse, who was beyond their reach, 
was highly amused, and thrusting forth first one diminutive 
leg then the other, continued to teaze them, saying: 
" Look at this little trotter ! Look at that little trotter ! " 
In the meanwhile the boy waked, and sneaking behind 
the Nisse, who was going on with his " Look at this and 



DANISH TRADITIONS. 165 

look at that little trotter," pushed him down among the 
dogs, crying out : " There ! now look at him from top to 
toe!" 

The North Germans have a story nearly identical with the foregoing l . 

The Scandinavian Niss is identical with the Scottish Brownie, who is 
described as " of a somewhat grotesque figure, dwarfish in stature, but 
endowed with great personal strength It was customary for the mis 
tress of the house to leave out work for him To have offered him 

wages, or even to present him with an occasional boon, would have ensured 
his anger, and perhaps caused him to abandon the establishment altoge 
ther. The goodman of a farm-house in the parish of Glendevon leaving 
out some clothes one night for the brownie, he was heard during the 
night to depart, saying, in a highly offended tone, 

Gie brownie coat, gie brownie sark, 
Ye se get nae mair o brownie s wark 2 ! " 

Numerous other instances might be quoted. 

Our own Robin Goodfellow was equally sensitive on this point. See a 
passage from The Mad Pranks and Merry Jests of Robin Goodfellow 3 . 

Hilton Hall, in the vale of the Wear, was in former times the resort of 
a Brownie or House-spirit, called the Cauld Lad. For the purpose of 
getting rid of him, the servants left a green cloak and hood for him by 
the kitchen fire and remained on the watch. They saw him come in, 
gaze at the new r clothes, try them on, and, apparently in great delight, go 
jumping and frisking about the kitchen ; but at the first crow of the cock 
he vanished, crying 

Here s a cloak and here s a hood ! 

The Cauld Lad of Hilton will do no more good ; 

and he never again returned to the kitchen 4 . 

A similar story is told by Mrs. Bray (Letters to Southey) of the Devon 
shire Pixies, one of whom, on receiving new clothes, exclaims : 

Pixy fine, Pixy gay, 

Pixy now will run away. 

A being closely resembling the Brownie is the Phynnodderie of the Isle 
of Man. 



1 Mullenhoff, No. CDXLVI. See also p. 95. 

2 See p. 94, and Chambers, Pop. Rh. p. 33. 

3 Keightley, F. M. pp. 287, sq. 

4 Keightley, F. M. p. 296, from Richardson, Local Historian s Table- 
book. 



166 DANISH TRADITIONS. 

THE KIRKEGRIM (CHURCH-GRIM). 

In churches also there are Nisser, one in each, called a 
Kirkegrim, who dwells either in the tower or wherever he 
can find a place of concealment. He keeps order in the 
church, and punishes when any scandal is perpetrated. 

In Soro church there is a large, round hole in the roof, 
in which dwells that church s Nisse. Of this hole it is 
also said, that in former times the evil one was accustomed 
to fly out through it, when the priest in baptizing said : 
" Go out, thou unclean spirit ! " 

THE KIRKEGR1M AND THE STRAND-VARSEL. 

At the time <f when the sea-shores were not yet conse 
crated/" it was dangerous to pass by night on the ways 
which lay along the coast, on account of the Strand- varsler 
by which they were infested. These were the spectres of 
those corpses that were driven on shore and still lay un- 
buried. One night as a peasant was going along the 
strand towards Taarbek, a Strand-varsel sprang suddenly 
on his back and there clung fast, crying : <( Carry me 
to the church ! " The man having no alternative, car 
ried him the shortest way to Gientofte. On their reach 
ing that village, and when close under the churchyard 
wall, the Varsel sprang quickly over it, when instantly the 
Kirkegrim approached, and an obstinate battle ensued be 
tween them. After having fought for a while, they both 
sat down to rest, when the Varsel said" to the peasant : 
" Did I stand up well ? " The peasant answered : " No." 
The battle then commenced anew, and when they again 
sat down to rest the Varsel again asked : " Did I stand 
up well now ? " and the peasant a second time answered : 
" No. 1 " The fight then recommenced, and the Varsel for 
the third time said : " Now ! have I stood up well ? " and 
on the peasant answering : " Yes," "It is well for thee," 



DANISH TRADITIONS. 167 

said the Varsel, "that thou hast answered so, for other 
wise I would surely have broken thy neck." 



At Niverod as a woman was going to milk her cows, 
she saw a corpse that had been washed up on the sand, 
and noticed that a large money-bag was bound round its 
body ; and no one being near, she was tempted to take 
the money, to which she had as good a claim as any one 
else. But the next night the Strand-varsel came to the 
village and made a great noise before her window, de 
siring her to come out and follow him. Supposing that 
she had no alternative, she bade her children farewell and 
accompanied the Varsel. When they were outside of the 
village, the Varsel said to her : " Take me by the leg and 
draw me to the church " But the nearest church lay 
three-quarters of a mile distant. When the church ap 
peared in sight, the Varsel said : ee Let me go now ; then 
go to the house by the church gate, and desire the people 
to sit up until thou comest again. When thou hast helped 
me over the churchyard wall, run as fast as thou canst, 
lest the Kirkegrim should seize thee." She did accord 
ingly, and scarcely had the corpse been placed over the 
wall, when the Kirkegrim came out after the woman and 
seized her by the petticoat, which being old gave way, and 
so she slipt into the house in safety. From that time all 
went well with the woman, who lived contented with her 
children on the money she found on the Strand-varsel. 

HYLDEMOER ELDER. 

There dwells in the elder-tree a being called Hylde- 
moer (Elder-mother) or Hyldeqvinde (Elder-wife). She 
avenges all injuries done to the tree. Of an elder stand 
ing in a small court in the Nyboder l , it is related, that 

1 A quarter of Copenhagen, built for and inhabited by persons belong 
ing to the navy. 



168 DANISH TRADITIONS. 

at dusk it often moves up and down the court, and some 
times peeps through the window at the children, when 
they are alone. It is not advisable to have moveables of 
elder. A child having been laid in a cradle made of elder 
wood, the Hyldemoer came and pulled it by the legs, nor 
would she let it have any rest until it was taken out of 
the cradle. A peasant once heard his children crying in 
the night, and on inquiring the cause, was told that some 
one had been there and sucked them ; and their breasts 
were found to be swollen. The cause of the annoyance 
was, it is said, that the room was boarded with elder. 

This wonderful medicinal tree derives its name, it is 
supposed, from a healing deity named Hildi, who toge 
ther with her spirits or subordinate deities, has her abode 
under its roots. From early times the Danes have loved 
and honoured the elder, and planted it by walls and 
fences. 

The elder may not be cut without permission previously 
asked in these words : " Hyldemoer, Hyldemoer, allow me 
to cut thy branches." The peasants, when about to cut 
the tree, spit thrice, in order to drive away the Vsetts and 
other evil beings. 

THE WERWOLF. 

A man, who from his childhood had been a Werwolf, 
when returning one night with his wife from a merry 
making, observed that the hour was at hand when the 
evil usually came upon him ; giving therefore the rein to 
his wife, he descended from the vehicle, saying to her : 
"If any one comes to thee, only strike at it with thy 
apron." He then withdrew, but immediately after, the 
woman, as she was sitting in the vehicle, was attacked by 
a Werwolf. She did as the man had enjoined her, and 
struck it with her apron, from which it bit a piece and ran 
off with it. After some time the man returned, holding in 



DANISH TRADITIONS. 169 

his mouth the torn fragment of his wife s apron, on seeing 
which she cried out in terror : <( Good Lord, man ! why 
thou art a werwolf!" " Thank thee, mother!" said he, 
" but now I am free ! " and from that time the evil never 
returned. 

If a female at midnight stretches between four sticks 
the membrane that envelops the foal when it is brought 
forth, and creeps through it naked, she will bring forth 
children without pain ; but all the boys will be Werwolves, 
and all the girls Maras. By day the Werwolf has the 
human form, though he may be known by the meeting 
of his eyebrows above the nose. At a certain time of the 
night he has the form of a dog on three legs. It is only 
when another person tells him that he is a Werwolf, or 
reproaches him with being such, that a man can be freed 
from the affliction. 

Not only the belief in, but the name also of the Werwolf, has been 
transplanted to Normandy, where it is called le Warou or Warwou. 

THE MARA. 

A peasant had a sweetheart, who, without being herself 
conscious of it, was a Mara, and came every night to the 
man, so that he soon saw how the case was. He therefore 
kept watch, and having discovered that she crept in to him 
through a little hole in the door-post, he made a peg which 
fitted the hole, and when she came on the following night, 
he drove in the peg, so that she was compelled to remain 
within. She then assumed a human form, the man took 
her to wife, and they had many children. When many 
years had passed, and they were both advanced in life, it 
chanced one evening that the man cast his eye on the peg, 
which still remained in the hole, and asked his wife in 
joke whether she knew how she had entered the house ? 
On her confessing her ignorance, he informed her, made 
himself right merry at the story, and even drew the peg 

i 



170 DANISH TRADITIONS. 

out, that she might see in what manner she had entered. 
The woman then peeped through the hole, but as she 
peeped she became on a sudden quite small, passed out 
through it, and from that time was never more seen. 



There was once in Jutland a queen who was a great 
lover of horses ; she had one in particular to which she 
was most attached, and which occupied her thoughts both 
waking and dreaming. It frequently happened, when the 
groom entered the stable at night, that he found this 
horse out of order, and thence concluded that it had been 
ridden by the Mara. Taking therefore a bucket of cold 
water, he cast it over the horse, and at the same moment 
saw that the queen was sitting on its back. 

MERMEN AND MERWIVES. 

In the neighbourhood of Assens in Fyen there once 
appeared an incredible number of Mermen and Merwomen 
on the strand. Aged fishermen relate how they often 
and often have seen the Merwives sitting there on large 
stones out in the water, with children at the breast, which 
they quickly cast on their backs when, terrified at the 
approach of man, they darted down into the water. It is 
further related, that in those places sea-cows and sea-bulls 
have been seen to land in the fields, seeking intercourse 
with other cattle. 

In the year ]619 King Christian IV. sent two of his 
councillors, Oluf Rosenspar and Christian Hoick, to Nor 
way, there to hold a diet. On their return they captured 
a Merman. In form this Merman resembled a man. For 
a long time he rolled himself backwards and forwards, but 
at length lay as if he were dead. On one of the bystanders 
saying to him : " It must, indeed, be a wonderful God 
that has such human creatures also in the water," he 
answered: "Yes! if thou knewest that as well as I, then 



DANISH TRADITIONS. 171 

mightest thou say so. But if ye do not instantly restore 
me to the water, neither the ship nor yourselves shall ever 
reach land." After this he would not utter a word, but 
was placed in the boat, and thence sprang into the water. 



Out in Nordstrand there dwells a Merwife, who once 
drove her cattle up on the sea-shore, and let them graze 
the whole day on Tibirke Mark. This did not at all 
please the peasantry thereabouts, who for ages have been 
notorious for their covetousness ; they therefore took mea 
sures for intercepting the cattle, whereby they succeeded 
in driving the Merwife with all her herd into an inclosure 
near the town, from which they would not allow her to 
escape until she had paid them for pasturage on their 
lands. Having assured them that she had no money to 
give, they required her to give them the girdle she wore 
round her body, which appeared very costly and shone as 
with precious stones. There being no alternative, she 
redeemed herself and cattle by giving them the girdle. 
But as she was driving her cattle down to the shore, she 
said to her large bull : te Rake up now ! " Whereupon the 
animal began to throw up the earth with his horns and 
to cast up the sand along the sea-coast ; and as the wind 
now blew from the north-west, the sand was drifted in 
over the country towards the village of Tibirke, so that 
the church was nearly buried under it. Of the costly 
girdle, too, they had but a short-lived gratification, for on 
returning home and examining it more closely, it was 
found to consist of worthless rushes. 



In the diocese of Aarhuus there once dwelt two poor 
people who had an only daughter named Margaret, or 
Grethe. One day when she had been sent down to the 
sea-side to fetch sand, and was scooping it into her apron, 

j 2 



172 DANISH TRADITIONS. 

a Merman rose from the water. His beard was greener 
than the salt sea, he was of comely aspect, and spoke in 
friendly words to the girl, saying, " Follow me, Grethe ! 
I will give thee as much silver as thy heart can desire." 
" That would not be amiss," answered she, " for we have 
not much of that article at home." So she suffered her 
self to be enticed, and he took her by the hand, and con 
ducted her to the bottom of the ocean, where she became 
mother of five children. 

After a long lapse of time, and when she had nearly 
forgotten her Christian belief, as she was sitting one holy- 
day morning, rocking her youngest child in her lap, she 
heard the church bells ringing above her, and w r as seized 
with a strong fit of melancholy and longing after church ; 
and as she sat and sighed with the tears rolling down her 
cheeks, the Merman, observing her sorrow, inquired the 
cause of it. She then besought him earnestly, with many 
expressions of affection, to allow her once more to go to 
church. The Merman could not withstand her affliction, 
but conducted her up to land, repeatedly exhorting her 
to return quickly to her children. In the middle of the 
sermon the Merman came outside of the church and cried 
Grethe ! Grethe ! " She heard him plainly enough, but 
resolved within herself that she would stay and hear the 
sermon out. When the sermon was ended the Merman 
came a second time to the church, crying "Grethe ! Grethe ! 
art thou soon coming?" But she did not obey him. He 
came a third time, crying " Grethe ! Grethe ! art thou 
soon coming ? Thy children are longing after thee." On 
finding that she did not come, he began to weep bitterly, 
and again descended to the bottom of the sea. But from 
that time Grethe continued with her parents, and let the 
Merman himself take care of the poor little children. His 
wail and lamentation are often to be heard from the deep. 

The foregoing forms the subject of the old Danish ballad Agnete og 



DANISH TRADITIONS. 173 

Havmanden (Danske Viser, i. p. 313), also of two beautiful poems by Bag- 
gesen and Oehlenschlaeger. 

In the Faro islands the superstition is current that the seal casts off its 
skin every ninth night, assumes a human form, and dances and amuses 
itself like a human being, until it resumes its skin, and again becomes a 
seal. It once happened that a man passing during one of these transfor 
mations, and seeing the skin, took possession of it, when the seal, which 
was a female, not finding her skin to creep into, was obliged to continue 
in a human form, and being a comely person, the man made her his wife, 
had several children by her, and they lived happily together, until, after 
a lapse of several years, she chanced to find her hidden skin, which she 
could not refrain from creeping into, and so became a seal again. 

According to the old Danish ballad, a Mermaid foretold the death of 
Queen Dagmar, the wife of Valdemar II., surnamed Seier, or the Victo 
rious. And in the Chronicle of Frederick II. of Denmark we read the 
following story : " In the year 1576 there came late in the autumn a simple 
old peasant from Samso to the court, then being held at Kallundborg. 
who related that a beautiful female had more than once come to him 
while working in his field by the sea-shore, whose figure from the waist 
downwards resembled that of afish r and who had solemnly and strictly en 
joined him to go over and announce to the king, that as God had blessed 
his queen so that she was pregnant of a son (afterwards Christian IV.;, 
who should be numbered among the greatest princes of the North, and 
seeing that all sorts of sins were gaining ground in his kingdom, he, in 
honour of and in gratitude to God who had so blessed him, should with 
all earnestness and diligence wholly extirpate such sins, lest God should 
hereafter visit him with his anger and punishment." 

Tales of Mermaids are most complete in the Shetland isles. There, it 
is said, that " they dwell among the fishes, in the depth of the ocean, in 
habitations of pearl and coral ; that they resemble human beings, but 
greatly excel them in beauty. When they wish to visit the upper world, 
they put on the ham or garb of some fish, but woe to those who lose 
their ham, for then are all hopes of return annihilated, and they must 
stay where they are. Ve-Skeries (the sacred rocks) are a very favourite 
place with the fair children of the sea, w j ho, undisturbed by men, here 
lay aside their ham, inspire the air of earth, and revel in the clear moon 
light. As ocean s green-haired beauties are mortal, they are often, on 
their excursions, exposed to dangers ; examples, indeed, are not wanting of 
their having been taken and killed by superstitious fishermen. It has 
also happened that earthly men have married Mermaids, having taken 
possession of their ham, and thus got them into their power 1 ." A case 



1 Hibbert s Shetland quoted by Faye, pp. GO, Gl. Thiele iii. p. 51, 
edit. 1820. 



174 DANISH TRADITIONS. 

somewhat similar is that of Volund and his brothers and the three Val- 
kyriur. 

CHANGELINGS. 

A man and his wife were sorely troubled with a change 
ling that had been left with them by the subterranean 
folk, who had carried off their genuine child, that had not 
been baptized in time. This changeling conducted him 
self in a most extraordinary way. When no one was pre 
sent he was quite obstreperous, would run along the wall, 
sit in the cockloft, and shout and scream. But if any one 
was in the room with him, he would sit drowsy at the 
end of the table. He would eat as much as any four, and 
cared very little about what was set before him, yet was 
never satisfied. After having long thought how they 
should get rid of him, a shrewd female engaged to drive 
him from the house. One day, when he was out in the 
fields, she killed a pig, and made a pudding (sausage) of 
it, together with the skin and hair, which, on his return, 
she placed before him. As was his custom, he began 
slashing away at it, but as he ate he gradually became 
thoughtful, and at last sat quite still with the knife in his 
hand and eyeing the pudding : he then exclaimed, " Pud 
ding with hide, and pudding with hair, pudding with eyes 
and pudding with bones in it. I have now seen thrice 
a young wood spring up on Tiis lake, but never before 
did I see such a pudding ! The fiend will stay here no 
longer ! " Saying these words he ran off and never re 
turned. 



There dwelt in Christianso a man and his wife who 
neglected to have their child christened in proper time, in 
consequence of which a subterranean woman exchanged 
it for her own babe, which was so miserable a being that 
it could neither eat nor drink, and must inevitably have 



DANISH TRADITIONS. 175 

perished, if the mother had not come every night to suckle 
it. Being greatly troubled and perplexed on account of 
this changeling, the woman at length hit on the following 
plan for getting rid of it. Having instructed her servant 
maid what she should ask and say, she heated the oven 
very hot, whereupon the girl, in a voice loud enough to 
be heard by the Troll-folk, said, " Why do you heat the 
oven so hot, Mistress ?" To which the woman answered, 
" I am going to burn my child." When the girl had 
asked this question three times, and received the same 
answer, she took the changeling and laid it on the peel, 
as if about to thrust it into the oven. At this moment 
the subterranean woman rushed in, took her child from 
the peel, and returned the woman her own, with these 
words : There is your child ! I have done by it better 
than you have by mine." And, in fact, the child was, as 
she said, both thriving and strong. 

HOW TO DISTINGUISH A CHANGELING. 

When a child is born, the lights in the lying-in chamber 
must not be extinguished; for otherwise the infant may 
easily be exchanged by the underground folk. At a place 
in North Jutland, it happened many years ago in a lying- 
in room that the mother could get no sleep while the 
lights were burning. So the husband resolved to take 
the child in his arm, in order to keep strict watch over it 
as long as it was dark in the room. But unfortunately 
he fell asleep without having noticed in which arm he 
held his child, and on being waked by a shake of the arm, 
he saw a tall woman standing by the bed, and found that 
he had an infant in each arm. The woman instantly 
vanished, but there he lay, without knowing which of the 
two children was his own. In this difficulty he went to 
the priest, who advised him to get a wild stallion colt, 
which would enable him to discover the right one. They 



176 DANISH TRADITIONS. 

accordingly procured such a wild colt, which was so un 
manageable that three men could hardly lead it ; then 
laid both infants wrapped up on the ground, and led the 
colt to smell to them. And it was curious to see how the 
colt each time that it smelt to the one, would lick it and 
was quite quiet, while every time that it smelt to the other 
it was restive and strove to kick the infant. By this me 
thod it was ascertained infallibly which was the changeling. 
While they were standing, there came suddenly a tall 
woman running, who snatched up the changeling and 
disappeared with it. 

The Scotch too had their changelings, though they appear to have been 
of a far more social character than those of Scandinavia ; at least if we may 
judge from the jovial little fellow described in Chambers (Pop. Rh. p. 55). 
A gudewife, named Tibbie Dickson, having occasion to go to the town of 
Dunse, left her babe (a changeling) in the care of her neighbour, Wullie 
Grieve, the tailor. " So Wullie sits doon at the fire, and awa wi her 
yarn gaes the wife ; but scarce had she steekit the door, an wan half-way 
down the closs, whan the bairn cocks up on its doup in the cradle, and 
rounds in Wullie s lug, Wullie Tyler, an ye winna tell my mither whan 

she comes back, I se play ye a bonnie spring on the bagpipes. 

So he rounds again in the bairn s lug, Play up, my doo (dove), an I se 
tell naebody. Wi that, the fairy ripes amang the cradle strae, an poos 
oot a pair o pipes, sic as tyler Wullie ne er had seen in a his days 

muntit wi ivory, an gold, an silver, an dymonts, an what not 

Wullie had nae great goo o his performance ; so he sits thinkin to himsel 
This maun be a deil s get ; an I ken weel hoo to treat them ; an gin 
I while the time awa, Auld Waughorn himsel may come to rock his son s 
cradle, an play me some foul prank ; so he catches the bairn by the cuff 
o the neck, and whupt him into the fire, bagpipes and a !" Surely this 
little fellow did not deserve so cruel a fate 1 . 

Of another changeling it is related that, on seeing a huge fire kindled, 
with an egg-shell boiling on it, having one end of a measuring rod set in 
it, he crept out of the cradle on his hands, while his legs still remained 
in the cradle, and thus, stretching himself out longer and longer, he at 
length reached quite across the floor up the chimney, when he exclaimed : 
" Well ! seven times have I seen the wood fall in Lesso forest, but never 
until now have seen so big a ladle in such a little pot 2 !" 

1 For other accounts see Keightley, F. M. p. 355. 

2 Asbjornsen, Huldreeventyr, ii. 165. 



DANISH TRADITIONS. 177 

Methods nearly similar of getting rid of a changeling are, with some 
modifications, amazingly wide-spread throughout almost the whole of 
Europe. In the Irish tradition, the hoy, on seeing the egg-shells, ex 
claims : " Fifteen hundred years have I been in the world, yet have never 
seen that before." Walter Scott (Minstrelsy, ii. p. 173), quoting " A Plea 
sant Treatise on Witchcraft," relates of a woman who, to ascertain whether 
her child w r ere a changeling, was advised to break a dozen eggs, and place 
the twenty-four half shells before it, then to go out and listen at the 
door ; for if the child spoke, it was a changeling. She did accordingly, 
and heard it say : " Seven years old was I when I came to the nurse, and 
four years have I lived since, and never saw so many milk-pans before. 
See also Waldron s Isle of Man, and Grimm, D. M. p. 438, for other ac 
counts. Similar stories are told of Highland-Scotch and French change 
lings. 

Various monstrous charms were resorted to in Scotland, for procuring 
the restoration of a child that had been so stolen ; the most efficacious of 
which was supposed to be the roasting of the supposititious child upon the 
live embers, when, it was believed, it would vanish, and the true infant 
appear in the place whence it had been originally abstracted 1 . 

THE DEVIL. 
FRIAR RUUS. 

It is related that the devil once seeing how piously and 
virtuously the monks lived in the convent of Esrom 2 , as 
sumed a human form, and knocked at the gate of the con 
vent for admission, saying his name was Ruus. He gave 
himself out for a scullion, and was received by the abbot 
as such. Being one day alone with the head cook, he re 
sisted his authority, for which he received chastisement. 
At this he was sorely exasperated, and having just then a 
kettle of boiling water on the fire, he seized the head cook 
with all his might and set him on his head in the kettle ; 
then ran out crying and lamenting the calamity that had 
befallen his master. Thus by his falsehood he deceived 
all the brethren in the convent, so that they regarded him 
as free from all suspicion and appointed him their head 

1 Scott s Minstrelsy, ii. 172. 

2 Formerly a celebrated monastery in the north of Seeland, not far from 
Fredensborg. 

i 5 



178 DANISH TRADITIONS. 

cook. Now this was precisely what Rims had been aim 
ing at, in order that he might corrupt the whole of the 
monks together. He now prepared viands so rich and 
delicate, that the monk forgot both prayer and fasting and 
resigned himself to luxury. It is even said that he intro 
duced women into the convent, and thereby gained great 
favour with the abbot, who at length prevailed on him to 
enter the fraternity, as he wished to have such a cook 
constantly at hand. From that hour strife and wickedness 
so gained the upper hand in the convent that it would in 
evitably have fallen into the power of the evil one, if the 
brethren had not repented in time. For one day Brother 
Ruus being in the forest, saw there a beautiful fat cow, 
which he slaughtered aud took a quarter of it to the con 
vent ; the remainder he hung up in a tree. When the 
owner of the cow missed it, and discovered three quarters 
of it hanging in the tree, he determined to keep watch in 
another tree, for the purpose of detecting the thief, when 
he came to fetch the rest. By this means he discovered 
how the devils played their pranks in the forest, and heard 
at the same time much talk about Friar Ruus, how he 
would invite the abbot and monks to a banquet in hell. 
The peasant being naturally exceedingly terrified at all 
this, went on the following day to the abbot, to whom he 
related all he had heard and seen in the forest. On hear 
ing this the abbot summoned all the monks to meet him 
in the church, where they began to read and sing, so that 
Ruus, who could not endure either, endeavoured to sneak 
away; but the abbot seized him by the cowl and conjured 
him into a red horse, committing him to the power of hell. 
For many years after this event, Friar Ruus s iron pot and 
gridiron were shown in the convent of Esrom. 

Before the conventual church was turned into a dwelling, the effigies 
of Friar Ruus and his epitaph, half Latin and half Danish, were to be 
seen there. His epitaph ran thus : 



DANISH TRADITIONS. 179 

Hicjacet John Praest, (John priest) 
Qui dedit suum graa Hest (gray horse) 
Nee non de siliyine tue Laest, (two lasts) 
Semper comedebat clet Bsest, (the best) 
Requiescit inpulvere sud west, (south-west). 

To the foregoing, Molbech, in his Ungdomsvandringer, adds that " the 
abbot afterwards constrained him to proceed to England, and without in 
termission to return, bringing with him, through the air, as much lead as 
amounted to 320,000 pounds weight, for the roof of the convent." 



THE DEVIL AT CARDS. 

Once on a Christmas eve a set of profane gamesters 
were sitting in Lemvig playing at cards for large sums, 
and as they became more and more excited by loss and 
gain, they became at the same time more and more unre 
strained in their abominable cursing and swearing. When 
the night was somewhat advanced a knocking at the door 
was heard, and a well-dressed man entered, who begged 
permission to join the party. Having seated himself, he 
took the cards and began by losing a considerable sum. 
While they were thus sitting and playing, a card fell on 
the floor, and when one of the party, having taken a light, 
crept under the table to pick it up, he saw that claws pro 
truded from the stranger s boots, whence it was evident 
that he was no other than the foul fiend, of whom it 
is well known that he can conceal everything except his 
claws. At this discovery a messenger was instantly des 
patched to fetch the priest, who came and found the 
stranger still at the table, where he sat counting his 
money. The priest, who was a sagacious man, knew him 
instantly, and commanded him to depart; but the fiend 
answered, that the men by their gambling and swearing 
had called him, and that he would not go before he had 
tasted warm blood. The priest thereupon took a little 
dog, that was running about the room, and threw it to 
him, which he eagerly tore in pieces and devoured, except- 



180 DANISH TRADITIONS. 

ing three hairs, which he was obliged to leave behind. The 
priest having thus satisfied him, bored a hole with an awl 
in the lead of one of the windows, and commanded him 
to make himself little and pass through it ; because if he 
passed out by the door, he could quickly enter again by 
the same way. This cost the priest much trouble ; but 
he pressed him so hard with reading and exorcisms, that 
he was at length compelled to obey, though he howled so 
loud that it was heard over the whole town. 

A SCHOLAR ASSIGNS HIMSELF TO THE DEVIL. 

There was once a scholar in the school of Herlufsholm 1 , 
who through the devil s craft was seduced to give himself 
up to his power and will. He therefore wrote a contract 
on a strip of paper with his own blood, and stuck it in a 
hole in the church wall. But for the salvation of his sin 
ful soul, which the fiend would else have seized, it hap 
pened that another scholar of the school found the paper 
and took it to the rector. Now nothing was to be done 
but to have recourse to many prayers, whereby the devil s 
cunning was turned to naught ; but it was long impossible 
to close up the hole in the wall so effectually that it was 
not immediately found open again. 



In a field near Sonnerod there is a row of stones, 
among which one has on it the mark of a footstep. Of 
this it is related, that the devil once rested his foot on it 
when he had carried a bride away from her bridegroom, and 
was obliged to wander far and wide with her before he 
could find a man, who for a hatful of money would take 
the bridal wreath from her head ; for as long as she had 

1 Of Herlufsholm school see hereafter. 



DANISH TRADITIONS. 181 

that on he had no power over her, the bridemaids having 
placed it on her head in the name of Jesus. 

JENS PLOVGAARD. 

In Sondre-Nissum, near Ringkiobing l , there dwelt a 
man named Jens Plovgaard, who was in league with the 
devil, and could therefore raise the dead and perform other 
feats of the kind, whereby he gained a considerable sum of 
money. But for this he was, on the other hand, after a 
certain number of years, to belong to the evil one. One day 
when he was absent from home, a fisherman from Thy came 
to ascertain what had become of a swine, but not meeting 
with Jens Plovgaard, and it being late, he slipt into the 
barn to sleep till the following morning, when he could 
accomplish his errand. In the middle of the night Jens 
returned home, who, on hearing that a man from Thy had 
been there to make inquiry of him concerning a lost swine, 
would immediately consult Eric V and for that purpose 
went into the barn to raise him. The man, who was still 
awake, heard plainly how the devil was forced to obey. 
Jens asked him about the swine, but Eric would not 
utter a syllable, for he had observed that they were not 
alone ; while Jens, on the other hand, ascribed his silence 
to sheer obstinacy, and therefore took his iron whip, with 
which he belaboured the fiend until he told him that the 
swine lay under an earth-slip, and described the place 
most accurately. When the fisherman heard this, he 
spared Jens Plovgaard all further trouble, and on his re 
turn dug in the slip, and found his swine. 

The time at length arrived when the fiend, according to 
their compact, was to fetch Jens Plovgaard, who caused 
himself to be placed in a large cask together with an 

1 A small town on the west coast of Jutland. 

2 The devil, like our old Harry, which is probably a corruption of the 
Danish term. 



182 DANISH TRADITIONS. 

ample provision of meat and drink. This cask he caused 
to be buried in a field which was afterwards ploughed and 
sown. When the devil now came he could get no power 
over him, but ran backwards and forwards on the field 
every night for three weeks, and at last howled so terri 
fically that he might have been heard on the other side of 
the fiord as far as Ulfborg church. At the expiration of 
the three weeks Jens Plovgaard was free, and caused him 
self to be dug up ; and from that tinje there was no man 
in the whole parish so pious as he ; but his great cunning 
he possessed no longer. 

HOW THE DEVIL ALLOWED HIMSELF TO BE OUTWITTED. 

In Jutland there was once a priest who knew more than 
his Paternoster. One evening there came a message to him 
from the manor-house, requiring his attendance there with 
the least delay possible, his aid being quite indispensable. 
The fact was that the proprietor, in order to attain to his 
vast riches, had sold himself to the devil, who was already 
there to fetch him, his time being expired. The priest, 
who arrived at the house just at the moment when the 
fiend was about to depart with the master, endeavoured to 
prevail on him to grant a further delay, first a year, then 
a month, a week, a day, but not even an hour would 
the fiend grant him. There stood on the table a little 
stump of wax candle nearly burnt out, pointing to which 
the priest said : " Thou wilt surely let him live as long as 
that stump lasts ? " To this the fiend assented, but at 
the same moment the priest seizing the light, blew it out 
and put it into his pocket ; so that for the present the fiend 
was obliged to leave the proprietor in peace, but who from 
that hour so amended his life that the devil got him not. 

A similar artifice with a wax candle occurs in Norna Gest s Saga, whereby 
Norna Gest attains to an age of many hundred years. In the Popular 
Traditions and Tales of Poland, we find the devil allowing himself to be 



DANISH TRADITIONS. 183 

tricked in the same manner. See also The Devil outwitted in Nether 
landish Popular Traditions. 



THE LADY OF KIOLBYGAARD. 

On the road from Aalborg l to Thisted, through 
Ostrel, there lies in a valley on the left a mansion called 
Kiolbygaard, in which there once dwelt a very rich lady, 
but who was as wicked as she was rich, and was, moreover, 
devoted to sorcery. One of her greatest delights was to 
hear that there were carousings and gaming at the inn on 
Sundays. Among the servants of the mansion there was 
one that stood high above others in her favour, to whom 
she frequently showed a large chest containing silver 
money, telling him that he might take as much of it as 
he would, but he was never able to raise a single piece 
from the chest. When he sometimes said that he wished 
he had so much money, because life must then be so joy 
ous and pleasant, she always answered with a sigh : " Yes, 
true ! were there no horrid death ! " 

One night one of her tenants came to the mansion to 
pay his rent, but found all in darkness, the family being 
in bed. He walked about the place until he came to a 
small apartment, in which he saw a light. On the middle 
of the floor he perceived a half-bushel measure, and im 
mediately a dog of ferocious aspect entered the room, 
approached the measure and barked into it, and every time 
he barked there fell from his mouth several pieces of silver 
money into the measure, nor did he leave the place before 
it was quite full. A great desire now came over the man 
to take some of these silver coins, and he accordingly 
helped himself to thirty new pieces and put them into his 
purse. In the morning he went to the lady to pay his 
rent ; but when she saw the new money, she declared that 
it had been taken from her. The man then told her what 
1 A considerable town in Jutland. 



184 DANISH TRADITIONS. 

he had seen in the night, whereupon she was so terrified 
that she bestowed on him the farm which he had held on 
lease, in order to secure his silence as to what he had wit 
nessed as long as he lived. 

When this lady had for many years been leading so un 
righteous a life, she one evening ordered her coachman to 
put the horses to, as she wished to take a drive. The 
man objected that it was so dark that he could not find 
the way, but she answered that the horses knew it well 
enough. She then for more than two hours rode over 
stock and stone, until the horses stopt before an illuminated 
mansion which the man had never observed before. They 
drove in, the lady alighted and went into the saloon which 
was illuminated. In the mean while the man waited with 
the carriage. After a considerable time had elapsed he 
stole up to the window and peeped in, and saw his mistress 
sitting on the middle of the floor undressed ; by her side 
a pile was burning, and a man stood combing her hair. 
Immediately after the man received orders to drive home, 
but from that hour no one ever saw the lady more, and 
the coachman s belief was that she was on that night con 
veyed to hell. Her family, it is true, gave out that she 
returned home, and immediately after sickened and died ; 
while others asserted that at her pompous funeral the coffin 
contained only a whisp of straw. 

A FEAST WITH THE DEVIL. 

In Ostrel there once dwelt a man who entertained the 
suspicion that his wife was a witch, and one St. John s eve 
resolved to remove his doubts by watching whether she 
went to the devil s banquet. At night therefore he kept 
an eye on her movements, and saw her take from a drawer 
a small phial of ointment which she rubbed over a peel, 
then setting herself astride on the peel, she said : " Now 
in the devil s name ! " and immediately at full speed flew 



DANISH TRADITIONS. 185 

up through the chimney. Hereupon the man did as he 
had seen his wife do, and flew after her on another peel, 
and at length descended in a mansion, in which there was 
a room brilliantly illuminated and full of people. On his 
entrance he saw the devil going round and the witches 
sitting at table, at the head of which sat his own wife. 
The devil then came to him and inquired his business, to 
which he answered that he had followed his wife. Old 
Eric then handed him a book that he might inscribe his 
name in it, which he did, but adding the words " in the 
name of God." When the fiend saw what he had written 
he uttered a howl, and the whole mansion fell down. On 
the following morning the man found himself in a hole 
out in the fields, among a heap of human bones ; but his 
wife he never saw again. 



A girl once by chance saw her mistress take a pot from 
the cupboard in which there was an ointment, with which 
she had no sooner anointed a broomstick, than with the 
broomstick between her legs she flew away up the chimney. 
The girl, full of wonder at what she had seen, took the same 
pot out of the cupboard to see what it contained, and rubbed 
a little of the ointment on a brewing vat, when instanta 
neously she with the vat also flew up through the chimney 
straightways to the Blocksberg, w^here there was a nume 
rous assemblage of old women with base-viols and fiddles 
before them. The devil himself, whom they called Old 
Eric, when he had danced out a polonaise and paid the mu 
sicians, came to the girl with a book, in which he desired 
her to write her name ; but she, instead of her name, first 
wrote the words with which it is usual to try the pen : 
1 Den, som rnig foder/ etc. ; the devil, consequently, was 
unable to take the book back, and would not dance again 
the whole evening, although he had previously been never 



186 DANISH TRADITIONS. 

off the floor. Early on the following morning, which was 
St. John s day, all the old dames rode back on their 
broomsticks, and the girl in her brewing vat, until they 
came to a brook, across which the old women sprang very 
nimbly ; but the girl hesitated and thought within her 
self: "It surely won t do to make such a jump with a 
brewing vat." But at last she said : " I can at any rate 
try." So giving the vat a kick, it sprang as lightly as 
the broomsticks themselves ; at which the girl laughing, 
exclaimed : " That was a devil of a jump for a brewing 
vat ! " But scarcely had she uttered the deviPs name 
when the vat stopt, the book was away, and the good lass 
had to find her way back to Thisted on foot. 

THE BOOK OF CYPRIANUS. 

Cyprianus was a student, and by nature a gentle and 
orderly person, but he had passed through the Black 
School in Norway, and was therefore engaged to the devil 
to apply his learning and extraordinary faculties to the 
perpetration of evil. This grieved him in his latter years, 
his heart being good and pious ; so to make the evil good 
again, he wrote a book, wherein he first shows how evil is 
to be done, and then how it may be remedied. The book 
begins Jby explaining what sorcery is, and with a warning 
against it. It is divided into three heads, viz. Cyprianus, 
Dr. Faustus, and Jacob Ramel. The last two parts are 
written in characters which are said to be Persian or 
Arabic, and also in ordinary characters. In this book are 
taught exorcising, laying and raising of spirits, and all that 
of which mention is made in the 5th book of Moses, 
xviii. 10, 11, 12. Whether this book has been printed is 
uncertain, but manuscript copies of it are concealed here 
and there among the common people, who regard it as 
something sacred. Those who possess the book of Cy 
prianus need never want money, they can read the devil 



DANISH TRADITIONS. 187 

to them and from them, and no one can harm them, not 
even the devil himself. But whoever possesses the book 
cannot get rid of it ; for whether he sells, burns or buries 
it, it will come back ; and if a person cannot dispose of it 
before his death, it will go badly with him. The only 
method is, to write his name in it in his own blood, and 
lay it in a secret place in the church, together with four 
shillings clerk s fee. 



The following is the German tradition of Cyprianus : 
In ancient times there lived in one of the Danish isles 
a man named Cyprianus, who was worse than the devil ; 
consequently, after he was dead and gone to hell, he was 
again cast forth by the devil and replaced on his isle. 
There he wrote nine books, in the old Danish tongue, on 
witchcraft and magical spells. Whosoever has read all 
these nine books through becomes the property of the 
devil. From the original work three (or nine) copies are 
said to have been made by a monk, and mutilated copies of 
these to have been dispersed all over the world. A count, 
who resided in the castle of Ploen *, is said to have pos 
sessed a perfect copy, which he caused to be fastened with 
chains and buried under the castle ; because in reading 
through eight books he was so troubled and terrified that 
he resolved on concealing it from the sight of the world. 
One of these books still exists in Flensborg 2 . Some 
spells from the nine books are still known among aged 
people. Whoever wishes to be initiated therein must first 
renounce his Christianity. 

1 The count here alluded to was, no doubt, Duke Hans Adolf of Hol- 
stein-Ploen, who was a great magician, and was finally carried off by the 
devil, through a window, though the matter was hushed up. He lived in 
the 17th century. 

2 A considerable town in Sleswig. 



188 DANISH TRADITIONS. 

Two miles from Horsens l there dwelt a miller, who was 
a master in the black art and possessed the book of Cy- 
prianus. A peasant having once stolen an axe from him, 
was obliged to bring it back at midnight, and was, more 
over, borne so high in the air that his feet rattled among 
the tops of the trees in Bierre forest. This miller in fact 
performed so many wonderful things that all his neigh 
bours were astonished at his feats. Impelled by curiosity, 
a journeyman miller once slipt into his master s private 
room, where having found an old quaint-looking volume, 
he began to read in it, when the horrible Satan appeared 
before him and asked his commands. The man, who was 
not aware that it was necessary to give the fiend some stiff 
job to execute, fell down in terror deprived of speech, and 
it would, no doubt, have been all over with him, had not 
his master entered at the moment and seen how matters 
stood. Snatching up the book, the miller instantly began 
to read in another place, in order, if possible, to drive the 
fiend away ; but things had already gone too far, and 
nothing remained to be done but to give him something to 
do, so taking a sieve, he commanded him to bale water 
with it from the mill-pond ; but being unable to do so, he 
was obliged to take his departure through the air, and left 
behind him a most loathsome stench. 

Cyprian s book is also known in Normandy, where a similar story is 
told under the title of Le Grimoire du Cure. Calderon has made Cyprian 
the hero of one of his dramas, in which he appears as a native of Antioch. 

OF WITCHES. 

On St. John s eve the witches, as it is generally known, 
have a meeting with Old Eric/ though it rarely happens 
that others are witnesses of the spectacle. 

1 A considerable town in Jutland. 



DANISH TRADITIONS. 189 

In Giording near Ribe 1 there was once a serving-man, 

who on that night placed a green turf on his head, that he 
might be invisible to the witches, and so slipt into the 
churchyard. While standing quite secure and looking at 
the wonderful witch-dance round Old Eric, who sat in the 
middle, it happened that one of the women came quite 
close to him, when, in springing aside, the turf fell from his 
head. In an instant he became visible to all the witches, 
who started off in pursuit of him, and had not the priest 
happened to be standing just without his gate, he would 
hardly have escaped falling into their clutches. 



In a certain house everything went perversely ; for 
which reason the inhabitants sent to a well-known wise 
woman. She came and went about the house both within 
and without. At last she stood still before a large stone, 
which lay just without the dwelling. " This," said she, 
"should be rolled away." But all that they could do 
with levers and other means was to no purpose : the stone 
would not move. At length the wise woman herself 
hobbled up to the stone, and scarcely had she touched it 
before it moved from its old station. Beneath was found 
a silken purse filled with the claws of cocks and eagles, 
human hair and nails. " Put it into the fire together 
with a good bundle of pea-straw, that it may catch 
quickly," said the old woman; and no sooner was this 
said than done. But the moment the fire began to take 
effect it began to howl and hiss as if the very house were 
ready to fall, and people who stood out in the fields hard 
by plainly saw a witch sally forth on her broomstick from 

1 A city on the west side of Jutland, with a fine old cathedral, said to 
be the first church in Denmark. The early kings frequently kept their 
court at Ribe. 



190 DANISH TRADITIONS. 

the mouth of the oven. At the same moment the old 
woman died, who, it was supposed, had bewitched the 
house, and all the sorcery was at an end. 



In the neighbourhood of Ostrel a man served at a 
farm, the mistress of which unknown to him was a witch. 
Although she gave him good and wholesome food, he 
never thrived, but became thinner every day. At this 
being much troubled, he went to a wise man, to whom 
he communicated his case. From this man he learned 
that his mistress was a witch, and that at night, while he 
slept, she transformed him into a horse, and rode upon 
him to Troms church in Norway ; so that it was not to be 
wondered at that his strength decreased. The wise man 
at the same time gave him an ointment with which to rub 
his head at night ; then when he fell asleep he would have 
a violent itching on his head, when he would wake and see 
that he was standing outside of Troms church. The man 
did as he had been directed, and on waking the following 
night, he was standing by Troms church holding a bridle 
in his hand, which he had torn off in scratching his head ; 
and behind him he saw many horses bound together by 
each other s tail. When he had for some time stood thus 
without the church door, his mistress came out and cast 
a friendly look at him ; but he nodded for her to come 
nearer, and when she came he cast the bridle over her 
head, when instantly she was transformed into a handsome 
mare. He then mounted the mare and rode homewards. 
On his way he called at a farrier s and caused him to put 
four new shoes on the mare. On reaching home, he told 
his master that he had been out to buy a capital mare, 
which would go well with the one he already had. The 
master bought her of him for a good round sum ; but 
when he took the bridle off, the mare disappeared and the 



DANISH TRADITIONS. 191 

mistress stood in her place with new horseshoes on her 
hands and feet. Then the man related all that had taken 
place ; the wife was in consequence turned out of doors, 
and never got the horseshoes off her hands and feet. 

The North Germans have a story (The Witch with the bridle) very 
nearly resembling the foregoing. Miillenhoff, No. 310. 



In Ostrel there was at one time a vast number of 
witches. A huntsman, who was in the habit of passing 
by the farm of Bailer, always observed in the neighbour 
hood either a hare or a wild duck ; yet, notwithstanding 
that he shot (and was a sure shot), he never could hit 
either the one or the other. He once saw a duck lying 
in the water close by the farm, at which he shot many 
times, but the duck remained quite still and seemed not 
to notice the firing. As now neither shot nor slug would 
hit it, he cut a silver button from his jacket, said three 
Aves over it and put it into his piece. Now he hit the 
duck, which, however, flew out of the water into the farm, 
and hid itself in the poultry-house. The huntsman fol 
lowed and told the people, who were sitting at supper, 
what he had done, and demanded the duck he had shot. 
The master told him he might go into the kitchen and 
speak to the servant maid, who would see to get him his 
duck. When he entered the kitchen there sat an ugly old 
beldam by the chimney, with only one shoe on, while the 
blood was running down her leg. She said she had fallen 
down and cut herself, but the huntsman knew instantly 
that it was the witch that he had shot, and hurried out of 
the place with all possible speed. 



At Brondsted Mark, in the diocese of Kibe, there is 
shown a spot near the forest, where in former days a castle 
is said to have stood. In this castle dwelt a lady who 



192 DANISH TRADITIONS. 

was a witch, and one day when all the men of Brondsted 
were at the chase, she, in the form of a hare, it is said, 
kept constantly teazing and tantalizing them, until an 
old peasant, wiser than the others, took a silver button, 
loaded his piece with it, and shot the hare in the leg. The 
following day it was rumoured that the lady was sick. 
She never appeared again. 



Two men from Svendstrup near Aalborg went out one 
night to shoot hares in the churchyard. For this purpose 
they stationed themselves in the church tower, expecting 
that game of some sort would appear, but in vain. At 
midnight, however, a swarm of hares burst forth from all 
the graves; but although the men at first ventured to 
shoot at them, not a single one fell, and their number so 
increased that the whole churchyard was completely hidden 
under their countless multitude. The men were then 
seized with a sudden terror, and with difficulty escaped 
unscathed. 

On Bornholm it is related that the witches make a kind of hare of old 
legs of stockings, with three harrow-prongs instead of legs. These hares, 
which they call smorbarrer, are sent by the witches to fetch milk from 
their neighbours cattle. Hares used by the witches to milk cattle are 
also known in Sweden. 



In the parish of Vissenberg in Fyen there was once a 
woman who was generally regarded as a witch. When at 
the point of death she could not divest herself of life ; but 
another cunning woman, who was present, advised that 
straw should be placed under the chair in which the dying 
woman sat ; for if she were a witch, she must die imme 
diately afterwards, this means having never been known 
to fail. This advice was followed and the woman died 
shortly after. 



DANISH TRADITIONS. 193 

THE SHIP-MASTER OF AARHUUS * AND THE FINLAP. 

A shipmaster from Aarhuus was once lying at Dront- 
heim, where he formed an acquaintance with a Finlap, 
who often came on board to visit him. This Finlap, who 
could perform many sorceries, offered, among other things, 
to teach the shipmaster how to procure a wind. This, 
thought the skipper, might be very convenient, and the 
next day the Finlap brought a bag with him, which he 
placed outside of the cabin, saying, that he needed only 
to take that with him, and he could make any wind. But 
the shipmaster on reflection would have no concern with 
it, suspecting that it came from the devil. The Finlap 
then asked him whether he wished to know how his wife 
and children were. On the skipper answering in the 
affirmative, the Finlap immediately fell down on the deck 
as if dead. After some time he rose, saying : " I have 
been to Aarhuus. Thy wife was sitting drinking coffee ; 
the others were also in good health, though one of the 
children had been ill. That thou mayest believe my words, 
dost thou know this?" at the same time handing him 
a silver spoon. " This," said the other, " thou hast taken 
from my house in Aarhuus." And so saying took the 
spoon and kept it. 

After they had been lying some time at Drontheim, the 
Finlap one morning said : " To-morrow we shall be under 
sail, and shall both have a good wind, although you are 
going southward and I northward. And I will further 
tell you that you will not go to Christiania fiord, to pur 
chase a lading, as you think ; but will get a better freight 
than you expect." On the following morning both were 
under sail, and the wind changed so that the Jutlander 
had a fair wind for twelve hours, and afterwards the Fin 
for twelve hours. When off the isles of Oster-Riis the 

1 A city on the east coast of Jutland, with a spacious old cathedral. 

K 



194 DANISH TRADITIONS. 

wind for the Jutlander was directly adverse, so that after 
having beaten about for nights and days, he was at last 
obliged to seek a port in the Oster-Eiis islands. There 
one merchant outbid another in their offers of freight, but 
being eastward bound for a cargo, he declined their pro 
posals, until a merchant at length offered him a freight to 
the Issefiord which almost equalled the value of a whole 
lading. This he could not withstand, but wrote to his 
owners, that for weighty considerations he had not fol 
lowed their orders, an announcement which among the 
parties interested in Aarhuus excited the suspicion that 
he had lost his wits. On his arrival home after this trip, 
and when just stepping on shore, being questioned about 
his freight, he answered : " I have it in my fob." This 
proved highly satisfactory. On coming home to his wife, 
he inquired : " How are all here ? " " Well," was the 
answer. " Has any one been ill?" "Yes, the young 
one." "Have you lost anything?" "No yes no." 
"Think again." "Yes, a silver spoon." "There it 
is," said the skipper, laying it on the table. 

OF FRIT SKUD. 

To acquire Frit Skud/ that is, always to hit the mark 
aimed at, some lay certain prayers or secret words under 
the chamber of the piece. Others effect the same by let 
ting the wind on a Thursday morning blow into the barrel. 
Such certain shooters are in league either with the evil 
one or with the wild huntsman, and whether they shoot 
to the east or to the west, their shot always brings them 
game of some kind. 

On the manor of Thiele in Jutland there was once an 
old keeper, who often when out sporting, especially when 
he was rather drunk, would turn the piece backwards and 
fire it off; and he never did so without bringing down 
game. 



DANISH TRADITIONS. 195 

TRADITIONS OF SPECTRES. 
THE FLYING HUNTSMAN. 

All over the country a terrific apparition makes its ap 
pearance, of which every one who has either seen or heard 
it speaks with shuddering. It occurs at various times that 
a rushing and buzzing, a shouting and uproar, a cracking 
and rattling are heard in the air, precisely as if a hunting 
party, with echoing horns, dogs with outstretched necks, 
and wild huntsmen, were galloping through the fields and 
forests. It is THE FLYING HUNTSMAN, says the peasant, 
laying himself on his face on the earth, or hiding himself 
behind a tree, until the hellish band has passed. 

GRON-JETTE. 

On the west side of Moen there is a forest called Gron- 
v?eld, in which Gron-Jette (Green-giant l ) hunts every 
night on horseback, with his head under his left arm, a 
spear in his hand, and many hounds around him. At 
harvest time the peasants leave a bundle of oats for his 
horse, that it may not trample down their grain in the 
night. Gronsund is named from him, as Phanefiord is 
called after Phane, his betrothed. Near Frendrup a large 
stone is to be seen, which is said to have been Gron-Jette s 
sleeping place ; and in the parish of Aastrup on Falster 2 
are several mounds, in which those whom Gron-Jette has 
slain with his spear lie buried. But Gron-Jette and Phane 
lie buried on Harbolle Mark, in Stege parish, where a 
giant-grave is shown, a hundred and seventy ells long. 

1 The first component of this name Grimm (D. M. p. 896) considers to 
be the 0. Nor. Gron (beard), and the entire name as identical with the 
0. Nor. Graniotunn, the bearded giant, without any allusion to the colour 
of his clothing. 

2 One of the smalt Danish islands near Moen. 

K2 



196 DANISH TRADITIONS. 

One night when Gron-Jette was hunting in Borre-Skov, 
he stopped his horse before Henrik Fyenboe s door, 
knocked, and ordered him to hold his dogs. He then 
rode away, Henrik Fyenboe standing in the mean while 
at his door holding the dogs for two hours. At length 
Gron-Jette returned with a mermaid lying across his horse, 
which he had shot, and said to the peasant : " After her 
I have been hunting these seven years; but now I got 
her down by Falster." He then asked for something to 
drink, having got which, he handed a gold coin to Henrik 
Fyenboe, which burnt a hole through his hand and dis 
appeared on the earth. The huntsman then laughing 
said : " Now thou canst say that Gron-Jette has held out 
his hand to thee. But that thou mayest not say that I 
have drunk at thy cost, take the band with which thou 
hast held the dogs." He thereupon rode away, and Hen 
rik took the band, which he long held under lock and 
key, and from that time increased in affluence; but at 
length, when he thought little of it, he became poorer 
than he had ever been, and died in great misery. 

In former times it was a superstition in Mben to leave a sheaf standing 
of the last stack that was housed ; but at a later period, that the last sheaf 
of oats that was bound up should be thrown into the field with these 
words : " This is for the Jode of Upsala 1 ; this he shall have for his horse 
on Christmas eve." They believed that if they neglected this, their cattle 
would die. In Norway the custom prevailed of setting a sheaf on a pole 
for the birds, on Christmas eve. 

PALNE-J^EGER, OR PALNE THE HUNTER. 

Like as King Valdemar hunts by night in Seeland does 
Paine the Hunter 2 hunt in Fyen ; and it is related that a 
man, who, about a hundred years since, dwelt near Odense, 
once fell in with him. For when this man was one night 
gone with his people to bind barley, there came to him a 

1 See page 124. 2 Palnatoki, the founder of Jomsborg. 



DANISH TRADITIONS. 197 

tall and comely female, who asked : " Have ye seen any 
thing of Paine- Jseger ?" And on their answering that 
they had not seen him, she hastened through the wood. 
Bat an hour had scarcely elapsed when Paine- Jseger came 
to the same people, with helmet and waving plume on his 
head, a bow on his left and a quiver on his right shoulder,, 
and sandals on his feet. He inquired : " Have ye seen 
anything of Langpatte?" And when they had given 
him the best intelligence they could, he hastened after 
her. He did not, however, catch her that night, as the 
same happened to the harvest people on the night fol 
lowing. 

Every new year s night Palne-Jseger fetches three horse 
shoes from one or other smithy in Fyen, and the smiths 
forget not to lay them ready for him on the anvil, as he 
always leaves three golden horse-shoes in their stead. 
But if he comes to any smithy and does not find shoes, 
he removes the anvil, as it once happened to a smith in 
Korup, whose huge anvil Palne-Jseger moved up into the 
tower of Seden church, whence the smith had great dif 
ficulty in getting it down again. 

HORNS J^GER. 

In the neighbourhood of Aarhuus Horns Jseger hunts 
by night, to extirpate all the Elf- wives. Early one morn 
ing a man from Lyngen, who was out in the field to 
remove his horses, heard with terror a rustling in the air, 
and immediately saw a man on horseback coming towards 
him. It was Horns Jseger, and he had with him three 
hounds bound with a silken cord. "Hold my dogs," 
cried he to the terrified peasant, and then again rode off; 
but returned shortly after, having two Elf-wives hanging 
across the horse s neck, who were bound together by their 
long hair. "Give me rny dogs now/ cried he to the 



198 DANISH TRADITIONS. 

peasant, "and hold forth thy hand for drink-money." 
The man did so, but the huntsman only put the end of 
three fingers into his hand, and having thus burnt him, 
rode away with the two howling Elf- wives. 

JONS J.EGER. 

In the neighbourhood of Aalborg Jons Jaeger often rides 
through the air, followed by a number of hounds that run 
on the earth. Whoever meets him must lie down flat, 
else he would be sick afterwards. Sometimes this hunts 
man may be heard calling his dogs with a horrid scream. 
If he happens to pass over a house in which two doors 
opposite each other stand open, his dogs pass through 
them; and if, at the same time., brewing or baking is 
going on in the house, it will all be spoiled. 

KING ABEI/S HUNT. 

In Sleswig it is the Danish king Abel, the fratricide, 
that leads the Wild-hunt, who in an expedition against 
the Frieslanders (A. 1252) sank into a deep morass as he 
was fording the Eyder, where, being encumbered with the 
weight of his armour, he was slain. His body was buried 
in the cathedral, but his spirit found no rest. The canons 
dug up the corpse, and buried it in a morass near Gottorp, 
" but in the place where he is buried and the neighbour 
hood, even within our own memory, horrid sounds and 
shrieks are heard, by which travellers by night are often 
terrified and rendered almost lifeless. Many persons 
worthy of credit relate and affirm that they have heard 
sounds so resembling a huntsman s horn, that any one 
would say that a hunter was hunting there, and which 
the usual night-watch at Gottorp have frequently heard. 
It is, indeed, the general rumour that Abel has appeared 
to many in our time, black of aspect, riding on a small 



DANISH TRADITIONS. 199 

horse, and accompanied by three hounds, which appear to 
be burning like fire 1 ." 

King Abel was buried in St. Peter s church at Sleswig, 
but on account of his cruel fratricide he could find no rest 
in the grave. By night he haunted the church and dis 
turbed the monks at their prayers, so that at length it was 
found necessary to take up his body and sink it in a mo 
rass near Gottorp. To keep him in the grave, a sharp 
stake was driven down in the earth through him. The 
place is still known by the name of the king s grave. He 
nevertheless rides every night on a black horse, accom 
panied by a leash of dogs. Then is to be heard a slam 
ming of gates, besides a terrific shouting and screaming, 
so that all who hear it are struck with fear. 

Some ropemakers in Sonderborg once undertook to 
stop him, by stretching a rope across the street ; but when 
he came, everything gave way before him. 

In Sweden, when a noise, like that of carriages and horses, is heard by 
night, the people say : " Odin is passing by 2 ." 



In Seeland it is King Valdemar 3 who rides, of whom 
a story is told similar to one related of Charlemagne. 
King Valdemar loved a lady from Riigen named Tovelille 4 , 
at whose death his sorrow was so great that he could not 
quit her corpse, but had it carried with him whithersoever 
he went. This being found inconvenient to those about 

1 J. Cyprsei Ann. Episcopor. Slesv. p. 267, quoted by Thiele, i. p. 187, 
edit. 1820. 

2 Geijer, Sv. Hikes Ha fd. i. p. 268. 

3 Valderaar IV. of Denmark, surnamed Atterdag; he reigned from 1334 
to 1375, and was the last male descendant of King Svend Estrithson, the 
nephew of Cnut the Great, by his sister Estrith, married to Ulf Jarl. 

4 Tovelille, i. e. the little dove. In like manner, Christian the Second s 
celebrated mistress was called Dyveke, signifying the same in Low Ger 
man. She was of Dutch extraction. 



200 DANISH TRADITIONS. 

the king, one of the courtiers seized a favourable moment 
to ascertain what it was that so attracted him to the dead 
body. He found on her finger an enchanted ring, which 
had been placed there by her mother, that even after death 
she might retain the love of Valdemar. The courtier took 
the ring from her finger, and the king s affection was 
instantly transferred from the dead lady to himself, who 
had retained the ring in his possession ; so that whatever 
was to be done was to be done by or through him. This 
at length becoming exceedingly irksome to him, and as 
he knew that it was to the ring he was indebted for the 
king s favour, he threw it into a marsh as he was one day 
riding through Gurre wood. From that moment the king 
began to find more pleasure in the wood than in any other 
place. He caused the castle of Gurre to be built, and 
hunted in the wood day and night ; at the same time it 
became a habit with him to utter the words which after 
wards proved his curse : that God was welcome to keep 
heaven, if he might only hunt in Gurre. 

He now rides every night from Burre to Gurre, and is 
known over all the country as the Hying huntsman. In 
some places he is called the flying Marcolfus. When he 
approaches, great shouting and uproar and cracking of 
whips are heard in the air ; the people then step aside and 
place themselves behind the trees. First come his coal- 
black hounds, which run on all sides snuffing the ground, 
with long red-hot tongues hanging out of their mouths. 
Then comes Wolmar on his white horse, sometimes hold 
ing his own head under the left arm. When he meets 
any one, especially an old person, he commands him to 
hold a couple of his hounds, and makes him either stand 
with them for several hours, or loose them immediately 
after a shot, on hearing which they break from all bonds 
and chains. When he is thus riding onwards, he is heard 
to slam the gates after him ; and in many places where 



DANISH TRADITIONS. 201 

there is a passage through a farm, he rides in at one gate 
and out at the other, and no locks or bolts are so strong 
as not to fly open at his approach. In some places he 
takes his course ev^en over the house-tops, and in the 
neighbourhood of Herlufsholm there is said to be a house, 
the roof of which is considerably sunk in the middle, 
because he so often passes over it. In the north of See- 
land he has another Gurre, where there are ruins, which 
are still called Valdemar s castle. It is a custom here for 
the old women, at St. John s tide, to go out at night on 
the road, and open the gates for him. About two miles 
from Gurre is Valdemar s mount, surrounded by water. 
Here, according to the tradition, six priests in black walk 
every midnight, muttering over the islet. Between Sol- 
lerod and Nserum, he hunts with black dogs and horses, 
on the road called Wolmar s way. 

Having thus roamed about, he rests alternately at niany 
places in the country. It is particularly related that he 
stops at Vallo castle, where he has a bedchamber, in which 
there stood two ready-made beds. Here he passes the 
night in the form of a black dog. In the same room stand 
two large chests, which, on being once opened, were 
found full of small round pieces of leather ; " for better 
money they had not in King Weimar s time." A sub 
terraneous passage is said to connect Vallo castle with 
Tollosegaard, in the district (amt) of Holbek. Here he is 
also said to have had a chamber, and formerly even a maid 
servant was kept to wait on him. Sometimes he rests at 
Vordingborg, in Valdemar s Tower/ or among the ruins 
of Valdemar s Castle, where young females and persons 
from his time are often seen to go and make beds. A 
peasant, who would not believe that the king thus came 
to his tower in the night, ventured once to pass the night 
there ; but at midnight, in walked King Valdemar to him, 
greeted him in a friendly manner, and said, <e Thou hast 

K 5 



202 BANISH TRADITIONS. 

my thanks for taking care of my tower/ at the same time 
holding out to him a gold coin, but which, when the pea 
sant took it, burnt a round hole through his hand, and 
fell like a coal to the ground. From this dreadful money, 
an idea may be formed of what his sufferings must be. It 
sometimes happens, when an old man or woman has faith 
fully held his dogs for many hours, that he throws them 
something that appears like coal, and is, therefore, disre 
garded, but when examined, is found to be pure gold. 

PUNISHMENT FOR REMOVING LAND-MARKS. 

Before the permanent allotment of lands, to every pea 
sant, in sowing time, so much of the field or mark was 
assigned as was just and appropriate, and boundary-posts 
were driven between his arid his neighbour s allotment. 
Whoever removed such marks, though he might escape 
punishment in this world, could find no rest in the grave, 
but by way of penalty must plough every night on the 
spot where his sin lay hidden. Of such ploughmen it is 
said, that when any person came near, they compelled 
him to drive their horses ; and if any one were so forced 
into their service, there was no other way to get free again 
than to take notice of the place where he began, and after 
the first turn to cast away the reins. He might then 
pursue his way unscathed. 



Near Skive lies the manor of Krabbesholm, where there 
once dwelt a lady who wished to appropriate to herself an 
adjacent field, and therefore caused her overseer to put 
earth from the garden at Krabbesholm into his wooden 
shoes, with which he went to the field in dispute, and swore 
that he stood on the soil of Krabbesholm. The field was 
adjudged to the lady, but afterwards the overseer could 
not die before she had given it back ; yet he, nevertheless, 



DANISH TRADITIONS. 203 

every night still goes round the field with earth in his 
wooden shoes. 



Three men belonging to Spandet, in North Sleswig, 
swore away the beautiful meadow of Elkjser from the vil 
lage of Fjersted ; in lieu of which the villagers got the in 
ferior one of Sepkjser. They had also put earth in their 
shoes. After their death they were long to be seen wan 
dering about the meadow, wringing their hands and 
crying : 

Med Ret og Skjel, By law and right, 

Det ved vi vel, That know \ve well, 

Elkjaer ligger til Fjersted By, Elkjser belongs to Fjersted town, 

Sepkjser ligger til Spandet. Sepkjaer belongs to Spandet. 



Near Ebeltoft dwelt a peasant who possessed land and 
cattle in superabundance, paid taxes both to church and 
state, brought his tithes at the right time, gave to the 
poor, and went every Sunday to church; yet, notwith 
standing all this, there was not an individual in the whole 
neighbourhood that placed any real confidence in him. 
He died and was buried, but after having lain in the earth 
until harvest time, he was heard at night crying piteously 
over the field : " Boundary here ! boundary there ! " Now 
people discovered how in his lifetime he had acquired his 
wealth. 



In Fyen there was a woman who was born on a Sunday, 
and, like other Sunday s children, had the faculty of see 
ing much that was hidden from others. But because, in 
consequence of this property, she could not pass by the 
church at night without seeing either a hearse or a spectre, 
the gift became a perfect burthen to her. She therefore 



204 DANISH TRADITIONS. 

took the advice of a man skilled in such matters, who di 
rected her, whenever she saw a spectre, to say : " Go to 
heaven," but when she met a hearse, " Hang on." Hap 
pening some time after to meet a hearse, she, through 
lapse of memory, cried out : " Go to heaven ! " and 
straightway the hearse rose up in the air and vanished. 
Afterwards meeting a spectre, she said to it : " Hang on !" 
when the spectre clung round her neck, hung on her back, 
and drove her down into the earth before it. For three 
days her shrieks were heard, before the spectre could put 
an end to her wretched life. 



A man in Odense was once desirous of knowing what 
took place in the church in the night-time, and therefore 
one evening went into St. Knud s, where he remained. 
At midnight he saw a spectre come forth from one of the 
graves holding a long wax taper, with which it went about 
and lighted all the candles in the church. Shortly after 
there came one spectre after another w r alking slowly from 
their graves, and placed themselves in the seats, among 
whom the man lying in concealment recognised many a 
good old friend. At length came a spectre in priestly 
attire, ascended the pulpit, and preached a sermon in an 
unknown tongue, until day began to dawn. 

HANS N.EB. 

In the village of Qva3rndrup in Fyen there was once a 
horrible spectre, which caused great fear and disquietude 
throughout the whole parish; as every one that saw it 
died immediately after. This spectre had assumed the like 
ness of a dead man called Hans Nseb, and when it appeared 
to any one, it was always with the cry : " Look at Hans 
1 The chief town of the island of Fyen. 



DANISH TRADITIONS. 205 

Nseb ! >} All the men in the place and then the women 
were already dead, and the turn now came to the young 
ones. In this impending danger a young fellow offered 
to encounter the apparition and endeavour to drive it 
away. For this purpose he went at midnight to the church 
path, through which the spectre was in the habit of pass 
ing, having previously provided himself with steel in 
various shapes. When the apparition approached, he 
fearlessly threw steel before its feet, so that it was obliged 
instantly to turn back, and appeared no more in the pa 
rish. But the young man being satisfied that it really 
was Hans Nseb, it was resolved to open his grave, to see 
if anything were amiss, when it was found that he was 
lying on his face in the coffin, whence it was evident to 
all that with his cry of " Look at Hans Nseb " he had only 
wished to cause them to lay him on his back, it being well 
known that a corpse cannot have peace in the grave when 
it lies otherwise. 

A SAGACIOUS WOMAN. 

Near Lille Vserlose in Seeland there once dwelt a 
farmer who associated with thieves and robbers, never 
went to church, and was in bad repute among all for his 
impiety. When he was dead and buried, and the funeral 
procession had returned from the church to drink grave 
beer at the house of the deceased, they saw him sitting 
on the roof staring down on all who ventured to look up 
at him, so that scarcely one remained behind, all leaving 
the place as quickly as possible. At length came the 
priest, who began reading, and exorcised him down into 
Kalsmose hard by Farum lake ; and that he might con 
tinue there till the world s end, a sharp stake was driven 
into the earth so that it just met his head. While all this 
was being done, an old crone chanced to be present who 
understood these matters better than the priest himself, 



206 DANISH TRADITIONS. 

and who taking a darning needle without an eye, stuck it 
into the stake. At this the spectre cried out from be 
neath : " Thou shouldst not have done that, thou old 
witch ! I should else have been at home before thee ! " But 
now he is obliged to remain beneath, yet he flies about 
every night, and is a night-raven until cock-crowing. 

MASTER MADS AND HERR ANDERS. 

Master Mads, the priest of Lumby, was full of shrewd 
ness and cunning. He once said that the dead were 
liable to thirst, and caused a cask of beer to be brought 
to the funerals within the church, and when, some days 
after, the beer was looked after, it was all drunk out. 
Many persons now conceived all sorts of opinions con 
cerning him, and certain it is, that when Master Mads 
was dead he re-appeared. His successor, Herr Anders, 
who was no less shrewd than Master Mads, undertook to 
exorcise his spirit, wheresoever it might chance to be. One 
night, therefore, he went out into the field which is now 
called the Pilelykke, taking with him three large books. 
There sure enough he met with Master Mads, with whom 
he had a hard struggle, and was hardly able to answer all 
the questions put to him by the learned sprite. So at 
length he had recourse to reading out of one of his books, 
which Master Mads, however, knocked out of his hand. 
In all haste Herr Anders then drew forth the second book, 
and again began to read ; but the spectre struck this also 
out of his hand, saying : " AVhen thou wast a lad thou 
didst once steal a wheaten loaf in Elsinore." But Herr 
Anders lost no time in throwing two skillings to him, an 
swering, that with that it would be paid. At the same 
time he took forth the third book, from which he read so 
impressively that Master Mads found himself under the 
necessity of creeping into the earth at the spot where he was 
standing, and where a sharp stake of oak was driven to 



DANISH TRADITIONS. 207 

hold him down. Old folks say that they have seen the 
stake in its place, adding that on shaking it to and fro, a 
voice was always heard from beneath, crying : " Pull it 
up ! Pull it up ! " 

OF DRAGONS, 

About a mile and a quarter from Sorb 1 stands Alsted 
church, in which there is still to be seen a picture repre 
senting a fight between a bull and a dragon, in comme 
moration, as people say, of an event which took place in 
the churchyard. According to the tradition, a dragon had 
taken up his abode near the church gate, and done great 
injury to the people, so that no one could enter the church, 
when an ancient wise man gave his advice, that a bull-calf 
should be reared with pure sweet milk, and after a certain 
time be set to fight with the serpent. At the end of the first 
year, the young bull was so strong, that every one thought 
it might stand the encounter ; but on seeing the serpent, 
it was so terrified, that it was found necessary to feed it 
in the same manner for another year. It was then less 
timid, but would not engage in combat until the end of 
the third year, when it proved so bold and vigorous that 
it instantly engaged in the conflict and killed the dragon. 
But the bull was so envenomed that it was found neces 
sary to kill it also, and bury it together with the dragon. 

There is a tradition nearly similar of a dragon in the churchyard of 
Lyngby, a village near Copenhagen. 



Two miles from Aalborg are two mounts called Ostbierg 
Eakker. Here many years since a dragon had his abode, 
and caused great affliction in the neighbourhood. At 
length there came a man skilled in the knowledge of ser 
pents, who engaged to destroy the dragon. He caused a 

1 A town in the west of Seeland, famed for its academy. 



208 DANISH TRADITIONS. 

pile to be raised, and when it was kindled, mounted a 
courageous horse and rode up to the monster, which fol 
lowed him whithersoever he rode, and thus came at length 
to the pile. The man then rode over the pile and the 
dragon crept after him through the midst of the fire. 
He then sprang a second time over the pile, and the ser 
pent crept after him a second time. When he had thus 
ridden unscathed seven times over the fire, and the dragon 
had crept seven times through it, it was completely con 
sumed. 

THE DAM-HORSE. 

Once when some peasant children from Hirschholm l 
were playing by Agerso there sprang suddenly up from 
the water a large white dam-horse/ and galloped about 
the field. The boys ran to look at it, and one of them 
ventured to set himself on its back ; but in the same mo 
ment the horse darted off and was about to plunge into 
the lake, when the boy luckily exclaimed : 

" Lord Jesus cross ! 
I never saw a larger horse ! " 

and it instantly vanished from under him. 



To the north of Thisted 2 lies the village of Brund. 
From this village as three drunken peasants were crossing 
a field called Kronens Mark, one of them expressed a wish 
for a horse on which they could all ride home together, 
when suddenly an immensely large black horse stood 
before them, on whose back they thought they might all 
very well find room ; but when two of them were mounted, 
the third in wonder cried out : 

1 A village about eight miles north of Copenhagen. 

2 A little town on the Limfiord in the north of Jutland. 



DANISH TRADITIONS. 209 

" Lord Jesus cross ! 
Never saw I such a horse ! " 

At the same moment the horse vanished, and there lay 
the three sprawling on the ground. 

In France the dam-horse is known hy the name of the Lutin, and in 
the Shetland isles it is called the Shoopiltee. In both places it is said to 
appear as a little horse, which, when any one has set himself on its back, 
rushes with him into the water. 

THE HEL-HORSE. 

In every churchyard in former days, before any human 
body was buried in it, a living horse was interred. This 
horse re-appears and is known by the name of the Hel- 
horse/ It has only three legs, and if any one meets it, 
it forebodes death. Hence is derived the saying when any 
one has survived a dangerous illness : " He gave death a 
peck of oats," (as an offering or bribe) . 

In the cathedral yard at Aarhuus there is a Hel-horse, 
which sometimes makes its appearance. A man, whose 
windows looked into the cathedral yard, exclaimed one 
evening as he sat in his apartment : " What horse is that 
outside ? " " It is perhaps the Hel-horse," answered one 
sitting by him. " Then I will see it ! " said the man. 
While looking out of the window he grew as pale as a 
corpse ; but he never mentioned afterwards what he had 
seen. Shortly after he fell sick and died. 

Hel is identical with Death, and in times of pestilence rides about on a 
three-legged horse, and strangles people ; whence when a sickness rages 
it is said that " Hel is going about ; " or when in the night the dogs bark 
and howl, " Hel is among the dogs ; " when the sickness begins in a 
place, " Hel is come ; " or when it ceases, " Hel is driven away." Hel 
can be driven from one place to another ; instances of this are related and 
persons named who have driven Hel from this or that town or village. 
When any one lies sick to death, it is said : " He has his Helsot " 
(mortal sickness) ; if he recovers it is said : " He has settled matters with 
Hel." When any one stays out too long on an errand, people to this 
day say : " You are a good one to send after Hel 1 ." 
1 Miillenhoff, p. 244. 



210 DANISH TRADITIONS. 

THE CHURCH-LAMB 1 . 

When any one enters a church alone and when there 
is no service, it often happens that he sees the Church- 
lamb running about ; for the church is built over a lamb, 
that it may not sink. Formerly, when a church was being 
built, it was customary to bury a living lamb under the 
altar, that the building might stand immoveable. This 
lamb s apparition is known by the name of the Church - 
lamb ; and if a little child is to die, the Church-lamb is 
seen to dance on the threshold of the house. 

In all Fyen there is only one church that has its Church-lamb, while 
each of the others has its Church-sow. The custom of burying a living 
animal, that a church or a house may stand firm, extends itself to other 
animals besides a lamb, of which a swine and poultry are oftenest men 
tioned 2 . 

THE GRAVE -SOW. 

In the streets of ^Eroskiobing 3 there is often seen a 
Grave-sow, or, as it is also called, a Gray sow. This is 
said to be the apparition of a sow formerly buried alive, 
and when it appears, to forebode death and calamity. 

THE NIGHT-RAVEN. 

Every exorcised spirit becomes, according to tradition, 
a Night-raven. At the spot where a spirit has been ex 
orcised, a sharp stake is driven into the earth, which passes 
through the left wing of the raven, causing a hole in it. 
It is only through the most frightful swamps and morasses 
that the Night-raven ascends. It first begins under the 
earth with the cry of " Rok ! rok ! " then " Rok op ! rok 

1 See page 102. 

2 In building the new bridge at Halle, which was completed only in 
1843, the people thought it would be requisite to immure a child in the 
foundation ! Grimm, D. M. p. 1095. 

3 A town on the north side of JEro, a small island on the south of 
Fyen. 



DANISH TRADITIONS. 211 

op ! " and when it has thus come forth, it flies away 
screaming " Hei ! hei ! he ! i ! " When it has flown up 
it resembles a cross, and at first hops on the ground like 
a magpie, and cries " Bav ! Bav ! Bav ! " It afterwards 
flies towards the east, to approach the holy sepulchre, be 
cause if it can come thither, it will get rest. When it 
flies over head, care must be taken not to look up ; for if 
any one sees through the hole in its left wing, he him 
self becomes a night-raven, and the night-raven is re 
leased. In general the night-raven is harmless, and 
strives only to go farther and farther towards the east. 

THE JACK LANTERN. 

Jack o lanterns are the spirits of unrighteous men l , 
which by a false glimmer seek to mislead the traveller, and 
to decoy him into bogs and moors. The best safeguard 
against them, when they appear, is to turn one s cap in 
side out. When any one sees a Jack o } lantern, let him 
take care not to point at him, for he will come if pointed 
at. It is also said that if any one calls him, he will come 
and light him who called ; but then let him be very 
cautious. 



Near Skovby on the isle of Falster 2 there are many 
Jack o lanterns. The peasants say they are the souls of 
land-rneasurers who in their lifetime had perpetrated in 
justice in their measurements, and therefore run up 
Skovby bakke at midnight, which they measure with red 
hot iron rods, crying, " Here is the clear and right boun 
dary ! from here to there ! " 

1 According to the Belgian tradition, they are the souls of unbaptized 
children. 

2 Lying near the south coast of Seeland. 



212 DANISH TRADITIONS. 

THE BASILISK. 

When a cock is seven years old it lays an egg, from 
which when hatched there comes forth a basilisk, an ugly 
monster that kills people only by looking at them. It is 
said that the only method by which this creature can be 
destroyed is by holding a looking-glass before it ; for it 
is so ugly that it cannot survive the sight of itself. 

THE JERUSALEM SHOEMAKER, OR WANDERING JEW, 
IN JUTLAND. 

It is now very long since there was seen in Jutland a 
man mean and lowly in his garments, riding on a little 
white horse, with stirrups made of wood. When any one 
asked him whence he came and whither he was directing 
his course, he was wont to answer : " From Vendsyssel 
over Himmelsyssel southwards." He foretold, and said 
of a stone in Mae : " A thorn shall grow through the 
fissure in the stone, and in the thorn a magpie shall build 
her nest, hatch her young, and afterwards fly away with 
them." And this came to pass as he had said. He 
further foretold that when the magpie was flown, there 
should be a great battle in Vendsyssel, and the greater 
part of the people perish. Afterwards the women should 
acquire the courage and heart of men and slay the enemy. 
But when he was asked what further should happen, he 
answered : te Let the end follow." 

In Aalborg he foretold something to the town-magi 
strate, which did not particularly please him, and for which 
he caused him to be scourged. He then foretold again, 
that like as his blood was running down his back, so 
should the magistrate s blood run over the streets of 
Aalborg. And it happened as he had said ; for in a 
quarrel which arose in the town, the townsmen slew the 
magistrate in the street. 



DANISH TRADITIONS. 213 

Of Haseriisaa, which at that time did not flow through 
Aalborg, he foretold that a time should come when it 
should run through the town ; which also took place as he 
had predicted. Coming one day to Bolstrup, and having 
according to his custom taken up his quarters in a kiln, he 
rode the next day to the public assembly (Ting), where 
the judge of the district asked him : " How will it fare 
with me ? " and got for answer : " Thou shalt die in a 
kiln." Nor did he fare better ; for coming to poverty, 
he had at last no other place of shelter. Once when some 
boys scoffed at him, and one among them threw a cask- 
stave after him, he said, that a stave should be the boy s 
death ; and the same boy, some time after, fell from a tree 
and struck a stave into his body. Of alms he accepted 
only so much as he required for the moment, and thus 
travelled from place to place. 

The story of the shoemaker of Jerusalem is generally known. When 
Jesus passed by his house, bending under the weight of the cross, he 
would rest an instant at his door ; but the miscreant came out, and with 
imprecations drove the Saviour away, for the sake of gaining the favour 
of his enemies. The shoemaker, whose name was Ahasuerus, then drew 
on himself the curse ever to be a wanderer and never to find rest until 
doomsday 1 . 

OF LAKES, BOTTOMLESS POOLS, ETC. 
TIIS LAKE. 

At Kundby, in the district of Holbek 2 , a Troll had his 
habitation in the high mount on which the church stands; 
but as the people in that neighbourhood were generally 
disposed to piety and went constantly to church, the 
Troll s greatest torment was the incessant ringing of bells 
in the church tower. At length he found himself com 
pelled to take his departure ; for nothing has contributed 
more to the migration of the Trolls than the increasing 

1 Afzelius, iii. 116. 

2 A small town in Seeland on the Issefiord. 



214 DANISH TRADITIONS. 

piety of the people and the more frequent ringing of bells. 
He crossed over to Fyen, where he lived for some time. 
It happened once that a man who had recently fixed his 
habitation in Kundby, came to Fyen and met this Troll on 
the road. " Where hast thou thy home ? " asked the 
Troll. There was nothing about the Troll unlike an or 
dinary person, therefore the man answered him truly : 
I am from Kundby." " From Kundby ? " repeated the 
Troll, " I don t know thee ; though I think I know every 
man besides in Kundby. Wilt thou take a letter for me to 
Kundby ? " The man expressed his willingness, and the 
Troll put the letter into the man s pocket, with the injunc 
tion not to take it thence until he came to Kundby church, 
where he would need merely to cast it over the wall of the 
churchyard, and the person would get it for whom it was 
intended. They then separated and the man thought no 
more of the letter; but when he had again crossed over 
to Seeland, and was sitting in the meadow where Tiis lake 
now is, the Troll s letter suddenly entered his thoughts. 
Taking it from his pocket, he sat a while with it in his 
hand, when on a sudden water began to bubble out from 
the seal, the letter expanded itself, and it was with diffi 
culty that the man saved his life ; for the Troll had en 
closed a whole lake in the letter, intending by such a de 
struction to revenge himself on Kundby church. But 
God averted it, and the lake poured itself into the great 
hollow where it now is. 

THE SUNKEN MANSION. 

In the neighbourhood of Lindenborg, near Aarhuus, 
there is a lake which no one has hitherto been able to fathom. 
Of this lake the following story is current in the neigh 
bourhood. Many years ago there stood in the place where 
the lake now is, a proud, ancient castle or mansion, of 
which the only trace remaining is a road that led to the gate, 



DAXISH TRADITIONS. 215 

but which is now lost under the waters of the lake. On one 
holyday-eve, when the family were from home, the servants 
of the place indulged in great revel and merriment, which 
at length proceeded so far, that in their state of drunken 
ness they wrapped a swine up in bed-linen, placed a cap on 
its head, and laid it in the master s bed. They then sent 
a message to the priest, summoning him to come without 
a moment s delay to administer to their master, who lay 
at the point of death. The priest was instantly there, 
and, observing no deception, read to the swine and did 
everything required by his vocation; but when he was 
about to administer the sacrament, all present burst into a 
fit of laughter, and the swine snapped the bread out of his 
hand. In terror he hurried from the place, but forgot to 
take his book with him. Just as he was hastening through 
the outer gate, the castle clock struck twelve, when a 
cracking and crashing began in every side and corner of 
the building. When he turned round the mansion had 
sunk and the lake rushed forth from the abyss. As he 
stood gazing, through fear and wonder unable to proceed, 
there came a little stool floating on the water to the border 
of the lake, on which lay the book that he had left in 
the mansion. 

TRADITIONS OF WELLS. 



In Tisvilde Mark in Seeland, close on the coast, there is 
a spring, which beyond all others has acquired a celebrity 
on account of its miraculous virtues. On St. John s day, 
pilgrimages are made to it by the sick and crippled, even 
from the most southern parts of the island; and many 
have there recovered their health down to the present day. 
This spring is called Helen s Well, and various are the 
traditions current respecting it. 



216 DANISH TRADITIONS. 



There dwelt in Sweden a holy woman named Helen ; 
she lived in a forest apart from human converse, and led 
a pure godly life. In her solitude she was assailed by 
some wicked men, who slew her and cast her body into 
the sea. There a large stone received her lifeless corpse 
and floated with it over to Seeland, where it was found 
under a high acclivity in Tibirke parish. But as, in con 
sequence of the steepness, it was not practicable to bring 
it ashore, a miracle caused by her sanctity took place, the 
precipice burst asunder so that the body was borne through 
it into the plain. The cleft is still to be seen. At the 
spot where the body was first laid, a spring gushed forth, 
which is the celebrated well that still bears her name. 
When her body had been placed in a coffin, it was con 
veyed to Tisvilde church. When on its way, the bearers 
having used some indecent language, the bier became so 
heavy, that they could not move it from the spot, but it 
sank deep into the earth at the place which is still called 
Helen s grave. The stone on which she floated to See- 
land yet lies on the strand, and bears evident traces of 
her body. 

ii. 

Helen was a Scanian princess and much famed for her 
beauty. A king fell in love with her, and as he could not 
win her affection, he resolved on violence. In her distress 
Helen fled from place to place pursued by the king. When 
on reaching the sea-shore and the king was about to 
seize her, she plunged into the deep. But she did not 
perish. A large stone rose from the bottom of the ocean 
and received her, on which she floated over to Seeland. 
At the spot where she first set her foot on land there 
sprang forth a fountain which still bears her name, and 



DANISH TRADITIONS. 217 

she lived long in that neighbourhood, and was venerated 
and visited as a holy woman. 

in. 

Three pious sisters being on a voyage together, all 
perished, and the waves dispersed their bodies in three 
several directions. The first of these was named Helen. 
Her body came to Tisvilde, where a fountain sprang from 
her grave. The name of the second was Karen. Her 
body came to land at the spot in Odd s district, where St. 
Karen s well is still shown. The third sister was in like 
manner cast on shore, and a well likewise sprang from her 
grave. 

On a cliff in Odd s district there is a spring called There s well, which 
may possibly have been so named from the third sister. 

ST. KNUD S WELL. 

Near Harrested in Seeland, on the spot where Duke 
Knud Lavard was treacherously murdered by the king s 
son Magnus (A.D. 1129), a spring gushed forth, which 
is visited by persons suffering from bodily ailments. It 
bears the name of St. Knud, and around it the grass is 
green both summer and winter. 

SNOGSKILDE (SNAKE s-WELL). 

Whoever is so fortunate as to catch a snake with a 
crown on its head, or, as it is also called, a royal snake, 
and eats a piece of its flesh, becomes fremsynct (i. e. 
able to see into hidden things), understands the speech of 
animals, and can read any book whatsoever. 

From such an event Snogskilde in Fyen derives its 
name and origin. As a man was going down the hills in 
Guldbierg parish he saw a royal snake putting its head 
forth from the earth, which he quickly seized and ran off 



218 DANISH TRADITIONS. 

with it, followed by a multitude of snakes, all bent on 
rescuing their king ; but the man, casting off his wooden 
shoes, reached his little hut in safety, instantly ate a part 
of the snake, and thus acquired a vast insight into the 
secrets of this world. From the hole, through which the 
crowned snake had crept forth, there sprang a fountain, 
which for many years after was fenced in and visited, on 
account of the wonderful virtue of its water in the cure of 
all diseases. It has now fallen into neglect 1 . 

On the isle of Mors 2 there are said to be white vipers, though they 
are found but seldom. Whoever eats one acquires an extraordinary de 
gree of understanding, together with the faculty of seeing things invisible 
to others. 

THE SAND-HILLS AT NESTVED. 

At Fladso there dwelt a Troll who bore a grudge against 
the inhabitants of Nestved 3 . He therefore one day took 
his leather bag, went to the beach, and filled it with sand. 
It was now his intention to do the people of Nestved a 
great injury, by burying their houses under the sand ; but 
as he was on his way to the town, with the sack on his 
shoulders, the sand ran out through a hole, and caused 
the row of sand-hills that lie between Fladso and Nestved; 
nor until he reached the spot where the castle of Husvold 
formerly stood, was he aware that he had lost the greater 
part of the sand, at which he was so angry that he cast 
the remainder against Nestved, where it is still to be seen, 
a solitary sand-hill. 

OF TREES. 

In Rugaard Forest there is a tree which has no leaves, 
of which it is related, that although it has the appearance 
of other trees, it is, nevertheless, an elf, who by night 

1 See pp. 98, 99. 

2 A small island in the Liimfiord, in the north of Jutland. 

3 A town in the south of Seeland. 



DANISH TRADITIONS. 219 

goes about the forest. To injure this tree would be dan 
gerous,, and would surely call forth vengeance. 

THE LONELY THORN. 

One often sees in a field a solitary thorn, which never 
grows larger. Such are always bewitched, and care 
should be taken not to approach them too near in the 
night time, as there comes a fiery wheel forth from the 
bush, which, if a person cannot run away from it, will 
destroy him. 

OF THE PESTILENCE IN JUTLAND. 

On the cast side of the churchyard of Fuur no one is 
buried, because when the Black Death raged in the coun 
try, a living child was buried there, in order to stay the 
contagion. 

Other instances are given of this method of staying the pestilence. 

THE RAT-HUNTER. 

On the Alhede the people were grievously annoyed with 
rats, mice and other vermin, when there came an itinerant 
rat-hunter who undertook to drive them all away. He 
first, however, inquired whether they had ever seen a 
dragon thereabouts, and on their answering in the nega 
tive, caused a pile to be raised on the middle of the heath, 
having kindled which he sat by it on a chair. While the 
fire was burning he took forth a book, out of which he 
read much, and while he read, rats and mice, serpents and 
various reptiles were seen to go into the fire. But at last 
there came a dragon, at the sight of which the man com 
plained that he was betrayed and must now perish him 
self. The serpent then wound his tail round both the 
man and his chair, and thus entered the fire, where they 
both perished together. 

L2 



220 DANISH TRADITIONS. 

HISTORICAL. 

HABOR AND SIGNELIL. 

Near Ringsted 1 lies Sigersted, so called from King 
Sigar, who resided there. His daughter, Signelil, loved a 
noble warrior named Habor, and to this day is shown, near 
Alsted, the place where they usually met. It still bears 
the name of SigneliPs walk. 

One day, when chasing a hart, and pursuing it across 
the rivulet of Vrangstrup, her horse fell under her, so that 
she was exposed to much danger. At this instant Habor 
appeared, sprang into the stream and rescued her. Their 
love at length became so ardent, that Habor, disguised as 
a waiting-maid, secretly gained admission to Signelil, 
which Gunvare, SigneliPs nurse, treacherously betrayed to 
King Sigar. The whole affair being now divulged, and 
Habor being seized by the king s men, the two lovers 
formed the resolution of dying together. Habor was con 
ducted to Stanghoi, there to be hanged ; but feeling de 
sirous in his last moments of proving the fidelity of Sig- 
iielil, he requested that, before he was hanged, his cloak 
might be suspended on the gibbet, that he might thence 
form an idea how he himself should hang. Signelil, in 
the mean while, cast all her jewels into a deep pit, which 
is still called SigneliPs well ; whence the saying derives its 
origin, that Sigersted has more gold and silver than it 
knows of. She then shut herself in her bower, anxiously 
watching the gibbet on which Habor was to suffer. On 
perceiving the cloak, she set fire to the bower, in the be 
lief that Habor was already dead. When the bower to 
gether with Signelil was consumed, and Habor was con- 

1 Once a considerable, but now a small, town in Seeland. Tn its church 
(St. Bent s), formerly belonging to the Benedictine convent, are deposited 
the remains of several of the early kings and royal personages. 



DANISH TRADITIONS. 221 

vinced of her love, he resigned himself to his fate, and was 
buried in Hagehoi. But the accursed nurse had no great 
joy of her treachery, being afterwards cast into a well,, 
which still bears the name of the Nurse s Well. 

This is one of the most ancient and celebrated of all the Scandinavian 
traditions. In Saxo the narrative at length is admirably given. See also 
W. Grimm, Altdanische Heldenlieder, p. 509, also Udvalgte Danske Viser, 
iii. pp. 403, sqq., where the several places in Denmark, Sweden and Norway 
are specified which claim to be the scene of the tragedy. 

FEGGEKLIT. 

There was once, in days of yore, a king in Mors named 
Fegge or Fengo. His castle was on the hill which after 
him is still called Feggeklit, from whence he could order 
his ships out to sea. He and his brother, Horvendil, 
ruled alternately on land and on sea, so that one, during 
three years, should be engaged in piratical expeditions 
abroad, while the other directed the government at home. 
But Fegge, growing jealous of HorvendiPs good fortune 
and increasing power, slew him and married his widow, 
which murder was afterwards avenged by HorvendiPs son, 
Amlet, who slew Fegge, whose grave is still to be seen on 



Feggeklit. 



JELLINGE BARROWS. 



About two miles to the north-west of Veile, near the 
village of Jellinge, lie King Gorm the Old and his queen, 
Thyra, each in a barrow by the side of the churchyard. 
On Thyra s barrow, it is said, there was formerly a fair 
fountain, which, as some relate, was conducted in copper 
pipes under the earth, from a hill near the village of Rug- 
balle ; while others say that it was derived from a spring 
that rises in Finnet field; others assure us that Thyra 
was suspected of infidelity towards her husband, but that 
three days after her interment, a fountain sprang from 
the earth in token of her innocence. A peasant once 



222 DANISH TRADITIONS. 

washed his horse in the water to cure it of the scab, in 
consequence of which profanation the well was dried up. 

Near these barrows, just without the door of the church, 
stand two remarkable monuments of antiquity, namely, 
two very large stones with runic inscriptions, which tell 
of King Gorm arid his queen Thyra. This writing can, 
however, be no longer read by any one, unless he stands 
on his head and has been to the Black School. A cun 
ning priest once read the writing, and thereby learned the 
existence of treasure lying sunk in a field on a large stone ; 
but where it is now to be found, nobody knows. 

HOLGER THE DANE UNDER KRONBORG . 

Under the castle of Kronborg a clashing of arms was 
frequently to be heard, for which no one could assign a 
cause, and in the whole country not one could be found 
daring enough to descend into its nethermost passages. 
To a slave, who had forfeited his life, his pardon and free 
dom were promised, if, by descending as far as the passage 
admitted, he could bring information of what he there 
met with. He came at length to a large iron door, which, 
on his knocking, opened of itself, and he found himself 
in a deep vault. From the middle of the roof hung a 
lamp nearly burnt out, and beneath it was an immense 
stone table, around w^hich sat steel-clad warriors bending 
down, and resting their heads on their crossed arms. He 
who sat at the end of the table then arose ; it was Holger 
the Dane ; but in lifting his head from his arm, the stone 
table burst asunder, for his beard had grown into it. 
" Reach me thy hand ! " said he to the slave ; but the 
latter, not venturing to give his hand, held out an iron 
bar instead, which Holger so squeezed that the marks re 
mained visible. At length letting it go, he exclaimed : 
t( It gladdens me that there are still men in Denmark ! " 
1 The castle at Elsinore, which guards the passage of the Sound. 



DANISH TRADITIONS. 223 

BISHOP WILLIAM S FOOT-MARK. 

At the door on the south side of Roeskilde l cathedral, 
there is still to be seen on the threshold the place where 
Bishop William in his anger set his foot, when he pre 
vented King Svend Estrithsen from entering the church, 
and excommunicated him, for having profaned the holy 
edifice with unjust bloodshed. 

BISHOP WILLIAM S DEATH AND BURIAL. 
When the tidings reached Bishop William of Roeskilde 
that his king and master, Svend, surnamed Estrithsen, 
was dead, at an advanced age, in Jutland, he prepared to 
go and meet the king s body. Before he set out he went 
into the church of the Holy Trinity, called the grave- 
diggers to him, ordered them first to dig a grave for the 
king and then one for himself; as he felt certain that he- 
should immediately follow his beloved master. He then 
entered a carriage and proceeded to meet the royal corpse. 
On reaching Topshoge forest he observed two remarkably 
high trees, which he ordered his attendants to fell and to 
form a coffin of them. Supposing that the bishop intended 
the coffin for the king s body, they executed his order and 
placed the coffin on a vehicle to be conveyed after them. 
But on emerging from the forest, Bishop William seeing 
the king s body drawing nigh, ordered the driver to stop ; 
he then descended from the carriage, spread his cloak on 
the ground, fell on his knees, and prayed to God for peace 
and a happy departure. When the attendants, who were 
standing by, had long wondered that the bishop still con 
tinued prostrate, they raised his head and saw that he 
was no more. They then laid his body in the coffin and 
conveyed it back to Roeskilde. Thus was his corpse borne 

1 Formerly the capital of Denmark and the residence of the Danish 
monarchs, whose burial-place is in its venerable cathedral. 



224 DANISH TRADITIONS. 

after the king s, and buried in the quire, in the place 
that he had himself selected. 

Afterwards, when Bishop Svend Norbagge 1 was re 
building the church of hewn stone, and all was completed 
as far as the quire, it being found that Bishop William s 
burial-place occupied too much room, he ordered it to be 
removed. In the night there came a man clad in priestly 
attire to the precentor, who lay asleep, and ordered him 
to greet Bishop Svend and say to him, that he ought to 
have been satisfied with the honour of completing the re 
construction of the church, and not to have separated his 
body from the king s ; adding, that if Bishop Svend had led 
a less godly life, he would have taken revenge on himself, 
but now he would be revenged on the building only that 
he had raised. With these words he thrust at the wall 
with his staff so that a whole column came falling down 
in fragments. The precentor, on awaking from his dream, 
saw that the column was thrown down, and found himself 
lying amid the rubbish, but without having suffered any 
injury. When informed of this occurrence, Bishop Svend 
answered, that it was not to be wondered at that Bishop 
William was so hasty and unyielding after his death, see 
ing that he had been so during his whole life. 

For a long time the grave remained untouched, until 
the death of Bishop Asker, when it was thought that the 
most honourable place for him was by the side of Bishop 

1 Of this prelate, a Norwegian by birth, Saxo (pp. 559, sq.) relates a 
story worth repeating : When raised to the episcopal dignity, Svend, 
though well versed in his own native literature, was miserably deficient in 
Latin. The preference shown him by the king excited the envy of many, 
and by way of rendering him ridiculous, it was contrived, when he had to 
celebrate mass, to lay before him a book in which the first two letters of 
famulum, in the prayer for the king, were erased ; so that in his ignorance 
he prayed God to protect his majesty, mulum sttum. On inspecting the 
book, the king at once perceived the trick, and caused the bishop (whom 
he loved for his virtues) to apply himself to the study of the liberal arts, 
in which he afterwards excelled. 



DANISH TRADITIONS. 22i) 

William, of which opinion were the precentor Herman, 
the schoolmaster Arnfast, and the provost Isaac. These 
three opened the grave, and found, on examining* it, 
Bishop William s cope, which spread around so sweet and 
pleasant an odour, that they thence concluded he must be 
blessed in heaven. The odour was at the same time so 
powerful, that for three days those who had touched the 
cope could not wash it off their fingers. But when they 
threw his bones aside with no respect, each received his 
punishment. Herman the precentor got the St. Anthony s 
fire in his nose, of which within three days he died. The 
schoolmaster, who, by way of remedy for an increasing 
debility of the limbs, took to drinking, became such a 
sufferer that he vomited up his liver, and confessed to 
Bishop Absalon, who visited him, that he suffered all be 
cause of that sin : he entered a cloister and died three 
months after. Provost Isaac, who saw how the other two 
were punished, sold all that he owned and founded the 
convent of St. Mary in Roeskilde, but nevertheless died 
of a wasting sickness. 

THE PUNISHMENT OF INHUMANITY. 

WTien King Cnut the Saint was pursued to the church 
of St. Alban in Odense, he knelt down before the high 
altar, prayed to God for forgiveness of his sins, and pre 
pared himself for death. While there kneeling he suffered 
severely from thirst, and therefore besought a Jutlander, 
who peered in at a window, to be so compassionate as to 
give him a little drink of water. The man thereupon ran 
to a brook and brought some water in a jug; but when 
in the act of reaching it in to the king, another Jutlander, 
who was standing by, struck the vessel with his spear, so 
that all the water was spilt on the church floor. Then said 
the king to him who had broken the jug : " Dost thou 
deny me a little drink of water?" And having said this, 

L 5 



226 DANISH TRADITIONS. 

he was slain by a stone that was cast at him (A.D. 1086). 
But the pitiless Jute met with his reward. He became 
mad and suffered from burning thirst, and one day having 
laid himself down by a spring to draw up water, he slipt 
half way down into the well and remained hanging by the 
legs, with his head close to the water, though without 
touching it, and so perished. 

SVEND GRATHE S MILITARY CHEST. 

In Jutland, near the village of Kragelund, there is a 
large morass called Graa-Mose. It was formerly called 
Grathe Mose, it having been there that Svend Grathe was 
slain by King Valdemar (A.D. 1157). Connected with 
this place is the following tradition. When Svend Grathe 
saw that the battle was lost, he caused his large military 
chest to be cast into the slough (for such at that time it 
was), from which cause there is seen, as in every place 
where treasure is concealed, lights burning by night. 
Hitherto it has been sought for in vain ; and a school 
teacher, who had one night stuck pegs where he saw the 
lights, found them all pulled up on the following morning. 

THE TWO CHURCH TOWERS. 

Herr Asser Ryg resolved on building a church at Fien- 
Trieslovlille ; but before the same was finished, he was 
obliged to go to the wars with his kinsmen. When on the 
eve of departure, he desired his wife, who was at the time 
pregnant, that if she brought him a son, to place a tower 
on the church, but if a daughter, then to omit that orna 
ment. When he returned some time after, lo, there stood 
the church with two towers ! His wife had brought him 
two sons, and these were Absalon and Esbern Snare. 

The words of Saxo (see Dahlmann, Gesch. v. Dannem. i. 279, note) 
tender this tradition rather doubtful : " quanquam (Hesbernus) natu prae- 
stet." Absalon was the celebrated archbishop of Lund and still more 



DANISH TRADITIONS. 227 

celebrated statesman and warrior under Valdemar I., surnamed the Great. 
His brother, Esbern (Asbiorn), was also a distinguished statesman and 
warrior. 

ARCHBISHOP ABSALON S DEATH. 

Absalon had wronged a peasant, who, when on his death 
bed, cited the archbishop before the judgement-seat of 
God ; and at the moment when the peasant died, Absalon 
was also called to his account. It befell at the same time in 
the monastery of Soro, that the brethren, who had received 
no tidings of the archbishop s death, heard, on the eve 
ning of the same day, a mournful voice near the altar, 
saying : " Sora ! Sora ! pro me supplex ora ! " 

DANNEBROG. 

While King Valdemar the Victorious was fighting 
against the heathen Livonians, with the view of converting 
them to the Christian faith, Archbishop Andrew of Lund 
stood, like the Moses of his time, on a high hill, offering 
up prayers to God for the success of the Danish arms. 
And it is said, that as long as he was able to hold his 
arms aloft, the Danes were successful ; but the instant he 
let them sink, through the weakness of age, the heathens 
gained the advantage. On which account, the other 
priests, who were present, supported his arms as long as 
the conflict lasted. It was in this battle the miracle took 
place, that, when the Danish principal banner was lost in 
the heat of the contest, there fell from heaven a banner 
bearing a white cross on a red field, and to this the Danes 
owed the victory. This precious banner was preserved 
for a long time after, and it was the general belief, that 
wherever it was, there was victory certain. They named 
it the Dannebrog. On the spot where this battle was 
fought, the town of Wolmar was afterwards built, and so 
named after King Valdemar. 



228 DANISH TRADITIONS. 

DANNEBROG SHTPS. 

On Gienner Mark, about a mile from Apenrade 1 , there 
are still the remains of an ancient monument called the 
Dannebrog ships. It is said to have originally consisted 
of twenty greater or smaller stones, shaped into the figure 
of ships, and set up on a level spot in the form of an oval, 
so that the end of one stone is parted from the next only 
by another stone standing up between them. 

Of these stones it is related, that when King Valdemar 
II. had conquered the heathen Livonians, through the aid 
of the miracle of the Dannebrog, he, on his way back to 
Denmark, caused these stones to be set up near the bay 
formed by the Baltic on the east of the rural village of 
Gienner, as a lasting monument of his victory, on which 
account they were called the Dannebrog ships. 

In the course of time some of these stones have been 
broken and placed in the fences of the peasants ; there is, 
nevertheless, still a remnant of them left standing, and 
ancient people, who have seen more of them, declare that 
they had the form of ships. 

ST. NIELS (NICHOLAS), THE PATRON OF AARHUUS. 

When King Cnut the Sixth was on his way from North- 
to South- Jutland, and was in Haderslev 2 , where he in 
tended to pass the night, there came a soothsayer to him, 
who had knowledge of the stars. This man declared he 
had read in the heavens that on the next night a child 
would be conceived, who in the course of time should 
acquire great renown and be in favour both with God and 
man. On hearing this, the king was instantly seized with 

1 A town on the east coast of Sleswig. 

2 Or, Ger. Hadersleben, a town of Sleswig. South Jutland is another 
name for the duchy of Sleswig, which it bore till the close of the 14th 
century. 



DANISH TRADITIONS. 229 

a strong desire to be the father of so fortunate a babe, and 
forthwith gave orders that a noble young lady should be 
secretly conducted to him on the following night and share 
his bed. This took place as he had commanded,, and the 
said young lady, at the expiration of nine months, brought 
a boy into the world, who cost his mother her life. This 
prince, who at his baptism received the name of Niels, 
was delivered to the king s sister, to be reared by her 
until he was sufficiently grown up to be conducted to the 
court, there to be instructed in martial exercises and 
knightly demeanour. When Prince Niels had been some 
time at court, it came to his knowledge that his existence 
had cost his mother her life, which circumstance had such 
an effect on his mind, that from that moment he entirely 
altered his course of life ; so that it was said of him, that 
from that time he never laughed. The dissipations of the 
court were so distasteful to him, that he sought solitude, 
and devoted himself to praying and fasting to that degree, 
that every Friday he partook only of bread and water, 
renounced the use of linen, clothed himself in a garment 
of hair, and passed the nights in devout prayer on his 
bare knees. At last he resolved wholly to forsake the 
turmoil of the world, and withdrew to Aarhuus, there to 
pass the remainder of his life. In that city he founded a 
monastery with a church, which was afterwards called by 
his name. To this cloister he retired, and chose a monk 
named Hugo to live with him, besides whom he associated 
with no one. 

A short time before his death, which happened in the 
year 1180, a revelation took place. The before-mentioned 
Hugo, who slept in the same apartment with the prince, 
saw in the night a procession of young clergymen enter 
the chamber, clad in their robes of ceremony, with purple 
copes, and bearing lighted wax tapers in their hands. At 
the brilliancy of the light Hugo awoke, rose from his bed, 



230 DANISH TRADITIONS, 

fell on his knees before his young master, and related to 
him the vision he had seen, asking what it betokened ? 
The prince answered that it was a message from heaven, 
to announce that he should die on the night following. 
The next day he summoned to him his friends in the city 
and all the monks of the convent, gave them kind ex 
hortations, and bade them farewell. He then distributed 
liberal alms among the poor, and departed hence, as he 
had predicted, on the following night, after having di 
rected to be buried in the church of St. Oluf by the sea, 
which church he had, during his life, enriched with royal 
donations. After his death, it seemed to Bishop Svend 
of Aarhuus that the spot chosen by the prince was too 
mean for so exalted a personage; he would, therefore, 
have had his body borne to the conventual church of St. 
Nicholas; but it happened that a star was seen to fall 
from heaven on the eastern side of St. Oluf s church, 
which was interpreted to signify that the prince by that 
miracle repeated his wish and command; so that the 
bishop was forced to comply. After his burial in that 
church, divers miracles took place there from time to time. 
By the grave a wooden cross was erected, which in the 
course of time having become decayed, these words were 
heard thrice repeated : " Make a new cross of oak from 
Skeibye forest, and set it on the mound where St. Niels 
is buried!" This was done as ordered, and the trunk 
that was brought from the forest was so large and heavy, 
that five yoke of oxen could hardly draw it into Aarhuus. 
Near to the grave there stood a large apple-tree. A 
person having once climbed up this tree for the purpose 
of stealing the fruit, became palsied both head and foot, 
so that he could neither descend nor even move, before he 
had prayed to the saint for forgiveness, and made a vow 
that he would never again be tempted to rob him of his 
apples. 



DANISH TRADITIONS. 231 

There was a box placed by the grave, which day and 
night stood open to receive the pious gifts of every one 
who had, through the intercession of the saint, recovered 
from blindness, deafness, or other corporal infirmity. From 
this box a thief was once tempted to carry off a pair of 
curiously wrought eyes of silver, which a man, who had 
been restored to sight at St. Niels grave, had placed in 
it. This thief came from Horsens, and desiring to hasten 
back with his booty, ran the whole night on the way, as 
he thought, to that town ; but at day-break met a priest 
just entering a churchyard, from whom he learned that 
he was still in St. Oluf s churchyard, and that, notwith 
standing all his running, he had not stirred from the spot. 
He then confessed his enormous sin, and having given 
back the silver eyes, without difficulty found the way back 
to Horsens. 

A cow belonging to a poor woman having died, St. 
Niels restored it to life. He did in like manner with a 
flock of sheep in Randlev ; and a hawk, which had died 
on King Valdemar s hand, became again living on calling 
on St. Niels. 

He was once standing near some workmen, who were 
cutting timber in Viby forest for a church that was to be 
built. Hearing them complain of thirst, he forthwith 
caused a spring to gush out for their refreshment, which 
still bears his name, and is visited by the sick. 

After St. Niels had performed many such miracles, and 
his shrine been richly gifted, there arose in the time of 
King Eric Menved an apprehension, that the sweet and 
powerful odour, which issued from his grave, would tempt 
Marsk Stig and his band of robbers over from the isle of 
Hielrn, not far from Aarhuus. In consequence of this 
apprehension, both St. Niels and his shrine were removed 
to St. Clement s church in Aarhuus; but from that time 
he performed no more miracles, and the pleasant odour 



232 DANISH TRADITIONS. 

from his bones entirely ceased and returned not again 
not even after he had been made a saint by the pope. 

LITTLE KIRSTEN S (CHRISTINE S) GRAVE. 
Just without the north door of Vestervig 1 church there 
is a remarkably long grave-stone, with a cross engraved 
on it, and an illegible inscription. Beneath it lies Little 
Kirsten, the sister of King Valdemar the First. During 
the absence of the king she entered into an illicit connec 
tion with Buris, prince of the Wends, and brother to the 
queen, by whom she became pregnant. When the king- 
on his return observed what had taken place, he called, 
as it is said, Little Kirsten out to dance, and danced her 
to death. Prince Buris he ordered to be blinded and cast 
into prison. After a time, when the king s anger was 
somewhat mitigated, he allow r ed the unhappy prince to 
choose another prison, and he chose the monastery of 
Vestervig, where he was kept confined until his death in 
a tower, which stood where the churchyard now is ; and 
it is related that he had a chain round his body so long 
that he could go from his tower to Kirsten s grave, which 
he daily visited. The queen, his sister, on the other hand, 
who had always hated Little Kirsten, came one day riding 
that way, and to show her contempt, galloped over the 
grave ; but the stone proved less hard than her heart, and 
received the dints of the horse s hoofs. 

MARSK STIG. 

After the death of Marsk Stig at Hielm 2 , his corpse 
was conveyed by night to the church of Hintzeholm, and 

1 A town on the Liimfiord, on the west side of Jutland. 

2 Stig Andersen was Marsk (i. e. Marshal) of the kingdom. He was 
one of the assassins of King Erik Clipping, who, it is said, had dis 
honoured his wife. Under the reign of Erik Menved, son of the murdered 
king, the Marsk being outlawed, fortified himself on Hielm, a little island 
off the coast of Jutland in the Cattegat. See Danske Viser, ii. 115-162. 



DANISH TRADITIONS. 233 

there secretly buried by his followers, who would not have 
it known where he rested, lest his remains should suffer 
insult. But at the time they brought the body to the 
church, it happened that a servant girl saw a light in the 
building and men carrying in a corpse. This she told to 
the priest, and the grave was afterwards searched. But 
the priest not knowing who it was that had been so buried, 
made no mention of the circumstance, but took the velvet 
that was over the coffin, a part of which he gave to the 
girl. A considerable time after this event, the same girl 
became the wife of one of Marsk Stig s followers, who one 
day noticing the velvet on a cushion, inquired of her 
whence she got it ? She thereupon recounted what had 
taken place ; but as he was fearful that his master s rest 
ing-place might thereby be one day discovered, he killed 
her, although he entertained much affection for her. 

KING VALDEMAR AND QUEEN HELVIG. 



Once when king Valdemar was in the act of mounting 
his horse, and had already set one foot in the stirrup, he 
fell into deep thought, and so continued standing, to the 
great astonishment of those present. At length one of 
his attendants ventured to ask him why he thus continued 
standing ? The king answered, that if he could not inform 
him > nor procure him information whether that over which 
he was pondering would happen or not, he must never 
again appear before him. With this answer the man went 
away full of sorrow ; he wandered about in the forest, and 
knew not to which side he should turn. At length he 
observed a woman in the forest sitting by a fire, who on 
his approach asked him why he appeared so sorrowful, 
and on his informing her, laughed at him, saying : " Greet 
thy master and tell him, that Sweden can easily fall to 



234 DANISH TRADITIONS. 

Denmark, if he will receive Queen Helvig into favour ! " 
Queen Helvig was in disgrace, and had been repudiated 
by the king ; for which reason, on hearing the man s an 
swer, he was very angry, and said that such should never 
be the case. 

It happened, however, as through a miracle, that as the 
king was once hunting in the forest near the castle of 
Soborg, where Queen Helvig was at the time residing, 
he saw a damsel, with whose beauty he was so smitten 
that he ordered his attendants to conduct her to him at 
midnight. But when the servants came to employ force 
against this young person, announcing to her at the same 
time the king s will, Queen Helvig, who had received in 
formation of the whole affair, resolved on putting on the 
young girl s clothes, and letting herself be conducted by 
the attendants to the king her consort. She became preg 
nant, and gave birth to a daughter, afterwards the cele 
brated Queen Margaret, who united Sweden with Denmark 
and Norway. 

This and the three following traditions refer to King Valdemar IV. 
surnamed Atterdag (from atter, again, and dag, day), in consequence, it 
is supposed, of his frequent use of the expression " Morgen er atter en 
Dag " (To-morrow is again a day). His queen, Helvig, was confined in 
the castle of Soborg until her death, on account of the affair with Folker 
Lovmandsen. See p. 236. 



II. 

Once when king Volmar was about to mount on horse 
back, he continued standing with his left foot in the 
stirrup, and appeared lost in thought. At this moment a 
man was led by whom the king had condemned to death, 
who falling on his knees, prayed for his life. The king 
starting said : tf If thou canst enable me to know what 
the thought was that has just passed from my mind, and 
whether it will be accomplished, thou shalt be free." 



DANISH TRADITIONS. 235 

Hereupon the man got permission to travel over the coun 
try to all those skilled in secret knowledge ; but no one 
could answer his inquiry. One evening he came toBorbierg, 
a steep cliff lying out in the sea. Here he struck thrice 
with the white staff he had in his hand, and the dwarf of 
the cliff came out. He could, however, afford no infor 
mation : " but I have," said he, " a great-grandfather in 
Dagbierg Daas, who is an old and very sagacious man : 
try your luck with him/ The man took staff in hand 
and hied away to Dagbierg, but fared not a whit better 
there ; the dwarf knew nothing whatever : " But I have 
a great-great-grandfather in the Uodsteen (Red-stone) on 
Fuur ; if he can t inform you, no one can." The man then 
dragged on to the isle of Fuur, and it happened to be just 
midnight when he stood by the cave and knocked three 
times. A very little old man came tottering forth. " Yes, 
I can help thee, sure enough ; but first thou shalt tell me 
three truths." The man bethought himself a moment, 
and said : " Much have I travelled and far have I been l , 
yet never have seen so firm a house as thine." " Yes, that I 
can well believe, for it is a cave of one stone ; now again ! " 
" Much have I travelled and far have I been, yet never 
have seen so much gold and silver in one spot." " Yes, 
that is very possible ; but now another." " Much have I 
travelled and far have I been, yet never have seen so little 
a man with so long a beard." For it was so long that 
the little man almost trod on it. "Yes," said the man- 
nikin, " and now I will tell thee what the king was think 
ing about, and that is, whether he could get Denmark, 
Norway and Sweden hammered together; but that will 
only take place under his daughter." The man was 
heartily rejoiced, appeared with his answer before the 
king, and got remission of his sentence according to 
promise. 

1 Almost the words of Odin in the Eddaic poem, Vafthrudnir s Mai. 



236 DANISH TRADITIONS. 

QUEEN HELVIG AND FALK LOHMAN. 

When King Valdemar Atterdag discovered that Queen 
Helvig was unfaithful to him, and held illicit intercourse 
with Falk Lohman, he caused the latter to be hanged 
without the Strand-gate at Nyborg l , and adjudged the 
queen to witness the execution from the ramparts. The 
prison in which he was confined was in the castle, and till 
within a few years was shown, under the name of Talk 
Lehman s chamber. But the queen yet appears mourn 
ing on the ramparts, and, it is said, sometimes speaks to 
the sentinels, one of whom so won her favour, that she 
promised him he should, every morning, in a certain place 
and under a particular stone find a dollar. For some time 
the soldier regularly found his dollar, but having fallen 
sick and sending one of his comrades to fetch it, there 
was no dollar there, nor has one been found under the 
stone from that time. 

QUEEN MARGARET WHEN A CHILD. 

Queen Helvig had forfeited the favour of the king her 
husband, and for several years been confined in Gurre 
castle, because she had caused Tovelille, the king s mis 
tress, to be killed in a bath. It happened that the king, 
when once riding over the Copper-bridge/ noticed a 
pretty little girl, in a peasant s dress, standing at the castle 
gate. Being much pleased with the child, he placed her 
before him on his horse. "Now," said the little one, 
"we will ride to court." " What wilt thou do there?" 
asked the king. " Beg forgiveness for my mother, Queen 
Helvig," answered the child. This so softened the king s 
anger, that he took his queen again into favour. The 



1 A fortified town on the island of Fyen, whence is the regular passage 
over to Seeland. 



DANISH TRADITIONS. 237 

little girl was named Margaret ; she grew up and became 
queen of the three northern realms. 

PROPHECY OF KING FREDERIC THE FIRST S ACCESSION TO 
THE THRONE. 

In the year 1515, when King Christian II. was cele 
brating his marriage in the palace at Copenhagen,, and 
the assembled nobles were sitting amid joy and festivity, 
Duke Frederic, the king s paternal uncle, entered the hall. 
Among the nobles present was Ditlef Rewentlow, who was 
reported to be well skilled in astronomy and the black art. 
When he saw the duke entering, he hastily rose, saying 
to those around him : " Stand up, ye Danish nobles ! and 
advance to meet your future king ! " Which prophecy, 
after a lapse of eight years, was fulfilled, and Ditlef Re- 
wentlow, on the accession of Frederic I., became his chan 
cellor and privy counsellor. 

SPECTACLES DUCATS. 

In the reign of King Christian IV. a gold mine was 
discovered in Norway, from which the king caused some 
half-ducats to be coined. But some foreign traders having 
denied that it was Norwegian gold, it being quite unheard 
of to find gold in Norway, the king was indignant ; and 
therefore, when more gold was afterwards found there, he 
ordered half- and quarter-ducats to be coined, bearing for 
device a pair of spectacles, thereby signifying that those 
who were still doubtful, might put on their spectacles to 
see the better. 



238 DANISH TRADITIONS. 

OF HISTORICAL PERSONS, FAMILY TRADI 
TIONS, ETC. 

THE ARMS OF THE BILLE FAMILY. 

In the arms of the noble family of Bille there is a 
dwarf or little wild man, concerning whom there is the 
following tradition. 

Many hundred years ago there was a great drought in 
the country, so that all the water-mills were stopt, and the 
people could get no corn ground. During this calamity 
a land-proprietor of the above-mentioned family was walk 
ing in his court-yard, much perplexed and dejected, when 
a little dwarf came to him, whose body was all shaggy, 
and in his hand carrying a tree that had been torn up by 
the roots. Standing before the proprietor, he asked him 
why he was so sad? To which the other answered, 
" What can it avail if I tell thee, for thou canst not help 
me." The dwarf replied, " Thou art sad because thou 
canst not get thy corn ground, and hast many children 
and people that require bread. But I will show thee a 
place on thy own grounds where thou canst build seven 
mills that shall never lack water." And having pointed 
out to him the spot, Herr Bille built there the seven mills 
still existing by Ellebro Dam, which are never at a stand 
for want of water, winter or summer. 

It is further related that the same dwarf gave him a 
little white horn, which, as long as it remained in his 
family, should preserve them in prosperity. This horn, it 
is said, was long preserved at Soholm in Seeland. 

HERR ESKE BROK. 

Herr Eske Brok,who dwelt at Vemmeltoft, going one day 
into the fields, amused himself with striking the air with 
his stick, when suddenly a hat fell at his feet, which he 



DANISH TRADITIONS. 239 

ordered his servant to take up, and placed it on his own 
head ; but had no sooner done so than he became invisi 
ble. He then tried it on his servant with the same result; 
so that whoever had the hat on became invisible to others. 
Greatly delighted with his prize, he took it home with 
him. Shortly after a bareheaded boy came to the gate, 
requesting to speak with Herr Eske Brok. When the 
latter appeared, the boy requested to have his hat back, 
which Herr Eske had struck from his head with a stick, 
offering a hundred ducats for it, and afterwards more, if 
he would let him have it. But all that the boy could say 
was to no purpose, for Herr Eske had taken a particular 
fancy to the hat. At length the boy promised him, that 
if he would give it back, his posterity should never come to 
want anything, and by this means got the hat from the 
junker/ who thought that with such a promise it was well 
paid. But the boy, when going out at the door, said : 
"Thou shalt leave no sons behind thee, but daughters 
only ! " And so it proved in the sequel, for Herr Eske s 
wife brought forth several sons all dead-born, and he him 
self died the last of his race. 

THE HALF-FULL BOTTLE. 

When the Swedes above a hundred years since invaded 
Holstein, it happened that after a battle in which the 
Danes were victorious, a soldier, who had his post on the 
field, had with great difficulty obtained a bottle of beer to 
allay his burning thirst. When about to drink he heard 
a Swede, who had lost both his legs, calling to him in a 
faint voice, and begging a refreshing draught. The soldier 
thereupon went to him, and seeing his deplorable condi 
tion, bent forwards to reach him the bottle ; but at the 
same moment the treacherous enemy fired his pistol at 
him, hoping even in death to have his revenge. But the ball 
missed, for our Lord held his hand over the compassionate 



240 DANISH TRADITIONS. 

soldier. Rising up he drank half the contents of the 
bottle, and then held it out to the traitor saying : " Scoun 
drel ! now thou shalt have only the half." 

When this reached the ears of the king, he ordered the 
soldier to be called before him, and gave him a coat of 
arms, in which was a half-filled bottle ; and this bearing 
has continued in his family, which yet lives in Flensborg. 

HERR ERLAND LIMBEK. 

The Limbeks were an eminent race in Denmark, but are 
now extinct ; from, it is said, the following cause. 

While Herr Erland Limbek was residing at Graven- 
gaard in Jutland, there one day came a dwarf to him as 
he was walking in his fields, complaining that he was en 
gaged in hostilities with another dwarf, and feared that he 
was hardly strong enough to withstand him, unless Herr 
Erland would come to his aid on a certain day. He at 
the same time promised the knight that if he would do so, 
his race should be powerful and prosperous as long as the 
world lasted. Herr Erland promised to assist the dwarf, 
and fixed both time and place ; but being one night un 
able to sleep, and tossing himself about in the bed, his wife 
asked him why he was so restless ? He then imparted to 
her the promise he had made to the dwarf, whereupon she 
exclaimed : " God forbid, my dear husband ! that you 
should have intercourse with such demons ! " and per 
suaded him to break his word. Some time after, on a 
Christmas eve, as Herr Erland was sitting merry with his 
family and friends, the door of the room was opened, and 
a little dwarf in a habit of gold embroidery entered, saying 
to the knight : "Had you kept your word, I would have 
kept mine ; but now your race shall from day to day de 
generate and be despised, and at last be extinguished, and 
the last of your family shall be mad ! " Hereupon Herr 
Erland became angry, and said : " Dost thou threaten 



DANISH TRADITIONS. 241 

me ?" and attempted to strike him, but the dwarf retired 
to the door. The knight then ordered a servant to seize 
him, but the dwarf slipt away in haste, yet was, neverthe 
less, jammed in the doorway, so that he lost one of his 
shoes, which proved to be of pure gold. From this event 
the knight acquired the name of Herr Erland Guldsko. 

THE FAMILY OF MONRAD. 

The family of Monrad is said to descend from a miller 
in Hungary, who in a war with the Turks raised a body 
of men and destroyed a large Turkish force, whereby he 
relieved a corps of Imperialists. As a reward for so im 
portant a service, the emperor made him a general and 
raised him to the rank of noble, giving him shield and 
helmet, and commanding him to bear in his shield a half- 
moon, in remembrance of the Turks, and a mill-wheel, 
that he might remember his former condition ; whence 
he and his posterity acquired the name of Mondrad l . 

THE NAME AND ARMS OF THE ROSENKRANDSES. 

I. 

The first of the Rosenkrands family was Herr Eric. In 
company with Stie Hvide he made a journey to Home, 
where the pope gave him a wreath (krands) of roses, which, 
as a remembrance, he caused to be represented on his 
helmet, whence his family acquired its name. This Herr 
Rosenkrands lies buried in Hiorringholms Mark. 

ii. 

In the year 663 the young Herr Styge, a son of the 
king of Denmark, made a journey to King Ekuin in Eng 
land, for the purpose of helping him in war. There, on 
account of his valour, he became a great favourite, parti- 

1 From Ger. Mond, moon, and Rad, wheel. 

M 



242 DANISH TRADITIONS. 

culaiiy of the ladies ; but the one that loved him most 
was the daughter of Reduval, the prince royal, and he, on 
his part, also loved her. He therefore continued at court 
throughout the winter; but when summer came the prin 
cess was pregnant. After his departure from England, the 
princess was delivered of a son, which she laid in a golden 
coffer, with a consecrated candle and salt, because he had not 
been baptized, and placed the coffer out on the sea-strand. 
One day her father, the prince royal, Reduval, happening to 
ride by, found the infant, and concluding from the golden 
coffer that he was of high parentage, he had him reared 
and gave him the name of Carl. After the king s death, 
the prince royal, Reduval, ascended the throne of England, 
of which he was the first Christian king. Carl in the 
meanwhile grew up and became distinguished for bravery, 
so that the king thought he could not do better than 
marry him to his daughter. When the wedding was just 
about to take place, the princess disclosed to the bride 
groom that he was her own son by Prince Styge of Den 
mark. At this intelligence the king was so exasperated, 
that he declared at first she should perish on the pile; 
but the young Carl interceded for her and effected a mar 
riage with her and Prince Styge, who had been separated 
from her for nineteen years. 

In remembrance of these events Prince Carl divided his 
shield into four parts by a white cross, whereby he beto 
kened that he was a Christian ; he next painted it trans 
versely red and blue, thereby betokening that he was both 
a Danish and an English prince. In the first quarter he 
placed a white lion crowned, to denote Denmark ; in the 
fourth another white lion for England. In the second and 
third quarters he placed a black and white chess-board, 
thereby signifying the separation that had so long existed 
between his father and mother. And these are the arms 
of Rosenkrands. 



DANISH TRADITIONS. 243 

THE ARMS OF THE TROLLE FAMILY. 
The Trolles were in their time, particularly in the 
fifteenth and sixteenth centuries,, one of the first families 
in Denmark. In allusion to their name, they bore in 
their coat a Troll or demon, and wherever monuments of 
the family are to be seen, this demon is to be seen also. 
Even in the cathedral of Roeskilde, he is represented on 
the iron lattice which encloses the sepulchral chapel of the 
family. He there appears larger than life with a long tail 
and claws in a half-fiying attitude, the effect of which, 
when viewed on a sudden, is somewhat startling. The 
Trolle family is now extinct. One of its most illustrious 
members was Admiral Herluf Trolle, the founder of the 
school of Herlufsholm in the seventeenth century, the Eton 
or Winchester of Denmark l . 

MAJOR-GENERAL SVANWEDEL. 

About two hundred years ago there dwelt at Norre-Vos- 
borg in Jutland a proprietor named Svanwedel. He had 
been a major-general in the Swedish war, and was, more 
over, skilled in the black art. On one occasion, during 
the war in Scania, he was surrounded by the enemy, and 
had with him only a small body of troops. But he ma 
naged to help himself; for in the night he transformed a 
quantity of rushes, that were growing in the field, into sol 
diers, with whose aid he attacked and beat the enemy. 
Next morning these soldiers were all rushes again standing 
on the field as before. 

When he died at Vosborg, his body was, according to 
usage, deposited in the castle chapel before being conveyed 
to the church. One evening, as his daughter entered the 
chapel, he rose up in his coffin and directed her to send 
for Magister Niels, the priest of Huusby. Although this 

1 Kohl s Reisen in Danemark, i. p. 283. See also p. 91. 

M 2 



244 DANISH TRADITIONS. 

Magister Niels, during the general s life-time, had been 
constantly quarreling with him, he nevertheless came with 
out delay, having with him a sharp axe. He then shut 
himself in the chapel with the corpse, but what passed be 
tween them no one knows ; only such a noise was heard 
within that the whole mansion shook with it. At length 
all was again silent, and Master Niels came out with his 
axe, looking deadly pale. From that time the general 
remained quiet in his coffin, and was buried with great 
pomp in Ulvborg church. 

TRADITIONS OF TOWNS AND OTHER PLACES. 
THE RAMPARTS OF COPENHAGEN. 

Many years ago, when the ramparts were being raised 
round Copenhagen, the earth always sank, so that it was 
not possible to get it to stand firm. They therefore took 
a little innocent girl, placed her on a chair by a table, and 
gave her playthings and sweetmeats. While she thus sat 
enjoying herself, twelve masons built an arch over her, 
which w r hen completed they covered over with earth, to 
the sound of music with drums and trumpets. By this 
process they are, it is said, rendered immoveable. 

It is a universal tradition that every kind of building is strengthened 
when any living being is buried beneath it. For such sacrifices, a lamb, 
a swine, or poultry, are generally chosen. Heinrich Heine (Die roman- 
tische Schule, 270), says on this subject : " In the middle age the opinion 
prevailed, that when any building was to be erected, something living 
must be killed, on the blood of which the foundation must be laid, by 

which process the building would continue firm and immoveable 

And in ballads and traditions the remembrance is still preserved how 
children or animals were slaughtered, for the purpose of strengthening 
large buildings with their blood." 

THE IMAGE OF ST. OLUF. 

St. Oluf had a chapel at Taasinge, in which his image 
was preserved. This it was the custom of the peasants to 



DANISH TRADITIONS. 21-5 

carry about their fields, after they had put their seed in 
the ground, that they might have a plentiful harvest. It 
once happened that a countryman, who had been carry 
ing the image about his fields, and ought to have restored 
it to its place in the chapel, thought it advisable to wait 
till the following day, but having no better place where 
in to deposit it, he laid it in the oven. Next morning the 
servant maid having to bake, and not knowing that St. 
Oluf was there, put fire in the oven, and so the image 
was burnt. From that time it is said that the village has 
no good luck to expect. 

SECRET PASSAGES UNDER AALBORG. 

Under the town of Aalborg there are many secret pas 
sages, which are relics of the monkish times. The largest 
of these is said to lead from the old convent, used at pre 
sent partly as an hospital and partly as a school, and is 
supposed to extend, under the fiord, as far as Sundby, 
where there was formerly a convent of nuns. The descent 
to this passage was well secured; for first it was closed 
with a brazen door, on which many beautiful figures were 
sculptured, and next with four doors of iron, one within 
another. One side passage led from this chief one to the 
church of St. Mary, under the mansion in which King 
Hans died. The ascent into the church was through a 
tomb. Another branch led from the chief passage to St. 
Budolfs church, and thence to the Murede Port s 
bridge. A third branch led, in an opposite direction, 
from St. Mary s church, or from the convent, to the old 
castle of Aalborghuus. 

A student once undertook to explore these passages, 
which he entered with a cord bound fast round his body. 
In one hand he had a sword, in the other a light. At the 
outside of the entrance he had placed people, who at a 



246 DANISH TRADITIONS. 

given sign should draw him back by means of the cord. 
But after he had been in two hours without making any 
sign, they drew the cord, the end of which was burnt off. 
The student was never again heard of. 

OF CHURCHES AND CONVENTS. 
OF CHURCHES. 

When King Cnut, surnamed the Saint, was building 
the first churches in the country, he wished them to be so 
strong that they might last until the end of the world. 
He therefore prayed to God for direction how he might 
build strong and masterly. He then went to the sea 
shore, where there lay much froth (skum). This he or 
dered the masons to take and to build with it. Through 
his sanctity this froth became as hard as stone, and the 
churches that have such walls will never decay as long as 
the world endures. 

Of the so-called froth-walls many instances occur among the old 
country churches of Denmark. They consist of a porous mass which 
the peasants call fraa (froth), the production of which the master-masons 
declare is to them a perfect riddle. Notwithstanding its porosity, it is 
extremely durable. From the description it would seem to be of the na 
ture of travertin or peperin, of which the ancient builders made use, and 
which is still much used in the South. As long as it lies in its natural 
bed it is so soft that it may be cut out with a spade, but by the influence 
of the atmosphere it increases in hardness from year to year. 

THE TOWER OF ST. MARY^S IN COPENHAGEN. 

In the year 1514, when a spire was being placed on the 
tower of St. Mary s cathedral in Copenhagen, a carpenter s 
man had an altercation with his master, and in his anger 
boasted that he was as able a workman as himself. To 
make an end of the dispute, the master laid a beam out 
from the top of the tower, took an axe in his hand, went 
out on the beam, and struck the axe fast in the end of it. 
Having done this, and being safely returned, he ordered 



DANISH TRADITIONS. 247 

his man to go and fetch him the axe. The man went 
without hesitation, but while standing on the end of the 
beam, and in the act of seizing the axe, it seemed to him 
that there were two, and he asked : " Master ! which is it 
to be?" The master then knew how it w r as with him, 
and answered only : " God be merciful to thy poor soul ! " 
At the same instant the man reeled from the beam. 

A story nearly the same is related of the tower of St. Cnut s church in 
Odense, but in which the man, when on the end of the beam, looked over 
the town, and in his trepidation cried : " Master ! Bulbro is coming nearer! " 
Bulbro is a small place near Odense. 

THE CHIMES IN THE TOWER OF ST. NICHOLAS. 

During the great fire at Copenhagen, and while the 
church of St. Nicholas was enveloped in flames, the tower 
long stood reeling from one side to another. People, too, 
relate who heard it, that the chimes in the meanwhile 
played of themselves the psalm : " God knows how near 
me is mine end." 

THE SEA-TROLL IN THE ISSEFIORD. 

In former days there dwelt in the Issefiord 1 a Troll, 
who w r as accustomed to stop every vessel that entered the 
fiord and demand a man from each. This calamity had 
been long endured, when it became known that the power 
of the Troll w r ould last until the head of Pope Lucius 
should be shown him, who had been beheaded in Rome 
many centuries before. Some monks were accordingly 
forthwith sent to Koine to fetch the head. When the ship 
returned and was about to run into the fiord, the Troll 
made his appearance ; but as soon as they held forth the 
head and the Troll got a sight of it, he with a horrid howl 

1 The Issefiord or firth runs from the Cattegat in various directions into 
Seeland. The city of Roeskilde is built on the south end of one of its 
arms called the Koeskikle fiord. 



248 DANISH TRADITIONS. 

transformed himself into a rock. In Roeskilde cathedral 
many representations are to be seen which may be ex 
plained by this tradition. 

ROESKILDE CATHEDRAL. 

In the year 1084 Roeskilde cathedral was dedicated to 
Pope Lucius, who in the year 253 had suffered martyrdom, 
he having offered to be the patron saint of the church. 
For before the church was built, Bishop Svend Norbagge 1 
despatched two canons to Rome to fetch some relic of a 
saint to whom the church might be dedicated. The im 
mense number of relics of all sorts which they found there 
caused them no small embarrassment, but in order to 
choose a fitting one, they sought to strengthen their judge 
ment by prayer. While thus engaged in devotion, one 
of the canons fell asleep, when Pope Lucius appeared 
before him, proffered his patronage, and gave such an 
exact description of his skull, that they easily found it 
among all the others. This skull was accordingly chosen 
and conveyed to Denmark, where, set in gold, it was long 
preserved as the most precious possession of Roeskilde 
cathedral. 

VEIBY CHURCH. 

In Veiby church in Seeland there was formerly kept a 
man s dried-up hand. Of this it is related that it had 
belonged to a man, who many years before was burnt for 
having murdered his father, and therefore could not be 
consumed by the fire. 

KALLUNDBORG CHURCH. 

When Esbern Snare 2 was building Kallundborg 3 church, 

1 See page 224. 2 See page 226. 

3 A town on the west coast of Seeland. Esbern Snare s church still 
exists, the five towers of which render it a conspicuous object for miles 
around. In the castle, not a vestige of which remains, Christian II. died 



DANISH TRADITIOiNS. 249 

the work at first did not succeed, but there came a Troll 
to him offering his service, and with him Esbern Snare 
made an agreement, that when the church was finished, 
he should either say what the Troll s name was, or should 
give him his heart and his eyes. The work now went on 
well, and was supported by stone pillars. But when it 
was nearly complete, one half-pillar only being wanting, 
Esbern Snare began to feel alarmed, because he was still 
ignorant how the Troll was called. He went wandering 
about the fields sorrowing, and one day, being weary and 
sad, he lay down on Ulshoi Banke to rest. He there heard 
a Troll-wife within the mound saying : " Be still, my 
child, to-morrow Fin thy father will come and give thee 
Esbern Snare s eyes and heart to play with." On hearing 
these words, Esbern became himself again and returned 
to the church. At this moment the Troll entered, bring 
ing the half-pillar that was wanting, when Esbern, on 
seeing him, saluted him by his name of Fin. Hearing 
this, the Troll was so angry, that he flew off through the 
air with the half-pillar ; and therefore the church has only 
three pillars and a half 1 . 

Kallundborg church has five spires, built by Esbern 
Snare. The highest, which stands in the middle, is for 
his mother, and the four standing about it for his four 
daughters, one of whom was lame, and therefore one of 
the spires is less than the others. 

RACHLOV CHURCH. 

To the north-east of Kallundborg lies the village of 
Rachlov ; but the church is a considerable distance from 
it in the open field. This circumstance is thus accounted 

(1559), after a confinement of twenty-seven years, viz. seventeen at Son- 
derborg and ten at Kallundborg. King Albert of Sweden was also im 
prisoned in the castle of Kallundborg by Queen Margaret. 
1 See pp. 39, 101. 

M 



250 DANISH TRADITIONS. 

for. While the village church was building, it was found 
that what had been built up during the day was constantly 
thrown down in the night. If was therefore determined, 
by the advice of some sagacious persons, to place two 
red bulls on the spot, for the purpose of driving away 
the evil spirits; and this was done accordingly. But on 
the following morning, one of the bulls was found killed 
outright, near to the town; the other was discovered 
standing out in the field on an eminence, wounded and 
misused. Hence the folks clearly enough saw that the 
evil spirits had no power in this place, and therefore re 
solved there to erect their church. 

THE ALTAR-PIECE IN SORO CHURCH. 

The altar-piece in Soro church represents the Last 
Supper. It was at first determined that the twelve 
apostles should be painted after the twelve professors of 
Soro Academy, but as they could not agree who should be 
Judas, twelve peasants were fetched from the village of 
Haverup, after whom the twelve apostles were painted. 
Of these, Andrew the shoemaker offered himself for Judas, 
but afterwards sank into all kinds of depravity, and things 
went extremely ill with him. 

BLOOD SPOTS ON THE WALL OF KARISE CHURCH. 

A hunter in Stevnsherred was desirous of being an un 
erring shot. He therefore took the sacrament, but held 
the bread in his mouth until he came out of church. He 
then loaded his piece, put the bread into it, and fired it 
against the church wall. On the place where he struck 
the wall there is a hole, out of which blood flows, and 
which may still be seen. 

Of another huntsman it is said that he stuck the wafer 
on the church wall and shot at it. 



DANISH TRADITIONS. 251 

THE CHURCH AT FALSTER. 

There once dwelt on the island of Falster a lady of rank, 
who was extremely rich, but had neither son nor daughter 
to inherit her wealth. She therefore resolved to make <\ 
pious use of it, and caused a church to be built that was 
both spacious and magnificent. When the church was 
finished, she caused altar-candles to be lighted, and going- 
through the quire to the altar, she cast herself on her 
knees and prayed to God that, in reward for her pious 
gift, he would add as many years to her life as the church 
should stand. Then from time to time her relations and 
servants died; but she who had preferred so foolish a 
prayer, continued to live. At length she had no longer 
a friend or relation to converse with, and saw children 
grow up, become aged and die, and their children again 
grow old, while she herself was wasting through extreme 
age, so that she gradually lost the use of all her senses. 
Sometimes, however, she recovered her voice, though for 
one hour only at midnight every Christmas. On one of these 
nights she desired to be laid in an oaken coffin and placed 
in the church, that she might there die; but that the 
priest should attend her every Christmas night to receive 
her commands. From that time her coffin has stood in 
the church, but she has not yet been permitted to die. 
Every Christmas night the priest comes to her, lifts the 
lid of the coffin, and as he gradually raises it, she rises 
slowly up. When sitting up, she asks: " Is my church 
yet standing ? " And when the priest answers et Yes," she 
sighs and says : 

" Ak ! give Gud, at min Kirke var brsendt ; 
Thi da er forst al min Jammer fuldendt ! " 

Ah ! God grant that my church were burnt ; 
For then only would my affliction be ended. 

She then sinks back again into the coffin, the priest lets 



252 DANISH TRADITIONS. 

the lid fall, and does not come again until the next 
Christmas night. 



MARIBO CHURCH. 

In Maribo church, by one of the pillars, there is set up 
the image of a monk pointing to another pillar, in which, 
the tradition tells us, a treasure was hidden by the monks 
when they were compelled to leave the place 1 . 

AARHUUS CATHEDRAL. 

Aarhuus cathedral was, in the time of Catholicism, 
dedicated to St. Clement; because that saint, after his 
martyrdom, was cast ashore, bound to an anchor, near 
Aarhuus, after having been tossed about on the ocean for 
eleven hundred years. He was there buried, and in 
memory of him his figure with the anchor is to be seen 
on the altar-piece. 

Before the Reformation, it was a custom in the same 
cathedral, during the solemn service of Good Friday eve, 
to send forth a tremendous voice, through a hole in the 
vaulting of the church, saying : " Ever accursed be Judas ! " 
On this occasion a large hunting horn was used, which 
till our time was preserved in the church. During the 
malediction a hollow, trembling voice was sent forth from 
the upper gallery of the north transept, uttering the 
words of Judas : " I have sinned in that I have betrayed 
the innocent blood/ 

RIBE CATHEDRAL. 

In Ribe cathedral there is a door called Cat s-head door 
(Kathoved Dor), in memory of an old tradition, to wit, 

1 The learned antiquary Arndt is reported to have declared that he 
found in the Vatican library a memorandum stating that a treasure of 
manuscripts and documents was concealed in a pillar of Maribo church. 



DANISH TRADITIONS, 253 

that once on a time a poor skipper belonging to Ribe 
came to an island where the inhabitants were plagued 
with an overwhelming number of mice. Luckily he had 
a cat on board, which he took on shore with him, and so 
destroyed or drove off a vast number of them. His cat 
he sold to the inhabitants, for which having received a 
considerable sum, he sailed home and returned to the 
island with a whole cargo of cats, by which traffic he 
became so rich, that he had whereon to live for the rest 
of his life. When the hour of death drew nigh, he re 
solved to employ his wealth in building a church in Ribe, 
as a memorial of which benefit there is, we are told, a 
representation in the said church of a cat and four mice. 

The above-mentioned skipper may be styled the Danish Wbittington. 
There was also an Italian Whittington, of whom it is related, in a letter 
from Lorenzo Magalotti to Ottavio Falconieri (Idelers Handb. der ital. 
Lit. i. 355), that he, Ansaldo degli Ormanni by name, having arrived at 
one of the Canary islands, was invited by the king to dinner. During the 
repast he observed that all the attendants went about with long sticks, 
for the purpose of driving away the rats, which made constant attacks on 
the viands. Seeing this, he hastened to his ship and returned with two 
cats, which in an incredibly short time made an appalling slaughter among 
the enemy. He made a present of these cats to the king, who in return 
bestowed on him immense riches. On his return to his native country 
he related how he had acquired his wealth ; whereupon a certain Giocondo 
de Fisanti resolved on trying his luck there. Having sold his house, he 
embarked with a quantity of pearls and other precious things, in the belief 
that the king would no doubt prize such gifts much more highly than two 
cats. On his arrival he accordingly presented his gifts to the king, who 
valued them much, but having nothing which he considered more pre 
cious than the two cats, he gave one of them to Giocondo, who by his 
speculation was reduced to a state of poverty. 

THE CHURCH AT ERRITSO. 

Many years ago there lived at Erritso, near Fredericia, 
a very poor man, who one day said : " If I had a large 
sum of money, I would build a church for the parish." 
The following night he dreamed that if he went to the 



DANISH TRADITIONS. 

south bridge at Veile, he would make his fortune. He 
followed the intimation, and strolled backwards and for 
wards on the bridge, until it grew late, but without seeing 
any sign of his good fortune. When just on the point of 
returning, he was accosted by an officer, who asked him 
why he had spent the whole day so on the bridge. He 
told him his dream, on hearing which the officer related to 
him in return, that he also, on the preceding night, had 
dreamed, that in a barn at Erritso, belonging to a man 
whose name he mentioned, a treasure lay buried. But 
the name he mentioned was the man s own, who prudently 
kept his own counsel, hastened home, and found the trea 
sure in his barn. The man was faithful to his word and 
built the church. 

There is a story nearly similar to the above related of a treasure at 
Tanslet on the isle of Alsen. The reader will, no douht, be agreeably 
surprised at meeting with a tradition of near kin to the foregoing, respect 
ing the reputed founder of Dundonald castle, in Ayrshire : 

Donald Din, or Din Donald, was originally a poor man, but had the 
faculty of dreaming lucky dreams. Upon one occasion he dreamed, thrice 
in one night, that if he were to go to London Bridge, he would become a 
wealthy man. He went accordingly, saw a man looking over the parapet 
of the bridge, whom he accosted courteously, and, after a little conversa 
tion, intrusted with the secret of the occasion of his visiting London 
Bridge. The stranger told him that he had made a very foolish errand, 
for he himself had once had a similar vision, which directed him to go to a 
certain spot in Ayrshire, in Scotland, where he would find a vast treasure ; 
and, for his part, he had never once thought of obeying the injunction. 
From his description of the spot, the sly Scotsman at once perceived that 
the treasure in question must be concealed in no other place than his own 
humble kail-yard at home, to which he immediately repaired, in full 
expectation of finding it. Nor was he disappointed ; for, after destroying 
many good and promising cabbages, and completely cracking credit with 
his wife, who esteemed him mad, he found a large potful of gold coin, 
with the proceeds of which he built a stout castle for himself, and be 
came the founder of a flourishing family 1 . 



1 Chambers, Pop. Rh. p. 12. 



DANISH TRADITIONS. 255 

THE ALTAR-PIECE IN SLESWIG CATHEDRAL. 

Master Hans Bruggemann, born in Husum, was a 
skilful artizan and able man. It was he who made the 
beautiful altar-piece for the monks of Bordesholm, which, 
in the year 1666, was removed to the cathedral of Sleswig, 
on which, it is said, he and his men laboured for seven 
years, and of which every figure was steeped in oil, to pre 
vent injury from worms. When the work was finished, 
King Christian II. and his queen Elizabeth came to see 
it ; on which occasion, Bruggemann, availing himself of 
the opportunity, carved likenesses of them both in wood, 
which he placed on two pillars on each side of the altar. 

When the Liibeckers saw this work, they wished Hans 
Bruggemann to execute an. altar-piece for them equally 
beautiful. This he not only engaged to do, but also to 
make one still more beautiful. Hereat the monks of Bor- 
desholm were stung by jealousy, and gave him something 
which caused a fluxion and weakness of his eyes, so that 
he could no longer work. He died in the town of Eider- 
stadt, near Bordesholm. 

Of the altar-piece of the church of Norre-Broby in Fyen it is also said, 
that when the artist had completed it, he was asked whether he could 
execute another better or equally good, and on his answering in the affir 
mative, they put out his eyes. See a similar story of a clock at Cam- 
bray in Wolf, Niederl. Sagen, p. 444. 

TRADITIONS RELATING TO MANSIONS. 
HERLUFSHOLM. 

W^hen Fru Birgitte Gib e was dead and the council of 
the realm had the direction of the school of Herlufsholm, 
it reached the ears of some of the family that the deed of 
gift was lost, a circumstance from which they hoped to de 
rive advantage. The rector and the clergyman of the place 
were consequently summoned to Copenhagen, and found 
themselves in no trifling embarrassment by their inability 



256 DANISH TRADITIONS. 

to find the document. But when the priest, full of 
anxiety, had lain down on his bed, the night previous to 
his departure for Copenhagen,, Fru Birgitte Gioe appeared 
before him ; for she was unwilling that after her death the 
school should come to nothing, through the avarice of her 
family. The priest saw her go to an old table, and strike 
several blows on one of its legs. At this he w r as greatly 
surprised, and the following morning, on examining the 
table, he found, in a secret drawer, the lost document, 
which, accompanied by the rector, he produced in Copen 
hagen, and thus saved the school of Herlufsholm. 

VAARGAARD. 

Many years ago there dwelt at Vaargaard a lady named 
Fru Ingeborg, the widow of one of the family of Scheel, 
a great oppressor of the peasantry, whom he deprived of 
a meadow called Agersted Enge. But if the lord had been 
unjust and cruel to his tenants, his widow was still more 
so. Once on the anniversary of her husband s death, 
being on her way to church, she said to her coachman, 
" I would fain know how things go with my poor hus 
band." To which the coachman, whose name was Claus, 
and who was a sly knave, answered : " Ay, gracious lady ! 
but that is not easy to say, though he will certainly not be 
suffering from cold ; for it is no doubt warm enough where 
he is." At this the lady was highly exasperated and 
threatened to take his life, if on the third Sunday following 
he did not bring her intelligence how it fared with her late 
husband. Claus, who well knew that his lady mistress 
never failed to keep her word when she promised any evil, 
resolved in the first instance to consult with the priest at 
Albek, who was as stiff in his book as any bishop, and un 
derstood equally well both how to keep people in their 
graves and to call them forth. But this priest, on consult 
ing with a relation, was apprehensive that the task would 



DANISH TRADITIONS. 257 

prove too hard for him. Fortunately, however, the coach 
man had a brother who was a priest in Norway ; of him 
therefore it would be safest to seek counsel, seeing that 
the Norwegian priests are more cunning in such matters 
than any others. Glaus consequently made a trip to 
Norway, and found his brother, who instantly addressed 
him with : " Welcome, Glaus ! things must, indeed, be 
desperate with you, since you come all the way to me ! " 
From these words the coachman saw plainly that his 
brother was perfectly aware how matters stood. On the 
following day Glaus asked him for advice and help. After 
some consideration, he answered : " I can, it is true, com 
pel your dead master to re-appear ; but it will prove a 
dangerous business if you are afraid of him, for you must 
yourself tell him your message/- It was now resolved that 
on the following night at twelve o clock they would go to 
a cross road in a large forest, and summon him forth. At 
the hour and place appointed the priest began to read so 
that the coachman s hair stood on end. At once a dread 
ful uproar was heard, and a red-hot chariot, with horses 
spouting fire on every side, came dashing through the 
forest, and stopt at the place where they were standing. 
Glaus instantly knew his master again, although he was 
red-hot. " Who will speak with me ? " roared the master 
from the chariot. Glaus took off his hat and said : " I 
have to greet my gracious master from my gracious mis 
tress, and to inquire how he fares since his death." a Tell 
her," answered his master, " that I am in hell, where there 
is a seat making for her, which only wants the last step ; 
when that is laid down she will be fetched, if she does not 
restore Agersted Enge ! But as a proof that thou hast 
spoken with me, I will give thee my wedding ring, which 
thou canst show her." The priest then whispered to the 
coachman that he should hold out his hat, and in the 
same moment the ring fell into the hat, through which it 



258 DANISH TRADITIONS. 

burned a hole and fell on the ground, from which Glaus 
took it up. In the next moment, both chariot and horses 
were away. 

On the third Sunday Glaus was standing outside of 
Vaar churchyard when Fru Ingeborg was driven by. On 
seeing him the gracious lady instantly inquired what mes 
sage he had brought, when the coachman related to her 
all that he had seen and heard, and gave her the ring, 
which she instantly recognised. "It is well," said she, 
ft thou hast saved thy life. If I am to be with my hus 
band when I am dead, be it so, but Agersted Enge I will 
never give back ! " 

Shortly after there was a pompous spectacle in Vaar 
church. It was the gracious lady s funeral. But she 
soon re-appeared by night, and committed so much mis 
chief in the castle yard, that the miller and the mill-folks 
ran to the priest at Albek, who read over her, conjured 
her out of the yard, and laid her in a pond hard by called 
Pulsen. Beyond this he had no power over her, but is 
obliged to allow her every year to approach a cock s step 
nearer to Vaargaard ; and it is, moreover, said that when 
ever in this manner she reaches the spot from whence she 
was driven by the priest, Vaargaard will sink in ruin. 
On the place where she was conjured into Pulsen not a 
blade of grass ever grows, and by the scorched-up streaks 
in the field it may be seen how many cock s steps she has 
already gone. 

TRADITIONS OF PRIESTS AND WISE MEN. 
ST. ANDREW OF SLAGELSE. 

In the year 1205 there lived in Slagelse a priest of St. 
Peter s church who was known by the name of Holy 
Anders. Of this holy man it is related, that with eleven 
others he sailed to the Holy Land ; but that when on the 



DANISH TRADITIONS. 259 

eve of returning, and the wind being fair, he would not 
proceed on the voyage until he had heard mass at Joppa. 
When the mass was ended and his companions were al 
ready on their way back, he found himself in much tribu 
lation on the sea-shore viewing the distant vessel, when a 
man rode up to him and desired him to mount before 
him. Anders did so ; but as they rode along he fell 
asleep in the stranger s arms. On waking he looked 
about him with astonishment, for he found himself on a 
mound just outside of Slagelse, and had, nevertheless, 
been to St. James of Compostella in Portugal l , to St. 
Olaf s in Drontheim, and many other holy places. But 
a long time elapsed before his companions, who had left 
him at Joppa, returned to Denmark, whereat all people 
greatly marvelled. 

He was so holy a man that when he performed his de 
votions in the open air, he was wont to hang his cap and 
gloves on the sun-beams 2 , and thereby acquired an extra 
ordinary reputation, and at length became the patron saint 
of Slagelse. It once happened that when he would thus 
hang his gloves on a sun-beam, they fell to the ground, at 
which he was deeply afflicted and asked our Lord, in what 
respect he had sinned, seeing that the miracle no longer 
succeeded, and was then given to understand that one of 
the inmates of the monastery had stolen a hedge-stake, 
and so defiled the sacred community. The mound on 
which St. Anders was awakened, acquired from that event 
the name of the Hvilehoi (mound of rest), which it retains 
until this day. 

St. Anders interested himself also in the welfare of the 
people of Slagelse, by going w r ith their petition to King 

1 Sic. 

3 The monks of Adewert also hung their caps and cowls on the sun 
beams. See Wolf, Niederl. S. p. 411. 



260 DANISH TRADITIONS. 

Valdemar, in consequence of which the king promised to 
add to the land belonging to Slagelse as much as St. 
Anders could ride round on a colt a day old, during the 
time the king was in the bath. He took the king at his 
word, and rode with such speed that the courtiers were 
obliged, from time to time, to run to the king in the bath, 
saying that if he did not make haste, St. Anders would 
ride round the whole country. To this act the town of 
Slagelse is indebted for its extensive town fields. 

On the Hvilehoi there stands a cross with the inscrip 
tion : " In niemoriam divi Andrese, quiescentis Joppse et 
heic loci expergefacti." When this cross was once suffered 
to fall into decay, a general murrain among the cattle 
ensued, but which ceased the instant a new cross was set 
up. 

MASTER LAURIDS. 

In Hadsherred in Jutland there was once a priest by 
name Master Laurids. He could lay the dead and call 
them from their graves, and, consequently, it hardly need 
be said, had many contests with the devil, in all which, 
however, his Satanic Majesty invariably came off second 
best. 

It once happened to Master Laurids, when returning 
from a short journey, that on passing Skandrup church, 
his horses stopt, and were unable to draw the carriage 
from the spot ; but Master Laurids, who well understood 
how matters were, shook his head and ordered his man to 
take off the right hind-wheel and lay it in the basket 
behind ; for he knew that it was the devil who had placed 
himself on it for the purpose of making the carriage heavy. 
This was more than the devil had bargained for, for he 
had now to get down, take his station under the carriage, 
and hold it up. In this fashion Master Laurids made 
him follow during the whole night. When at length he 



DANISH TRADITIONS. 261 

set him at liberty, the fiend cast the axletree from his 
shoulder with such force that it was broken by the fall, 
at which Master Laurids smiling, said : " See ! he can do 
that yet !" 

That the devil on such occasions must go under the carriage instead 
of the fourth wheel was a universal popular belief not only in Denmark, 
but in other countries. A Catholic legend relates a similar miracle of 
St. Benedict, which has supplied the subject of a well-known composition 
by the painter Ditlef Lindau at Rome. 

THE PRIEST OF NORRE-VILSTRUP. 

At the close of the last century there lived in the village 
of Norre-Vilstrup, near Veile *, a priest who knew more 
than his Paternoster, and who employed the extraordinary 
power, which he had acquired in the Black School 2 , for 
the profit and happiness of his parishioners ; on which ac 
count he was much beloved and respected. For the sake 
of this power, he had, it was said, sworn to wear only one 
garter; and it was well known to all that he never did 
wear two. 

To the parsonage there was attached a little thicket, 
which lay at a short distance from the village, from which 
the priest s kindling wood and fire-wood were sometimes 
stolen. He one day asked his servants whether they had 
no fire-wood to fetch from thence ? To which they 
answered that for some time past there was none. " You 
may at all events," said he, " take a wagon and drive 
out." They did so, and there found a man from the vil 
lage who had piled up a large quantity of brushwood, 
which he was about to carry off, but which the priest s 
men took away and carted home. 

The provost Petrus ^Egidii at Brons was a magician. A youth, who 
wanted to go to Ribe, took the provost s horse from the meadow ; but the 

1 A small town on the east side of Jutland. 

2 See more about the Black School in North German Popular Tradi 
tions. 



262 DANISH TRADITIONS. 

animal would not go forwards, and the lad could not get off his back, 
even when a couple of millers men endeavoured to assist him. He was 
therefore obliged to ride to the priest. " Art thou there ? " said the good 
man; " go and take the horse back to the field, and play me no more such 
pranks 1 ." 

ST. KIELD OF VIBORG 2 . 

He was a very holy man, performed many miracles, was 
on that account made bishop of Viborg, and after his 
death canonized by the pope. 

Before his sanctity was known, he was once expelled by 
the monks from the convent, and driven away ; but meet 
ing one of the conventual servants, who had been sent 
out to fetch water, he besought him to let him drink out 
of his pitcher. He did so, when Kield turned the water 
to wine, which he ordered the servant to take to the con 
vent with his greeting to the brothers, and the request 
that they would drink that wine to his health. He was 
then speedily recalled and received with great joy. 

One morning early, when reading mass at the altar, the 
lights were suddenly extinguished, so that it was quite 
dark ; but he, nevertheless, continued reading the mass. 

After his death, the report of his sanctity reached the 
pope at Rome, who caused his name to be enrolled in the 
catalogue of saints. His body was laid in a costly shrine, 
and suspended by golden chains from the vaulted roof of 
the chapel. His richly gilded coffin, called St. Kield s 
ark, was held in great veneration until the Reformation, 
when it was taken down and placed behind the altar in 
the cathedral, where it perished in the great fire. 

1 Rhode, Haderslev-Amt, quoted by Mullenhoff, p. 600. 

2 The oldest and most remarkable town in Jutland. From the remotest 
times the Danish monarchs on their accession received homage at Viborg, 
and here were held the assemblies of the States of the kingdom. Its 
venerable cathedral perished by fire in 1726. In its crypt masses were 
sung for the soul of the murdered king, Eric Glipping (A.D. 1287), which 
were continued till long after the Reformation. 



DANISH TRADITIONS. 263 

TREASURES AND TREASURE-DIGGERS. 
THE TREASURE IN HVIRVEL BAKKE. 

Hvirvel Bakke is said to be quite full of gold, whence 
it is that on every Christmas eve it appears to be on fire. 
If any one would only venture to shoot over the bakke 1 , 
he might no doubt take the whole of it, but now-a-days 
no one dares do such a thing. 

THE TREASURE IN DAUGBIERG-DAUS. 

At Daugstrup, not far from Viborg, there is a barrow 
called Daugbierg-Daus. Of this barrow it is said that it 
is always enveloped in a blue mist, and that under it lies 
a large copper kettle full of money. One night two pea 
sants went to dig for this treasure, and had already pro 
ceeded so far as to get hold of the two handles of the 
kettle ; when all sorts of wonderful things took place, for 
the purpose of diverting them from their undertaking. 
At one moment they saw a large black dog w T ith a red-hot 
tongue, then came a cock drawing a load of hay 2 , next 
came a chariot with four black horses ; but in spite of all 
this the men did not allow themselves to speak, and went 
on with their digging. At length a clown passing by, 
stopt before them and said : " See ! Daugbierg is on fire !" 
and when they looked in that direction, it was precisely 
as if the whole village stood in a blaze 3 . At this moment 

1 Bakke is a small hill or rising ground. 2 See p. 119. 

3 A similar superstition prevailed in Scotland. About a century ago, we 
are told, that the laird of Craufurdland and his domestics, when on the 
point of drawing up a pot of gold from the bottom of a pool, heard a noise 
overhead, which caused them to let go their prize and look upwards. 
They perceived a terrific figure standing on the top of the hill, using 
violent gesticulations, and crying, 
Tip tow ! 

Craufurdland s a in a low ! 

Whereupon the laird, believing that the evil one had set fire to his house, 
in order to divert him from his researches, left the scene, followed by his 



264 DANISH TRADITIONS. 

one of the men forgot to keep silence, and at the instant 
he began to cry out the treasure sank, and although they 
have often since endeavoured to raise it, the Trolls have 
always prevented them by their sorcery. 

In digging up a treasure the strictest silence is necessary ; hence Oehlen- 
schlaeger in his poem Skattegraveren (The Treasure-digger) says : 
Men hvis et Ord du taler, But if a word thou utter, 

Forsvinder den igien. It vanishes again. 

THE TREASURE ON FUUR. 

The little isle of Fuur in the Liimfiord rests on a vast 
stone, in the middle of which dwells a Troll. When the 
shepherds in the field place their ear to the ground, they 
sometimes hear him locking and unlocking his great 
money chests ; and a peasant, who for three Christmas 
nights went thither at midnight, saw at the third time, 
the Troll sitting on the hillock displaying all his treasures. 
If any one shoots over such things, he can freely take of 
them as much as he will, and so did this peasant. But 
when he was on his return home and very near his dwell 
ing, it seemed to him to be in flames. In his alarm he 
cast from him all he had taken, and when he reached 
home all was safe, but the treasure was gone. 

On the north side of the isle a small part of the stone 
may be clearly seen among high, heath-grown hills, and 
many names are there inscribed of persons who have 
visited the spot. On a level with the earth is a hole 
through which a person can enter the stone, but it is not 
known how far any one can go, as the greater number do 
not venture beyond five steps. 

THE TREASURE IN LODAL. 

In Sallingherred there is a valley called Lodal, where 
formerly a light was seen burning every night. But it 

servants, and ran home to save what he could. Of course there was no 
fire whatever at the house. Chambers, Popular Rhymes, etc. p. 13. 



DANISH TRADITIONS. 265 

happened that a Ilolstciner came to the place,, who desired 
to be shown the way to Lodal, it having been revealed to 
him in a dream,, that on the spot where a light was to be 
seen burning he should dig and find a treasure. He dug 
accordingly and found in the earth a capacious copper kettle 
full of gold, but upon the gold there lay a large black 
poodle 1 with a ring round its neck. This he carefully 
lifted from the kettle,, laid it on his great coat,, and so got 
possession of the treasure, of which he distributed a por 
tion to the peasants who had assisted him, and then de 
parted. From that time the light ceased to burn; but 
sometimes the dog may be seen running about in Lodal. 

TRADITIONS OF ROBBERS. 
THYRE BOLOXE AND HER SONS. 

Close along an arm of the Issefiord in Seeland, the road 
passes through Borrevcile forest, where is yet to be seen 
the so-called Thyre^s cave. 

This Thyre, surnamed Boloxe, with her twelve sons were 
notorious robbers, but being at length captured, were all 
executed at Roeskilde 2 . The following tradition concern 
ing them is still current among the peasantry thereabouts. 

It often happens, when any one drives past the cave by 
night, that the horses suddenly begin to sweat violently, 
and are scarcely able to drag the carriage. A countryman, 
who on such an occasion descended from his vehicle and 
peeped through the left side of the headstall, saw that he 
had Thyre Boloxe and her twelve sons sitting behind. His 
only resource was to take off the hind wheel and lay it in 
the vehicle 3 ; for by so doing all such spectres are com 
pelled to run under the carriage, for the purpose of hold 
ing up the axle-tree. 

1 See pages 119, 263. 2 In the year 1716. 3 See page 260. 

N 



266 DANISH TRADITIONS. 

ST^RK OLGER. 

In Ugilt krat (thicket), between Hioring and Flad- 
strand, when the country thereabouts had much forest 
land, there was a robber who called himself Stserk (Strong) 
Olger or Ole. He robbed and murdered whenever he had 
an opportunity, but he was particularly notorious for mur 
dering pregnant women. At length the men having armed 
themselves, surrounded the entire wood and captured him, 
when he thus confessed : " It is well that you have caught 
me this time ; for henceforth no bond would have bound 
or hand held me ; for I had already eaten the hearts of 
six unborn children ! Could I but have got the seventh ! " 

VOLDBORG S DAY. 

On Voldborg s day, that is the day preceding Whit 
sunday, there was in former times a great merry-making 
throughout the country, or, as it was called, the riding in 
of summer. The youth of both sexes prepared themselves 
for the festival, and decorated themselves with their best 
for the procession. The young men s procession, in which 
all were on horseback, was headed by two stewards, who 
rode forward to announce their approach. These were 
followed by two old men, each holding in his hand a long 
pole decorated with ribands, garlands, silk handkerchiefs, 
and whatever else might appear showy. After them came 
the Count of May (Maigreve) with his two attendants, 
and lastly the whole procession, two and two, all clad in 
blue or red frocks, with white napkins from the shoulder 
down under the opposite arm, and ribands fluttering in 
their hats. The May-count had two garlands, one over 
each shoulder, while every other had one only. In the 
middle of the procession rode the musicians, playing on 
violins, drums and fifes. When they came to a boundary, 
a garland was laid on the place of entrance ; and when in 
the villages or at the mansions they met any young females, 



DANISH TRADITIONS. 267 

they threw garlands to them, which was an invitation to 
their guild or feast. When they entered a town or village,, 
both stewards went to a house and begged that the proces 
sion might enter ; and when permission was granted, they 
rode thrice round the court, and on passing the windows 
saluted the inmates. They then dismounted, and the 
leading singers began to sing, the rest, at the end of every 
verse, falling in with " med Glsede " (with joy). On 
coming to a particular verse, two of the party went to the 
church, where they knelt on the threshold, and while in 
that position the others sang the rest of the song. They 
afterwards danced a while, and were regaled with beer and 
brandy, and sometimes received money also. They then 
remounted their horses, rode again round the court, and 
proceeded further in the same order. 

When the girls ran summer in, they assembled where 
the festival or guild was to be, clad in green with white 
napkins, and garlands on their heads and over their 
shoulders. Thence they proceeded to the fields and 
formed themselves in a circle, when the steward tried a 
garland on each, until he found one that it fitted: she 
was then Countess of May (Maigrevinde). The procession 
then went its round. Whoever would receive them raised 
a pole adorned with flowers and garlands, as a sign. Ac 
cording to other accounts, the Count of May, on their re 
turn, cast a garland on the girl he chose for Countess. 

FRIAR RUUS !. (Continued from p. 179.) 
In consequence of his skill in the culinary art, and of 

1 From Die Deutschen Volksbiicher von Karl Simrock, 6 Bd. As a 
more detailed narrative of the doings of Friar Ruus, after he became head 
cook, may not be uninteresting to the reader, 1 add the sequel of his story, 
abridged from the metrical account of him in the above-named work, 
which I had not at hand when translating the portion of his history already- 
given. In the German story he is called Rausch, which is the same as the 
Danish Ruus, and signifies drunkenness, debauchery. 

N 2 



268 DANISH TRADITIONS. 

certain secret services rendered by him to the abbot and 
monks of Esrom, Ruus was, by universal suffrage, elected 
a member of the brotherhood, in which character he so 
journed among them during a period of seven years. 
Having much leisure on his hands, he was in the habit 
of sitting at the convent gate and amusing himself with 
cutting oaken cudgels. On being asked for what purpose 
he designed the cudgels, he answered, that it was well to 
be prepared in case of thieves coming by night. Shortly 
after, a dispute ensues among the brethren about a female, 
one party being headed by the abbot, the other by the 
prior. Both parties apply to Ruus for cudgels, and both 
receive a supply. A battle then takes place between them 
in the church, where they are assembled at matins, during 
which Ruus extinguishes the lights, and in the heat of the 
melee hurls a heavy bench in the midst of the combatants. 
After the limbs of many are broken, and others more or 
less maimed, Ruus, with a sanctified countenance, appears 
among them with a light, reproves them for their un 
seemly conduct, and exhorts them to peace and concord. 

Some time after this event, Ruus goes out to amuse 
himself, and forgets to prepare supper for the convent. 
As he is hurrying home he sees a cow grazing, which he 
kills, taking with him a hind quarter. In the preceding 
part we have seen that the owner of the cow lies in wait for 
the thief and, while concealed in a hollow tree, sees Lucifer 
with a company of devils assemble on its summit. These 
recount to their prince their several exploits, Ruus among 
the rest, who promises to bring with him all the brother 
hood, but that they should previously murder each other. 
When the devils had taken flight, the peasant hastened to 
the convent, where he related to the abbot all he had 
heard while in the tree. At his recital the holy man was 
not a little terrified, and, having assembled the fraternity, 
related to them all that the man had told him. There- 



DANISH TRADITIONS. 269 

upon they betake themselves to prayer, and ring for 
mass,, when the abbot, taking Runs with him,, orders him 
to remain, without stirring from the spot during the 
whole mass. Upon Runs saying he could no longer stay, 
during the administration of the sacrament, the abbot 
conjures him into the form of a horse. On promising to do 
no more harm, he is set free and passes over to England. 

In England he enters the king s fair daughter, where 
upon her father sends for all the wise and learned men 
from Paris and elsewhere ; but riot one of them is power 
ful enough to cast forth the evil spirit from the body of 
the princess. At length the demon himself exclaims : 
" I am Brother Ruus. No one can expel me from this 
fair vessel, save the abbot of Esrom, to whom I have sworn 
obedience." This dignitary had, it seems, in the mean 
while, become as holy again as ever. The abbot is, conse 
quently, sent for, who casts out the evil spirit, commanding 
him to stand before him in a horse s form ; when, to the 
great astonishment of the king and all present, the abbot 
binds him with a heavy chain. 

Seeing a quantity of lead lying close by, the abbot re 
quested, as his sole reward, to have as much of it, for the 
roof of his convent, as Runs could carry on his back. 
Runs carries accordingly the enormous weight of three 
hundred thousand pounds. The king and the abbot then 
sit down to dinner, but before they have finished their 
repast, Ruus appears before them, telling them he has 
carried the lead and waits for further orders, asking, at the 
same time, whether he should take the palace and set it 
by the side of the convent. The abbot desires him to let 
the palace stand, and merely conduct him safely back to 
Esrom. Then taking leave of the king, after giving him 
his blessing, the holy man gives his hand to the devil l , 

1 According to the Danish metrical version, Ruus takes the abbot on 
his back. Thielc, ii. p. 148, 1st edit. 



270 DANISH TRADITIONS. 

who forthwith sets him down safe and sound at his own 
gate. The fiend then asks where his future residence is 
to be, when the abbot assigns him a neighbouring hill, in 
which he is to sojourn till doomsday. 

DANISH POPULAR BELIEF . 

1. If a girl wishes to know what sort of a husband she 
is to have, she must on New Year s eve pour some melted 
lead into a glass of water, and the following morning 
observe what form it has assumed. If it resembles a pair 
of scissors, she will inevitably get a tailor ; if a hammer, 
he will be a smith, etc. Another method, equally effica 
cious, is to break an egg into a glass of water, and judge 
from the figure it takes. 

2. If girls are desirous of seeing their future husbands, 
let them on the eve of the Epiphany, before going to bed, 
repeat the following verses : 

Ye three holy kings, to you I pray, 
That ye to-night will let me see 
Whose cloth I shall spread, 
Whose bed I shall make, 
Whose name I shall bear, 
Whose bride I shall be. 

3. Another formula, probably to be repeated on the 
anniversary of St. Lucy (Dec. 13), is the following : 

Lucy the gentle 
Shall give me to know 
Whose cloth I shall spread, 
Whose bed I shall make, 
Whose child I shall bear, 
Whose beloved I shall be, 
In whose arm I shall sleep. 

4. It is a custom among the girls on St. John s day to 
gather St. John s-wort (hypericum) and place it between 

1 Thiele, iii. p. 95, sqq., edit. 1820. 



DANISH TRADITIONS. 271 

the beams under the roof, in order to form from it a judge 
ment as to the future. The usual mode is, to place one 
plant for themselves and another for their sweetheart : if 
these grow together, it is a presage of a wedding. Or 
they set the plants between the beams, that they may 
know from them which of their relations shall have a long 
life, and which a short one. If the plant grows up to 
wards the roof, it is a good sign ; but if downwards, it 
betokens sickness and death 1 . 

5. When lads and lasses wish to know who shall re 
move from, and who shall stay in, the house, they cast a 
shoe over their head towards the door. If it fall so that 
the heel is turned towards the door, the party will remain ; 
if the toe lies towards the door, they will remove. 

6. If a person sees the cuckoo for the first time in the 
year while he is yet fasting, it is said, "The cuckoo befools 
us/ If it is a male person, he shall not find any cattle 
or anything else he may seek after. If it is a girl, she 
must be on her guard against young men, lest she be be 
fooled by them. If it is old folks, they have good reason 
to fear sickness. 

7. If servants see the stork, for the first time in the 

1 The heathen festival of the Summer Solstice, or Death of Baldur, 
was, it seems, by the Christian missionaries made to coincide with the 
anniversary of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist. Instead of Baldur s 
brow (see vol. i. p. 22, note 2 ), the plant appropriated to the Christian 
holyday was the hypericum (or an drosacmum), which in England also was 
once " considered as powerful for the expulsion of witches, and for the 
prognostication of the fates of young men and maidens. In Lower Saxony 
girls gather sprigs of it, and fasten them to the walls of their chamber. 
If the sprig, the next morning, remains fresh, a suitor may be expected ; 
if it droops or withers, the maiden is destined to an early grave. Hyp. 
perforatum was the species used in this country." Walker s Flora of 
Oxfordshire, p. 217. Firm Magnusen, Den ^Eldre Edda, i. p. 17. The 
name androssemum (dvEpos dlpa) is probably an allusion to the decol 
lation of the Baptist ; the plant containing a reddish fluid. 



272 DANISH TRADITIONS. 

year, flying, it betokens that they will change their place 
during that year. If they see it standing,, they will con 
tinue in their situation. 

8. To discover a thief, particularly among the servants, 
it was formerly the custom to " make the sieve move." 
For this purpose, the master placed a sieve in equilibrium 
on the point of a pair of scissors, and then repeated the 
names of all the servants, at the same time watching the 
sieve, which would infallibly begin to move, when the 
thief was named. 

9. When anything is stolen, recourse should be had to 
the " cunning folks," who have the faculty of forcing the 
thief to bring back the stolen property. 

10. From Christmas day till New Year s day nothing 
that runs round may be set in motion ; there must, con 
sequently, be neither spinning nor winding l . 

11. On Christmas night at midnight the cattle rise in 
their stalls. 

12. If, when sitting at table on Christmas eve, you 
wish to know whether any of those present will die before 
the next Christmas, go out silently and peep through one 
of the window panes : the person who appears sitting at 
table without a head, will die in the following year 2 . 

13. At a party it is not good for thirteen to sit down 
to table ; for then one of them must die before a year is 
over. 

14. To cut one s nails on a Friday brings luck. 

15. When your nails or hair have been cut, the cuttings 
should either be burnt or buried ; for if evil-disposed per- 

1 Seep. Ill, No. 48. 

2 In Anspach, when on Christmas or New Year s eve the candles of 
a Christmas tree are lighted, a person has only to observe the shadows of 
those present, to discover who will die in the coming year : in the shadow 
they will appear without heads. 



DANISH TRADITIONS. 273 

sons get possession of them, they may bewitch the person 
who had borne them 1 . 

16. If a person finds a broken needle on the ground,, 
before he has said his morning prayer, he will get either 
blows or bad words 2 . 

17. If the eyes of a corpse stand open, it betokens that 
one of the same family will die shortly after. 

18. Clothes and linen that have belonged to one dead, 
soon decay and fall in pieces, even as the corpse rots in 
the grave. 

19. A corpse must not be buried in the clothes of a 
living person ; because as the clothes rot in the grave, so 
will the person to whom the clothes had belonged con 
sume and waste. 

20. When the tallow round a burning candle curls 
itself like a shaving, it forebodes the death of some one, 
most commonly of the person towards whom it points 3 . 

21. One must not weep over the dying, still less let 
tears fall on them ; for then they cannot rest in the grave 4 . 

22. If in the morning blue spots appear on the body, 
they are the pinches of a spectre, and betoken the death 
of a relative or dear friend. 

23. It was the custom formerly, when a person died, to 
cause the bells to toll immediately, while the departed 
soul was passing to heaven 6 . 

24. When dogs howl they forebode death. 

1 In Swabia the superstition is universal, that cuttings of hair must be 
burnt, or cast into running water ; for if a bird should get them and carry 
them away, either the person s hair will fall off, or the witches may harm 
him. Journal von und fUr Deutschl. 1788, p. 441. 

2 Holberg s Uden Hoved og Hale, Act 1. Sc. 2. 

3 In England too, on the same occasion, we say, " See ! there is a 
winding-sheet in the candle." 4 See vol. i. p. 292. 

5 Our passing bell, still in use, though the belief in which it originated 
has long ceased to prevail. 



N O 



274 DANISH TRADITIONS. 

25. When a magpie perches on a house, it is a sign 
that strangers are coming. 

26. If swallows or storks build their nests on the house, 
they must not be disturbed : they bring good luck 1 . 

27. If you find a four-lobed clover, or a twin nut, or a 
skilling, you must keep it, as either of them brings luck. 

28. On going out in the morning you should take 
notice whom you meet ; it not being good to meet an old 
woman ; nor is it a good sign if a hare runs across the 
way 2 . 

29. If a person wishes to see the devil or have any 
communication with him, he must walk round the church 
thrice, and at the third time stop at the church door, and 
either cry " Come out," or whistle through the key -hole. 

30. If any one wishes to know whether a deceased per 
son has had intercourse with the devil during his life, let 
him peep through the harness of the horses that draw the 
hearse; when, if such has been the case, he will see a 
black dog sitting behind the carriage. 

31. Whoever possesses the book of Cyprian 3 , can by 
reading out of it perform all sorts of conjurations; but 
when in possession of the book, a person cannot easily 
get rid of it ; for whether he sells, or burns, or buries it, 
it always returns to its owner. 

32. If any one has the book of Cyprian, he can read 

1 Olaf Tryggvason, although a Christian, observed whether the crow 
stood on its right or left foot, and predicted good or evil accordingly ; 
whence his enemies nicknamed him krdkabein (crow-leg). 

2 " The coal-miners in the north of England account it specially un 
lucky to cross a woman on their way to the pit, and many a miner, if he 
catches a glimpse, or fancies he does so, of the flutter of a female dress, 
will turn on his heel and go hack to bed again." Morning Chronicle, 
Dec. 20th, 1849. This superstition was no doubt brought over by the 
Scandinavian settlers in the north of England. 

3 See pp. 186-188. 



DANISH TRADITIONS. 275 

the devil to him ; but he must be prepared to give him 
such work to do as will cause him annoyance. But it is 
a bad affair, if a person does not also know how to read 
him away again. 

33. Only those children that are born on a Sunday or 
a holyday can see spirits 1 . 

34. If any one is afraid of spectres, let him strew flax- 
seed before his door ; then no spirit can cross the thresh 
old. A preventive equally efficacious is, to place one s 
slippers by the bed-side with the heels towards the bed 2 . 
Spectres may also be driven away by smoking the room 
with the snuff of a tallow candle ; while wax lights attract 
them : hence it partly arises that churches are always 
haunted. Another preventive is, to place steel at the 
door. 

35. If you nail a horseshoe fast to the step of the door, 
no spirit can enter 8 . 

36. When the peasant women have prepared their 
dough, they are accustomed to make a cross either on the 
dough or on the bread made from it ; that the trolls may 
not injure it. 

37. If a person enters the church too early in the morn 
ing, he may happen to see the dead, how they sit in the 
pews. 

38. Trolls dare not pronounce the word cross, but call 
it merely "here and there." 

39. When out fishing, men must be careful not to 
quarrel about the draught ; nor must one envy another ; 
as the fish will then instantly disappear from the spot. 

40. If a person dies who, it is feared, will re-appear, 
as a preventive, let a basinful of water be thrown after the 
corpse, when it is carried out. 

41. It is absurd to shoot at a spectre, as the bullet will 

1 See p. 203. 2 Holberg s Uden Hoved og Hale, Act i. Sc. 2. 

3 A superstition equally common in England. 



276 DANISH TRADITIONS. 

return on him who shot it. But if the piece be loaded 
with a silver button, that will infallibly take effect 1 . 

42. The third night after burial the dead are wont to 
walk. 

43. A pregnant woman must not walk over a place 
where a knife has been ground; as it causes a difficult 
delivery. But if she spits thrice on the spot, there is no 
danger. 

44. If a child is weighed immediately after it is bora, 
it will not thrive afterwards. 

45. If a child be lifted out of one window and taken in 
through another, it will never grow bigger. 

46. If a lying-in woman dies before delivery, she will 
give birth forty weeks after in the grave. For which rea 
son, a needle, thread, scissors, &c. should be buried with 
her, that she may sew the baby-linen. 

47. By the breast-bone of a Martinmas goose it may 
be known how the winter will be. The white in it is a 
sign of snow; but the brown forebodes very severe cold. 
It is also to be observed that the foremost part by the 
neck foretells of winter before Christmas ; but the hinder 
part of winter after Christmas. 

48. As the weather is on the day of the Seven Sleepers 
(July 27), so it will continue for seven weeks. 

49. It often happens that mariners in the wide ocean 
see a ship in all respects resembling a real one sailing 
by, and at the same instant vanishing from their sight. 
It is the spectre-ship, and forebodes that a vessel will 
soon go to the bottom on that spot. 

50. Every seventh year the cock lays an egg. When 
it is hatched, a basilisk comes forth, which kills people 
merely by looking at them. It is also said, that this 
animal can be killed only by holding a mirror before it, 
it being so ugly that it cannot survive the sight of itself 2 . 

1 See pp. 6, 191, 192, note b . 2 See p. 212. 



DANISH TRADITIONS. 277 

51. If you desire to know your future fortune at New 
Year s tide, take a loaf, a knife and a skilling, with which 
go out and look at the moon, when the new moon shines. 
If then you open a psalm-book, you will be able from 
what the place contains to judge of the most important 
things. 

52. On the eve of Maundy Thursday the country folks 
cast axes and iron wedges on the sown fields, and fasten 
steel on all their doors, that the witches may not injure 
them. 

53. A ringing in the left ear betokens that somebody 
is speaking ill of you ; but good, if the ringing be in the 
right ear. 

54. If any one goes to church on Maundy Thursday, 
and has, without knowing it, a pullet s egg (i. e. the first 
egg a hen lays) with him, he will see all the women that 
are witches with sieves or milk-pails on their heads. 

55. The following is recommended as a remedy for the 
tooth-ache. Take an elder-twig, first put it into your 
mouth, then stick it in the wall, saying, "Depart, thou 
evil spirit." 

56. As a cure for the ague, it is good to stick a twig 
of elder in the ground, but without uttering a word while 
so doing. The disease will then pass into the twig, and 
attach itself to the first person that unfortunately ap 
proaches the spot. 

57. In Norway it is thought unlucky to meet a hare, 
but lucky to meet a bear or a wolf. 



I N D E X. 



A, 



A ALBORG, secret passages under, 

245. 

Aarhuus Cathedral, anecdotes of, 252. 
Aasgaardsreia or Wild Hunt, descrip 
tion of, 25. See Wild Hunt. 
Abel (King), account of him and his 

hunt, 198. 
Absalon (Bp.), anecdote attending his 

birth, 220 ; of his death, 227. 
Aerolites, 52. 
Altar-cups. See Cups. 
Ague, cure for the, 277. 
Andrew (St.) of Slagelse, legend of, 

258. 

Animals, Mystic, 83. 
Ardea nigra or Odin s swallow, 51. 
Asker (Bp.), 224. 
Axel Thordsen and Fair Valdborg, 

story of, 43. 
Axle-tree supported by Trolls and 

spectres, 260, 265. 



B. 



Basilisk, account of the, 212, 276. 

Bear, 84, 277. 

Belief (Popular), Swedish, 108-113 ; 

Danish, 270. 
Bergtagning, 67. 
Berg trolls, 56, 63, 83. 
BHiraan or Bare, account of the, 1 05. 
Bierg-riser, 4. 



Bille family, origin of their arms, 238. 

Biorn, the Swede, 59. 

Blakulle, 84, 105. 

Blocksberg, witches ride to, 185. 

Bondevette, story of, 139. 

Bordesholm, altar-piece at, removed 
to Sleswig, 255. 

Bornholm, Trolls in, 125, 126. 

Botrad, 71. 

Bottle, the half-full, 239. 

Brok (Eske), anecdote of, 238. 

Brownie described, 165. 

Briiggemann (Hans) carves the altar- 
piece of Sleswig cathedral, 255. 

Brunmlgi, account of the, 23. 

Bullet of silver, virtue of, 6, 191, 192, 
275. 

Buris (Prince), his amour with Kir- 
sten, 232. 

Butter, witches , 106. 

Button (Silver). See Bullet. 



Cats, witches in the form of, 32. 

Cattle transformed to mice, 11. 

Changelings, anecdotes of, 174, 175. 

Children, superstitions concerning, 
276. 

Christmas or Yule pastimes in Swe 
den, description of, 49 ; customs 
at, 107. 

Christinas celebrated by the Trolls, 89. 

Christmas, superstitions of, 272. 



280 



INDEX. 



Churches, objects of abhorrence to 
the Trolls, 85 ; one at Fienneslov- 
lille, 226 ; built of froth, 246 ; tra 
ditions of, 246-255. 

Church-grim, account of the, 102, 
166, 167. 

Church-lamb, account of, 102, 210. 

Church-sow, 210. 

Clement (St.), patron of Aarhuus, 252. 

Clover, four-lobed, 274. 

Cnut the Great, 59. 

Ciiut the Saint (King), of his death, 
225. 

Cnut. See Knud. 

Cock (Red) a symbol of fire, 7 ; a 
guardian of treasure, 119. 

Copenhagen, story of the ramparts 
of, 244 ; of St. Mary s church, 246 ; 
St. Nicholas , 247." 

Cuckoo, superstitions connected with 
the, 83, 107, 271. 

Cups (Altar) stolen from Trolls, 90, 
140, 144, 146, 148. 

Cyprianus, account of, and of his 
book, 186-188, 274. 

D. 

Dagmar (Queen), her death foretold 
by a mermaid, 176. 

Dam-horse, account of the, 208 bis. 

Dannebrog, origin of the, 227. 

Dannebrog Ships, account of, 228. 

Daoine Shi, 81. 

Death, superstitions connected with, 
273, 275, 276. 

Devil plays at cards, 179; how ex 
pelled, ib. ; a scholar assigns him 
self to the, 180 ; his footstep, ib. ; 
his contract with Jens Plovgaard, 
181; outwitted, 182; transactions 
with the lady of Kiolbygaard, 183 ; 
a feast with him, 184, 185 ; super- 
stitions concerning the, 274. 

Dogs, guardians of treasure, 119, 263, 
265 ; howling of, 273. 

Dragons (Fiery) in Norway, 31 ; or 
White Serpent, 98, 99 ; at Alsted, 
207; at Ostbierg Bakker, ib. 

Drakes in the south of France, 13. 

Drontheim (Bp. of), story of his 
cattle, 10. 

Dwarfs, belief concerning, 1, 56; 
their skill, 57 ; origin of, 115. 



E. 



Ear, ringing in the, 277. 

Edenhall, cup at, 145. 

Ekuin, a king of England, 241. 

Elder, superstitions concerning the, 
168, 277. 

Elf-altars, 62. 

Elf-dances, 70. 

Elf-folk. See Elves. 

Elfin Gardens, 67. 

Elf-king, of his tune, 81. 

Elves, account of, 62 ; held in dread, 
64 ; of flying elves, 68 ; elf-dances, 
70 ; water-elves, 76 ; origin and 
stories of, 115, sqq., 121; live 
under the hearth, 127; an elf- 
wedding, ib. ; send for a midwife, 
and deprive her of sight, 128, 129 ; 
decoy a boy, 136; decoy a bride, 
138. 

Epiphany eve, superstition connected 
with, 270. 

Eric (King), his dream, 58. 

Erritso Church, foundation of, 253. 

Esbern Snare, anecdote attending his 
birth, 226; anecdote of him and 
Kallundborg church, 248. 



F. 



Falster Church, anecdote of, 251. 
Feggeklit, account of, 221. 
Fienneslovlille Church, 226. 
Finlap, story of a, 193. 
Finn, the giant, builds Lund cathe 

dral, 101 ; turned to stone, 102. 
Finngalkn described, 24. 
Finnish superstition, 55, 193. 
Fishing, superstitions concerning, 111, 

275. 

Fossegrim, account of the, 23. 
Fountain Maidens, 77. 
Fox, 84. 
Frederic I., prophecy concerning, 237. 



G. 



Gardbo, 18. 

Gertrud s bird, account of, 25. 

Ghosts, 19. See Spectres. 

Giants : one turned to stone, 9 ; in 



INDEX. 



281 



Sweden, 56 ; one builds Lund ca 
thedral, 101. 

Giantesses, marriages of, with men, 
86, 87 ; one carries off a plough 
man, 140. 

Gioe (Birgitte), 255. 

Goose, of its breast-bone, 276. 

Grave-sow, account of the, 210. 

Grim, account of the, 23. See Church- 
grim. 

Grb n-Jette, account of the, 195. 

Gunnar (Sir) of Loholm, 77. 



Gyfr or Gygr, \ 4 
Gyvri, J 4> 



Habitation-Tree, 71. 

Ilabor and Signelil, story of, 220. 

Hair-cutting, 272. 

Hans Adolf, duke of Holstein-Ploen, 

187. 

Hare, unlucky to meet a, 277. 
Helen s Well, 215-217. 
Hel-horse, account of the, 209. 
Helvig (Queen), anecdotes of, 233- 

236. 
Herlufsholm, by whom founded, 243 ; 

anecdote of, 255. 
Holger the Dane under Kronborg 

castle, 222. 

Horgabrudar, 62, 73, 78. 
Horn (the Oiestad), 14, 15; one at 

Liungby, 90. 

Horns Jaeger, account of, 197. 
Horseshoe, superstition concerning a, 

275. 

Hoskelreia, 27. 
Huldra or Hulla, account of, 1, 2, 3 ; 

married, 10, 15. 
Huldreman, 6. 
Huntsman, the flying, 195. 
Hyldemoer, account of the, 167. 

I. J. 

Jack o Lanterns, traditions concern 
ing, 97, 211 bis. 

Jellinge Barrows, account of, 221. 

Jens Plovgaard, his contract with the 
devil, 181. 

John s (St.) eve. See Midsummer eve. 

Jons Jaeger, account of, 198. 

Jode of Upsala, story of the, 124, ] 96. 



Jotuns, 4, 56. 

Issefiord, of the Troll in the, 247. 

Jula-mot, 50. 

Julgalt, 50. 

Juniper-Tree, superstition connected 

with the, 73. 
Jutuls, account of them, 4, 5. 



Kallundborg Church, anecdote of, 
248. 

Karise Church, blood spots at, 250. 

Kelpy, 22. 

Kield (St.) of Viborg, legend of, 262. 

Kiolbygaard (Lady of), her transac 
tions with the devil, 183. 

Kirkegrim. See Church-grim. 

Kirsten (Little), her grave, 232. 

Klint-king of Moen, story of the, 124. 

Knud s (St.) at Odense, spectres 
there, 204. 

Knud Lavard (St.), his well, 217. 

Knurremurre, story of, 123. 

Kronborg Castle, 222. 



L. 



Lady-bird, dedicated to V. M., 104. 
Lagno, runic inscription at, 62. 
Lakes, etc., traditions of, 203. 
Land-marks, punishment for removal 

of, 97, 202 bis, 203 bis, 211. 
Lapplanders, their magical skill, 55, 

57, 193. 

Laurids (Master), anecdote of, 260. 
Lawrence or Lars, legend of, 101. 
Limbek (Erland), anecdote of, 240. 
Lofjerskor described, 71, 73. 
Lucius (St.), patron of Roeskilde, 

247, 248. 

Lucy s (St.) day, superstition on, 270. 
Lund Cathedral, legend of, 101. 

M. 

Magpie, 83, 84, 274. 

Mansion (the sunken) near Aarhuus, 

214. 
Mara or Qvseldrytterinde, account of 

the, 18, 169w, 170. 
Margaret (Queen), anecdote of, 236. 
Margygr, 27. 
Maribo Church, anecdote of, 252. 



282 



INDEX. 



Marmennill, 27. 

Mary (Virgin), plants named after 
her, 103 ; Lady-bird, 104. 

Maundy Thursday, custom on, 277. 

May-count and countess, 266, 267. 

Melting or Casting, a species of 
witchcraft, 47. 

Merman, "1 accounts of, 27, 76, 77, 

Mermaid,/ 170, 171 Ms. 

Mice, 84. 

Midsummer day and eve, supersti 
tions connected with, 106, 270. 

Midwife, anecdote of a, 11. 

Modernat, 50. 

Monrad (Family of), their origin, 241. 

Mount raised on (red) pillars by the 
Trolls, 89, 117, 132, 137, 138, 146, 
151. 

Mount-Folk. See Trolls and Berg- 
trolls. 

Mount-Trolls cast stones at 
churches, 85 ; anecdotes of, 86- 
89 ; celebrate Christmas, 89. See 
Trolls. 

Muro. See Mara. 

Mylingar, 95. 

Mystic animals, 83. 



N. 



Nails, cutting of, 272. 

Neck, description of the Swedish, 78, 
80; superstitions connected with 
the, 82, 83. 

Necke-brod (Neck-bread), 81. 

Needles, superstition concerning, 2 7 3. 

New Year s eve and day, supersti 
tions connected with, 270, 277. 

Niels (St.), legend of, 228. 

Night-raven, account of the, 210. 

Nisse or Niss, account of the, 16; 
origin of, 115; porridge set for 
them, 158, 159; drive a plough, 
159 ; help to thrash, 160 ; not to 
be got rid of, 161 ; love of horses, 
162 ; not to be watched, ib. ; their 
gratitude, 163 ; their revenge, 163, 
164. 

Nok, account of the. 20. 

Norbagge (Bp. Svend), 224. 

Norre-Broby, altar-piece at, 255. 

Norre-Vilstrup, anecdote of the priest 
of, 261. 

Nut, twin, 274. 



0. 



Odin, modern traditions of, 50. 

Ointment, for the eyes, virtue of, 11, 
12, 129 ; used by witches, 184, 185. 

Olaf (St.), his parentage, 34; death 
of, 35 ; miracles of, ib. ; enshrined, 
ib. ; his shrine and relics, 36 ; a 
substitute for Thor, 37 ; turns 
Trolls into stone, ib. of the first 
church erected by him and the 
Troll Vind and Vader, 39 ; builds 
a church at Vaaler, 40 ; petrifies a 
giantess, 42 ; his wager with a 
giantess, ib. ; story of his image, 
244. 

Olger (Staerk), account of, 266. 

Owl, 83. 

P. 

Palne-Jffiger, account of, 196. 

Pestilence in Jutland, 219. 

Phane, Gron-Jette s wife, 195. 

Phynnodderie, 165. 

Plants. Alfexing (cynosurus ceeru- 
leus), 70 ; alfnafver (lichen apho- 
sus), 71; juniper, 73; neck-roses, 
81 ; neck-root (cicuta virosa), 82 ; 
Our Lady s bunch of keys (cows 
lip), 103 ; Our Lady s bed-straw 
(galium verum luteum), ib. ; Our 
Lady s flax, 104 ; Our Lady s hand, 
ib. ; Satan s hand, ib. ; Our Lady s 
pincushion, ib. ; Our Lady s man 
tle, ib. ; St. John s wort (hyperi- 
cum), 106, 270 ; elder, 168, 277 ; 
clover, 274. 

Plovgaard (Jens), 181. 

Pregnant women, superstitions con 
cerning, 276. 

Puck, 22. 

Pyslingar, 94. 

Q. 

Qvffildrytterinde. See Mara. 
Qvaernknurre, account of the, 23. 



R. 



Ra, a Swedish elf, 73. 

Rachlb v Church, anecdote of, 249. 

Ram in the Getaberg, 97. 

Rats, 84. 



X D E X. 



283 



Rat-hunter, account of one, 219. 

Ravens, 94. 

Ribe Cathedral, anecdote of, 252. 

Rickets, spell or charm for, 47. 

Riser, 4. 

Robbers, traditions of, 265, 266. 

Rocking Stones, 54. 

Roeskilde Cathedral rebuilt by Bp. 

Svend Norbagge, 224 ; of St.Lucius 

its patron, 248. 
Roretrold, account of the, 23. 
Rosenkrands, arms and family of, 241 . 
Ruus (Friar), account of, 177, 267. 



S. 



Sand-hills at Nestved, their origin, 

218. 

Scheel (Fru Ingeborg), story of, 256. 
Seal, 84. 

Sea-Snake, account of, 28. 
Shellycoat, 82. 
Ship (Spectre-), 2/6. 
Shoemaker (Jerusalem), 212. 
Shoopiltee, 22. 

Siegfried (St.), of his well, 82. 
Sieve, superstition with a, 272. 
Signekj erring, 1 pretends to cure dis- 
Signerska, j eases, 47, 62. 
Siora, a Swedish elf, 75. 
Skogsnerte, or Skogsnufvor, 3. 
Skogsra, anecdotes of the, 73, sq. 
Skrat, 95. 

Sleepers (Seven), 276. 
Sleswig Cathedral, altar-piece in, 

255. 

Snakes, 83. 
Snogskilde, 217. 
Soetrold, 21. 
Sonargoltr, 50. 

Soro Church, altar-piece there, 250. 
Spectacles Ducats, 237. 
Spectres in St. Knud s church at 
Odense, 204 ; of Hans Naeb, ib. ; 
at Lille Vacrlbse, 205; of Master 
Mads, 20G ; how to drive them 
away, 275, 276. 
Spinning, superstitions connected 

with, 111, 272. 
Stake (Haraldj, anecdote of his wife, 

64. 

Stig (MarslO, his funeral, 232. 
Stork, superstition connected with 
the, 271, 274. 



Strand-varsel, account of, 166, 167. 

Stromkarl, account of the, 79, 80 ; 
his melody, 81. 

Sunday s Child, 203, 275. 

Svanwedel (Major-General), 243. 

Svend Falling, story of, 141. 

Svend Grathe (King), his military 
chest, 226. 

Svend Norbagge (Bp.) rebuilds Roes 
kilde cathedral, 224 ; anecdote of, 
ib. 

Swallows, 274. 



T. 



Tailor, adventure of one with the 
Trolls, 32. 

Theft, superstitious usage in case of, 
54, 272 bis. 

Thor, modern traditions of, 51. 

Thorbagge (scarabaius stercorarius), 
53. 

Thorer Brack, story of, 53, sq. 

Thor s (Helige) well, 103. 

Thorwiggar, 52. 

Thundering Stones, 54. 

Thurser or Thusser, belief concern 
ing, 1,2; one carries off a girl, 9. 

Thyre Boloxe, account of, 265. 

Tiis Lake, its origin, 213. 

Toads, 83. 

Toft-va3tte, 18. 

Tomte, account of the, 18, 91-94. 

Tomte-gubbe, 18. 

Tooth-ache, remedy for the, 277. 

Treasure-diggers, anecdotes of, 119. 

Treasures in Hvirvel Bakke, 263 ; 
Daugbierg Daus, ib. on Fuur, 264 ; 
in Lodal, ib. 

Trees, sacred, 72; bewitched, 218, 
219. 

Trolle (Gustaf), 59 ; origin of the 
name of, 91 ; arms of, 243 ; Her- 
luf Trolle founds Herlufsholm, ib. 

Trolls, one builds Dronthehn cathe 
dral, 39 ; their fear of thunder, 52 ; 
Christian traditions of, 61 ; at a 
wedding, 100 ; origin of, 115 ; give 
clothes, horseshoes and beer, 120, 
121 ; depart from Th viand, 121 ; 
one in Bodedys restores a son to 
his father, 122 ; story of Knurre- 
murre, 123 ; account of, at Born- 
holm, 125, 126; borrow beer, 126; 



284 



INDEX. 



borrow a skirt, 127; fetch a mid 
wife, 128, 130, 131 ; their artifices, 
128, 129 ; deprive a woman of 
sight, 129 bis ; steal beer, 132, 133, 
140; one falls into the fire, 132; 
steal a woman, 133 ; partake of 
their neighbour s dinner. 134 ; pre 
vent the building of Brobierg 
church, 137 ; decoy a lad, ib. ; de 
coy a bride, 138 ; steal Bondevette s 
wife, ib. ; their names, 147, 151 ; 
their riches, 148; glove, 149; a 
Troll outwitted, ib. ; their dwell 
ings under the cows or hearth, 150 ; 
one baptized, 151 ; their desire to 
be saved, ib. ; fear of the cross, 
152; fear of thunder, ib. ; hatred 
of bells, 154, 155 ; their persons 
described, 154; depart from Vend- 
syssel, 155 ; how to render them 
visible, 156 ; depart from JErb, ib. ; 
shavings and coals given by them 
turn to gold, 157; cast stones at 
churches, 158 ; one attempts to 
inundate Kundby, 213 ; one in the 
Issefiord, 247 ; cannot pronounce 
cross, 275. 

Troms Church, witches assemble at, 
190. 

U. 

Udburrer or Udbore, 20. 
Udde-hat described, 100. 
Ulf Jarl, 59. 
Underground Folk. See Trolls. 

V. 

Vaetter, belief concerning, 1, 2. 
Valdborg (Fair). See Axel. 



Valdemar (King), account of his hunt, 

199 ; anecdotes of, 233-236. 
Vargamor, 96. 

Veiby Church, anecdote of, 248. 
Vind and Vader, a Troll, 39, 40. 
Voldborg s day described, 266. 

W. 

Wandering Jew, account of the, 212. 

Water-elves, 76. 

Weasel, 84. 

Wells St. Siegfried s, 82; Helige 
Thor s, 103 ; traditions of, 215. 

Werwolf, account of the, 18, 96, 168, 
sg.; how recognised, 169; how to 
be freed, ib. 

White Serpent. See Dragons. 

Wild Hunt, 25, 27, 83. 

William (Bishop), his foot-mark, 223; 
his death and burial, ib, 

Wind, the Finlaps make, 193. 

Witches, their nocturnal rides, 84, 
184, 185 ; how to become invisible 
to, 189 ; how expelled, ib. ; trans 
form a man into a horse, 190 ; one 
transformed into a mare, ib. ; one 
shot as a duck, 191, as hares, 192 ; 
die with difficulty, ib. ; how they 
may be seen, 277. 

Witches Butter, 106. 

Wolf, 84, 277. 

Woman (old), not lucky to meet an, 
274; superstitions concerning, 276. 

Y. 

Yule Hog, 50. 

Yule-Pastimes. See Christmas or 

Yule Pastimes. 
Yule-Straw, 104 ; its virtues, 105. 



LONDON: 

PRINTED BY RICHARD TAYLOR, 
RED LION COURT, FLEET STREET. 



ALEEE 



FLAMMAM. 




I 



UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO 
LIBRARY 




Acme Library Card Pocket 

Under Pat. " Ref. Index File." 
Made by LIBRARY BUREAU