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FROM the oldest times down to the present day the 
Scandinavian countries have been rich in tradition and 
folk-lore. The memories of the Northern peoples were 
long, and their beliefs inclined to the mysterious and the 
marvellous. When saga-writing began in Iceland in the 
1 2th century, it rested upon a mass of traditional lore, 
which comprised not merely genealogy and history, but 
also an element of the supernatural. This had often per 
meated the original fact to such an extent as to render 
its historic basis doubtful, but at the same time it made 
the legend more impressive, more picturesque, and less 
easily forgotten. The same spirit is manifest throughout 
all the centuries. Scandinavian folk-lore covers a period 
of fully a thousand years, changing to some extent with 
the rise of a new faith and the growth of new ideas, yet 
remaining the same in its inmost nature. For this reason 
it is one that must always be of great interest and value 
to the student of popular beliefs. 

When we consider that the science of folk-lore owes 
more to Great Britain than to any other country, it is 
remarkable that so little has yet been done to bring the 
traditional beliefs of Scandinavia before the professed 
student or the more general reader. Even the few works 


vi. Preface. 

that have appeared on the subject are now both scarce 
and dear. It is in the hope of making a wider knowledge 
possible, that I have gathered together the materials 
contained in the following pages. The book is, in fact, 
an attempt to repeat, with fuller resources, the design of 
Thorpe in the second volume of his Northern Mytho 
logy. When Thorpe published his work in 1851, the 
material at his disposal was very scanty. Modern 
Icelandic folk-lore remained untouched, editions of the 
sagas were less accessible than now, and several valuable 
collections (especially in Danish) were then non-existent 
So much new matter has become accessible in this way 
since then, that a new and fuller work on the same lines 
is both possible and desirable. But while the intention is 
the same, the plan of the present volume is slightly 
different from Thorpe s. The pieces contained in it have 
been selected with a view to cover the whole range of 
Scandinavian folk-lore, both in point of time and of con 
tent. They are intended to supply concrete instances of 
each separate conception in popular belief, as well as its 
leading variations. Hence the tales are grouped ac 
cording to their subjects, and not (as in Thorpe) according 
to their place of origin. The details in the design, how 
ever, have been affected by considerations of space, and 
its divisions are not all equally full and adequate. 
Especially is this the case in the sections on Ghosts and 
Witches, where the wealth of the material prevented full 
justice from being done to it. Still, each section gives a 

Preface. vii. 

fair view of the kind of lore current on that head, and in 
dicates the period ovsr which the belief is known to 
extend. The passages from the sagas prove its existence 
in early times, the later anecdotes show the form in which 
it has been familiar down to the present day. The work 
is thus a constant alternation of the new and old, but the 
two are seldom greatly at variance, and both together 
bear witness to a unity of faith that underlies them. 

Wherever possible, the belief has been brought out by 
a narrative embodying it, not by a mere statement of its 
existence. The story is the soul of folk-lore, by which 
the general concept is made living and interesting. 
There is naturally much in popular belief and practice 
which is not thus clothed in anecdote all the thousand 
and one observances with regard to man and woman, 
beast and bird, weather and seasons but this belongs to 
another branch of folk-lore than the one here illustrated. 
How the story in many cases preserved the belief we may 
see in our oldest sources, the sagas, and the same is true 
even now. These tales were part of the unwritten litera 
ture of a people which read little or not at all, and as 
such they were handed down from parent to child. They 
served both for instruction and amusement, often under 
circumstances where the interest they excited, and the 
imagination they called forth, were a salutary relief from 
the pressure of real life. The beliefs of folk-lore are not 
necessarily dark and degrading superstitions, as well- 
meaning persons have often hastily supposed. The good 

viii. Preface. 

that might lie in them, the honest purposes for which they 
might be used, are well brought out in the following 
incident, told by a Danish collector of the present day. 
" Tver Skade s wife told me, in a most affecting manner, 
how she, when a child, stood till far on in the night, 
blowing the bellows for her father, who was known as an 
excellent scythe-maker. During the day he fished in the 
firth ; in the evening and by night he worked in his 
smithy. He seldom got more than four hours 1 sleep, as 
he had a large family and was very poor. As soon as 
the children were strong enough for the task, they took 
turns of blowing the bellows or working the hammer, 
while their father told them stories to keep their eyes 
open." Another woman learned them from her mother, 
who took her along with her while she went about and 
begged, and told the tales in order to make the long 
wanderings lighter for the child. Under these and 
similar conditions, of poverty or loneliness, has much of 
the Northern folk-lore been preserved, and it has had a 
value of its own as an educative force for minds cut off 
by circumstances from other mental interests. 

This fact is often brought out by the tone of the 
modern tales, compared with their grander counterparts 
in the sagas, where the spirit of a great age still lingers in 
the thoughts, and an artist s power over language is 
manifest in the words. The newer forms are poorer in 
thought, and barer in language, but this, of course, is 
partly due to the fact that they are given as taken down 

Preface. ix. 

from the mouths of the people, without any literary 
adornment. This difference in the character of the tales 
themselves has necessarily produced a difference in the 
style of the translations, although in both cases my aim 
has been to make the English as natural as was consistent 
with the form of the originals. To improve the narrative 
would often have meant rewriting the tale, and if the 
story does not always run smoothly, this is perhaps not 
entirely the fault of the translation. It is not always easy 
to avoid a childish simplicity in translating from Danish, 
or a stilted archaism in the rendering of a saga. In 
various instances, particularly in passages from the sagas, 
some condensation of the narrative was necessary to pre 
vent the tale from being too long, but the abridged 
passages are always unessential for the folk-lore, and are 
faithfully recorded in the notes. In translating the few 
modern Icelandic verses which occur, I have been careful 
to retain both alliteration and rhyme, where these appear 
in the originals : only thus can one do full justice to the 
technique of Icelandic poetry. 

In every instance the contents of this volume have been 
translated from the language of the country to which 
they belong Icelandic, Fairoese, Danish (Norwegian), 
and Swedish. The only exceptions to this rule are a few 
passages of Swedish origin, which were translated from 
Danish versions in Nordiske Sagn y a small collection 
published at Copenhagen in 1868. The present work 
was indeed begun as a translation of that volume, but has 

x. Preface. 

so far outgrown it, that the pieces taken exclusively from 
that source form a very small proportion of the whole 
(some 30 out of 311). In a few instances, where no 
better version presented itself, passages have been taken 
which were already included in Thorpe, or still earlier 
in Keightley s Fairy Mythology, but in all cases these 
have been translated afresh. For the most part the 
bearing of the stories is clear enough in itself, or may be 
gathered by comparison, but a few additional particulars 
are added to many of them in the notes. These, however, 
are mainly intended to give the sources for each passage, 
and make no pretensions to completeness ^in other re 
spects. As the names of persons and places in the tales 
will be strange to the majority of readers, I have often 
simplified the forms of the latter by dividing them into 
their component parts. Some hints as to their pronun 
ciation will also be found at the beginning of the notes. 

I have to record my sincerest thanks to Herr E. T. 
Kristensen for his ready permission to make full use of 
his valuable collections of Danish folk-lore, as well as for 
several manuscript contributions ; and to cand. phil. Olaf 
Davidsson for similar kindness with regard to his small 
volume of Icelandic tales. To Froken Th. Rambusch in 
Copenhagen I am indebted for several researches after 
necessary books, a service always willingly and con 
scientiously rendered. 


Nov., 1896. 




Thorgils and Thor, 9 

King Olaf and Thor, ... n 

Raud and Thor, ... 12 

Thor and Urebo Stone-field, ... 14 

Thor s Hammer, 16 

Thor s Stone-Weapons, 17 

Odin and King Olaf, ... ... ... ... ... 18 

The Keel of the Long Serpent, .1 19 

The Smith and Odin, ... ... ... ... ... 21 

Odin the Hunter, 22 

Odin pursues the Elf-Women, 24 

Odin in Sweden, 26 

Odin s Cave and Garden, 27 

Frey, 28 

Gunnar and Frey, 29 

Thorgerd Horda-brud, 32 

Freyja and the Kings, 35 

I-oki, ... 39 


The Trolls in Heidar-sk6g, 40 

The Trolls and King Olaf, 44 

The Hag of Mjdafirth, 47 

The Giantess s Stone, 48 

The Female Troll on Bla-fell, 50 

Gissur of Botnar, ... 51 

Jc5ra in Jdru-kleyf, ... 52 

xii. Contents. 

Loppa and Jon, ... ... ... ... ... 54 

Trunt, trunt and the Trolls in the Fells, 56 

Andra-rimur and Hallgrims Rimur, 57 

Hremmu-hals, ... ... ... ... ... ... 58 

Bergthor in Bid-fell, 59 

The Origin of Drangey. ... ... ... ... ... 61 

The Size of Trolls, 62 

Trolls in the Faeroes, 63 

The Troll and the Bear, 65 

Dyre Vaa and the Troll at Totak, 66 

The Trolls in Hedal-Skov, ... 67 

The Trolls and the Cross, 70 

Dofri, 72 

The Giant on Saudey, ... ... ... ... ... 74 

The Giantess s Cave in Sando, 77 

OH the Strong and Torur the Strong, 78 

Mikines, ... ... ... ... ... ... 81 

The Giant on Hestmando, ... ... ... ... 83 

The Raaman and the Giantess on Molaup, ... ... 84 

The Giant in Dunkeraberg, ... .. ... ... 85 

The Giant of Tindfell, 85 

The Giant of Ness, 86 

The Giant at Lagga Kirk, 87 

The Giant s Flitting, 88 

The Giant s Dam, 89 

The Giantess and the Ploughers, 90 

The Giant s Glove, 90 

The Giantess and her Sons, 91 


The Origin of Bergfolk, 93 

The Oldest Man in Bankeberg, 93 

A Meeting with Bergfolk, 94 

Gillikop, 95 

Contents. xiii. 


Skalle, 95 

We Others, 97 

The Key of Dagberg Dos, ... ... ... ... 97 

A Birth among the Bergfolk, 98 

Life hangs by a Thread, ... ... ... ... ... joo 

The Bergman s Christian Wife, ... ... ... 102 

Working for the Bergfolk, 103 

Maid Ellen, 104 

The Changeling and the Egg-shells, ... ... ... 106 

The Changeling and the Sausage, ... ... ... 107 

The Troll s Wedding, ... 108 

Sten of Fogelkarr, 109 

The Berg-man s Daughter, no 

Viting is dead 112 

Tell Finkenoes that Jafet is dead, 112 

Brondhoj, 114 

Skotte, 114 

Plough-irons made by Bergfolk, 116 

The Borrowed Petticoat, ... 116 

The Bergfolk s Ale-Barrel, ... : 117 

The Nisse in the Ale-Barrel, ... ... ... ... 117 

Bergfolk at the Wedding- Feast, 119 

Stealing Music, 120 

The Bergwoman s Bread, 121 

The Old Man of Hoberg, 122 

Bergfolk Militia, 126 

The Herd-boy and the Bergman, 127 

The Bergfolk s Present, ... 128 

The Bergman s Beetles, ... ... ... ... ... 129 

The Red Stone on Fuur, 130 

The Silver Cup from Dagberg Daas, 131 

One-Leg and the stolen Goblet, ... ... ... 132 

The Bergfolk pass over Limfjord, 133 

Reimer the Ferryman s Aerial Voyage, 135 

The Bergman in Mesing Bank, 137 

xiv. Contents. 


Dwarfs in the Faeroes, 138 

Dwarfs in Smithdale, ... ... ... ... ... 139 

The last Dwarfs in Iceland, 140 


The Origin of the Elves, 142 

The Elves House, 142 

A Fairy Birth, 143 

Baptising a Fairy Child, ... ... ... ... 145 

The Changeling, 146 

The Father of Eighteen Children 146 

Making a Changeling, 148 

The Child and the Fairy, 149 

Carried off by the Fairies, ... ... ... ... 150 

The Girl and the Elf-Brothers, 152 

Ima the Elf-Girl, 152 

The Elfin Fisherman, ... ... ... ... ... 155 

The Elfin Cow, 156 

The Elf-Woman in Miili, 157 

Fairies Revenge, 158 

The Two Sisters and the Elves, 159 

The Elves Removal, 160 

Huldufolk in the Faroes, 161 

The Dulur Fishing-bank 162 

The Man from Gasa-dal, ... ... ... ... 164 

The Huldres in Norway, 166 

The Huldre s Tail, 167 

The Huldre s Husband, 168 

The Bride s Crown in Nummedal, 169 

Fairies in the House, 170 

The Wood-Fairy, 171 

The Peasant and the Wood-Fairy, , 173 

The Wood-Man, 174 

The Danish Ellefolk, 175 

Contents. xv. 

The Elf-King, ... 177 

An Elf-Child s Birth, 178 

The Changeling and the Stallion, 179 

The Elf-Woman at Fredskov, 179 

The Elf-Girl and the Ploughman, 181 

An Elf-Charm cured by Melted Lead, 182 

Curing an Elf-Charm, 184 

The Elfin Dance, 185 

The Lady s Beech, 185 

Thefts by the Elves, 186 

The Charcoal-burner and the Elf-girl, 187 


The Nisse, 189 

To Catch a Nisse, ... ... ... ... .. 191 

The Nisses in Gedsby, 192 

Father and Son, ... ... ... ... ... 195 

The Old Bushel, 195 

The Nisse s Parting Gift 196 

Nisse kills a Cow, ... ... ... ... ... ... 198 

Nisse s new Clothes, 198 

The Little Harvesters, 199 

Nisse s Rest, 200 

Fights between Nisses, 201 

Nisses fighting in the Shape of Wheels, 203 

The Nisse s Visits, 204 

Nisse and the Girl, ... ... ... ... ... 205 

Nisse as a Calf, 206 

The Nisses and their Horses, 206 

The Nisse and the Ghost, 207 

Light high, Light low, 208 

Nisse s Removal, ... ... ... ... ... ... 209 

The last Nisse in Samso, 210 

The Church-Nisse, 211 

xvi. Contents. 


The Ship-Nisses, 211 

Swedish Tomte or Nisse, 212 

The Nisse and the Dean, 213 

Vattar, 214 

Marjun in Orda-vik and the Vaettrar, 216 


Mermen and Mermaids, ... ... ... ... ... 220 

Then Laughed the Merman, 221 

The Merman and Mermaid in the Faeroes, 223 

The Merman and Mermaid in Norway, ... ... 225 

The Fisher and the Merman, ... ... ... ... 225 

The Merman and the Calf, ... 226 

The dead Merman and the Sand-drift, 227 

The Sea-Sprite, 227 

The Shepherd and the Sea-folk, 228 

The Origin of the Seal, 231 

Nykur or the Water-horse, 233, 234 

Nennir, ... 235 

The Long Horse, 236 

Nykur in the Faeroes, 237 

The Nok or Neck, 238 

The River-horse, ... ... ... ... ... ... 239 

The River-man, ... ... ... ... ... 241 

Necken is promised Redemption, 242 

The hour is come, but not the man, ... ... ... 243 

The River-man and the Bullocks,... ... ... ... 245 

The Kelpie, ... 246 

Sea-Serpents, ... ... ... ... ... ... 247 

The Sea-Serpent in Mjosen, 247 


Gold-Thorir and the Drakes, ... ... ... 249 

Bjorn and the Dragon, ... ... ... 254 

Contents. xvii. 

Dragons in Norway, ... ... ... ... 255 

Dragons in Denmark, ... ... ... ... 255 

The Dragon Disturbed, ... ... ... ... 256 

The Charcoal-Burner and the Dragon, ... ... 258 

The Lindorm in the Churchyard, ... ... ... 258 

The Lindorm and the Bull, ... ... ... 259 

The Lindorm and the Glazier, ... ... ... 260 

The Lindorm and the Wizard, ... ... ... 261 

The Lindorm in Klov-bakke, ... ... ... 263 

The King of the Vipers, ... ... ... 264 

The Basilisk, ... ... ... ... ... 265 

The Grav-so or Ghoul, ... ... ... 265 

Nidagrisur, ... ... ... ... ... 266 

The Were-wolf, ... ... ... ... 267 

The Night-Mare,... ... ... ... ... 270 

A Girl as Night-Mare, ... ... ... 272 

A Night-Mare Caught, ... ... ... ... 273 

The Night-Mare on Horses, ... ... ... 274 


Thorgils and the Ghosts, ... 276 

Thorolf Bcegifot, ... ... ... ... 278 

The Ghost of Hrapp, ... ... ... ... 281 

The Ghost of Klaufi, ... ... ... ... 283 

Sdti s Grave-mound, ... ... ... ... 285 

Kjartan Olafsson s Gravestone, ... ... ... 289 

The Brothers of Reynistad, ... ... ... 290 

Parthusa-J6n, ... ... ... ... 292 

The Cloven-headed Ghost, ... 295 

One of Us, ... ... ... ... ... 296 

Stefan Olafsson and the Ghost, ... ... ... 299 

Jdn Flak, ... ... ... ... ... 3 01 

Pleasant is the Darkness, ... ... ... 3 O1 

Biting off the Thread, ... ... ... ... 3 02 


xviii. Contents. 

The Dead Man s Rib, ... ... ... 302 

The Skull in Garth Churchyard, ... ... ... 304 

The Priest Ketill in Hiisavik, ... ... ... 305 

The Ghost s Cap, ... ... ... ... 306 

The Ghost s Questions, ... ... ... 307 

My Jaw-bones, ... ... ... ... ... 308 

Mother mine in fold, fold, ... ... ... 308 

That is Mine, ... ... ... ... ... 309 

The Three Countesses of Tranekaer, ... ... 310 

The Ghost at Silkeborg, ... ... ... ... 312 

A Ghost let Loose, ... ... ... ... 314 

Exorcising the Living, ... ... ... ... 314 

The Tired Ghost, ... ... ... ... 316 

The long expected Meeting, ... ... ... 316 

The Dead Mother, ... ... ... ... 318 

The Service of the Dead, ... ... ... ... 318 

The Perjured Ghost, ... ... ... ... 319 

Night-ploughing,.-- ... ... ... ... 320 

The March-Stone, ... ... ... ... 322 

The Priest s Double, ... ... ... ... 322 

The Keg of Money, ... ... ... ... 323 

Soul- Wandering, ... ... ... ... ... 325 

Fylgja, ... ... ... 326 

The Folgje or Vardogl, ... ... ... ... 327 

TheDraug, ... ... ... ... ... 328 

Aasgaards-reia, ... ... ... ... ... 329 

The Gand- Reid, ... ... ... ... 331 

The Knark-Vogn, ... ... .. ... 332 

The Night-Raven, ... ... ... 333 


Gest and the Witches, ... ... ... "-335 

The Witch Thorbjorg in Greenland, ... ... 337 

The Witch Skroppa, ... ... ... ... 340 

Contents. xix. 

The Witch Grima, ... .... ... ... 341 

Thordis the Spae-wife, ... ... ... ... 344 

Thorleif and Earl Hakon, ... ... ... 345 

Earl Hakon s Revenge, ... ... ... ... 350 

Upwakenings or Sendings, ... ... ... 351 

Skin-coat, ... ... ... ... ... 353 

The Ghost in the King s Treasury, ... ... 355 

A Wizard sent to Iceland, ... ... ... ... 356 

The Finns and Ingimund, ... ... ... 357 

The Finn s Travels, ... ... ... ... 360 

Finnish Magic. ... ... ... ... 361 

Seeing a Thief in Water, ... ... ... ... 363 

The Stolen Money, ... ... ... ... 363 

Showing one s future Wife, ... ... ... 365 

The Wizard and the Crows, ... ... ... 367 

A Poet of Might, ... ... ... ... 369 

The Mice in Akureyar, ... ... ... 370 

Foxes in Iceland, ... ... ... ... 371 

Gand-reid, ... ... ... . ... ... 372 

The Witch s Ride to Tromskirk ... ... ... 372 

The Ride to Blaa-kulla, ... ... ... 373 

Milk-hares, ... ... ... ... ... 377 

Stealing Cream for Butter, ... ... ... 377 

The Witch s Daughter, ... ... ... ... 378 

TheTil-beri, ... ... ... .... 379 

The Tide-mouse, ... ... ... ... 380 

The Tale-spirit, ... ... ... ... 381 

The Cross-roads, ... ... ... ... 382 

Sitting at the Cross-roads, ... ... ... 383 

The Victory-stone, ... ... ... ... 384 

The Life-stone, ... ... ... ... 386 

The four-leaved Clover, ... ... ... ... 386 

Destroying a Witch s Spells, ... ... ... 387 

xx. Contents. 



How the first Church in Norway was built, ... ... 390 

The Building of Lund Cathedral, ... ... 391 

St. Olaf in Ringerige, ... ... ... ... 392 

Vatnaas Church, ... ... ... ... 394 

St. Olaf in Vaaler, ... ... ... ... 395 

Varnum Church, ... ... ... ... 396 

Dover Church, ... ... ... ... ... 397 

The Bergman s Payment, ... ... ... 398 

Karup Church Tower, ... ... ... ... 398 

The Shifting of Gudum Church, ... ... 399 

Horup Church, ... ... ... ... ... 400 

The Dwarf s Stone, ... ,,. ... ... 401 

The Church Grim, ... ... ... ... 402 

The Church Lamb, ... ... ... ... 402 

The Grave-sow, ... ... ... ... ... 404 

The Buried Bell, ... ... ... ... 404 

The Bell of Kvaerndrup, ... ... ... ... 405 

The Chest of Gold, ... ... ... ... 406 

Buried Treasure, ... ... ... 407 

The Smith in Burhoj, ... ... ... 407 

The Treasure in Eriks-volde, ... ... ... 409 

Treasure guarded by a Dog, ... ... ... 410 

Gudmund and the Ghost, ... ... ... 410 

The Black Death, ... ... ... ... 412 

The Black Death in Srctersdal, ... ... ... 413 

The Black Death in Denmark, ... ... 414 

The Black Death in Iceland, ... ... ... 416 


Pronunciation, ... ... ... ... 417 

Authorities, ... ... ... ... 418 

Sources and Remarks, ... ... ... 419 

INDEX, ... ... ... ... ... 451 


Thorgils and Thor. 

WHEN Christianity came to Iceland, Thorgils in Floi was 
one of the first to adopt the new faith. One night he 
dreamed that Thor came to him, looking very ill-pleased, 
and accused him of breaking faith with him. "You have 
treated me badly," said he, " chosen for me the worst that 
you had, and cast the silver that was mine into a dirty 
pool, and I shall pay you back for that." " God will help 
me," said Thorgils, "and happy am I that our partnership 
is broken off." When he woke, he found that his best 
boar was dead, so he had, it buried beside some tofts, and 
would allow no part of it to be used. 

Again did Thor appear in a dream to Thorgils, and 
said that he would think no more of taking off his nose 
than killing his boar. Thorgils answered that God would 
rule in that. Thor threatened to destroy his property ; 
Thorgils said he did not care. The next night an old ox 
belonging to him died, and on the following night Thor 
gils himself watched his cattle. When he came home in 
the morning he was all black and blue, and folks are 
convinced that he and Thor must have met on that 
occasion. After that his losses ceased. 

Thorgils was invited to Greenland by Eirik the Red, 
whose acquaintance he had made at the court of Earl 
Hakon in Norway. Thorgils had made all preparations 

io The Old Gods. 

to set out, and was waiting for a fair wind, when he 
dreamed that a big red-bearded man, very grim of look, 
came to him and said, " You have planned a voyage that 
will be very troublesome for yourself, and ill success will 
be yours unless you return to your faith in me ; in that 
case I shall still take care of you/ Thorgils answered 
that he would never accept his protection, and bade him 
depart at once, saying, " My voyage will succeed as God 
Almighty wills it." 

Then he thought that Thor led him out on some cliffs, 
where the sea broke over the rocks. "Among such 
billows shall you be, said Thor, * and never get out of 
them, unless you turn to me." " Nay," said Thorgils ; 
" depart from me, hateful fiend ! He who redeemed all 
men with His blood will help me." Then he awoke, and 
told his dream to his wife. " I would stay behind," said 
she, " if I had dreamed the like of that, and I shall not 
tell this dream to the others." 

Now came a fair wind, and they sailed out of the firth, 
but after they had lost sight of land the wind fell com 
pletely, and they tossed about for a long time, till both 
food and drink ran short. Thorgils dreamed that the 
same man came to him, and said, " Have things not gone 
as I told you they would ? " and much more he said, but 
Thorgils drove him away with hard words. It drew on 
to Autumn now, and some of the men said that they 
ought to call on Thor, but Thorgils forbade this, and said 
they would get themselves into trouble, if any man sacri 
ficed on board his ship. On this account no one ventured 
to call upon Thor. Again Thorgils dreamed that the 
same man came to him and said ; " Again have you 
shown how faithless you were to me, when men wished to 
call upon me; yet I have looked after your men, who are 

Kincr Olaf and Thor. i i 

now in extremities unless I help them, and you will now 
reach harbour in seven nights, if you earnestly return to 
me." * Though I never reach land," said Thorgils, u I 
will show no favour to you." Thor answered, " Though 
you never do me any good, yet give me my own property." 
Thorgils thought ever what this might be, and remem 
bered that it was an ox, which he had given to Thor 
when it was a calf. Then he awoke, and purposed to 
throw it overboard. On learning this, Thorgcrd offered 
to buy it, as she was short of provisions, but Thorgils re 
fused to sell it and had it thrown overboard, saying that 
it was no wonder though things went ill, when Thor s 
property was on board. 

They reached Greenland not long after this, but the 
expedition was a failure. 

King Olaf and Thor. 

NE time as King Olaf Tryggvason was sailing along 
the coast in his ship, the Serpent, he was hailed from the 
rocky shore by a man of middle stature and red-bearded. 
King Olaf put in close to land, and took him on board, 
where he attracted general attention. The crew made 
jest of him and he of them, and hurled abuse at each 
other till King Olaf noticed it, and had the man brought 
before him. To the King s many questions the stranger 
had always a ready answer, till finally the King asked, 
" What kind of folk used to live on shore here?" "Giants 
and big folk lived here for many a day," said the man, 
"until sickness came among their number, and only two 
big women were left alive, who did great mischief to men 

12 The Old Gods. 

when they began to settle here. Then the men took 
counsel, and called on this red beard of mine, and that 
stood them in good stead, for I killed the women with 
my hammer ; " and as he said this he flew forward over 
the bows and into the sea. Then said King Olaf, " Bold 
was the Devil when he came so near us, but he went off 
quickly too." 

Raud and Thor. 

RoGNVALD, son of Lodinn in /Ervik, burned the hall of 
his step-father Thorolf, who had treated him ill, and all 
that were in it perished. Rognvald had taken his own 
son Gunnar out of the place before he set fire to it, but 
the boy, on seeing the smoke, said, " far rather would I 
be there with my foster-father than here with you, for 
you will not deal well with me when you have dealt so 
ill with him." To prevent the child telling who had com 
mitted the deed, Rognvald tied him in a boat and set 
him adrift. The boat drove with wind and tide north 
ward along the shore, and finally stranded on an island, 
over which ruled a man greatly given to sacrificing to the 
gods ; he had there a great temple dedicated to Thor. 
This man found the child, who would not answer a single 
word to all his questions, and as nothing could be dis 
covered about him, his finder took him as his own son, 
calling him Raud (Red) from the colour of his dress. He 
grew up to be a big and handsome man, and so well 
beloved by his new foster-father that at his death he left 
him all his possessions. Raud kept up the old sacrifices, 
and it is said that by means of these he put so much 

Raud and Thor. 13 

might into the image of Thor that was in the temple that 
the fiend spoke to him out of the idol, and moved it so 
that it seemed to walk about outside with him during the 
day, and Raud often led Thor about the island. 

At length King Olaf Tryggvason came that way in his 
Christianizing of Norway. That morning Raud went to 
the temple, as was his custom, but Thor was very gloomy 
and gave him no answer when he spoke to him. Raud 
thought this very strange, and tried in many ways to get 
speech of him, and asked what was the reason of his 
silence. At last Thor answered with a deep sigh, and 
said that he was not acting so without cause. " I am 
greatly distressed at the coming of those men who arc 
making their way to the island." Raud asked who they 
were, and Thor said it was Olaf Tryggvason and his men. 
" Blow through the bristles of your beard against them," 
said Raud, " and let us oppose them doughtily." Thor 
said it would be of little use, but they went out, and he 
blew hard through his beard. With that so hard a storm 
came against the King, that he could not bear up against 
it, and returned to the harbour he had set out from. This 
took place several times, but it only made the King more 
determined to reach the island, and in the end, with God s 
might, he was more powerful than the fiend that stood 
against him. Again Raud came to the temple and found 
Thor frowning and ill-pleased ; the King, he said, had 
landed on the island. " Then we shall stand against 
them with all our might," said Raud, "and not give in all 
at once." Thor said that would do no good. 

The King then summoned Raud to come to his pres 
ence, but he refused ; " I will not go to meet him, for I 
like not his coming, and still less does my mighty god 
Thor like it" Olaf however came to him, and calling to- 

i 4 The Old Gods. 

Aether all that were on the island preached the Christian 
faith to them. Raud still refused to give up the god who 
had helped him in all his troubles. The King threatened 
him unless he obeyed him, whereupon Raud answered 
that they would make trial of their gods. " I shall make 
a great fire, and you and Thor shall stand one on each 
side of it, and take each other by the hands. The one 
who pulls the other through the fire shall be victor, and I 
expect that Thor will be stronger than you." "Who 
ever heard the like?" said the King ; "no man ever dared 
before to set up devils to contend with me where I 
preached the holy faith. Yet I shall try this, on condi 
tion that no one shall help either Thor or myself." A 
great fire was then made, and Thor went up to it, but 
very unwillingly. Then they took each other s hands and 
struggled hard, till Thor lost his footing and fell forward 
into the fire, where in a little while he was consumed to 
ashes. At this Raud gave up all his faith in him, and 
some time afterwards became a Christian. 

Thor and Urcbostone-field. 

AT the upper end of the three-mile-long Totak Water, 
which goes right up under the high Houkli-Fell in Vinje 
Parish, in Upper Thelernark, is a very remarkable but 
terrible stone-field which, as seen from the lake, resembles 
a village, with house-gables and towers. Its name is 
Urebostone-field, after the lonely farm of Urcbo, which 
lies opposite. Of its origin, the peasants tell the follow 
ing talc: "On the level ground, now covered by the stones, 
there lay by the side of Songa-elv two farms, some say 

Thor and Urebostone-fielcl. 15 

even a church, from winch the largest stone, which sticks 
up in the middle of the stone-field like a church roof, is 
called to this day 4 The Kirk Stone. On these two farms 
two weddings were once going on, where, in old Norse 
fashion, the ale-horn passed quickly round the company. 
Just then it occurred to the god Thor to drive down and 
visit his old friends, the peasants of Thclcmark. He went 
first to one of the farms, was invited in, and entertained. 
The bridegroom took the ale-barrel itself, drank to Thor 
and handed it to him. The god was pleased both with 
the drink and with the liberal way of giving it, and so 
went off very well pleased to the other farm to taste the 
wedding-ale there too. Here he was entertained with the 
same, but they showed so much want of consideration as 
to give him the drink in a common bowl. Thor, perhaps 
spoiled at the first farm, and perhaps also hot in the head 
with the deep draughts he had taken from the barrel, was 
greatly incensed, threw the bowl on the floor, and went 
his way swinging his hammer. He took the bridal-pair 
who had given him the barrel to drink from, and their 
guests, along with himself up to a mound where there 
still lie some big stones called * The Bride s Stones, to let 
them be witnesses of, and free them from, the destruction 
which he had determined to bring on those who had in 
sulted him by their meanness. Then he went up on 
Nutcn, and struck the mountain so hard with his * heavy 
hammer/ that it rattled down and buried under it the 
other pair, farm and all. But in his anger Thor did not 
reckon his strength and balance properly, so that with 
the blow the heavy hammer slipped out of his hands, 
and flew down with the pieces of rock, among which it 
got lost. Thor had then to go down and look for it, and 
in his anger and irritation began to throw the rocks hither 

1 6 The Old Gods. 

and thither, and threw and pulled them about until he 
found his hammer. With this there was formed a regular 
road up through the stone field, which to this day is 
called Thor s-way. Being made in such a hurry, one 
may well believe that it is not particularly good, and it is 
a proof of what habit can do, that the little hill-ponies go 
with heavy loads along this path, which consists of huge 
steps of rock, and that in spring or autumn the cattle pass 
alon<T it on their way to and from the hill pastures." 

Thor s Hammer. 

IF a man has anything stolen from him he may find 
out the thief, if only he is possessed of " Thor s hammer. 
The material of this is bell-metal, thrice stolen, and hard 
ened in man s blood on Whitsunday, between the reading 
of the Epistle and the Gospel. A spike must also be 
made of the same material as the hammer ; and the man 
must then dab the point of this on the thick end of the 
hammer, saying at the same time, I drive into the eye 
of Vig-fathcr (Odin), I drive into the eye of Val-father, I 
drive into the eye of Asa-Thor." The thief then gets a 
pain in his eyes. If he does not restore the stolen goods, 
the process is repeated and he loses one of his eyes, and 
if it has to be employed a third time, he loses the other 
eye as well. 

Another method is for a man to steal bell-metal from 
a church between the Epistle and the Gospel, and make 
a hammer out of this. When he wishes to know who has 
stolen anything, he must take a piece of paper and draw 
on it either a man s eye at least, or better still, the whole 

Thor s Stone Weapons. 17 

head with both eyes, drawn with his own blood. He 
must then take a steel prick and put the end of it into 
one of the eyes, and then strike the other end with Thor s 
hammer, saying at the same time, " I cause him pain in 
the eye (or knock the eye out of him ), that stole from 
me." The thief then loses one of his eyes, or both, if he 
does not disclose himself before it comes to that. 

Thor s Stone Weapons. 

TilORWlGGAR (Thor s wedges) is the name given to the 
smooth wedge-shaped stones which are sometimes found 
in the earth, and are believed to have been thrown by 
Thor at some troll or other. In many places, where the 
meadows come close up to high hills, stories were often 
told about the terror of the trolls, when there was thun 
der, and how they then in various shapes, but especially 
that of large balls or clews, came rolling down from the 
hills seeking protection among the mowers, who, well 
knowing the danger, always kept them back with their 
scythes, at which (they say) it often happened that the 
lightning struck and shivered the scythes, and upon this 
the trolls with pitiful wailings returned to the hill. 

Lifting-stones (Lyfte-stenar) arc found in many places, 
and are a memorial of Thor. Although not always par 
ticularly large, they contain such a weight, that scarcely 
any man now-a-days is strong enough to lift them. Thor 
is said to have used these as balls to play with. Of the 
lifting-stone at Linncryd in Kongahiirad, Smaaland, there 
is a story that Thor, as he once wandered past here with his 
servant, met a giant, whom he asked where he was going. 

1 8 The Old Gods. 

"To Valhall," the giant, 4 to fight with Thor because 
he has burned up my cattle-house with his lightning." 
" It is no use measuring your strength with him," said 
Thor. " I hardly believe you are man enough to lift this 
little stone up on this big one here." The giant grew 
angry and seized the stone with all his might, but was 
unable to lift it off the ground, Thor had so transformed 
it. Then Thor s man tried, and lifted the stone as lightly 
as his glove. The giant struck at Thor all he could, but 
the god with his hammer smote him dead at once, and he 
is said to have been buried in the large cairn near the 

Odin and King Olaf. 

IT is said that the same evening that King Olaf Trygg- 
vason came to spend Easter at Ogvaldsness, there came 
also a very old man, clever of speech, one-eyed and weak- 
sighted, and wearing his hood down over his face. He 
got into talk with the King, who found great pleasure in 
his conversation, for he could tell tidings from all lands, 
old as well as new. The King asked him many questions, 
and he was able to answer them all. They sat together 
far into the evening, and at last the King asked who the 
Ogvald was that the farm and ness were named after. 
4i Ogvald," said the stranger, " was a king and a great 
warrior ; he mainly worshipped a cow, which he took 
with him wherever he went by land or sea, thinking it 
wholesome always to drink its milk ; from that comes the 
proverb that many men use, carl and cow shall go to 
gether/ He fought with a king named Dixin, and fell in 

The Keel of the "Long Serpent." 19 

the battle. He was then laid in a mound on the ness not 
far from the farm, and in another mound near it was laid 
the cow, and the stones set up that still stand there." 

During the night the stranger disappeared, and King 
O .af was persuaded that it was the fiend who had come 
in the likeness of Odin, intending by his talk to keep 
them awake so long that they might sleep past the time 
for divine service. 

The Keel of the "Long Serpent." 

THE winter after King Olaf returned from Haloga-land 
he had a ship built under Lad-hamrcn, far larger than 
any other ship that had ever been built in Norway. Many 
men were employed at it, some to fell trees for it, some to 
dress them, some to make nails, some to bring timber and 
other things required. Everything intended for it was 
carefully selected, but they could not get a tree suitable 
for the keel, considering the length of the ship, and for 
this they searched far and wide. One morning the two 
builders, Thorgcir and Thorbcrg, were early on foot before 
all the others, and had gone down to the place where the 
ship was to be built, still thinking over where they might 
get a tree for the keel. There they saw coming toward 
them a man of great stature, swarthy complexion, frown 
ing look, one-eyed and unprepossessing, who addressed 
them and asked if the ship-building was going on much. 
They said " No.* He asked the reason of this. They 
answered that they could not get a tree large enough and 
good enough to form the keel. " I have heard so," said 
the stranger ; " and yet the King has had search made 

2O The Old Gods. 

far and wide. Now you may come and look at a little 
tree-stump that I have brought hither, and see whether it 
will do for the keel or not." They asked his name, and 
he said it was Form , a peasant out of the Thra^nda-log, 
and an old acquaintance and friend of the King s. They 
went down to the sea with him, and saw there a little 
boat in the water, along with a huge tree that the man 
had apparently towed behind him. They rolled the tree 
up on the beach, a work in which they found the stranger 
a very handy man ; then they looked at it closely, and 
were well pleased with it. They asked what he would 
take for it, but he said he would name no price to the 
King ; they might have it if they wished, and he would 
get a suitable return for it. With that he got into his 
boat and rowed out into the fjord, while they went home 
again to the town. When the King came down later on, 
they told him they had got a keel-tree, and how it had 
come to them. The King said he had no recollection of 
this Form , and bade them show him the tree, which they 
did. He looked at it, and stepped on to it at one spot, 
saying, " Hew it asunder here." This was done, and out 
of it there darted a venomous serpent. " Now I think I 
know who this Forni was," said the King; "it was the 
evil Odin, and we may see that he meant this serpent to 
bore out through the ship when we were out at sea, and 
so sink us all to the bottom." Then he had the bishop 
brought, and made him consecrate the tree, after which 
they laid it down for the keel and built the ship. Said 
the King, " The ship shall take its name from this ser 
pent, and shall be called The Serpent^ and on account 
of its size and length I think it may well be named The 
Long Serpent. " 

The Smith and Odin. 21 

The Smith and Odin. 

IT happened after Yule in the Year of Peace (1208), that 
one evening a man came riding up to the house of a 
smith who lived at Nesjar, and asked him to lodge him 
there that night and shoe his horse for him. The smith 
was willing, and long before daybreak they rose and set 
to work. "Where were you last night?" asked the 
smith. "In Medaldal," said the stranger; now that is 
in the north of Thelemark. " And where were you the 
night before?" 4< In Jardal," said the stranger, which is 
in the extreme north of Rygjar-fylki. " You must be a 
tremendous liar," said the smith, " for that cannot possibly 
be." Then he set to work on the shoes, but could not 
make them to please himself. " Never did it go this way 
with my work before," said he. " Just you work as the 
thing goes of itself," said the stranger, and in the end he 
turned out bigger horse-shoes than he had ever seen, but 
when they applied them, they were found to fit the horse, 
which they then shod. " You are an unlearned and wit 
less man," said the stranger ; " why do. you ask no ques 
tions ? " " Who are you ? " said the smith ; " or where 
have you come from, or where are you going ? " He 
answered, " I have come from the north of the country, 
and have long been dwelling here in Norway, and now I 
mean to go cast into Sweden. I have long been on ship 
board, and must now accustom myself to horseback for a 
time." " Where are you going this evening ? " said the 
smith. " East to Sparmork," said he. " That cannot be 
true," said the smith, "for that can hardly be ridden in 
seven days." As the stranger mounted his horse, the 
smith again asked, " Who are you ? " He answered, 
" Have you ever heard of Odin ? " "I have heard his 

22 The Old Gods. 

name," said the man. " Then you may see him here now," 
said the stranger, "and if you do not believe what I have 
told you, look how 1 leap my horse over the fence." With 
that he drove the spurs into his horse, and ran it at the 
fence of the courtyard, which it sprang right over and 
never touched, although it was seven ells high. The 
smith never saw him again, but four nights later the 
battle at Kungslena between the Kings Sorkvir and Eirik 
took place. The smith himself told this story to Earl 
Philip that same winter in Tunsbcrg, and one who then 
heard it told it to us. The smith s name was Thord 
Vettir, and his homestead is called * i Pislum." 

Odin the Hunter. 

IN old days there lived in Hjorring a king, who ruled 
over Vendsyssel, and was widely known for his wild 
delight in the chase and his contempt for Christianity. 
One Sunday, while the people were at church, and King 
Jon was hunting in its neighbourhood, his dogs started 
and followed a hare, which, to conceal itself, ran into the 
church, and up before the altar. Both the dogs followed 
at its heels, and of course greatly disturbed divine service, 
as the priest was just in the middle of his sermon, but 
the confusion was made still worse, when King Jon 
came riding into the church to get hold of his prey, which 
the hounds had already secured. The priest grew angry 
at this, and said that he thought it highly unbecoming 
thus to disturb the service, but the King did not trouble 
himself for that. " If I may only keep my hunting both 
here and after my death," said he, "other folk may well 

Odin the Hunter. 23 

keep both divine service and heaven for me." Having 
by this time got hold of the hare, he turned his horse in 
front of the altar and trotted out of the church. He died 
some time after this, but can find rest nowhere, and on 
clear summer evenings he rides in the air followed by his 
hounds. The sound of this can often be heard, and it is 
bad to meet him when one is alone. 

When three doors with lodes stand open in a line with 
each other, Jon the hunter and his dogs have power to 
enter, if they arc in the neighbourhood. In this way he 
entered a large farm on Hjorte-nses, and asked what they 
had to spare for Jon the hunter that day. The farmer 
went out and brought a big ferocious bull, every bit of 
which they ate up on the floor of the room, for they were 
thoroughly hungry. When this was done, the hunter told 
the farmer that in future he should have great luck with 
his cattle, and so it turned out : his cows often had two 
calves thereafter. 

A woman in Svendstrup was up one morning before 
daybreak to brew the Christmas ale, and had let the two 
doors of the brew-house stand open. .These were right 
opposite each other, and by and bye three hounds came 
running in and began to lap the ale out of a vessel. She 
guessed they were Un*s hounds, and was afraid, but 
thought it best to make friends with them, so she went 
up and patted them, saying, " Poor things." They then 
ran away again, but it was not for nothing that she had 
been so friendly with them, for when she went outside 
after daybreak she found a gold horse-shoe lying outside 
one of the doors. 

24 The Old Gods. 

Odin Pursues the Elf-Women. 

WojENS the Hunter is said to have been a king at one 
time. I am not sure whether it was a berg-woman or an 
elf-woman that he once came across, and received from 
her a letter that he several times tried to bury, but could 
discover no means to get rid of it. Then he wished that 
from that time forth he might pursue the under-ground 
folk so long as the world should last, and so he has done 
ever since. 

A man beside Lyng-aa had gone out early one morn 
ing to shift his horses ; when he had done this and was 
about to return home, to his alarm he heard a loud rush 
ing sound in the air. This drew nearer and nearer, and 
all at once a man on horseback stopped in front of him. 
" Hold my hounds," he shouted, and the man obeyed. 
There were three of them, fastened together with a silken 
leash, and the peasant examined them closely until the 
hunter returned after a few minutes absence, having two 
elf-women, tied together by their long hair, hanging over 
his horse s back. " Give me my hounds," said he, " and 
hold out your hand here, till I give you some drink- 
money." The man did so, and the hunter stuck the 
points of his three fingers into the peasant s hand, where 
they left large burned spots behind them. Then he rode 
off with the same rushing noise, accompanied by the 
screams of the elf-women and the barking of the dogs. 

A man was once walking from Ersted to Aarestrup, 
when he saw two elf-women come running towards him 
as fast as they could. They sat down there on the south 
side of the village, saying to each other, " He won t catch 
us yet, for he s not clean." The man continued on his 
way, until he was met by one on horseback, who was no 

Odin Pursues the Elf- Women. 25 

other than Jons the hunter. "Did no one meet you?" 
he asked of the man. " Yes," said he, " there came two 
little things running as hard as they could." " What did 
they say to each other?" asked the horseman. "They 
said, he won t catch us yet, for he s not clean/ He 
took water in his hand and washed himself, and then said 
to the man, " If you will lie down now and put your 
fingers in your cars, I shall pay you well for it when I 
come back again in a little while." The man did so, but 
began to think the time long, and wanted to take his 
fingers out of his ears. First he took one finger out, and 
heard some one fire a shot, though at a considerable dis 
tance ; he thought it might be as far as Hobro. At this 
he lay down again for a little, but once more he grew 
tired of lying like this, and so raised himself from the 
ground and took the other finger from his car. Again he 
heard a shot, but this time as far away as the neighbour 
hood of Horscns. At this he made haste to put his fingers 
into his cars again, and lay down in his old place. Soon 
after that the horseman rode up with the two women, 
tied together by the hair and hung over the horse s back, 
one on each side, and said to the man, " You shall have 
good payment, but it should have been better You have 
taken your fingers out of your cars, and that did me so 
much damage that I had to ride from Hobro to Horscns 
to catch the last of them. My horse has lost a shoe on the 
road there, which you can go and pick up, and that will 
be payment enough for you." When the man reached 
the spot and found it, it proved to be of gold. 

26 The Old Gods. 

Odin in Sweden. 

IN Gothland, and especially in Smaaland, there still live 
in the mouths of the people many tales and traditions of 
the Old Odin. At Siituna in West Gothland (which is 
supposed to have been a town, as traces of paved streets 
and a market-place are found there), Odin s horses are 
said to have pastured on the beautiful meadows now 
called Ons-angar (Odin s meadows). In Bleking a sheaf 
used to be left on the field for Odin s horses. Of the 
noise which is sometimes heard in the air by night, and 
resembles that of horsemen riding past, the people say, 
11 Odin rides there." At the farm of Kraaktorp in Asa 
parish in Smaaland are the remains of a wall, where 
Odin s stable and manger are said to have stood. In this 
parish, more than a hundred years ago, there was exca 
vated a grave mound, where Odin was said to be buried, 
and which, on that account, after the introduction of 
Christianity, was called Hell s-mound. There was then 
found a vault, on opening which a strange fire, like a flash 
of lightning, burst out, and a stone coffin and lamp were 
dug up there. Of a priest named Per Dagson, who lived 
at Trojenborg or Hons-hytte Skans, the story goes that 
he ploughed up a part of the rampart, by which a num 
ber of human bones were brought to light. When the 
rye sown there shot up, Odin came riding from the hills 
every night, so huge that he towered above all the farm- 
buildings, spear in hand, and kept watch outside the 
front entrance, preventing any one from going out or in 
the whole night. This happened every night until the 
rye was cut. The priest took indeed two crops off the 
field, but allowed it to fall back again, on account of the 
great trouble that Odin caused him. There is also a 

Odin s Cave and Garden. 27 

general tradition of a gold ship, which is said to be sunk 
in Rune-mad beside Nyckel-berg. On this ship Odin is 
said to have taken the slain from Braa-valla to Valhall. 
Kcttils-aas in Als-heda is said to take its name from a 
man named Kettil Runske (Rune-master), who stole 
Odin s runic staves, and by means of these bound Odin s 
hounds and bull, and finally even the mermaid herself, 
who tried to come to Odin s aid. 

Odin s Cave and Garden. 

WHEN Christianity came to the North, Odin fled over to 
the island of Moen in Denmark, and hid himself in the 
Klint, where his place of abode is still pointed out. At 
that time the priests called him the Giant from Upsala, 
but he is now popularly known as Jon Upsal ; from this 
name also is no doubt derived the exclamation one hears 
so often on Moen, " But Giant though ! " whereas in other 
places they say, " But Jesus though !" A man who now 
lives in Copenhagen is said to have seen Jon throwing 
out his sweepings one time as he was sailing past the 
Klint, at anyrate there was a thick cloud of dust coming 
out of his door. Various persons still alive are said to 
have landed in Jon Upsal s garden when they had lost 
their way in the forest on the Klint ; it is large and 
beautiful beyond all description, and stands in full flower 
in the midst of winter, but if any one afterwards tries to 
search for the garden again, of course it is never found. 

28 The Old Gods. 


WHEN King Olaf Tryggvason heard that the men of 
Thrandhcim still worshipped an image of Frey, he went 
thither and seized it. Then at a meeting of the people 
he hacked it to pieces before their eyes, and gave them 
the following account of its origin : " This Frey that you 
have worshipped was no living man, but only a wooden 
one, made with men s hands, and now lies here hewn into 
small pieces and food for fire. You must also know that 
the man named Frey was a great King in Sweden, and 
when he was dead a very great mound was made for him 
and his body laid in it. After he was set there, it was 
spoken about that some men should go into the mound 
beside him to keep him company, for his death was 
g /catly mourned by all, but though all had loved him 
while he lived, no one would stay with him now that he 
was dead. The Swedes then made a door in the mound, 
and three windows ; at one of these they poured in gold, 
at another silver, and copper at the third, and so still 
gave to Frey the tribute that they had formerly paid him 
for giving them peace and plenty. Yet they kept his 
death secret, and the people believed that he still lived, 
and this went on for three years, but even when they 
knew that he was dead they would not burn him as the 
custom was, for they thought that he still caused all kinds 
of good. They called him the god of the world, and 
worshipped him a long time. But, as I said before, no 
living man would stay in the mound beside Frey, so the 
Swedes made two wooden men, and set them in the 
mound beside him, thinking that it would be some 
amusement for him to play himself with them. After a 
long time it entered the minds of some Swedes to break 

Gunnar and Frey. 29 

into the mound, for by this time the doors and windows 
were closed up, and they knew that there was much 
treasure there. When they had torn it open, several were 
let down by ropes to the floor, and saw there much gold 
and many precious things, but when they thought of 
taking the treasure away, they became so much afraid 
that they did not dare to take anything but the two 
wooden men, who had been given to Frey to entertain 
him. With these they were drawn up to their comrades, 
and the mound was closed again, but the Swedes took 
the wooden men, and worshipped one themselves, the 
other they sent here to Thrandheim, and it has been wor 
shipped here, and both of them have been called by the 
name of Frev." 

Gunnar and Frey. 

A NORSEMAN named Gunnar Helming, being suspected 
of having killed one of King Olaf Tryggvason s men, 
thought it best to make his escape to Sweden. At that 
time Frey was the god most worshipped by the Swedes, 
and such might was given by the fiend to the image of 
Frey that it talked to the worshippers. These believed 
that Frey was to some extent alive, and in this belief 
they had given him a beautiful young woman to wife, 
who also had main charge of the sanctuary and all that 
belonged to the temple. Gunnar Helming finally arrived 
there, and asked Frey s wife to help him and let him stay 
there, giving out that he was a frecdman from abroad. 
" You cannot be a lucky man everywhere," said she, " for 
Frey looks on you with no friendly eyes. Stay here and 

The Old Gods. 

rest yourself for three nights, and let us see then how Frey 
likes you." " Far better would I like," said Gunnar, " to 
have your help and favour than Frcy s." Gunnar was a 
most entertaining man, and after he had been there three 
nights he asked Frey s wife whether he was to stay there 
or not. " I hardly know," said she, "you are a poor man, 
and yet it may be that you are of good kin, and in that 
case I should like the more to give you some assistance, 
but Frey does not care for you, and I am afraid that he 
will be angry. Stay here half a month and see what 
happens." * Things are as I would wish them to be," 
said Gunnar, " Frey hates me and you help me, and I 
have no desire to be with him." 

The longer Gunnar stayed there, the better he was liked 
by all. Another time he spoke to Frey s wife, and asked 
what he was to do. She answered, " Folks here like you 
well, and I think it advisable for you to stay here 
this winter, and go with myself and Frey, when he is 
entertained in order that he may give them good seasons: 
but he is not pleased with you." The time came when 
they went from home, and Frey with his wife sat in a cart 
while their attendants went before them. As they went 
along a mountain road a severe storm came upon them, 
and the way became very heavy. In the end all the 
others left them, so that only Gunnar remained with the 
two in the cart. He began to get exhausted as he walked 
and led the horse, and after a time gave up the attempt, 
and took his seat in the cart. In a little the woman said 
to him, " Do your best yet, or Frey will rise against you." 
He walked again for a little, but soon became tired, and 
said, " I shall risk meeting Frey if he tries to attack me." 
At this Frey rose out of the cart, and began to wrestle 
with him. Gunnar soon saw that he had not strength 

Gunnar and Frey. 31 

enough against him, and vowed that if he overcame this 
fiend, and it were granted him to return to Norway, he 
would turn again to the true faith, and make peace with 
Kincr Olaf if he would receive him. Immcdiatclv on his 

^ * 

thinking this, Frey began to stumble, and then fell, where 
upon the fiend who had lain hid in the image leapt out of 
it, and left the empty shell behind. Gunnar broke this 
in pieces, and gave the woman her choice, cither that he 
should leave her there and look after himself, or that when 
they came to houses she should say that he was Frey. 
She chose the latter course, and Gunnar put on the idol s 
dress. The weather then began to clear, and they arrived 
at last at the feast to which they were invited, and there 
they found many of those who should have accompanied 
them. All thought it a great thing that Frey should thus 
have shown his power in coming there with his wife in 
such a storm, when all the others had run away from 
them, and no less that he now went about and ate and 
drank like other men. During the winter they went round 
and were entertained, but Frey spoke little to any but his 
wife, and would not allow any living thing to bs killed to 
him as before, and would accept no offering but gold or 
silver, good clothes or other valuables. As time went on, 
it was noticed that Frcy s wife was evidently with child, 
and all thought more than ever of their god Frey. The 
weather too was mild, and everything so flourishing that 
no one could remember the like. The news travelled 
far of how mighty the god of the Swedes was, and at last 
came to the ears of King Olaf, who suspected what lay 
under it. One day in Spring he called Sigurd the brother 
of Gunnar, and told him his suspicions. " I shall send 
you east there after him, for it is a piteous thing for a 
Christian man s soul to be so miserably lost/ Sigurd 

The Old Gods. 

went to Sweden, and found that Frey was indeed his 
brother Gunnar, who stole away with him, taking also his 
wife and all the money he could. The Swedes, on finding 
out what had happened, pursued them, but soon lost their 
track and returned home. King Olaf made peace with 
Gunnar, and had his wife baptised, and both of them kept 
the true faith ever after. 

Thorgerd Hordabriid. 

WHEN Sigmund Brestison had been for some time in 
Norway with Earl Hakon, he asked the Earl to aid him 
to return to the Fa-roes and avenge his father. The Earl 
gave him two ships and men to accompany him, and in 
the spring he was ready to set out. When he was at last 
ready to go, Earl Hakon went out with him, saying, 
" One should lead forth that man whom he wishes to see 
back again." When they had gone outside, Hakon asked 
him in whom he put his trust. " I trust to my own might 
and strength," said Sigmund. "That must not be so," 
said the Earl, " you must look for help to that quarter in 
which I put all my trust, and that is in Thorgerd Horda 
briid. We shall go and visit her just now, and seek 
success for you from there." Sigmund bade him do as 
he thought fit, and they went to the wood by a cart-road, 
and then along a path in the wood itself. They finally 
came to a clearing, in which stood a house with a wooden 
fence round it. It was a. beautiful building, the carved 
work on it being ornamented with gold and silver. Hakon 
and Sigmund with a few others went into this house, 
where there were many gods ; it had also many glass 

Thorgerd Horclabrud. 33 

windows so that there was no shadow in it. At the inner 
end was a woman magnificently dressed. The Earl threw 
himself down before her feet, and lay there a long time. 
Then he rose up and told Sigmund that they should make 
her some offering, laying the money on the seat in front 
of her, " and we shall have this token," said he, "whether 
she will accept it or not, that I have wished her to let go the 
ring that she has on her hand. From that ring you will 
obtain good luck." The Earl then laid hold of the ring, 
and it seemed to Sigmund as if she closed her hand, so 
that he could not get it off. The Earl lay down again 
before her, and Sigmund noticed that he was in tears. 
Again he stood up, and laid hold of the ring, and this 
time it was loose. He gave Sigmund the ring, charging 
him not to give it away, which he promised not to do. 
With this they parted and Sigmund went to his ship. 

In the midst of the battle with the Vikings of Jomsborg 
at Hj6runga-v<ig (Lidvaag in Sondmore), Earl Hakon left 
his men and went up on the island of Primsigd. The 
island was thickly wooded, and Hakon went to a clearing 
in the forest, where he lay down, looking to the north, 
and prayed in the way he thought best, calling upon her 
in whom he put all his trust, Thorgerd Hordabrud. When 
she remained deaf to his words, he guessed that she must be 
angry with him, and prayed her to accept of him various 
things in sacrifice, but all of these she refused. Then 
he offered her a human sacrifice, and, thinking that he 
would be still worse off, if he could get no certainty of his 
prospects, he began to increase his offers to her, until 
finally he gave her her choice of any man she pleased for 
sacrifice, except himself and his son Eirik, and Svein. At 
long length Thorgerd accepted the sacrifice from him, 

34 The Old Gods. 

and chose a son of the earl s, named Erling, who was then 
seven years old and very promising. When the Earl 
thought his prayers and vow were heard, he grew more 
hopeful, and taking the boy he gave him into the hands 
of his thrall Skofti, who put him to death in the way that 
Hakon directed him. 

After this the Earl went to his ships, and urged on his 
host anew. " I know for certain that victory will be 
granted us," said he, "and go ye forward better, for I 
have called upon Thorgerd Hordabrud and her sister, and 
they will not fail us now, any more than in time past." 

Now there had been a pause in the battle while Hakon 
had gone to sacrifice, and both sides had prepared for the 
struggle as they thought best. The Earl went on board, 
and they laid the ships at each other a second time ; 
Hakon was now over against Sigvaldi, and went forward 
most doughtily, trusting to Thorgerd and Irpa. Then it 
is said the weather began to thicken, and clouds rose 
rapidly from the north ; this was about three o clock in 
the afternoon, and the clouds drove so fast that soon the 
whole sky was overcast, and on that followed a snow 
storm, accompanied, as it seemed to them, by lightning 
and thunder. All the Joms-vikings had to fight facing 
the snow-shower, which was so severe, as well as the storm 
that went with it, that men could scarcely do more than 
stand. Many had thrown off part of their clothing during 
the day while they were hot, and now the air began to 
grow cold, yet they fought irreproachably. It is said that 
Havard the Hewer, Bui s companion, was the first man 
who now saw Thorgerd Hordabrud in Hakon s host, and 
many others after him ; and they thought they saw too, 
when the snow grew a little less heavy, that an arrow 
flew from every one of the witch s fingers, and every one 

Freyja and the Kings. 35 

of them was a man s death. Sigvaldi and his fellows saw 
this now, and he said, as Bui and his men fought fiercely 
when the storm came on, " It seems to me that we have 
now to fight not merely with men, but rather with the 
worst of trolls, and it may well seem worse and more 
dangerous to go against these, and yet our only course is 
to hold out against them as best we may." 

As for Earl Hakon, when he saw that the snow grew 
less heavy, he called again upon Thorgerd and her sister 
Irpa, and with that the storm began anew, far greater 
and more vehement than before, if that were possible. In 
the early part of this second shower, Havard saw that 
there were now two women on Hakon s ship, both of 
whom were acting in the same way as he had seen before. 
Then said Sigvaldi, "Now I shall flee, and let all my men 
do the same, for now we have to fight with trolls and not 
with men, and it is so much worse now that there are two 
trolls, where there was only one before. We shall no 
longer oppose them, and we have this comfort, l.hat we 
flee not for men, although we make our retreat, and we 
never vowed to fight with trolls here in Norway." With 
this Sigvaldi turned away his ship, and called to Vagn 
and Bui to flee as fast as they could. 

Freyja and the Kings. 

To the East of the River Vana in Asia, lay the land 
called Asia-land or Asia-heim. The people who inhabited 
it were called /Esir, and their chief city Asgard, a great 
place of sacrifice. Odin was King over it, and appointed 

36 The Old Gods. 

Njord and Frey as priests. Njord s daughter was called 
Freyja ; she followed Odin and was his mistress. There 
were four men in Asia, named Alfrigg, Dvalin, Berling, 
and Grer, who lived but a short way from the King s hall, 
and were so dexterous that they were masters in all 
handicraft. Men of this kind were called dwarfs ; they 
lived in a stone, and mixed with mankind more than now. 
Odin loved Freyja greatly, and indeed she was the most 
beautiful of all women of that time. She had for herself 
a bower that was both fair and strong, so that it is said 
that if the door was shut and locked, no man could enter 
it without Freyja s consent. One day Freyja went to the 
stone, which then stood open, and the dwarfs were busy 
making a gold neck-ring, which they had almost finished. 
Freyja admired the ring, and the dwarfs admired her. 
She offered to buy it from them both for gold and silver 
and other valuables, but they said they had no need of 
money. Each one said he was willing to sell his part of 
the ring, and would have nothing else for it than that she 
should lie one night with each of them. In the end they 
made this bargain, and after the four nights had passed 
Freyja received the ring. 

Loki however told Odin of this, who ordered him to 
get the ring from Freyja. In order to do so he had to 
change himself into a fly, and creep in through a hole just 
large enough for a needle to enter. Freyja demanded it 
back from Odin, but he refused to restore it, unless she 
could bring it about that two kings, each having twenty 
kings under him, should fall out, and fight under such 
spells that those who fell should immediately rise up and 
fight as before, until some Christian man should be so 
bold, and have so much good fortune from his liege-lord 
as to venture to go into this battle and slay them. Then 

Freyja and the Kings. 37 

only would their troubles end. Freyja agreed and took 
the ring. 

After this she sent Gondul the valkyrie to a sea-king 
named Hedinn, and instigated him to carry off Hild, the 
daughter of Hogni, a king in Denmark. He also took 
Hugni s queen, and laid her before the keel of his dragon- 
ship as it was pushed into the sea, so that she died there. 
After meeting with Gondul again he saw how much ill he 
had done, and sailed away west over the sea. Hogni 
followed him and overtook him at the island of Hoy. 
There they began to fight the everlasting battle, and so 
strong were the spells laid upon them, that even those 
who were cleft down to the shoulders stood up again and 
fought as before, while Hild sat and looked on. This 
went on until Olaf Tryggvason became king over 
Norway, and some reckoned that 143 years had passed, 
before one of his followers freed them from their troubles. 

In the first year of King Olaf s reign it is said that he 
came to the island of Hoy, and lay there at anchor one 
evening. It was a constant thing at this island, that the 
sentinels disappeared every night, and no one knew what 
became of them. This night Ivar Ljomi had to keep 
watch, and after all the rest had fallen asleep, he took the 
sword which Ironshicld had formerly owned, and which 
his son Thorstcin had given him, and went up on the 
island in all his war-gear. There he saw a man coming 
towards him, tall of stature, and all covered with blood, 
and with a very gloomy look. Ivar asked his name ; he 
said he was Hedinn, son of Hjarrandi from Serkland, 
" and, to tell you the truth, I and Hogni, son of Halfdan, 
are to blame for the sentinels that have disappeared here, 
for we have been laid under so great spells and bondage, 
that we and our men fight on both by night and day, and 

38 The Old Gods. 

this has gone on for many generations, while Hild, 
Hogni s daughter, sits and looks on. Odin has laid ail 
this on us, and there is no release for us, unless some 
Christian man fight with us ; no one that he slays shall 
rise again, and so each one shall be freed from his 
troubles. Now I pray you to go to battle with us, for I 
know that you are a good Christian, and that the king 
you serve is of great good-fortune; my heart tells me too 
that we shall have some good from him and his men." 
Ivar consented to go with him, at which Hedinn became 
glad, and said, " You must beware not to encounter 
Hogni in front, and not to kill me before him, for no 
mortal man may meet him face to face, or kill him, if I 
am dead first, for he has in his eyes a helm of awe, and 
spares no living wight. The only way is that I go in 
front of him and fight with him, while you come behind 
and slay him, for you will have little trouble in slaying 
me though I live longest of us all." Then they went to 
battle, and Ivar saw that all this was true that Hedinn 
had told him. He went behind Hogni, and hewed at his 
head, and cleft it down to the shoulders. Then Hogni 
fell dead and never rose again. After that he killed all 
the men who were at the battle, and Hedinn last of all. 
By this time it was daybreak, and he returned to the 
ships, and told this to the king. During the day they 
went ashore to where the battle had been, and could see 
no trace of what had taken place, but in proof of it there 
was the blood on Ivar s sword, and sentinels never disap 
peared there after that. 

Loki. 39 


IN Thelemark they tell of an evil being, Lokje, who is 
sometimes identified with the Devil himself. Once he is 
said to have taken hold of a child by the back and set it 
down, saying, " So shall you sit until you are a year old." 
From this it comes that children have a hollow in each 
side of the hip, and cannot walk until the year is out. 


The Trolls in Heidar-skog. 

KING OLAF TRYGGVASON was told that trolls lay on 
Hcidar-skog, so that no one could traverse it. The king 
called his men together, and asked which of them would 
go and free the place. One of his vassals, Brynjulf of 
Thrandheim, a big and stately man, stood up and offered 
to go. He set out with 60 men, and on nearing the place 
they stayed all night with one named Thorkell, who 
showed them the way next morning, and said it was a 
great pity that the king should have no more profit of 
such men as they were. They rode on then till they 
came in sight of a great building, from which they saw 
three troll-women running ; two of them were young, 
while the third and biggest was all covered with hair like 
a grey bear, and all three had swords in their hands. 
Then they saw a tall man, if man he could be called, and 
two boys with him. He had in his hand a drawn sword, 
so bright that sparks seemed to fly from it. A battle 
immediately began, in which the big man and the shaggy 
ogress dealt terrible blows, and in the end Brynjulf fell 
with all his companions except four, who escaped into 
the wood and returned to tell the story to the king. 

Styrkar of Gimsar now spoke to his friend Thorstein 
Ox-leg, and asked if he would go with him to Heidar- 
skog. Thorstein said he was quite willing, and one 

The Trolls in Heidar-skog. 41 

morning early they set out on snow-shoes (skier) up the 
fell, nor did they stop until in the evening they came to 
a shieling, where they proposed to pass the night. Styrkar 
proceeded to light a fire, while Thorstein went in search 
of water, with the pitchers in one hand and a spear in the 
other. As he came near the water, he saw a girl with 
pitchers ; she was not very tall but fearfully stout. On see 
ing Thorstein she threw down the pitchers and ran off; he 
also threw down his, and ran after her. Both ran their 
hardest, and kept the same distance between them, until 
they came in sight of a house, very big and strongly built. 
Into this the girl ran, slamming the door behind her, 
whereupon Thorstein threw his spear after her, with such 
force that it went through the door. Then he entered 
the house and found his spear lying on the floor, but no 
traces of his girl. He went still further in, till he came 
to a bed-closet where a light was burning, and there he 
saw a woman lying in the bed, if woman she could be 
called. She was both tall and stout, with strong features 
and a colour both black and blue, in every way like a 
troll. She lay in a silken shirt, which looked as if it had 
been washed in human blood. The witch was sound 
asleep, and snored terribly loud. Above her hung a 
shield and a sword. Thorstein stood up on the bed-stock, 
took down the sword and drew it. Then he lifted the 
clothes off the hag, and saw that she was all covered with 
hair, except a single bare spot under her left arm. Judg 
ing that iron would bite on her either there or nowhere, 
he set the sword s point on that spot, and leaned upon 
the hilt It went right through her, so that the point of 
it pierced the bed. The carline awoke then with no 
pleasant dream, felt round about her with her hands, and 
sprang up. In a moment Thorstein had put out the 


42 Trolls and Giants. 

light, and leapt over her into the bed, while she sprang 
out on the floor, thinking that her assailant would have 
made for the door, but as she reached it she fell on the 
sword and died. Thorstein went up to her, and pulled 
out the sword, which he took with him, and went on till 
he came to another door, which ran up and down in 
grooves, and had not been lowered to the bottom. There 
he saw a big man with strong features, sitting on the 
bench with all his war-gear hanging above him. On one 
side of him sat a big woman, very ugly but not very old, 
and t\vo boys were playing on the floor, on whose heads 
the hair was sprouting. The giantess spoke and said, 
14 Are you sleepy, father Ironshield?" " No, my daughter 
Skjaldis," said he, " but thoughts of great men lie upon 
me." He then called the boys by name, the one being 
Hiik and the other Haki, and told them to go and see 
whether their mother Skjaldvor was asleep or awake. "It 
is unwise, father," said Skjaldis, "to send young creatures 
out in the dark, for I can tell you that I saw two men 
running down from the fell this evening, who are so fleet 
of foot, that I think there are few of our people who could 
match them." " I think that of little consequence," said 
Ironshield, "the only men the king sends here are those 
that I have little fear of; I am afraid of one man only, 
and he is called Thorstein, son of Orny, and comes from 
Iceland, but I feel as if a leaf hung before my eyes with 
regard to all my destiny, whatever be the reason." " It 
is very unlikely, father," said she, "that this Thorstein 
will ever come to Heidarskog." The boys now came to 
the door, and Thorstein drew away from it. They ran 
outside and in a little were followed by Skjaldis, who, on 
reaching the outer door, fell over her dead mother. At 
this she felt both cold and strange, and ran out of the 

The Trolls in Hcidar-skog. 43 

house ; at the same time Thorstcin came up and cut off 
her hand with the sword. She then tried to enter the 
house again, but Thorstein warded the door against her. 
She had, however, a short sword in her hand, and fought 
with that for a time until she fell dead. At that moment 
Ironshield came out with a drawn sword in his hand, so 
bright and sharp that Thorstein thought he had never 
seen the like. He immediately struck at Thorstein, who 
tried to avoid the blow, but was wounded in the thigh. 
The sword ran into the ground up to the hilt, and as 
Ironshield bent down, Thorstcin raised his sword and 
hewed at him, striking him on the shoulder and taking 
off both the arm and leg. Ironshield fell with that, and 
Thorstein let little time elapse between his blows, until he 
had hewed off his head. After this he again entered the 
house, but before he was aware of it he was suddenly 
seized and thrown down. This, he found, was the old 
hag Skjaidvor, now far more difficult to deal with than 
before. She crouched clown over Thorstcin, trying to 
bite his throat asunder, but at that moment it came into 
his mind that He must be great Who had shaped heaven 
and earth : many notable things too had he heard of King 
Olaf and of the faith that he preached. He then of pure 
heart and whole mind vowed to embrace that faith, and to 
serve Olaf while he lived, if he escaped whole and alive 
from all this sorcery. Then as the hag tried to fix her 
teeth in his throat, a ray of exceeding brightness came 
into the house, and fell right into her eyes. At this all 
strength and power forsook her ; she began to gasp 
hideously, and then vomit sprang out of her and down 
over Thorstein s face, so that he was nearly killed with 
the evil smell that came from it. Some think it not un 
likely that part of it had got into his breast, as it is be- 

44 Trolls and Giants. 

lieved that after that he was not quite of one shape 
always, whether this was caused by Skjaldvor s vomit, or 
by his having been exposed as a child. Both of them 
now lay between life and death, so that neither of them 
could rise up. 

Meanwhile Styrkar was in the shieling, wondering what 
had delayed Thorstein. He threw himself down on the 
seat, and after he had lain there for a little, two boys 
sprang in, each with a sword in his hand, and attacked 
him at once. Styrkar caught up the seat-stock, and 
struck with it till he killed them both. Suspecting then 
what was detaining Thorstein, he went on till he came to 
the house, and found the two trolls lying dead there, but 
no signs of Thorstein. He vowed then to the maker of 
heaven and earth to embrace the faith that King Olaf 
preached, if he found his fellow alive and whole that night. 
Entering the house, he found him lying under Skjaldvor, 
whom he pulled off him, and then Thorstein rose up, 
though he was very stiff after all the struggle he had had 
with the trolls, and the embraces of Skjaldvor. They 
broke the old hag s neck, though that was not so easy, 
for her neck was terribly thick. Then they dragged 
together all the trolls, kindled a bale-fire, and burned 
them to ashes. 

The Trolls and King Olaf. 

IT is said that one time King Olaf went north to Hdloga- 
land, which was so much over-run by trolls that men 
could stand it no longer, and sent word to the King. He 
came thither, and laid his ships at anchor, telling his men 

The Trolls and King Okif. 45 

to remain quiet, and not go ashore until he himself went 
next morning. Two of the night-watch, however, found 
it dull on board the ships, and went ashore, and climbed 
up the mountain. There they saw a fire burning in a 
cave, at the mouth of which they took their stand. Beside 
the fire many trolls were sitting, and the men could hear 
how one of them, who seemed to be the chief among 
them, spoke up and said : " You must know that King 
Olaf is come to our land here, and intends to come ashore 
to-morrow, and come hither to our dwellings and drive us 

Another troll answered and said, " That is an ill look 
out, for I shall tell you that we once came together in this 
way. I had my home in Gaular-dal, a little south from my 
friend Earl Hakon, and it was an unpleasant change to 
me when this one came in his place, for the Earl and I 
had great fellowship with each other. One time when the 
King s men were disporting themselves near my dwelling, 
I disliked their noise and was ill-pleased with them, so I 
joined in their sports without their noticing me. Before I 
left them I had broken the arm of one, and on the fol 
lowing day I broke the leg of another, and thought things 
were looking very well then. The third day I again came 
to their sports, and intended to do mischief to some of 
them, but when I laid hands on one of them, he gripped 
me by the sides : I seemed to burn beneath his touch, and 
would fain have been away, but could not. Then I knew 
it was the King, and wherever he laid his hands on me I 
was burned, and have never been in such a wretched 
plight. The end was that I made my way down into the 
ground, and afterwards came away north here." 

Then said another devil : " I came to where the king 
was present at a feast, and meant to beguile him with 

46 Trolls and Giants. 

drink, so I put upon me the form of a beautiful woman, 
and stood in fine array beside the table with the drinking- 
horn. During the evening the king noticed, me and held 
out his hand towards me and the horn. I thought it was 
all right now, but as soon as he had got the horn he struck 
me such a blow on the head with it, that I thought my 
skull would split, and had to betake myself to the nether 
road. That is what I got by our meeting." 

Then said the third troll : " I shall tell you how things 
went with me. I went into a room where the king was 
lying in one bed and the bishop in another, and put upon 
me the form of a beautiful woman. Woman, said the 
king, come here and scratch my foot I did so, and 
scratched his foot, and made it itch all the more. Then 
the king fell asleep, and I raised myself up above him 
and was about to spring upon him, but with that the 
bishop struck me between the shoulders with his book, so 
hard that every bone broke, and I had to make use of 
the nether road. The bishop then woke the king, and 
asked to see his foot. By this time there was a pain in 
it, but the bishop cut out the spot and it healed after 
wards. That is my recollection of him." 

After hearing this the men went back to the ships, and 
in the morning told the king and the bishop what they 
had heard and seen. These recognised the truth of the 
story, but the king ordered them not to do the like again, 
saying it was very dangerous. After that they went up 
on land and sprinkled holy water and sung psalms, and so 
cleared away all the evil spirits. 

The Hag of Mjoa-firth. 47 

The Hag of Mjoa-firth. 

OUT from the farm of Firth in Mjoa-firth there lies a gill, 
called Mjoa-firth Gill, in which once dwelt a hag, who was 
in the habit of drawing to herself by magic the priests 
from Firth. This she did by going to the church while 
the priest was in the pulpit, and holding up one hand 
outside the window next to it ; then the priest went mad 
and said : 

" Take ye out of me stomach and groin, 

For go to the Gill will I ; 
Take ye out of me milt and loin, 
To Mjua-firth Gill I hie !" 

Having said this, they ran out of the church and off to 
the gill, and no more was ever heard of them. Once 
when a traveller passed the ravine, he saw the hag sitting 
on a projecting cliff above him, holding something in her 
hand. He called out to her and asked, " What are you 
holding there, old wife ? " " I m just picking the last bits 
off the skull of Sir Snjoki," said she. The man told this 
story, and his news was not thought good. 

The priests went off there one after the other, until 
matters grew serious, for priests were slow to come to 
Firth when they knew of the wicked troll in the gill. At 
last it seemed impossible to get any one, but a certain 
priest offered to come, although he knew well enough 
how matters stood. Before he held his first service in 
Firth, he had instructed his congregation what they were 
to do, if they saw anything come over him while he was 
in the pulpit. In that case six men were to spring on 
him and hold him fast, another six men were to run to 
the bells and ring them, while ten should hold the door, 

48 Trolls and Giants. 

and he selected the men who were to do these various 
things. As soon as he had mounted the pulpit, the hand 
was held up outside the window, and waved about ; then 
the priest went mad, and said : 

" Take ye out of me," etc. 

With that he would have run out of the church, but 
the six men who had been appointed to that task sprang 
upon him, the other six rang the bells, and the ten held 
the door. When the hag heard the bells she took to her 
heels, making a great gap in the churchyard wall with 
her feet, at which she said, " Stand thou never ! " She 
then ran off into the ravine, and has never been seen 
since. The gap she made in the churchyard wall has 
never stood firm since, however well it has been builtup. 

The Giantess s Stone. 

CLOSE to Kirkju-bre in Hroars-tunga there are some 
remarkable cliffs, known by the name of Skersl. In 
these there is a cave, in which there once lived a troll- 
carl and a troll-carline. His name was Thorir ; hers is 
not mentioned. These trolls drew to them every year, by 
sorcery, either the priest or the shepherd at Kirkju-bae, 
and this went on for some time, one or other of them 
disappearing every year, until there came a priest named 
Eirik. He was the most spiritual of men, and by virtue 
of his prayers, succeeded in defending both himself and 
the shepherd so well, that all the attempts of the trolls 
were in vain. So time passed until Christmas Eve, and 
late on that evening the hag at last despaired of getting 

The Giantess s Stone. 49 

either the priest or the shepherd into her power. She 
ceased her endeavours and said to her husband, " Now I 
have tried till I am tired, to charm either the priest or 
the shepherd hither, but I cannot accomplish it, for every 
time that I begin my sorcery I feel as if there came 
against me a hot breath that is like to burn every limb 
and joint in my body, and so I always have to give over. 
Now you must go and see about some food for us, for 
there is nothing left to cat in the cave." The giant was 
unwilling to go, but was finally persuaded into it by the 
giantess. He set off out of the cave, and held west over 
the ridge that has since been named after him, and called 
Thori s Ridge (Thoris-ds), and so out on the lake, since 
known as Thori s Water. Here he broke a hole in the 
ice, and lying down there began to fish for trout. There 
was a keen frost at the time, and when he thought he 
had caught enough, and tried to rise up to go home with 
his catch, he found himself frozen to the ice so firmly 
that he could not rise at all. He struggled hard and 
long, but all to no purpose, and there he lay on the ice 
till he died. The giantess thought her husband long in 
coming, and began to get hungry, so she too left the 
cave and went over the ridge, in the same direction as he 
had gone, and found him lying dead there on the ice. 
She tried long to pull him up from it, but seeing that this 
could not be done, she caught up the bundle of trout and 
threw it on her back, saying at the same time, " This 
spell and charm I lay, that henceforth nothing shall be 
caught in this lake." Her words have taken effect, for 
there has been no fishing at all there ever since. She 
then held home to the cave, but just as she reached the 
brow of the ridge, it happened at one and the same 
moment that day broke in the cast, and the church-bells 

50 Trolls and Giants. 

sounded in her ears. She turned into a stone on the top 
of the ridge, which has since been called Skcssu-stein 
(The Giantess s Stone). 

The Female Troll on Bla-fell. 

ONE time the people in Thing-ey went wrong with their 
calendar, and did not know when Christmas was. They 
decided to send a man south to Skal-holt to get from the 
bishop the information required, and one named Olaf 
was selected for the purpose. a fearless, venturesome 
fellow. He rode up Bardar-dale, and south over Spreingi- 
sand, and late in the day arrived at Bld-skogar. Not 
wishing to stay there, he held on his way, and near sunset 
saw a tremendously big female troll, standing on the 
mountain named Bhi-fell, which lies near the road. She 
called to him with a hollow voice, and said, 

" Olaf big-mouth ! I rede you, wry-mouth, 

South will ye roam ? To turn back home ! " 

Olaf answered her with 

" Sit thou hale and well, | Hallgerd on Bla-fell I " 

She called again hoarsely, 

14 Few have ever hailed me so ; | Fare-ye-well, my dearest jo 1 " 

When Olaf reached Bld-skogar again on his homeward 
journey, he again met the troll, and thought that she was 
not half so fearsome as he had imagined. She then gave 
him the famous " Troll-woman s Rime, * and said, " If 
Christ, son of Mary, had done as much for us trolls, as you 
say he has done for you mortals, we would not have for 
got the day of his birth." With that they parted, and 
nothing uncanny was ever seen in Bld-skogar after that. 

Gissur of Botnar. 

Gissur of Botnar. 

IN Landsveit beside Mount Hckla lies a farm named 
Botnar, commonly called Lrekjar-botnar, where there once 
lived a man named Gissur. One time in summer he had 
ridden to the hill to hunt, taking an extra horse with 
him. When he thought he had a sufficient load on the 
horse, he mounted and rode homewards. As he came to 
Kjallaka-tiingur over against the Troll-wife s Leap, he 
heard a terrible voice in Burfell calling, 

"Sister, lend me your pot." 

An equally terrible voice east in Bjol-fell answered and 

"What do you want with it?" 
The troll-wife in Burfell said, 

"To boil a man in it." 
The one in Bjol-fell asked, 

41 Who is he?" 
The other answered, 

" Gissur of Botnar, Gissur of Laekjar-botnar." 
With that Gissur looked up to Burfell, and saw a troll- 
wife rushing down the slope, and making straight for the 
Troll-wife s Leap. He saw that she was in earnest with 
her words, and that the quicker he tried to save his life 
the better. He therefore let go the reins of the led 
horse, and whipped up the one he was riding, an un 
usually swift beast. He neither looked back nor slackened 
the horse s speed, but rode as hard as he could, yet he 
was sure that the troll was making up on him, for he 
heard always better and better her heavy breathing as she 
ran. He held the straightest way over Land, with the 
troll after him, hoping that the folk in Klofi would both 
see himself and her, when they came on to Mark-heath. 

52 Trolls and Giants. 

This luckily happened, and they were not slow in ringing 
all the church-bells in Klofi as Gissur came inside the 
home-field fence. When the troll saw she had lost Gissur, 
she hurled her axe after him, so that as he came up in 
front of the house the horse fell dead beneath him, the 
axe being sunk up to the shaft in its loins. Gissur 
thanked God heartily for his escape, but as for the troll, 
as soon as she heard the sound of the bells, she grew 
furious and ran away again with all her might. Her 
course was seen from various farms in Land, and she was 
holding much further east than to her own place, appar 
ently up to the Troll-wife s Gill, where she was found a 
few days later dead from exhaustion, and the place was 
named after her. Her sister in Bj61fell was never known 
to do any harm to the district, and it is not very certain 
what became of her after this. Some think she must have 
shifted her abode from there to Troll-wife s Gill, as being 
too near human habitations where she was. 

J6ra in J6ru-kleyf. 

JORUN was a farmer s daughter somewhere in Sandvik- 
hrepp in Floi (S.W. of Iceland), young and promising, 
but considered to be proud. She kept house for her 
father. One day it so happened that a horse-fight was 
held near the farm, and her father owned one of the 
horses, which Jorun had a great fancy for. She was 
present at the fight along with other women, and saw 
that her father s horse was giving way before the other. 
With that she became so fierce and furious that she 
sprang at the other horse, tore off one of its hind legs, 

Jora in Joru-kleyf. 53 

and ran with this up Olfus River to Lax-foss, where she 
tugged a huge rock out of the cliffs beside the river, and 
threw it out to near the middle of the stream, On this 
stepping-stone she then crossed over, saying : 

* Mighty is the maiden s stride ; 
Meet for her to be a bride." 

The place has since been known as the Troll wife s Leap, 
or Jora s Leap. After this she held further up to Heingil, 
where she look up her abode in a cave, since called Joru- 
hcllir, and was the worst troll, doing harm both to men 
and animals. From a height up there she kept a look 
out for travellers, whom she robbed or killed, and became 
so wicked a fury that she laid waste all the district round 
about her. The inhabitants suffered so much from her, 
that they assembled in force to put an end to her, but 
could achieve nothing against her. While they were in 
these straits, however, there was a young man who was 
engaged in trade, and spent the winter in Norway. One 
day he went before the king and told him of this monster, 
asking him for advice as to how he could destroy the 
troll. The king told him to come upon J6ra at sunrise 
on Whitsunday morning, " for there is no being so evil 
nor troll so powerful that they are not asleep then," said 
he. "You will find Jura lying asleep, face downwards. 
Here is an axe that I shall give you," said the king, 
giving him a silver-mounted axe, " and you shall strike 
between the troll s shoulders. She will waken when she 
feels the wound, turn herself round and say, " Hands 
cleave to the shaft." You will say, " Then let the head 
come off." Both of these sayings will take effect, and 
Jdra will throw herself into the lake that lies not far from 
Jdru-kleyf, with the axe-head between her shoulders. 

54 Trolls aiul 

The head will afterwards drive up into the river that will 
be named after it, and there will the Icelanders after 
wards choose their thing-stand." The man thanked the 
king for his advice and for the axe, He went out to Ice 
land, followed all the king s directions and killed Jura. 
The axe came up into the river Oxar-d (Axe-river) where 
the Icelanders set their Althing. 

Loppa and J6n. 

IN Bleiks-myrar-dal, which is the hill-pasture of the men 
of Fnjoska-dal (X. of Iceland), there is a hollow in the 
fell on the west side of the river, called Loppa s Hollow 
(Loppu-skdt). This is said to take its name from an 
ogress, who in old time lived there in a cave, and once 
stole a young and promising man, named Jon, while he 
was gathering moss along with others. Loppa took Jon 
home to her cave, where her sister also lived, but no 
more trolls. The two sisters were in the flower of their 
age, and as Christianity long before this had spread over 
all the land, and the trolls were dying out, they meant to 
have Jon as their mate to perpetuate their kin. They 
were therefore careful to treat him as well as ever they 
could, and let him want for nothing that could increase 
his strength. They often took him and rubbed him with 
some kind of ointment, and tugged him out between 
them, as well as howled into his cars, in order to make a 
troll of him. They never left him alone in the cave, and 
only one at a time went out to get supplies. So some 
seasons passed, and Jon never saw the sun, nor got any 
chance to escape, which he had a great desire to do, 

Loppn and Jon. 55 

though he concealed that from them, One time Loppa s 
sister disappeared ; Jon did not know what became of 
her, but she never came back. Loppa was greatly dis 
tressed at losing her sister, for she did not trust her 
fu->tcrlin^, Shn lind now to do all the work herself, and 
leave Jon alone, but she never stayed away so long that 
he could see a chance of escaping. He then feigned ill 
ness, and pretended to be very bad. Loppa was greatly 
vexed, and asked what would cure him. Jon said the 
most likely thing to effect a cure, was for him to get a 
shark twelve years old. Loppa promised to procure this 
for him, and set out for that purpose. Shortly after, she 
turned back to sec if her fosterling was quiet, and found 
him so ; this made her think there was no fraud intended, 
and she went her way. In a little Jon rose out of bed, 
left the cave, and ran down to the river. There he found 
a stud of horses, one of which he took and rode down 
the dale, but it soon foundered, for Jon had grown so 
heavy that no horse could bear him. In this way he held 
on down to Illuga-stadir, having by that time spoiled 
three horses, and yet been compelled to walk most of the 
way. When he got to the south side of the farm, he 
heard Loppa calling to him from Mid-dcgis-holl, and 
saying, " Here s the twelve-year old shark, J6n ! and thir 
teen-year too ; I went to Siglu-ness for it." Jon was 
overcome by exhaustion, but managed to reach the 
church, broke up the door with his fist, and told them to 
ring the bell. By this time Loppa was close to the farm, 
but on hearing the sound of the bell she turned back. 
Jon had grown so tall that his head touched the ridge 
pole of the church when he stood uprigni in it. He only 
lived for three days after, and was supposed to have died 
of exhaustion from the race. 

56 Trolls and Giants. 

Trunt, Trunt, and the Trolls in the Fells. 

Two men were once out gathering moss, and lay by night 
in a tent together. One was asleep, and the other awake, 
when the latter saw the former creep out He rose and 
followed him, but could hardly run fast enough to keep 
up with him. The man made for the glaciers above, and 
the other then saw a giant hag sitting on a glacier peak, 
alternately stretching out her crossed hands and drawing 
them in to her breast, and by this means she was charm 
ing the man towards herself. He ran straight into her 
arms, and she then made off with him. The year after, 
the people from his district were moss-gathering at the 
same place, and the man then came to them, but was 
very silent and reserved, so that scarcely a word could be 
got out of him. The folk asked him in what he believed, 
and he said that he believed in God. The next year he 
came to the same folk again, and was now so troll-like that 
they were afraid of him. However, they asked him what 
he believed in, but he gave no answer. On this occasion 
he stayed with them a shorter time than before. The 
third year he again came to them, and had now become 
the greatest troll and hideous to look on. Some one 
however ventured to ask him in what he believed, and he 
said he believed in " Trunt, trunt, and the trolls in the 
fells." After that he disappeared, and was never seen 
again ; indeed no one ventured to go there for moss for 
some years after. 

Andra-rimur and Hallgrims-rimur. 57 

Andra-rimur and Hallgrims-rimur. 

SOME fishermen from the north were once journeying 
south, and were caught in a very severe storm on the fells, 
so that they went astray, and knew not where they were 
going. At last they came to a cave-mouth, and went into 
it until they were out of the wind and rain. Here they 
struck a light, and made a fire with moss which they 
pulled off the stones, and soon began to recover them 
selves and grow warm. They then discussed what they 
should have to amuse themselves with ; some wanted to 
recite Andra-rimur, and some to sing Hallgrim s psalms. 
Further in from them they saw a dark cleft, looking as if 
there was a new turn on the cave there. They then heard 
a voice saying in the darkness, 

" Andra-rimur to me are dear, 

But Hallgrims-rimur I will not hear." 

They accordingly began to recite Andra-rimur with all 
their might, and the best reciter among them was one 
named Bjorn. This went on for a good part of the even 
ing, until the voice in the darkness said, " Now I am 
amused but my wife is not : she wants to hear Hallgrims- 
rimur." They now began to sing the psalms, and finally 
came to an end of all the verses they knew. The voice 
said, " Now my wife is entertained, but I am not" Again 
it said, " Will you lick the inside of my ladle for your re 
ward, reciter Bjorn ? " He assented to this, and a large 
tub on a shaft was handed out with porridge in it, and all 
of them could scarcely manage the ladle. The porridge 
was good to eat, and three of them partook of it and en 
joyed it, the other one did not venture to touch it. Then 
they lay down to sleep, and they slept well and long. 

58 Trolls and Giants. 

Next day they went to look at the weather, and found it 
bright and clear, so they decided to resume their journey, 
but the one who had not ventured to eat on the previous 
night slept so sound that he could not be wakened. Then 
one of them said, "It were better to kill our companion, 
than leave him thus behind in the hands of trolls." With 
that he struck him on the nose, so that the blood flowed 
down all over him, but at this he awoke and was able to 
leave with his fellows, and they at last arrived safe at 
human habitations. It is supposed that this troll had 
charmed to himself a woman out of the district, and that 
to her their escape was due. 


ON a farm east in Oraifi (S. of Iceland) lies a ridge called 
Hrcmmu- or Hremsu-hals. It is entirely a sandy ridge 
with fens on each side of it, and covered with small 
gravel, except for three large stones that lie in the middle 
of it. The largest of these is said to be a troll-hag, on 
whom day broke here, and the others a whale-calf and a 
bear. At the time when this happened, the parish priest 
had been sent for, to minister to an old woman in the 
district, who was a witch and had been in league with the 
troll. When she sent for the priest, she bade the mes 
senger tell him not to be afraid of anything he might see 
on the way, or it would be all over with her. The 
priest s road lay over the ridge, and it was night when 
they crossed it. They saw a huge hag come up from the 
sea and make towards the fells, carrying a bear on her 
back, and a whale-calf in front. This was Hremma or 

Bergthor in Bla-fell. 59 

Hrcmsa. She took long strides and breathed heavily, 
nor did she notice the men till they met each other on 
the ridge. Then she looked up and glared at them, and 
at that the messenger was so startled that he fell down 
dead. The priest began to talk with her, and they con 
tinued talking until the hag looked up and cried, " Day 
in the east, but dead is the carline ! " meaning the old 
woman for whom the priest had been summoned. At 
the same moment the hag turned to stone. The priest 
afterwards said that he was not afraid, but had been a 
little startled when the man fell down dead by his side, 
and that must have hastened the old woman s death. 

Bergthor in Bla-fell. 

THERE was a man named Bergthor who lived in a cave 
on Bla-fell, along with his wife Hrcfna. The land was all 
heathen at that time, which was in the days of the giant 
ess Hit, after whom Hitar-dal is named. Bergthor was 
among the guests, when she invited all the trolls of the 
country to a feast in Hunda-hellir. After the feasting 
was over, Hit bade them devise some entertainment, so 
they tried feats of strength, and Bergthor always came 
out the strongest. Bergthor did no harm to men, if he 
was not meddled with, and was believed to be wise and 
far-seeing. After the land became Christian, Hrefna 
thought it unpleasant to live in Blu-fell and look over 
Christian habitations, and so much was the change against 
her liking, that she wished to remove their dwelling north 
over Hvit-d (White River). Bergthor however said that 
he did not mind the new faith, and would stay just where 

60 Trolls and Giants. 

he was. Hrefna took her own way though, and removed 
north across the river, where she built herself a hall under 
a fell, a place since known as Hrefna s Booths. After this 
she and Bergthor only met when trout-fishing in White 
River Lake; Bergthor often went out to Eyrar-bakkar 
to buy meal, especially in winter when the rivers were 
frozen over, and always carried two barrels of it. One 
time he was going up the district with his load, and on 
coming up below the home-field at Berg-stadir, in Biskups- 
tungur, he met the farmer and asked him to give him 
something to drink. He said he would wait there while 
the farmer went to the house for it, and laid down his 
burden beside the berg or rock from which the farm takes 
its name. While waiting there he picked a hole in the 
rock with the pike of his staff, and when the farmer re 
turned with the drink, he told him that he should use this 
hole to keep his sour whey in ; water would never mix 
with it there, nor would it freeze in winter, and it would 
cost him dear if he did not use it. He then thanked the 
farmer and held on his way. 

When Bergthor was far advanced in years, he came one 
time to the farmer of Hauka-dal, and said he wished to 
be buried in a place where he could hear the ringing of 
bells and saying of prayers, and therefore asked him to 
bring him to Hauka-dal when he died. For his trouble 
the farmer should have what he found in the kettle beside 
his bed ; and the token of his death would be that his 
walking-staff would be found beside the door of the farm 
house. The farmer promised this, and so they parted. 
Time passed, and no word was heard of Bergthor, until 
one morning, when the folks at Hauka-dal came down 
stairs, they found a huge walking-staff at the outer door. 
They told this to the farmer, who said little, but went 

The Origin of Drang-ey. 61 

outside and saw that it was Bergthor s staff. He then 
had a big coffin made, and set off with some other men 
north to Bla-fell. Nothing is told of them until they 
reached the cave, where they found Bergthor lying dead 
in his bed. They placed him in the coffin, and thought 
him wonderfully light compared with his size. The 
farmer noticed a large kettle standing beside the bed, and 
gave a look to see what might be in it. He saw nothing 
there but leaves, and gave no heed to it, thinking that 
Bergthor had made a fool of him. One of his companions 
however filled both his gloves with the leaves, and they 
then carried Bergthor s body out of the cave and down 
the mountain. When they had got down to level ground, 
the man looked into his gloves and found them full of 
money. The farmer and his men turned back at once to 
get the kettle, but could not find the cave anywhere, and 
it has never been found since. They had therefore just 
to turn back again, and took Bergthor s body down to 
Hauka-dal, where he was buried on the north side of the 
church. The ring of his staff is said to have been fixed 
in the church-door, and the spike of it to have been long 
used for the church-mattock, and here ends the story of 
Bergthor in Bid-fell. 

The Origin of Drang-ey. 

IN former days two night-trolls, an old man and old 
woman, had their home on Hegra-ness, but little was 
heard of them until the following event happened. One 
time their cow was in heat, and whether it was that they 
had no one else to send, or that they trusted themselves 

62 Trolls and Giants. 

best, they went and led the cow themselves, not to let 
her miss her time. The man led her, and the wife drove 
her from behind, as is the custom. In this way they held 
with the cow out Hegra-ness, and out into Skaga-firth a 
good way, but when they still wanted no little distance of 
being half across the firth, they saw day beginning to 
dawn over the hill-tops on the east side of it. As it is 
sudden death to night-trolls if day breaks upon them, the 
dawning was their destruction, so that each of them be 
came a pillar of rock, and are now those which stand 
there, the one out from Drang-ey and the other in from 
it ; the former is the man, the latter the woman, and from 
that they are still called to this day Karl and Kerling. 
Out of the cow was formed the island Drang-ey itself. 

It is an ancient practice still observed, that all who go 
to Drang-ey for the first time in spring, salute it as well as 
the Karl and Kerling. The captain on each boat begins 
by saying, " Whole and well, Drang-ey mine, and all your 
followers ! Whole and well, Kerling mine, and all your 
followers ! Whole and well, Karl mine, and all your 
followers!" Then each sailor in the boat repeats the 
same formula, though now perhaps more in jest than 

The Size of Trolls. 

IT is said that a troll-wife once thought of wading from 
Norway to Iceland. She was aware indeed of the fact 
that there were deep channels on the way, but she is re 
ported to have said to another troll-wife, her neighbour, 
who tried to prevent her from going, " Deep are Iceland s 

Trolls in the Fceroes. 63 

channels, but yet they can well be waded." At the same 
time, she admitted that there was one narrow channel in 
mid-sea, so deep that it would wet her crown. After this 
she set out, and came to the channel that she was most 
afraid of. There she tried to lay hold of a ship that was 
sailing past, to steady herself in stepping over, but she 
missed the ship and stepped too short, and so fell into the 
channel and was drowned. It was her body that once 
drove up on Rauda-sand, and was so large that a man on 
horseback could not with his whip reach up to the bend 
of her knees, as she lay stiff and dead on the shore. 

A little above Mojlifell in Skagafirth, is a strip of fen 
between two ridges, called "the Hag s Bed," the story 
being that a troll-wife slept there, and that this hollow is 
her lair. It is evident where her head lay. The fen is 
deepest where her shoulder and thigh-bone sunk in, for 
she had lain on her side and drawn up her knees a little : 
the mark of her shoes can also be seen. The hollow is 
undoubtedly well on to two hundred fathoms in length, 
and that shows of what size men have imagined the trolls 
to be. 

Trolls in the Faeroes. 

IT is said that the trolls are fain to get a human habita 
tion to stay in and enjoy themselves on Twelfth Night 
North from Nugvu-ness in Borgar-dale, on the island of 
Mikines, there is built a little house for the shepherds to 
lie in at certain seasons of the year, as the pastures 
are far from any habitations, and they have to watch the 
sheep to hold them to their own ground, to keep them in 

64 Trolls and Giants. 

about the shelters, and help them when buried in the 
snow. One night a shepherd was making his way east 
to the pastures in Borgar-dale, when a fierce storm came 
on him at this spot, so he decided to seek shelter in this 
house, but as he drew near it he heard noise and din 
coming from the inside. He therefore went first to the 
window to peep in, and discovered that the house was 
crammed full of trolls, who made themselves merry, and 
danced and sang, " Trum, trum, trallalei ; it is cold in the 
fells among the trolls ; it is better in the house on the 
brae at Skala-vellir ; trum, trum, tralalei ; dance close to 
the door." 

Worse, however, is said to have happened at Trolla- 
ness, the most northerly inhabited spot in Kalso, for there 
they came on Twelfth Night every year, trooping from 
every direction, in such numbers that the inhabitants had 
always to flee to Mikladal, and stay there over the fes 
tival, while these gentry enjoyed them at Trollaness, 
which got its name from them. On one occasion, it so 
happened that an old woman was unable to go away with 
the others, and so had to stay at home on Twelfth Night: 
she lay down under a table in the kitchen, and hid her 
self there so that the trolls might not see her. As the 
evening wore on, she saw them come thronging in at the 
door, like sheep being driven into the fold, so many that 
she could not count them. They straightway began to 
dance and play, but just as they were at their merriest, 
and the dance thundering at its hardest, the old woman 
grew frightened, and cried, "Jesus have mercy on me ! " 
When the trolls heard the blessed name, which they all 
hate and fear, they all began to howl, and shout, " Gydja 
has broken up the dance," and struggled to get out of 
doors as quick as possible, and have never since ventured 

The Troll and the Bear. 65 

to trouble the district by visiting Trollaness. When the 
folk came north again from Mikladal, they expected to 
find old Gydja dead, but she was on her legs and could 
tell them how she had got on with the trolls, and how 
they disappeared when they heard the name of Jesus. 

The Troll and the Bear. 

IN Hoiegaard in old days no one could stay over Christ 
mas Eve. All the folk had to go down to the old farm 
in Ronneba^k, which has long been given up, and stay 
there till Christinas morning, for every Christmas Eve 
there came an ugly troll from Dragcboi, with a sackful of 
toads on his back, which he roasted at the fire in the 
sitting room, and ate one after another ; but if any one 
ventured to stay there over night, he might be prepared 
to be torn in pieces by the troll. One time, just as the 
folk were leaving the farm, there came a man who went 
about with a bear, exhibiting it. They told him why they 
had to leave, and advised him also to get away from 
there ; but the man begged to be allowed to stay over 
night, and as he was bent on doing so they finally gave 
him leave. Towards evening, the troll came with his 
sack on his back, sat down by the fire, opened it and 
pulled out the one toad after the other, took each by a 
hind leg and held it over the fire till it was roasted, and 
then swallowed it. So one toad after the other went into 
him for some time, till he began to be satisfied. Then he 
turned to the man, and said, " What s your dog s name ? " 
" Toad," said the man. The troll took a toad, roasted it, 
and held it out to the bear, saying, " Toad shall have a 

66 Trolls and Giants. 

toad/ but the bear growled, and began to rise. " Yes," 
said the man to the troll, "just you take care, and not 
make him angry, or he ll tear you in pieces." The troll 
looked quite frightened, and asked, " Have you any more 
like him?" "Yes," said the man, "this one has five 
young ones, which are lying outside on the baking oven." 
The troll made haste to tie up the toads he had left in the 
sack, threw it on his back, and went out at the door in a 
hurry. Next morning, when the people of the farm came 
home, the man was lying all right in the bed, and the bear 
beside the fire, both quite comfortable. When the man 
told them how he had got on, they were very glad, and 
bade him come again next Christmas Eve, which he did, 
but the troll did not come, and has never shown himself 
there since. 

Dyre Vaa and the Troll at Totak. 

IN Vinje in Thelemark lies a lake called Totak, which 
seldom freezes before Yule. Beside this lake, on the 
farm of Vaa, there once lived a man named Dyre, who had 
the reputation of being afraid of nothing in the world. It 
happened once late on a Yule Eve, that the folks in Vaa 
heard something howling frightfully on the other side of 
the lake. The others were terrified, but Dyre went calmly 
down to the water to see what was going on. He took 
his boat and rowed over to the place from which the 
sound came. Although it was dark, he made out that it 
was a huge berg-troll that was shouting, but he could not 
see him. The troll immediately asked him who he was. 
"It s Dyre Vaa," said he, and in turn asked the troll 

The Trolls in Hedal-skov. 67 

where he came from. " From Aas-haug," was the answer. 
" And where are you going ? " continued Dyre. " To 
Gloms-haug, to my girl," said the troll ; " will you set me 
over?" Dyre agreed to do so, but when the troll set his 
foot into the boat, it was like to sink. " Lighten yourself, 
you great troll/ shouted Dyre. " Yes, I ll do that," said 
the troll. As they rowed over the lake Dyre said to him, 
" Show yourself to me, and let me see how big you are." 
"No, that I won t," said the troll, "but I will leave a mark 
in the boat." Early on Christmas morning Dyre went 
down to the lake to look for the promised mark, and 
found in the boat the thumb of the troll s glove. He took 
this home and it certainly was not small, for it held four 
bushels good measure. 

The Trolls in Hedal-skov. 

ON a croft up in Vaagc in Gudbrands-dal there lived in 
old days a pair of poor people. They had many children, 
and two of the sons, who were about half-grown, had 
always to wander about the district and beg. In this way 
they were well acquainted with all the roads and paths 
round about ; they also knew the straight way to Hedal, 
and one time they decided to go there. 

They had heard, however, that some falconers had built 
themselves a hut beside Ma:la, so they decided to go that 
way and see the birds and how they caught them, so they 
took the straight road over Lang-myrer. But by this 
time it was so far on in the year, that all the dairy-maids 
had gone home from the shielings, and they could no 
where find either shelter or food. They had therefore to 

68 Trolls and Giants. 

hold on the way to Hcdal, but this \vas only a faint track, 
which they lost when the darkness fell upon them, and 
before they knew, they were in the thick of Bjol-stad 
Forest. When they saw that they could not get on any 
further, they began to break off branches and make a fire, 
as well as to build a little hut, for they had an axe with 
them. Then they tore up heather and moss, and made a 
bed of that. Some time after they had lain down, they 
heard some one snuffing loudly with the nose, and listened 
attentively, to see whether it was a beast or a wood-troll. 
The snuffing was repeated, still stronger than before, and 
a voice said, " There is the smell of Christian blood here." 
Then they heard steps so heavy that the earth shook be 
neath them, and knew that the trolls were out. 

"God help us; what are we to do now?" said the 
youngest boy to his brother. 

" Oh, just you stay under the fir-tree where you are, 
and be ready to lift the bags and take to your heels as 
soon as you see them come ; I shall take the axe," said 
the other. 

At that same moment they saw the trolls approaching, 
so tall and stout that their heads were as high as the fir- 
tops, but they had only one eye between the three of 
them, which they took turns of using. They had a hole 
in the forehead, in which they set it, and guided it with 
the hand. The one who went in front had to get it, and 
the other two came behind and hung on by him. 

" Take to your heels," said the oldest of the boys, 
"but don t run too far until you see what happens. 
Since they have their eye so high up, they will have diffi 
culty in seeing me when I come up behind them." 

His brother ran on ahead and the trolls followed him, 
but the eldest boy came behind, and hacked at the hind- 

The Trolls in Hedal-skov. 69 

most troll s ankle-joint, so that he set up an awful howl. 
At this the foremost one was so alarmed that he started 
and let go the eye, which the boy was not slow in snap 
ping up. It was as large as two quart-bowls laid to 
gether, and so clear that although it was a pitch-dark 
night, it became as bright as day when he looked through 
it. When the trolls discovered that he had taken the eye 
from them, and done mischief to one of their number, 
they began to threaten him with all possible evils unless 
he returned it at once. 

" I am not afraid of trolls and threats," said the boy ; 
" I have three eyes now, and you three have none, and 
two of you must carry the third." 

" If we do not get our eye again this minute, you shall 
turn to stock and stone," screamed the trolls, but the boy 
thought it would hardly go so far as that ; he was afraid 
neither of boasts nor of trolldom, he said, and if he was 
not left in peace, he would hack at all the three of them, 
so that they would come to creep on the ground like rep 
tiles and vermin. When the trolls heard this they were 
frightened, and began to speak him fair. They earnestly 
begged him to give them the eye again, and he should 
get both gold and silver and all that he could wish for. 
The boy thought this was very fine, but he would have 
the gold and silver first, so he said that if one of them 
would go home, and bring as much gold and silver as 
would fill his and his brother s bags, and give them two 
good steel-bows as well, they should have the eye, but 
until that he would keep it. 

The trolls protested and said that none of them could 
go, vhen they did not have the eye to see with, but at last 
one of them began to shout for the old woman, for all had an old woman in common as well. In a little 

70 Trolls and Giants. 

he was answered from a crag far away to the north. The 
trolls told her to come with two steel-bows and two 
buckets full of gold and silver, nor was it long before she 
was there. When she heard how things had gone, she 
too began to threaten, but the others were frightened 
and entreated her to take care of the little wasp ; she 
could not be certain that he would not take her eye as 
well. So she threw the buckets of gold and silver along 
with the steel-bows to the boys, and went off home with 
the trolls, nor since that time has any one heard of their 
going about in Hedal Forest smelling after Christian 

The Trolls and the Cross. 

ON a man s land in Vivild there was a high bank in 
which there lived three trolls. Every Valborg evening 
they came out, and took something of what was nearest 
them. The man who owned the ground had once forgot 
two harrows and a plough on the field, and these they 
took and burned, but they could not take anything that 
was marked with the cross. Another Valborg evening it 
happened that the ploughs and harrows were standing 
outside, and the farmer was not at home. In order not 
to lose them again, his man was sent out to make the 
mark of the cross upon them. He went accordingly, but 
when he came to the first, and was about to bend down to 
make the sign, the first troll gave him a box on the ear. 
He went to the other to try if things were the same way 
there, and the second troll laid his hand on his neck, 
dragged the coat off him and kept it. He then fled home 

The Trolls and the Cross. 71 

without accomplishing anything. The little boy then 
came to his mother, and asked if he might go. " Can you 
do it?" asked his mother. Yes, he was sure he could. 
" You know what you have in your pocket ? " Yes, 
it was a piece of chalk and a pin of rowan-tree. Off he 
went merrily, but when he had gone part of the way, he 
began to think what he should do to get the better of the 
trolls. He had the chalk in his pocket, so he first marked 
a cross on his cheek, for the trolls were afraid of the cross, 
and so he was sure to escape the box on the ear. Next 
he considered that the second troll had taken the man by 
the neck, so he wrapped the rowan-tree pin in his hand 
kerchief and tied it on the back of his neck. With that 
he had arrived at the first harrow, and bent down to make 
the mark. At the same moment the first troll gave him 
one on the ear, but the cross on his cheek burned through 
his hand, so he screamed and ran away. When the boy 
got to the second harrow and was bending down over it, 
the second troll came and seized him by the neck, but 
with that his hand withered. He had now to go and 
make the cross on the plough, and having seen what effect 
the rowan-pin had on the second troll, he decided to take 
it and show it to the third one. As he came up, he held 
the pin out, and said, " Do you know that ? That is 
a chip of Jesus cross." Then the third troll turned to 
coal, of which the boy took a bit home with him, and said 
to his mother with great delight, " Did you see, I stood 
against the trolls? and the chip I had was indeed a piece 
of Jesus cross as my grandfather said. When I grow big, 
I can go wherever I please, for the trolls are afraid of me." 

72 Trolls and Giants. 


WHILE King Halfdan the Black sat in peace at home in 
the Uplands, it befell that much treasure and valuable 
things disappeared from his treasury, and no one knew 
who was to blame. The King was greatly troubled, for 
he thought that this would not be the only visit of the 
thief. He then had things so arranged with cunning de 
vices and powerful spells, that whatever man entered the 
house to take the treasure would have to stay there till 
some one came to him. He guessed that the one who 
did the mischief would be both big and strong, so he or 
dered men to make ponderous fetters of the hardest steel, 
and twisted leaden bands. One morning early when they 
came to the treasury, they found there a huge giant, both 
tall and stout. They fell on him in a body, and put the 
fetters on him, but he was exceedingly strong, and sixty 
men were needed before he was secured with the fetters. 
Then they bound his hands firmly behind his back with 
the leaden bonds, and after that he became quieter. King 
Halfdan asked him his name ; he said he was called 
Dofri, and lived in the fell that is named after him. The 
King asked whether he had stolen his gold ; he admitted 
it, and asked for pardon, promising to repay it threefold, 
but the King said he would never pardon him, he should 
stay there bound until the Thing could be summoned, and 
there he should be condemned to a shameful death. He 
said too that he would give him no food, and whoever did 
so should lose his life. Then the King went home, and 
Dofri remained there in bonds. 

Soon after this, Halfdan s son Harald came home, and 
learned all these tidings, and what his father had said. 

Dofri. 73 

He was then five years old. Going to where Dofri was 
sitting, with a grim and gloomy look, Karald spoke to 
him, and said, " Hard stead are you : will you accept 
your life from me ? " "I am not sure," said Dofri, 
" whether, after what your father said, I ought to bring 
you into so great danger." <4 What does that concern 
you?" said Harald, and with that he drew his short 
sword, which was of the best steel, and cut the fetters and 
leaden bands off Dofri. He, as soon as he was freed, 
thanked Harald for giving him his life, and betook him 
self off at once: he took no long time to tie his shoes, 
laid his tail on his back, and set off so that neither wind 
nor smoke of him was seen. 

When Halfdan discovered this, he was so angry that he 
drove Harald away, saying he could go and look for help 
from the troll Dofri. Harald wandered about for four 
days in the woods, and on the fifth as he stood in a clear 
ing, worn out with hunger and thirst, he saw a huge fellow 
coming along in whom he thought he knew the troll 
Dofri. "You are in no good plight either, prince, as 
things are now," said Dofri, "and all this, one may say, 
you have fallen into on my account : will you go with 
me to my home ? " Harald agreed, and the giant, taking 
him up in his arms, carried him swiftly along till he came 
to a large cave. In entering this he stooped rather less 
than he intended, and struck the boy s head so hard on 
the rock that he was at once made unconscious. Dofri 
thought it would be a terrible accident if he had killed the 
boy, and was so deeply grieved that he sat down and cried 
over him. As he sat shaking his head and making wry 
faces Harald recovered, and looked up at him and saw 
his mouth distorted, his cheeks swollen, and the whites of 
his eyes turned up: "It is a true saying, foster-father/ 


74 Trolls and Giants. 

said he, " that * fc\v arc fair that greet/ for now you seem 
to me very ugly. Be merry, for I am not hurt." 

Dofri fostered Harald for five years, and loved him so 
much that he could oppose him in nothing. Dofri taught 
him much both of learning and of feats of skill, and 
Harald increased greatly both in size and strength. There 
he stayed until the death of his father Halfdan, when 
Dofri sent him to succeed him as king. " I charge you," 
he said, " never to cut your hair or nails until you are 
sole king over Norway. I shall be present to assist you 
in your battles, and that will be of service to you, for I 
shall do all the more harm, in that I shall not be easily 
seen. Farewell now, and may everything turn out for 
your glory and good fortune, no less than if you had 
stayed with me." 

The Giant on Saudey. 

IN Denmark lived a man named Virvill, who had a son 
called Asbjorn, surnamcd "the Proud." It was the cus 
tom at that time for women called volvur (sybils) to go 
about the country and fore-tell men their fate, and the 
kind of season it would be, and other things that they 
wished to know. One of these came to Virvill, and was 
well received and entertained with the best. In the even 
ing the sybil was asked to tell their fortunes. She said 
that Virvill would live there till old age, and be greatly 
esteemed ; " but as for that young man that sits beside 
you, it is good for him to hear his fate : he will travel 
widely, and be most thought of where he is best known, 
and perform many exploits, and die of old age if he never 

The Giant on Saudey. 75 

comes to North Mruri in Norway, or further north in that 
country." " I expect, said Asbjorn, "that I shall be no 
more fey there than here." * You will not have the 
settling of that, whatever you may think," said the witch. 

When Asbjorn grew up he visited various lands, and 
was highly esteemed by great men. His mother s folk 
were in Norway, in Hordaland and North Mneri, and 
among the former of these he stayed a long time. There 
he became friendly with an Icelander named Orm, a man 
of immense strength, and the two swore to each other 
foster-brothership after the old fashion, promising that if 
either of them was slain the longest-liver would avenge 
him. In the Spring Asbjorn said to Orm that he intended 
going north to Mreri to visit his kindred ; " I am also 
curious to know," he said, "whether the life will drop out 
of me the moment I get there, as the wretched witch 
said." Orm was willing, and they went north to M. uri 
with two ships, and were well received. This was in the 
later days of Earl Hakon. There Asbjorn learned that 
off the coast of Mreri lay two islands, both named Saudey, 
over the outer of which ruled a giant named Brusi, who 
was a great troll and man-eater. It was thought that he 
could not be overcome by mortal men, however many 
they were, but his mother was still worse to deal with, 
and that was a coal-black cat, as big as the biggest ox. 
Those on the mainland could get no good of either of the 
islands for these monsters. Asbjorn would fain have 
gone to the islands, but Orm dissuaded him, and they re 
turned to Denmark. 

The second year after this they came back to Norway, 
and spent the winter there: in the spring Orm went 
home to Iceland. Not long after that Asbjorn sailed 
north to Saudey with other 23 men. It was late in the 

76 Trolls and Giants. 

day when they arrived there ; they went ashore and 
pitched their tent, but noticed nothing all that night. 
Early in the morning Asbjorn rose, and dressed himself, 
and taking his weapons went up on the island, telling his 
men to wait there for him. Not long after he had left 
them, they discovered that a fearsome cat stood in the 
tent-door, coal-black in hue and fearfully grim, for fire 
seemed to burn from her nostrils and mouth, and her 
eyes were fierce and cruel. At this sight they were 
greatly astonished and terrified. Then the cat sprang in 
upon them, and seized one after the other ; some she de 
voured and some she tore to death with teeth and claws. 
Twenty men she killed there in a little while and only 
three escaped to the ship, and immediately put off from 
the shore. 

Meanwhile Asbjorn went on till he came to the cave of 
Brusi, and straightway turned into it. It was very dark 
inside so that he could not see clearly, and the first thing 
he knew he was caught up, and thrown down with a 
force that astonished him. Then he saw that the giant 
had come upon him, and was of a huge size. " Very 
eager were you to visit me here," said Brusi, " and now 
you will accomplish your errand, for you shall perish here 
with such torments as will hinder other men from coming 
to assail me." With that he stripped Asbjorn of his 
clothes, for he was so much stronger that he might do 
with him as he pleased. After this he put him to death 
in a most horrible fashion, while Asbjorn repeated verses 
recalling his old exploits and companions, and looking to 
Orm to revenge him. 

When Orm heard of his death he came from Iceland to 
avenge it He and his men landed on the inner Saudey 
in the evening and spent the night there. As he slept a 

The Giantess s Cave in SandO. 77 

woman came to him, and said that she had the same 
father as Brusi, but her mother was of mortal birth. She 
told him all about Asbjorn s death, and how Brusi was 
afraid of his coming, and had closed the mouth of his 
cave with a rock that no man could move. To remove 
this she gave him a pair of gloves, asking him to give 
Saudey to her after he had overcome Brusi. When Orm 
awoke he found the gloves beside him, and by means of 
these was able to remove the stone, and to kill first the 
cat and then the giant, whom he tortured by cutting the 
"blood-eagle" on him. After that he burned the bodies 
of both, and carried off from the cave two chests full of 
gold and silver, the rest he left to Brusi s sister. 

The Giantess s Cave in Sando. 

WEST from Sandsbygd there is a large cave in the earth, 
called Givrinarhol (the Giantess s cave), in which a 
giantess lives. The story goes that a man from Sand 
went down to the bottom of the cave to find the giantess. 
He managed this successfully, and saw there a huge old 
woman standing and grinding gold in a quern, while a 
little child sat beside her playing with a golden baton. 
The old woman being blind, the man ventured to go 
cautiously up to the quern and took some of the gold for 
himself. The giantess, though she neither saw nor heard 
him, felt that some mischief was on foot, and said, " It is 
either a mouse making meal, or a thief trying to steal 
or else this old thing isn t running right." The man now 
went away from her with the gold, took the gold baton 
from the child and struck it on the head with it, so that it 

78 Trolls and Giants. 

began to cry loudly. When the giantess heard this, she 
suspected mischief, and, springing to her feet, felt for him 
all round the cave, but found no one, for the man had by 
this time got out of the cave, mounted his horse, set both 
spurs to it, and rode home as fast as he could with the 

The giantess cried as loudly as she could on her neigh 
bour, told her of her trouble, and asked her to help her to 
take the thief. She was not slow in getting to her feet to 
run after him, and stepped across the lake so hard that her 
footprints are still to be seen in the rock, one on each side 
of the lake, and are called " the Giantess s footprints." 
The man had got so good a start, that there was a long 
way between them until he had reached Volis-myre, 
when the giantess had got so close to him that she man 
aged to catch the horse by the tail. She kept her hold 
of that, and stopped the horse in its course, but the man 
urged it on so hard, that it made one bound forward, and 
the tail came off, for the giantess had a firm foothold and 
was able to hold against it. The horse then fell and 
threw the man forward off its back, but with that the 
church came in view and the man was saved ; the giantess 
had no more power over him, and had to turn back again. 
One may still at Givrinarhol hear the blind old giantess 
grinding gold in the deep cavern. 

Oli the Strong and Torur the Strong. 

IN far back times there lived in Goosedale in Vaago a giant 
named Torur the strong, and in Miki-nes (Myggenses) at 
the same time dwelt a man called Oli the strong. Torur, 

Oil the Strong and Torur the Strong. 79 

the dalesman, meant to kill the Mikines-man, and get the 
island for himself, so he went up out of the dale on to 
Liraberg, and from there sprang across the sound and 
landed in Borgar-cleft at the eastern extremity of Mikincs. 
His footprints still remain in the cliffs on both sides of 
the firth. The Mikines man had his home in the west of 
the island, so that Torur had a long way to go over hill 
and dale before he found him, but it was not such a long 
way for him, he could easily step west with his long legs. 
The Mikines man saw him as he came striding down the 
cliff, and fear fell upon him, for this big giant was terrible 
to behold. He therefore sprang to his feet, and ran 
away west the island as fast as he could, but when he had 
got to the westmost point there was not far between 
them. Oli s heart began to come into his mouth, he grew 
terribly afraid, and shouted in his extremity, " Split cleft!" 
and then it was that Mikines-holm was separated from 
the main island, and the sound came between them. It 
is evident from the cliffs on both sides of the strait, that 
the holm and the island must have formerly been fast to 
each other, for where there are caves in the cliffs of the 
one, there are projecting rocks right opposite on the other. 
When the giant saw this opening of more than twenty 
fathoms wide before him, and the holm separating from 
the island, he shouted, " Cleave what cleave will, I shall 
leap after." So he sprang across, and out there on the 
holm the two began to fight, for OH saw that he had now 
no choice before him but to meet the giant and try his 
might and main. They wrestled long and fiercely, and 
cast up the earth about their ankles ; the place is called 
Trakk (treading) and no grass has grown there since, 
though otherwise the holm is all thick with long grass 
from the highest point down to the sea-cliffs. At long 

8o Trolls and Giants. 

length the Mikines man brought the giant to his knees, 
knocked one of his eyes out, and threatened to kill him. 
But the giant was loath to lose his life, and began to beg 
himself off, promising Oli three rare things if he would 
give him his life. The first thing he would give him to 
save his life was a large whale, which would come every 
year into Whale-goe (Hvalagj6gv) on Mikines ; the second 
was that a large tree should spring up in a cleft not far 
from that, called Woodcave-goe (Vidarhellisgj6gv), and 
the third was a bird that would not settle or make its nest 
on any other isle on the Fseroes except Mikines-holm. 
To these gifts, however, he attached the condition that no 
one who settled on the island in the future, and wished to 
have the good of them, should ever depreciate or mock 
them. Oli agreed to the conditions and accepted Torur s 
offer ; so the two were reconciled to each other, and lived 
together all their lives. When they died, they were buried 
in two grave-mounds in the west of the island, on the 
point that runs out toward the holm, and to this day the 
northmost of the two, where the Mikines-man is buried, is 
called " Oli rami," and the other, where the Dale man 
lies, has the name of " Torur rami." 

The giant kept his promise well : every day during the 
hay-time the big whale came into Whalegoe, but it does 
not come now, for the men of Mikines forgot that they 
must not say any ill about it, and so mocked at it because 
it had only one eye (being a " doglingur "), and spoke ill 
of it because the flesh of it made them sick. So the 
whale disappeared and never came again. 

The tree came in spring, but soon went the same way 
as the whale, for they abused the wood as being crooked 
and twisted, and wished it out of their sight, for they had 
to use it every year to build a chapel, and every spring, 

Mikines. Si 

when the drift-wood came, this was blown down by the 
wind and carried over the cliff. They thought this gift 
was no good to them, and so it disappeared. 

The bird, which was the third thing the giant had pro 
mised, was the solan-goose, which comes in large flocks 
to the holm and the rocks beside it ; but no Mikines man 
will speak an ill word about the solan-goose, to make 
them lose that, for it is a great help to those who have 
no good landing-place and can seldom get to sea to fish. 
If any one from the mainland ever happens to come to 
Mikines, and speaks ill of the bird, saying that its feathers 
have a bad smell, or anything of that kind, then the 
native who hears him makes it good, and says, " A good 
bird it is all the same, and a high-born bird that says 
trcel (i.e., thrall) to every man." The solan never settles 
on any other island than Mikines-holm, unless it is about 
to die, and then it may be seen flying all over the firths 
between the islands. It comes to the holm in the end of 
January, and stays there till about Martinmas, when the 
young are well fledged : then it is away all the early part 
of the winter. 


ACCORDING to tradition Mikines was a floating island. 
A man in Sorvaag, who was in the habit of going out to 
fish, was very much afraid of the big whales out at sea, 
and having no beaver s scent to drive them away with, 
he used for that purpose bull s dung, which he threw into 
the sea when the whales came near the boat. Once as 
he sat in his boat and was driving along the west side of 

82 Trolls and Giants. 

Vaago, he saw a large island come out of the mist. All 
the fishermen drew up their lines, and rowed towards it 
as fast as they could. The man from Sorvaag, who had 
first caught sight of it, threw the dung up on a ness which 
they came to, and then went ashore himself. The island 
was made fast by the dung that was thrown up on the 
ness, and from that it is said to have got the name of 
Mykju-ness (muck-ness). Others however call it Miki- 
ncss from the " meikle " ness at the eastern extremity, 
which has the name of Nugvu-ness. 

Other traditions relate that there was once a giant, 
who wished to live in the Faeroes, but the islands he liked 
best were too small, and so he thought of putting several 
of them together. First of all he came to Koltur, and laid 
it where it is now. Then he went to Skuo, to drag it up 
beside Koltur, but the folk of Skuo asked him if he really 
could think of living in the island that " Little Calf" had 
owned. When the giant heard that a calf had owned 
Skuo, he would not have it, and thanked them for telling 
him this, gave them valuable gifts in return and went 
away. To the north of the Faeroes he next found a large 
island, which he thought would be good for him to live 
on ; so he brought it southwards through the sea. but 
when he came right west from Vaago, he was unable to 
get it any further. He lay there for a week, striving to 
get the island south to Koltur, but without success, he 
could not move it out of the spot. Then he grew angry, 
and said, " My life, my life, if I could have got the island 
past here, I could easily have got this one under the sea," 
for he did not want anyone to have Mikines to live on 
but himself. To this day men are said to have sometimes 
seen an island north from Vaago ; high fells are visible 
on it, deep dales and white waterfalls. These are mainly 

The Giant on Hestmanclo. 83 

Sorvaag men, who have often seen it clearly while watch 
ing sheep on the out-pastures where the North Sea is in 
view. No wonder though the men of Mikines are depressed 
when word is brought out to them that anyone has seen 
this island again ; who knows but what the giant is living 
yet, and may sink Mikines to the bottom in order to get 
his island brought south and fixed where he wishes it 
to be ? 

The Giant on Hestmanclo. 

ON Hestmanclo in LurO in Northland, lies a mountain 
which at a distance resembles a horseman with a big 
mantle over him. This mountain was formerly a giant 
who lived at this place. Twelve miles further south, on 
Leko, in Nummedal, lived at the same time a maid whom 
he wooed, but she was so proud that she gave him a 
scornful refusal, and was besides so accomplished in all 
kinds of magic that she transformed all his messengers 
to stone, and they may still be seen in the reefs lying 
around the northern corner of the island. Enraged at 
this conduct, the giant bent his bow, intending to avenge 
this insult. The mighty arrow flew forth and went right 
through the high mountain Torgehatten, where one may 
still see the great hole which the arrow made for itself 
through the hard rock. " That straw came in the way," 
said the giant ; but impeded in its flight by this, the arrow 
did not quite reach its destination. It fell down at the 
maiden s feet on the northern corner of Leko, and still 
lies there in the shape of a large long stone. By mutual 
trolldom they were both transformed to stone, and shall 

84 Trolls and Giants. 

sit thus and look at each other till Doomsday. Even in 
our own day, a northland sailor seldom sails past without 
taking off his hat to the maid of Leko. 

The Raa-man and the Giantess on 

OUT of a cave in the high mountain, which rises above 
the farm of Mo-laup on the shores of Jorgensfirth in 
Sondmor, come sometimes fire and smoke, together with 
loud noises, which were formerly attributed to a troll who 
lived in the fell. The story relates that a giantess or 
female troll had her abode here, and was wooed by the 
giant in Raamandsgill, which is in the neighbourhood. 
She sailed thither to have a look at her suitor, but on 
arriving there found him so little and raw (useless) that 
she in contempt spat upon him. By this he was trans 
formed to stone, and may still be seen on the mountain 
in the shape of a man, and is known by the name of 
" Raamand." On the return journey she was overtaken 
by a violent storm, which nearly stranded her between 
the farms of Ness and Mo-laup, but by a vigorous push 
with one of her feet against the beach, the trace of which 
is still shown, she gave the boat such an impetus that it 
went right over the firth to the farm of Stavsaet Here 
it struck against a cliff, in which may still be seen the 
hole made by the collision. With this both troll and 
ship sank, and formed there a blind reef, which is one of 
the best fishing places in the whole firth. 

The Giant of Tindfell. 

The Giant in Dunkeraberg. 

IN Dunkeraberg in Fosen, there lived a giant of the name 
of Dunker. He once fell in love with a Christian girl, 
whom he carried off into the mountain. Here she sat in 
grief and tears, while the giant prepared the wedding 
feast. On the evening before the marriage Dunker drank 
merrily, and became very jolly. The girl, who often in 
vain had tried to get the giant s name from him and free 
herself thereby, for Christian folks can kill giants by call 
ing their name, took advantage of the opportunity, got 
the troll to lay his head in her lap, and made him so 
happy, that at last he sprang up, danced, and sang : 

" Hey, hey, Dunkeromdey, 
To-morrow first, Ilerr Dunker bold 
Within his arms his bride will hold." 

Then the girl joyfully exclaimed, " No, poor Herr 
Dunker," and with that Dunker burst, and fell down so 
heavily that the mountain split, and the girl came out 

The Giant of Tindfell. 

IN Tindfell, there has lived from time immemorial a giant 
of the largest kind. Once he was in a hurry and had no 
time to go up to the end of Tind Lake, so he thought it 
would be quite possible for him to stride over the little 
bit of water. For this purpose, he planted his foot on its 
west side, but was unfortunate enough to slip, and so 
made a great rift in the Fell. As he slipped in this way, 
he landed with one of his feet in the water, but deep as 

86 Trolls and Giants. 

it is, it did not reach higher than his belt, and with the 
next step he was up in the East Fells, " I have been in 
many deep waters," said he, " but never in one deeper 
than that." 

Another time he had got something in his eye that 
caused him pain ; his fingers, even the little one, were far 
too thick to poke after it with. After long searching he 
found a corn sheaf, with the help of which he got out the 
thing in his eye. It was a fir-cone. "Who would have 
thought that such a little thing could hurt so much," said 

The Giant of Ness. 

IN the district of Ness, in Vermeland, there once lived a 
giant who was on a friendly footing with a peasant on a 
neighbouring farm. One time, the peasant, along with 
another man, was returning from his work in the wood, 
when he saw the giant sitting beside a large stone. In 
this there was a cavity like a room, in which the giant 

" Will you exchange with me," said he to the peasant ; 
" I will give you six she-goats and a billy for a cow ? " 

" Yes ! " answered the peasant. 

Next morning, when the peasant s wife went into the 
byre, she saw that the cow was gone, and that there were 
goats in its place, and that was greatly to their advan 
tage, for they had a good profit out of them when they 
killed them. 

Once, when the peasant s folk were out in the field, 
they saw straight before them a cow in calf. The 

The Giant at Lagga- Kirk. 87 

peasant s wife was sorry for the heavy brute, and tied a 
woollen band round its body. In the evening the giant 
came to the farm, and bade the woman come out and 
loose what she had tied. The woman went along with 
him to the stone, and saw then that the cow was no other 
than the giant s wife, who had assumed this shape. She 
took the band off, and so delivered her. As a reward for 
this service, the giant bade her come with a sack, into 
which he poured as much silver coin as she could carry. 
One Easter evening the peasant went past the stone and 
sitting beside it he saw the giant, who said to him, " Will 
you come inside and take bread and milk with me ? " 

" No," said the peasant, " if you have more than you 
can eat, keep the rest till to-morrow." 

" Thanks," said the giant, " if I had known that sooner, 
I should be rich now." 

After that time the giant was never seen again. 

The Giant at Lagga-Kirk. 

BESIDE Lagga Kirk, in Upland, there is a mound, where, 
according to tradition, trolls lived until the Reformation 
in the time of King Gustav, when the church, and the bell 
along with it, were shifted. 

An old giant at that time was still living in the hill all 
by himself. A peasant in Lagga, named Jacob, came 
one morning to the neighbourhood of the hill, and heard 
the giant say, " Come in, Jacob, and eat porridge with 
me." But Jacob, who was rather surprised at this invita 
tion, answered, "If you have more than you can eat, keep 
it till to-morrow." Then he heard the following mournful 

88 Trolls and Giants. 

words, " I can t stay here till to-morrow, I must go away 
now, on account of this kling-klang, I can t bear to hear 
it." "When will you come back again?" asked the 
peasant " When Lagga Firth becomes ploughed land> 
and Ostuna Lake a meadow," was the giant s answer. 

The Giant s Flitting. 

CLOSE to Tolne Kirk in the neighbourhood of Fredericks- 
havn lies a huge grave-mound called "The Berg/ where 
in far back days there lived giants of a tremendous size, 
who ruled over all the little berg-folk that lived in the 
other mounds round about. When folk were about to 
build Tolne Kirk, they at first thought of placing it on 
the " Stone mound," a mound in the neighbourhood of 
the Berg, containing two grave-chambers, and surrounded 
by about 40 large stones arranged in an elongated circle ; 
one of these is at least three to four ells in height. The 
giants however would have no such neighbour as this, 
and so every night they destroyed all that was built 
during the day. The church had accordingly to be 
moved further south to the spot where it now stands ; 
there it was beyond the reach of the trolls, for a wise and 
holy man had consecrated the place before the building 
was commenced. The church was finished in the autumn, 
about the time that folk went for their herring to Sundby 
beside Limfjord. A man from Tolne had been at Sundby 
for hen ing, and on the homeward way he met, in Slag- 
sted Forest, a man over ten ells in height, who was 
pushing a wheel-barrow far larger than the peasant s cart. 
On the barrow was piled a large quantity of luggage, and 

The Giant s Dam. 89 

on top of this sat an old giant, so old that three large 
iron hoops were fastened round his head to keep it from 
falling in pieces. "Well, are you getting home, Peter?" 
said the troll. " Yes," said the peasant, " but how do you 
happen to know me?" "We have been neighbours for 
many a year," said the troll, " for I have lived in Tolne Berg 
well nigh on to two hundred years, but now I must flit, for 
they have built this blessed Church, and got that Ding- 
dong, and I can t bear to hear it. I am going off just 
now with my old father ; my wife and children are coming 
behind. * The peasant then noticed for the first time that 
there were a great many others along with him, all carry 
ing baggage, but before he could say a word they had all 

The Giant s Dam. 

BESIDE Limfjord there is a small hill called Ron-bjaerg, 
of the origin of which the following legend is told. In 
Himmerland there once lived a berg-man and his wife. The 
man went over to Livo and took service as a cattle-man, 
but wanted to get home to his wife every evening, and so 
had to wade across Limfjord. In no long time he grew 
tired of all this wading back and forward, so he and his 
wife decided to build a dam between Livo and Himmer 
land, on which he might walk across. The arrangement 
was that on a certain evening they should begin work, 
each from their own side of the firth, and meet in the 
middle. The night however was so misty that they could 
not see each other, and that proved rather unfortunate, 
for when the man on Livo had got a sackfull of earth and 
was about to begin work, he heard some one blowing a 

9O Trolls and Giants. 

horn on the south side of the firth. Thinking that it was 
his wife who was calling on him, he went in that direction 
and deposited the earth. Meanwhile his wife over in 
Himmerland had got her apron full of earth, and had 
gone down to the right place on the firth, but there was a 
hole in her apron, through which she let fall a handful 
here and there, and so formed the three or four mounds 
that are still to be seen. Just as she got down to the 
firth, however, the mist began to lift, and she saw that 
her husband had made his dam far out to the south, at 
which she was so annoyed that she threw down all the 
earth she had in her apron, and in this way Ron-bja:rg 
hill was formed. At the place where she took the earth 
from, there is still a great deep hole, large enough to hold 
a house. 

The Giantess and the Ploughers. 

A giant s wife went outside the mound to look about 
her. Close by there were some people ploughing, so she 
took up the horses, folk and plough together in her apron, 
and went back into the mound to her husband, to ask 
what this was that was wriggling in her apron. " Let 
them go again," said he, " for they will drive us out in 

The Giant s Glove. 

CLOSE beside Gudum Cloister, on the field belonging to 
the parsonage, lie two mounds, one of which is of an 
immense size and bears the name of Raa-bjserg mound ; 

The Giantess and her Sons. 91 

the other is much smaller. Of these it is told that in old 
days there was a giant, who had now and again to cross 
Oddcsund, but he had so much trouble in getting ferried 
over it, that he conceived the idea of doing without a ferry 
by building a dam across the sound. Accordingly he 
went out on Cloister-heath, and filled his big glove with 
sand for that purpose. On the way to the sound, how 
ever, he was overtaken by mist and could not sec where 
he was going, and so kept more to the cast than he in 
tended. This was not the only misfortune that befell him 
cither, for as he was going along, a hole formed in the 
thumb of his glove and all the sand in it fell out ; that 
formed the little mound. However, he went boldly on, 
holding the end of the thumb firmly with his other hand 
to prevent any more falling out, but another hole came in 
the part for the fingers, and all the sand in the glove 
rushed out. That was the origin of Raa-bjajrg mound. 
The story says that out on the heath there is still a large 
hole from which he took the sand, and from what I have 
heard, it is of exactly the same size as both the mounds 
put together, and its circumference at the top is just the 
same as that of both mounds at the bottom. They are 
both overgrown with heather, and consist of sandy earth, 
which is remarkable enough, and points to the truth of 
the story, as they are surrounded on every side by good 

The Giantess and her Sons. 

Ox the fields of Hede-gaard in the parish of Vrads lies a 
long grave-mound, which goes under the name of " The 
Giantess." In this mound a giantess is said to be buried, 

92 Trolls and Giants. 

and away on the fields of Vinding, a little west from 
Vinding Church, are two smaller mounds side by side, 
where her two sons are said to lie. There was a big giant 
who was angry with her, and pursued them. He first 
caught up with the boys, who could not keep pace with 
her ; these were killed by him and buried on the spot 
where they fell. Four miles further west he came up to 
her as well, and killed her on the spot where she now lies. 
She was so stout that she could throw her breasts back 
over her shoulders, and let the sons suck her as they ran 

One time a man planned to dig through the mound. 
On one side of it was a pool and on the other a hollow, 
so he thought to kill two flies with one blow, namely, drain 
the pool and dig through the mound at the same time. 
But when he got into it as far as where the giantess s 
knees would lie, he had the ill-luck that his cows died, 
and believing that the digging must be to some extent to 
blame for that, he gave up the undertaking. 


The Origin of Bergfolk. 

BERGMEN originated in this way, that when Our Lord 
cast down the wicked angels from heaven they could not 
all get to hell together, and some of them settled in the 
mounds and banks. 

Brownies, bergmen, and such creatures originated in 
this way. When Our Lord cast the wicked angels down 
from heaven some of them fell on mounds and banks, 
and these became bergmen ; some fell into woods and 
mosses, and these became fairies (ellefolk), while those 
that fell into buildings became brownies (nisser). They 
are just little devils, the whole lot of them. 

The Oldest Man in Bankeberg. 

THE girls from Ry were in the habit of meeting beside 
Slagelse mounds, when going out to milk their cows, 
which grazed on common pasture out beside Love Moss. 
On one occasion several of the girls had assembled, and 
were dancing round one of the mounds. While the dance 
was at its height there came out of the mound an old 
troll, who danced along with them, and sang, " The 
barley s in ear, the ox has horns, and I am the oldest 

94 Bergfolk and Dwarfs. 

man that lives in Banke-berg." The foremost girl, whose 
hand the troll had hold of, exclaimed, " Christ preserve 
us from the oldest man that lives in Banke-berg." He 
let them go then, and the girls ran home as hard as they 
could, some getting their milk-cans with them, and others 

A Meeting with Bergfolk. 

u ONE evening I was driving along the high-road between 
Kalundborg and Slagelse, and was just close to Agerup 
Mill, when I saw on the road before me some little black 
figures, which at a distance looked like a large crowd of 
school-boys. As I was driving pretty fast I soon got 
neuici them, and haw then that they were bcrgfalU of 
brownies. They wore dark clothes, and each of them was 
smoking a silver pipe. As I passed them they greeted 
me with Evening, evening, for that kind of folk cannot 
say Good evening. I saw them as plainly as I see you, 
and I can remember that the sparks flew out of their pipes 
now and again. I gave myself no time to return their 
greeting, but laid on to the horses, nor did any of them try 
to harm me. They must undoubtedly have been under 
ground folk, going to a party in some of the mounds 
round about" 

Skalle. 95 


SOME Jutlanders once got hold of a little bergman. They 
knew of nothing better than to make him a Christian, 
and put him on a cart to drive him to the church, where 
he was to be baptised. As he sat there and peeped out, 
the peasants heard by the wayside a voice crying, 
"Whither away, Gillikop?" Then the little man in the 
cart answered, " A long way, Slangerop ; I am going off 
to a little water, where I expect to be made a better 


IN olden times there were not so many who wanted to 
take farms on lease as there arc now. There was then 
a certain farm, which in a short time had had many 
tenants, who had all gone wrong together. Some died 
soon, and others had become so poor that they could not 
pay the landlord what they owed, and were therefore 
thrown out of the farm. This had just happened to a 
tenant, and the landlord made one of his men take the 
farm (as landlords could do at that time, whether the 
man wanted to be a farmer or not). The evening that 
this man entered on the farm, he said, as he came in at 
the gate, " Well, good evening, Skalle." It was the farm 
he meant, because it was so bare (skallef) and desolate. 
But with that he heard a voice above the gate, which 
answered, " Good evening." The man was surprised at 
this, but immediately said, " If there is anyone here that 

96 Bergfolk and Dwarfs. 

I can t see, I invite them to be my guest on Christmas 

On Christmas Eve, just as the peasant and his men 
had finished their work in the stable, and had gone into 
the house, but had not as yet got the candles lit, there 
came a little man in to them, and said, " Good evening, 
and a Merry Christmas to you all." " Who are you ? " 
said the farmer. " I am the one you invited to come this 
evening," said the little man. " Then please sit down at 
the table," said the farmer, " and take a bite of meat." 
The stranger sat down, and ate along with them. " Now, 
I invite you to be my guest on New Year s Eve," said 
the troll, for it was a troll. " O, thanks/ said the farmer, 
" but where do you live ? " " Just come to the outside of 
your stable-door, and you will be sure to meet me," said 
the troll. 

On New Year s Eve, the fanner went to the outside of 
his stable-door, and the troll immediately came and took 
him down under the ground, to his dwelling. It was 
pretty and nice there, thought the farmer. The troll 
bade him sit down at the table, and they got boiled rice, 
but just as they sat and ate, the troll snatched the dish 
off the table. The farmer was a little astonished at this, 
but he summoned up courage to ask " What s the mean 
ing of that? " " Don t you see, there s a drip comes down 
on the table," said Skallc (for that was the troll s name), 
" and that s the reason that no one can get on in the farm, 
but if you shift the stable to another side of the yard, you 
will become a rich man here." 

The farmer did so, and after that got on splendidly, for 
he had success both in crops and cattle, and became a 
well-to-do man. 

The Key of Dagberg Dos. 97 

"We Others." 

IN Erslev there is a farm called Hojgaard, which takes its 
name from a mound (hoj) that lies near it. The farmer 
had once taken all the greensward off this, and carted it 
off to his dung-heap. In the gloaming, when the good- 
wife was about to go into the kitchen to light the candle, 
she found that she was unable to enter it, there was no 
room for her. She called on her husband, and asked him 
to come into the kitchen, but he could not manage it 
either, and yet he could see nothing. " What s the reason 
of this?" he asked. " Oh, it s WE OTHERS who live in the 
mound. You have taken our roof off, and the rain is 
coming in on us." They got leave then to stay in the 
farm for the time being, on condition of causing as little 
trouble as possible, the farmer promising to put the 
mound in good order again. He then took his whole 
dung-heap, and carted it up to the mound, where he 
spread it out and beat it well down. After that they saw 
no more of them, but there was great blessing and plenty 
on that farm, which has continued ever since, so that they 
are rich folks to this day. 

The Key of Dagberg Dos. 

THE bergman in Dagberg Dos had gone down one day 
to take a turn in Hone Moss, where the boys go with the 
cattle in the summer. While there he was so unfortunate 
as to lose the key of his money-chest, and it was impossi 
ble to find it again. He then stood on the top of the 
mound, and shouted every day to the boys 

98 Bergfolk and Dwarfs. 

" The key of Dagberg Dos 
Is lost in Hone Moss; 
Who finds it now for me, 
Much gold shall be his fee." 

Finally one of the boys did find the key, and was eager 
enough to give it up and get the great reward, but we 
shall hear how well the bergman kept his promise. 
When the boy had got up on the mound, with the key in 
his hand, he thought he would just look what the cattle 
were doing, but when he turned round they were running 
about and straying in every direction. At this he was so 
startled that he threw the key from him, and ran down 
to them as fast as he could, and never got either gold or 
silver for finding the bergman s key. 

A Birth among the Bergfolk. 

THERE lived an old woman in Andrup, of the name of 
Ann Ovster (Ove s daughter), who was employed as a 
midwife. One time during the summer she had been 
attending the wife of the farmer of Lille-krens, and while 
returning home was passing the two mounds between 
which his fields lay. There she noticed an unusually 
large toad, of the kind they call " padder," with white 
stripes on its back. To this she said in jest, " I shall 
come and help you too when you are in labour," never 
thinking that her words had any significance. Some time 
after this she heard a waggon come driving up one night 
and stop before her house. She hurriedly rose, wonder 
ing who it could be that had come for her, as she did not 
know of any one likely to want her services so soon. She 

A Birth among the Bergfolk. 99 

opened the door, and there entered a little man, with a 
beard so long that he almost trod on it, who explained 
his errand, and asked her to go home with him. " You 
have made a mistake, my little man," said she ; " you are 
none of my folk." " Yes," said he, " you must come with 
me, if you wish to be prosperous ; you promised it to my 
wife fourteen days ago." So she went along with him, 
not daring to refuse. He drove on for a long time, as she 
thought, and it was pitch dark too. Finally she entered 
a long passage, and found a little, thick woman lying in 
bed, and so wretched was the place that she had nothing 
but straw to lie on. Ann aided her successfully, and she 
was delivered of a pretty boy. " You arc surely very 
poor here," said Ann, while the man was outside. " No, 4 
indeed, we are not so poor," said the woman. " There is 
a jar standing in the window there ; dip your ringer in it, 
and anoint your right eye with that." As soon as she 
had done so, everything was changed ; she was in a most 
beautiful hall, and had never been in any mansion that 
was so grand. The woman then, putting her hand into 
a pot, gave her a whole handful of gold coins, and said : 
" When my husband comes to drive you home, you must 
spring off the waggon as soon as the horse seems to be 
going through soft ground, otherwise you will not escape 
him. You will be just at home then." In a little the 
man came, and asked if they were ready. He drove off 
with her again, and a long time passed, so that she fell 
into a cloze, but woke up with the horse dragging in rnire 
up to its sides. Then she sprang out at once, and stood 
just at the end of her house. 

In the following autumn the berg-folk came to help 
themselves at Lille-kraens. In the evenings the folk were 
in the habit of dragging the corn, and setting it up be- 

ioo Bergfolk and Dwarfs. 

tween the mound by moonlight. The old woman then 
saw the little man springing in front of her and taking 
every tenth sheaf. She thought this was too much, and 
said to him, " You mustn t do the like of that ; that s 
stealing." He was surprised at this, and said to her, 
" Can you see me ? " Yes, that she could. " Shut your 
left eye," he said: " can you see me now?" "Yes," 
said she. Then he understood that it was her right eye 
she saw him with, and poked it out. From that time 
forth she was one-eyed and could see him no longer. 

" Life Hangs by a Thread." 

Two girls were digging in a garden when one of them 
found a mole. " Kill it," said the other, but the one who 
found it said " No ;" it would be a sin to kill it, it did no 
harm. They argued over this for a little, but the finder 
prevailed at last, and they let it go. Some days after, as 
the girl stood by the fireplace, there came to her a little 
man, and asked if she would visit them on Sunday ; they 
were to have a christening, and would she carry the child, 
and bring the other girl with her ? Both of the girls 
promised to come. 

Next Sunday, at the hour appointed, they were dressed 
in all their finery, and the little man came to fetch them. 
He took them round behind the oven, where they saw a 
little hole they had never noticed before ; into this the 
man went, and the girls followed. On entering this, they 
found a great company of little creatures assembled in a 
large room : this was the christening party, and they took 
the child to church, and had it baptized. On returning 

" Life Hangs by a Thread." 101 

home from church, they sat down at table, as is the cus 
tom, but after having sat for a little the first girl happened 
to look up, and saw a huge millstone hanging over her 
head. She could see nothing that it hung by, and thought 
that it was quite loose, but on looking closer she dis 
covered that it was hanging by a silk-thread. At this she 
was terrified and gave a scream, whereupon the woman 
asked her what she was frightened at. " Good reason to 
be frightened," said she, * with such a millstone hanging 
above my head ; if it falls I shall be killed." " Yes ; my 
life also hung by a thread the other day," said the woman, 
" for it was me that you dug up in the garden in the shape 
of a mole, and I thank you for sparing my life, but you 
need not be in the least afraid of the stone, it is only a de 
ception to show you what danger I was in." 

When the two girls were about to return home, the 
man came and gave each of them a quantity of shavings, 
thanking them for their trouble in coming. They re 
turned by the- same hole as they had entered, and on 
reaching the kitchen one of the girls threw away her 
shavings, and laughed a good deal at the little man s 
present. The other one, however, thought to herself, " If 
they do no good, they ll do no harm either," and laid 
them in a drawer beside her clothes. Some days later 
she wanted to look at her clothes, and on lifting them 
there was a great rattling in the drawer. She looked to 
see what this might be, and found that the shavings had 
turned to pure gold. Off she ran in great glee, and told 
this to the other girl, who was then vexed that she had 
thrown away so much wealth, but gone it was, and gone 
it had to be. 

IO2 Berg-folk and Dwarfs. 

The Bergman s Christian Wife. 

IN the big sandhills along the shores of the North Sea 
there lived bcrgfolk in old days, as well as in the inland 
mounds. These little creatures are only three or four 
feet high, with big clumsy heads, broad faces, big round 
noses, and red hair, and always wear a red woollen cap. 
These mannikins tried to ally themselves by marriage 
with the folks in Raa-bjrcrg, but although they had 
great stores of silver and gold, and the inhabitants there 
are known to be ahead of all the other Jutlanders in their 
regard for money, yet there was no one who would will 
ingly enter into kinship with them, so they often carried 
off a girl or a child. So it happened at Kande-steder ; a 
girl disappeared one evening while getting supper ready 
in the kitchen, and nothing could be heard of her. About 
a year afterwards, as her mother was standing beside the 
fireplace, also preparing the supper, a large stone was 
pushed aside in the chimney or hearth, and out of the 
hole came a troll, who told her to follow him as his wife 
was in labour. In her alarm the woman dared not scream, 
and followed him. It was to her own daughter, who was 
with child to the bergman, and under these circumstances 
a Christian woman cannot be delivered, until she has a 
Christian woman beside her. When the bergman had 
gone out, the daughter said that she was very well off, 
but longed to see her relatives. " When you are about 
to go home," she added, " he will give you something for 
your trouble, but you must not take what seems to you 
to be money, for that is only leaves ; take flints and 
shavings." Accordingly, when he came with a drawer full 
of gold and silver coins, and told her to take as many as 
she pleased, she said, " No, they are too fine for me ; may 

Working for the Bergfolk. 

I not rather take some flints from the other drawer ? " 
" You are surely mad," said the troll ; " what do you 
want with flints ? " " Oh, I have often to strike fire in 
the mornings, so I will take them and some shavings." 
" Well, take them then," said he, "but the one who taught 
you that did not strike you on the mouth." Her son-in- 
law then led her up into the kitchen again, where her 
husband and children were greatly surprised to see her, 
having long sought for her in vain, for she had been 
absent about eight days. In her hand she had two of the 
coins, which were now only pieces of peat, whereas her 
apron was full of old crowns and ducats. When she had 
told her husband the whole story, he said, "Well, it s a 
pity that Karen is gone, but her advice was not so foolish, 
and the journey not so bad after all." And in that he 
was right, for he and his family became the richest people 
in the parish, and so are their descendants to this very 

Working for the Bergfolk. 

THERE was once a girl at service with the midwife in 
Vallo, who always complained of having such pains in 
her arms, as if she was quite killed with work, and yet 
her place was an easy enough one. One time the mid 
wife had been sent for, but as she was driving past a 
mound, there came out one who took her out of the 
waggon, away from the man who had been sent for her, 
and carried her down through the mound to a large cave 
below it, where she had to assist a woman. When this 
was done, she noticed a girl standing and grinding malt 

IO4 Bergfolk and Dwarfs. 

with a quern, looking exactly like her own maid, and 
even wearing a pelisse the very same as one she had 
given her. She talked a little to the girl, who said that 
she was so tired, and had a great deal to grind yet before 
she would be finished. Meanwhile the woman slyly cut 
a piece out of her pelisse. In the morning her own maid 
was lying asleep in her bed, but by and bye she came, 
and complained that some one had cut a piece out of her 
pelisse. Her mistress now brought the piece she had cut, 
and it fitted exactly, so she told the girl that it was no 
wonder her arms ached, seeing that she had to stand and 
grind away at the troll s quern by night. With that she 
told her the whole story, and advised her to repeat the 
Lord s prayer, and cross herself every evening on going 
to bed, before she laid herself down to sleep. This proved 

Maid Ellen. 

ON the estate of Skovs-gaard in Humble parish, there 
lived in the sixteenth century a pirate, who lived a wild 
and savage life, and was feared by every one. With him 
lived his sister Ellen, who was mild and good, and tried 
to influence her brother, but without effect, although he 
was very fond of her. One day she went out into the 
forest with two friends, and on coming to a little mound 
Maid Ellen sat down, and told the others to go on a little 
and come back to her, as she was tired and wished to 
rest. They left her alone there, and on their return Maid 
Ellen was gone ; the grass was all trampled, and they 
found one of her gloves ou the top of the mound. They 

Maid Ellen. 105 

ran to the house and told this to her brother, who imme 
diately took fifteen of his best horsemen with him, and 
some musicians, and betook himself to the mound. Around 
this they began to ride, playing the meanwhile, and this 
went on for 40 days and nights. As soon as the one 
party grew tired others took their place, until on the 4Oth 
night the mound was suddenly lifted on four pales, and a 
troll came out leading Maid Ellen by the hand, and say 
ing that here she was now, and they might stop all the 
noise and music. They rode home with her then, and 
the troll-mound looked just as before, but round about it 
(it now bears the name of Ellens-bjaerg) there arc still 
traces of a path. She brought with her out of the mound 
a silk gown that she was sewing at, but in the haste with 
which she left, she only took one sleeve with her, and she 
could nowhere get the cloth matched again. She also 
brought with her a silver knife and fork, which are still 
preserved in Taasinge Castie, and have the property of 
stopping blood. 

When her brother died, his ghost went about, and they 
had to send for the priest to exorcise him, but the dead 
man asked him so difficult questions that he nearly lost 
the day. Among other things, he asked where our 
Lord was, when he was neither in heaven nor on earth. 
The priest stood and could give no answer, but Ellen, 
who was sitting at a window on the second floor, under 
which they were standing, answered that then he hovered 
over the waters. When her brother heard this, he began 
to sink into the earth, but found time to call out to her, 
" If I had thought that of you, little sister, you should 
have remained in Ellens-berg." 

There is still a hollow where she came out of the 
mound, and neither leaf nor grass grows on it to this day. 


io6 Bergfolk and Dwarfs. 

It was on the seventh Wednesday in Lent that she was 
brought out, and every year after that a sermon was 
preached on that day in Humble Church, for which 
Skovs-gaard had to pay ten dollars to the priest of that 
parish. Not so many years back the service was dropped, 
because no one came to it latterly, but the payment is 
still made to the priest every year. 

The Changeling and the Egg-shell. 

A WOMAN S child was once changed by the troll-folk, 
and instead of a beautiful fair-haired bairn, she got a 
little dumpy creature, with a big head, and little eyes as 
black as coal. The poor mother had recourse to a " wise 
woman," who gave her the following advice. She should 
first try whether the child was really a changeling, and if 
was so, she should threaten to throw it into the heated 
baking-oven, and then its real mother would come and 
take it away. The woman therefore set the changeling 
down on the hearth, while she went about saying to her 
self that now she would start to brew. She then took 
seven egg-shells filled with water, and set them on the 
fire beside the child, after which she hid herself near at 
hand, to see how the changeling would behave at this. 
It looked long at the egg-shells in which the water was 
boiling, and then exclaimed in amazement : " Long have 
I lived and much have I seen. I have seen Rold Forest 
seven times burned down, and seven times grow up again, 
but never have I seen anyone brew in egg-shells." The 
woman then came out of her hiding-place and said : 
" Then you are old enough now, you little troll ! Into 

The Changeling and the Sausage. 107 

the oven you shall go." But immediately there appeared 
a little grey female with the woman s child on her arm, 
which she gave her, while at the same time she seized the 
changeling and said, " I have never treated your child as 
you have treated mine ! " 

The Changeling and the Sausage. 

IN Rold Forest, beside Hobro, there lived a married 
couple who had only one child, a boy of eight or nine 
years old, but he was no bigger than a child of three. He 
had a large head and thick speech, and was as ugly as 
sin, but neilher the man nor the wife could see this, for of 
course everyone thinks well of their own children. One 
harvest the man had a litter of little pigs, and as these 
were so cheap that year that it would not pay to sell 
them, they roasted them and ate them themselves ; they 
wrapped them up in a piece of canvas, plastered this over 
with clay, and laid them in the glowing ashes, and when 
they were sufficiently roasted, they could flay canvas, clay 
and hair off them, and then take out the inside. This 
then made a beautiful roast, which they ate with great 
satisfaction. One day they had laid one of the little pigs 
in the ashes to be cooked in this way, and had gone out 
to the harvest, leaving it to be ready when they came 
home again. The child was left poking about at home, 
and in raking among the ashes it found the pig. At first 
it was greatly puzzled as to what this could be, but finally 
made up its mind that it was a sausage. At this it was 
greatly delighted, leapt and sprang round the room, cry 
ing out, " Sausage, have you ears ? sausage, have you 

loS Bergfolk and Dwarfs. 

eyes? sausage, have you a tail? I have lived so long 
that I have seen Rold Forest cut down twice and grow 
up thrice, but never have I seen such a sausage!" It 
kept on shouting this and leaping about, till finally it 
crawled up on a rafter, and was sitting there repeating 
the same words, when the man and his wife came home. 
The woman heard it and said, " Now I know why the 
child is never growing any bigger ; it is a changeling, but 
I ll soon get rid of it. :> She entered the house, and called 
to the little fellow to come down, as she wanted to talk 
to him. He did so, and she took him and gave him a 
good thrashing, and threw him out of doors. There he 
lay and howled at the pitch of his voice, and after a while 
there came an ugly little woman with a child on her arm, 
which she threw to the woman, saying, " There you have 
your youngster; I have been better to it than yon have been 
to mine." When she had said this she disappeared with 
the changeling, but the woman s own child was quite 
ruined by the troll-folk, and died soon after. 

The Troll s Wedding. 

EAST from Ronncbcck there lay a little mound which was 
called Dragehoi ; it is now levelled with the ground, but 
within living memory it was an ancient grave-mound, 
where a girl once found a clay vessel with ashes and 
bones in it. Formerly every Christmas Eve it stood 
raised on four fiery pillars, and the trolls could be seen 
dancing inside. The little trolls who lived in this mound, 
often resorted to a small farm close by, which now is 
given up. There they often borrowed various articles, 
especially for festive occasions. Thus one of the trolls, I 

Sten of Fogelkarr. 109 

named " One-Leg 1 ," came once to the farmer s wife, and 
told her he was to be married, and therefore wanted to 
borrow dishes, ladles, and many other things. The woman 
lent him what he wished, but asked in return, that she 
might be allowed to see the bridal procession. "One Leg" 
promised that she should be allowed to sec it, but at the 
same time it would cause her a little unpleasantness. On 
the wedding day, as the household sat at dinner, the 
woman saw the little bride with her following, come 
dancing through the room, and as " One Leg " came hop 
ping behind them, she could not help laughing out loud, 
and still more did she laugh when "One Leg" came past 
her children, who were sitting eating out of a clay dish, 
and struck out with his leg, so that the dish went on the 
floor. The farmer, who could see nothing, except that the 
dish fell on the floor, became angry, and gave his wife a 
good box on the car because she laughed at the children 
spilling the good food, and breaking the dish ; but the 
woman could not even then stop her laughing until the 
procession was out of the room. 

Sten of Fogelkarr. 

STEN of Fogelkarr in Svarteborg parish was a good 
marksman. One day he went out hunting, and came to 
the neighbourhood of a knoll. There he caught sight of 
a pretty young girl, sitting on a stone outside the mound ; 
and, as he at once determined to have the pretty maiden 
for his wife, he threw his fire-steel between her and the 
mound, so as to get her in his power. Then he heard a 
long laugh from inside ; this was the pretty girl s father, 
the bergbO) who now opened the door, and asked the 

1 10 Bergfolk and Dwarfs. 

hunter, "Will you have my daughter?" to which Sten 
answered "Yes." As she was quite naked, he took his 
coat and wrapped her in it, carried her home, and had her 
baptised. But before he left the mound, her father gave 
him these orders : " When you hold your wedding with 
my daughter, you must brew twelve barrels of ale, take 
bread for that, and the flesh of four oxen, and bring it to 
the berg here where I live ; when the wedding presents 
are to be given, mine shall not be wanting." The berg- 
man honourably kept his promise, for as the wedding 
party sat at table, and the presents were, according to 
old custom, being collected from the guests, the roof was 
suddenly lifted up, and a large purse of money thrown 
in ; along with it the old man s voice was heard : "Here s 
my wedding gift, and when you want your dowry, you 
must drive to the mound with four horses and get your 
share." This was done, and when Sten, says the story, 
came to the berg with four horses he got several copper 
kettles, the one bigger than the other. He also got 
" brand " cattle, of which good breed descendants were 
long afterwards found in that place. Sten became there 
after a rich and powerful man, and had many strong and 
handsome children by the wife he found in this way. 
Even yet there are said to be families in the district, who 
trace their descent from Sten of Fogelkarr and the berg- 

The Bergman s Daughter of Dagberg- 

THE Bergman of Dagberg-daas had a daughter who was 
married to a smith in Mors. The smith was bad to the 

The Bergman s Daughter. 1 1 1 

woman, and often beat her, until finally she got tired of 
this, and once, when he laid hold of her, she, instead of 
growing yellow with vexation, seized a horse-shoe which 
was lying on his anvil, and broke it in two, right in front 
of the smith s nose. 

The smith now had considerably more respect for the 
woman s powers, and did not try her patience further. 
But as rumour told strange things about her, she was not 
at all respected by the good folk in the neighbourhood ; 
she had to mind her own business, and even in church no 
one would sit by her side. One Sunday, just as the 
people were standing in the churchyard waiting for the 
priest, she too was standing there, but in a corner by 
herself. All at once, she pulled her husband by the coat, 
"Listen, goodman," said she, "my father is coming to 
visit me to-day, but he is angry, I can see that by the 
mist over the sea, which goes before him." The mist 
parted, and the Bergman came up on shore, and was of 
so terrible an appearance that many a one of those who 
saw. him, would willingly have crept into a mouse-hole for 

" Well, my daughter," said he to her, " I think people 
must be made to have a better opinion of you : I believe 
I can bring that about. We will try tossing them in the 
air a bit ; whether will you throw them or catch them ? " 
" Catch them," said the woman, for she was afraid that 
otherwise he would handle them too roughly. The Berg 
man now began to lay hold of the church-goers, one after 
the other, and throw them over the roof of the church, 
while she caught them on the other side. From that time 
forth, all the rest had to do as the smith had done, and 
treat his wife rather differently. 

1 1 2 Bergfolk and Dwarfs. 

Viting- is Dead." 

A MAN from Levring had been in Viborg, and when 
nearing home on his return journey, was about to walk 
up a steep slope by the side of his cart, when he heard a 
cry from a mound, "Won t you tell Black-eye that Viting 
is dead ? " The man was greatly frightened, but arrived 
home in safety. As he drove up to the door, his wife 
came out, and asked whether he could see to find the 
house. Yes, said he, that was not so bad, but he had 
been somewhat frightened in coming past the mounds 
outside the village, for there was some one there that 
shouted, " Tell Black-eye that Viting is dead." As he 
said this to his wife, there arose a cry in the yard, "Oh! is 
Viting dead ? " The man and his wife went in and could 
see nothing, but later on in the evening, when the wife 
went out to take the barm off the ale, she found in the 
vat a large silver cup. Black-eye had no doubt been busy 
taking some of the ale, but on hearing of Viting s death 
had run home, and in his confusion had forgotten to take 
the cup with him. The old man who told this story says 
that the silver cup is still to be found on a farm in Lev- 
ring, and that he himself has drunk out of it. It has been 
there for more than 1 50 years. 

"Tell Finkenaes that Jafet is Dead." 

THE south-eastern farm in the village of Visaing, beside 
Randers, is called Pil-gaard. The tenant of this was out 
driving one day in winter, and on his way home in the 
evening was passing Os-hoj. Beside this he saw some 

"Tell Finkenaes that Jafet is Dead." 113 

one standing, who beckoned to him and shouted, 4< I say, 
make haste and drive home, and tell Finkena^s that Jafct 
is dead." " What do you say ? " said the man. The 
stranger repeated his shout, until the man finally got hold 
of the curious names, but thought no more about it after 
he reached home. It was cold weather, and when he 
entered the house he blew on his hands, and complained 
of the cold. You will soon get some warm kail to your 
supper," said his wife. Just at that same moment the 
man noticed a stranger sitting beside the stove, and asked 
him if he would also have some. The person thanked 
him, and sat down at the table. The man blew on his 
kail, and said, "They arc hot yet." At this the stranger 
remarked, " You said it was cold when you blew on your 
hands to warm them, and now you blow on the kail to 
cool them ; can you blow both hot and cold with one 
mouth ? " The man said he could. " Then you are my 
master," said the other. " Where do you come from ? " 
asked the man, who just then remembered the incident at 
the mound ; " perhaps you are from Os-hoj, and are 
called Finkcnces." Yes, that was his name. 4< Well, as I 
came past the mound, there was a person standing out 
side who shouted to me to tell Finkenrcs that Jafet was 
dead." "What! is Jafet dead?" shouted the stranger, 
threw down his spoon, and out at the door. A week later 
he came again, and told the farmer that because he brought 
him such good news, and because he and his forefathers 
had never disturbed the mound, he would bring it about 
that Pilgaard should never want an heir, nor pass into the 
hands of strangers, but there would only be one heir 
always, or two at most. This has held good for at least 
five generations back. 

ii4 Bergfolk and Dwarfs. 


A MILE from Soro lies Pedersborg, and a little further 
away is the village of Lynge. Between these two villages 
there is a mound called Brondhoi, which is said to be in 
habited by trolls. Among these there was once an old 
jealous troll whom the others called Knurremurre (" the 
grumbler,") because he was often the cause of dissension 
and disturbance in the mound. This Knurremurre had 
once discovered that his young wife had a good under 
standing with a young troll, and the old fellow was so 
angry at this that he threatened the other s life, so that 
he found it best to flee from the mound, and betook him 
self in the shape of a red cat to the village of Lynge, 
where he ingratiated himself in this form with a poor 
cottar of the name of Plat. There he lived for a good 
while, got every day his porridge and milk, and lay the 
whole blessed day in an armchair behind the stove. One 
evening Plat came home, and just as he entered the room, 
the cat was lying in his usual place, scraping porridge out 
of a pot and licking it off his paws. "Well, good-wife," 
began the man, " I ll tell you what happened to me on 
the road. As I came past Brondhoi, a troll came out 
and called to me, saying, " I say, Plat, tell your cat that 
Knurremurre is dead." At these words the cat rose up 
on its hind legs, let the pot roll away and said, as it crept 
out at the door, " What ! is Knurremurre dead, then I 
must hurry home." 


BESIDE Gudmandstrup in Oddsherred, there is a mound 
called Hiule-hoi. The berg folk who live in it are well- 

Skotte. 115 

known in the villages round about, and if any one forgets 
to make the sign of the cross on their ale barrels, the 
trolls from Hiule-hoi slip in there to steal the ale. Late 
one evening a peasant was coming past the mound, and 
saw it standing on red posts, and under it there was 
music, dancing, and a grand festival. The peasant 
stopped to look at their merry-making, but just as he 
stood and marvelled at it, the dance stopped and the 
music ceased, and amid much lamentation he heard a 
troll cry. " Skotte has fallen into the fire, come and help 
him out." The mound then sank, and the whole merri 
ment was at an end. 

Meanwhile, the peasant s wife was at home all alone, 
and as she sat and span her tow, she had not noticed that 
a troll had crept into the next room by the window, and 
was standing by the ale barrel, drawing ale in his copper 
kettle. The door was open, and the troll was keeping an 
eye on the woman. Just then the man entered the room, 
feeling quite strange by reason of what he had heard and 
seen. " Well, goodwife," he began, * I ll tell you what 
has happened to me," (the troll was all attention), * as I 
came past Hiule-hoi I saw a big troll-festival, but just as 
it was at its best, some one shouted 4 Skotte has fallen 
into the fire, come and help him out. " On hearing this, 
the troll who stood beside the ale barrel was so alarmed 
that he let the kettle fall to the ground, left the ale run 
ning and hurried out at the window as fast as he could. 
At this noise the people understood well enough what 
had taken place, and finding the copper kettle, they took 
it as payment for the ale spilt, and that same kettle, it is 
said, was to be seen for many years after, in the villages 
round about. 

n6 Bergfolk and Dwarfs. 

Plough-irons made by Bergfolk. 

ONE evening as a man was driving past the eastern 
Molgaard mound, he heard some one calling on him. 
At first he was alarmed and drove on, but it presently 
occurred to him that he was in want of two plough-irons, 
so he called out to the troll-folk, and asked if they would 
make them for him before his return. They promised to 
do so, and when he came back to the mound there came 
out of it two little fellows, carrying two red-hot plough- 
irons, which they threw into the back of his cart, with the 
words, "Just fix them on when you get home : they ll fit 
all right." The man was rather scared, and feared they 
would set fire to his cart, but on reaching home he tried 
them, and found them better than any he had ever had.. 
After six or seven years had passed they began to crack, 
and he sent them to the smith, not daring to take them 
back to the mound, as he had never paid them for making 
them. As soon as the smith laid them in the fire they 
turned to coal, whereas if the man had been wise enough 
to lay them down on the mound, he would have got them 
back whole a;id sound. 

The Borrowed Petticoat. 

ON Mors in Jutland there stands a mansion called Over- 
garth, in which there once lived a lady, Fru Mette by 
name. A little bergman came to her one day, and said, 
" Fru Mette of Overgarth, will you lend Fru Mette of 
Undergarth your silk petticoat to be married in ? " This 
she did, but as it was a long time before it was brought 
back, she went to the mound one day, and called from 

The Nisse in the Ale Barrel. 117 

the outside, " Give me back my petticoat." The bcrgman 
then came out, and gave her the petticoat, all covered 
with drops of wax, saying, " Since you have asked for it, 
take it as it is ; but if you had waited a few days, there 
would have been a diamond on it for every spot of wax." 

The Berg-folk s Ale Barrel. 

EAST from Norrc-tang in Ulfborg there is a mound with 
bercrfolk in it. One of their women came to the farm one 


evening, and asked for the loan of a barrel of ale. The 
farmer s wife asked where she came from. " Don t you 
know me ? " said she : * we have been neighbours for so 
many years ! " She then explained that she came from 
the mound, and got the ale. In a few days she came 
back to repay it, and said, 4< So long as you refrain from 
looking into the barrel, so long shall it continue to give 
out ale ; and your race shall be prosperous to the fourth 
or fifth generation, because you lent to me." The barrel 
did continue to yield ale for a long time, but finally 
curiosity got the upper hand, and the woman must have 
a peep into it, cost what it would. She found it full of 
mould and cobwebs, and after that all was over with the 

The Nisse in the Ale Barrel. 

IN old days there lived Nisses (bergfolk) in a mound in 
Fyen, and one evening they took counsel as to where 
they should steal some ale which they wanted. Some 

uS Berg-folk and Dwarfs. 

said they should go the clerk s, but the others said it was 
too thin, and finally it was agreed to take it from the 
cooper, for his was so rich. On arriving there they crept 
in at the window of his ale-cellar, where they went round 
and tasted the ale, and finally found a barrel with ale in 
it, which they proceeded to drag off with them. The 
cooper, however, was awake and heard the noise in his 
cellar, and went down to see what was the cause of it. 
All the nisses then crept out at the window again, except 
one who could not get away so quickly as the others, and 
therefore had to creep into an empty ale barrel that stood 
there. The man, seeing the point of a red cap sticking 
up out of this, put the bung into the barrel and went his 
way. On telling his wife what he had done, she made 
intercession for the nisse, but the man answered that he 
would teach the thieving pack to leave his ale in peace. 
So the poor nisse had to sit in the barrel overnight, but 
there was no pin in the tap-hole, and this was so big that 
he could get two of his fingers out at it, and with these 
he managed to make the hole so large that he could put 
out one of his legs. In the morning then, what did the 
cooper see but the nisse in the barrel, hopping off across 
the yard on his one leg ? When he got over the gutter, 
the barrel fell in pieces, and the nisse bolted for the 
mound as fast as he could. From this he got the name 
of Halte-kok. When he reached the mound, and told 
the other nisses what had befallen him, they decided to 
revenge themselves, and they did so, for the following 
night they went and took the taps out of all the cooper s 
ale barrels, and let all the ale run out. 

The Bergfolk at the Wedding Feast. i [9 

The Bergfolk at the Wedding Feast. 

IN Maai-bjrerg there lived a nisse, who was king over a 
great part of the berg-folk round about. One time there 
was a great wedding in Kjol-by, and after the bridal party 
had set out for the church, a herd-boy was lying by the 
side of this mound, when he heard a great uproar get up 
inside it, and shouts of " Give me my hat ! Give me my 
hat ! " He was a bold-hearted fellow, this same herd-boy, 
so he also shouted, " Give me one too ! " " There s none 
left but father s old one," was the answer. " Give me 
that then," said he. He got the hat and put it on, and 
with that the dwarfs came up, and made for Kjol-by, and 
the boy went with them, thinking he had just as good a 
right as they had. When they came to the scene of the 
wedding, the guests were just sitting down to the table, 
so the dwarfs stuck themselves up between the guests 
wherever they thought fit, and all began to eat. As a 
result there was not enough food for all, which the cook 
could not understand, as she had prepared as much as at 
other times. When they had finished eating, they pre 
pared for dancing, in which the trolls also joined, dancing 
with their own women. When the people had danced 
for some time, some one happened to knock the herd- 
boy s hat off, and there he stood in his old clothes. They 
then wanted to know how he came there, and he told 
them the whole story, but could not understand how they 
could not see him before. As he was coming to the farm 
he had said "good day" to the folks he passed, but these 
could see nothing either. 

I2O Bergfolk and Dwarfs. 

Stealing Music. 

* ONE year there was a summer festival at Anders Ander- 
. sen s, and I played to the dancers that time they had 
the summer festival from Voider-mass (May 1st) until 
they rode summer out of town on St. John s Day, and 
those who went off paid the musician his fee on Our 
Lady Day, and so all was over for that summer. They 
danced in the southern length of the village barn, and I 
played to them in the afternoon in a way that was a 
delight to hear.. In the evening they danced by moon 
light (for it was full moon), and had all the doors and 
windows open. All at once the fiddle became as dumb 
as a clog. I waxed my bow and scraped away again, but 
it was all the same. I tore and scraped at it, but there 
was no more music in it than in an old wooden shoe. 
They were dancing 4 mollevit, and I know that at any 
other time I could play that till everything rang again, 
but now the fellows tramped and stamped quite out of 
time, for they could hear no music. When I came home, 
Karen was lying awake and said to me, It was awful 
the way they danced and performed under the loom there 
all evening. They danced reels and they danced * molle 
vit, and I thought that you sat at the end of the table 
and played to them, for I could hear both the tunes just 
as clearly as if you were sitting there. Now and again 
one of the little things would jump into the air, clap his 
wooden shoe and say, He thinks he is playing to them 
over there, but we are taking his music/ Yes, now I 
can understand why the fiddle would not sound, said I, 
and went off to my bed." 

The Berg-woman s Bread. 1 2 1 

The Berg-woman s Bread. 

IN Volstrup, in Hormested parish, there was once a large 
farm, which was split up half a century ago. Long before 
that time there were once two men, belonging to the farm, 
ploughing on the fields that lie between it and the large 
mound to the east. When they came to the east end of 
the field, close to the mound, they could feel the smell of 
bread-baking coming from it, and immediately noticed 
lying there a bread shovel which was broken. From this 
they guessed that the troll was not at home, and that his 
wife was in perplexity how to get the bread into the 
oven, since her shovel was broken. 

Fortunately, one of the men had a few nails in his 
tobacco pouch, and with these he mended the shovel. 
The other man, who stood and looked on, said then, 
41 Now we shall want some hot bread from the berg-wife 
for our trouble." " I ask for nothing," said the other. 
After the men had gone home for dinner, and came back 
to their ploughing, they found, when they came to the 
east end of the field, a little tray with two small loaves 
on it, lying beside the mound. The one who had asked 
for the bread, was now afraid to eat of it ; whereas the 
other, who had mended the shovel, ate his, and found 
himself very well after it. The first, on the other hand, 
put his in his pocket, to be able to show the girls at the 
farm the troll-wife s bread. But when he got home, he 
suddenly took ill and died. He ought not to have 
despised the bread which he himself had asked for, and 
still less to have made fun of it. The loaf (a stone shaped 
like a loaf) was preserved in Volstrup, for many years 
after, until the farm was burned down, in the beginning 
of this century. 


122 Bergfolk and Dwarfs. 

The Old Man of Hoberg. 

IN Gotland lies a high mound, known by the name of 
Hoberg, in which for a long time there lived a powerful 
berg-troll, who, from his place of residence, was called the 
" Old Man of Hoberg." Not far away there lived a poor 
farmer who had intercourse with the troll, from which he 
thought he might derive some advantage. Many, indeed, 
assert that those who wish to have good luck in hunting 
or fishing, should employ such unlawful means, and form 
connections, with the beings that haunt the woods and 

It so happened that this farmer s wife gave birth to a 
child, and when it was to be baptised, the farmer was 
quite puzzled as to whom he should ask to stand god 
father to it. The farmer s boy noticed that something 
was weighing on his master s mind, and being desirous to 
know what ailed him, the following conversation took 
place between them. 

" I think," said the boy, "that you ought rather to be 
happy just now, than go and look glum : you have now 
get an heir, and yet you go about and mope." 

* What you say is true enough," answered the farmer, 
" but, for all that, there is something, that not without 
good reason troubles and vexes me, and that is, that 
I now ought to invite some godfathers to the baptism, 
according to use and wont. Now, if I pass over the Old 
Man of Hoberg, who has done me so much good, as you 
very well know, he will be so offended that I can never 
expect him to do me any further service, however great 
necessity comes upon me. On the other hand, if I do in 
vite him, he is well enough able to eat up all my food, so 
that I perhaps would come to stand before the other 

The Old Man of Hoberg. 123 

guests in shame and disgrace, for you know well what a 
fearful eater and drinker he is, so that it is almost im 
possible to satisfy him, especially for such a poor man as 
I am." 

" I know that that is the case," said the boy, "but keep 
your mind easy ; I shall manage things in such a way 
that there will be no difficulty about what you are so 
much afraid of. I shall go to him now, and invite him to 
the feast, but shall talk to him so cleverly that he won t 


If you can manage that," said the farmer, "you will 
do me so great a service that you will, in all justice, de 
serve to be praised for it, and may expect a reward if you 
come back with your errand well discharged." 

His boy then asked him for a sack, and started on his 
way to the Old Man of Hoberg. He presented himself 
before him, and said, " My master sends you his greeting, 
and asks if you will be so good as to oblige him with 
some fish, as you have previously been in the habit of 
doing when he has asked you. This time though, he 
wants no small ones, nothing but big ones." 

" And what is his reason," asked the Old Man, " for 
wanting only big fish, and no little ones this time ; he 
has always been quite content with what he could get, 
big and little mixed." 

"Well," said the boy, "he is going to have a christening 
party, for he has been blessed with a son and heir, and for 
that reason I have also been sent to invite you to be one 
of the godfathers." 

This greatly delighted the Old Man of Hoberg. "For 
as old and as gray as I am," said he, " no one has ever 
done me that honour yet ; give him my compliments, and 

124 Bergfolk and Dwarfs. 

thank him from me, for his invitation, and say that I shall 
come, but, I say, who arc to be god-fathers besides ? " 

" St Peter," said the boy. 

" Ah," said the Old Man, " then I am not quite sure if 
I can come ; for I have heard that St. Peter is an obstinate 
fellow, and for that reason we perhaps might not get on 
very well under one roof; but all the same, as your master 
has done me the honour to invite me, I shall come, and 
see how we can agree together. But arc there to be no 
more god-fathers ? " 

11 0, yes," said the boy, " Our Lord too." 

" Then, I can scarcely come," said the Old Man, " for 
St. Peter and I might perhaps have got on together in 
the same house, but scarcely Our Lord and I. But, all 
the same, since my neighbour has done me the honour, I 
shall come, for no one has ever paid me such a compli 
ment before, for as old and gray as I am. But I shall 
just set myself in a corner, and see how things go on. 
Are there to be any more god-fathers ? " 

11 No," said the boy. 

"Then which of the god-mothers is to carry the child?" 

" The Virgin Mary," said the boy. 

14 He is cutting a mighty dash with his god-fathers and 
god-mothers," said the Old Man. " I suppose he has en 
gaged some musicians when he is going such a length 
with the rest of it." 

"Yes," said the boy, "the DRUMMER is to be musician." 

" I was really thinking of coming," said the Old Man, 
"even although St. Peter and Our Lord were coming, as 
he had done me the honour to invite me, but when the 
DRUMMER is coming" (by which he understood and meant 
thunder), " then I simply won t come, I tell you flat, for a 
fortnight ago I was at a party, and, as I was going home, 

The Old Man of Hoberg. 125 

the clouds came over the sky, and the DRUMMER began 
to beat his drum so hard that I grew frightened and 
started to run home as fast as ever I could ; but just as I 
got to my outer door, he threw one of his drum-sticks 
after me" (by this he meant a thunder-bolt), "and broke 
one of my thigh-bones, which I feel painful yet, and so I 
daren t encounter him in any way. If I were to come 
just now, he would perhaps break my other leg for me 
this time. So give my regards to your master, and thank 
him for the invitation, but say that I can t come but, I 
say, is it the custom to give presents to the child on such 
occasions ? " 

" O, yes," said the boy, " those who want to be like 
their neighbours always give something." 

" Come this way then," said the Old Man, " and I will 
also send some presents, although I am not coming my 
self, for I will not be the least in any thing." So he took 
the boy with him down into a cave, where there stood 
chests filled with dollars and other silver coins, told him 
to hold the sack open, took a shovelful of dollars and cast 
them into the sack. After he had done this, he asked the 
boy if it was customary to give more. 

44 Well, I have seen some who gave more," said he. 

" In no way will I be the least/ said the Old Man, and 
thereupon took another shovelful and threw it into the 
sack, asking as before, if it was customary to give more. 

" O, yes," said the boy, " I have seen one person who 
gave more/ 

"Then I won t be the least," said the Old Man, and 
again he took a shovelful and threw it into the sack, and 
still asked if any one was in the habit of giving more. 

" No," said the boy, " I have never seen any one give 
more ; " for he had now as much as he could carry, other- 

126 Bergfolk and Dwarfs. 

wise he would certainly have said " yes " once again to 
the Old Man s question, and so have got him to pour 
another shovelful of dollars into the sack. 

" Now, go home with that," said the Old Man, " and 
come back again, and you shall have the fish." 

The boy did so, and in this way he had rendered his 
master a great service, since by his cleverness he had not 
only contrived to prevent the Old Man of Hoberg from 
coming to the christening, but also had got a respectable 
present from him. 

Bergfolk Militia. 

WHEN there was war with England, and the English 
fleet tried to seize upon Bornholm, the underground folks 
are said to have behaved very bravely. An English fleet 
lay off Povlsker parish, and the inhabitants of Bornholm 
had therefore to keep watch on the south coast. One 
night there was only one man on the watch, and before 
he knew of anything the English began to fire. At first 
the man did not know what to do, but he then heard 
voices saying, " Fire, fire." (The underground folks can 
not shoot until a Christian man has first done so.) The 
man obeyed and fired off his rifle against the English, 
and immediately heard round about him " paf, paf," and 
saw how the hats flew off the heads of those on board the 
ships. The English turned and fled in hot haste. At 
this same time many are said to have heard the under 
ground folks piping, drumming, and rattling their sabres 
and guns, and have often seen and heard them drilling 
on Rispe-bjaerg. 

They have also cavalry, who have been seen riding 

The Herd-boy and the Bergman. 127 

about after sunset. Some say that their horses have only 
three legs, but others have seen the tracks of four feet on 
the newly fallen snow. 

The Herd-boy and the Bergman. 

A FARMER on Tyholm, who always treated his servants 
badly, had once a little herd-boy, whom he regularly 
thrashed for the smallest fault, so that the boy was natur 
ally very much afraid of his severe master. One evening, 
when he brought home some cattle, it so happened that 
a black ox was missing. The farmer was furious, and 
gave him a good thrashing, after which he drove him out 
of the farm, saying, " Don t you come home again before 
you find that ox." It was a dark night and the boy was 
very much frightened for ghosts ; the church lay close at 
hand, and he had heard so many stories of people who 
walked after death. So he went out on the open fields 
and cried, until he came to a mound, out of which he saw 
a little man come and make straight for him. He was 
frightened in earnest now, and screamed loudly, but the 
little man said to him, " What arc you crying for, my 
little boy?" "Oh, I have lost an ox, and I daren t go 
home before I have found it, or the man will kill me." 
" No, that he won t; just come with me, and it may be 
that I shall be able to help you." The boy followed the 
little man into the mound, and the latter gave him a 
spoonful of porridge. " Oh, that was rare porridge," said 
the boy. " May I not have another spoonful ? I seem to 
grow so strong with it." " Yes, of course you may," said 
the little man, and gave him another spoonful. " I should 

128 Bergfolk and Dwarfs. 

like to have yet another," said the boy. "Well, take it 
then, but you must promise me three things : firstly, that 
you will go home and not bother yourself about the ox : 
secondly, that when you go home and the man comes out 
to you and threatens to strike you, you shall go to the 
stone that the horses are tied to, pull it up, and throw it 
at him; then he will let you alone; and thirdly, you must 
promise me never to do harm to any one with your 
strength." The boy promised all this to the berg-man, 
and went home again. His master came out and asked 
whether he had found the ox, and was about to strike 
him for not having done so, when the boy went up to the 
stone, pulled it out of the ground and threw it at him. 
The farmer retired inside as quickly as possible, and after 
that never tried again to strike the boy who had now ac 
quired such strength. Next day the boy found the ox 
lying quietly in the churchyard. 

The Bergfolk s Present. 

IN a mound a few hundred ells straight east from Gron- 
baek farm in Haarup there lived bergfolk. The little 
folk were often seen going about beside the mound, and 
sometimes when they had an entertainment the mound 
stood on glowing pillars. At that time there stood a 
house to the south of the farm, the well of which may still 
be seen. The housewife there lived on a good under 
standing with the berg-folk, who one day presented her 
with a skirt, which they said she might put on every day 
without wearing it out, and it would even become more 
beautiful the longer she used it, only she must never enter 
a church with it. One Sunday morning, as she was 

The Bergman s Beetles. 129 

sweeping out her house, she heard the bells of Linaa 
Kirk ringing, and thought it was high time she was set 
ting out. She looked down at her skirt, which had now 
become really beautiful, and thought that she had nothing 
finer to go in than that. She hastily made herself ready, 
and went to church without thinking of the berg-lolk s 
warning, but as she entered the porch of the church the 
beautiful skirt disappeared, and she was left with her 
plain underskirt, and had to hurry home again. After 
that she saw no more of the berg-folk, and regretted 
deeply having disobeyed them. 

The Bergman s Beetles. 

So far as I know, my nurse assigned the following inci 
dent to the mounds that He beside Tuesbol. One Sunday 
a girl was going past them on her way to church. It was 
a winter s day, and there lay a thin coating of snow on 
the ground, but it was bright sunshine. She looked up 
to the south side of this mound, which faced the sun, and 
saw that it was all covered with dung beetles. 4< That is 
strange," thought she, " but no one will believe me when 
I tell it, so I will take a few of these beetles with me," 
and accordingly she put a few of them into one of her 
gloves. It happened as she expected ; folk laughed at 
her when she told of this strange sight. " Well, you ll 
see them here," said she, and shook out her glove, but 
now they were gold pieces. They were not slow in 
making for the mound then, but when they got there the 
bergman had got all his beetles gathered in. 

130 Berg-folk and Dwarfs. 

The Red Stone on Fuur. 

ON Fuur lies the Red Stone, a crag of rough-grained 
sandstone, from twelve to sixteen ells high, with a deep 
hole in it close to the ground. Here the berg-folk hold 
their goings-on, so that no one dares to come too near 
the Rcu Stone after sunset. Once, on a dark and rainy 
October evening, two boys were herding sheep on the 
braes round about, and on account of the bad weather 
sought shelter in a hole in the crag. The boldest of them 
wished to examine it more closely, and although advised 
against it by the other, tied a rope round his body, and 
went further in. He was away a long time, and finally, 
his comrade heard a faint crying from the nether depths, 
pulled the rope and brought it out, but with the end of it 
burned. The boy was never seen nor heard of again. 

Another time, a man came riding past it, late in the 
evening. The mcon was shining brightly, and by its 
light he saw little figures busily moving backwards and 
forwards. He looked closer and saw that it was the 
berg-imps, carrying their golden treasures out to some 
little hillocks to air them. The man happened to have 
his gun with him, and knowing that if one could manage 
to shoot three times over them the treasures would be 
his, he fired the shots. He ought now to have left the 
treasure lying till day had dawned, and the elves, who 
naturally avoid the light, had hidden themselves in the 
depths of the stone; but he was so greedy for the treasures 
that he straightway put them into a sack, and rode off as 
fast as he could. The little fellows set out after him, and 
while he was still upon the road between the banks, he 
was caught up by a little man with a long beard, on a 
horse no bigger than a cat, but headless. The little man 

The Silver Cup from Dagberg Daas. 131 

stopped him, and asked whether they should not let their 
horses fight each other. " No, God forbid," said the other 
in a fright. Then the berg-sprite offered to let his little 
black dog fight the other s, or, preferably man against 
man ; but to every proposal the man answered with his 
" God forbid," and hurried off home as hard as he could. 
When he got inside, it seemed to him as if all at once it 
began to storm and howl in the house, and that it was in 
flames in every corner. The man, who guessed the reason, 
took the sack and threw it out in despair. " You have 
quite enough yet," said a thin, little voice outside, and 
next morning he found a heavy silver cup, which had 
fallen down behind the chest of drawers, and made him 
a wealthy man as long as he lived. 

The Silver Cup from Dagberg Daas. 

IN Dagberg Daas there formerly lived a berg-man with 
his family. It happened once that a man who came 
riding past there took it into his head to ask the berg- 
woman for a little to drink. She went to get some for 
him, but her husband bade her take it out of the poisoned 
barrel. The traveller heard all this, however, and when 
the berg-woman handed him the cup with the drink, he 
threw the contents over his shoulder, and rode off with 
the cup in his hand, as fast as his horse could gallop. 
The berg-woman threw her breasts over her shoulders, 
and ran after him as hard as she could. (The man rode 
off over some ploughed land, where she had difficulty in 
following him, as she had to keep the line of the furrows). 
When he reached the spot where Karup Stream crosses 
the road from Viborg to Holtebro, she was so near him 

132 Bergfolk and Dwarfs. 

that she snapped a hook (hage) off the horse s shoe, and 
therefore the place has been called Hagebro ever since. 
She could not cross the running water, and so the man 
was saved. It was afterwards seen that some drops of 
the liquor had fallen on the horse s loins and taken off 
both hide and hair. 

One-leg and the Stolen Goblet. 

A LITTLE over a mile south from Slagelse, on the left 
side of the road between Skorping and Flakke-bj^rg, on 
the fields belonging to the village of Skorping, there 
stood some years ago a mound, now almost entirely 
levelled, known as Barnet. A peasant from Flakke- 
bjrerg was riding home from Slagelse one evening, and 
on approaching Barnet he saw the whole mound standing 
on four glowing pillars, while on drawing nearer he could 
see a crowd of little creatures dancing merrily about be 
neath it. The man stopped for a little to look at the 
sport, and while doing so one of the trolls came hopping 
out to him on one leg, bringing a large goblet, which he 
offered him to drink from. The man pretended to drink, 
but poured the contents over his back, and some of these 
falling on the horse s loins took off both hide and hair. 
He kept hold of the goblet and rode off, the troll follow 
ing. He rode as hard as he could, but midway between 
Barnet and Flakke-bjrerg the troll had almost caught up 
to him. There lived, however, an old female troll in 
Ho-dysse, which stands on the fields of Flakke-bjaerg, 
and she had come to be on bad terms with the troll in 
Barnet. She therefore came running and called to the 
man, " Off the smooth and on the rough, then One-leg 

The Bergfolk pass over Limfjord. i 


can never catch you, and make for the holy place ! " 
Thereupon the man rode into the ploughed land, and 
right across the fields, where the troll had to run up one 
field and down the other, and was left a little behind. 
The man made straight for the church, rode close up to 
the churchyard wall, and quickly sprang off the horse s 
back to the inside of that, but the troll was then so close 
behind him that he had very nearly got hold of him. 
When he saw that the man had escaped, he hurled the 
horse over the wall after him, and broke all its ribs. 

The goblet was afterwards given by the man to the 
church, where it is said to be still used as a communion- 
cup. When the trolls saw that One-leg did not get hold 
of the man, one of them hurled a huge stone at Flakke- 
bjrerg church, but it fell short and dropped into the 
stream at the foot of the slope. It is a stone of four or five 
ells in thickness and the same in height, and the impres 
sion of the troll s fingers are still plainly to be seen. 

The Bergfolk pass over Limfjord. 

ABOUT half a Danish mile east from Lundby lies a farm, 
which is called Loen, where there has been a ferry across 
to the lime-kiln which lies opposite. From this kiln 
many of the people in Vendsyssel got their lime. Many 
travellers crossed over there, as they did not require to 
show a passport, which they had to do at Lundby. In 
consequence of this, there was a great traffic at this point 
in olden times. One day there came to the ferry a man 
with some bundles under his arm, and asked the ferry 
men to take him over for payment, but he would not 
have all the bundles taken over at once. The ferrymen 

134 Bergfolk and Dwarfs. 

were quite willing, but were not a little surprised when 
they got out from land, for the boat sank so deep that 
the water almost came into it. In this way the man was 
ferried over three times with his bundles, and each time 
they were almost sinking, so heavy a load had they with 
them ; yet the ferrymen could see nothing except the 
man, and some insignificant bundles. When they had 
finished the work, and been paid for their trouble, the 
stranger asked them if they would not like to see what 
they had sailed with, for it was certainly a long time 
since they had carried over such loads. The ferrymen 
were naturally eager enough, as they could not in the 
least understand what it was they had taken over. Then 
the stranger took his hat and put it on the head of the 
chief ferryman, who now to his great astonishment could 
see that it was just like a little market of bcrgfolk, nisses 
and elves. After that, each of the other ferrymen got a 
turn of the hat and saw the same thing. Then the 
stranger told them that he was a human being like them 
selves, but that before his baptism he had been carried 
off from his parents by the berg-folk, and had been with 
them ever since, and had now been compelled to help 
them to get over Limfjord. He told them also that they 
had come there to be taken across, since no pass was re 
quired, whereas at Lundby they could not get over with 
out it. The ferryman asked him why they wanted to 
cross. The man said, " Christianity has grown too strong 
for them, and they can stay here no longer, so they are 
departing for the heathens land." 

Reimer the Ferryman s Aerial Voyage. 135 
Reimer the Ferryman s Aerial Voyage. 

AT Ottesund Ferry on Limfjord there is said to have 
lived a ferryman of the name of Reimer. He had gone 
to Copenhagen to get licence to ferry over the Sound. It 
took a long time to get the thing properly arranged, so 
that it was only on Christmas Eve that he got finished 
with the Lords of Council. As he went along the street 
there and wished within himself that he was at home that 
evening, and was greatly vexed that he was not so, he 
met a little old man in a grey coat, who addressed him 
by name, and asked " Wouldn t you like very much to 
get home this evening yet?" Yes, of course he would, 
but it was impossible. " O, no," said the little man, " if 
you will do me in return a service that I shall shortly 
have need of, which you can easily render, and for which 
I shall also pay you richly, you shall be home this very 
evening, at supper time, quite unharmed. * Yes, but 
Reimer would first like to know what service he was to 
do to the stranger. "Just this," said he, " that you, and 
your ferrymen, one night shall carry cargoes for me from 
the south to the north side of the Sound, and for that you 
have now a licence, and legal permission." Well^ there 
was no objection to that, Reimer said, but what means 
of conveyance were they to have ? " We shall both 
mount my horse," said the little man, you will sit behind 
me ; the horse is only a little one, but I know how to 
guide it." Outside one of the city gates they both 
mounted the little horse, and then went through the air 
like a flash of lightning, without meeting anything until 
two hours after they had begun their journey ; then Reimer 
heard a clink, as if two pieces of iron struck each other. 
" What might that be ? " he asked. " O, nothing except 

136 Bergfolk and Dwarfs. 

that the beast s hind shoe touched the spire of Viborg 
Cathedral," said the little man. Soon after Reimer dis 
mounted in his own courtyard, and his guide disappeared 
that same moment. 

Pleased to be home again, Reimer forgot his promise 
in a few day s time ; but one evening the little man came 
and reminded him of it. He made haste then to get all 
his things ready, and waited quietly till such time as the 
promised service should be required of him. After some 
time had passed, his travelling companion came to him 
one evening, as it was growing dark, and told him to 
come now, with all his men. The ferry-boats came and 
went the whole night, and many heavy chests and boxes 
were ferried over, but they saw no people except the one 
man. When they had finished, the bergman took a 
basket, opened one of the chests, and out of it filled the 
basket with chinking coin, gave it to Reimer, and said, 
41 Take that for your trouble and goodwill towards one 
that you know not, but don t thank me for it. I suppose 
you would like to know what you have ferried over to 
night ; there you can see it," taking the cap off his own 
head, and putting it on Reimer s. Thereupon he saw the 
whole beach swarming with little dwarfs of both sexes, 
many thousands of them, at least. Quite terrified, Reimer 
snatched the cap off his head, and asked the old man, 
" But where arc you going to with all this ? " " Further 
north," said the bergman. " Why so ? " asked Reimer 
again. " Because Christianity is pushing further and 
further up from the south," said the old man, " but will 
hardly get up to the Ice Sea in my time, so we are going 

The Bergman in Mesing Bank. 137 
The Bergman in Mesing Bank. 

T5 O 

IN old days there lived a bergman, in a bank beside 
Mesing Mill on Hindsholm. On the same bank there lay 
a house, the people of which had always bad luck with 
their calves. Every time they tried to rear one, it took 
ill and died ; the reason for this, however, was that the 
calves stall was right above the bcrgman s table, and the 
wet dripped do\vn into his room, and caused him great 
annoyance, so he always put an end to the calves. The 
people of the house did not know the reason of their mis 
fortune, but one day they had a visit of a man who, when 
they spoke about their calves, advised them to shift their 
stall, and they would find that the calves would thrive 
well enough. They followed his advice, and from that 
time forward they were not only successful with their 
calves, but everything else went remarkably well with 
them, so that the farmer became a man of means. The 
man, however, who had given him the good advice was 
the bergman himself, who often took upon himself human 
form, and went about among folk. For a time all went 
well, but then Dr. Martin (Luther) came into the country, 
and the bergman could stay there no longer for the ring 
ing of bells, and singing of psalms, for these kind of folk 
cannot bear that. So he went to Norway and lived in 
Dovrefell. There he often went about in the coast towns, 
and enjoyed himself, particularly when he met any one 
from Denmark. Once, in Bergen, he met with a merchant 
from Kerteminde, and on hearing where he came from, 
asked him to take a parcel to the afore-mentioned farmer, 
at Mesing Mill. The merchant promised to do so, and 
the farmer received the present, which consisted of a 
beautiful belt, set with gold and precious stones. The 


138 Bergfolk and Dwarfs. 

belt vvas for his wife, who was delighted with it, but her 
husband thought that it was not suitable to the rest of 
her dress, and to their position in life. One day they 
were going to a party, and the woman wanted to try on 
the beautiful belt, but her husband said, " There is no use 
in that, it only looks bad when a common woman like 
you, in your home-made clothes, goes about with such a 
belt ; folks will only make a fool of you when they sec 
you/ The woman, however, thought that she would 
just like to see how the belt would look on her. " You 
will see that best," said the man, " if you go out and 
fasten it round the tree in front of the window there." 
The woman did so, and as they now stood and looked at 
the magnificent belt, the tree began to shake and rock 
stronger and stronger, till it finally tore itself loose from 
the earth, and took its way northwards through the air. 
Both the man and his wife thanked Our Lord that she 
had not the belt on, for then she would have flown off to 
Dovrefell. How the bcrgman was pleased to get a big 
ash tree instead of the woman, there is no one here that 

Dwarfs in the Faeroes. 

DWARFS are short and thick ; beardless, but not at all 
ugly. They live in large stones or in mounds at the 
botiom of high rocks ; such dwarf-stones are to be found 
in many places all over the islands. The dwarfs are well- 
disposed, but cannot bear any quarrelling near their 
dwelling ; at that they get angry and go away. The 
large dwarf-stone on Skuo is cleft in two, because two 
boys happened to quarrel and fight while beside it ; then 

The Dwarfs in Smithdale. 139 

the dwarfs fled and split the stone. They are excellent 
smiths, and it was from them that men first learned to 
harden steel in water ; before that they beat out the iron 
and worked it by hammering it while cold. Their tools 
can work by themselves. The dwarfs power lies in the 
belt which they wear round their waist ; if that is taken 
from one he is powerless, and can be compelled to make 
whatever one asks of him, and to give valuable things to 
get back the belt. Under the stones in which they live, 
there may often be seen ashes which arc swept out of 
their smithy. 

In Goosedale stands a cliff inhabited by dwarfs, inside 
which they are sometimes heard working. A poor man, 
who had once gone north to Tongue to set up peats, saw 
the cliff open and the dwarfs at work inside it. He went 
nearer to look at them, when one of them came to the 
door, and said, " Inquisitive were you, for as poor as you 
are ; but you shall have this knife ; " and with that he 
threw out to him a knife, so sharp that it cut everything 
that touched its edge, however hard it might be. 

The Dwarfs in Smithdale. 

IN Smcddal, on Fillc-fell, where there has once been an 
iron-work, dwarfs had their smithy in old days, and pre 
pared all the iron that they used, but when the church 
music from Thomas Kirk, which stood at the eastern end 
of the dale, sounded in the ears of the dwarfs, they with 
drew further up into the fells, leaving their tools and 
their other things behind. Second-sighted folk can still 
see huge bars of iron, heavy anvils and tongs, lying under 
the cliff, but it is useless to try to remove them. Now 

140 Bergfolk and Dwarfs. 

that the church has been pulled down, it is maintained 
that the dwarfs again potter about in their old haunts. 

The Last Dwarfs in Iceland. 

THE poet Gudmund Bergthor s son was all paralysed on 
one side, and this was variously attributed to his mother 
and nurse having quarrelled violently over his cradle, or 
to his mother s imprecations, which took effect on him 
and made him a cripple all his days. Gudmund is 
generally reputed to have been one of the most powerful 
of those poets in whose verses lie magic powers (krapta- 
skdld^ but he did not use his gift merely to injure others, 
as he often saved men from the attacks of ghosts and evil 
spirits by means of it, and only came a little short of 
healing his own infirmity. A man named Andres J6ns- 
son, who lived near Gudmund s home at H61s-biid, is said 
to have told the following to a friend in the north. 
" When I was about twenty years old I heard Gudmund 
say that now there were only two dwarfs left in Iceland, 
one of whom lived in some cliffs north on Langa-ness 
strand, while the other was his dear neighbour, and lived 
in a stone not far from Hols-bud. The latter had an 
ointment that could cure him of his infirmity if he could 
only get it, but he was afraid that it would never be his 
fortune to rid himself of the powerful spells under which 
he had innocently fallen." 

One summer, on a holy day, when all or most of the 
others had gone to church except Gudmund and Andres, 
Gudmund said to him, " Now I will make a bargain with 
you, friend, for I have always found you faithful and 
secret ; you shall carry me east from the house to the big 

The Last Dwarfs in Iceland. 141 

stone that stands there, which I shall point out to you." 
Andres was willing, and carried him to the stone, setting 
him down over against it as he was directed. Gudmund 
seemed to him then so earnest that he could not look 
into his eyes. He told Andres to go home again and 
not come to him before mid-evening, nor tell anyone 
where he was, no matter who asked after him or what 
they might want. Andres promised all this and went 
home. Soon after mid-day a man came to H61s-bud in 
great excitement, and asked for Gudmund. Andres said 
he knew nothing about him, he was not at home, and had 
perhaps got himself taken to the church, as he often did, 
what did he want with him ? The man answered, " My 
daughter at home is tormented by an evil spirit or a 
ghost sent to trouble her. He came upon her last night, 
and she is like a mad thing. I wanted to ask Gudmund s 
help and advice, knowing that he would not refuse me 
his assistance where the life and welfare of my daughter 
was at stake, and I call upon you in the name of all the 
saints to tell me the truth, for he must be told about her 
condition." Andres tried to get out of it as long as he 
could, and made many excuses, but all to no purpose, 
and at last he had to agree to see what Gudmund would 
say. He went to the spot where he had left him, and 
saw that Gudmund had succeeded in charming the dwarf 
out of the stone, and close up to himself, with a large box 
of ointment in his hand. On seeing the man appear, the 
dwarf was so startled that he went back like lightning 
into the stone, which immediately closed up again. 
Gudmund felt this deeply, and said that he would never 
have the good fortune to escape from his hard lot ; " I 
am destined," said he, " to bear my weakness to the grave, 
and the Lord s will be done, for now no human power can 
avail to bring the dwarf out again." 


The Origin of the Elves. 

ONE time God Almighty came to Adam and Eve. They 
received him heartily, and showed him all their household 
possessions, as well as their children, whom he thought 
very promising. He asked Eve whether they had no 
more children than those she had just shown him. She 
said "No ; " but the fact was that Eve had not got some 
of the children washed, and was ashamed to let God see 
them, so she kept them out of the way. God knew this, 
and said, " That which has been hid from me shall also 
be hid from men." These children now became invisible 
to mortals, and lived in holts and heaths, in knolls and 
stones. From these are the elves descended, but men are 
descended from those of Eve s children which she showed 
to God. Mortal men can never see elves, unless they 
wish it themselves, but they can both see mortals and 
give mortals power to see them. 

The Elves House. 

GUDMUND MAGNUSSON tells of his ancestor Olaf Sig- 
urdsson, that in his young days he was once out looking 
after sheep, somewhere in Skagi in the North of Iceland. 
It was thick mist ; Olaf had walked far, and had grown 

A Fairy Birth. 143 

thirsty. Coming to a farm house, he knocked at the 
door, and a woman came to it. Olaf asked her for some 
thing to drink, and she went in to get it, while he re 
mained standing outside. Looking into the passage, he 
saw many things that he had never seen before, though 
others were quite familiar, but what seemed most curious 
to him, was that everything which is usually made of iron 
was here made of day. It now dawned upon him that 
this was an elf-house, and with that he took to his heels 
and ran away, but before he had gone far, the woman 
called after him, and he dared not but stop. " 111 have 
you done," said the woman, " in not even waiting to get 
the milk. You might well understand that I should do 
you some mischief for that, but so much good fortune 
has been granted you, that no spell of mine will have any 
effect on you. At the same time, I shall sec to it that 
your cowardice is visited on your children." The woman 
said no more, and Olaf ran off with his heart in his mouth. 
Her spell, however, apparently had its effect ; Olaf was 
a great man all his days, but some of his children were 

A Fairy Birth. 

AT Skums-stadir, in Landcyar in the district of Rangar- 
valla, there once lived a farmer, who had a good-looking 
wife and many children. One evening during the winter 
he was out in the stack-yard, while his wife was inside 
preparing food. There came to her then a man she had 
never seen before, and asked her to help his wife, who 
was in labour. She tried hard to get out of it, saying 
that she had never waited on a woman, but he only 

144 Elves or Huldu-folk. 

pressed her the more, until she agreed to go with him. 
They went on together, until they came to a high knoll, 
which opened up at their approach. The man went in 
first, and the woman after, but she took care to lay her 
gloves on the mound above the door, in order to ensure 
her return. On entering the mound she saw nothing but 
a bed, and in it a woman in great pain. She passed her 
hands over her, at which she felt some relief, and soon 
after gave birth to a child. The farmer s wife took the 
child, and gave it all the usual care and attention, after 
which the man opened a box, and took out of it a stone, 
which he asked her to rub round the eyes of the child. 
The woman did not understand what this meant, but 
thought to herself that it could hardly do her any harm, 
though she rubbed one of her own eyes with it, and this 
she did without the man being any the wiser. Then she 
saw other people going about in the mound, and some 
sitting at work, but kept this to herself. The fairy-man 
then saw her home again, and thanked her for coming 
with him. 

The following summer the farmer went to Eyrarbakki 
with his wares, and was accompanied by his wife. On 
the return journey, they stopped for the night beside 
Egils-stadir on Thj6rs-a. All had gone to rest, but the 
farmer s wife could not sleep, and by and by she pulled 
aside the edge of the tent, and looked out. There, with 
her second-sighted eye, she saw a man come to the meal- 
sacks which belonged to the travellers ; these he opened 
and took a handful out of each, which he put into a bag 
that he carried under his arm. When he had nearly filled 
the bag, the woman spoke to him, saying, " Why are you 
doing that?" He looked at her in surprise, and said, 
" How can you see me ? " and with that he blew upon her, 

Baptizing a Fairy-child. 145 

so that she plainly felt it, and from that time she could 
see no fairies. 

Baptizing a Fairy-child. 

ONE time long ago, while a party was gathering Icelandic 
moss at Reyk-holar, a girl disappeared in a thick mist 
that came upon them, nor was she found again all that 
summer. A wise man was then asked to search for her 
by means of his magic arts, and find out where she had 
gone to, and bring her back. This he succeeded in doing, 
and after her return her master, the priest, never let her 
be left by herself. One time, however, it happened that 
she was sent out into the church, and before long her 
master went to look for her, suspecting that something 
had happened ; when lie entered the church she had dis 
appeared. He then looked about him, and saw a man in 
a red kirtle riding away with the girl behind him. Time 
went on and nothing was heard of her, until the priest s 
wife dreamed that the man who had carried off the girl 
came to her, and brought her greetings from his wife, with 
the request to baptize the child that would be found lying 
in its cradle before the church door when she awoke ; the 
priest should have for his fee the vestment that was over 
the cradle. The priest s wife then awoke, and found 
everything as she had dreamed it. The cradle was at the 
place stated, with the child in it, and over it a costly 
priest s vestment and a linen surplice. The priest bap 
tized the child, and it was put back in the cradle as be 
fore. He kept the vestment, but laid the surplice over 
the cradle again. A little later both cradle and child had 
disappeared, but the surplice was left behind. 

146 Elves or Huldu-folk. 

The Changeling. 

ONCE there was a double household at Sogn in Kjos, and 
one of the men had a son, who was thought not to have 
all his wits. He learned nothing and never did anything, 
but lay continually in bed, though he was always ready 
enough for his food. It was generally believed that he 
was a changeling, but for long this was uncertain. One 
time, however, when he was of age to be confirmed, every 
one had gone out of the room except a woman, who was 
lying in her bed with a child beside her./ After all had 
gone out, she heard the lad begin to yawn loudly, until 
she at last began to be terrified at the way he went on. 
Then she heard him begin to toss about in the bed and 
stretch himself, and next she became aware that he had 
stood up in the bed, andT stretched himself till he reached 
almost up to the roof of the room. This was so built that 
it had short beams between the rafters, and as he yawned 
and brought his face near one of these, the beam came 
right into his open mouth, so that his upper jaw rested 
above it, while the under one lay below it At the same 
time he became so ugly and horrible to look at, that the 
woman was mortally afraid, and cried out in terror, know 
ing herself to be alone in the room with him. As soon 
as she did so, he shot down again into his bed, and was 
in his usual shape when the folk came in again. After 
this it was thought that there was no doubt of his being 
a changeling. 

The Father of Eighteen Children. 

ONE summer all the folk on a farm were in the fields 
except the housewife, who was left at home with a child 

The Father of Eighteen Children. 147 

of three or four years old. The boy had thriven well up 
to this time, and was in every way a promising child. 
Having a good deal to do, his mother had left him for a 
little, while she went out to wash her milk-dish in a stream 
not far from the house. On her return, whenever she 
spoke to the child, it cried and howled in a way that sur 
prised her, for hitherto it had been so good and quiet. 
From this time it never spoke a word, and was so fretful 
and cross, that the woman could not understand the 
change in it. It grew no bigger, and seemed a perfect 
idiot. Greatly vexed at this, she consulted her neighbour, 
who was believed to be a wise woman. The latter, after 
hearing all her story, said, " Don t you think, my dear, it 
is a changeling ? I expect it must have been exchanged 
when you left it alone on that occasion." " I don t know/ 
said the mother ; "can you tell me any plan to find that 
out ? " "I shall try," said the neighbour. " Some time 
you must leave the child all alone by itself, and let some 
thing strange happen in its sight. It will speak then, 
when it sees no one near it, and you must listen and hear 
what it says. If you think its words strange and suspi 
cious, then beat it unmercifully till something happens." 

With this they parted, and the woman returned home, 
thanking her neighbour for her advice. Arrived at home, 
she set a little pot in the middle of the kitchen floor. 
Then she took a number of sticks, and tied them, one to 
the end of another, until the upper end of them reached 
up into the chimney. To the lower end she then tied the 
porridge-stick, and let the whole thing stand in the pot. 
These preparations made, she brought the child, and left 
him alone in the kitchen, while she went outside, and 
stood listening where she could see into the kitchen from 
behind the door. Before long she saw the child begin to 

148 Elves or Huldu-folk. 

walk round the pot with the stick in it, looking at it, and 
finally heard it say, Now I am as old as may be seen by 
my beard, the father of eighteen children in the elf-world, 
but never have I seen so long a stick in so little a pot." 
The woman now entered the kitchen with a fine switch, 
took the changeling and thrashed him long and unmerci 
fully, while he howled terribly. After she had done this 
for some time, she saw a strange woman coming into the 
kitchen with a beautiful boy in her arms, with which she 
played, and said to the woman, " We behave very dif 
ferently: I dandle your child, and you beat my husband." 
Having said this, she set down the child, which was the 
housewife s real son, and left it there, while she took with 
her her husband, and the two immediately disappeared. 

Making a Changeling. 

KRISTIN, who lived at Minni-Thvcrd (apparently in 
Skagafirth district) about 1830-1840, told of her mother, 
who was second-sighted, that she was once out on the 
meadows with Kristin s grandmother, and saw two women 
coming down from the mountain, leading between them 
a man who was carrying something. On coming near, 
they took the bundle ofT the carl, and she then saw that 
it was a cradle covered with red. They then took the 
carl and began to beat him, while he grew less and less 
till he was quite a little fellow. They took him again, 
and squeezed him till he was as small as a child in the 
cradle. Then they laid him in the cradle, spread the red 
cloth over him, and made for the farm, carrying the whole 
thing between them. The girl told her mother what she 
had seen, who immediately ran home and got to her 

The Child and the Fairy. 149 

child s cradle, which she had left standing in front of the 
house, before the fairy-women reached it. When the 
latter saw this they took the child they were carrying out 
of the cradle, slapped it, beat it and drove it on before 
them. With that the carl quickly began to grow big 
again, until he was just as he had been originally, and 
held with them up into the fells, where they all dis 

The Child and the Fairy. 

AT Heidar-bot in Reykja-hverf, in the district of Thingey, 
it happened one evening that while a woman was in the 
byre, one of her children went out of the house, intending 
to follow its mother thither. On going out at the door, it 
saw her standing in front of the house. She signed to it 
in silence, and clapped her thigh, walking off slowly 
and still beckoning it to come. Above the farm 
are some pointed cliffs known as the " Steeples." The 
woman made her way to these, enticing the child to fol 
low her, and finally disappeared with it into one of the 
steeples, for it was not the child s mother at all, but an 
elf-woman. When the mother returned from the byre, 
she missed her child and made enquiry after it, but those 
in the house thought it had been with her. Its parents 
were panic-struck ; a party was gathered and search made, 
but it could not be found, wherever they sought for it 
At Sand there lived a man named Arnor, who was 
reckoned a wizard. To him the mother went to ask 
counsel, and arrived there late in the day. Arnor invited 
her to stay all night, and this she accepted. He asked 
her all about the child s disappearance, and she told him 

150 Elves or Huldu-folk. 

all the facts. That evening, about the same time, Arnor 
took a knife and cut three triangular pieces out of the 
floor of the room, As he cut thn last ono, n, loud crash 
was heard. He then replaced the pieces on the floor, and 
told the woman that she might sleep soundly all night, 
for the child had come back. Next day she went home 
and the child had come, but it was thought strange that 
one of its cheeks was blue, and never afterwards lost that 
colour. The child was now asked where it had been, and 
told about the woman who had enticed it up to the Steeples, 
and carried it in there, whereupon it saw that she was not 
its mother. It tasted no food there, because it all seemed 
to be red. The evening that Arnor cut the pieces out of 
the floor, there fell three stones out of the mountain, all 
three-cornered. At the last of these, the fairy took up 
the child in a great rage, ran with it to the farm, and gave 
it a good slap in the face at parting ; that was the noise 
that was heard after the last piece was cut out, and for 
this reason one of its checks was blue. The child s name 
was Gudmund, who afterwards lived there in the north, 
and had a daughter named Elizabeth, whose descendants 
lived in Eyafirth. 

Carried off by the Fairies. 

IN the east of Iceland, it happened that a farmer s 
daughter disappeared from her home, and could not be 
found though searched for far and wide. Her parents 
were greatly distressed, and the farmer went to a priest, 
whom he knew to be wiser in many things than other 
men. The priest received him well, and the man begged 
him to devise some plan, that would enable him to know 

Carried off by the Fairies. 151 

whether his daughter was alive or dead. The priest then 
told him that she had been carried off by the elves, and he would have -no pleasure in seeing her again. The 
man however would not believe this, and asked the priest 
to help him to get her back, and in the end, by reason of 
the man s persistence, the priest fixed an evening on which 
he should come again to him. This the man did at the 
time appointed, and after all had gone to bed, the priest 
called him outside, where there stood a horse saddled and 
bridled. The priest mounted this, and told the man to 
get on behind him. They then rode off, nor did the man 
know how long they had ridden, till at last they came to 
the sea. The priest rode out into the sea for a consider 
able distance, until they came to some high cliffs. Up 
under these he rode, and onwards until he stopped at a 
place in front of the cliffs. These opened up then, and it 
seemed just as if there was a house-door in them : inside 
there was a blazing light that made everything perfectly 
clear, and there the man saw people going to and fro, 
both men and women. Among these he saw one woman, 
who had a face of a bluish colour, with a white cross on 
the forehead. The priest asked him how he liked the one 
with the cross. " Not well," said he. * Yet this woman 
is your daughter," said the priest, " and I shall get her, if 
you wish, but she has now become like a troll from living 
with these folk." The man said he did not wish it, and 
asked the priest to leave as quickly as possible, for he had 
no heart to look on this any longer. The priest turned 
about his horse, and rode home the same way again, 
without any one knowing of their journey. The farmer 
went home again next day, sad and sorrowful, and no 
more is told of him. 

152" Elves or Huldu-folk. 

The Girl and the Elf-brothers. 

THERE was once a married couple who had a daughter, 
who disappeared every evening in the gloaming. Her 
mother did not care much for her, and spoke little to her; 
but on the farm there was an old woman, who was very 
fond of the girl. The daughter would never tell her 
mother where she went to, but when the old woman 
asked her about it, she told her that a little way off on 
the farm there was a mound to which she went. Two 
brothers lived in it, and were glad to see her, but she was 
not pleased that she never saw a Bible there. Time 
passed till the girl was confirmed, and went to the altar 
on the following Sunday. In the evening, the old woman 
told her to go to the mound, and see how she would be 
received. She did so, and on her return said that they 
had received her kindly, but refused to kiss her, saying 
that a black spot had come upon her lips. Thus time 
passed, until a man came to ask her hand. He received 
this at once, and she went away with him. Three years 
later, she came to visit her parents again, and the old 
woman told her to go to the mound, and see how things 
were there. She did so, and returned in a very short time. 
" How are things going on there ? " asked the old woman. 
" Well enough," said she ; " but I saw only one of the 
brothers, and he told me the other had died of grief/ 
She went home again with her husband, and there the 
story ends. 

Ima the Elf-girl. 

THERE was a man named J6n Gudmundsson, who lived 
at Beru-nes in Reydar-firth. Many stories were told of 

Ima the Elf-girl. 153 

him after his own days, for he was believed to be wise in 
many things, and mixed up with magic arts, like many 
others at that time. He was brought up at Beru-ncs, and 
herded sheep when he was grown up. One time, it is told, 
he was watching the ewes at the head of a glen in the hill 
above the farm, when there came to him a young girl, 
who was very pleasant with him. He asked her name, 
and she said it was Ima, and that her father and mother 
lived in the hill there. She was wonderfully familiar with 
Jon, and told him all about her father s house. Among 
other things, she told him that her father had a book, in 
which there was much marvellous lore, and from which 
one might learn much; anyone who read it would become 
a poet with magic powers in his verse, and few things 
would come on him unawares. J6n asked her whether 
she could not procure the book for him, but she said that 
that was almost impossible, her father guarded it so care 
fully. J6n then pressed her to get a loan of it for him 
for a little time. She answered that she was ready to do 
most things to win his love, and would try to procure the 
book ; but if her father came to know of it, it would pro 
bably cost her her life. She stayed with J6n until he 
drove his sheep home in the evening, and next day she 
came with the book, and bade him keep good faith with 
her, as she would come for it in a fortnight. Jon promised 
this, and was very nice with her in every way. At the 
appointed time, Ima came and asked him for the book, 
saying that both her own life and his were at stake, if this 
came to be known. Jon replied that he could not want 
the book, and would never let it go. Ima threw her arms 
round his neck, and begged him with tears not to break 
his promise to her ; but he said that neither prayers nor 
entreaties would help her, he would not let the book go. 


154 Elves or Huldu-folk. 

" You do ill in this," said she, " when my life depends on 
it ; but all the same I cannot deal with you as you have 
deserved, so much do I love you." So she parted with 
him sorrowful and angry, and their meeting-place has 
since been known as Imu-botnar. 

After this, and a little before Christmas, J6n dreamed 
one night that a man came to him and addressed him, 
saying that he had come to warn him of the danger that 
was hanging over him. Everything had now come out 
about the book that I ma had lent him, and they were 
coming to him for it on Christmas Eve. " Her father 
means to kill you. There will be four of us, the carl, the 
carline, Ima, and I. I warn you of this because I am 
tired of life ; I was of the race of mortals, but was taken 
away by the elves. About midnight on Christmas Eve 
they will enter the house. You must sit up on the dais 
with a large knife beside you, and as soon as you hear 
them come to the door of the room, you must spring up, 
go down into the passage, and kill the one that comes 
first, and then the others in turn. I will put myself but 
little forward, and will protect you as well as I can against 
the attacks of the others. You will succeed in overcoming 
them, and I shall be severely wounded, and do you re 
member then to put me quickly out of pain, for I wish to 
live no longer. When you have killed them, you must 
drag them out of the house and burn them, and be 
finished with this before daybreak." After this the man 
disappeared, and J6n awoke. Everything went as he had 
been told in the dream, after all the others had gone to 
church on Christmas Eve, and J6n was left at home alone. 
He mentions the incident himself in the introductory 
verses to one of his ballads. 

The Elfin Fisherman. 155 

The Elfin Fisherman. 

IT is told that in former days a farmer lived at Gotur in 
Myr-dal, who in the season went out to fish beside 
Dyr-h61ar island. One time, as he was returning from 
the sea, and crossing the mires on his way home, he came 
in the twilight upon a man whose horse had fallen, and 
could not be got up without assistance. The farmer did 
not know the man, but helped him up with his horse. 
When this was done, the stranger said to him, " I am 
your neighbour, for I live in Hvamms-gil, and am just 
returning from the sea, like yourself, but I am so poor 
that I cannot pay you for your assistance as it deserves. 
However, if you follow my advice, you shall have this 
good of me, that you will never have to go on a useless 
journey to the sea, but only on the condition that you 
never set out until you see me do so. If you observe this, 
you will never fail to get out to fish whenever you go 
down to the shore." The farmer thanked him for his 
counsel, and for three years he never set out unless when 
he saw his neighbour do so, nor was he ever unsuccessful 
in getting out to sea all that time. One day, however, 
it happened that the weather in the morning was. splendid 
for fishing, and all went down to the shore at once, but 
the farmer could not see his neighbour, though he waited 
long for him. Finally he could stand it no longer, and 
went off without seeing him, but when he got to the shore 
all the boats had gone. That day all the boats were 
caught in a storm, but the farmer escaped by not getting 
one in the morning. During the following night he 
dreamed that his neighbour came to him, and said, " You 
got this much good of me, that you did not go to sea to 
day ; but because you set out without seeing me, you will 

156 Elves or Huldu-folk. 

not require to wait for me any more, for I do not mean 
to let you see me again after this, since you did not follow 
my instructions." 

The Elfin Cow. 

ONE time when a farmer in the West Firths went into 
his byre, he saw standing there a grey cow which did not 
belong to him. He bit the cow s ear so that it bled, and 
thus it became his, and could not go away again. 

During the night his wife dreamed that a woman came 
to her, and said, " Your husband did ill to mark my cow 
as his own, and leave me without any support for myself 
and my children, seeing that I had no other cow giving 
milk this winter. For your sake I will do him no harm, 
but only on condition that he shall give me one share of 
his fish every time he goes to sea, all through the winter 
up to Cross-mass (May 3). This he shall lay aside un- 
clcaned, and I will come for it. I also want the cow s 
calf, when that comes." The farmer s wife agreed to all 
this, and the woman went away. The wife told her hus 
band all the talk she had had with the elf-woman, and 
begged him not to break any of the promises she had 
made. To this he agreed. 

When the cow calved, the calf disappeared at once. All 
winter the farmer s wife laid the evening milk of the cow 
in a place out of the way, and in the morning the vessel 
was always empty. The cow gave a great deal of milk, 
and many fine calves were got from it, whose descendants 
are said to be still in the district. 

The farmer had good catches when he went out fishing 
during the winter and spring, and always laid aside a 

The Elf-woman in Miili. 157 

share of the fish when he divided them in the evening ; in 
the morning they had disappeared. On the day after 
Cross-mass he did this as usual, but in the morning the 
fish lay there untouched, and henceforward he kept them 
to himself, nor did the elf-woman ever come near him 

The Elf-woman in Miili. 

WEST under Barda-strond, in the parish of Flatey, lived 
a man named Ingimund, whose grand-children are still 
alive. He was a well-to-do man, hard-working, and of a 
determined nature. On his lands was an island-meadow, 
called Muli, which had to be left untouched, and never 
had been mown, though there was abundance of grass on 
it. Ingimund was annoyed to see so much grass on the 
meadow, and not have the use of it, till at lact he could 
stand it no longer, and told his men to mow it. His wife 
bade him let it alone, but he never heeded, and had it 
mown against her wish ; he got a great quantity of hay 
off it, and thought he had done well in mowing it. In 
the autumn, however, his wife dreamed that a woman 
came to her with a sorrowful look, and said, " Your hus 
band did ill in mowing the island that I live in, for I have 
had to kill my cow that I lived by. He will be spared on 
your account, but he shall bear my mark for having made 
me kill my cow." Then she went away to Ingimund, who 
slept in another bed, and said, " You owe it to your wife 
that I do not give you your just reward for not giving 
heed to her, and having the meadow mown when she 
told you not to. I have had to kill my cow on account 
of that, and I will make you remember it." Then she 

158 Elves or Huldu-folk. 

grasped his arm and said, " You shall have no harder 
punishment than this." She went away then, and he 
awoke with a pain in his arm, which afterwards withered 
up, so that he could never work with it again. 

Fairies Revenge. 

AlJOUT the beginning of this century, a man and his wife 
lived on a farm in Eyjafirth ; the man s name is not 
given, but the woman s was Ingirid. They were very 
well off, and had many grown-up children. The husband 
was considered rather greedy, but the wife was liberal, 
and not of a sparing disposition. 

One time, in the end of winter, the farmer was coming 
into the house, when he noticed his wife in the pantry, 
filling a vessel with sour milk. " Ingirid again, he 
thought, " giving away to somebody," and paid no more 
heed to it. On entering the house, however, he found his 
wife there, and was at first surprised, then angry ; de 
clared that it had been some thief, hoped she might never 
thrive, and consigned her to the lowest depths. Ingirid 
took it more calmly; said it must have been some hungry 
person, and that he should not go on like that, but her 
husband only grew angrier, and rushed to the pantry. 
There he found the door locked, and no trace of any one 
having been near it, so he quieted down and the matter 
dropped. The following night, Ingirid dreamed that a 
woman came to her, and said she had done well in saying 
little about it, although she had come quietly into her 
pantry ; but her husband had behaved differently, and 
she was afraid that her own husband would pay him back 
for it She therefore begged her not to have her two 

The Two Sisters and the Elves. 159 

eldest sons at home on the first night of summer, and to 
remember that well. Then the woman disappeared, but 
Ingirid remembered the dream. For three nights she had 
the same dream, and the fairy woman seemed very 
anxious about this, which was the only thing she spoke 
about. After this she entirely disappeared, and it came 
on [[ towards summer. The last Wednesday in winter 
Ingirid sent her sons away, so that they should not be at 
home that night. When the byre was entered on the 
first morning of summer, the two best cows were found 
lying dead in the stalls, and it was supposed that the 
fairy had intended to kill the farmer s sons in revenge, 
and, not being able to get hold of these, he had killed 
the cows rather than nothing. 

The Two Sisters and the Elves. 

Two grown-up sisters once lived with their parents, who 
petted one and were harsh to the other. One time during 
winter, it so happened that all the people about the farm 
wanted to go to even-song, and along with the rest the 
daughter who was thrust aside was very anxious to go ; 
but as some one had to stay at home, she was made to 
do so, though it was greatly against her will. When all 
the others had left the place, she began to clean the whole 
house up and down, and set lights in every corner. This 
work finished, she invited the huldu-folk to visit her, 
going round all the farm repeating the usual formula, 
" Come all ye that care to come," etc. Then she went 
inside, and sat down to read the Bible, and never lifted 
her eyes from it until day dawned. No sooner had she 
sat down, however, than a crowd of elves entered the 

160 Elves or Huldu-folk. 

house, all dressed in gold and fine clothes. They laid on 
the floor all kinds of precious things, ar.d offered them to 
the farmer s daughter ; they also began to dance and in 
vited her to join them, but she paid no heed to them. 
This went on till morning, when the girl looked out at 
the window, and said, " God be praised ; the day has 
come now ! " When the huldu-folk heard God named, 
they hurried off and left all their treasures behind. 

When the others came home, and her sister saw the 
valuable things she had come into possession of, she 
envied her greatly, and said that next year she would 
stay at home herself. New Year s Eve again came round, 
and the spoilt daughter stayed at home ; she was very 
eager for the coming of the elves, so she lighted all the 
house and invited them to come. They came then, as 
finely dressed as before, piled their treasures on the floor 
and began to dance, inviting her to join them. This she 
did, but in the dance she broke her leg and went out of 
her senses, while the huldu-folk went off again with all 
the treasure. 

The Elves Removal. 

IN 1819 there was on the farm of St6ru-akrar, in Skaga- 
firth, a young fellow named Gudmund, about twenty 
years of age, who acted as shepherd. On the morning 
after Twelfth Night he let out the sheep before daybreak, 
and drove them to the dale where they pastured when 
weather permitted. Arrived at the dale with his sheep, 
he saw a caravan making its way along, in which were 
both men and women, as well as children ; the women and 
children were seated in cars, while the horses were loaded 

The Huldu-folk in the Feeroes. 161 

with luggage. Gudmund never thought but what the 
travellers were of his own species, although he was sur 
prised that any one should be removing at that time of 
year, and also at their being seated in cars. He was 
desirous to speak with them, and ran from his sheep to 
do so, but these people made haste out by some cliffs to 
avoid him. Gudmund managed to get opposite to them, 
but could not get talking with them, as there was so great 
a distance between him and them, and he had also begun 
to doubt what they were. They then arrived at the cliffs 
and unloaded the horses. He seemed to see several doors 
open and lights burning inside; the folk went up to these, 
the women and children entered, and the men carried in 
the luggage. Then he heard ringing of bells and singing, 
but could not make out a word, and when he arrived at 
the cliffs they were all shut up again, and the cars, in 
which the women and children had seemed to be seated, 
were only stones before his eyes. He saw now what kind 
of folk they were, and wished to get away as quickly as 
possible, but grew so sleepy and powerless, that he had 
to lie down there and sleep. When he awoke again day 
had dawned, and he rose, but had again to lie down be 
side the cliffs and sleep. When he next awoke it was 
clear daylight, and he recovered his strength, although 
still somewhat confused. He returned to his sheep, and 
took them home in the evening. People thought him 
strange for some time after this, but it gradually passed 

The Huldu-folk in the Faeroes. 

THESE are tall of stature ; their clothes are all gray, and 
their hair black ; they live in mounds and are also called 

1 62 Elves or Huldu-folk. 

" elves." There is an " elf-hovve " in Nord-stromo, south 
from Haldors-vik. They live like other folk, go out to 
fish, and have sheep and cattle, which go in the pastures 
among other cattle. They can make themselves and 
their property invisible to mortal men, and hence it is 
often said, when one is searching for anything, that a 
"hulda has hid it." They are eager to get children, who 
have not been baptised, taken out of the cradle, and to 
leave their own instead, but the latter remain mere idiots. 
Little children, who go out alone, often disappear, carried 
off by the huldu-folk ; sometimes they are afterwards 
found far away from any habitation, and have then told 
that a big man brought them food while they were away. 
Huldu-girls often fall in love with Christian men, and try 
then to tempt them, and draw them to themselves ; if 
they are out on the pastures, thirsty and tired, then the 
mound opens and the girl comes out to offer them ale or 
milk to drink, and unless they blow off the froth (for in 
that lies the charm), they forget everything as soon as 
they drink, the fairy gets power over them, and carries 
them off with her into her elf-howe. 

The Dulur Fishing-bank. 

ONE time in old days there was a famine in the Faeroes ; 
a disease had carried off the sheep, the corn had not 
ripened, and no fish could be got in the sea. The distress 
is said to have been greatest in Vaago, for it was a long 
time since they had caught anything at the good fishing- 
banks west in the sea, or anywhere else they tried it often 
but came back quite empty. On this island, then, a poor 
man was going about, heavy and sad at heart, lamenting 

The Dulur Fishing-bank. 163 

his distress ; he had many children, and could not see 
how he was to get a bite to put into their mouths. As 
he went about in this sorrowful mood, and complained of 
his hard lot, in having to starve his children and die of 
hunger himself, he met a huldu-man, who asked him what 
ailed him that he seemed so heavy-hearted. The man 
told him how badly off he was, and the huldu-man 
answered that it was a shame he should suffer such dis 
tress, for there was plenty of fish, if they had only been 
able to find them, and he would now tell him the marks 
to find the fishing-place by : " the stream in Dal, the 
mound on Harda-voll, the river in Tang, fish here shall 
you fang bitten iron and trodden, he that fishes not 
then is fey." When the huldu-man had said this he sud 
denly disappeared, without explaining these dark words 
and unknown names. The man, however, carefully re 
membered what had been said, and began to ponder over 
it, till at long length he thought he had some idea where 
the fishing-place ought to be. Old folks in the district 
knew the names, and could tell him where the landmarks 
were to be found. There still remained to find out what 
the huldu-man had meant by " bitten iron and trodden." 
It finally struck him that " bitten iron " might be the bit 
of a bridle, and " trodden iron " a horse-shoe, so he took 
these and made his hooks of them. When he had got 
this done, they manned a fishing-boat, and took their 
bearings after what the man had made out of the huldu- 
man s words. He gave all the boatmen hooks which he 
had made from the horse s bit and shoe, and they let 
them down. They had struck the right spot, and had 
not sat there more than a little while, before the boat was 
laden with fish almost to sinking. They then rowed 
home rejoicing, and the bank is still called the Dulur (/>., 

164 Elves or Huldu-folk. 

hidden,) after the huldu-man, and is regularly frequented. 
On their way home, the Vaago men rowed past a boat 
they did not know, but it was a huldu-boat, the captain of 
which rose from his seat, and said to the man, " A lucky 
man -are you ; well were the words explained and well 
was the bank found." The boat disappeared from view, 
and was never seen again ; but the Vaago fishers were 
glad to have something to give to their wives and chil 
dren that evening and afterwards. 

The Man from Gasa-dal in the Huldu-boat. 

THERE is no level beach at Gasa-dal in Vaago, only 
rocks fifteen fathoms high facing the sea. The place is 
thus badly situated for fishing, as no boat can lie under 
the cliffs during winter, on account of the breakers. This 
accordingly prevents them from keeping a large boat, as 
it would be too hard work to drag it to the top of the 
cliffs, ar.d so the men of Gdsa-dal share the fishing-boats 
of the men of Bo, and go out with them. 

One night, when the weather was promising, a man 
from Gasa-dal left home to go east to Akra-nes, where 
the men from Bo were to put in to land, and take him on 
board. When he came cast to Skards-a, he saw a boat 
rowing in to Akra-nes, and being unwilling to keep them 
waiting long for him, he started to run down to them as 
fast as he could. He saw then that there were seven men 
on board, and an empty place for him on one of the seats, 
but he could not recognize the men, as the darkness had 
no more than begun to clear away. He had no suspicion 
but that everything was as it ought to be, sprang quickly 
into the boat, and they at once pushed off from the shore. 

The Man from Gdsa-dal. 165 

The man sat down in his accustomed place, and put out 
his oar, but on looking about him found that he knew no 
one on board, and began to suspect that it was huldu- 
men he had got among ; however, he showed no dismay, 
and rowed as stoutly as they did. They held north round 
the island to Ravna-muli, a bank frequented by the fisher 
men on the west coast of Vaago. The huldu-men baited 
and threw out their lines, but the man from Gasa-dal sat 
still and said nothing, for although he had brought his 
line with him, his hooks were at Bo, and he had no bait. 
The foreman on the boat asked him why he did not cast 
his line ; he answered, " I have no crook and no bite? 
The huldu-man at once gave him both hooks and bait, 
and the hooks had no more than reached the bottom 
when he felt a pull, and drew up a large fish, which, as 
soon as he had killed it and laid it down in the boat, the 
foreman took and marked, and every fish he caught was 
marked in the same way. When they had got the boat 
laden with fine fish, they rowed home again, and put to 
shore at Akra-ncs, at the same spot where they had taken 
the man on board. As he had fished all day on his own 
account, they threw ashore every fish that had been 
marked. When he had got ashore, and had received his 
catch out of the boat, he noticed that he had left his knife 
in it, and called out to them, " Sharp by thigh is left be 
hind." The huldu-man caught up the knife and threw it 
at him, but did not strike him, whereupon he cried " A 
curse on you, but you are a lucky man." They then 
pushed off from the land again, and the foreman said, 
" Hound that you are, you never said thanks to me for 
the boat." It is not good, when huldu-folk are near on 
the sea or on land (and who knows that ?) to name knife, 
sword, axe, bait, smoke, etc., by their proper names, but 

i66 Elves or Huldu-folk. 

by other words such as " sharp," " bite," " house-shadow," 
and the like. Neither is it good to thank the huldu-folk 
when they do one a service, for then they have power to 
do one some mischief. 

The Huldres in Norway. 

THE huldres are women as beautiful as can be imagined, 


who live in the mountains and graze their cattle there. 
These are often fat and thriving, brindled, or light in 
colour. They themselves, when they appear to men, are 
dressed in grey clothes, with a white cloth hanging over 
their face, and the only thing they can be recognised by, 
is the long tail that drags behind them, which, however, 
they for the most part generally manage to conceal. 

If one hears them play among the mountains, it is so 
enchanting that one can scarcely contain one s self for 
joy. This music is called the Huldre s tune, and there 
are many peasants who have heard it, and learned it, and 
can play it again. 

Now it once happened at a srcter, or mountain shiel, 
that a man, who was working there, lay down on the 
ground to rest. He had scarcely fallen asleep, before it 
seemed to him as if he was in such a beautiful meadow, 
that he had never before seen its equal ; mountain lilies 
grew round about in fairest bloom, and in the midst of 
them lay a farm, one of the finest he had ever seen. He 
went into this, and saw in it a whole little family, all 
dressed in grey. The father was an old man with a long 
beard, but altogether a dainty creature. " Sit down and 
eat with us," said the old man. " Yes, thanks for the invi 
tation," said the man, "but I must first say my grace," and 

The Huldre s Tail. 167 

he began to take off his hat and fold his hands. " No, no," 
said the old man, (i we don t use these tricks here, and if 
you would lay aside your knife and your silver pin, I 
should be very much obliged ; I don t like all that show ; " 
for so long as one has silver and steel about him these 
creatures have no power over him. " No, thanks," said 
the man, " I keep them always about me and don t like 
to part with them." " As you please, my son," said the 
old man ; " wouldn t you like to have one of my pretty 
daughters though ?" " Thanks," said the man ; " but I 
am married already." " Oh, indeed," said the little one, 
" that needn t cause you any trouble, for you will never 
see her again, but live for ever down here with us, in pure 
joy and pleasure." The man grew a little uncomfortable 
at this, but stuck to his refusal. " Well," said the old 
man, " if he won t be good friends with us he may as well 
go to the door ; out with him, my lads." So they laid 
hold of the poor peasant and threw him out, and with 
that he awoke, and was mortally ill after it. 

The Huldre s Tail. 

ONE time a huldre was present at a gathering, where 
everyone wanted to dance with the pretty stranger, but 
in the midst of the merriment, the young fellow who 
was dancing with her, caught sight of her long tail. He 
immediately guessed what she was and was frightened, 
but kept his presence of mind, and did not betray her, 
but only said at the end of the dance, " Pretty maid, you 
are losing your garter." She immediately disappeared, 
but afterwards rewarded him with fine presents and suc 
cess in his cattle-rearing. 

1 68 Elves or Huldu-folk. 

A half-grown lad - from Vermeland was once in the 
forest, busied with charcoal burning, when there came to 
him a beautiful woman with long hair falling down her 
back. She greeted him in a friendly manner, and began 
to talk to him, and he was quite enchanted with her 
beauty ; but as they sat and talked, he looked behind her 
and caught sight of a long tail. " What s this I see ? " 
he cried in amazement ; " that s a rare train you have." 
She became quite angry at the joke, and said, " I wished 
you well, my lad, but now no one shall ever love you, I 
shall take care of that, and everything shall go against 
you." With that she disappeared, and the lad imme 
diately fell into a fatal illness. 

The Huldre s Husband. 

IN Nordland the story is told that a smart fellow got 
hold of a huldre in the wood, by laying the barrel of his 
rifle over her. She was baptised, and became his wife. 
They lived very well together and had a child, but sud 
denly one evening as the child was playing on the hearth, 
where the woman sat and span, while the husband was 
doing something else, something of her wild nature came 
over her, and she, in a savage mood, said to him that the 
child would be splendid to spit and roast for supper. The 
man was scared, and the woman, who noticed that she 
had made a bad mistake, checked herself and entreated 
him to forget it ; but he didn t. The frightful words were 
always in his ears ; he got by them an ugly glance into 
his wife s true nature, and the peace of the home was de 
stroyed. From being a good husband he became irritable, 
often taunted his wife with her savage proposal, cursed 

The Bride s Crown in Numme-dal. 169 

his folly in marrying her, and struck and beat her. So 
things went on for a time, while the woman suffered and 
sorrowed. One day she went to the smithy in all friend 
liness to look at her husband working, but when he began 
as usual, and they finally came to blows, she, to give him 
proof of her superiority, caught up an iron rod and twisted 
it like steel wire round her husband, who had then to give 
in and promise to keep the peace. 

The Bride s Crown in Numme-dal. 

IT is not much beyond living memory, since a grown up 
fellow from Opdals Annex in Numme-dal came upon a 
merry huldre wedding, as he went past a deserted saitcr. 
Through a window he saw that everything went on 
among the berg-folk the same as at ordinary weddings, 
but his attention was most attracted by the bride, both 
for her beauty and her beautiful dress, the finest part of 
which was a massive bridal crown of shining silver. He 
looked at the bride so long that he fell in love with her, 
and did not think twice of depriving the wedding guests 
of their merriment, and the bridegroom of his rich and 
beautiful bride. He quickly drew his knife, and cast it 
through the window over her head, upon which the others 
disappeared like lightning, leaving only the fair one sit 
ting, bound fast by the spell of the steel. The two soon 
came to an understanding, the fairy bride followed him 
home, and finally, after being baptised, went with him to 
the altar ; but her beautiful bridal dress was spoiled by 
an ugly cow s tail, which only disappeared little by little. 
They lived long and happily together, and the costly 
silver crown is still preserved at Maera-bru. 


170 Elves or Huldu-folk. 

Fairies in the house. 

SOME people who know no better, say that they have 
heard the Goa-nisse go about and sweep the house, when 
in reality it was only the raa, imitating the work of 
mortals. The raa can never be seen, but every night they 
may be heard working in workshops, in houses that are 
being built, or in large kitchens, and even spinning with 
the spinning wheels, when these have been laid aside for 
any length of time. For this reason, every orderly woman 
is careful to remove the distaff from the wheel and tie it 
up firmly, so that the fairies have to let it remain in peace. 
Otherwise, these fairies do neither good nor ill, beyond 
befooling some ignorant people into going to see what it 
is, that is working in this way ; but in that case nothing 
more happens, than that everything becomes quiet, until 
the inquisitive person has gone his way. Then the fairies 
begin anew. 

In Kristianstad there was a bake-house which was full 
of fairies, who went about in it every night as if they had 
been human beings. There was a stable-man named 
Jons, who had always to awaken the baker at two o clock 
in the morning, so that the bread could be ready by six. 
One morning the baker was allowed to oversleep himself, 
and was furious at Jons. The servant asked the stable 
man how he had so far forgot himself, especially when he 
got up at that time at any rate, to look to the horses. 
Jons answered her, that when he went to awaken his 
master at two o clock, there was a light in the bake-house, 
and fire in the oven, and he bad plainly heard them roll 
ing out the dough inside. He never took any thought 
about the fairies, but supposed that it was the bakers al 
ready at work. It was rather simple of Jons, to allow 

The Wood-fairy. 171 

himself to be fooled in this way by the fairies, for he knew 
best himself how things stood in the bake-house. 

It is a good sign when the fairies arc heard working 
actively in houses, ships, mills, and other buildings while 
they are being erected, but if they are heard lamenting, 
some accident is sure to happen, such as a workman 
getting injured, or other unfortunate occurrence. 

The Wood-fairy. 

" In my young days," said a wood-cutter, " I saw the 
wood-fairy with my own eyes ; she had a red knitted 
jacket, a green bodice, and blue gown. She ran past me 
with her long yellow hair flying loose about her ; she was 
pretty in the face, but behind she was as hollow as a 
baking-trough. A thick vapour can sometimes be seen 
rising from the flat rocks, and one knows that she is boil 
ing her clothes ; and often during thunder loud noises 
can be heard coming from them, as if a whole load of 
stones were emptied down; this is her beating her clothes. 
She can sometimes be seen with a child on her arm ; my 
own father saw this, and had heard that she had a hus 
band, although she is given to enticing men to her. It is 
not easy to find out the husband s proper name, for some 
say that she is in the habit of calling on Erik, while others 
think that she and the "hornufve" arc a couple. 

" Many years ago, it happened that a man, who was 
burning charcoal in the thick forest, was several times 
visited by a wood-fairy, who wished to warm herself at 
his fire. He was annoyed at this, and threw a burning 
coal at her. Then she screamed, Ture Koppar-bonde, 
the man took red hot and burned me. Others say that 

172 Elves or Huldu-folk. 

she screamed, * Svantc, Svantc, the man burned me. 
He was then heard saying, Self answer and self have ! 
But whatever his name was, and whatever answer he gave, 
a terrible noise was heard in the forest, so that the char 
coal-burner took to his heels, and ran away as fast as he 
could, and so escaped the danger. 

" I know a man myself, who saw her sitting, combing 
her hair ; he was wrong in the head for a long time after 
that sight. It might, however, have been worse for another 
man that I heard tell of. He had gone out to look for 
his master s cows, and searched for them till late in the 
evening. By this time he had gone astray, and had found 
no cows. He then saw a light at some distance further 
into the forest, and went towards it, in the belief that 
some human beings lived there. There was a house, sure 
enough, and the door was open, so he entered and bade 
them good evening. At the end of the table, with her 
back against the wall, sat a woman, whom he took to be 
the good-wife, and asked her whether he could stay there 
overnight. That may well be, said she, you can lie 
in the bed that is made up in the room there. He 
thanked her, and began to undress, and in doing so hap 
pened to throw his clasp-knife on the coverlet. He then 
thought he heard a splash, as if the knife had fallen into 
water, but tired as he was, he sat down on the bed, say 
ing : So, in Jesus name, now I have gone enough to 
day/ As he said this, he sank into a pool, so the 
water splashed up over him. At the same instant the 
house, and everything in it had disappeared, and the man 
found himself sitting in a pool of water in the forest, while 
his clothes were hanging on a bush beside him. He 
could thank the name he had named, that he escaped as 

The Peasant and the Wood-fairy. 173 

he did ; for had he lain down in the wood-fairy s bed, her 
husband would soon have come and torn him to pieces. 

" A generation ago, it happened in Stene-stad that a 
peasant, who was out in the forest in broad daylight, 
looking to his cattle, found a lamb lying by itself beside 
a bush. He took it up gently, and carried it home to his 
house, where his wife petted it all she could, and let it lie 
under the stove. Later in the day the man again went 
out to the forest, and heard a piteous voice, which said, 
My child ! my child ! Where is my child ? The man 
could see no one, and went home again. There he told 
what he had heard, and wondered who it could be that 
was crying in this way for the child. That was my 
mother/ cried the lamb, and made out at the door, across 
the yard, and into the forest. They knew then that this 
was the wood-fairy s child, which she had changed into 
the shape of a lamb, and which they had taken care of. 
As thanks for this they had great luck with their cattle, 
which were always much finer than their neighbours." 

The Peasant and the Wood-fairy. 

THERE was once a peasant, who was always equally cool 
and collected, whether things went with him or against 
him, so that no one was ever able to startle him, or make 
him either laugh or cry ; they might say what they 
pleased, he had always his answer ready, and had the last 
word with them, He had been at work in the woods all 
week, and was going home on Saturday evening, when 
he met the wood-fairy, who tried to get the better of him. 

" I have been at your house," said she. 

" Then you weren t at home that time," said he. 

174 Elves or Huldu-folk. 

" Your wife has had a child," said she. 

." It was her time then," said he. 

" She has got twins," said she. 

Two birds in one egg," said he. 

" One of them is dead," said she. 

" Won t have to cry for bread," said he. 

" They are both dead," said she. 

" That s only one coffin then," said he. 

" Your wife is dead as well," said she. 

" Saves her crying for the children," said he. 

" Your house is burned down," said she. 

" When the tail s seen, the troll is known," said he. 

" If I had you out at sea," said she. 

" With a ship under me," said he. 

" With a hole in it," said she. 

" And a plug in that," said he. 

The Wood-man. 

IN the forest there are quite different beings from those 
out on the plain. In the woods round about the farm of 
Skaber-sjo the wood-man is found. He does not the 
slightest harm, but just comes into houses to warm him 
self. The worst of him is, that he takes up so much 
room, and always wants to lie before the st ove. He has 
tremendously long legs, but if one gives him room, he 
disposes them round about him as well as he can, and if 
he is received in a friendly way, he comes dragging v/hole 
trees, and wants to lay them on the fire. 

The Danish Ellefolk. 175 

The Danish Ellefolk. 

ADAM first had a wife named Lillis, who could fly and 
swim, and when she bore children, it was by the half-score 
at a time. They were all elle-folk, tiny little things. 
They got their name from their mother, because she had 
all these 1 s in her name. 

The ellefolk live in mosses, banks and mounds, under 
alder-trees and in alder-thickets. They wear white 
clothes, and always turn their backs to the wind. The 
women are hollow behind like a dough-trough, and a 
good way to get rid of them is to refer to this, by saying, 
11 Let me see your back," or, " Let me see whether you are 
the same behind as before." 

Their children have helped mortal children to drive 
home the cattle in the evening, and said that they lived 
under the elder tree in the garden. A peasant once 
found in the wood a boy of two or three years old, and 
brought him home with him. The boy grew well, but 
had an unusually large head, and would never speak. 
One day the man was in the wood again, and saw a 
woman with very long breasts who was running about, 
and calling out one name continually. He told this on 
his return home, whereupon the boy exclaimed, " That 
was my mother ! " He was then taken back to where he 
was found, and was never seen again. 

The ellefolk also carry off children, or entice them to 
follow them. Those who have once been with them are 
never right in their minds after it, and always wish to go 
back again. Even meeting with them, and talking to 
them brings on sickness of body and mind, those who are 
thus affected being said to be " elf-shot " or " earth-shot/ 
The men try to entice girls away with them, and often 

176 Elves or Huldu-folk. 

came to them when milking- ; the girls then take various 
plans to disgust them and get rid of them. One of them 
used to meet a girl when she went to milk the cows, until 
she told of him at home and was advised to ask him to 
turn round ; when he did this, his back resembled a stump 
of alder-tree. An elf-girl once came to a forester as he 
sat in the wood ; she offered him a pancake, and sat 
down on his knee. He looked at it, and at her, and was 
at a loss what to do, but finally took his knife and cut a 
cross on the cake, whereupon both it and the girl dis 
appeared. They even chase human beings, but must stop 
when they come to cross-roads. Eating a piece of bread 
and butter is a safe-guard against their attack. In one 
district it is the practice for mowers to sharpen their 
scythes before laying them aside, otherwise the elf-women 
can make them fall in love with them through these. 

They can be heard singing in the woods with the most 
beautiful voices, and have music which has been known 
to have effect on horses. They arc often seen dancing, 
either in the alder thickets or in the mounds, which are 
raised for the occasion. A herd boy was once invited by 
an elf-girl to join the dance, and next morning his body 
was found lying beside the mound ; he had danced till 
he died. Another never grew any bigger all his life ; 
another was only rescued by the prompt action of a plough 
man in carrying him off. Such boys always wish to go 
back to them. They have been known to pay mortals to 
dance with them, but when these get tired of it and refuse 
to go any more, the elf-women revenge themselves. 

They are greatly given to stealing, especially articles 
of food, and cats, which must not be left alone in the 
house. Once when they had stolen a woman s bread, her 
husband dug in the moss after them, but could not find 

The Elf- King. l?7 

them. In revenge they plagued him till he died. To 
protect anything against them, the mark of the cross is 
sufficient, and it is extremely dangerous to annoy them 
in any way, as they are sure to have their revenge. 

The Elf-King. 

IN Stevns Herred reigns the elf-king, and he, it is well 
known, cannot bear any other king to set his foot in the 
district, although this has really happened several times. 
Neither can he endure any foreign foes, and in this respect 
he has been better able to enforce his will, as was shown 
in 1807, when the English entered the country as enemies. 
When they tried to enter Stevns, and in order to do so, 
had to cross Pram Bridge, they could get no further than 
to the middle of it. Here they had to stop and turn back, 
none of them daring to go further, as an invisible power 
seemed to force them back. They had therefore to be 
content with visiting the villages on the other side of the 
river from Stevns, where they plundered and pillaged 
largely, while Stevns was completely spared. 

In olden times the elf-king carried music with him 
wherever he went, but in later times nothing of the kind 
has been heard. A woman from my native district was 
going over a meadow, through which runs the stream 
that divides Stevns from Fakse Herred. On reaching 
the other side of the meadow, she sat down to rest beside 
an alder stump, but had scarcely sat there a moment, 
before there came a rushing sound through the air, and 
she saw the meadow heaving up and down as if with a 
whole troop of horsemen riding after each other, and 
heard music along with them. In the midst of all this, 

178 Elves or Huldu-folk. 

the woman became so frightened, that she sank to the 
ground in a swoon, but when the tempest was past, she 
was quite well again. It must assuredly have been the 
elf-king riding past with music, and in full equipment. 

When King Frederick the Sixth once paid a visit to 
Dragsholm, a beautiful large watch dog of a rare breed 
died suddenly on the very night that he stayed there. 
This mishap was attributed to the elf-king s revenge, 
who was said to have taken up his abode in the alder 
wood beside the castle, and was angry at another crowned 
head daring to enter his kingdom. 

An Elf-Child s Birth. 

IN Tjorring there lived an old woman, called Maren, who 
was sitting spinning very late one evening, when she 
heard a voice from under the floor, saying, " To bed, Ma, 
to bed ! She paid no more heed to this, and continued 
to spin, as she had much to do. In a little she heard the 
same voice again, saying the same words, and adding, 
"You don t know what I have suffered for what you have 
spun this evening." Maren now understood what was 
the matter, and made haste to get into bed and put out 
the light. The fact was that there lived elle-folk under 
her floor, and one of the women was about to give birth 
to a child. But this can only take place above ground, 
and as she could not come up so long as the wheel was 
going, and the light burning, she had to let Maren know 
in this way of the pains she was suffering on her account. 
It must have been the case that the elle-folk s outer door 
was just in the old woman s room. 

The Elf-woman at Fred-skov. 179 

The Channeling 1 an( i the Stallion. 

<_3 O 

THERE was a farmer in Vendsyssel, whose wife had a 
child. After she was going about again, she one day 
went out into the kitchen, and when she came back there 
were two children lying in the cradle, nor could she tell 
in the least which of them was their own. They were 
perplexed at this, and the man went to make his moan 
to the priest, who answered that in such a case he could 
do nothing, and they would have to get "wise folk" to 
help them. The man then went to one of these, who was 
wiser than any other person. " You have a stallion, of 
course ? " said the wise man. " Yes," said the farmer. 
"Then you must lay both the children on the dung-heap 
outside your stable-door, then go in and put the bridle on 
the stallion, and let it go out by itself." * That will 
never do," said the man, " for as soon as the bridle is put 
on it, it flies out and never looks at the ground, but only 
at the mare, and might just as readily trample to death 
the right child as the wrong one." " No fear of that," 
said the wise man, and so the farmer let out the stallion 
as he had been directed. As soon as it got outside, it 
took one of the children in its teeth and threw it into the 
mire. The woman then took the other child, and carried 
it into the house. As soon as she had gone, the elf- 
woman came, and said it was a great shame of them to 
throw her great-grandfather into the mire, for he was 160 
years old, and with that she picked him up and ran off 
with him, as if he were a child. 

The Elf-woman at Fred-skov. 

OLD Peter Hendrick relates that in his youth, while he 
served on a farm in Ronnebaek, he was one day cutting 

i8o Elves or Huldu-folk. 

grass up in Fredskov. It was about midsummer, and 
that day there were two girls with him in the wood. It 
was in the south-east corner of the wood, but beside a 
moss. At mid-day after eating the dinner he had brought 
with him, he laid himself down all his length to sleep. A 
little behind him, the two girls sat resting themselves, but 
before he had fallen asleep, he saw all at once a woman 
come out of the alder bushes in the moss, and stand 
straight in front of him, beckoning him with her hand. 
The girls who were with him called to him " Do you see 
her, Peter ? " But he cried, " Away with her," and just 
as he cried it, the fairy turned about and disappeared in 
the bushes, while at the same time there was a loud peal 
of thunder, which rumbled like a cart going over a cause 
way. Peter says that the fairy was very pretty while she 
stood in front of him, and was dressed in shining gold, 
which glittered in the sun, but when she turned about she 
was hollow behind, and mis-shapen, and to look at her 
then was like looking into a black pot. He thinks it was 
great good luck that he did not rise and give her his 
hand, for then he would have had to go along with her. 
He relates that this was what happened in his young 
days to a man who still lives in Myrup, of the name of 
Rasmus Hanscn. He was one day out on the meadow 
beside the peat moss, cutting grass, and as he stood there 
the fairy woman came and beckoned on him. As soon 
as he went to meet her, she took him by the hand and 
went off with him, far over moors and mosses, and Ras 
mus says that he danced with her in this way for a long 
time, and can remember nothing except that he constant 
ly heard music, and constantly danced about with the 

What he lived on he does not know, but at last, one 

The Elf-Girl and the Ploughman. 181 

day when he was beside Myrup again, the fairy let him 
go, and he came home. It was then three weeks since he 
had disappeared, and in that time he had grown so thin 
that he could scarcely be recognised again. 

The Elf-Girl and the Ploughman, 

LARS JENSEN, who lived in Stubberup, served in his 
young days on Mose-gaard, in Dalby, on the fields of 
which are two small woods, one of them consisting for 
the most part of dwarf alders. It was in early summer, 
and they were holding the hay-festival. Lars was a 
terrible fellow to dance, and it was almost daybreak 
before the party broke up, so he said to the boy, " You 
can go and lie down and I ll shift the cattle.* He went 
out to these, which stood in or near by the alder wood, 
and after shifting them he lay down in the grass, being 
very tired, and fell asleep. Just as the sun rose, he 
awoke, and saw a beautiful young woman, dressed like a, 
peasant-girl, standing over him and pulling at his buttons. 
He thought it was one of the girls from the party, and 
said, " Why can t you let me sleep in peace ? " but he then 
was more familiar with her than he should have been, and 
only afterwards discovered that something was wrong. 
From that time forward he had to visit her in the wood 
every night, and could never have peace to stay in his 
bed. If he did not go at a certain time every evening, 
she came herself to fetch him. At last things went so 
far that she came for him at mid-day, and the people 
about the farm often saw her outside the window, and 
when she came there he had to go, but she never got so 
much power over him as to be able to keep him. She 

1 82 , Elves or Huldu-folk. 

often pressed him to go home with her, and he would get 
many glorious things to see, but he would not do this, as 
he was afraid that their men-folk would do him some 
mischief. She assured him that there was no fear of 
that ; if he would only go with her he would have a good 
time of it, and if he was not content with her he could 
get her sister, who was much prettier than herself, and 
many other promises she made, but could not prevail with 
him. This continued until the autumn, and he grew 
afraid that he would not be able to oppose her much 
longer. He then applied to the priest, who came and 
sent him to bed, gave him the sacrament, and spread the 
chasuble over him. They were sure that she would come 
now, and so she did, and wanted to take him with her, 
but could not. The priest told her that she might take 
him now if she could, and if not, she could have nothing 
to do with him thereafter. She had thus to go away 
again, and from that time forward Lars Jensen was free 
from her. It must have been an elf-girl, but she was not 
hollow in the back, as some folks say they ought to be. 

An Elf-charm Cured by Melted Lead. 

IN the parish of Mern there are two farms known by the 
name of Skalsby. Fifty years ago one of them was in 
habited by Rasmus Bosen s widow, who had it in life- 
rent, and had a son, Peder Rasmussen, who managed it. 
Every time they were to bake, they had to go into the 
wood and steal sticks to bake with. At that time a 
girl called Bodil served on the farm, and had to help in 
this. The son and the ploughman got the wood, the one 

An Elf-charm Cured by Melted Lead. 183 

cutting it and the other dragging it off, while the girl had 
to keep watch and sec that the forester did not come 
upon them. One time they were out for this purpose, 
and had finished their work, but when they looked for the 
girl she had disappeared. Pedcr called on her, but got 
no answer, and they were afraid she had lost herself. 
He called again, and this time she answered him, but 
from another part of the wood altogether. They found 
her then, but she was quite wrong in the head. She 
would not go home with them, saying that she was going 
to a ball in Lange-mose, so they had to take her and drag 
her home by force. They put her to bed, and understood 
well enough what was wrong with her, so they got a 
woman brought who could melt lead over her, and in that 
way she was made well again. (This consisted in melt 
ing lead, and pouring it into a vessel of water held over 
the sick person s head. The figures which it formed in 
the water explained the trolldom). So long as she lived 
she could well remember what she had seen, and told 
about it. As she went about in the wood and listened, 
she thought that all at once it became strangely clear 
round about her, and then there came two little fellows, 
each of whom took hold of one of her hands. They told 
her that they lived out in Lange-mose, and that the one 
was called Svip (Glance) and the other Glooje (Glare- 
eye). They earnestly begged her to come and dance 
with them, as the elle-folk were to have a ball that night. 
She went with them for some distance, and was very 
pleased to walk and talk with them ; then she heard 
Peder Rasmussen calling on her, and was unwilling to 
answer the first time, as she did not want to separate 
from the boys, but when he called the second time, she 
thought -she could not help answering. No sooner had 

184 Elves or Huldu-folk. 

she done so than the boys were gone, and all was pitch- 
dark round about her, until the men came and found her. 

Curing an Elf-charm. 

A GIRL from a farm in the village of Galten had to shift 
the sheep to a sheltered place on the fields, as the 
weather was very severe, so she took them down beside 
an alder thicket, but there she came among some little 
creatures, and remained with them until far on in the 
night. She told afterwards that there were some who 
played while the others danced, and she danced with 
them. There were both men and women, and they wore 
red sleeves. Towards morning she came home and went 
to her bed. When they called on her to rise and milk 
the cows, she got up, but could neither speak nor open 
her mouth, which seemed to be all twisted together. 
When they could not get a word out of her, they grew 
frightened, and sent for a wise man, who lived in the 
alder-wood at Laas-by. He said that she had danced 
with the elle-folk, and they must now take her back 
there. A man should go on each side of her, and she 
herself ride on a broom-handle. When they got so far 
that she could see the elle-folk, they must bring her back 
again. He then forced her mouth open with a silver 
spoon, and they set out. At last she could see them, and 
gave a scream, and said, " There they are ! " With that 
she would have run off to them, but the men kept hold 
of her, and dragged her back with them. She was now 
freed from them, and told the whole story, but never 
liked to talk about it afterwards, and was a little strange 
ever after. I can remember her as an old woman. 

The Lady s Beech. 185 

The Elfin Dance. 

THE thicket at Havers-lund was full of elf-girls, and in 
the village lived a man who had a good-looking son, 
named Tammes (Thomas). The elf-women had a loving 
eye for him, and he often heard their song and music, 
and watched their dance, when he drove the cattle down 
to the fold late in the evening. He often stayed away 
for a long time, and then his father scolded him, but his 
longing only grew all the greater. Finally, late one 
evening, he ventured so near that they formed a circle 
round him, and he came home no more. For three years 
his parents waited for him in vain ; then they heard tell 
of a wise woman, who was said to be able to help them, 
so they got her down there one evening, and waited 
outside the thicket with anxious attention. Finally 
the dance stopped, and the elf-girls disappeared, leaving 
something lying on the ground, it was Tammes, but he 
was dead. They had danced him to death, and the blood 
was flowing from his nose and mouth. After this nothing 
succeeded with Nis Tamsen, whereas everything had gone 
well with him while his son was with the elf-girls. This 
happened about the year 1700. 

The Lady s Beech. 

IN the middle of the fields of Kokke-dal, three and a half 
Danish miles from Copenhagen, stands an enormous 
beech-tree, which serves as a landmark for the Sound, 
and is called "The Lady s Beech." A large forest 
formerly stood here, and some girls, returning from their 


1 86 Elves or Huldu-folk. 

work in the fields, were once passing this way in the 
evening, when there suddenly arose a violent storm, 
accompanied by thunder and lightning. They all ran to 
reach home with the exception of one, who sought shelter 
under the large tree. Here a white-clad figure appeared 
to her, and revealed to her that she should one day become 
mistress of Kokke-dal, but she must promise never to give 
her consent to this tree being felled. Some years later 
the owner of Kokke-dal happened to see her, fell in love 
with her, and asked her hand. She remembered the 
prophecy, and gave her assent. The whole forest has 
been felled since that time, but each owner is bound 
down to leave this tree standing. 

Thefts by the Elves. 

IN Ginnerup, beside Krei-bj<xrg, there are many mounds, 
in which there formerly lived clle-folk. My mother s 
mother has told that they were so given to stealing, that 
one could hear them come by night, and fill their metal 
pots out of the dough-troughs, but when a cross was made 
over the dough they could not take it. This was there 
fore usually done, and the practice is still kept up without 
thinking of the reason of it. One time when an elf-woman 
came to Mads Bakke s farm, and was about to fill her 
metal pot with dough, the man came over her with an axe, 
whereupon she ran away and left the pot, which was long 
kept on the farm, until it was once left outside at night, 
and in the morning it was gone. 

They were worst, however, for unbaptised children, and 
on this account a cross was made above and below the 
cradle, on both ends and on both sides. One night two 

The Charcoal-burner and Elf-girl. 187 

fairies came to carry off a child, which lay in a cradle 
thus protected. " Take it out at the end," said the one. 
" I can t," said the other, " there s a cross on it." " Take it 
out at the side, then." " No, I can t do that either ; there 
are crosses everywhere." So they had to go away again. 

The Charcoal-burner and the Elf-girl/ 

A CHARCOAL-BURNER from Ry was lying one night be 
side his heap, in the middle of the North \Vood there. 
The fire crackled away outside his hut, in which the man 
lay at full length, keeping an eye on the burning pile, to 
see that it did not burn down to ashes. At twelve o clock 
at night there came an elf-girl, who sat down in front of 
the fire, and turned her face to the man, while she showed 
her legs and pointed to them saying, k< Do you know leg- 
pip ? " The man answered " Do you know brand-stick ? " 
and with these words he took a stick from the burning 
heap, and struck at her legs with it. She then shouted 
so that she could be heard over the whole wood, "Red, 
red elf-lad, elf-girl burned bad !" With that the wood 
cracked as if about to fall, and from all its corners the 
elves came streaming in hundreds. The man ran home 
the whole two miles as fast as he could, while the elves 
ran after him with brands from the charcoal heap. He 
was very nearly giving in, but got under cover in a house 
that he was passing, and was safe, as the clle-folk dare not 
go under a roof. Next day, along with some others, he 
went to the wood to see his charcoal, and found it 
scattered in all directions to the distance of half a mile. 
The man never did any good after this, but slowly wasted 
away and died, and was believed to have been bewitched 
by the elves. 


The Nisse. 

OF Nisses there existed in old days an immense number, 
as almost every farm had its own one. In later times 
their number has greatly decreased. They are no larger 
than little children, are dressed in grey, and wear on 
their heads a red peaked cap. For the most part they 
have their abode in barns and stables, where they help to 
look after the cattle and attend to the horses, to some of 
which, however, they show the same partiality as they do 
towards different persons. There are thus many in 
stances of how the nisse has dragged the hay from the 
other horses mangers to the one which he is fond of, so 
that in the morning this one stands well-fed, beside a full 
manger, while the others have got almost nothing. He 
likes to play tricks ; sometimes lets loose all the cows in 
the byre, or scares the milk-maids, sometimes by blow 
ing out their light, sometimes by holding back the hay so 
firmly that the poor girls cannot get a single straw out, 
and then when they are exerting all their strength, he 
suddenly lets go, so that they fall their whole length. 
This amuses the nisse mightily, and at such tricks he 
laughs loudly. If he likes the owner of the farm, he 
looks after the house s welfare, and tries to drag hay and 
other things from the neighbouring farms, by which there 
sometimes arises quarrelling and fighting between the 
nisses on the several farms, so that the hay and straw has 
been seen flying about their ears. 

The Nissc. 189 

As they arc always very serviceable to those whom they 
like, but full of spite and revenge when they are despised 
or mocked, it is not to be wondered at that people on 
certain occasions seek to gain their favour. On Christ 
mas Eve and Thursday evening it is the custom in many 
places to set in the barn sweet porridge, cakes, ale, etc., 
which he likes to partake of, if they arc to his taste, for 
he is sometimes rather particular. Scorn and contempt 
he cannot stand, and as he is very strong, in spite of his 
size, his assailant often comes off badly. A peasant who 
met a nisse on the highway one winter evening, and in an 
authoritative tone ordered him out of the way, was 
thrown right over the fence into the snow by the offended 
little man before he knew where he was. A servant girl, 
who made fun of him when she brought his food into the 
barn on Christmas Eve, had to dance with him so vigor 
ously that she was found next morning lying breathless 
in the barn. 

They love moonlight, and in the winter may be some 
times seen amusing themselves driving little sledges, or 
leaping with each other over the fences, but although 
they themselves arc lively, yet they do not always like 
noise and disturbance in their neighbourhood, especially 
on vigils or Thursday evenings. In general, the nisse is 
well liked, and in many places is called " A Good Fellow." 

The nisse lives in church steeples, and over church 
ceilings, but if any one becomes friendly to him and 
receives him on his farm, he is there both early and late, 
and helps with the work, especially in the stable ; during 
the night, he steals grain round about, wherever he can 
find it, and brings it into the barn, so that prosperity 

190 Nisses or Brownies. 

always comes where he makes his abode. But although 
he helps those that make friends with him, he deals badly 
with those who send him away. /In the time when Captain 
Tage owned Ronne-bseks-hoTm, and was a severe and 
strict master, whom all were afraid of, there lived in 
Brandlev, on a farm which then belonged to Ronne-baeks- 
holm, a farmer of the name of Ole Hansen. When all 
the rest had difficulty in paying their landlord what they 
owed, he found it quite easy, and his farm was fully 
stocked with everything. Nor would he stand any non 
sense from Captain Tage, who also preferred to avoid 
any talk with " Big Hans," as he called him. This Ole 
Hansen had a nisse on his farm, who helped him in every 
way. Ole told the girl, that when she went out in the 
morning to clean the byre, she was not to be afraid of 
the little fellow who would come to help her. " You 
must be friendly with him," said he, "and he will do more 
than half the work for you." Next morning, when the 
girl went to the byre, the little fellow came and helped 
her, and she, as her master had told her, was friendly 
with him, so things went very well. Some time after this 
she was in company with some other girls, who had the 
same task as herself, and these complained that it was so 
hard work to clean the byre. "It is very easy for me," 
said she, " for the little fellow who comes about our farm 
docs the most of the work for me." Next morning the 
other girl on the farm came and wakened her, where she 
lay asleep in the middle of the court-yard, asking her if 
she was wrong in the head that she was lying there. The 
girl knew well enough that it was the nisse who had 
carried her out, as a punishment for talking about him to 
the other girls ; and after that she never spoke of him, 
until she had been some years married, and was living 

To Catch a Nisse. 191 

on a farm in P.6nne-baek. One day her husband came in 
and told her that the little fellow had come to him in the 
stables, and offered him his services, but the woman bade 
him not to accept them by any means they should far 
rather be poor with honour, than get goods and gold 
dishonestly. So the man let the nisse go away, and 
refused his help, but after that they never had any luck 
with their cattle, and finally became so poor that they 
had to leave the farm. 

/ The nisse, who comes to farms, wears a round blue cap 
sitting close to his head, and a white frieze smock. One 
evening when a young fellow was seeing a girl home to 
a house in Ronnc-baek, which lay near a farm where a 
nisse lived, he saw a huge load of grain coming down the 
road ; it was bigger than the biggest load of hay, yet there 
was no horse to it, but the nisse was under it, and carried 
the lot. When this arrived at the farm, the young fellow 
and the girl both saw the entrance lift itself up, so that the 
load could get in, and then come do^n into its place again. 
In Ronne-brek not so long ago/there was a farmer, who 
wished very much to have a nisse on his farm, and as he 
knew that one must always look for him at cross-roads, 
he went to these several times, but the nisse never came. 
At last the nisse did come on one occasion, and the man 
invited him home with him, but the nisse refused, saying 
that the farmer did not have true faith in him or in his 

To Catch a Nisse. 

As every one was eager to have a nisse attached to his 
farm, the following plan was formerly made use of to 

192 Nisses or Brownies. 

catch one. The people went out into the wood and felled 
a tree. At the sound of its fall the nisses all came run 
ning as hard as they could to see how folk did with it, so 
they sat down beside them and talked with them about 
one thing and another. When the wedges were driven 
into the tree, it would often happen that a nissc s little 
tail would fall into the cleft, and when the wedge was 
driven out, the tail was fast, and nisse was a prisoner./" 

Down in Bogc-skov (Itecch-wood) lived two poor peo 
ple, who, as they lay awake one night, talked of how fine 
it would be if a nisse would come and help them. No 
sooner had they said this than they heard a noise in the 
loft, as if some one were grinding corn. " Hallo ! " said 
the man, " there we have him already." " Lord Jesus, 
man, what s that you say ? " said the woman ; but as 
soon as she named the Lord s name, they heard nisse go 
crash out of the loft, taking the gable along with him. 

The Nisses in Gedsby. 

THERE is a man in Gedsby known as " The Noltosse," but 
his proper name is Arnold. Of late he has been greatly 
plagued by nisses. Some people say that he must have 
offended them by levelling a mound on his field, in which 
he is said to have found a quantity of human bones, 
which he sold in Nykobing instead of burying them. 
Others say that he has always had an old nisse on his 
farm, and that they formerly were very good friends ; so 
much so, that with the nisse s help he once, in digging up 
a mound, found a pot full of ashes, but which became 
full of pure silver coin as soon as he got it home. But 
all agree in this, that he had afterwards fallen out with 

The Nisses in Gedsby. 193 

the nissc or nisscs for some say that there was only one, 
others that there were several and that he then felt the 
want of them. There was no one on the farm that could 
see them, except a girl from Mocn, who was somewhat 
aparte^ and could always see them. Some say that she 
had become so because the nissc had breathed upon her. 

The Noltossc s father-in-law, a very old man, was OIIL* 
day going through the kitchen, but just as he had shut 
the door, and was going past the kitchen-table, a large 
weight, which was lying on it, rolled off and struck him 
on the heels. He lifted it and laid it on the table again, 
but as soon as he turned to go away, it rolled after him 
again and struck him on the heels. He took it up again, 
although he was surprised that it would not lie still, but 
he had only got a few steps away from the table when it 
came rolling after him just as before. He could now see 
that there was something uncanny about it, so he went 
away and let the weight lie. 

Once the Noltossc sent his servants to make malt, but 
when they came to clean the mill, it was quite full of old 
slippers and wooden shoes. They began to throw these 
aside, but as fast as they cleared them out, the slippers 
and shoes jumped in again, till at last they went in tears 
to their master, and told what had happened. He ran 
down in person to the mill to sec what was the matter, 
but the slippers and shoes flew about his cars, and 
slapped him so hard that he had to hurry away. 

It happened also, one day, that he had got two sacks 
of rye meal from the mill, and there was to be a baking. 
The one sack of meal was made into dough, but every 
time they put a loaf on the peel to push it into the oven, 
it disappeared from amongst their hands. 

No one could imagine where the loaves went to, but 

194 Nisses or Brownies. 

they did not go into the oven. So things went with the 
one sack of meal. The Noltosse then told the servants 
to bake up the other sack, which was standing in the 
brew-house, for they could not do without bread. When 
they went for the meal, however, it was not to be found. 
It was found at last, though ; it was scattered all over the 
courtyard, and the sack it had been in was thrown into a 
corner. The nisses there had also a habit of mixing up 
all the grain in the barn-loft, so that he could not get it 
separated again. 

One clay, when he and all his folk were sitting at table, 
the porridge suddenly disappeared, and in its place the 
table was covered with old slippers and shoes, which 
danced about and slapped their ears. No one could see 
how it came about, except the girl from Mocn ; she said, 
" Just look, the nisses are eating all our porridge ! " The 
same girl also saw them one day in the stable ; they were 
neat little fellows, with red caps on their heads. Two of 
them were springing about among the straw, and three 
of them danced in the hay-basket. "Just come and see 
how neat they are ! " she called to the other folk, but 
these could not see them. 

Once the Noltosse tried to get rid of the nisses, and 
gave " Wise Christian " a bank-note for that end, but the 
latter made the mistake of scattering flax-seed round the 
farm before the nisses had left it. As these could not 
cross the flax-seed, they had to stay on the farm, and 
then they became real wicked. Finally, they say, he got 
the Mormons to exorcise them, and they removed to a 
neighbouring farm. 

The Old Bushel. 


Father and Son. 


A farmer in Dybbol stood on a very fiicnclly footing 
with some little nisscs, who lived in the neighbourhood, 
and these continually brought so much to the farm that 
there was great wealth there. When the man died, a 
little nisse came one day to his son, and asked whether 
he would stand in the same relation to them as his father 
had done. The son would not answer this, unless the 
nisse could tell him where his father was. The nisse 
could easily do that, for he was with them. * No," said 
the son, " in that case I will have nothing to do with you." 
The nisse replied that if he would not deal with them, he 
must resign himself to their taking away again all that 
they had brought in hie father s life-time. The son 
begged that this should not happen all at once, but little 
by little, and the promised this for his father s sake. 
After that time there came great poverty on the farm 
and it has been there ever since. / 

The old Bushel. 

ON a farm there lived a little nisse, but the proprietor 
was not very good to him, for he never gave him porridge 
with butter in it on Christmas Eve, or other Saints eves. 
Neither did the owner have any luck ; everything went 
back with him, and he had finally to sell the farm, and 
buy a little place in the neighbourhood. But his man, 
who had served on the farm for several years, longed 
very much for the little nisse, with whom he had always 
had a chat every day ; so even now, after they had left 
the farm, he went over as soon as he found time, to have 

196 Nisses or Brownies. 

a talk with his little friend. One day when he came 
over, the nisse asked him how his master was getting on. 
4< Pretty poorly," said the man, " he will not be success 
ful there cither." " Then," said the nisse. " you must tell 
him to come over here, and ask the person who bought 
the farm from him, whether he may take away the old 
bushel which stands at the back of the chimney, as he 
forcrot to take it with him when he removed." " Oh, but 


\ve didn t forget it," said the man, " we didn t want to 
take it with us." " Yes, but that s what you must say, all 
the same," said the nisse. The man went home and told 
his master what the nisse had said to him, so the farmer 
went over to the new owner of the farm, and asked for the 
old bushel which stood at the back of the chimney, as he 
had forgot it. " Yes, that you may have with pleasure," 
said the other ; " we don t use it at any rate, zve \e got a 
new one." When the man got home with his bushel, it 
went in pieces in his hands, but at the same time a whole 
lot of money fell out on the floor. There had been a 
double bottom in the bushel, between which the money 
had lain. The man was greatly delighted, for there was 
so much of it that he could buy his old farm back again, 
and so he did. After that time he never forgot to put 
down rice-porridge, with butter in it, for the nisse, and 
even sprinkled a good layer of cinnamon and sugar over 
it, and ever after all went well with him. x 

The Nisse s Parting-Gift. 

OUT in Vester-egn lies Skop-hus, which had many acres 
of land, but hardly any of them were cultivated. One 
time the farmer had been in Viborg, and as he came home 

The Nisse s Parting-gift. 197 

again he saw a nissc sitting on garden wall. He took 
him in with him, and gave him both food and drink, so 
that he took a fancy to stay there always. From that 
time forward several acres of land were taken in from the 
heath every year, without anyone knowing exactly how 
it happened, and in several years time there were fertile 
corn-fields where formerly only heather had grown. The 
man s wife, however, was not at all good to the nissc, 
although it was he who had helped them to become well- 
to-do people. One day when her husband was at Viborg, 
she ordered nisse to procure a thousand dollars for each 
of her children, otherwise she would take him and throw 
him into the fire. He long refused, but finally there was 
a rumbling and a tumbling, and all the money lay on the 
kitchen-floor. The woman gathered it up, put it in a 
bag, and buried it in the garden. A little later the man 
came back from Viborg, and found nisse sitting on the 
garden wall where he had first seen him. He asked him 
why he was sitting there, and invited him in to get a 
drop from the keg, which he had just got filled, but nisse 
answered that he was going back to his own folks again, 
and told how he had been treated by the wife. " You 
have been kind to me," he added, " and I will say fare 
well and thanks to you. Here are some little stones for 
you, which I will give you as a parting gift." With that 
nissc was gone, and from that time things began to go 
back with the folks in Skop-hus. The land fell back into 
heath again, and the children died, one after another. 
After they were all dead, and the riches completely gone, 
the woman went out to the garden to dig up the money 
that she had hid there. She found it too, but when she 
touched it, it turned to stones. At this she was so angry 
and vexed, that she fell down dead on the spot. The 

198 Nisses or Brownies. 

man was now left alone, and one day he thought he 
would have a look at the little stones which the nisse had 
given him at parting, and when he opened the drawer 
and touched them, they turned into gold coins. 

Nisse Kills a Cow. 

IN Toftegaard there is said to have been in former days 
a " Gaardbuk," or " Little Nils," who brought luck to the 
house, and they never neglected to give him every even 
ing, in the stable, a bowl of porridge with butter in it. 
One evening the girl had put the butter pretty deep into 
the porridge, and the " Gaardbuk," who thought she had 
forgot it, was so angry that he left it untouched, and 
went and wrung the neck of a red cow which stood in the 
byre. Getting hungry, however, he finally set to work- 
on the porridge, when he found the butter, and regretted 
what he had done. He then took the dead cow on his 
shoulders and carried it over Rybrook to a byre on Jets- 
mark, and took in its place another red cow, which re 
sembled the dead cow to a hair, and brought it to the 
byre in Toftegaard. 

Nisse s New Clothes. 

A PEASANT had on his farm a nisse, who did much 
service in his stumpy coat and red cap. When the man 
came home from Skanderborg or llorsens in the evening, 
he only needed to throw the reins from him and hurry 
in to the fireside. Nisse took out the horses, led them 
into the stable, fed them and watered them, all with the 

The little Harvesters. 199 

greatest care. Now, there came a severe winter, and the 
peasant s wife was sorry for the nisse, so she got good 
thick clothing made for him among other things, a long- 
skirted coat, instead of the old stumpy jacket. One day 
the peasant went to market, came home late, threw the 
reins from him as usual, and went off to bed. He heard, 
indeed, the words, " O, the poor horses ! O, my good new 
coat ! " but never thought it meant anything. Next 
morning he found his horses lying dead before the cart, 
frozen to death, for nissc had been afraid of soiling his 

The little Harvesters. 

THE slopes of Fjelkinge-bank are divided between the 
different proprietors in the village, and of one of these 
lots a field which, so far as I remember, is called Ormc- 
lykkc-krog there is found the story that in old times, 
when the corn on it was ripe for harvest, the peasant who 
owned it brought a large dish of boiled rice and a barrel 
of ale out to the field, a little before sunset, and after that 
wer.t quietly home again. When he came back next 
morning, the rice was eaten and the ale was drunk, but 
the field was very nicely harvested, and the corn bound 
in sheaves and set up in stocks. This had gone on for 
many years, without anyone knowing exactly who the 
harvesters were, or daring to find out. Then the farm 
was taken over by the old man s son and his wife, and the 
latter had no peace, until she found out whether it was 
human beings who did the harvest, or good nisses, as was 
universally asserted and believed. So one year, after the 
rice and the ale had been taken out to the field as usual, 

2OO Nisses or Brownies. 

she betook herself thither in all secrecy, and hid herself be 
hind a stone. Towards midnight she saw three mannikins, 
wearing grey blouses and red caps, coming into the field. 
One of them carried a sickle, and began to cut the corn 
rapidly. Another was provided with a rake, and gathered 
the corn into sheaves, after which the third bound them 
and set them up in stooks. The work went on quickly, 
and in a very short time the whole field was harvested, 
after which all the three began to eat the rice and drink 
the ale, which also was finished very quickly, so that they 
soon had demolished the lot. Then the woman rose up, 
and said to the little fellows, " Well, you are the smartest 
harvesters I have ever seen, and many thanks for your 
trouble;" but at the same moment all the three disap 
peared, and from that day forward the peasant has waited 
in vain to get his field harvested by the nisses. 

Nisse s Rest. 

ON a farm in Dokke-dal, in the parish of Mov, there 
lived some years ago a man who was commonly called 
Peder Skelund. On this farm lived a nisse. The farmer 
had a little pony, which the nisse liked very much to ride 

One time, towards spring, when the fodder in the barn 
was like to go done, the ploughman one day said to the 
nisse, that as there was so little to feed the horse with, he 
would have to give up his usual ride. " Don t you trouble 
yourself about that," said the nisse, " I shall hit upon a 
plan." In the evening he asked the man to go with him, 
and after having provided themselves with a good long 
rope, they betook themselves over Vild-mose to South 

Fights Between Nisses. 201 

Kongcrslcv. In this village there lived a man, who had 
his whole barn- floor covered with unthreshcd oats. Nisse 
took the half of this, and tied it up in the rope, after which 
the two set out for home again. When they had got 
down on Vild-mose, the man began to get tired, and asked 
the nisse whether they should not rest a bit. * Rest ? " 
said the nisse, "what s that?" " Oh, to lay down your 
bundle on the ground and sit down on it," said the man. 
They did as he proposed, and after the nisse had seated 
himself, he found it so comfortable that he exclaimed, " If 
I had known that a rest was such a fine thing, I would 
have taken the whole floor-ful." 

Fights between Nisses. 

IN Dalum, two miles from Odense, there stands an old 
bridge called Nisse-boved bridge, which only comes in sight 
when the water is very low. It owes its name to two 
nisses, who lived in two farms, lying on different sides of 
the river, and stole from each other in turn. 
The ploughman on one of the farms was in the barn 
one day, when he heard one of the nisses puffing and 
blowing, as he dragged at the hay in the loft. The man 
kept quite still, and the nisse, who did not know he was 
being watched, at last exclaimed, half aloud, " O, fie, how 
I sweat ! " Ay, fie, how you steal ! " shouted the man, 
and laughed. Soon after this, as he was standing in the 
peat-moss belonging to the farm, he saw the two nisses 
come along, each with a bundle of hay on his back. They 
met right in the middle of the bridge, and as they could 
not pass each other for the hay, and neither would give 
way to the other, they finally came to blows. As the hay 


2O2 Nisses or Brownies. 

hindered them from getting a proper hold of each other, 
they threw it into the river, and each tried to throw his 
opponent the same way, but in this they were unsuccess 
ful, and parted to all appearance good friends. 

In the evening the same man had been away from the 
farm, and it was late when he came home, so he had a 
lantern with him. As he came to the farm gate, he saw 
the two nisses sitting there, one on each post. As he 
tried to pass them, the one shouted to him " Light high I" 
He held up the lantern, but at the same moment got a 
good box in the ear from the other nisse, who shouted, 
" Light low ! " He lowered the lantern, and again from 
the opposite side received as sound a slap with the order 
" Light high ! " And this went on till it struck him to 
put out the light. This was, no doubt, the nisses revenge 
for his having been eye-witness to their fight on the 
bridge, and for having ventured to call them thieves. 

Another ploughman came past two nisses who were 
fighting, one evening, and instead of helping the one be 
longing to his own farm, he ran home as fast as he could ; 
but the nisse had seen him, and was mad that he had not 
helped him, and determined to revenge himself. Next 
night, after the man had gone to bed, the nisse came and 
lifted him, and carried him out into the farmyard, with 
the words, " Now you I ll maul till cock shall call ;" and 
threw him about on the dung-heap, until there was not a 
spot on it where he had not lain. Then said the nisse, 
" Well, if there s no more land, there s water at hand," and 
gave him a kick which sent him flying into the pool be 
side the dung-hill. 

Nisses Fighting. 203 

Nisses Fighting in the Shape of Wheels. 

IN Sailing there arc two large manors, one called Bol 
and the other Asgaard. On each of these there was a 
nisse, and they were distinguished as the Bol nisse and 
the Asgaard nisse. When fodder was scarce, these nisses 
went and fetched it from the smaller farms round about, 
so long as there was any to be got, and when that failed 
they stole from each other. This went on for a long 
time, but finally each of the nisses began to notice that 
just as much rye as he took, so much barley was he short 
of, and neither of them could understand how this came 
about, until one night when each met the other with a 
heavy burden. Then the matter became clear to them, 
and in their anger they threw down the grain, and began 
to fight in earnest. This ended in the Bol nisse getting 
three of his ribs broken, and his back well thrashed to 
the bargain, after which he had also to go home empty- 
handed, as the Asgaard nisse took the whole lot off with 
him, and that was the worst of it all. When the Bol 
nisse came home, he went in to the stableman and told 
how badly he had fared, finishing up by saying that if the 
man wanted his horses to be fat, and the fodder to be 
sufficient, he must help him in this quarrel. The stable 
man promised to do what he could. " You must take 
the dung-fork here then," said the nisse, "and when you 
see a fiery wheel with twelve spokes come in at the barn 
door, and another wheel with only eight spokes come 
against it, then strike as hard as you can at the one with 
the twelve spokes, for the one with the eight in it is me." 
When evening came, the man took the fork and went out 
to the barn. Towards midnight a fiery, red-hot wheel 
came rolling into the courtyard, and another came out at 

2O4 Nisses or Brownies. 

the barn-door to meet it. The two met in the court, and 
dashed against each other with such force that two spokes 
flew out of the wheel that had the eight. When the man 
saw this, he used the fork as best he could, nor was it 
long before he knocked a couple of spokes out of the 
other one. He kept hammering away at it then, with the 
little wheel helping him, until only four spokes were left 
in the big one. Then the two wheels ran against each 
other so hard that the big one sprang backwards high 
into the air, and flew over the top of the barn, and was 
seen no more. After this there was plenty of fodder at 
Bol, while they were always short of it at Asgaard, and, 
as the man said, could not be any better until they got 
their wheel patched up again. 

The Nisses Visits. 

ON the farm of Norgaard, in the parish of Brovst, the 
nisses were frequent visitors. / They were little creatures, 
with fiery red hair, somewhat malicious, but otherwise 
very good-natured. Sometimes, however, they could be 
real wicked ; for instance, they occasionally sat on the 
roof and combed their hair above the pots that sat on 
the fire, but this was nothing compared with all the luck 
and good fortune they brought to the house. The 
woman in the house had a son who was changed by the 
fairies before he was baptized. The changeling was very 
ugly, but the woman tended him just as carefully as if he 
had been her own. The changeling s mother often visited 
her son, and promised the woman in the house that 
things should go well with her children because she 
tended him so well. The son who had been carried off, 

Nisse and the Girl. 205 

also came home often to see his mother. He would go 
into their sitting-room, where he examined everything, 
but never spoke a word, and then returned to Brovsthoi, 
where the nisses had their proper home. The woman 
once said to another one, that she didn t think the nisses 
had long time to live. " How so? * said she. "Well, I ll 
tell you," said the other ; " folk are so wise now that they 
make a cross upon everything, and so the nisses can t 
thrive." After that the nisses did indeed disappear little 
by little. 

Nisse and the Girl. 

ON Ox-holm there was once a Gaardbuk, and it was the 
custom on that farm that every girl had her cow to look 
after. One day the Gaardbuk came running to the win 
dow, and shouted to one of the girls : " Hurry out as 
quick as you can, your cow has got a calf." Then he 
hastened into the byre, and put on the shape of a new 
born calf, but when the girl came out he again assumed 
his own shape, and began to laugh. The girl was 
annoyed that he had made a fool of her, and gave him a 
good blow on the back of the neck with a fork. Then 
she went in and told how he had fooled her. " But I 
gave him a good whack, too," she added. "That s a lie," 
shouted the Gaardbuk, " for you gave me three." " I 
never did," said the girl ; " I only gave you one." " But 
you did, though," said he, " for there were three prongs 
on the fork." There was no more of it just then, and the 
girl went quietly to bed, but in the morning when she 
awoke, she was lying on a plank across the ridge of the 

2o6 Nisses or Brownies. 

Nisse as a Calf. 

ON an estate there was once an old cattle-man, who 
looked after the cows. One evening a cow was expected 
to calve, and the cattle-man was to keep awake, to give a 
look to it now and again. When he went out the cow 
had calved, and "Boo," said the calf. "That s rare," 
thought the old man, and picked up the calf carefully to 
take it to the calf-stall, but to his great astonishment the 
calf began to laugh at him, for it was the nisse who had 
turned himself into a calf to have some sport out of the 
old man. " I ll pay you back for that," said the latter, 
and nisse said, " All right." Next day passed and the 
evening came, and the man had again to watch the cow 
"Yes, quite correct, the cow has calved now ; it isn t 
the nisse this time," and with that he laid hold of it and 
put it in the calf-stall. " Ha, ha, ha," laughed the nisse, 
" I ve completely cheated you twice now." The old man 
thought, " I ll see, then, whether I can t trick you the third 
time, my friend." The third evening things happened 
the same way. When the old man came out the cow had 
calved, and the cattle-man took the calf and threw it out 
as far as he could into the midden-hole. " I ll show you 
who ll be fooled the third time," said the old man, but 
with that the nisse, who was not far away, began to laugh 
and clap his hands, for it was the calf this time. The old 
man now saw that he was fooled again, and gave up try 
ing to revenge himself on the nisse. 

The Nisses and their Horses. 

A MAN in Norre Okse had two nisses on his farm, and 
had also two pretty, bluish-grey horses. One evening the 

The Nisse and the Ghost. 207 

nisses had heard the man say that he would go to market 
on the following morning and get the horses sold. This 
they could not bear, and when the farmer got up in the 
morning the horses were gone, and were nowhere to be 
found, so they were not taken to market that day. 
Finally the man found his horses. The nisses had got 
them dragged up into the loft above the cowhouse, and 
there they were standing safe and sound. 

The Nisse and the Ghost. 

IT happened at a parsonage that a new man came at 
term-time, and the priest went round with him to show 
him the place. In the middle of the stable there was an 
empty stall, while the horse that should have stood in it 
was standing behind the others. The man said it was 
strange to have it standing there ; it ought to be in line 
with the others when there was a stall for it. " No horse 
can stand tied in that stall," said the priest. The man 
thought he would try that. * No, you must not," said the 
priest ; " it has been tried often enough, but the horse 
continues to work away till it is covered with foam, if it 
cannot get loose." The man said no more about it just 
then, but some time afterwards he tied it up there, and 
then lay down on the floor above, to watch through a hole 
he had made in it After he had lain there for a little, 
there came a white figure up into the stall and placed its 
hands on the horse s forehead, which immediately broke 
loose. The ghost now lifted a stone in the stall, while 
the man lay and watched it There was, however, a nisse 
on the farm, who came creeping up just at this moment, 
and said, " What is it you are lying there and looking at?" 

2o8 Nisses or Brownies. 

"Hush, be quiet!" said the man; but nisse was inquisitive, 
and went creeping over to the hole in the loft to look 
down, but with that the man caught him by the legs and 
threw him down on top of the ghost. There arose a fear 
ful disturbance then, and the man was so frightened that 
he slipped out, got to his room, and locked his door. Well 
on in the night the fight came to an end, and then nisse 
came to get at the man. He called on him in the name 
of many people, and tried all possible means to get in ; 
but the man had got such a fright that he dared not open 
the door, and next day told the priest what had happened. 
" That is a bad business," said he, " and you must take 
care never to let him in, for he will have his revenge. He 
will even come and call on you in my name, but you must 
admit no one, and in the end he will get tired of it and go 
his way." This, indeed, was how it ended at last. The 
place in the.stall was then examined and a quantity of 
money found there, and after that was lifted, the horse 
could always stand in the stall. 

" Light High.. Light Low." 

IN Tylstrup lies a farm which has a nisse on it. Two 
ploughmen served there, one of whom was very fond of 
the nisse, while the other found his greatest delight in 
annoying him. Once he took away his porridge from 
him. " You ll pay for that," said the nisse, and when the 
man woke next morning, he found that the nisse had 
placed a harrow over the ridge of the barn, and then laid 
him upon the sharp spikes. " You ll pay for that yet," 
thought the man. Some time passed, and the other man 
asked the nisse to sew something for him, for he was a 

Nisse s Removal. 209 

tailor to trade. It was a bright moonlight night, so the 
nisse took needle and thread, seated himself on top of 
the haystack, and began to sew. Just as he was hard at 
work, there came a shadow over the moon, at which the 
little fellow became impatient, and cried, " Light ! light 
high ! " The man who teased him was, however, standing 
down below with a flail in his hand, and when he heard 
the shout, he brought this over the nisse s legs. Nisse 
thought it was Our Lord who thus punished him for his 
imperious shout, and said very humbly, "Light high, 
light low ; light just as you please, Lord ! " 

Nisse s Removal. 

THERE was a man who was greatly embarrassed with a 
nisse that he had. He had been keeping his money in a 
bushel, which sat up in the loft, and the nisse went and 
stole out of it. Finally, the man decided to remove from 
that house, thinking that there was no other way of 
getting quit of the nisse. He accordingly got that place 
sold, and bought another, to which he proceeded to 
remove his belongings. As he walked along beside the 
loaded cart, the nisse stuck his head out of an empty ale- 
barrel, the bung-hole of which was turned to that side, 
and shouted down to the man, " It s fine weather we re 
removing in ! " When the man discovered where the 
voice came from, he was both frightened and angry, for 
he had thought he was rid of him now, so he took the 
barrel and pitched it into a dam beside the road. When 
he had got settled down in his new abode, and went up 
to the loft one day to turn over his corn, he also took a 
look into the bushel, and found that there was just as 

2io Nisses or Brownies, 

much money in it as there had previously been, so that 
the nisse had stolen none of it after all. But as he had 
been unjustly treated, the man never saw him again. 

The last Nisse in Samso. 

IN Dean Hammer s time there were nisses in Kolby 
parsonage. The narrator often saw one sitting and 
grinning under the eaves, especially when a cow calved, 
or anything of that kind was going on. He was always 
on a friendly footing with the nisse, who took the charge 
of foddering the horses which the man used, so that he 
did not require to keep awake to see to them. Another 
man, who also served at the parsonage, was a person that 
the nisse could not bear, and always threw him head-first 
out of the loft when he went up into it in the morning to 
throw down the corn ; the sheaves were then thrown down 
on top of him. When Dean Hammer removed to Besser, 
the nisse removed also, going in a barrel to Tafte-gaard, 
with a man called Knud Lille-tyv (little thief). There 
after he drove about with this man and helped him to 
steal, until, with the nisse s help, Knud piled up a large 
fortune. The last nisse on Samso was on Tafte-gaard. 
A number of years ago, in 1854, the said nisse left the 
island and went to Norway, where nisses are still to be 
found. He went off with the declaration : " We can t 
stay here for your crisses and crosses, and the big ding- 
dong in Tranbjaerg Church. 

The Ship Nisses. 211 

The Church Nisse. 

IN Besser Church there lives a nisse, who has his bed in 
a bundle of rags in the church loft, but on Sundays, and 
other times when the bell is rung, he hides himself in a 
/ mound a little way off. One evening when the bell- 
ringer came to ring the curfew the nisse played him a 
little trick. When he started to pull the bell, not a sound 
did it give out, and he then discovered that a large bundle 
of rags was tied to the tongue of it. As he stood and 
wondered at this, he saw looking over the bell a little 
grinning face with a red peaked cap above it. 

The Ship Nisses. 

THERE had been a heavy storm in the North Sea, and 
many ships had been on the point of sinking. When the 
weather had improved, two ships met out there, and came 
so near to each other that those on board could call out 
and enquire where the others came from, and so forth. 
At the same moment they heard two nisses shouting to 
each other from the top of the mast on either ship, asking 
how they had fared in the storm. The one said, " I have 
had enough to do to hold the fore-stay, otherwise the mast 
would have fallen." When the crew looked up to see 
where the voice came from, the nisse let go the stay, which 
fell to the deck, and then he began to laugh with all his 
might. The crew had now something else to do than 
look for him, as the mast nearly fell overboard, and while 
they were busy putting it to rights again the nisse saw 
his chance to creep down into the hold, where they could 
not find him. 

212 Nisses or Brownies. 

Old Tyge Hansen in Lundo sailed with a yacht for 
Per Ronbjaerg in Skive. He had a Gaardbo-nisse on 
board, and they could tell by him when they were to have 
storm, or head-wind, or the like ; at such times he was 
very busy with one thing or another, went creeping about, 
and tried to get everything put right. At other times he 
had his abode in the fore-castle. One time Tyge Hansen 
was sailing from Skive to Aalborg, and had favourable 
weather to sail north in ; but all the same the yacht 
would not work with them ; they could make no progress 
with it, and so had to sail into Baads-gaard Vig, instead 
of keeping to the west of Lundo. Next day they had 
such a storm from the north-west that it was clear that 
their anchors and tackling could not have held, had the 
ship been out at sea. The nisse knew this, and therefore 
kept them back in this way. They had him always on 
board, but could not see him except by night. One time 
Tyge Hansen himself was sitting at the helm, when the 
nisse came and told him that Per Ronbjaerg s wife was 
dead. Tyge asked him at what hour she died, and he 
answered, "Two o clock." This was afterwards found to 
be perfectly correct. 

The Swedish Tomte or Nisse. 

A PEASANT family in Skaane were in the habit of placing 
food every day on the stove for the Tomtes, who are 
there called Nisses. This came to the ears of the parish 
priest, who searched the house, and tried, meanwhile, to 
convince the people that such nisses did not exist. " How, 
then, should the food disappear every night?" asked the 
good-wife. " O," said the priest, " I can tell you that 

The Nisse and the Dean. 213 

Satan takes all the food and collects it in a kettle in hell, 
and in that kettle he thinks to boil your souls to all 
eternity." From that day no more food was set out for 
the nisses. 

When building or joiner s work is going on, it is said 
that the tomtes have been seen, while the workmen were 
at dinner, going about on the erections, and working with 
little axes. When a tree is felled in the forest, it is said, 
" The man indeed holds the axe, but the tomtc fells the 
tree." When the horses in a stable are well attended to 
and in good condition, the saying is, " The man lays the 
fodder in the manger, but it is the tomte that makes the 
horse fat." 

The Nisse and the Dean. 

TlIE Goa-nisse is not a good being like the little Viittar. 
Whoever wishes to have to do with one, must engage 
him on Christmas Eve. For every year he serves, he 
must get a joint of his master s body ; first the little 
finger, and so on till the whole person has become his 

Many years ago there was a young priest up in the 
forest districts who had a Goa-nisse, and that although 
his father was dean in a rich pastorate down on the 
plains. The dean came at last to hear of the talcs that 
were common about his son, and decided to visit him in 
person on Christmas Eve and see how the case actually 
stood. The son was a little put out when his father 
entered the house that evening, but the dean merely 
asked to be shown his household when they sat down at 
table. The son could not well refuse this request, and 

214 Nisses or Brownies. 

when the dean had entered the servants hall, he saw at 
once a little fellow, with a red, peaked cap, sitting at the 
bottom of the table. He asked the son what kind of a 
person this was, and received the answer that it was one 
who worked for day s wages. The dean then turned to 
nisse himself, and asked if this was true ; the latter dared 
not impose on the dean, and answered " No." The son 
then said that it was a servant who had yearly pay, and 
the dean again asked nisse if this was true. " Yes," said 
he, " I get a bowl of porridge and milk every evening." 
The dean wanted to know what he did with this, seeing 
that he was a creature who did not resemble human 
beings in the matter of food and drink. The nisse then 
pointed him to a stone out in the yard, and said that all 
the porridge and milk lay under that. The dean then 
wanted to know how he, who was so little, could drag so 
much grain and other articles to the farm. The nisse 
then made himself so long that he had to stand in the 
room doubled up four times. 

" Well," said the dean, " since you have shown me how 
long you can become, I command you now to show me 
how little you can be, for out here you must go." With 
that he took an awl, and bored a hole in the lead of the 
window, whereupon the nisse became as slender as a 
thread, and crept out at the hole lamenting. From that 
time forth he dragged away from the young priest all 
that he had previously dragged thither, and more than 


A WOMAN near Landskrona was satisfied that vattar 
lived in her house, although her father had been com- 


monly accused of acquiring his wealth by the assistance 
of a nisse. It was said that her mother gave the Goa- 
nisse a new jacket and peaked cap every year, and a 
bowl of porridge and milk every Christmas Eve, but this 
must have been pure slander, for her mother was a priest s 
daughter, and a pious woman like her daughter. In that 
house, among the nine children and the numerous 
servants, vattar could easily thrive, for order and disci 
pline reigned there. One night the woman awoke, and 
missed her little child which she had lying on her arm. 
She kindled a light, and began to search for the little 
one, which she found lying asleep under the bed, with its 
mother s shoe for a pillow. It was so red and warm and 
full that the woman easily saw that a little vatte-mother 
had given it suck. 

On that farm they were also very careful, as all decent 
folks are, that the vattar should thrive there. No boiling 
water was allowed to be poured into the drain, for through 
that the vattar come out and in to a house. If at any 
time, such as at washings and cattle-killings, it was 
necessary to pour out hot water, no one would venture to 
do so before the vattar had first been warned in the usual 
words, "Watch yourselves, good vattar, and not get 

In other places, where people had been careless with 
hot water, they have seen the vattar (who come up and 
play with the little children, when these are alone) make 
their appearance with their heads tied up and badly 
scalded. It often happened in old days that the vattar 
came up through the floor by night, and held parties in 
the room while the inmates were asleep. If any one 
wakened then, it was necessary to keep perfectly quiet 
and still, otherwise the party broke up and the vattar 

216 Nisses or Brownies. 

disappeared. Still worse was it if one happened to laugh 
at the little ones, who, in all respects, behaved like human 
beings. At their parties they burned the so-called 
" vatt-lights," which look like little petrified wax-candles, 
and are often found among the stones and pebbles on the 

No one has ever heard of the viittar and the Goa-nisse 
living in the same house, nor is this so remarkable cither, 
for the vattar are good little beings who only watch over 
the peace and friendship of the house in which they live, 
while the nisse draws to it earthly possessions, and that 
too from the property of other men. Such riches may 
well last for a time, but there goes with them no real luck 
for the children and grandchildren. 

Marjun in Grda-vik and the Vasttrar. 

V.ETTRAR are beautiful, little, good spirits who live in 
houses beside good people. These enjoy good-luck, and 
receive assistance from them all their life-time, so that 
everything goes well in that house where the vaettrar are. 
Happy is he who is their friend, for neither trolls nor 
elves (huldufolk), nor any living thing under or on the 
earth, can injure him. 

Marjun in Ordavik, on the east side of Sudero, who 
came there from Kollafirth, on the east side of Stromo, 
is said to have been one of the most powerful witches 
ever known in the islands. She was an extremely clever 
and capable woman in every respect, and was enormously 
rich, having abundance of cattle and sheep, and all kinds 
of wealth, and no wonder either, the vaettrar lived with 
her. She had on her farm a witless boy, whom she 

Marjun in Orda-vik and the Vaettrar. 217 

employed in summer to drive the sheep away when they 
came in about the home fields, and this was all that 
the natural was fit for. During Marjun s life-time 
Turkish pirates came from the south to plunder the 
Faeroes. They landed also on Sudero at Hvalbo, and 
after plundering and laying waste the northern part of 
the island, proceeded towards the south of it for the same 
purpose. Marjun saw them coming south over the ridge 
and bearing down upon Ordavik, but she was not 
frightened like those who fled before them to the hills, 
and hid themselves in caves and holes, and hung black 
cloth in front of them. No, Marjun sent out the witless 
boy with the watch-dog, and told him to chase these men 
off the farm. He had no thought of any mischief, poor 
fellow, and so went without fear and with a light heart to 
do what his mistress told him, just as he always did. 
He went running towards the pirates with his little dog, 
as if they were nothing but a few scared sheep, which 
would run away whenever he came near them. Mean 
while the wise woman stood beside the wall of the house, 
and pointed her hand at the Turks. When these now 
saw a little wretch of a boy coming so boldly to meet 
them with a little dog, and an old woman standing so 
confidently under the wall, they were astonished, and 
thought to themselves that these two could not be so 
weak as their numbers might imply, but had something 
in secret to defend themselves with, which might cost 
them dear. So it is said that they were afraid to go 
further south on the island, and turned straight back to 
Hvalbo. From there they took away with them two 
girls who were related to Marjun, on hearing which she 
said that before her blood was cold (i.e. t before the 
seventh generation from her was dead), this would be 


218 Nisses or Brownies. 

avenged, and the Turkish people come under the rule of 
a king from another country. 

Marjun in Ordavik had good luck with her in every 
thing she undertook, and all went well with her ; all this 
came from the fact that the good vaettrar lived in her big 
byre. Nor did she forget to set down a pail of milk for 
them every time the dairy-maids milked the cows. The 
vaettrar rewarded her for her kindness, and she had never 
any want of milk so long as they lived there ; and no 
sickness ever came upon cattle or sheep while they watched 
over them. It was not necessary for the maids to stay 
overnight in the byre when a cow was expected to calve, 
for if she calved during the night with no one beside her, 
the calf was not lying on the ground when the maid went 
in next morning, but stood in the stall, tied with a silk 
band under the cow s belly so that she could lick it. The 
girl who came out to see to the cows had then to take the 
silk band off the calf immediately, and lay it on the cross 
beam, and after that the vaettrar took it back again. So 
Marjun was kind to the vaettrar who did her so much 
good, and often earnestly exhorted her son to bear in 
mind, when he became farmer there after her, that it was 
well to lodge the vaettrar, and he must always give them 
house-room ; and if he did away with, and pulled down 
the big byre, it would bring hurt on himself and others. 
Marjun died, and her son, who was now farmer in Ordav/k, 
heedless of his mother s warnings, tore down the byre. 
Then the vaettrar left, wishing evil on him and all his kin 
in Ordavik, a sudden death they should all meet. The 
same day that this happened, a man was going north the 
island from Vag, and when he came to Manna-skard, he 
met a tiny little woman coming down the narrow pass, 
leading two little children, one in each hand, and carrying 

Marjun in Orda-vik and the Vaettrar. 219 

a third on her back. As he passed them he heard her 
say, " Avenged shall it be, that we had to leave ; " and 
avenged it was, for one evening, when the three brothers 
were out line-fishing south along the coast, they struck 
the reef under Tjaldar-viks-h61m, the boat capsized, and 
every one on board was lost. Marjun also had three 
daughters, who were at Ordavik ; they died soon after of a 
violent plague which went over the district, and all this 
was revenge on the part of the vaettrar who had to leave 
the place. 

Scandinavian Folk-Lore 

Illustrations of the Traditional Beliefs 

of the 

Northern Peoples 












Mermen and Mermaids. 

THE mermaid is described as being golden-haired, and 
possessed of human shape down to the waist ; below that 
she is like a fish, tail and all. Icelandic fishermen believe 
that they sometimes see her, for the most part north about 
Grims-ey. She especially has her eye on young men, and 
comes on board the boat to them, if they happen to be 
nodding, but the Credo in the old Graduale is a good 
defence against her. 

The merman (marbendil) lives at the bottom of the sea, 
and never appears above the surface, unless when fished 
up. In Landnama-bok it is told that Grim, one of the 
early colonists, went out fishing one winter with his thralls, 
taking with him his little son. The boy began to grow 
cold, so they put him into a seal-skin bag, which was 
drawn tight round his neck. Grim caught a merman, and 
said to him, " Tell us all our fortunes, and how long we 
have to live, otherwise you shall not get home again/ 
" It matters little for you tp know," said the merman, " for 
you will be dead before spring; but your son will take land 
and settle, where your mare Skalm lies down under her 
load." More than this they could not get out of him. 

Mermen have been caught in this way not unfrequently, 
and have also been found driven dead on shore^or in the 

Then Laughed the Merman." 221 

stomachs of sharks. When they are caught alive, they 
always want to get back to the same spot as they were 
taken at ; they are of few words, and give little heed to 
men. Once some fishermen from Hofdi on Latra-strond 
caught a woman on one of their hooks, and took her home 
with them. She said she lived in the sea, and was busy 
screening her mother s kitchen chimney when they caught 
her. She continually entreated them to take her out to 
sea again, and let her down at the same place as they got 
her, but they would not. She remained there for a year, 
and sewed the vestments that have been in Lauf-as ever 
since. At the end of the year she was taken out to sea 
again, for they saw that she would never be happy on 
land. She promised to send some cows up on shore, and 
told them to be ready to receive them whenever they 
appeared, and burst the bladder between their nostrils/ 
otherwise they would immediately run back into the 
sea. Not long after this, twelve heifers came up out 
of the sea, and proceeded to Hofdi. They were all sea- 
grey in colour; six of them were caught and greatly 
prized, the other six escaped. 

"Then Laughed the Merman." 

THERE is an old Icelandic saying, frequently made use of, 
"Then laughed the merman," the origin of which is said 
to be as follows. Once a fisherman caught a sea-creature, 
which called itself a " marbendil " ; it had a big head and 
long arms, but resembled a seal from the waist down 
wards. The merman would give the fisher no informa 
tion of any kind, so he took him ashore with him, sorely 
against the merman s will. His young wife came down 

222 Water- Beings. 

to the sea to meet him, and kissed and caressed him, at 
which the man was delighted and gave her great praise, 
while at the same time he struck his dog for fawning on 
him. Then laughed the merman, and the fisherman 
asked the reason why he did so. " At folly," said the 
merman. As the man went homewards, he stumbled and 
fell over a little mound, whereupon he cursed it, and won 
dered why it had ever been made upon his land. Then 
laughed the merman, who was being taken along against 
his will, and said, " Unwise is the man." The man kept 
him prisoner for three nights, and during that time some 
packmen came with their wares. The man had never 
been able to get shoes with soles as thick as he wished 
them, and although thes e merchants thought they had 
them of the best, yet of all their stock the man said they 
were too thin, and would soon wear through. Then 
laughed the merman, and said, " Many a man is mistaken 
that thinks himself wise." Neither by fair means nor 
foul could the man get any more out .of him, except ,011 
the condition that he should be taken out again to the 
same fishing bank where he was caught ; there he would 
squat on the blade of an out-stretched oar, and answer all 
his questions, but not otherwise. The man took him out 
there, and after the merman had got out on the oar-blade, 
he asked him first what tackle fishermen should use, if 
they wished to have good catches. The merman an 
swered, " Bitten iron and trodden shall they have for 
hooks, and make them where stream and sea can be 
heard, and harden them in horses tire ; have a grey bull s 
line and raw horseskin cord. For bait they shall have 
bird s crop and flounder bait, and man s flesh in the middle 
bight, and fey are you unless you fish. Froward shall 
the fisher s hock be." 

The Merman and the Mermaid. 223 

The man then asked him what the folly was that he 
laughed at, when he praised his wife and struck his dog. 
" At your folly, man," said the merman, " for your dog 
loves you as its own life, but your wife wishes you were 
dead. The knoll that you cursed is your treasure-mound, 
with wealth in plenty under it ; so you were unwise in 
that, and therefore I laughed. The shoes will serve you 
all your life, for you have but three days to live." 

With that the merman dived off the oar-blade, and so 
they parted, but everything turned out true that he had 

" Well I mind that morning 
The merman laughed so low ; 
The wife to wait her husband 
To water s edge did go ; 
She kissed him there so kindly, 
Though cold her heart as snow ; 
He beat his dog so blindly, 
That barked its joy to show." 

The Merman and the Mermaid in the 

THE merman (marmennil) is like a human being, but 
considerably smaller in growth, and with very long fin 
gers. He lives at the bottom of the sea, and annoys fish 
ers by biting the bait off the hooks and fixing these in 
the bottom, so that they have to cut the line. If he is 
caught, he is so dexterous that he can loose the thread 
that ties the hooks to the line, and so escape from being 
brought up, and taken on board like any other fish. One 
time when he tried to play his tricks at the bottom of the 
sea, he was rather unlucky, for just as he was about to lay 

224 Water- Beings. 

hold of the line of Anfinn from Eldu-vik, with intent to 
make it fast, Anfinn gave a pull, and caught the merman 
by the right hand. With one hand he could not free him 
self from the line, and so was drawn up ; a cross was made 
upon him, and he was taken home. Anfinn kept him in 
his house on the hearth-stone, but had to remember every 
evening to make a cross on the four corners of this. - He 
would eat nothing but fish-bait. When they went out to 
fish, they took the merman with them, and had to recol 
lect to make the mark of the cross on him, when they took 
him on board the boat. When they rowed over a shoal 
of fish, he began to laugh and play in the boat, and they 
were sure of a good catch, if they put out their lines then, 
especially if he dipped his finger into the sea. Anfinn 
had the merman with him for a long time, but one day 
the sea was pretty stormy when they launched the boat, 
and they forgot to make the cross on him. When they 
had got out from land, he slipped overboard, and was 
never seen again. 

The mermaid is like a human being above the waist, 
and has long brown hair like a woman, which floats round 
about her on the sea, but her arms are shorter. Below 
the waist she is like a fish, with a scaly tail. If she turns 
towards the boat when she comes up out of the water, a 
storm is sure to come, and then it is a case of rowing home 
as fast as possible, and so try to escape being drowned. 
But if the merman comes up beside her, it will be good 
weather. The mermaid sings so sweetly that men lose 
their senses with listening to her song, and so they must 
thrust the thumbs of their gloves into their ears, else in 
their madness and frenzy they will leap out of the boat 
into the sea to her. 

The Fisher and the Merman. 225 

The Merman and Mermaid in Norway. 

WHEN the weather is calm, sailors and fishermen some 
times see mermen and mermaids rise up out of the sea. 
The former are of a dusky hue, have a long beard and 
black hair, and resemble a human being above the waist, 
but below it are like a fish. The latter, on the other 
hand, are fair and like a beautiful woman above, but 
below they have also the shape of a fish. The fishers 
sometimes catch their children, whom they call Marmaeler, 
and take them home with them to get knowledge of the 
future from them, for they, as well as the old ones, can 
foretell things to come. Now-a-days, however, it is very 
rare to hear mermaids speak or sing. Sailors dislike to 
see these beings, as they forebode storm and tempest. 
To try to do them harm is dangerous. A sailor who once 
enticed a mermaid so near that she laid her hand on the 
gunwale, and then hacked it off, was punished for his 
cruelty with a terrible storm, from which he only escaped 
with the greatest difficulty. 

The Fisher and the Merman. 

ONE cold winter day a fisherman had gone out to sea. 
It began to grow stormy when he was about to return, 
and he had trouble enough to clear himself. He then 
saw, near his boat, an old man with a long gray beard, 
riding on a wave. The fisherman knew well that it was 
the merman he saw before him, and knew also what it 
meant. " Uh, then, how cold it is ! " said the merman as 
he sat and shivered, for he had lost one of his hose. The 

226 Water- Beings. 

fisherman pulled off one of his, and threw it out to him. 
The merman disappeared with it, and the fisherman came 
safe to land. Some time after this the fisherman was 
again out at sea, far from land. All at once the merman 
stuck his head over the gunwale, and shouted out to the 
man in the boat, 

" Hear, you man that gave 1 the hose, 
Take your boat and make for shore, 
It thunders under Norway." 

The fisherman made all the haste he could to get to land, 
and there came a storm the like of which had never been 
known, in which many were drowned at sea. 

The Merman and the Calf. 

AN old woman in Stradil tells the following story after 
her grandmother. Once, when no ship had been wrecked 
for a long time, and the merman thus had riot got his 
victim, he went up on shore, and cast his hook into the 
cows which went about on the sandhills. Just beside the 
sea there lived a peasant, who had two pretty red calves 
that he did not want to lose, so he coupled them together 
with rowan tree, and the merman had no power over them. 
All the same he fixed his hook in them, but he could not 
drag them down into the sea, and had to let go his hook, 
with which the calves came home in the evening. The 
man took it, guessing it was the merman s, and hung it 
up beside the stove, where it hung till one day, when only 
an old woman was left in the house. Then the merman 
came and took his hook, and turning about to the old 
woman, said in his own imperfect speech, " Two red cows 
first calves ; rowan tree to couple ; man couldn*t drag 

The Sea-Sprite. 227 

them ; man has lost many good catch since." With that 
he went away with the hook, and never tried to take 
cattle on the beach again. 

The Dead Merman and the Sand-Drift. 

A DEAD body was once washed ashore on the Danish 
coast, and buried in the churchyard of Nissum. No 
sooner had this been done than the sand began to blow 
over the country from the beach, and this continued for 
three days, growing always the longer the worse. People 
now began to think there was trolldom in the matter, and 
applied to a. wise man for advice. On his learning that 
the sand-storm had begun immediately after the burial 
of the dead body from the sea, he declared that this was 
undoubtedly a merman, and that his burial in Christian 
ground had caused the drifting. They must instantly 
dig him up again, and see whether he had sucked his 
fore-finger into his mouth past the second joint. If he 
had done this there was no help for it, but if not they 
should bury him in the sandhills, and the drifting would 
cease. They accordingly dug him up again, and sure 
enough they found him lying with his finger in his mouth, 
but he had got it no further than the second joint. They 
then buried him in the sand-hills, and the drifting ceased. 
After that all bodies washed ashore were buried in these 
hills, down to quite recent times. 

The Sea-Sprite. 

THE sea-sprite is seen after sunset standing on out-lying 
reefs, and when men row out to fish he calls upon them 

228 Water-Beings. 

and asks to be taken on board the boat. Sometimes 
they have taken him on board, and set him on one of the 
seats to row with the others ; during the darkest part of 
the night he can row against two at the least, so strong is 
he. He is good at finding the fishing-ground when it is 
not clear enough to see the land-marks, but he grows 
smaller and smaller as day approaches, and fades away 
into nothing when the sun rises out of the sea. They 
have made the sign of the cross on him, but as the eastern 
sky grew redder and redder before the sun, he begged 
more and more piteously to be let go. One time they 
would not let him away, but when the sun rose he dis 
appeared, and his pelvis was left lying on the seat, for the 
sea-sprite is said to take to himself a human pelvis, and 
this is left behind if the sprite himself disappears. He 
can also produce ocular deceptions : sometimes he seems 
like a man, sometimes like a dog. He is of a dark-red 
colour, and hoots and howls so that it can be heard a far 
way off. Fire flies from him when he is on shore. He 
has only one foot (or tail), but can hop -a long way with 
it, and his tracks have been seen in the snow. When 
he meets a man on land he tries to drive him out into the 

The Shepherd and the Sea-Folk. 

ONE time there was a rich yeoman who had a large and 
splendid house, with a sitting room all panelled from 
floor to ceiling, but it had the defect that any one who 
stayed there on Christmas eve was found dead next 
morning. It was, therefore, difficult to get any one to 
stay there, for no one wished to remain at home that 

The Shepherd and the Sea-Folk. 229 

night, and yet it was necessary for some one to do so. 
Once the yeoman had got a new shepherd, as he did fre 
quently, for he had many sheep and required an active 
man to look after them. The yeoman told the man 
honestly of this bad point about the farm, but the shep 
herd said he did not mind such trifles, and was quite as 
willing to come to him for all that. He came to him 
accordingly, and they got on very well together. Time 
passed until phristmas came, and the yeoman and all his 
household went to evensong on Christmas eve, except the 
shepherd, who was not making ready to go to church. 
His master asked why this was. The shepherd said he 
meant to stay at home, as it was impossible to leave the 
farm to itself, and let the cattle want their food so long. 
The farmer told him never to mind that, no one could 
venture to stay there on Christmas eve, as he had said 
before, for every living thing then about the house was 
killed, and he would not have him risk it on any account. 
The shepherd professed to think this all nonsense, and 
said he would try it. When his master found he could 
not persuade him, he went away with the others, and left 
him there alone. 

The shepherd, when left to himself, began to think 
over his design, and decided that he had better be pre 
pared for all emergencies, as there was plainly something 
wrong. He kindled a light in the sitting-room, and made 
it quite bright. Then he looked for a place to hide him 
self, and loosening two planks of the panelling at the end 
of the room, he crept in there, drawing them into their 
places again so as to leave no trace. There he stood 
between the panelling and the wall, being able to see 
all that went on in the room through a chink in the 

230 Water- Beings. 

No long time after he had thus disposed of himself, he saw 
two unknown and very grim-looking men enter the room, 
and look all round it. Then one of them said, " The 
smell of man ! the smell of man ! " " No," said the other, 
" there is no man here." They then took lights, and 
looked everywhere in the room, high and low, till at last 
they found a dog that was lying below .one of beds. Him 
they took and wrung his neck, and threw him out at the 
door. The shepherd saw then that it would not have 
done for him to come in contact with these fellows, and 
thanked his good fortune that he was where he was. 
After this the room began to fill with people, who pro 
ceeded to lay the table, and had all their table-service of 
silver dishes, spoons, and knives. Food was then served 
up, and they sat down to it, making great noise and 
mirth, and were there eating, drinking and dancing all 
night. Two, however, were set to watch and tell if they 
saw any man on the move outside, and whether day was 
about to dawn. Thrice during the night they went put 
and said they saw no one coming, and that it was not yet 
day. When the shepherd thought that it must be dawn, 
he seized both the loose boards, sprang out into the floor 
with the greatest violence, clapped the boards together, 
and yelled with all his might, " Day ! Day ! " The 
strangers were so startled at this that they tumbled out, 
heads over heels, leaving all their belongings table, 
table-service, and clothes which they had put off during 
the night to be all the lighter for dancing. Some were 
hurt and some trodden under foot, while the shepherd 
continued to chase them, clapping his boards and shout 
ing " Day ! Day ! " till they reached a lake a little way 
from the farm, into which they all dived, and then he saw 
that they were " sea-folk " or " water-dwellers. w After 

The Origin of the Seal. 231 

that he went back home, dragged out the dead ones, and 
killed the half-dead, and then burned up the bodies. 
When his master came home, he and the shepherd 
divided between them all that the visitors had left, and 
from that time forward nothing strange happened there 
on Christmas Eve. 

The Origin of the Seal. 

SEALS originally come from mortals w.ho have intention 
ally drowned themselves in the sea. Once in the year, 
on Eastern s Eve, they can take off their skins, and enjoy 
themselves as human beings, with dancing and other 
amusements, in caves and on the flat rocks beside the 

A young man in Mikladal had heard of this, and there 
was pointed out to him a place not far off, where they 
assembled on that night. Towards evening he slipped 
away to this, and kept himself concealed, until he saw 
the seals in great numbers come swimming up, take off 
their skins and lay them on the rocks. He noticed that 
a most beautiful girl came out of one of the seal-skins, 
and laid it a short distance from where he had hid him 
self, so he slipped up and took possession of it. They 
danced and played the whole night, but when day began 
to dawn, every seal went to look for its skin. The girl 
was distressed when she missed hers, and traced it to the 
man from Mikladal, but as he, in spite of her entreaties, 
would not give it back to her, she had to go home with 
him. They lived together for many years and had several 
children, but he had always to take care that his wife 
should have no chance of getting hold of her seal-skin, 

232 Water- Beings. 

which he therefore locked up in his chest, and always car 
ried the key about with him. One day he was out fishing, 
and as he sat and fished out at sea, he discovered that he 
had left the key at home, and called out to the others, 
" To-day I have lost my wife." They pulled up their 
lines and rowed home in all haste, but when they reached 
the house, the woman had disappeared, and only the chil 
dren were left. To prevent these coming to harm when 
she had left them, she had put out the fire and laid away all 
the knives. Then she ran down to the beach, put on the 
skin and plunged into the sea, where a male seal came up 
by her side, he had all the time been lying out there 
waiting for her. Whenever these children came down to 
the beach, a seal might often be seen to rise and look 
towards land, and it was believed that this was their 
mother. So a long time passed, and it happened that 
the man intended to go into a large cave to kill seals. 
The night before this took place, he dreamed that his 
former wife came to him and told him that if he went on 
this expedition, he must take care not to kill the big seal 
at the mouth of the cave, for that was her mate, nor the 
two young seals at the back of the cave, for these were 
her two young sons, and she described to him the colour 
of their skins. The man, however, gave no heed to the 
dream, but went with the others, and they killed all the 
seals they could lay their hands on. The spoil was 
divided when they came home, and the man got for his 
share the big seal and the hands and feet of the two young 
ones. In the evening they had boiled the head of the big 
seal, and the flippers of the young ones for their supper, 
but when these were set on the table there was a great 
crash in the kitchen, and his former wife came In like a 
fearful troll, snuffed at the dishes, and cried, " Here lies 

Nykur or the Water-horse. 233 

the head of my mate, the hand of Harek, and the foot of 
Fridrik, but it shall be avenged on the men of Mikladal ; 
some.of them shall perish on the sea, and some fall down 
the cliffs, till their number is so great that they can reach 
round the whole island of Kallso, holding each other by 
the hand." After uttering this curse she disappeared and 
was never seen again, but to this day some are always 
being lost on the dangerous waters and cliffs in this neigh 
bourhood, and it is also said that there is always a lunatic 
on the south farm in Mikladal. The number of those lost 
must, therefore, still be insufficient to stretch round the 

Nykur or the Water-horse 

NYKUR lives both in rivers and lakes, and even in the sea. 
in shape he most resembles a horse, generally grey in 
colour, but sometimes black ; all his hoofs point back 
wards, and the tuft on the pastern is reversed. He is, 
however, not confined to this one shape, but has the pro 
perty of being able to change himself at once into other 
forms at his pleasure. When cracks come in the ice in 
winter, and cause loud noises, it is said that Nykur is 
neighing. He begets foals, just like stallions, but always 
in the water, although it has happened that he has got 
mares with foal. It is the mark of all horses that are 
sprung from Nykur that they lie down when they are 
ridden, or bear packs, over water that wets their belly. 
This property they have from Nykur, who haunts lakes 
and rivers that are difficult to cross ; he then appears 
quite tame, and entices people to ride across on him. 
When any happen to mount him he rushes out into the 


234 Water-Beings. 

water, lies down there, and drags his rider down with him. 
He cannot bear to hear his own name, or any word 
resembling it ; at that he changes shape, and springs into 
the water. 

In Grfms-ey, in the north, it is believed that Nykur 
lives in the sea there, and neighs whenever he knows that 
the inhabitants have gone to the mainland for a cow. His 
neigh drives them mad, and they spring into the sea and 
are drowned. To this also points the fact that it is only 
of late years that the men of Grims-ey have ventured to- 
keep a cow on the island. 

Nykur does work as a Grey Horse. 

ONCE the farmers of the parish had to build a wall round 
the churchyard at Bard (some say Holt) in Flj6t (N. of 
Iceland). One day they had all come to the work early 
except one man, who was thought rather evil-disposed. 
Not before mid-day did they see him coming, leading 
after him a. grey horse. On his arrival he was assailed 
by those who had come early, for coming so late to do his 
share of the work. The man calmly asked what he was 
to do, and was set to work along with some others to 
bring turf for building the wall, with which he was well 
enough pleased. His grey horse was very fierce towards 
the others, bit them and kicked them, till at last no horse 
could stand before him. The men tried putting heavier 
loads on him, but that did no good, for he went with 
loads half as heavy again just as easily as before, and 
never stopped till he drove off all the other horses, and 
was the only one left. The man then put on his back as 
much as all the other horses together had taken at each 

Nennir. 235 

journey, and after that he went quietly and carried all the 
material needed for the wall. When this work was 
finished, the man took the bridle off the horse beside 
the new-built wall, and struck him over the loins with it 
just as he let him go. The horse not liking this, threw 
up his heels and struck the wall with them, thus making 
a great gap in it that could never be filled up after 
wards, however often it was built again, until at .last they 
came to use k as a gate to the church. The last seen of 
the horse was that as soon as he was loose, he set off and 
never stopped till he landed in Holt Lake, and all were 
sure then that this had been Nykur. 


ONE time a herd-girl was searching after sheep, and was 
very tired with walking so far. She then, to her great 
delight, came upon a grey horse, for which she made a 
halter with her garter, laid her apron on his back, and 
proceeded to mount him. But just as she did this, she 
said " I don t think I care to (nenni) go on its back." 
With that the horse started violently, dashed out into a 
lake near hand, and disappeared. The girl now saw that 
this was Nykur, for it is his nature that he must not hear 
his name, otherwise he goes off into his lake, and his other 
name is Nennir. The same thing happens if Nykur hears 
the Devil named. 

One time three or four children were playing themselves 
near their home on the level banks of a lake. They saw 
there a grey horse, and went to look at it. Then one of 
the children mounted it, and the others followed, one by 
one, till only the eldest was left. The others told it to 

236 Water-Beings. 

come up too, the horse s back would be long enough for 
them all to sit on. The child would not go, however, and 
said it did not care to (ekki nenna). With that the horse 
started and dashed into the lake with all the children on 
its back. The one that was left went home and told what 
had happened, and all knew that this must have been Ny- 
kur, but neither he nor the children were ever seen again. 

The Long Horse. 

IN the middle of the town of Ryslinge there was in old 
days a morass called Tange s Kjaer, and the name is still 
given to a dam which by draining has taken the place of 
the morass. One evening, many years ago, some young 
girls from Ryslinge had been out at a farm in Skirret, to 
help the woman there to card her wool, and it was pretty 
late before they started to go home. They followed the 
path from Skirret to Ryslinge, which went through the 
morass. The girls were frightened as to how they were 
to get over this dangerous spot, but on coming to it they 
found there an old lean horse, so lean that one could count 
its ribs. The boldest of the girls immediately mounted 
on its back, and the others followed her example, for the 
more that mounted it the longer grew the horse. They 
then rode into the morass, but when they had got half 
way over, the foremost girl looked behind her, and when 
she saw that they were all on one and the same horse, 
she was so scared that she cried out, 

" Jesus Christ s cross ! 
We are sitting all on one horse." 

As soon as this was said, the horse suddenly disappeared, 
and the girls were left standing in the middle of the bog, 
and had to wade to land. 

Nykur in the Faeroes. 237 

Nykur in the Faeroes. 

NYKUR lives in lakes, where he has his abode deep down 
at the bottom of the waters, but he often comes up on 
shore, and it is no good thing to meet him. Sometimes 
he is like a pretty little horse, and looks quiet and tame, 
and so entices folk to come near to him, and clap him 
and stroke him on the back ; but as soon as they happen 
to touch the tail, they stick fast to him, and then he lets 
no one go, but drags them down with him to the bottom 
of the water. Sometimes he appears in human shape, as 
a fine young fellow, to entice girls to go with him, and 
promises them mirth and play in his hall, if they will but 
follow him ; but if they get a suspicion of who it is that 
they are giving themselves over to, they have only to 
name him by his right name, " Nykur," and he loses all- 
power over them, and must let them go and return all 
alone to his lake. It is said that Nykur can also assume 
the shape of all four-footed beasts, but he cannot get the 
point -of a wether s horn made on himself. So long, how 
ever, as he keeps his own shape he is like a horse, and it 
has happened that men have got power over him by cut 
ting a cross on his back, and have then employed him to 
drag large stones down from the hills with his tail, to 
build walls or houses with, such as may still be seen at 
Hiisavik in Sando, and at Eid in Ostero. The huge 
stones gathered there bear witness to his great strength. 
On Takmyre, in Sando, lies a huge rock, which they 
would have had him draw to Hiisavi k, but his tail broke, 
and the stone stands there with part of the tail still to be 
seen adhering to it. 

238 Water- Beings. 

The Nok or Neck. 

THIS water-troll resides mainly in rivers and lakes, but 
sometimes also in fjords. He requires a human sacrifice 
every year, and therefore in every river or lake where a 
Nok has his abode, at least one person is lost every year, 
and when one is to be drowned, the Nok is often heard 
shouting with a hollow and ghostly voice, " Cross over." 
These foreboding cries, in some places called " ware- 
shricks," are also sometimes heard like those of a human 
being in a death-struggle. 

The Nok can change his shape to resemble all kinds of 
things, sometimes a half-boat in the water, or a half-horse 
on land, sometimes gold and valuables. If any one 
touches these, the Nok has power over him, and is especi 
ally greedy for little children, but is only dangerous 
after sunset. On approaching a water at that time, it is 
not amiss to say, " Nyk, nyk, needle in water ! the Virgin 
Mary threw steel in water : you sink, I float! 

Although the Nok is a dangerous troll, yet he some 
times finds his master. In Sund-foss in Gjerrestad, says 
the story, there lived for a long time a Nok, who was often 
the cause of people being lost, when they rowed up or 
down the fall. The priest, who feared danger from this 
Nok, took with him on his journey four stout fellows, and 
made them twice row up the foss with all their might, but 
each time they were carried back without getting over \^. 
When they rowed up for the third time, they saw the 
priest, at the head of the foss, plunge his hand into the 
water and ptrl out of it a creature which looked like a 
little black dog. The priest then told them to row further 
up the stream, while he set the Nok between his feet and 
remained quite silent. As they neared the, cairn beside 

The River-Horse. 239 

Tvet, he charmed the Nok into it. Since that time no 
one has been lost in Sund-foss, whereas two have been 
drowned beside the cairn of Tvet, where cries are often 
heard as of people in danger of their lives. 

Not much better did the Nok in Bahus fare. In Nor 
land he transformed himself into a horse, and went on the 
bank to graze, but a wise man, who saw that there was 
something on foot, cast so ingenious a halter on him that 
he could not get free again. He kept the Nok beside him 
the whole Spring, and worked him well, for he ploughed 
all his fields with him. At last the halter gave way by 
accident, and like a shot the Nok sprang into the lake, 
and took the harrow along with him. 

The River-Horse. 

THE river-horse (back-hasten) is very malicious, for, not 
-content with leading folk astray and then laughing at 
them, when he has landed them in thickets and bogs, he, 
being Necken himself, alters his shape now to one thing 
and now to another, although he commonly appears as a 
light-grey horse. A good long time back a peasant got 
the better of him. The river-horse wanted to get the 
man on his back, when he would soon have carried him 
out into the stream ; but the peasant was wiser than that, 
for instead of mounting him he put a bridle on him, and 
Grey-coat had to go home with him. He now got some 
thing else to do than go about and play tricks, for the 
peasant harnessed him to the plough and to a heavy 
waggon, so that he had to use all his strength, and the 
bridle was never taken off him for a single minute so long 
as the peasant remembered about it One day, however, 

240 Water-Beings. 

he forgot what kind of horse he had and took off the 
bridle, whereupon the river-horse went off like a shot, and 
was never again seen in that district. 

He also changes himself sometimes to other animals. 
On one occasion a servant-girl went into the cow-house, 
and found there a new-born calf. It was a winter day, so 
she took the calf and carried it into the house, where she 
laid it beside the stove. Her master and mistress were 
delighted with this, as they had not been expecting one, 
and asked the girl whether it was a bull or a cow. She 
did not know, and when she proceeded to find out, the 
calf sprang up and laughed, " Ho, ho, ho ! " and dashed 
out of the house. 

It is certain that the river-horse still exists, for it is no 
more than a few years back that a man in Filborna dis 
trict, who owned a light-grey horse, was coming home 
late one night, and saw, as he thought, the horse standing 
beside Vala brook. He thought it strange,that his man 
had not taken in Grey-coat, and proceeded to do so him 
self, but just as he was about to lay hold of it it went off 
like an arrow, and laughed loudly. The man turned his 
coat, so as not to go astray, for he knew now who the 
horse was. 

In Kristianstad there was a well, from which all the 
girls took the drinking-water, and where a number of boys 
always gathered as well. One evening the river-horse 
was standing there, and the boys, thinking it was just an 
old horse, seated themselves on its back, one after the 
other, until there was a whole row of them, but the 
smallest one hung on by the horse s tail. When he saw 
how long it was he cried, " Oh, in Jesus name ! " where 
upon the horse threw all the others into the water. 

A worse thing about the river-horse is that he has a 

The River-Man. 241 

great passion for women who have just given birth to a 
child. He then puts on the appearance of the genuine 
husband, and tries to share her bed ; but however he may 
change his shape he cannot get rid of the horse s hoof, 
and by this the wife can distinguish him from her real 
husband. If she does not look to this, and allows herself 
to be deceived by him, she becomes wrong in the head 
from that day forward. No woman, however, receives 
these ugly visits unless the midwife or some other person 
has been so careless as to wash her linen in some stream 
or river, and dry it in the open air, for through this the 
river-horse (or river-man, as one may call him) gets power 
to enter the house. 

The River-Man. 

LIKE the trolls and the wood-fairies, the river-man belongs 
to the fallen angels, and like these also he desires to play 
wicked pranks on mankind, so he changes his shape at 
pleasure. A story is told of a young girl who engaged 
herself to an agreeable young man, and the two were in 
the habit of meeting beside a stream. The river-man 
took advantage of this, put on the shape of her betrothed, 
and met the girl several times. She found, however, that 
he behaved differently from his usual conduct, and com 
plained to her parents. These suspected mischief, and 
told her that the next time she met him, she should pre 
tend to be very friendly with him, and so get out of him 
the way to protect herself against the river-man. She 
took their advice, and he was foolish enough to say to her, 
that whoever carried on their person, "wall-stone, sausage- 
bone, and the white under ground/ would be safe from 

242 Water- Beings. 

him. The girl then searched for a stone from a clay- 
covered house-wall, a bone-splinter from a meat-sausage, 
and a garlic-root ; these she carried about with her, and 
so put an end to his tricks. 

The river-man plays music in the rivers and streams. 
His music is wondrouslv beautiful to hear, but dangerous 
to listen to, for one can lose their senses by standing and 
hearing the dance to the end. Many village musicians 
have been known, who have learned from him to play 
this elf-dance, and have sometimes played the first parts 
of it at Christmas parties and elsewhere. This might be 
done without any danger either to themselves or the 
dancers, but if the player had not sense enough to stop 
at the end of the third part, but began to the fourth and 
last, then it was too late. At the third part both old and 
young danced like mad, but now the musician and tables 
and benches danced as well, and could not stop so long 
as life was in the people, unless some one from outside 
entered the room, and cut all the strings of the violin 
across with a knife. 

Necken is Promised Redemption. 

IN the songs which were composed in old times about 
Necken, he is represented, like all the elf-folk, as worthy 
of sympathy and compassion, and the country people al 
ways listen with a feeling of melancholy to the sorrowful 
Necken s song, in which he laments his hard fate. 

* Oh, I am ne er a knight, though so I seem to you, 
I am the wretched Necken, that dwells in billows blue, 
In fosses and thundering torrents. 

" My dwelling it lies beneath a bridge so low, 
Where no one can walk and where no one can go, 
And no one can remain till the morning." 

"The hour is come, but not the man." 243 

Among the most common and most widely-spread 
stories of Necken is the following. A priest was one 
-evening riding over a bridge, when he heard strains of 
most melodious music. He turned round, and saw upon 
the surface of the water a young man, naked to the waist, 
wearing a red cap, with golden locks hanging over his 
shoulders, and having a gold harp in his hand. He knew 
that it was -Necken, and addressed him thus: " Why do 
you play your harp so merrily? Sooner shall this withered 
staff that I hold in my hand grow green and blossom, 
than you shall get redemption. The unhappy Necken 
threw his harp into the water, and wept bitterly. The 
priest turned his horse again and rode on his way, but lo, 
when he had gone a little way, he noticed that round 
.about the old pilgrim s staff that he had in his hand green 
shoots and leaves had come forth, mingled with the most 
beautiful flowers. This seemed to him to be a sign from 
heaven, to preach the comforting doctrine of Redemption 
after another fashion, and he hastened back to the still 
mourning Necken, "showed him the flowering staff, and 
said, "See, now my old staff is green, and blossoms like a 
rose ; so also shall hope. blossom in the hearts of all cre 
ated beings, for their Redeemer liveth." Comforted with 
this, Necken seized his harp again, and joyous tones 
sounded over the banks the live-long night. 

" The hour is come, but not the man." 

IT was the Nok, or another water-troll, who late one even 
ing shouted from the lake beside Hvide-so Parsonage, 
" The time is come, but not the man." As soon as the 
priest heard of this, he gave orders to watch the first man 

244 Water-Beings. 

who came with intent to cross the lake, and stop him from 
going further. Immediately after this, there came a man 
in hot haste, and asked for a boat. The priest begged 
him to put off his journey, but as neither entreaties nor 
threats had any effect, the priest made them use force to 
prevent his crossing. The stranger became quite helpless, 
and remained lying so, until the priest had some water 
brought from the lake from which the cry came, and gave 
him it to drink. Scarcely had he drunk the water, when 
he gave up the ghost. 

In southern Vend-syssel in Denmark the river-man is 
also known as the Nok. The river Ry there takes one- 
person every year, and when it demands them, it calls,. 
" The time and the hour are come, but the man is not yet 
come." When this cry is heard from the river, folk must 
beware of going too near it, for if they do so, they are 
seized by an irresistible desire to spring into it, and then 
they never come up again. There are many who are said 
to have heard the cry, among others a girl who was going 
along its bank with a dog by her side. . When she hear<3 
the call, she cried out, " Not me, but the dog/ which 
immediately sprang into the stream and was drowned. 
She also saw a little man with a large beard running 
about in the river ; this was the Nok, from whom the cry 
no doubt came. 

In Odcnse river there is also a river-man, who requires 
his victim every year, and if one year passes without any 
one being drowned there, he takes good care to have two 
in the year following. It is said that two little boys were 
once playing ,on the bank, when one of th^m fell into the 
water. The other tried to help him out, but just as he 
got hold of his comrade s hand, a voice was heard out of 
the river, " No, I shall have both of you :T got no one 

The River-Man. 245 

last year," and with that this boy also slipped into the 
water and both were drowned. Some men, who were 
witnesses of the accident from the opposite bank, hurried 
with a boat to lend their aid, but came too late. The 
bodies-were never found either, the river-man had kept 

The River-Man. 

THERE was a river-man in a stream which runs on the 
south side of Maarup-gaard in Fjaltring. The man on 
the farm was well acquainted with him, and the river-man 
gave him permission to pasture his cattle along his pos 
sessions. Finally, however, they fell out, as the river-man 
thought that the farmer was coming too close to him ; so 
he decided to play him a trick. The meadow had just 
been mown, and a pair of bullocks were pasturing on it, 
one of which he resolved to take when it came down to 
drink. One of them had a piece of a tether round its 
neck, and as it bent down its head to drink, the river-man 
fixed his gold hook in this, and tried to drag it down into 
the stream. The bullock, however, dragged the hook 
from him, and ran straight home with it. The farmer 
came out into the yard, and saw this big gold hook hang 
ing at the bullock s neck, so he took it off and hung it up 
in his parlour. In a little the river-man came and asked 
it back, but the man said, " No ; it is hanging in a place 
that you cannot take it from." " Oh, never mind," said 
he, "you can just keep it for the services you have done 
me in time past ; I wanted you to have it as a reminder 
of me, and there is a blessing along with it, for you and 
your descendants will never come to poverty so long as 

246 Water-Beings. 

you have it." This has been fulfilled, for there has always- 
been prosperity on that farm, as far back as any one can 

The Kelpie. 

IN Gerrestad, they formerly used to set down a bowl of 
gruel, or something of that kind, beside the mill, so that 
the kelpie might increase the meal in the sacks. For a 
long time he lived in Sand-ager-foss, where a man had a 
mill. Whenever he tried to grind corn, the mill stopped, 
and the man, who knew that it was the kelpie who caused 
this annoyance, took with him one evening some pitch in- 
a pot, under which he lighted a fire. As soon as he had 
started the mill, it stopped as usual. He then pushed 
down a pole to drive away the kelpie, but in vain. 
Finally, he opened the door to look out, but right in the 
doorway stood the kelpie, with open -mouth, which was- 
so big, that his under-jaw rested on the threshold and 
the upper one on the lintel. " Have you ever seen any 
thing gape so wide ? " said he to the man, who straight 
way caught up the pot of boiling pitch, and threw it into 
his mouth, with the words, " Have you ever felt anything 
taste so hot ? " The kelpie disappeared, roaring loudly, 
and has never been seen since. 


IN the fresh-water lakes and rivers, as well as along the 
coasts of Norway, are found monstrous . sea-serpents, 
which, however, differ in respect both of their appearance 

The Sea-Serpent in Mjosen. 247 

and magnitude. According to the general belief, they 
are born on land, and have their first abode in forests and 
stone-heaps, from which, when they are full-grown, or 
have tasted human blood, they make their way down to 
inland lakes, or to the sea, where they grow to a mon 
strous size. They seldom show themselves, and when 
they do, they are regarded as omens of important events. 
In most lakes and rivers of any importance these mon 
sters have, according to tradition, been seen some time 
or other rising from the depths of the waters, and thereby 
foretelling some great event. In the. fresh-water lakes 
none have shown themselves within living memory, but 
they are sometimes seen in the firths when it is perfectly 
calm. In Snaasen Lake is found a large serpent, which 
yearly demands a human life, and in Saelbo Lake there 
exists one which has lain there since the Deluge. When 
once it turns itself, it will break down the mountain that 
now dams in the lake, and the result will be that Trond- 
hjem.will be overflowed. Some time after the black- 
death, says tradition, there came two large serpents from 
Fokso past By and down into Lougen ; one of them is 
said to be still there, but the other, a couple of centuries 
ago, tried to go down the river to Gulosen, and was killed 
in the waterfall, and drifted over to Braaleret, beside 
By-nes in the neighbourhood of Trondhjem, where it 
rotted and gave out such a stench that no one could go 
near the spot 

The Sea-Serpent in Mjosen. 

IN Mjosen there once lived a sea-serpent, and one time,, 
when it was fine summer weather, it came to the surface 
to sun itself, throwing the water into the air, while it 

248 Water-Beings. 

reared its head above a reef. Its eyes were large, and 
glowed like a carbuncle; a long mane like sea-tangle hung 
down its neck ; and its body, covered with scales which 
glanced with a thousand colours, stuck up here and there. 
As it was unable to go away again, and lay and beat its 
head upon the reef, there was a monk, a daring fellow, 
who shot an arrow into one of its eyes. It died in terrible 
convulsions, so that the waves became both red and. green 
with blood and venom, and finally it drove ashore at 
Pulsto on HeIge-6. It lay there and rotted till the stench 
became so intolerable, that the inhabitants had to cart 
wood and burn it up. They afterwards set up its ribs, 
which were so high that a man on horseback could ride 
under them. 


Gold Thorir and the Drake. 

IN the days of Harald, the Fair-haired, Thorir Oddsson 
came from Iceland to Norway, and was* sent by his uncle 
Sigmund there to his friend Ulf, north in . Halogaland. 
One day Thorir and his comrades were out fishing and 
came home late. Ulf went to meet them, and when they 
had fixed up their boat for the night, Thorir saw a fire 
like the light of the moon, over which hovered a blue 
flame. He asked what light that was. " Better not en 
quire, into that," said Ulf, "it has no human origin." 
"Why should I not" know of it," said Thorir, "though it 
is caused by trolls ? " Ulf said it was a grave-mc-und 
fire. Thorir still questioned him, and at length Ulf told 
him about it, saying, "There was a berserk named Agnar, 
who made this mound and went into it with all his ship s 
crew, and much treasure besides. Since then he guards 
the mound by his trolldom, so that no one may come 
near it. Many who have come to break into it have died, 
or some other mishap has befallen them, and we do not 
know whether the troll is alive or dead." Said. Thorir, 
" Now you have spoken well, and it is more manly to get 
treasure there, than row out to the fishing. I shall ven 
ture it." Ulf tried hard to prevent him, as well as all his 
comrades, but Thorir declared he would go all the same. 
Ketilbjorn alone was willing to go with him, none of the 


250 Monsters. 

others being bold enough. To reach the mound they had 
to ascend a hill-slope, and on their coming up on this, 
there broke upon them such a violent storm that they 
could not stand before it. - They had a rope between 
them, and Thorir went on foremost as long as he could, 
but finally the storm lifted both of them and threw them 
down the slope. The rope caught round a large stone, 
and they were now so exhausted that they lay there till 
they fell asleep. Thorir dreamed then that a man 
came to him, big of body, dressed in a red kirtle, and 
having a helm on his head and a sword in his hand. He 
wore a broad belt to which was fixed a good knife, and 
had gloves on his hands ; the man was majestic and 
stately. He thrust at Thorir with the point of his scab 
bard, and spoke to him angrily, bidding him wake up, 
and saying, "There is the making of an ill man in you, 
when you will rob your kinsmen, but I will do to you 
better than you deserve, for I am your father s brother 
and by the same mother as him. I will give you presents 
to turn back and look elsewhere for treasure. You shall 
have from me this good kirtle, which will shield you from 
fire and weapons, and along with it the helm and sword. 
I shall also give you gloves such as you will not get the 
like of, for your followers will be free from wounds if you 
stroke them with these. You shall also wear them when 
you bind up any man s wounds, and all the pain will soon 
go out of these. I shall leave here my knife and belt, 
and these you shall always have with you. I shall also 
give you twenty marks of gold and twenty of silver." 
Thorir seemed to himself to answer that he thought this 
too little fiom so near and so rich a kinsman, and said 
that he would not go back for any little bribe, "nor did I 
know," said he, " that I had trolls so near of kin to me 

Gold Thorir and the Drake. 

until you told me, and you would have no hope of mercy 
from me, were it not for our kinship." Agnar said, 
" Long will it be ere your eyes arc filled with treasure, 
and you may well excuse me for loving my wealth, for 
you will love it well too before all is done." Thorir said, 
" I care not for your prophecies of ill, but I will accept 
your offer of showing me where I may look for greater 
treasures, if you wish to beg off your own." " I will 
rather do that than quarrel with you," said Agnar. 
" There was a viking named Val, who had much gold. 
This treasure he took into a cave north beside Dumbs 
Sea, and he and his sons brooded over it then and became 
flying-dragons. They have helms on their heads, and 
swords under their arms. Now here is a cup, of which 
you shall drink two draughts and your comrade one, and 
then happen whatever may." Then Thorir awoke, and 
found all these things that Agnar gave him lying there 
beside him. Ketilbjorn awoke also, and had heard all 
their talk, and seen where Agnar went ; he advised Thorir 
to take this offer. Thorir then took the cup and drank 
two draughts of it and Ketilbjorn one; there was still 
some left in the cup and Thorir set it to his mouth and 
drank it off. Again sleep fell upon them, and Agnar re 
turned and blamed Thorir for having drunk all that was 
in the cup, saying that he would pay for this drink the 
latter part of his life. He also told him many things that 
befell later, and gave him directions how to win the cave 
of the viking Val. 

After this they woke and went home. They told Ulf 
what had befallen them, and bade him direct them to 
Val s cave. Ulf tried to prevent their going, and offered 
them money to desist, saying that no one who had gone 
had ever come back, and he would like ill that those men 

252 Monsters. 

should be lost whom his friend Sigmund had sent him. 
Thorir, however, was bent on going at any cost, and soon 
after with his comrades set out and held north along 
Finnmark till they came to Blesaberg, which was the 
name of the fell where Val s cave was. It lies north, 
beside Dumbs-haf, where a great river falls from the 
mountain into deep chasms and so out into the sea. 
Thorir knew then that they had reached the spot to which 
he was directed. They went up on the fell, and made 
the preparations that Agnar had taught him. They cut 
down a great tree, and laid it with its branches hanging 
over the mountain s edge, piling up stones on its root ; 
then they took a cable and fastened it to the branches. 
Thorir then offered his comrades the chance to go and 
keep all the treasure they got, but none of them had any 
hope of reaching the cave, even though there were no 
other danger than that, and bade him give up the attempt. 
" That shall not be," said Thorir, "rather will I try it my 
self, and have all the treasure that can be found." The 
others said that they would make no claim on it ; he 
would have plenty to do if he got it. Thorir threw off his 
clothes and equipped himself lightly, putting on the kirtle 
he got from Agnar, and taking the gloves, belt and knife, 
and a slender line that Agnar gave him. He had a 
javelin that his father gave him, and with this he went 
out on the tree ; from there he shot the javelin across the 
river and fastened it in the wood on the other side ; after 
that he went down the rope and let the line draw him 
away under the waterfall. When Ketilbjorn saw this, he 
declared he would go with Thorir, and let one fate go 
over them both ; so he too went down the rope, followed 
by Thorhall and Thrand. Thorir had by this time reached 
the cave, and drew in those who came down. A rocky 

Gold Thorir and the Drake. 253 

projection ran out to the sea in front of the waterfall, and 
up this came Bjorn and Hyrning, the tent being beside 
this projection, because no one could stay near the water 
fall on account of the shaking and spray. Thorir and his 
men kindled a light in the cave, and went on till the wind 
blew against them, and the light went out. Then Thorir 
called on Agnar for aid, and straightway there came a 
great flash of light from the door of the cave, by which 
they went on for some way, until they heard the breath 
ing of the dragons. As soon as the light came over the 
dragons, they all fell asleep, and then there was no want 
of light, which shone from the dragons and from the gold 
they lay upon. They saw swords there with the hilts 
ready to their hand ; these Thorir and his comrades seized 
at once, and then leaped over the dragons and thrust them 
under their shoulders to the heart. Thorir got the helm 
taken off the largest dragon, but at that moment it seized 
Thrand and flew out of the cave with him, the others fol 
lowing one by one and casting fire and much venom from 
their mouths. Those who were outside now saw light 
flashing from the waterfall, and ran out of their tent, 
while the dragons flew up out of the chasm. Then Bjorn 
and the others saw that one of them had a man in its 
mouth, and supposed that all who entered the cave must 
be dead. The biggest dragon, which had the man in its 
mouth, flew furthest, and as they came up over the ledge 
of rock Bjorn sprang up and thrust his inlaid spear into 
it. When it received the wound, there sprang from this 
a great quantity of blood into his face, so that he died 
suddenly, and the blood and venom fell on .the foot of 
Hyrning, where it caused such pain that he could scarcely 
stand. As for Thorir and his comrades, they got great 
treasure in the cave, so that there was sufficient for many 

254 Monsters. 

incn in gold and precious things. It is said they stayed 
three days in Val s cave, and there Thorir found the 
sxvord Horn-hilt that Val had borne. Thorir then climbed 
up the rope first, and afterwards drew up his fellows and 
the treasure. He took Hyrning s foot and stroked it with 
the gloves, and all the pain left it at once. They then 
divided the treasure, Thorir receiving the largest share, 
and returned to Ulf. 

In his later clays Thorir, being hard pressed by his foes, 
took the two chests in which he kept this treasure, and 
with these on his arms sprang into a deep chasm and was 
never seen again. It was supposed that he had lain upon 
his gold-chests and turned into a serpent, for long after 
wards a dragon was seen flying down into the ravine in 
which he disappeared. 

Bjorn and the Dragon. 

ONE summer Bjorn of Hitardal, in the west of Iceland, 
sailed from Norway to England, and remained there two 
winters with Knut the Mighty. While he followed this 
king and was sailing with him off the English coast, a 
flying dragon flew over the ships, swooped down upon 
them, and tried to seize a man in its claws. Bjorn, who 
was standing by, covered the man with his shield, through 
which the dragon s claws almost pierced. Then Bjorn 
caught the dragon s tail with one hand, and with the 
other gave it a stroke of his sword behind the wings, 
cleaving it in two, so that it fell down dead. King Knut 
rewarded Bjorn with much money and a good war-ship, 
with which he set sail for Denmark. 

Dragons in Denmark. 255 

Dragons in Norway. 

STORIES of dragons which fly through the air by night, 
and vomit fire, are fairly common, and in various places 
all over the country there are still shown holes in the 
earth and in the hills, out of which they are seen to come 
flying like blazing fire, when wars or other troubles are to 
be expected. When they return to their dwellings, where 
they brood over immense treasures (which they, as some 
say, have gathered by night, in the depths of the sea) 
there can be heard the clang of the great iron doors that 
close behind them. As they arc fierce and vomit terrible 
fire, it is dangerous to meddle with them. Under Akers 
Kirk, which rests on four golden pillars, there lies a 
dragon brooding over immense riches, which, within living 
memory, shortly before the last war, has been seen to 
come out of a hole beside the church. At innumerable 
other places there have been, and still are seen fiery 
dragons with long tails. That they are not invincible 
however, can be seen from an old story which relates that 
a priest of the name of Anders Madscn, (supposed to 
have lived about 1631), shot a dragon which lay upon 
silver, in the so-called Dragc-fjcld beside Tvede-vand, 

Dragons in Denmark. 

DRAGONS brood over gold in the mounds. They are 
fiery in front like a baker s oven, and have a long tail 
behind. If any one throws an edged tool over the dragon, 
the gold will come rattling down to them. There was a 
man who tried this, but the dragon filled his whole farm 
yard with horse-dung instead of gold ; perhaps that one 

256 Monsters. 

didn t have any. It is also said that one can compel a 
dragon to give up its gold, by throwing a stone at its tail, 
as it comes flying. The tail then falls down as gold, with 
the exception of the one spot which the stone strikes ; 
that remains unaltered, but when the stone strikes the 
dragon, it gives forth a shriek which kills the man who 
threw the stone, if he hears it. In the parish of Saltum, 
there was a man who saw a dragon. A girl on the farm 
was grinding with a quern at the time, and he told her to 
turn it round as fast as possible, which she promised to 
do. When the dragon came, he threw a stone at it, and 
was fortunate enough to strike the tail. He at once stuck 
his fingers into his ears and thrust his head under the 
quern ; by this means he escaped hearing the shriek, and 
got the tail, which was of pure gold. The girl heard the 
shriek, but it could do her no harm. Some said that 
when a dragon was seen, a bunch of keys should be 
thrown over it, and it would let go its treasure, but the 
person must be able to hide himself immediately, other 
wise it would kill him with the falling gold. 

The Dragon Disturbed. 

IN the parishes of Ugilt and Taars, there lie some 
mounds called Ilbjrerge. In the largest of these a dragon 
brooded over an immense treasure. Folk, of course, 
wished to get hold of this, and one time twelve stout fel 
lows would make an attempt to dig it up. This had to 
be done on a Thursday at midnight and in deep silence. 
The first and second Thursday they dug on without find 
ing anything, but the third one they struck a large copper 
chest, full of gold, and with thick rings on the sides and 

The Dragon Disturbed. 257 

ends. With immense labour they finally got the chest 
up on the edge of the hole, and set it down there to rest 
themselves before carrying it further, but one of the fel 
lows forgot about the silence, and exclaimed, "Sec there; 
now we have it." With that the chest fell back again, 
and they could hear that it rolled much further down 
than they had dug. The fellow was left standing with 
an iron ring in his hand> and that was all they got of the 
treasure. The ring was fixed on the inner side of the 
door of St. Catherine s church in Hj cirri ng, and is there to 
this day. When the chest sank, the dragon, spouting fire 
and venom, flew out of the hole and shrieked 

" If I may not in Stue-h">i be, 
You never will drive me from Sjorup Sea." 

It then flew off, and dashed down into Sjorup Lake, in 
Taars parish, so that the water foamed and boiled around 
it. After it had taken up its residence here, it used to go 
to some mounds a short distance away, and all along its 
path, the grass was burned as if by fire. When Kristen 
Kristcnsen took the farm there, he decided to build a 
smithy right in the dragon s path. The neighbours tried 
to dissuade him, but he built it where he wanted it. After 
it was erected, a violent storm arose one night, and in the 
morning the building was level with the ground. In spite 
of the neighbours warnings, he again built the smithy on 
the same spot, and one night it was burned down. It 
was, of course, the dragon who had set fire to it, because 
it did not want its path blocked. The man built it a third 
time on the same spot, and that smithy stands there to 
this day. The dragon had to give in, and has never been 
heard of since. 

258 Monsters. 

The Charcoal-burner and the Dragon. 

SoREN MELIXJAAKD from ITaarup was watching his 
charcoal heaps, a little east from where Sejbaik station 
now stands. At that time there was a large forest there ; 
there were beeches with eighteen or twenty branches, 
and four ells in circumference. While there, he saw, 
coming over the heath, a shape like a headless ox and 
of a tremendous size, which came striding towards 
him. He never would believe that there were such 
spectres down there, although the other burners had said 
that they could not get their piles left in peace, as there 
was something that came and scattered them. He had 
laughed at this, and sworn that it was nothing but sheer 
lies ; but when this spectre came, he said, " Have mercy, 
Mister Satan." Then there arose a howling and scream 
ing in the air, and the piles were scattered all round 
about, but he himself received no harm. It was a dragon 
which came flying from Osterskov, and passed over the 
lake near by. 

The Lindorm in the Churchyard. 

LIN DORMS have their abode in waste places, but some 
times go over the country, and lay themselves round 
church-towers. It happened once that a lindorm laid its 
head close to the church door, so that no one dared to 
enter the church, and still less to try to drive it away. 
During the day it ate grass and turf, and gnawed the 
wooden crosses off the graves, as well as any young shoots 
or plants it could find, but by night it was quiet. As the 
people were afraid that, as soon as it got finished with the 

The Lindorm and the Bull. 259 

churchyard, it would begin to what was outside it, they 
sought for good advice. They were first advised to 
poison it with tobacco, and this they hung up in little 
bundles on some stakes round the churchyard, but the 
lindorm only butted at these, and ate none of it. They 
would then try to shoot it, and this of course must be 
done by moonlight. They planted heavy ordnance 
against it, and were successful in killing the lindorm, but 
at the same time they spoiled both church and steeple. 
So big was the monster, that it took them three days to 
get the pieces of it carried off and buried, and it was half 
a year before they got the church put in good condition 

The Lindorm and the Bull, 

THERE was once a girl in Tjornc-lunde, who went out to 
milk her master s cows, and as she went across the fields, 
she saw a little brindled snake creeping among the grass. 
She thought it was so pretty, and took it home with her, 
and kept it in a little box. Every day she gave it sweet 
milk and other dainties, such as she could get for it. 
After some time had passed, it grew so big that it could 
no longer stay in the box, but crawled after the girl 
wherever she went. Even when she went out to the field 
to milk the cows, it went with her, and drank out of the 
pail. Her mistress did not like this, and told the girl 
that unless she took means to get the snake killed, it 
would be an unfortunate thing for her. So indeed it 
turned out, for it was soon evident that it was a young 
lindorm. It grew larger every day, and finally it would 
not be content with what was given it, but lay outside the 

260 Monsters. 

village, and ate up the cattle and whatever else it could 
find, and became a terrible monster. 

There was in the village a " wise woman," who told 
them to feed up a bull on sweet milk and wheaten bread. 
This was done, and after the bull had been reared on this 
for two years, it was taken outside the village to fight the 
lindorm. It could not hold its own with it, however, and 
had to be taken home for another year, in order to be 
come strong enough. Meanwhile the lindorm had become 
so voracious, that a cow or an old horse had to be driven 
out to it daily, otherwise it took one for itself. When the 
bull was three years old, it was so big and strong that it 
was fit to gain the mastery over the lindorm. While the 
fight was in progress, the lindorm struck a stone with its 
tail, so hard that it left a deep furrow in it. After the 
bull had overcome the lindorm, it was so furious that with 
its horns it tore up a large pool, which is still to be seen 
to the east of the village. No one could go near it, the 
folk even crept up on the housetops with fright, so it had 
to be shot. Considering that the bull had done such a. 
feat in delivering the village and killing the lindorm, the 
inhabitants named the place after it, and called it Tyrs- 
lund (Bull s Grove), but this has since been changed to 
Tjorne-lunde (Thorn-groves). On a farm close by is 
still to be seen the stone, with the mark of the lindorm s 
tail in it. 

The Lindorm and the Glazier. 

IT happened once, many generations ago, that the bodies 
which were laid in Aarhus Cathedral disappeared time 
after time, without anyone knowing what the cause of 

The Lindonn and the Wizard. 261 

this could be. It was then discovered that a lindorm had 
its hole under the church, and went in by night and ate 
the bodies. It was also found out that it was under 
mining the church, so that it would soon be liable to fall 
in ruins, and against this danger help was sought for in 
vain. At last there came a wandering glazier to Aarhus, 
who on learning the straits into which the town had come, 
gave his promise that he would help them. He made for 
himself a chest of mirror-glass, with only a single opening 
in it, and that only large enough for him to thrust out his 
sword through it. He had the chest placed on the floor 
of the church during the day-time, and when midnight 
came, he kindled four wax candles, one of which he 
placed at each corner. The lindorm now came creeping 
through the choir-passage, and on seeing the chest and 
beholding its own image in the glass, it believed it to be 
its mate, but the glazier thrust his sword through its neck, 
and killed it at once. The poison and blood, however, 
which flowed from the wound, were so deadly, that the 
glazier perished in his chest. 

The Lindorm and the Wizard. 

ON Bogo they had at one time a terrible number of 
snakes,", vipers, and creeping things of that kind. At 
Sort-so in Falster there lived a man who could clear out 
such pests, and to him the folk of Bogo sent a message, 
asking him to come and free them from all this. Accord 
ingly he came over to Bogo and made a bargain with the 
inhabitants, taking upon himself the task of destroying 
all this vermin, if they for their part would assure 
him that there was no lindorm in the island. No one 

262 Monsters. 

knew of any such creature being there, but the man had 
a feeling that there was one, and so he had three iron 
chests made, one inside the other with a space between 
each. These chests he took down to the beach right op 
posite Stubbe-kobing, and then lighted a huge fire, in 
which ail the snakes, vipers and other reptiles were to be 
burned, and as soon as the fire blazed up, all these did 
come and crawl into it. The man, however, could feel 
that a lindorm was on its way to the fire now, so he laid 
himself in the innermost of the three chests, and told the 
bystanders to close him up in them. They did so, and 
then hurried aside, knowing that something was far 
wrong. Then came the lindorm, and crawled round the 
fire three times before entering it. He had to be burned, 
but he had power to take the man along with him, and 
this he did, wrapping himself round the chest and drag 
ging it into the fire along with him. When he had 
entered the fire, however, the men of Bogo came with 
fire-hooks and whatever else was handy, and pulled out 
the chest, which they then dragged down to the beach 
and opened, and so the man was saved. He received his 
payment, and went home to Sort-so. 

After a year or two had passed, he took a fancy to sec 
whether he had cleared out all the reptiles on Bogo, and 
went over there again. He went down to the beach to 
see the place where he had kindled the fire, but there a 
mishap befell him. One of its sharp bones which lay hid 
among the ashes pierced his thin shoe and entered the 
sole of his foot. The wound swelled up, and finally 
caused his death. He had, however, cleared out the rep 
tiles over there so well that fifty years ago there was 
neither snake nor viper on Bogo. What there may be 
now, I don t know. Where the lindorm was buried there 

The Lindorm in Klov-bakke. 263 

is now a landing-stage called Lindc-bro, after this very 

The Lindorm in Klov-bakke. 

IN Klov-bakke, north from Thisted, there lies a monster 
lindorm. There was once a doctor in Thisted who un 
dertook to dig it out, if the people would only do as he 
wanted them, and there were plenty who offered to help 
him in the work, as otherwise it might come out upon 
them some day, for of course it would break out some 
time, and then terrible things would happen. The doctor 
had a little bottle with some kind of blue drops, and that 
was the only thing that could kill the lindorm, and even 
that could only do it if they could hit it on the right spot; 
in that case three drops were enough, and if they were of 
no avail, neither would a greater number help. The 
doctor showed the people where the lindorm s neck lay, 
and where they were to dig ; then he kindled three fires 
beside the mound, and said to them, " Now, I shall stand 
here beside the hole, with the bottle in my hand, so as to 
be able to pour the drops on the neck, as soon as it comes 
in view. Whenever the lindorm feels them, he will come 
out of his hole and make the earth shake, but he must go 
through the three fires, and if his tail falls before he gets 
through them, everything will be well, and we shall be 
freed. But if it docs not fall, things are wrong, and the 
drops have not gone home, and you must look after your 
selves if you can, for it will go out into the world, and 
nothing will stand before it. There will be mischief so 
great that one can hardly imagine it, the whole world 
almost will be laid waste. Now you know it before it 

264 Monsters. 

happens." But after this information the digging did not 
go very far ; they slipped away one after the other, and 
since that time there is no one that has dared to meddle 
with the lindorm in Klov. 

The King of the Vipers. 

A MAN in the district of Silkcborg once found a viper- 
king. It was a tremendously big serpent, with a mane 
like a horse. He killed it, and took it home with him, 
and boiled the fat out of it. This he put into a bowl and 
set it aside in a cupboard, as he knew that the first person 
who tasted it would become so clear-sighted that they 
would be able to see much that was hid from other people ; 
but just then he had to go out to the field, and thought 
that he could taste it another time. He had however a 
daughter who found this bowl with the fat in it, while her 
father was out in the field. She thought it was ordinary 
fat, which she was very fond of, so she spread some of it 
on a piece of bread and ate it. When the man came 
home, he also spread a piece of bread with it, and ate it, 
but he could not discover that he could see any more 
than he did before. In the evening, when the cows were 
being driven home, the girl came out and said, " Look, 
father, there s a big red-speckled bull-calf in the black- 
faccd cow." He could see well enough then that she had 
tasted the fat of the viper-king before him, and had thus 
got all the wisdom, in place of himself. 

The Grav-so or Ghoul. 265 

The Basilisk. 

WHEN mead has been kept in a barrel for twenty years 
without being opened, a basilisk is formed there. It once 
happened in Randers, where there was a great store of 
mead, that a barrel was forgot in the cellar, and when it 
had lain there a long time, a basilisk was produced. It 
first drank the mead, until there was no more left ; then 
it began to growl, and the noise grew louder and louder, 
until the folk in the house heard it. They could not 
understand what was the matter with the barrel, but there 
was a " wise man " who knew all about it, and he advised 
them to get it buried in the ground, otherwise the time 
would soon come when the animal would break it in 
pieces, and come out, and such a monster no one could 
overcome. They did as he advised, and since that time 
nothing has been heard of that basilisk. 

The Grav-so or Ghoul. 

Tins monster is properly a treasure-watcher, and lies and 
broods over heaps of gold. For the most part it has its 
abode in mounds, where a light is seen burning by night, 
and it is known then that the treasure lies there. If any 
one digs for it, he may always be certain of meeting a 
ghoul, and that is hard to deal with. Its back is as sharp 
as a knife, and it is seldom that any one escapes from it 
alive. As soon as one begins to dig in the mound, it 
comes out and says, What are you doing there?" The 
treasure-hunter must then answer, " I want to get a little 
money, and it s that I am digging for, if you won t be 
angry." With this the ghoul must content itself, and they 


266 Monsters. 

make a bargain. " If you are finished/ it says, "when I 
come for the third time, then all you find is yours, but if 
you are not finished by then, I shall spring upon you and 
destroy you." If the man has courage to make this com 
pact, he must lose no time, for if the ghoul comes for the 
third time, before he has finished, it runs between his legs 
and splits him in two with its sharp back. Old Peter 
Smith in Taaderup, who is now dead, had the reputation 
of having got his wealth in this fashion ; he and another 
young fellow were desirous of digging for treasure, and 
went one night to a mound where they knew that there 
was a ghoul. When they began to dig, it came up and 
asked what they wanted, and then fixed a certain time 
within which they were to be finished. They worked now 
with all their might, and finally got hold of a big chest 
which they dragged out as fast as they could, but before 
they had got quite clear of the mound, Peter Smith had 
still one of his legs in the hole the ghoul came for the 
third time and managed to rub itself against Peter s legs. 
Although it only touched him slightly, he had got enough 
for all his life, for however wealthy he was, his legs were 
always so feeble that he could neither stand nor walk. 

The Nidagrisur. 

THE Nidagrisur is little, thick and rounded, like a little 
child in swaddling clothes or a big ball of yarn, and of a 
dark reddish-brown colour. It is said to appear where 
new-born illegitimate children have been killed and 
buried, without having received a name. It lies and 
rolls about before men s feet to lead them astray from 
the road, and if it gets between any one s legs, he will not 

The Were- wolf. 267 

see another year. In the field beside the village of Skuli 
on Ostero stands a stone, called Loddasa-stonc, and here 
a nidagn sur often lay before the feet of those who went 
that way in the dark, until once a man who was passing 
and was annoyed by it, grew angry and said " Loddasi 
there," upon which it buried itself in the earth beside the 
stone, and was never seen again, for now it had got a 

The We re-wolf. 

WHEN a woman is about to become a mother for the 
first time, and is afraid of the pains of childbirth, she can 
escape from these if she chooses. She must go before 
daybreak to some place where there is a horse s skeleton, 
or the membrane that encloses a foal before its birth. If 
she sets up this, and creeps naked through it three times 
in the Devil s name, she will never feel any pains, but to 
her first born there clings the curse, that it becomes half 
a brute ; if the child is a boy, he will be a wcrc-wolf, if a 
girl, she will be a night-mare. This can be prevented, 
however, if any one discovers the woman while she is per 
forming the charm, and hinders her from completing it ; 
then the child goes free, and the woman herself becomes 
the were-vvolf. 

Early on the morning of Tuesday in Whitsuntide a 
man at Pcdersgaard, beside Kalvc-havc, was going alor.g 
a dike between a forest and a field, in which the cows 
were at grass. lie could sec that the servant girls must 
be in the field, as their milk-pails were standing there, 
but the girls themselves were not to be seen. The marc- 
had just foaled, and was busy licking its young one. lie 

268 Monsters. 

then caught sight of the girls a little way off from the 
milking-place, quite naked and in the act of creeping 
through the foal s caul, one by one. The man immed 
iately cut a long supple hazel-switch, untethered one of 
the other horses, sprang on its back, and rode down upon 
the girls, whom he drove home to the farm, naked as they 
were. They had to leave the place after that. This 
happened within the present century. 

The children who are born in this way are just like 
other children, except that their eyebrows meet over the 
nose, but they are also born with a little hairy lump be 
tween the shoulders. The mother carefully keeps this 
concealed, while the child is little, but when it grows up, 
she lets it know the meaning of the mark, so that it may 
be careful not to expose it in the presence of others. 
When the child is full grown, the curse comes out in it, 
and the animal nature breaks forth. As soon as darkness 
falls, the unfortunate being retires from human presence, 
the spot between the shoulders expands until the whole 
body is covered with hair, and at the same time assumes 
an animal shape, either of a were-wolf or a night-mare, 
according as it is a man or a woman. If the were-wolf 
can succeed in tearing a child living out of its mother s 
body, and killing it, or eating its heart, the curse is at 
once removed, and he is henceforward like other men. 
Many assert, however, that this only happens if the child 
is a male, and some say that it requires the heart s blood 
of twelve to free the were-wolf. 

When a were-wolf goes about, it hops on three legs, 
while the fourth sticks out behind it like a tail. Dogs 
are always furious against it, and run howling and barking 
after it ; as it has only three legs, they have no difficulty 
in overtaking it, and it has to seek refuge among thick 

The Were- wolf. 269 

bushes and thorns, where the dogs will not venture to 
follow it. If a man is a were-wolf, it is always, easy to 
see when the dogs have been after him, as his face is then 
so badly scratched and torn. 

In the shoemaker s house in Taaderup there has lived 
a were-wolf within living memory. Andrew Weaver s 
mother served, in her youth, with the parish clerk in 
Tingstcd, and she often saw in the evenings how all the 
dogs of Taaderup and Tingstcd came running and barked 
at the were-wolf. She could never sec the wolf itself, in 
deed, but saw how all the dogs snapped and growled at 
it. The priest s old cattleman could also tell a great deal 
about the were-wolf in Taaderup, and could see him in 
the shape of the clog with three legs. 

The were-wolf, however, can be freed if any one has the 
courage to say to his face You arc a wcrc-wolf, but if 
the were-wolf then answers, " Now you can be that just as 
long as I was," then the other is doomed to become one, 
until he has the good fortune to be freed from it. It is, 
therefore, very seldom that they arc delivered in this way, 
as folks are afraid of bringing the spell upon themselves. 

It is also told that there was once a man who had been 
in Stubbe-kobing with his wife, and was driving home 
late in the evening. When they came to a hollow way, 
he got out of the waggon, gave the woman the reins, and 
went into the forest, telling her that if anything came to 
her while he was away, she had only to strike out well 
with his handkerchief, which he gave her. A little after 
the man had gone there came a were-wolf, which tried to 
spring into the waggon beside the poor woman ; however, 
she did as her husband had told her, and struck out boldly 
with the handkerchief. The were-wolf then attacked the 
waggon, and bit the shafts and everything else he could 

270 Monsters. 

reach, but did no harm to the woman. Finally he ran 
away, and not before time, for she had only a rag of the 
handkerchief left. Soon after this the man came back 
and seated himself again, and the woman told him how 
she had defended herself against the furious beast that 
came while he was away. " You did quite right, 7 said 
the man, and they drove home. Next morning as they 
sat at breakfast, the woman saw some threads of the 
handkerchief among her husband s teeth ; " Jesus, man/ 
she cried, " you are a were-wolf." " Thanks," said the 
man, " I shall never be so again, since you have said it to 
me so openly." 

The Night-mare. 

VANLANDI, the son of Svegdir, took the kingdom after 
his father, and ruled over Uppsala ; he was a great 
warrior, and went over many lands. He stayed one 
winter in Finland with King Snow and got from him his 
daughter Drift to wife. In the spring he went away, and 
promised to come back again in three years, but he did 
not come in ten. Drift then sent for the sorceress Huld, 
and bargained with her either to bring Vanlandi back to 
Finland by means of her witch-craft, or else to kill him. 
When the charm was performed, Vanlandi was at Uppsala, 
and became eager to go to Finland, but his friends and 
advisers prevented him, saying that his eagerness must be 
due to some magic of the Finns. He then became heavy 
with sleep, and lay down to slumber, but he had not 
slept long before he called out and said that Mara was 
treading him. His men came to him, and tried to assist 
him, but when they took hold of his head, she trod his 

The Night-mare. 271 

legs, so that they nearly broke ; then they turned to his 
feet, and she depressed his head, so that he died. 

Marra resembles a beautiful girl, but is the worst kind 
of troll. During the night-time, when folks lie asleep, 
she comes in and lays herself above them, pressing so 
hard on the breast that they can neither draw breath nor 
move a limb. She puts her fingers into their mouth to 
count their teeth, and if time is given her to do this, they 
at once give up the ghost. They must therefore try to 
get her away from them and drive her out, and if they 
are able to call out, "Jesus/ she must flee, and disappears 
at once. Folks often seem to themselves to lie quite 
awake and see Marra enter the room, come forward to 
the bed, lie down above the bed-clothes, and proceed to 
feel in their mouth for their teeth, and yet they can do 
nothing to defend themselves against her. In the even 
ing she may be in the room and yet not be seen, but this 
can be found out by taking a knife and rolling it up in a 
handkerchief or garter, which has been twice folded in 
two. The knife is then passed from one hand to the 
other three times round the body, repeating these words, 

" Marra, Marra, rninni, 

Are you in this place ? 
Have you still the blow in mind, 
That Sigurd Sigmundsson unkind 

Once gave you in the face ? 

" Marra, marra, minni, 

Are you in this place ? 
Out you go into the cold, 
Bearing both the turf and mould, 

And all that s in this place 1 " 

If the knife is lying inside the fold of the doubled cloth 
or garter when it is opened up again, then Marra is 

272 Monsters. 

inside, and the same ceremony with the knife and cloth 
must be repeated to get her driven out again. It is also 
said to be a good plan to prevent her coming up into the 
bed, to place one s shoes at bed-time so that the heels are 
turned to the bed, and the points out to the floor : then 
Marra will have difficulty in getting into it. 

A Girl as Night-mare. 

THE Marre is some unknown person who is secretly in 
love with one. There was once a man who served on the 
farm of Taanum beside Randcrs, and with whom a girl 
in Helstrup was in love, but he would have nothing to do 
with her. On account of this she used to come and lie 
heavy on him by night, so that he could not remain in 
bed for her. He complained of this trouble, and some 
people advised him to place his wooden shoes the wrong 
way beside the bed when he went into it in the evening. 
He did this, and heard the shoes rattling during the 
night, but his visitor could come no further. One evening 
he took a scythe, and made it fast to the front of the bed ; 
then he heard her say 

" Ah, woe 1 

The snow is white, and the blood is red, 
Ere I reach Helstrup I shall be dead." 

In the morning this girl was found lying dead in her bed. 

A Night-mare Caught. 

THERE was once a young fellow who was ridden by 
" Marre " every night, and although he sprinkled flax-seed 

A Night-mare Caught. 273 

outside the door, and placed his shoes the wrong way 
before his bed, it was all of no avail, and he was at a loss 
what to do. He asked a wise woman for advice, who at 
once said that she knew what would help him. " When 
you go home," she said, " you must stop up all holes and 
chinks that there are in your room ; the keyholes and 
windows must also be made fast. When that is done, 
you must bore a little hole in the door, and cut a pin to 
fit it exactly ; this hole you must leave open to-night, 
but as soon as Marre has come in by it, spring to it and 
put in the pin, then she is in your power." The man did 
as the woman told him. During the night Marre came 
in by the hole, which he immediately stopped up, to her 
great alarm. She went round about from keyhole to 
window, and made herself both small and thin to get out, 
but every place was closed fast, so that she could not get 
out, however many tricks she tried. When she saw that 
all her trouble was in vain, she besought him to take the 
little pin out of the door, and let her go as she had come, 
and she would never come again. Meanwhile he had 
been standing looking at her, and saw that she was a 
pretty girl, so he would not let her go in that way, but 
asked if she would be his sweetheart, and everything 
would be all right " Yes/ said she, " if you will really 
marry me, the mischief is over ; let me out now like any 
other person." She was a girl from the next village, and 
when he knew that, he let her out at the door. Shortly 
after they had their wedding, and she was never Marre 

274 Monsters. 

The Night-mare on Horses. 

IT is often the case that in the morning the horses are 
found standing in the stable dripping with sweat, although 
they have been there the whole night. In that case it is 
Marre who has ridden them, and it is generally very bad 
for the horses. Marre also often plaits the horses manes 
and tails into " Marre-locks," which it is impossible to 
comb out. Sometimes Marre selects one horse in the 
stable, and confines herself to that ; thus the priest 
Heynet had a horse called Young Holger, which Marre 
rode every night, so that it was covered with foam when 
they went to feed it in the morning. In spite of that, 
Young Holger was the most thriving of all the priest s 
horses. The surest means to hinder Marre in this is to 
fasten a chopping knife on the horse s back, edge upwards. 
When she, as usual, tries to spring up on the horse s back 
to ride, she cuts herself in two, and will never again 
plague man or beast. But as it is well known that Marre 
is a human being, who is condemned to act as she does, 
whether she will or not, there are few that care to use 
this means, as they thereby deprive a fellow-creature of 
life. At Korselitse there was, many years ago, a big 
white horse, which every night was ridden by Marre. 
On a farm in the neighbourhood there was a girl who 
was said to be a Marre, and the man suspected that it 
was she who rode the horse. To put a stop to this he 
fixed a knife on its back one evening, and when he came 
in the morning to feed it, the girl was hanging in two 
pieces, one on each side of the horse, and had thus met 
her death. 

If one takes a bucket of cold water and throws it over 
any one who is plagued with the night-mare, the person 

The Night-mare on Horses. 275 

who is in love with him will become visible, and one can 
then discover who it is. A story is told of a queen, who 
was a great lover of horses ; in particular she had one 
horse which was dearest of all to her, and filled her 
thoughts both sleeping and waking. The stable-man 
had noticed several times that there was something 
wrong with the horse, and came to the conclusion that it 
was being ridden by a night-mare, so one time he seized 
a bucket of water and threw it over it, and lo and behold, 
the queen herself was sitting on its back ! 

In another instance, where the horses were plagued 
by the night-mare, and this same process was adopted, 
there was disclosed a naked woman, who said, " Oh, why 
did you do that ? Now I must cross both sea and salt 
water to my little children." The people helped her to 
reach home again, and she never came back as Marre. 


Thorgils and the Ghosts. 

THORGILS of F16i, in the south-west of Iceland, went 
from there to Norway at the age of sixteen, and incurred 
the enmity of Gunnhild, "the kings mother," by refusing 
to become one of her son s retainers. To escape her 
anger, he went on a trading voyage, and in the autumn 
found himself in the south of Norway, where he took up 
his quarters with a widow named Gyda and her son 
Audun. Gyda was a woman skilled in magic arts, but 
both she and her son treated Thorgils with great hospita 
lity. After a time Thorgils shifted to the house of a 
great man named Bjorn, where he was also well received. 
The household there went to bed very early, and Thorgils 
asked the reason of this. He was told that the father of 
Bjorn had died shortly before, and that his ghost walked, 
so that they were frightened for him. Often during the 
winter Thorgils heard something hammering on the 
thatch, and one night he rose up, and went out, axe in 
hand. Before the door stood a ghost, big and grim. 
Thorgils raised his axe, and the ghost turned away 
towards the burial-mound, but when they reached that 
he turned to meet him. They wrestled with each other,. 
Thorgils having let go his axe, and the struggle was both 
hard and fierce, so that the earth was torn up by their 
feet, but longer life was fated for Thorgils, and in the end 
the ghost fell on his back, with Thorgils above him. The 

Thorgils and the Ghosts. 277 

latter, after recovering himself a little, managed to reach 
his axe, and hewed the ghost s head off, commanding 
him henceforward to harm no man ; nor indeed was he 
ever heard of afterwards. Bjorn thought highly of Thor 
gils for having helped his household so much. 

One night a knock came to the door. Thorgils went 
out and found his friend Audun there, asking his assis 
tance ; his mother Gyda, he said, was dead, and there 
had been something strange about her death. " All the 
men have run away, too, no one daring to stay beside 
her. Now I want to bury her, and do you come with 
me." " So I shall," said Thorgils, and went off with 
Audun without the knowledge of Bjorn. On reaching 
Audun s farm they found his mother lying dead, and 
dressed the body. " You, Thorgils," said Audun, "shall 
make for my mother a coffin with a hearse beneath it, 
and fix strong clasps on it, for it will take it all to do." 
When all this was done, Audun said that now the 
coffin must be disposed of. " We shall drag it away, 
and bury it, and put as much weight as possible 
on top of it." So they set out with it, but before 
they had gone far the coffin began to creak loudly ; then 
the clasps broke, and Gyda came out. They both laid 
hands on her, and required all their strength to master 
her, strong as they both were. The plan they took then 
was to carry her to a funeral pile which Audun had pre 
pared ; on this they threw her, and stood by till she was 
burned. Then said Audun, " Great friendship have you 
shown me, Thorgils, and manly courage, as you will do 
everywhere. I shall give you a sword and kirtle, but if 
ever I ask the sword back, I wish you to let me have it 
and I shall give you another* weapon as good." With 
this they parted, and Thorgils went back to Bjorn, who 

278 Ghosts and Wraiths. 

had by this time missed him, and was greatly distressed, 
saying he had lost a good man, " and it is a pity that 
trolls or evil spirits have taken him. We shall honour 
him, however, by drinking to his memory, though I am 
afraid it will be no merry feast, for we have now searched 
for him for many days." In the midst of this Thorgils 
came home, to the great delight of Bjorn, who then began 
the feast anew. 

Thorolf B^gif6t. 

TiiORCLF B/EGI-F6T (the cripple) came home in the 
evening and spoke to no man, but sat down in the high- 
seat and took no food all evening. He remained sitting 
there when the others went to bed, and when they rose 
in the morning he was still sitting there dead. The 
housewife sent a message to Arnkell to tell him of Thor 
olf s death, so Arnkell with some of his men rode up to 
Hvamm. On reaching it he learned that his father was 
sitting dead in his high-scat, and that everyone was 
frightened, thinking they saw a look of displeasure on 
Thorolfs face. Arnkell entered the hall, and kept along 
the side of it till he came behind Thorolf, charging every 
one to take care not to approach him in front until he 
had closed his eyes, nostrils, and mouth. Then he laid 
hold of his shoulders, and had to exert all his strength 
before he could bring him down. After that he threw a 
cloth over Thorolf s head, and laid him out as was the 
custom. Thereafter he had the wall behind him broken 
down, and took him out that way. He was then laid in 
a sledge, to which oxen were yoked, and these drew him 
up into Th6rs-ar-dal, not without great effort, till he came 

Thorolf Bsegifot. 279 

to the place fixed upon for him. There they buried 
Thorolf in a mighty cairn, after which Arnkell rode home 
to Hvamm, and took possession of all his father s property 
there. He stayed there three nights, during which nothing 
happened, and then went home. 

After the death of Thorolf many men thought it bad 
to be outside after the sun had set, and as summer went 
on they became aware that he was not lying quiet, and 
none could remain in peace outside after sunset. Over 
and above this, the oxen which had drawn him became 
" troll-ridden," and all the cattle that came near his cairn 
went mad and roared till they died. The shepherd at 
Hvamm often came home chased by Thorolf. In the 
autumn it so fell that neither shepherd nor sheep came 
home, and when search was made next morning, the 
shepherd was found dead not far from Thorolf s cairn. 
He was all black as coal, and every bone in him broken, 
so they buried him beside Thorolf; of the sheep that had 
been in the dale some were found dead, while some ran 
to the hills and were never found again. If birds settled 
on Thorolf s cairn they fell down dead. The hauntings 
grew so terrible that no man dared to pasture the dale. 
At Hvamm loud noises were often heard outside at night, 
and the hall was often ridden. When winter came, 
Thorolf often made his appearance about the farm, where 
he mostly attacked the housewife ; many were distressed 
at this, and she herself nearly went out of her senses. 
The end of it was that the housewife died from his 
attacks, and was also taken up to Thorsardal and buried 
beside Thorolf. The people began to run away from the 
farm after this, and Thorolf now began to go so widely 
about the dale that he laid waste all the farms in it, and 
so outrageous were his hauntings that he killed some 

280 Ghosts and Wraiths. 

men, and all these were then seen in company with him. 
Folk complained greatly of all this trouble, and thought 
that Arnkell ought to amend it. Arnkcll invited to him 
self all those who cared to come, and wherever he was no 
harm was ever received from Thorolf and his followers. 
So much were all men afraid of Thorolf and his haunt- 
ings, that during the winter no one dared to go on any 
errand, however pressing. In spring, when the frost was 
out of the ground, Arnkell obtained help, to which he 
was entitled by law, to shift Thorolf from Th6rsardal to 
some other spot They went to his cairn, fifteen in all, 
with sledge and tools, broke open the cairn, and found 
Thorolf undecayed and looking hideously grim. They 
lifted him out of his grave and laid him in the sledge, to 
which two strong oxen were yoked, and these drew him 
up on Ulfars-fells-hals. By that time they were exhausted, 
and others were taken to draw him up to the ridge. 
Arnkell intended to take him to Vadils-head and bury 
him there, but when they came to the brow of the ridge 
the oxen became furious, tore themselves free, and ran 
down off the ridge, keeping along the slope above the 
farm of Ulfars-fell, and so down to the sea. By that time 
they were utterly exhausted, and Thorolf had become so 
heavy that they could take him nowhere. They got him 
however to a little headland near hand, and buried him 
there ; it has since been known as Ba:gif6t s Head. Arn 
kell then had a wall built across the headland above the 
cairn, so high that nothing but a bird on the wing could 
cross it, and the marks of which may still be seen ; there 
Thorolf lay quiet all the days of Arnkcll s life. After 
Arnkell s death Thorolf began again, and haunted Ulfars- 
fell. The farmer complained to his superior, Thorodd 
Thorbrandsson of Kars-stad. With a number of men 

The Ghost of Hrapp. 281 

Thorodd went to the cairn, where they found Thorolf 
still undecayed, and most like a troll in appearance ; he 
was black as Hell and as thick as an ox, nor could they 
move him until Thorodd had a plank pushed under him, 
and with this they got him out of the cairn. They rolled 
him down to the beach then, heaped up a large pile of 
wood, set fire to it and rolled Thorolf into it, and burned 
the whole to ashes, though it was long before the fire 
would fasten on Thorolf. There was a strong wind 
blowing, and the ashes were scattered far and wide, but 
all of them that they could they raked out into the sea, 
and went home when they had finished this work. 

The Ghost of Hrapp. 

HRAPP was a man hard to deal with in his lifetime and 
vexatious to his neighbours. When dying he called his 
wife and said, "When I am dead I will have myself buried 
in the hall door, and you must set me down there stand 
ing so that I may the more carefully look over my home 
stead." After this he died, and everything was carried 
out as he had directed, but ill as he was to deal with 
while living he was still worse when dead. He haunted 
the place and is said to have killed most of his household 
and caused great trouble to all who lived near there. 
At length the farm was laid waste, and Hrapp s wife went 
west to her brother Thorstein. Folk had recourse to 
Hoskuld and told him of their trouble, asking him to de 
vise some way out of it. Hoskuld said he would do so, 
and went with some men to Hrapps-stad, where he had 
Hrapp dug up and removed to where there was the least 
chance of sheep pasturing or men journeying. Hrapp s 

hauntings then ceased for the most part, but his son 


282 Ghosts and Wraiths. 

Sumarlidi, who took possession of the place again, had 
not been there long before he went mad and died soon 

These lands afterwards became the property of Olaf 
Pa, whose herdsman came to him one evening and told 
him to get another man to mind the cattle and give 
him something else to do. Olaf refused to do so, 
whereupon the man threatened to leave. "Then you 
have a grievance," said Olaf ; " I will go with you this 
evening when you tie up the cattle, and if I find any 
good reason for it I will not blame you." Olaf took in 
his hand his gold-mounted spear, and left the house along 
with the herdsman. There was some snow on the ground, 
and when they reached the cattle-shed they found it open. 
Here Olaf told his man to go in, and he would drive the 
cattle in to him. The man went to the shed-door, but 
before Olaf knew he came running back into his arms. 
Olaf asked why he acted like this. He answered, 
" Hrapp is standing in the door, and tried to lay hold of 
me, but I am tired of wrestling with him." Olaf went 
up to the door, and thrust at him with his spear, but 
Ilrapp seized the head of it with both hands and twisted 
it, so that the shaft broke. Olaf was about to spring at 
him then, but Hrapp went down where he came up, and 
so they parted, leaving Olaf with the shaft and Hrapp 
with the head. Olaf and the man then tied up the cattle 
and went home, Olaf telling him that he would not blame 
him for complaining. Next morning Olaf went to where 
Hrapp had been buried and had him dug up ; he was 
still undecayed, and there Olaf found his spear-head. He 
then had a bale-fire made, on which Hrapp was burned, 
and his ashes taken out to sea. Thenceforward no one 
was hurt by Hrapp s hauntings. 

The Ghost of Klaufi. 283 

The Ghost of Klaufi. 

KLAUFI was brought from Norway to Iceland as a child, 
and grew up with a relative, Thorstcin,-in Svarfadar-dal. 
When he came to manhood, he was five ells and a hand- 
breadth in height ; his arms were both long and thick, 
and his grasp powerful ; he had protruding eyes and a 
high forehead ; his mouth was ugly, his nose small, his 
neck long, his chin big, and his check-bones high ; his 
eye-brows and hair intensely black ; his mouth open, dis 
playing two projecting teeth, and his whole frame 
gnarled and knotted. 

Klaufi was killed by the sons of Asgeir, with the assis 
tance of his mistress, Ingold the Fair-checked, and his 
body was dragged to the back of the house. Ingold then 
went to bed, while the sons of Asgeir (who were her 
brothers) went away. As soon as they were gone, Klaufi 
came to Ingold s bed, but she had them called back, and 
they then cut off his head and laid it beside his feet. 

The next evening after this, while Karl the Red, son 
of Thorstein, Klaufi s foster-father, was sitting by the fire 
with eight of his followers, they heard something scraping 
on the house, followed by this verse : 

" I hold me on house-top, 
Ilitherward looking; 
Hence am I hoping 
For help to avenge me." 

" That is very like the voice of our kinsman Klaufi," said 
Karl, "and it may be that he thinks himself greatly in 
need of help. It strikes me that these lines portend 
some great tidings, whether they have come- to pass yet 
or not." After this they all went out, fully armed, and 
saw a man of no small stature, south, beside the wall. 
This was Klaufi ; he kad his head in his hand, and said : 

284 Ghosts and Wraiths. 

" Southward and southward, 
So shall we wend now." 

They followed him then, and he led them to where the 
sons of Asgeir had taken refuge. Then he stopped, and 
knocked on the door with his head, saying 

" Here tis and here tis ; 
Why should we further ? " . . . 

One morning Karl was standing out of doors, along 
with a Norseman named Gunnar, who had wintered in 
Iceland. Karl looked up at the sky, and changed colour. 
Gunnar asked the reason of this. " No great matter," 
said Karl ; " it was something that I saw." " And what 
was that?" asked Gunnar. <k I thought," said Karl, "that 
I saw my kinsman Klaufi ride in the air above me. He 
seemed to be riding a grey horse, which was drawing a 
sledge behind it. In it I seemed to see you Norsemen 
and myself, with our heads sticking out, and I suppose I 
changed colour when I saw that." " You are not so 
stout-hearted then as I believed," said Gunnar ; " I saw 
all that, and look now whether I have changed colour in 
the least." " I do not see that you have," said Karl. As 
they spoke thus, they heard Klaufi reciting a verse in the 
air above them, adding the words, " I expect you home to 
me this evening, Karl." 

Gunnar decided that he and his fellows would go to 
their ship that day, and Karl went with them, after in 
structing his wife what to do in case he should not return. 
On the way they were attacked by his enemies, and all of 
them fell. 

When Karl s son (born after his father s death, and so, 
according to custom, also named Karl) had grown up, 
Klaufi still continued to walk, and did great hurt both to 
men and cattle. Karl thought it a great pity that his 

Soti s Grave-Mound. 285 

kinsman should behave like this, and had him dug up out 
of the mound he was buried in. The body was still un- 
decayed, and Karl burned it to ashes on a stone beside 
Klaufi s old home. The ashes he put into a leaden case 
with two strong iron bands on it, and sank this in a hot 
spring to the south of the farm. The stone that Klaufi 
was burned on sprang in two, and his ghost troubled 
them no more. 

Soti s Grave-Mound. 

HROAR, son of Harald, earl of Gautland, made a vow at 
the Yule feast, that before another Yule he would break 
in the grave-mound of Soti the Viking. " A great vow 
that," said the earl, " and one that you will not carry out 
by yourself, for Soti was a mighty troll in his lifetime, 
and a greater one by half now that he is dead." Then 
Hord, son of Grimkcll, from the south-west of Iceland, 
stood up and said, " Is it not fitting to follow your cus 
toms ? I swear this oath to go with you into Soti s grave- 
mound, and not to leave it before you do." Geir swore 
an oath to follow Hord, whether he went there or else 
where, and never to part from him unless Hord willed it. 
Helgi also swore an oath to follow Hord and Geir wher 
ever they went, if he could do so, and to esteem no one 
higher while they were both alive. Hord answered, " It 
may be that there will not be long between us, and take 
you care that you do not bring death on both of us, or 
even on more men besides." " So would I have it," said 

When spring came, Hrdar prepared to go to Sdti s 
mound along with eleven other men. They rode through 

286 Ghosts and Wraiths. 

a thick forest, in one part of which Hord noticed a little 
by-path leading away from the main road ; this path he 
followed till he came to a clearing, in which he saw a house, 
both large and fair. Outside it stood a man in a blue- 
striped hood, who saluted him by name. Hord took this 
well, and asked his name, " for I do not know you," said 
he, " though you address me familiarly." " I am called 
Bjorn," said the other, " and knew you as soon as I saw 
you, although I have never seen you before, but I was a 
friend of your kinsmen, and that will stand you in good 
stead with me. I know that you intend to break into the 
grave of Soti the Viking, and that will not be easy for 
you if you draw alone in the traces ; but if matters go as 
I expect, and you cannot manage to break into the 
mound, then come to me." With that they parted, and 
Hord rode on to catch up with Hroar. 

They came to the mound early in the day, and began 
to break into it, and by evening had got down to the 
timbers, but in the morning the mound was as whole as 
before, and so it happened next day also. Then Hord 
rode to visit Bjorn, and told him how matters stood. 
"Just as I expected," said Bjorn; "I was not ignorant 
of what a troll S6ti was. Now, here is a sword that I will 
give you, which you will stick into the hole you make in 
the mound, and see then whether it closes up again or not." 
With that Hord returned to the mound. Hr6ar said that 
he wished to go away, and deal with this fiend no longer, 
and several others were also eager to do so. Hord 
answered, " It is unmanly not to keep one s oath ; we 
shall try it yet again." The third day they proceeded 
again to break into the mound, and got down to the 
timbers as before, whereupon Hord stuck the sword he 
had got from Bjorn into the spot. They slept all night, 

S6ti s Grave-Mound. 287 

and on coming to the mound in the morning they found 
that nothing had happened. The fourth day they broke 
through all the long timbers, and the fifth day they 
opened up the door. Hord bade them beware of the 
wind and stench which issued from the mound, and stood 
himself at the back of the door while it was at its worst. 
Two of the men died suddenly with the bad air which 
came out, through being too curious, and neglecting 
Herd s advice. Then said Hord, " Who will go into the 
mound ? I think he ought to go who vowed to overcome 
S6ti." Hr6ar was silent, and when Hord saw that no 
one was prepared to enter the mound, he drove in two 
rope-pegs. " Now," said he, " I shall enter the mound, if 
I shall get three precious things which I choose out of 
it." Hroar said he would agree to this for his part, and 
all the others assented. Then said Hord, " I will have 
you to hold the rope, Geir, for I trust you best." Hord 
found no treasure in the mound, and told Gcir to come 
down beside him, and bring with him fire and wax, " for 
both of these have a powerful nature in them," said he ; 
" and ask Hr6ar and Helgi to look after the rope." They 
did so, and Geir went down into the mound. At last 
Hord found a door, which they broke up, whereupon 
there was a great earthquake, the lights were extinguished, 
and a great stench came out. In the side-chamber there 
was a little gleam of light, and there they saw a ship with 
treasure in it ; at its stern sat S6ti, terrible to look upon. 
Geir stood in the door, while Hord went up and was 
about to take the treasure, when S6ti said : 

" What hastened thee, Ne er have I wrought 

Hord, thus to enter The wielder of swords 

The mould-dweller s house Aught of harm 

Though Hroar bade thee ? In all my days." 

288 Ghosts and Wraiths. 

Hord answered 

" For this I came That never on earth 

To cope with the thane, In all the world 

And spoil of his wealth Will wickeder man 

The weird old ghost, His weapons use." 

With that S6ti sprang up and ran upon Hord, and there 
was a fierce struggle, for Hord was much inferior in 
strength. S6ti gripped so hard that Herd s flesh ran 
together in knots. He then bade Geir light the wax- 
candle, and see how Soti took with that, but as soon as 
the light fell on S6~ti he lost all strength and fell to the 
ground. Hord then got a gold ring taken off S6ti s arm, 
so great a treasure that it is said that never has so good 
a ring come to Iceland. When S6ti lost the ring, he 
said : 

" Hord has reft me Golden burden. 

My ring so good, Yet it shall be 

More lament I The bane and death 

The loss of that Of thee and all 

Than all of Grani s Of them that own it." 

" You shall know this/ 1 said he, " that the ring shall be 
your death, and that of all that own it, unless it be a 
woman/ Hord bade Geir bring the light and see how 
friendly he was, but S6ti plunged down into the earth 
and would not abide the light, and so they parted. 
Hord and Geir took all the chests and carried them to 
the rope, and all the other treasure that they found. 
Hord took also S6tfs sword and helmet, both of them 
great treasures. They now pulled the rope, and dis 
covered that the others had left the mound, so Hord 
climbed up the rope, and then drew up Geir and the 
treasure after him. As for the others, when the earth 
quake took place, they all went mad except Hr6ar and 

Kjartan Olafson s Gravestone. 289 

Helgi, and they had to hold the rest. When they found 
each other there was a joyous meeting, for they seemed 
to have got Hord and Geir back from the dead again. 

Kjartan Olafson s Gravestone. 

KJARTAN OLAFSON is buried at Borg in Myrar. His 
grave lies across the choir-gable, stretching north and 
south, and is fully four ells long. On the grave lies a 
thick pillar-stone, bearing a runic inscription. The runes 
on it are much worn, and some of them quite illegible. 
The stone itself is broken in many pieces, and this is said 
to have been done by a farmer at Borg. One summer he 
was about to set up his smithy, and wanted suitable stones 
for his forge, so he took Kjartan s stone, broke it in pieces, 
and built his forge out of the fragments. In the evening 
he went to bed ; he slept alone in a loft, while his man 
slept in the common sitting-room. During the night the 
latter dreamed that a man came to him, stalwart and big 
of stature. He said, " The farmer wants to sec you to 
morrow as soon as you get up." In the morning the man 
woke and remembered his dream, but gave no heed to it. 
Between 8 and 9 o clock he began to think the farmer 
long in rising, and went to him where he lay in bed, and 
asked if he were awake. The farmer answered that he 
was ; " but listen, said he, " I dreamed last night that a 
man came up into the loft here. He was tall and stalwart, 
well-made and very handsome in every way. He was in 
dark clothes, but I could not get a look at his face. I 
thought he said to me, You did ill when you took my 
stone yesterday, and broke it in pieces. It was the only 
memorial that kept my name alive, and even this you 

290 Ghosts and Wraiths. 

would not leave to me, and that shall be terribly avenged. 
Put back the pieces on my grave to-morrow, in the same 
order as they were before ; but because you broke my 
stone, you shall never put a sound foot on the earth 
again. As he said this he touched the clothes on me, 
and I awoke in fearful pain, but I thought I saw a glimpse 
of the man as he went down out of the loft. I expect," 
said he, " that this was Kjartan, and you shall now take 
his stone and lay the pieces on the grave just as they 
were before." The man did so, but the story says that 
the farmer was never in sound health again, and lived all 
his days a cripple. 

The brothers of Reyni-stad. 

IN the autumn of 1780 Haldor Bjarnason, who then had 
Reynistad, sent his two sons to the south of Iceland to 
buy sheep, as many of these had died in the north during 
the preceding year. Bjarni went first, along with a man 
called J6n Eastman, and later on was followed by his 
brother Einar, then only eleven years old, with a man 
called Sigurd. While in the south Bjarni unintentionally 
offended a priest, who cursed him in the lines, 

" Let thy soul for hunger howl, 
Homeless ere another Yule." 

These words were fulfilled, for as the four of them tried 
late in autumn to cross the mountains towards the north 
they were lost, together with their guides and all the 
sheep and other valuables. 

The winter passed without anything being heard of 
them, but the folk at Reynistad first began to suspect 

The Brothers of Reyni-stad. 291 

how things had gone, when the sister of the two brothers 
dreamed that Bjarni came to her and said 

* No one now can find us here, 

Neath the snow in frosty tomb ; 
Three days o er his brother s bier 
Bjarni sat in grief and gloom." 

In the spring a traveller going south found their tent, 
and thought that he saw there the bodies of both the 
brothers, and of two other men. Later travellers saw 
only two bodies, and only two were found when a party 
went from Reynistad to take them home. They were 
those of Sigurd and the guide. After long searching 
they found, much further north, one of the hands of Jon 
Eastman, along with his harness, all cut to pieces, and 
his riding horse with its throat cut. It was supposed 
that he, being the hardiest of the four, had held on so far, 
and when he gave up all hope of reaching the inhabited 
districts, had himself killed his horse to shorten its 
misery. Of the brothers no trace could be found, nor of 
the valuables they had with them. Then their sister 
dreamed that her brother Bjarni came to her again and 

" In rocky cleft we brothers crushed are lying ; 
Ere this in the tent we stayed, 
All beside each other laid." 

From this it was suspected that some one, who had gone 
that way in spring, had stolen all the treasure off the 
brothers bodies, and then hid the latter somewhere. A 
search was made, but in vain. Finally a wizard was em 
ployed to see whether he could find out anything. He 
performed his ceremonies in an outhouse at Reynistad, 
and thought he saw the bodies buried in a lava hole with 
a large stone above them, and a slip of paper with runes 

292 Ghosts and Wraiths. 

on it under the stone, nor would the bodies be found, he 
said, until this had decayed into nothing. This he could 
see clearly at the time, but when he went to look for 
them, everything became confused as soon as he got up 
into the uninhabited districts. The bodies were finally 
found in 1845 in Kjal-hraun, and under a flag-stone, as 
the wizard had said. 


THERE was a man east in Mula-sysla called J6n, who 
was not well liked. He was believed to have some 
knowledge of magic, but never used it for anything but 
mischief. He came into collision with a certain Magnus, 
and threatened him, and as Magnus was defenceless him 
self, he went to the south country to ask help from a 
wizard there. As soon as he had set out, J6n wakened 
up a ghost, and sent him after Magnus, with orders to 
kill him on Spreingi-sand when he was coming home 
again. Magnus arrived safely at the wizard s, who said 
that this was a difficult task, for the ghost was powerfully 
enchanted ; but he must remember never to look behind 
him on the sand, whatever he heard going on behind his 
back. In that case he was out of all danger, but if he 
was so unfortunate as to look back, then he must take 
care never to go out of sight of his farm afterwards, for 
his life would depend on that. Magnus promised to be 
on his guard, and rode off along with his companions. 
When they came north to Spreingi-sand they began to 
hear terrible noises behind them, which were not so loud 
at first, but steadily increased till at last they passed all 
bounds. Sometimes there were howlings and growlings, 

Parthusa-J6n. 293 

sometimes shrieks and screams, so that none of them had 
ever heard such noises and uproar. They knew their 
danger if they looked back, and restrained themselves 
well for a long time, but at last the noises were heard 
close behind him, and Magnus could not help looking 
round. He then saw eighteen phantoms fighting against 
one, which they were preventing from reaching Magnus 
and his fellows, but as soon as he looked round every 
thing disappeared. 

On reaching home, Magnus followed the wizard s ad 
vice, and never went further from the house than he had 
been told ; but one summer night he awoke and heard 
the sheep coming in about the farm. He ran out to drive 
them off, but having no dog with him, the sheep only 
went very slowly before him. There was a ridge close to 
the farm, and in his eagerness to drive them over this, 
Magnus did not notice that it shut out his view of the 
farm. As soon as he had got over it the ghost came and 
killed him ; at least he was afterwards found there stone- 
dead, black and bloody. 

After this J6n grew very heavy in spirits and strange, 
could never bear to be left alone, and so on, and this was 
believed to come from his knowing that he had caused 
the death of Magnus. 

Next winter Jon was travelling with another man, and 
when they least expected it, there came upon them a 
blinding storm. They were far from any dwellings, but 
near them there was a pasture-house, and J6n said he felt 
so ill that he would not attempt to reach any homestead, 
but rather try to get to the pasture-house and lie there 
till the storm ceased. They managed to reach it safe and 
sound, and as it was now evening, they lay down in the 
stall. Jon told his companion not to mind although any- 

294 Ghosts and Wraiths. 

thing strange happened, and he would come to no harm. 
The other asked what he expected, but Jon only said that 
he would find out in the morning. Then he seemed to 
fall asleep, but the man could not sleep for thinking of 
what Jon had said. After some time he heard something 
tug at Jon, and apparently drag him down the stall, but 
as it was pitch dark in the house he could not see what 
was going on. Then he heard Jon utter sounds from 
which he guessed that he was awake ; then began great 
strugglings, nor was the man long in being convinced 
that the other person was much the stronger of the two. 
Now and then he could hear Jon moaning and groaning, 
and guessed that he was going down before his opponent. 
Then he heard the wall being beaten as if with a soft 
bag, and supposed that this must be Jon that was being 
so hardly used, but dared give no sign. This went on 
for a little, and was followed by the horrible sound of one 
choking, after which all was still. The man supposed 
that J6n was now dead, and in a little he heard him being 
torn asunder, there being a sound as of breaking of bones 
and tearing of tough cloth. After that these pieces be 
gan to be thrown over all the house, and this went right 
on till morning, by which time the poor man was more 
dead than alive with terror. As soon as it began to grow 
clear, the man rushed out of the house, reached the near 
est homestead in safety and told what had happened. 
Some men went to the place, and found scraps and tags 
of Jon all over the inside of the house, all crushed and 
squeezed to fragments. 

No one knew for certain how this had actually hap 
pened, as Jon had many enemies, but it was thought most 
likely that it was the revenge of Magnus. After this the 

The Cloven-headed Ghost. 


pasture-house was discontinued, and called Part-bus, 
from the parts of Jon that were found there. 

The Cloven-headed Ghost. 

AT Merkigil there are pasture-houses where formerly 
there was a farm. One time a farm servant there, named 
Jon, was in the sheds as it was getting dark. He had 
given the sheep their hay and was about to go home, but 
strangely enough could not find the door. Pie felt and 
felt all round, but could not get the door at all. This 
went on for a little till Jon grew frightened, and did not 
know what to do. Finally he took the plan of going up 
into the stall, taking out his knife and throwing it straight 
forward. He heard it strike in the door, and thought he 
was all right now. Down he went out of the stall, found 
the knife, and opened the door, but as soon as he came 
out he saw a man sitting right in front of him. He was 
of a huge size, apparently some six ells in height. There 
was a red stripe down his face, and he was holding his 
cheeks in his hands. J6n did not like this spectacle, and 
hesitated to go out, so he stood still and looked at the 
man. The latter seemed rapidly to decrease, till at length 
he was only of ordinary size. J6n thought now that there 
was no good to be looked for from him, grew desperate 
and rushed out. As he sprang past the man, the latter 
let go with his hands, whereupon the skull split in two, 
and half of it fell on each shoulder. This did not increase 
Jon s courage, and he ran home as fast as his feet could 
carry him. It is said in old stories that the farmer who 
once lived there had his head cloven to his shoulders, and 
it is supposed to have been him that frightened J6n. 

296 Ghosts and Wraiths. 

" One of Us." 

ON a farm in the north of Iceland there lived a man and 
his wife, who were very rich in money. One spring the 
man died and was buried at the parish church, which was 
on the next farm. The wife kept on the farm, and nothing 
happened all that summer, but in the autumn the man 
began to haunt the place, and his ghost killed both sheep 
and cows, while the house was ridden every night. At 
length the only man left on the farm was the shepherd ; 
he had been a favourite with the farmer, and the ghost 
meddled least with him. However, on Christmas Eve 
the shepherd did not come home from the sheep, and 
when they searched for him, they only found some shreds 
of him beside the sheep-house. No one would take ser 
vice with the widow now, and she had to remove with all 
her belongings. The following spring she was anxious 
to work the farm again, for it was a good one, so she got 
a man to look after it for the summer. All went well 
until the nights began to grow dark again, when the 
ghost began anew, and finally the overseer ran away. 
The woman was unwilling to leave before it was unavoid 
able, but now " good rede was dear." There was, how 
ever, in the district a merchant from the south of the 
country, who was terribly lazy, but a good workman 
when he liked. In her strait the woman applied to him, 
begging him to try to work the farm for her all winter. 
He was quite willing, but only on condition that she 
should marry him if everything went well during that 
time. As the woman was rather pleased with the man, 
she agreed to this, and he went to her farm. Whenever 
it grew quite dark, it was almost impossible to live there ; 
sometimes the house was ridden and sometimes beaten 

One of Us." 297 

from the outside, but the greatest uproar went on in the 
store-room. The overseer now went to the nearest trading 
village, and bought a large quantity of sheet-iron and 
white linen. The iron he hammered and shaped till at 
last it exactly fitted his whole body. Then he pierced 
holes in it, and got the woman to make him a suit of the 
white linen, with the iron plates sewed inside it. Next 
night the ghost came, and began to ride furiously on the 
house-top. The man put on his iron suit, picked up a 
horse-hair rope, and ran off to the churchyard. Going 
straight to the ghost s grave, he found it open and dropped 
the rope into it, keeping hold of one end. Then he threw 
earth on himself, and sat on the edge of the grave playing 
with a dollar-piece. Toward morning the ghost came 
back. " Who are you?" he asked. " ONE OF US," said 
the man. " There you lie," said the ghost. The man 
persisted that he was so, whereupon the ghost felt his 
breast, and said that he was certainly as cold as a corpse, 
but he was lying all the same. Still the man denied this, 
and the ghost seized him by the arm, but finding it cold 
as ice he said, " Cold arms but powerful ; you must be a 
ghost, but why do you sit here ? " The overseer answered 
that he was as well there as anywhere else ; he had been 
reduced to a single dollar, and it was all the same to him 
where he amused himself with it. The ghost then asked 
him to draw the rope up out of the grave, but he refused, 
saying that he had put it there just because he wanted to 
meet him : he knew that the other was a rich ghost, and 
wished to propose that they should enter into partner 
ship. He himself was a very strong ghost, as the other 
must have felt by his arm, and they could have every 
thing their own way if they combined, but in return he 
wanted to have a share in the other s money. The ghost 


298 Ghosts and Wraiths. 

for a long time refused to agree to these terms, and asked 
the man to pull up the rope, which he flatly refused to 
do. In the end the ghost gave in, and appointed a meet 
ing next night in the store-room at his widow s farm, for 
there he had half a bushel of money hid in the northmost 
corner. After this the man drew up the rope out of the 
grave, the ghost went into it, and it closed over him. 

The overseer now went home, dug up the floor in the 
corner of the stoic-room and found the money, which he 
appropriated, as may be supposed. The sitting-room on 
the farm was up a stair, and was entered by a trap-door. In 
the evening the overseer spread a raw hide at the bottom 
of the ladder, and made the sign of the cross all round 
about it. This done, he waited upstairs for the ghost. 

During the night the folk heard a terrible uproar in the 
room, so that everything danced about. Then something 
came along the passage with great violence, and broke 
down all the doors in it. Finally the ghost made his ap 
pearance, and sprang over the hide on to the ladder, but 
just as he got nearly up into the room, the overseer drove 
a bed board against his breast as hard as he could, so that 
the ghost fell backwards down the ladder with a crash, 
and landed on the hide. He could not get any foothold 
there, nor get off it owing to the crosses, and so was com 
pelled to go into the earth where he was. The overseer 
then had holy water sprinkled where the hide had lain, 
and the ghost was never seen again. He then married 
the widow, and was a most enterprising and successful 
man ever after. 

Stefan Olafsson and the Ghost. 299 

Stefan Olafsson and the Ghost. 

IT was generally believed that the men of Hornfirth were 
so enraged at the priest Stefan Olafsson, on account of a 
satire he composed on them, that they sent to him a 
ghost to take vengeance on him fnr this. An old woman, 
still alive, tells a story in proof in this, which she heard 
from a man in her young days. His story she gives as 
follows : 

" One winter evening when I was shepherd with Sir 
Stefan, I was lying on my back in my bed, which was 
nearest to the outer door, when I heard a noise out in the 
passage, just as if some one was dragging a hide along it. 
All who were in the house were asleep, except the priest, 
who was lying in his bed up in the loft, smoking his pipe. 
It was moonlight and quite clear in the room. After a 
little while, I saw a man, to all appearance, enter and 
come as far as the door, where he stopped and leaned 
against the door-post without saying a word. Then I 
heard the priest say, * What arc you after ? To meet 
with you, it said. Why don t you come nearer then ? 
he asked. I can t, said the ghost. Why not? You 
are so hot, said the ghost. Then stand there and wait 
for me, if you dare, said the priest, and with that he 
sprang out of bed and made for the stranger, who did not 
care to wait for him, but hurried down stairs with the 
priest after him. I heard them go outside, and being 
curious to know more about this, I slipped downstairs and 
out of doors, where I could hear them down in the meadow 
below the home-fields, whither the priest had followed 
him. I heard him call to the ghost and bid him wait for 
him, and when he would not do so he told the fellow to 
meet him there again. I ran in then, wishing to con- 

300 Ghosts and Wraiths. 

ceal the fact that I had seen this, lay down again and 
pretended to sleep. The priest came in immediately 
after, and I pretended to awaken. Did you see the 
stranger? he asked. No, said I. * Will you venture 
to go and get me a light for my pipe then ? said he. 
Yes/ said I, and went for it, though not without some 

Another story told of the Horn firth ghost is to this 
effect. Late one evening the priest wanted a book which 
was lying on the altar in the church, but the night being 
dark no one would venture to go for it, so he had to go 
himself. When he reached the altar and was about to 
lift the book, he heard some one in front of him say in a 
hollow and ghostly voice : 

" Upon the day of doom 
The dreadful trump shall sound." 

The priest answered : 

" And all men up shall come 
From out the yawning ground." 

With that he seized the book, and returned to the door 
of the church. Then he heard it say : 

" O hour of awful strife 1 " 

and answered again : 

" O day of light and life!" 

and went out, locking the door behind him. When he 
entered the house, the folk thought they could see that 
he had been frightened. Many add that he became weak- 
minded after this, and could not be cured of it until the 
plan was adopted of lifting the thatch off the sitting-room 
and drawing him up through the roof, but it is more com 
monly said that he drove away the ghosts by his poetry. 

" Pleasant is the Darkness." 301 

J6n Flak. 

THERE was a man named Jon, commonly called Jon 
Flak. He was of a curious disposition, and not well 
liked by his neighbours, who found him given to annoy 
ing them without their being able to pay him back. 
When J6n died, the grave-diggers, out of mischief, dug 
his grave north and south. He was buried at the back 
of the choir in Miili churchyard, but every night after 
this he haunted the grave-diggers, repeating this verse : 

" Cold s the mould at choir-bnck, 
Cowers bcneaih it J6n Flak, 
Other men lie east and west, 
Every one but J6n Flak ; 

He never stopped this till he was dug up again, and laid 
east and west like other folk. 

According to another version, J6n had a bad wife, who 
caused him to be buried in this position out of spite. 
Others say it was not done intentionally, but because the 
weather at his funeral was so bad that they were glad to 
get him buried in any way. 

"Pleasant is the Darkness." 

IN old times, and even right on to our own day, it was 
the general custom to hold night-watch over a corpse, 
and this was generally done with a light burning, unless 
the night was clear right through. Once there died a 
wizard who was ill to deal with, and few were willing to 
watch his body. However, a man was got to undertake 
the task, a strong and stout-hearted fellow. His watch 
ing went on all right so far, but on the night before the 

302 Ghosts and Wraiths. 

coffining the light went out a little before daybreak. 
The dead man then sat up and said, " PLEASANT IS THE 
DARKNESS." " That matters little to you," said the 
watcher, and made this verse : 

* Shining now is all the earth, 

Up has run the day ; 
That was candle and thou art cold, 
And keep thou so for aye 1 " 

With that he sprang upon the corpse, and forced it down 
on its back again, and the remainder of the night passed 
quietly enough. 

Biting- off the Thread. 

THERE was a wizard named Finn, who was so full of sor- 
eery and wickedness that all were afraid of him. When 
he died, no one, either man or woman, would put him in 
his shroud and sew it round him, as was then the custom. 
At last one woman ventured on the task, but was only 
half-finished with it when she went mad. Then another 
tried it, and paid no heed to how the corpse behaved. 
When she was nearly finished, Finn said, " You have to 
bite off the thread afterwards." She answered, " I mean 
to break it and not bite it, you wretch." Then she broke 
the thread, snapped the needle in two, and stuck the 
pieces into the soles of his feet, nor is there any word of 
his having done any mischief after that. 

The Dead Man s Rib. 

WHEN Eirik Rafnkelsson was priest at Hof in Alpta- 
firth, he had a maid servant named Oddny, who was en- 

The Dead Man s Rib. 303 

gaged to a man in the same district. One time when a 
body was buried in Hof churchyard, the gravediggers saw 
Oddny come to the grave and poke about among the 
earth ; but after a little she went away again, and they 
paid no heed to her. Next night, however, Einar dreamed 
that a man came to him, and asked him to get him back 
his bone, which Oddny had taken out of the earth the 
day before. The dead man said he had asked Oddny 
herself for it, " but she will not give it up, and says she 
never took it at all;" and with that he disappeared. 
Next morning the priest accused Oddny of having taken 
a human bone out of the earth, and told her to give it 
up ; but she would not take with this, and became so 
angry that the priest did not press the charge. ,Ncxt 
night the dead man came again to the priest, and begged 
him, as hard as he could, to get back the bone from 
Oddny, for he wished to have it above everything. When 
the priest woke in the morning, he arose and went to 
Oddny, who was washing clothes in a stream near the 
house, and again demanded the bone from her. She 
denied flatly that she had taken any bone, but the priest 
seized her, tore open her clothes, and found in her bosom 
a man s rib wrapped in grey wool. He then gave the girl 
a whipping, took the bone, and put it back into the grave. 
He also told Oddny s sweetheart what she had done, and 
asked him to consider whether he would have her after 
that, but he did not mind it and married her. Nothing 
ever happened to her afterwards, nor did the dead man 
ever visit any one above ground again. 

304 Ghosts and Wraiths. 

The Skull in Garth Churchyard. 

THE following incident took place fully sixty years ago 
(about 1830), and is remembered by persons still alive. 

One time when there was a burial in the churchyard of 
Garth in Kelduhvcrf (N.E. of Iceland), there stood by, 
among others, a woman named H61mfrid, wife of Grim, 
the farmer of half of Vikingavatn in the same district. 
In digging the grave a large quantity of bones was 
thrown up, and among them a remarkably large skull. 
H61mfrid went to look at the bones, and, turning over 
the skull with her foot, said, " How like a seal s skull it 
is ; it would be interesting to know who the man was," 
and other words to the same effect. After the funeral 
had taken place in the usual way, every one made their 
way home. 

At this time, the beds in farm-houses stood on a floor 
of boards, running along both sides of the room, while 
the passage up the centre was left unfloored. In many 
cases a similar piece of flooring ran across the end of the 
room furthest from the door, and this was sometimes 
higher than that along the sides. This was the arrange 
ment at Vikingavatn, and there was also a large rafter 
stretching across the room. Holmfrid s bed, where she 
slept with her three-year-old child, was either across the 
inner end of the room, or at least further in than this cross 
beam. When she fell asleep that evening, she dreamed 
that a huge head came hopping in at the door, and made 
its way along the passage in the middle, looking very 
stern. In it she recognised tlvj big skull she had seen 
during the day, and was so frightened that she started up 
in bed. On falling asleep again, the same thing hap 
pened, but the head this time was more venturesome, and 

The Priest Ketill in Husavik. 305 

came hopping along the whole length of the room, and 
tried to get up into the bed. She put out her hands to 
thrust it away, and woke up in the act of pushing her 
child out of bed. It had been lying in front of her, so 
she now put it behind her, and fell asleep again. No 
sooner had she done so than a man of immense size 
entered the room, came forward to the cross-beam and 
laid his hands on it, saying in ghostly tones : " If you 
want to know my name, it is Jon, and I am son of Jon, 
and used to live in Krossdal." At this she was greatly 
alarmed and started up for the third time, and seemed to 
see this giant leisurely pass out at the door : after that 
she saw nothing more and slept all the rest of the night. 
When this came to be talked about later, old people 
remembered a father and son in Krossdal, both named 
J6n, who had both died in the famine of 1783-84. The 
younger had been a very big man, and the story seemed 
to fit him exactly. 

The Priest Ketill in Husavik. 

IN the north there was a priest named Ketill J6nsson 
who lived at Husavik. He had a number of coffins dug 
up out of the churchyard, and said he did so because 
there was so little room there, and these coffins were only 
taking up space, the bodies being completely decayed. 
One time it so happened that three old women were in 
the kitchen, busy burning the coffins, when a spark flew 
out of the fire and lighted on one of them. It soon set 
her clothes on fire, and then those of the other two, as 
they were all standing close together. They burned so 
furiously that they were all dead before people came up 

306 Ghosts and Wraiths. 

and put out the fire. During the night the priest dreamed 
that a man came to him, and said, "You will not succeed 
in making room in the churchyard, although you go on 
digging up our coffins, for now I have killed your three 
old women to avenge ourselves, and they will take up 
some room in the churchyard, and still more will I kill, 
if you do not cease this conduct." With that he went 
away, and the priest awoke, and never again did he dig 
up any coffins out of the churchyard. 

The Ghost s Cap. 

Ox a farm beside a church there lived, among others, a 
boy and a girl. The boy was in the habit of trying to 
frighten the girl, but she had got so used to it that she 
was not frightened at all, for whatever she saw, she sup 
posed it to be the boy s doing. One time the washing 
was lying out in the churchyard, among the articles being 
a number of white night-caps, which were then in fashion. 
In the evening the girl was sent out for it, and ran out to 
gather it together. When she had nearly finished, she 
saw a white figure sitting on a grave in the churchyard. 
Thinking to herself that it was the lad trying to frighten 
her, she ran up and pulled off the ghost s cap, supposing 
that the boy had taken one of the night-caps, and said, 
" You won t manage to frighten me this time." When 
she went in with the washing, however, she found the boy 
in the house, while on going over the clothes there was 
found to be a cap too many, and it was earthy inside. 
Then the girl was frightened. Next morning the figure 
was still sitting on the grave, and no one knew what was 
to be done, for none would venture to take the cap to the 

The Ghost s Questions. 307 

ghost. They sent round all the district for advice, and 
one old man declared that it was inevitable that some 
mischief would happen from this, unless the girl herself 
took the cap to the ghost and set it silently on its head, 
with many persons looking on. The girl was then forced 
to go with the cap, and set it on the ghost s head, which 
she did very unwillingly, saying when she had done so, 
41 Are you pleased now ? " The ghost started and struck 
her, saying " Yes ! Are YOU pleased ? " With that he 
plunged down into the grave, while at the blow the girl 
fell to the ground, and when they ran and lifted her she 
was dead. The boy was punished for having been in the 
habit of frightening her, for it was considered that all the 
trouble had been caused. by him. 

The Ghost s Questions. 

ONE time long ago a young fellow named Thorlak was 
crossing Eski-firth heath on his way to school at Holar. 
Passing a deep ravine he heard a dim and ghostly voice 
calling out to him, "What is your name? Whose son 
are you ? Where do you come from ? Where are you 
going? and, How many nights old is the moon?" The 
youth answered at once, " Thorlak is my name ; I am 
Thord s son ; I come from Mula-sysla ; I am going to 
Holar school : and nine nights old is the moon." The 
story says that if Thorlak had made a slip anywhere in 
this, the evil being would have got power over him. 

308 Ghosts and Wraiths. 

" My Jaw-bones." 

THERE was once a priest who was in the habit of taking 
all the bones that were thrown up in the churchyard, 
when a new grave was dug, and burning them. On one 
occasion when bones had been thrown up in this way, 
they were gathered up by the priest s cook, by his orders ; 
but as they had got wet, either with rain or snow, she 
could not burn them at once, and had to set them up on 
the hearthstone beside the fire to dry them. While this 
was doing, and the cook was busy with her work in the 
twilight, she heard a faint voice from somewhere near the 
hearth saying, " My jaw-bones, my jaw-bones ! " These 
words she heard repeated again, and began to look round 
the human bones that were lying beside her on the hearth 
to see what this meant, but could find no man s jaw there. 
Then she heard it said for the third time, in a still more 
piteous voice than before, " Oh, my jaw-bones, my jaw 
bones!" She went again and looked closer, and then 
found the two jaw-bones of a child, fastened together, 
which had been pushed close to the fire and were begin 
ning to burn. She understood then that the ghost of the 
child which owned the jaws must have been unwilling to 
have them burned, so she took them up and wrapped 
them in linen, and put them into the next grave that was 
dug in the churchyard. Nothing strange took place after 

" Mother Mine in Fold, Fold." 

ONE time a servant-girl on a farm had given birth to a 
hild, and exposed it to die, as not seldom happened in 

That is Mine." 309 

Iceland, while severe penalties banishment or even 
death were imposed for such offences. Some time after 
this, it so happened that one of the dances, called viki- 
vaki, once so popular in the country, was to be held, and 
this same girl was invited to it. But because she was not 
well enough off to have fine clothes suitable for such a 
gathering as these dances were, and was at the same time 
a woman fond of show, she was greatly vexed that she 
had to stay at home and be out of the merry-making. 
While the dance was going on elsewhere, the girl was 
engaged milking ewes in the fold along with another 
woman, and was telling her how she had no clothes to go 
to the dance with. Just as she stopped talking, they 
heard this verse repeated under the wall of the fold : 

" Mother mine in fold, fold, 
Feel not sorrow cold, cold, 
And I will lend you dress of mine 

To dance so bold, 

And dance so bold." 

The girl thought that in this she heard the voice of the 
child she had exposed, and was so startled at it that she 
was wrong in her wits all her life after. 

"That is Mine." 

IN olden times there was a burial vault for the nobility 
under the choir of Sonder-omme Church. Once, when 
the church was undergoing repairs, one of the masons 
wagered with his comrades, that he would venture into 
the church by night, and go down into the vault for one 
of the skulls from the decayed bodies that lay there. He 
won the wager, for at midnight he descended into the 

310 Ghosts and Wraiths. 

vault, and took the biggest skull he could find. But just 
as he had laid hold of it, and was about to go, he heard 
a rough, harsh voice saying " TlIAT IS MINE." Oh, if it 
is yours, I won t take it then," said the mason, and lifted 
another which was not quite so large, but now he heard a 
woman s soft complaining voice say, " That one is mine." 
He threw it down also, and took the smallest he could 
find, but now a thin childish voice called out, " That is 
mine. That is mine" " I don t care," said the mason, 
" I d take it even if it were the priest s." He ran out of 
the church with it, and so won his wager, but after this 
he never had any peace. He always thought that an 
innocent little child ran after him wherever he went, and 
cried, " That is mine. That is mine." He became strange 
and melancholy, and did not live long after. 

The Three Countesses at Traiie-kser. 

IN Trane-kaor castle there is a room, which in old times 
was so much haunted, that no one could stay in it over 
night. A stranger once came to the place, and laid a 
wager that he would lie in this room over-night, without 
the ghosts doing him any harm. He did lie in the room 
and things went well until mid-night ; but then there 
arose noise and disturbance, as if everything was being 
turned upside down, and before he knew of it, he was 
lying on the paved space outside the house. After this, 
the castle was even worse haunted than before, until at 
last no one could stay in it over-night, and there was no 
other way left than to get the ghosts laid. Word was 
sent to the priests in Snode and Bostrup, and these pro 
mised to come on the Saturday evening following. The 

The Three Countesses at Trane-kccr. 311 

two of them drove together in a carriage to a knoll beside 
the highway, north from the castle. Here they made the 
carnage stop, and warned the coachman not to drive 
away, whatever happened, until there came one who could 
say, " Drive on, in Jesus name." From here they went 
up to the castle, and there the ghosts of the three count 
esses came to meet them. One of the priests had not yet 
got his gown and collar on, and the foremost countess 
held up her hand and shouted, "What do you want? 
You have no business here." The priest, however, hastily 
put on his gown and collar, and now they began to tackle 
the ghosts. One of these reminded the priest of Bostrup 
that he had once stolen two skilling s worth, but he 
immediately threw the two skillings to her, and so that 
was paid. The priests, however, were unable to stand 
their ground, being only two against three, and were 
driven back from the castle, and down towards the high 
way. If they had not got help then, they would have 
fared badly. 

That same evening, the priest of Tranc-kcur was lying 
in his bed, and said to his wife that there came such a 
strange restlessness over him ; he thought he ought to go 
somewhere, as there was something not right going on, 
but he could not tell what it was. His wife said that he 
really must not go out so late ; so he lay for a little then, 
but finally said that he could not help it, he must go, for 
he could feel now that two of his brethren were in danger 
of their lives. He hastily put on his gown and collar, 
and went down to the highway, where the three count 
esses were driving the two priests before them. He came 
just in the nick of time, for the priests were almost help 
less. They had indeed got the countesses sunk in the 
ground up to their knees, but one of the ghosts had 

312 Ghosts and Wraiths. 

slipped behind them and was looking tJirough them from 
there, so that the priest from Snode was already withered 
on one side, and never recovered again. The priest of 
Trane-krer now lent a hand, and the ghosts had to give 
in, as they were now one to one. The countesses were 
laid, and there was peace again in the place. None of 
the priests, however, got over that night. The one from 
Snodc was mortally ill when he reached home, and did 
not live long after it. When the Bostrup priest heard of 
his death, he said, " Then my time will also come soon," 
and he died soon after. The Trane-k?er priest got off 
best, but after this time he never mounted the pulpit, but 
always stood in the choir-door when he preached. 

The Ghost at Silkeborg. 

AT Silkeborg there was the ghost of a man, who had 
been foully murdered ; most people say that it was Cap 
tain H s servant, who had been first killed and then 

drowned. The curate in Linaa tried to lay him, but he 
was too powerful for him, for it is not easy to lay the 
ghost of one who has been innocently murdered. " No 
worthless wretch, but God s bairn," said the curate, when 
he came home after a vain attempt. The priest in Gjod- 
vad, Morten Regenberg, had then to take up the matter, 
"for he was the man that could do it," say the peasants. 
All the same, he was unsuccessful on the first two occa 
sions on which he tried it ; the ghost was too much for 
him also, knocked the book out of his hand and could 
not be got to speak, and so long as it kept silence the 
priest could not get the better of it. Regenberg was not 
the man to give in, however, and would try conclusions 

The Ghost at Silkeborg. 313 

with it a third time. He therefore ordered his man to 
yoke the horses and drive to Silkeborg, first laying a new 
horse-collar in the carriage. On the way to Silkeborg 
the priest got down and went aside, after giving the man 
orders to wait for him, and not drive on for any person 
except the one who said, " Drive on now in the name of 
Jesus." The Evil One now tempted the man to drive off 
and leave the priest in a fix. He sent to him one in the 
priest s likeness, but as he only said, IC Drive on now," the 
servant saw that it was not the right person and would 
not obey him. So it went with others that the Evil One 
sent to him, but finally there came one with the proper 
words, and this was the priest himself. When they came 
to Lille-Maen beside Silkeborg, he ordered the servant to 
put the horse-collar round his neck ; this he did in order 
to befool the ghost and get him to speak, and for this 
reason he wanted his man to look like a priest. The plan 
worked well, for as the man went forward and the priest 
came close behind him with his book, they met the ghost, 
who, on seeing the man, could not refrain from saying, 
" If you are to be priest this evening, I shall play fine 
pranks with you." The priest, who had previously forbid 
his servant to say a word, then stepped forward and said, 
" If he is not, I am." With that he began to read out of 
the book, and as the ghost had now spoken, he got the 
upper hand of it. He then ordered his man to turn the 
carnage, take off one of the wheels, lay it in the carriage, 
and drive home. The man thought they would be over 
turned, but dared not disobey, and the carriage ran well 
enough on the three wheels, for the reason that the ghost 
had to do service for the fourth one ; the priest had forced 
it to this, when he got power over it. They drove in this 
way to Resenbro, when the man received orders to put 


314 Ghosts and Wraiths. 

the fourth wheel on again, and they drove home. The 
priest had accomplished his difficult task, and the ghost 
was laid. 

A Ghost Let Loose. 

IN Bjolderup, beside Aabenraa, there is a farm where the 
cattle-house was once badly haunted. Every evening 
there came a man with red vest and white sleeves, who 
went about among the cattle and made a noise. Two 
large oxen, which were tied up in ore of the stalls, were 
let loose every night by the ghost. For a long time no 
one could understand why this should have begun all at 
once ; but at last it occurred to them that the floor in the 
stall, where these two oxen stood, had lately been relaid, 
and on that occasion a stake was pulled up from the 
middle of the stall. A ghost must have been laid there 
in old days, and set free again when the stake was pulled 
out There was no other resource then but to send for a 
11 wise " priest to lay it again, but the ghost was difficult 
enough to deal with, " for he was now so old and so 

Exorcising the Living. 

THERE was once a very clever priest in Stillinge ; he had 
gone through " the black school," and was an expert in 
that line, as the following story shows. He almost always 
wandered abouc under the open sky. Even by night he 
could often be seen walking backwards and forwards in 
his garden, or in the churchyard, or the church itself, and 
sometimes even in distant parts of the parish. When any 

Exorcising the Living. 315 

of his parishioners met him by night, he never entered 
into conversation with them, but went silently on his way. 
His wife, says the story, was much annoyed by this night- 
wandering, and devised many a clever plan to get him 
off it, but all in vain. At last she wondered whether it 
would be possible to frighten him from it, and this she 
resolved to try. 

At this time there served on the parsonage a big, 
strong, daring fellow, who was afraid of nothing. He 
was taken into her counsels by the priest s wife, and pro 
mised to assist her. One night, when the priest was 
going about as usual, the fellow took a sheet over him 
and went out to frighten his master. He sought him in 
the garden, but not finding him there, he went up to the 
church. There he found the door open, and guessed that 
the priest was inside. When he got inside the door, he 
saw him coming down from the altar, deep in thought, so 
he remained just where he was, as the priest could not 
pass him without seeing him. As soon as the priest 
caught sight of the white figure, he stopped and said in a 
loud voice, " If you are a human being, speak ; if you are 
a spirit, sink ! " The man laughed to himself, and was 
not going to be fooled in this way, so he stood silent and 
motionless. The priest snatched "the book" out of his 
pocket, and began to read in all haste. The man shud 
dered, for he felt himself beginning to sink, but he was 
so determined that he made not a sign until he had sunk 
down to the middle of his breast. Then he began to 
entreat for himself, and begged the priest to forgive him 
for having tried to play a trick on him. The priest was 
horrified at what he had done, but said, " No ; it can t be 
undone now, or we should both be lost. Down you must 
go, but you can come up elsewhere." 

316 Ghosts and Wraiths. 

The priest read on, and the man had soon entirely dis 
appeared, but immediately afterwards he came up un 
harmed, in a sheep-cote belonging to a farm that lies a 
little to the west of the church. He came up out of the 
ground with such force that he went right up through the 
roof of the outhouse. After that time there was always 
a hole in the roof there, which could never be closed up. 

The Tired Ghost. 

MY grandfather told that, in his young days, he was 
driving from Frederiksund late one evening, when all at 
once he felt that something crept up into the waggon 
behind him, although he could see nothing, and the wag 
gon then became so heavy that the horses could scarcely 
drag it. This continued until he came to Gerlov church, 
where he distinctly felt something dump off the waggon, 
which then became so light again that the horses ran with 
it as if it were nothing. He explained it in this way, that 
it was a ghost who was making his way home to Gerlov 
churchyard, but had got tired on the way, and had 
climbed up into the waggon until they reached the church. 

The Long-expected Meeting. 

WHILE they were once digging a grave in Assing Church 
yard, they turned up a body which was not decayed, 
although no one could remember of any one having been 
buried at that spot They took the dead man, and set 
him up against the wall of the church, where he remained 
standing for some time. One day the people in the 

The Long-expected Meeting. 317 

Nether Kirkton, which lies close by, were in the house 
taking their afternoon meal, when the ploughman said to 
the good-wife, " The dead man up in the churchyard 
ought to get a bite too. He has had to go without food 
for so long, that he may well be in want of it." " Well, I 
shall cut a slice for him, if you will take it to him," said 
the woman. The man was willing, and went over to the 
churchyard with the piece of bread. Handing this to the 
corpse, he said, " There is a bite for you ; you may well 
be hungry for it, seeing you have had to wait so long." 
No sooner were the words out of his mouth, than the 
dead man was on his back, and he was compelled, whether 
he liked it or not, to carry him four miles west over the 
heath to a farm there. When he entered with his burden, 
it was already evening, and the people were so scared that 
they ran out into the kitchen, with the exception of an 
old old woman, who lay in a bed beside the kitchen-door, 
and had done so for many years. The ploughman ran 
after them, but when he had entered the kitchen, he felt 
that the body was off his back. He now spoke to the 
others, and told them what had happened to him, and 
that the dead man had left him just as he came through 
the door. They became a little bolder after this, and 
would go back into the room and see what had happened. 
When they had opened the door, they saw nothing but a 
few handfuls of ashes, which lay in a little heap before 
the old woman s bed. She herself was dead. No one 
ever got to know what the dead man had to talk with 4 her 
about ; but they could understand that they had both 
been waiting to meet each other, and on that account 
neither could he rot in the ground, nor she die. Now 
that this had happened, he had fallen into a little heap of 

318 Ghosts and Wraiths. 

The Dead Mother. 

ABOUT sixty years ago it so happened that the wife of the 
priest in Vasby was sitting up late one evening, waiting 
for her husband, when she heard the most pitiful cries 
coming from the churchyard. She readily understood 
the meaning of these, and hastily got together a bundle 
of such clothes as would be required for a newly born 
child, and threw them over the churchyard wall. There 
was silence for a little after this, but the cries then began 
anew, and the priest s wife understood that the dead 
woman had borne twins, and required more clothing for 
them. She had no more children s clothes, but took all 
the linen and woollen cloth she could get hold of at the 
moment, and threw this over to the woman, who immedi 
ately became quiet When the priest came home, she 
told him the story, but he would not believe it His wife 
maintained its truth, however, so he spoke to the deceased 
woman s relatives and asked leave to open the grave, to 
satisfy himself whether the story was true or not They 
agreed to this ; grave and coffin were opened, and there 
lay the dead woman, with a child on each arm, wrapped 
in the self-same clothes that the priest s wife had thrown 
into the churchyard. 

The Service of the Dead. 

A GENERATION back a woman in Manager had decided 
to go to the early service in Manager Church. It began 
at eight o clock, and this was during the winter. About 
four o clock the woman woke up and put on her finery, 
and thinking it was near the proper time, made haste to 

The Perjured Ghost. 319 

the church. The door was open, light streaming from all 
the windows, and the organ playing. She hastened in 
side, and made for her seat, but was surprised to find that 
she scarcely knew a single person in the church. The 
priest, who stood by the altar, had also been dead for 
many years. She was quite scared at this, and would 
have run out again, but could not rise from her place. In 
her confusion she looked round, and recognised a friend 
in the seat behind her, who had also been dead for many 
years. This friend bent over to her, and whispered to 
her to unfasten her cloak, and be ready to run out of the 
church as soon as the priest said " Amen " in the pulpit, 
and before he had pronounced the benediction, otherwise 
she would fare badly. The woman could not rise until 
the priest had said "Amen," but she then ran out as fast 
as she could. Just as she got outside the door, it slammed 
behind her with a fearful crash, catching her cloak fast, 
but doing her no harm. When the people came to the 
church in the morning, they found the cloak caught in 
the door. The part outside was whole, but that which 
had been inside, was torn into little pieces, which lay 
scattered all over the floor of the church. 

The Perjured Ghost. 

ON the estate of Palstrup lived a squire who had a great 
desire to possess some fields which lay close to his own 
ground. He employed every means to assert his claim 
to these fields, and carried on a law-suit about them for 
a long time. In the end the matter was to be decided by 
oath. The squire had a servant, whom he bribed to give 
his oath for him, and the latter put leaves in his hat and 

320 Ghosts and Wraiths. 

earth in his boots, so that when the authorities visited the 
disputed ground, he gave his oath that he stood on Pals- 
trup earth and under Palstrup leaves. In this way the 
lands came to belong to Palstrup. Before long, however, 
the servant died, and could then be heard going about in 
the fields by night, lamenting and saying, " Skovsborg 
north-field and Dossing north-field are won to Palstrup 
with great wrong : O woe and woe ! O woe and woe ! " 
Finally the squire died also, and came about the farm 
every night, making such noise and uproar that the peo 
ple could scarcely stay there for fright 


IT has sometimes happened that people have been heard 
and seen ploughing during the night time. These are 
men who in their life-time have cheated their neighbours 
by ploughing some of their land on to their own, and who, 
after death, must go and plough, as if to return what they 
had taken away ; but this they cannot accomplish unless 
the living help them to put right the wrong they have 
done. Such stealing of land could be very easily carried 
out in old times, before the ground was marked off; now- 
a-days it seldom happens. 

One evening a man was busy ploughing part of his 
neighbour s field on to his own. He said to the lad who 
was driving the plough for him, " When I am dead, I must 
plough back again what I am ploughing to-night. Will 
you help me then ? " The lad said he would. Some 
years passed, and the man died. Meanwhile the lad had 
grown up and served as ploughman on another farm. 
One evening as he was threshing, he saw his late master 

Night-Ploughing. 321 

on the other side of the beam that lay across the barn. 
The ghost leaned his arms on the beam, looked at him 
for a little, and said, " Will you come and help me now, 
as you promised ? " The man went with him, and when 
they had got outside the court-yard the ghost said," Now 
you can take the short cut across the field, I must go 
along the road. When the man got to the field where 
the ploughing was to be, he found the other there already, 
with horses and plough. The man took the reins, and at 
first they went quite slow, but got faster and faster, till at 
last he had to run to keep up with the plough, and was 
afraid that he would lose his wind. Fortunately it was 
soon finished, and when they came to the end of the field 
the whole thing suddenly disappeared before his eyes, 
and he went home again, glad to have got off so well. 

It is no pleasant thing to come across such night 
ploughers, and no easy matter to defend one s self against 
them. They are, indeed, for the most part, heard far 
away, shouting and driving their horses, and sometimes 
one can hear the ploughshares and wheels creaking ; but 
as soon as they notice that any one is about to cross the 
place where they are ploughing, they take good care not 
to be discovered before they have him in their power. 
Some say that these night ploughers can bewitch those 
who come near them, so that they can neither hear nor 
see. If they do get hold of any one, he must be very for 
tunate to escape from them before the cock crows. This 
can only happen when the man thus caught by them puts 
off his wooden shoes before he begins to drive the horses, 
and is careful to lift them again when he comes to them 
for the third time. If he does not remember it then, it 
can also be done at the sixth time, but if he does not 
remember then, or is unfortunate, and does not get into 

322 Ghosts and Wraiths. 

them quick enough, he must hold out till the cock crows. 
However, driving the plough with them brings no other 
misfortune with it than the trouble of running up and 
down the field all night. There are many who have had 
to drive for them, and who have all come well out of it. 

The March-stone. 

THERE was once a man who was not very particular 
about shifting the boundary mark between himself and 
his neighbours, for the purpose of gaining a few furrows, 
but he had to pay dear for that. After his death, he had 
to walk again, and for several generations was heard 
every evening after sundown, going about dragging the 
march-stone and shouting " Where shall I set it ? where 
shall I set it?" (Hwo ska ae saet en?) Finally one 
summer evening an audacious boy, who was rather late 
in bringing home the cattle, got annoyed at hearing the 
ghost s eternal question, Where shall I set it ? " and 
without further thought, answered rudely, " O, set it 
where you took it, in the Fiend s name." (Aa saet en, 
som do tow en, i Fain Nawn.) The ghost answered, 
" These words should have been said many years ago, 
and I would have had rest ; " after that time nothing 
more was heard of him. 

The Priest s Double. 

A STUDENT was once living with an old priest. One day 
he went down into the garden, where he saw the priest 
sitting, reading a book. Not wishing to disturb him, he 

The Keg of Money. 323 

went back to the house, and entered the study, where he 
found the priest seated, and reading the same book as he 
had seen him with in the garden. The student was sur 
prised at this and told what he had seen, whereupon the 
priest begged him to come and tell him the next time he 
saw this. The student promised to do so, and a few days 
later he again saw the priest sitting in two different 
places. When the latter heard this, he immediately took 
his staff in his hand, and went straight to the figure 
which sat reading in the garden. When he reached it, 
however, he at once turned round and walked into the 
house again. No one knows whether he said anything to 
it or not, but he looked at it at least. As soon as he had 
entered the house, he fell dead. 

The Keg of Money. 


ONE time ,some men were on a journey, and pitched 
their tent on a Sunday morning on a beautiful green 
meadow. The weather was clear and fine, and the 
travellers lay down to sleep in their tent, all in a row. 
The one who was lying next the door could not sleep, 
and kept locking here and there in the tent. He then 
noticed a tuft of bluish vapour above the man who lay 
innermost, \\fhich in a little came towards the door and 
went out. Tine man wished to know what this was, so he 
rose and followed it. It glided softly across the meadow, 
and finally c;ime to the skin and skull of a horse that was 
lying there, jand was full of blue flies which made a great 
humming. The vapour entered the horse-skull, and after 
a good while) came out again. It then went on over the 
meadow, until it came to a small stream of water, down 

324 Ghosts and Wraiths. 

the side of which it went, apparently looking for a place 
to cross. The man had his whip in his hand, and laid it 
across the stream, and the vapour glided along the shaft 
of it to the other side. Then it went on again for a bit, 
till it arrived at a mound on the meadow, into which it 
disappeared. The man stood at a little distance, waiting 
for it to come back, which it did before long, and then 
returned in the same way as it had come. It crossed the 
stream on the man s whip as before, made straight for the 
tent then, and never stopped until it came above the 
innermost man in the tent, where it disappeared. The 
other then lay down again and fell asleep. 

On rising to resume their journey, they talked much 
while loading their horses. Among other things, the one 
who had been innermost in the tent said, " I wish I had 
what I dreamed about to-day." " What was it you 
dreamed ? " asked the one who had seen the vapour. " I 
dreamed," said the other, " that I went out on the meadow 
here, and came to a large and beautiful house, where a 
crowd of people was assembled, singing and playing with 
the greatest mirth and glee. I stayed a very long time 
in there, and on coming out again went for a long long 
time across smooth and lovely meadows. Then I came 
to a great river, which I tried for a long time to cross, 
but in vain. I saw then a terribly big giant coming, who 
had a huge tree in his hand ; this he laid across the river, 
and I crossed on it. I went on for a long long time, till 
I came to a great mound. It was open, and I entered it, 
and found nothing there but a great barrel, filled with 
money. I stayed there an immensely long time, looking 
at the money, for such a heap I had never seen before. 
On leaving it, I went back the same way as I had come, 
crossed the river on the tree again and so got back to 

Soul-wandering. 325 

the tent." The one who had followed the vapour began 
to rejoice, and said to the one who had been dreaming, 
" Come and we shall search for the money at once." The 
other laughed, and thought he was out of his wits, but 
went with him. They followed the same path as the 
vapour had gone, came to the mound and dug in it, and 
there they found a keg full of money, which they took 
back and showed to their comrades, and told them all 
about the dream. 


IT happened once on a farm in Vend-syssel, that some 
folks had engaged a tailor, who was sitting on the table 
sewing one evening, while one of the farm-hands was 
lying on a bench talking to him. During the conversa 
tion, the man fell asleep, and soon after this the tailor 
noticed that something flew out of his mouth, while at 
the same moment the man ceased to breathe. The tailor 
thought over this for a little, and finally concluded that 
this must be the man s soul, taking a little excursion by 
night. To see the end of this play, he took a rag and 
laid it over the man s mouth, supposing that in this way 
he would prevent it from getting in again, when it came 
back. In a little the soul returned, and sure enough it 
did try to get in, but being prevented by the rag, it seemed 
to get lost, and began to flutter about the room. The 
tailor hopped down off the table, and began to pursue the 
soul, which he finally succeeded in catching. He wanted 
very much to get it to tell him something about its ex 
cursion, but did not understand the way to do this ; how 
ever, he had no intention of letting it back to its proper 

326 Ghosts and Wraiths. 

home, when he had got such an unusual catch. He 
therefore put it into a box, where he kept it for a long 
time, but finally got tired of keeping it, and sold it to two 
itinerant Mormon priests. 

Two men were once out digging turf, and lay down to 
take their mid-day nap. A mouse ran out of the mouth 
of one of them, and when it came back, the other held his 
hand over his fellow s mouth, so that it could not get in 
again, and with that the man died. 


THORKELL GEITISSON of Krossavi k (E. of Iceland) 
ordered his thrall Freystein to make away with the child 
of Ornny, his (Thorkell s) sister. The thrall merely left 
it in a wood, where it was afterwards found by a man 
named Krum, who brought it up as his own. The boy 
was named Thorstein, and throve well. When six or 
seven years old he began to go to Krossavi k, and one 
day he entered the house, where Geitir, the father of 
Thorkell, sat muttering into his cloak. The young Thors 
tein, who was rushing along as children do, fell suddenly 
on the floor. Geitir set up a loud laugh at this, and the 
boy went up to him, saying, " Did you think it so very 
amusing when I fell just now ? " "I did," said Geitir, 
for I saw what you did not see." " What was that ? " 
asked Thorstein. " I shall tell you," said Geitir ; " as you 
came into the room, there came with you a white bear s 
cub, and ran along the floor before you. When it saw me 
it stopped, but you were in a great hurry and so fell over 
it, and I suspect that you are not the son of Krum, but 
are of much higher birth." Geitir afterwards told this to 

The Folgie or Vardogl. 327 

his son Thorkell, who, after comparing the stones of 
Freystein and Krum, was convinced of the boy s real 
origin, and Thorstein took up his abode at Krossavik. 

The Folgie or Vardogl. 

THE belief in beings, of which each person has one to 
attend him, is common over the greater part of Norway, 
but there are differences both in the name and the idea. 
In some places they are called Folgie or Fylgie ; in 
others, Vardogl, Vardygr, Vardivil or Valdoicl, and some 
times Ham, Hug-ham or Hau. 

In some districts the Vardogl is imagined as a good 
spirit, who always accompanies the person, and wards off 
all dangers and mishaps. For this reason, in many parts 
of the country, people are still so conscientious as to fol 
low everyone, even the poorest, out of doors, and look 
after him ; or at least open the door after he has left, in 
order to give the Vardogl, if it should accidentally have 
stayed behind, an opportunity to follow its master, who 
in its absence is exposed to misfortunes and temptations. 
Among other risks, he runs that of falling into the clutches 
of the Thus-bet, an evil spirit which similarly attends 
every person, and is not to jest with. People often show 
almost incurable wounds of a malignant nature, where 
this troll has bitten them during the night. Such persons 
are said to be " Thus-bitten," and the wounds are called 
" Thus-bites." 

In other parts the Folgie or Vardogl is regarded more 
as a precursor of the person, which by knocking at the 
door or window, tapping on the walls, lifting the latch, 
and so on, gives notice either of the arrival of an acquaint- 

328 Ghosts and Wraiths. 

ance, or that he is very anxious to come, or that some 
accident is about to happen. When the Folgie shows 
itself, it is generally in the shape of an animal, whose 
properties stand in a certain relation to the person s dis 
position ; but each individual always has the same one. 
Bold men have, as a rule, a spirited beast, such as a wolf, a 
bear, or an eagle. The cunning have a fox or a cat ; the 
timid have a hare, a little bird, or the like. 

Sometimes, however, the Vardogl shows itself in human 
shape, and has then the appearance of its master, but dis 
appears immediately. Such a person is called a "Double- 
ganger." Hence it comes that the same person can be 
seen in two different places at the same time, the one of 
them being the Folgie. When this appears to the person 
himself, many a man is terrified, and believes that he will 
soon die. 

If any one wishes to know what animal he has for a 
Vardogl, he must, with certain ceremonies , wrap up a 
knife in a handkerchief, which is held in the air, while he 
goes over all the animals he knows ; as soon as the Fol 
gie is named, the knife falls out of the handkerchief. 

The Draug. 

THE Draug is variously imagined in different districts of 
Norway. In the south it is generally regarded either as 
a white ghost, or as a Folgie foreboding death, which ac 
companies the dead man wherever he goes, and some 
times shows itself as an insect, which in the evening gives 
out a piping sound. In Herjus-dale in Hvide-so, at the 
spot where Herjus Kvalsot was murdered, his ""draug" 
now walks ; on Christmas Eve it came to his home, and 
cried : 

Aasgaards-reia. 329 

" Twere better walking on the floor 

Down at Kvalsot as of old, 
Than lying here in Herjus-dale 
Neath unconsecrated mould." 

In the north, on the other hand, the Draug almost 
always haunts the sea or its neighbourhood, and to some 
extent replaces Necken. The northland fishers have 
much to do with him. They often hear a terrible shriek 
from the Draug, which sometime*s sounds like 4< H-a-u," 
and sometimes " So cold," and then they hurry to land, 
for these cries forebode storm and mishaps at sea. 

The fishermen often see him, and describe him as a 
man of middle height, dressed in ordinary sailor s clothes. 
Most of the northlanders maintain that he has no head ; 
but the men of North More allow him, in place of a head, 
a tin-plate on his neck, with burning coals for eyes. Like 
Necken, he can assume various shapes. He generally 
haunts the boat-sheds, in which, as well as in their boats, 
the fishermen find a kind of foam, which they think to be 
the Draug s vomit, and believe that the sight of it is a 


THIS procession consists of spirits which have not done 
so much good as to deserve heaven, and not so much evil 
as to be sent to hell. In it are found drunkards, brawlers, 
satirists, swindlers, and such like folk, who, for the sake 
of some advantage or other, have sold themselves to the 
Devil. Their punishment is to ride about till the end of 
the world. At the head of the procession rides Guro- 
Rysse, or Reisa-Rova with her long rump, by which she 
is distinguished from the others. After her comes a 


330 Ghosts and Wraiths. 

whole multitude of both sexes. If one sees them from 
the front, both riders and horses are big and beautiful, but 
from behind one can see nothing but Guro s long rump. 
The horses are coal-black, and have eyes that gleam in 
the darkness : they are guided with glowing bits or iron 
bridles, which, combined with the yells of the riders, 
create a terrible noise that can be heard a long way off. 
They ride over water as well as over land, and the horses 
hoofs can scarcely be seen to touch the water. Where 
they throw the saddle on the roof, some one must shortly 
die ; and where they feel that blows and death will 
happen at a drinking party, there they come in, and set 
themselves on the shelf above the door. They keep quiet 
so long as nothing takes place, but laugh loudly and 
rattle their iron bits, when blows begin and murder is 
done. They especially travel about at Christmas, when 
the big drinkings take place. They are in the habit of 
resting on the farm of Bakken in Svarte-dal in Upper 
Thelemark, and usually bake their bread beside Sunds- 
barm Lake. 

When any one hears them coming, he must either try 
to get out of the way, or at least throw himself flat on the 
ground, and pretend to be asleep, for there have been in 
stances of living persons being snapped up by the com 
pany, and either brought back to the place where they 
were taken up, or found lying half-conscious far away 
from it. One Christmas Eve the " Skreia" passed over 
Nordbo in Nisse-dal, where there was heard a wild cry of 
" To horse ! to horse 1 " The man went to look out, but 
before he knew where he was, he was sitting on the ridge 
of his own house. Still worse did Helge Teitan fare. 
She was torn out of her own bed, and carried off by the 
troop. When she came to Holme Lake, a mile from her 

The Gand-reid. 331 

house, she knew where she was by the many islands. An 
hour later she was thrown half dead in at the door of her 
own house. Foam-covered horses, which have been with 
the troop, are often seen. At Trydal in Gjerre-stad, 
where screaming children are threatened with "Haaskaal- 
reia," the farmer was carried off by it one Christmas Eve. 
In his first astonishment he could not utter a word, but 
when he had got half a mile north from the farm, he 
managed to say, " In Jesus name." With that he was 
dropped down on the field. Gunhild of Tvedt in Ombli 
was carried off, along with a black horse from her stable. 
The horse went as well on water as on land, and galloped 
at a fearful pace until it came to Ljose-stad, where Gun 
hild was let go. In old days they were so frightened for 
" Askereia," that no one dared even to sing when it was 
out ; now they scare children with it. The honest man 
who is careful to cast himself on his face, or even on his 
back, and throw out his arms so as to make the sign of 
the cross, has nothing more to fear than that each one of 
the company spits upon him. When they have all passed, 
he spits in turn, otherwise he may take harm by it. 

The Gand-reid. 

AT Reykir in Skeid (S. of Iceland) lived Run61f Thor- 
steinsson, who had a son named Hildiglum. On Saturday 
night, twelve weeks before winter, the latter went outside, 
and heard so great a crash that he thought both earth 
and heaven shook. He then looked towards the west, 
and thought he saw there a fiery ring, and inside it a man 
on a grey horse. He was riding hard, and soon came 
past him. In his hand he held a flaming fire-brand, and 

332 Ghosts and Wraiths. 

rode so near that Hildiglum could see him plainly, and 
he was black as pitch. In a loud voice he repeated this 
verse : 

I ride a horse With ill between ; 

With hoary front, And Flosi s redes 

With dewy top Shall roll to doom, 

A doer of hurt : And Flosi s redes 

With ends of fire, Shall roll to doom. 

Then he seemed to hurl the brand before himself east to 
the fells, and a fire seemed to shoot up to meet it, so great 
that Hildiglum could not see the fells for it. The man 
rode east into the fire, and disappeared there. After this 
Hildiglum went in and lay down on his bed, and was 
long unconscious, but at length recovered. He remem 
bered all that he had seen, and told it to his father, who 
bade him tell it to Hjalti Skeggjason, which he then did. 
" You have seen the gandrcid? said Hjalti, * and that 
always comes before great tidings." 

The Knark-vogn. 

THIS spectre moves with a noise like that of a creaking 
waggon, and derives its name from this. It is believed 
to consist of spirits of the damned, who are doomed to fly 
around the earth within twenty-four hours, and always 
fly in the same direction, namely, to the north-east. Rash 
persons have called out to it, " Turn about and grease 
your nave," whereupon it makes for them, and they must 
escape by getting under a roof, or by their companions 
throwing themselves above them to protect them from its 
attacks. In the former case, a "wise" person may turn 
it back a little, and enable the offenders to escape ; but 

The Night Raven. 333 

even after they have got safely into the house, it has been 
heard scraping at the door all night. Where the others 
have thrown themselves above the speaker, the knark- 
vogn has scraped great holes in the earth round about 
them, and pulled at their clothes, but without being able 
to injure them. In spite of this protection, it once man 
aged to strike a man in the eyes, which were red to the 
end of his days, In the morning they are free from it. 

The Night Raven. 

THE night-raven is a suicide who has been buried where 
three estates meet. Every year he can push to one side 
the length of a grain of sand, and so after many years 
comes to the surface again. The night-raven then flies 
towards the Holy Sepulchre, but is only permitted to go 
a certain distance each year, so that it may be centuries 
before it gets there. A man was once sitting on the 
ground when he heard something beneath him saying, 
" Now I turn myself." The man was scared, and the 
voice repeated, " Now I turn myself." "What can this 
be," thought the man, " I shall say something to it next 
time." When the words were repeated for the third time, 
he answered, " Well turn yourself, in Jesus name, and 
never do it again." An old priest, however, is said to 
have told his communicants that the night-raven was a 
ghost who had been laid. The pile driven down at that 
spot, makes a hole in its right wing, and if anyone hap 
pens to see the sun through that hole, he can thereafter 
see things hid from all other eyes. More commonly it is 
believed that to see through this hole causes madness or 
sudden death. 

334 Ghosts and Wraiths. 

The night-raven flies about with a cry of " Ba-u, Ba-u," 
and is ready to attack persons whom it finds outside by 
night There is a story of two girls who met it, and 
escaped from it by fleeing into a house ; in the morning 
two fiery wings were fixed on the door. It can strike 
fire with its wings, and is thus visible in the night time. 


Gest and the Witches. 

ONE time when King Olaf Tryggvason sat in Thrand- 
heim, it so happened that a man came to him in the 
evening, and greeted him becomingly. The King re 
ceived him well, and asked him his name. He said he 
was called Gest. " A guest here shall you be, whatever 
be your name," said the King. " I have told the truth 
about my name," said the other, " and fain would I have 
your hospitality if I might." Olaf granted him this, but 
as the day was spent he talked no further with the 
stranger, but went immediately to evensong, and then to 
supper, and after that to sleep. 

That same night King Olaf Tryggvason woke up in 
his bed, and repeated his prayers, while all the rest were 
asleep. It seemed to him then that an elf or some spirit 
entered the house, although all the doors were closed. 
He went before the bed of every one who slept there, and 
finally came to that of one who lay near the door. There 
he stopped, and said, " A terribly strong lock is here "on 
an empty house, and the King is not so wise in such 
matters as others would make him out to be, when he 
sleeps so sound now." After that he disappeared. 

Early in the morning the King sent his page to see 
who had been in that bed over-night, and it turned out 
to be the stranger. The King had him summoned, and 

336 Wizards and Witches. 

asked him if he was a Christian. Gest answered that he 
had received the mark of the cross, but had not been 
baptised. The King said he was welcome to stay there 
at his court, but he must be baptised in that case. What 
the elf said about the lock, referred to Gest having crossed 
himself like other men in the evening, although he was 
really a heathen. - 

Gest told many tales of far-back days when he had 
been with Sigurd Fafnis-bani, and the sons of Lodbrok, 
and the King s men were charmed to hear him. Olaf 
asked him many questions, all of which he fully answered. 
At last he said, "Now I shall tell you why I am called 
Norna-Gest," and began the following tale. 

" I was brought up by my father at a place called 
Graening in Denmark : he was a rich man, and kept a 
good house. At that time there went round the country 
witches who were called spae-wives, and foretold men s 
lives, and for that they were invited and entertained by 
people, and received gifts when they went away. My 
father did this, and they came to him with a large follow 
ing, and were to foretell my fate. I was lying in the 
cradle, and two candles were burning beside me. They 
said that I would be a very lucky man, greater than any 
of my ancestors or noblemen s sons in the country ; this 
was the future they predicted for me. The youngest 
Norn seemed to be held of very little account by the 
other two, for they never consulted her in spaedoms that 
were of any weight. There was also present a rascal 
multitude that pushed her out of her seat, and made her 
fall on the ground. At this she became exceeding wroth, 
and cried out in a loud and angry voice, bidding the 
others cease their good prophecies concerning me, " for I 
lay on him that he shall live no longer than until the 

The Witch Thorbjorg in Greenland. 337 

candle that is burning beside him is burnt out." At this 
the elder witch took the candle, and put it out, telling my 
mother to keep it, and not light it before the last day of 
my life. After this the spae-wives went away, taking the 
young one with them in bonds, and my father gave them 
valuable gifts at parting. After I grew up, my mother 
gave me that candle to keep, and I have it with me now." 

" Will you now receive baptism ? " asked the King. 
" With your advice I will," said Gest, so he was baptized 
and became one of his followers; he was faithful to him 
and well liked by the others. 

One day the King asked Gest : " How long would you 
like to live now, if you had the deciding of it? " " Only 
a short time," said Gest, "if God so willed it." " What 
will happen if you take your candle now ? " asked the 
King. Gest took the candle out of his harp-stock, and 
the King ordered it to be lighted ; this was done, and the 
candle burned fast. " How old are you ? " asked he at 
Gest. " Three hundred winters have I now," said he; 
and after that he lay down, and asked to be anointed. 
The King had this done, and by that time little of the 
candle remained unburned. They noticed then that Gest 
was passing away, and just at the same time that the 
candle burned out, Gest died, and all thought his death 

The Witch Thorbjorg in Greenland. 

THERE was a great famine in Greenland ; those who had 
been to the fishing had but small takes, and some had 
not returned at all. There was a woman in the district 
named Thorbjorg, who was a spae-wife, and was called 

338 Wizards and Witches. 

the Little Witch. She had had nine sisters, all of them 
witches, but she was the only one alive then. It was her 
custom in the winter-time to go to .entertainments, and 
men invited her to visit them, especially such as were 
curious to know their fortunes or how the season would 
turn out ; and seeing that Thorkell was the leading man 
there, it was thought to be his business to find out, when 
this famine that was upon them would cease. Thorkell 
therefore invited the spae-wife to his house, and a good 
reception was prepared for her, as was the custom when 
such women were to be received. A high seat was made 
ready for her, with a cushion on it, which had to be 
stuffed with hens feathers. When she arrived in the 
evening with the man who had been sent for her, she was 
so dressed that she had over her a blue cloak with straps, 
which was set with stones right down to the bottom. On 
her neck she had glass-beads, on her head a black cap of 
lambskin lined with white cat-skin. In her hand she 
carried a staff with a knob on it ; it was mounted with 
brass, and set with stones about the knob. About her 
waist she wore a tinder-belt, and on it a great skin-purse, 
in which she kept the charms that she required in order 
to get knowledge of anything. She had shaggy calfskin- 
shoes on her feet, and in these were long and stout thongs 
with large knobs of brass at the ends. On her hands she 
wore cat-skin gloves, which were white and hairy inside. 

When she entered, it was thought every man s duty to* 
give her honourable greetings, which she received accord 
ing to the liking she had for each. Thorkell then took 
the hand of the wise-woman, and led her to the seat that 
was prepared for her. There he asked her to run her 
eyes over his cattle, household, and homestead, but she 
was very reserved about everything. The tables were 

The Witch Thorbjorg in Greenland. 339 

afterwards laid, and we must tell what food was served 
up to the spae-wife. For her was made porridge with 
kid s milk, but for meat to her were prepared the hearts 
of every kind of animal that could be got there. She 
had a brass spoon and an ivory handled knife, with two 
rings of brass on it, and the point of it was broken. 
When the tables were cleared away, Thorkell came before 
Thorbjorg, and asked what she thought of his homestead 
or of his people, or how quickly she could get knowledge 
of what he had enquired about and all wished to know. 
She said she would not disclose that before next morning, 
after she had slept there that night Next day she was 
supplied with all that she required to perform her en 
chantments, and bade them bring her some women, who 
knew those charms that were necessary to perform the 
enchantment, and are called Vardlokkur, but no such 
women could be found. Search was made all over the 
household whether any one knew them. Then Gudrid 
answered, " I am neither witch nor wise-woman, and yet 
my foster-mother in Iceland taught me the charm that 
she called Vardlokkur." " Then you are learned in 
season," said Thorbjorg. Gudrid answered, " This is a 
learning and proceeding of such a kind as I mean to take 
no part in, for I am a Christian woman." " It might well 
be," said Thorbjorg, " that you could help folk in this 
matter, and be no worse a woman than before ; but I 
leave it to Thorkell to provide all that is necessary here. * 
Thorkell now pressed Gudrid hard, until she consented 
to do as he wished. The women made a ring round 
about her, while Thorbjorg sat up on the spell-scat. 
Then Gudrid sang the song so well and beautifully, that 
all who were present thought they had never heard it 
sung more sweetly. The spae-wife thanked her for her 

340 Wizards and Witches. 

song, and added, " Many spirits have come hither, and 
thought it beautiful to hear what was sung, who formerly 
would turn away from us and show us no obedience. 
Now many things are plain to me that before this were 
concealed both from me and from others, and I can tell 
you this, that this famine will not last much longer, and 
the season will improve with spring." 

The Witch Skroppa. 

WHILE Hord and his fellow-outlaws were on Geirsholm 
in Hval-firth, he went one summer with twenty-four men 
to Saurbse, because Thorstein Oxnabrodd had boasted 
that Skroppa the witch, his foster-mother, could so bring 
it about by her magic that the Holm-men could do him 
no harm. On reaching the shore, seven of them stayed 
to watch the ship, and seventeen went up on land. On 
the sand-hills above the boat-sheds they saw a large bull, 
which they wished to provoke, but Hord would not allow 
them. Two of his men however turned to meet the bull, 
and thrust at him, one aiming at his side and the other 
at his head ; but the bull met the thrusts with his horns 
in each case, both spears flew back into their own breasts, 
and both were killed. Hord said, " Follow my advice, 
for everything here is not as it seems." When they 
reached the farm, Skroppa was at home along with the 
yeoman s daughters Helga and Sigrid, but Thorstein was 
at the shieling in Kuvallar-dal. Skroppa opened up all 
the houses, but caused ocular delusions, so that where she 
and the other two sat on the bench there seemed to be 
only three wooden boxes. Hord s men spoke of breaking 
the boxes, but Hord forbade them. They then held 

The Witch Grima. 341 

north from the farm, to see whether they could find any 
cattle. Next they saw a young sow with two little pigs 
come running northwards out of the farm, and got in 
front of it. Then they seemed to see a great host of men 
coming against them with spears and other weapons, and 
now the sow with her pigs shook her ears southward 
again. Said Geir, "Let us go to the ship: we cannot 
deal here with a superior force." Hord said it was advis 
able not to run so soon before all was seen into, and with 
that he picked up a stone and killed the sow with a blow. 
When they came there they found Skroppa lying dead, 
and in place of the two young pigs the daughters of the 
yeoman were standing over her. As soon as Skroppa 
was dead, they saw that it was a herd of cattle that was 
coming against them, and not men at all ; these they 
drove down to the ship and killed, and took the beef on 

The Witch Grima. 

TlIORMOD the skald was wounded in Greenland by the 
friends of a man he had killed. Two of his friends found 
him and took him to the head of Eiriks-firth, where a 
man named Gamli lived up under the glaciers, along 
with his wife Grima. The two lived alone, seldom visit 
ing or visited, and Grima was not only a good leech, but 
was believed to know something of the old magic. Twelve 
months after this, but before Thormod had quite recovered 
from his wounds, it happened that Thordis, the mother of 
the man he had slain, was restless in her sleep. Her son 
Bodvar would not allow her to be wakened, and after she 
awoke of her accord, he asked her what she had dreamed. 

342 Wizards and Witches. 

" I have been far-travelled to-night," said she, " and have 
learned what I did not know before, that Thormod, who 
killed my son, is in life and is with Gamli and Grima at 
the head of Eiriks-firth. I shall go thither and take 
Thormod, and reward him with an evil death for the 
great harm he has done us." That very night Thordis 
and Bodvar with other thirteen men rowed to Eiriks-firth. 
At the same time Grima was ill at ease in her sleep, and 
on waking knew that Thordis was coming to them, " for 
she has now learned by her trolldom that Thormod is 
staying here with us, and she means to kill him. * On the 
way Thordis got Thorkell, the chief man in Eiriks-firth, 
to accompany her with twenty men. 

Grima had a large chair, on the back of which was 
carved a large figure of Thor. On this she told Thormod 
to take his seat when Thordis and her party came, and 
not to rise off it until they were gone. " Gamli will hang 
up the pot and boil seal-flesh ; he shall heap sweepings 
on the fire and make plenty of smoke ; I shall sit at the 
door and spin yarn, and receive them when they come." 
When the ship was seen coming to land, Thormod sat 
down on the chair, and Gamli raised a dense smoke in 
the house, making it so dark that nothing could be seen. 
Grima sat on the threshold and span, repeating something 
to herself that the others did not understand. When the 
party arrived, Grima denied to Thorkell that they had 
Thormod there. "It would be strange if you did," said 
Thorkell, " but we should like to search your house." 
" You could well do that," said Grima, " though you had 
fewer with you. I am always pleased to see you in my 
house, but I have no will to sec these folks from Einars- 
firth doing damage to it." " Thordis and I shall go in 
by our two selves and search it," said Thorkell. They 

The Witch Grima. 343 

did so, and took no long time to it, for the rooms were 
very small, and when they opened up the sitting-room it 
was full of smoke and nothing to be seen. The whole 
house indeed was thick with smoke, and on that account 
they stayed inside less time than they would otherwise 
have done. When they came out again Thordis said, " I 
could not see clearly what was in the sitting-room for the 
smoke. We shall take out the skylight, and let the 
smoke out, and see what can be seen then." This was 
done, and the smoke cleared away. Then they could see 
everything in the room, with Grima s chair standing in 
the middle of the floor. They saw Thor with his hammer 
carved on the back of the chair, but could not see 
Thormod. As they left the room and went out, Thordis 
said, " Grima has still some of the old faith left when 
Thor s image is on her chair-back." Grima answered, " I 
seldom get to church to hear the teachings of learned 
men, for I have far to go, and few folks at home. Now, 
when I see the image of Thor made of wood, that I may 
break and burn whenever I will, it comes into my mind 
how much greater is He who hath shaped heaven and 
earth, and all things visible and invisible, and given life 
to everything." Thordis answered, " It may be you think 
such things ; but I expect we could make you tell more 
if Thorkell was not here to protect you, for my heart tells 
me that you know something of Thormod s whereabouts." 
Grima answered, " Now the proverb comes to pass, 4 He 
oft goes wrong that has to guess/ and the other one, 
Something saves every man that is not fey. " With 
this they parted, and Thordis returned home. 

344 Wizards and Witches. 

Thordis the Spae-wife. 

KORMAK the skald had challenged Thorvard to a holm- 
gang, and the latter had recourse to a spae-wife named 
Thordis, whose aid he asked against Kormak, and paid 
her well for it. Thordis then prepared him for the fight 
as she thought best. Kormak told his mother, Dalla, of 
his intention ; she asked whether he had good hopes of 
it " Why should I not?" said Kormak. Dalla answered, 
11 It will not do, however, to go about it in that way, for 
Thorvard will not care to fight unless he has some sorcery 
to aid him. I think it would be wise for you to visit 
Thordis the spae-wife, for you will have to fight against 
guile." " I care little for that," said Kormak, but all the 
same he went and visited Thordis and asked her assis 
tance. " You have come too late," said she ; " no weapon 
can bite him now, but I will not refuse you assistance 
either. Stay here to-night and enquire into your lot, and 
I shall be able to bring it about that no iron will bite 
you either." Kormak stayed there all night, and was 
wakened by feeling some one handling the covering at 
his head. He asked who it was, but the person turned 
away and went out Kormak followed, and saw that it 
was Thordis, who by this time had got to the place 
where the holm-gang was to be fought, and was holding 
a goose under her. He asked what she meant to do, 
whereupon she let the goose down, and said, " Why 
could you not keep quiet?" Kormak then lay down 
again, but kept awake in order to watch the pro 
ceedings of Thordis. She came to him three times, 
and each time he enquired into what she was doing. 
The third time when Kormak came out she had killed 
two geese, and let the blood run together into a bowl, and 

Thorleif and Earl Hakon. 345 

had already taken the third one and was just about to kill 
it. " What does this work mean, foster-mother ? " said 
Kormak. Thordis answered, " It will be clearly proved, 
Kormak, that you are little meant to prosper. I had now 
intended to destroy the spells that Thorveig had laid on 
you and Steingerd, and you could have enjoyed each 
other if I had killed the third goose without anyone 
knowing it." " I have no faith in such things," said 

Before the holm-gang Thordis said to Kormak, " I can 
bring it about that he will not know you." Kormak 
answered her angrily, said that she would cause nought 
but mischief, and wanted to drag her out to the door and 
see her eyes in the sunshine, but his brother Thorgils 
stopped him. 

Thorleif and Earl Hakon. 

THORLEIF, a native of Svarfadar-dal in the North of 
Iceland, being outlawed and forced to leave the country, 
sailed for Norway, and arrived there in the latter days of 
Earl Hakon. In the Vik he met with the Earl himself, 
and refused to trade with him, which so enraged Hakon 
that next day, while Thorleif was in town pushing his 
business, he came down to the ship, seized on the cargo, 
burned the vessel, and ended by hanging all Thorleifs 
companions. When Thorleif returned in the evening, 
and found what had taken place, he made close enquiries 
as to how it had happened, and then in a verse hinted 
that Hakon might pay dearly for it yet. 

Going south to Denmark with some merchants, Thor 
leif stayed there with King Svein during that winter, and 

346 Wizards and Witches. 

gained the King s good-will by composing a poem on his 
exploits, for which he was also rewarded by the present 
of a ring and a sword. Before long Thorleif grew 
gloomy, and showed no desire to share in drinking 
with his comrades, or to sit beside them. The King 
soon noticed this, and asked him the reason of it. " You 
must have heard, Sire," said Thorleif, " that he who 
enquires into another man s trouble is bound to help 
him out of it." "Tell me what it is first," said 
Svein. " I have made some verses this winter," said 
he, " which I call Earl s Verses, because they are about 
Earl Hakon. Now I shall be sorry if I cannot get leave 
from you to go to Norway, and recite them to the Earl." 
" Certainly you shall have leave," said the King, " but you 
must promise to come back to us as quickly as you can, 
for we have no wish to lose you." Thorleif promised this, 
and went north to Norway, and made no stay until he 
came to Thrandheim, near which Earl Hakon then was. 
Thorleif now put on the garb of a beggar and fixed on 
his face a goat s beard ; under his beggar s dress he put a 
leather bag, so contrived that it should seem as if he ate 
whatever food he dropped into it, the mouth of it being 
just below the beard. Then he took a pair of crutches 
with a spike at the end of each, and with these went to 
the Earl s hall at Hladir. There he arrived on Yule Eve, 
just as the Earl was taking his seat, along with many 
other great men whom he had invited to the Yule feast. 
The beggar promptly made his way into the hall, stumbled 
as he went in and fell on his crutches, and finally took 
his seat in the straw near to the door beside the other 
beggars. He soon fell out with these, and began to take 
his crutches to them, which they had no liking for, and 
cleared away from him. The noise and uproar of this 

Thorleif and Earl Hakon. 347 

were at last heard all over the hall, and the Earl becoming 
aware of it, asked the reason of it. On learning that it was 
caused by a sturdy beggar, he ordered him to be brought 
before him, The carl came, and his greeting was but 
short. The Earl asked him his name, family, and home. 
" My name is an uncommon one," said he ; " I am called 
Nidung Gjallanda-son, and belong to Syrgis-dalir in 
Sweden the Cold. I am known as Nidung the Near- 
comer, and have travelled widely and visited many a lord. 
I am now growing very old, so that I can scarcely tell 
my age through failing memory. I have heard a great 
deal about your lordliness and enterprise, wisdom and 
popularity, legislation and condescension, liberality and 
other accomplishments." " Why are you so perverse and 
ill to deal with, compared with the other beggars ? " said 
the Earl. " What wonder is that," said he, " in one who 
goes about destitute of everything but misery and 
wretchedness, and has nothing that he needs, and has 
long lain out in woods and forests, though he grows 
ill-tempered with old-age and all the rest, he who 
formerly was used to having honour and ease with 
the proudest lords, and now is hated by every worthless 
villager ? " " Are you a man of any accomplishments," 
asked the Earl, " as you say you have been with great 
lords ? " The carl answered " Even though there may 
have been something of that when I was young, yet now 
it may well be come to what the proverb says, that every 
man comes to decrepitude. There is also a saying that it 
is hard for a hungry man to talk ; and neither will I talk 
with you any longer, unless you give me something to 
eat, for old age, hunger, and thirst, so press upon me that 
I can stand up no longer. It is very unlordlike to ques 
tion strangers about everything in the world, and never 

348 Wizards and Witches. 

take thought of what is fitting for men, for all are so con 
trived that they require both food and drink." The Earl 
gave orders that such food should be given to him as he 
required, and this was done. The carl sat down at table, 
and promptly began to it, and soon cleared all the dishes 
he could reach, so that the attendants had to bring a 
fresh supply, which he began to as heartily as the first. 
Every one supposed that he ate it, but in reality he 
dropped it into the bag already mentioned. Men began 
to laugh and make jests on him, but the carle heeded them 
not, and did as before. 

After the tables were removed, Nidung went before the 
Earl, and addressed him : " Take my thanks for that 
now," said he, " but they are ill attendants you have, who 
do everything worse than you tell them. Now I should 
like you to show me your condescension, and listen to a 
poem that I have made about you." " Have you made 
any poems about great men before?" asked the Earl. 
" I have that," said he. " The old saying may be fulfilled 
here/ said the Earl, " that often is the song good that grey 
beards make. Recite your poem, old man, and we shall 
listen to it." 

Then the carl began his poem and recited on to the 
middle of it, and there seemed to the Earl to be praise of 
him in every verse of it, and mention made as well of the 
great deeds of his son Eirik. As the poem went on, how 
ever, a strange thing began to happen to him ; so great 
uneasiness and itching spread over all his body and 
especially about his thighs, that he could not sit still a 
moment So excessive did this become that he made 
them scratch him with combs wherever they could get at 
him, and where they could not, he made them take a 
coarse cloth and tie three knots on it, and set two men to 

Thorleif and Earl Hakon. 349 

draw it backwards and forwards between his thighs. 
Then the Earl began to get ill-pleased with the poem, 
and said, " Can t you make better poetry, you devil, for it 
seems to me this might just as well be called insult as 
praise : see and improve it, or I will pay you for it." The 
carl promised well, and began to recite the so-called 
" Mist-verses," which stand in the middle of the " Earl s 
Insult," and of which the beginning is preserved. By the 
time he had finished these verses the hall was quite dark, 
and then he began again to the "Earl s Insult," and as 
he recited the last third of it, every weapon that was in 
the hall was in motion without human aid, and that was 
the death of many men. The Earl fell into a faint, and 
the carl disappeared, although the doors were shut and 
locked. After the poem ceased the darkness decreased, 
and light was restored in the hall. The Earl recovered 
consciousness, and found that the satire had touched him 
closely, and left its mark on him, for all his beard was 
rotted off, and all his hair on one side of the parting, and 
it never grew again. The Earl then made them clear 
the hall and carry out the dead. He was sure now that 
the carl had been no other than Thorleif, who had thus 
paid him back for killing his men and taking his goods. 

As for Thorleif, he held south to Denmark, living by 
the way on what he had got in the hall, and however 
long he was on the road he never stopped till he reached 
King Svein. The King welcomed him heartily, and asked 
about his journey, and when Thorleif had told him all, 
said, " Now I shall lengthen your name, and call you 
Thorleif Earls -skald." 

350 Wizards and Witches. 

Earl Hakon s Revenge. 

AFTER Earl Hakon had recovered for the most part from 
the injuries caused him by the satire of Thorleif (though 
it is said that he never was the same man as before), he 
was eager to revenge himself on Thorleif, if possible. To 
this end he called upon Thorgerd Horgabrud, in whom 
he put all his faith, and upon her sister Irpa, to send some 
fiend out to Island who would pay back Thorleif in full. 
He brought them great offerings and enquired of them, 
and when he had got an answer that pleased him, he took 
a log of drift-wood and had a wooden man made out of 
it Then by the magic and incantations of the Earl, and 
the trolldom and sorcery of the sisters, he had a man 
slain and his heart taken out and put into the wooden 
one. This he then dressed in clothes and called by the 
name of Thorgard ; and strengthened him so much by 
the power of the fiend, that he went about and spoke 
with men. Thereafter he put him into a ship, and sent 
him to Iceland for the purpose of killing Thorleif. For 
a weapon he gave him a bill that he had taken from the 
temple of the sisters, and which Horgi had once owned. 

Thorgard reached Iceland at the time when men were 
at the Althing. Thorleif was there with the rest, and one 
day as he went from his booth, he saw a man coming 
west over Oxar-a, huge of stature and villainous in looks. 
Thorleif asked him his name. He said it was Thorgard, 
and straightway hurled abusive words at Thorleif, who 
on hearing them began to draw the sword he had received 
from King Svein. At that moment Thorgard aimed 
with his bill at Thorleif s middle, and drove it through 
him ; the latter on receiving the thrust struck at Thor- 

Upwakenings or Sendings. 351 

gard, but he plunged down into the earth, so that only 
his heels were seen as he disappeared. 

Thorleif went home to his booth, and told what had 
befallen him, to the great wonderment of all. Then he 
threw open his kirtle, which he had been holding tight, 
and his intestines fell out. Thus died Thorleif with great 
renown, and all men thought great harm of it. All were 
sure that this Thorgard had been nothing but sorcery and 
magic on the part of Earl Hakon. Thorleif was buried 
there, his grave-mound being to the north of the law-hill, 
where it may still be seen. 

Upwakenings or Sendings. 

AT the present day the art of raising a ghost has so much 
gone out of use, that all are not agreed as to the pro 
cedure to be followed in doing so. Some say that a bone 
of a dead man must be taken and charmed with sorcery, 
so that it receives human shape, and is then sent against 
the man whom the wizard wishes to harm. If that person 
is so wise, that he can hit upon that very bone in the 
ghost, which was taken from the dead man, or call him 
by his right name, the ghost can do him no harm, and 
must leave him in peace. 

Some again say that more than this is necessary to 
wake up a ghost. First of all, it must be done on the 
night between Friday and Saturday, when this falls be 
tween the 1 8th and ipth, or between the 28th and 29th 
of a month ; the month or week itself makes no differ 
ence. The wizard must on the previous evening reverse 
the Lord s Prayer, and write it on a piece of paper or 
skin with a hedge-hog quill, using for this purpose blood 

352 Wizards and Witches. 

taken from his left arm. He must also cut runes on a 
stick, and take both of these articles with him to the 
churchyard at midnight. There he may go to any grave 
he pleases, but it is thought safest to keep to the smallest 
ones. He must then lay the stick on the grave, and roll 
it back and forward, meanwhile repeating the Lord s 
Prayer backwards, together with other incantations, which 
few men know. The grave gradually begins to move, 
and various sights appear to the wizard, while the ghost 
is being raised ; this goes on but slowly, for ghosts are 
very unwilling to move, and say " Let me lie in peace." 
The wizard must neither yield to their entreaties, nor be 
alarmed at the sights he sees, but repeat his charms and 
roll the stick, until the ghost is half up. At the same 
time he must watch that no earth falls outside the grave 
when it begins to lift, for such earth cannot be put back 
into it again. When the ghost is half-way out of the 
ground, he must be asked two questions (not three, for in 
that case he will go down again before the Trinity), and 
these usually are (i) what man he was in his life-time, 
and (2) how mighty a man he was. Others say that only 
one question should be asked, namely, " How old are 
you ? " If the ghost says that he is of middle age or 
above it, it is not advisable to go further, because the 
wizard has to try his strength with the ghost, and ghosts 
are terribly strong ; it is said that their strength is half 
as much again as in their life-time. This is the reason 
why wizards prefer to wake up children of 12 or 14 years 
old, or persons who are not above 30 at most, and never 
those who are older than themselves. 

When the ghosts come up out of the grave, their nos 
trils and moutb (vit) are all running with froth and 
slaver, which the wizard must lick off with his tongue ; 

Skin-coat. 353 

some say that this is the origin of the phrase " to lick up 
a man s wits." Then he must draw blood from under the 
little toe of his right foot, and wet the tongue of the 
ghost with this. As soon as this is done, some say that 
the ghost attacks him, and the wizard must exert all his 
strength to get him under. If he succeeds in this and 
the ghost falls, he is bound to be entirely at the service 
of the wizard ; but if the ghost is stronger than the man, 
he drags him down into the grave, and no one has ever 
come back who thus came under the power of the ghosts. 
Others say that the wizard attacks the ghost, when he is 
only halfway out of the ground, and throws him on his 
back, keeping him bound in this position until he has 
licked his " wits " and wet his tongue with warm blood. 

If the wizard does not send the ghost down again, he 
continues to follow him and his descendants to the ninth 
generation. Other accounts say that these ghosts con 
tinue to grow more powerful during the first 40 years, 
remain stationary during the next 40, and fall off during 
the third 40 ; longer life is not granted them, unless some 
powerful spell is on them. 


HALL, who lived into this century at Geldinga-holt, in 
Skaga-firth, was a famous wrestler. Once when on a 
journey to the south, he encountered another great 
wrestler, and threw him. The other was angry at this, 
and threatened to do him a mischief. 

At this time there lived at Vatns-skard a farmer who 
was a wizard. One day in winter as he was watching his 
sheep he saw a girl dressed in a skin-coat going north- 

354 Wizards and Witches. 

ward. He called on her and asked her errand ; she 
replied that she had to kill Hall of Geldinga-holt. The 
farmer invited her home with him, and she accepted this ; 
but he led her into the store-room, slammed the door 
after her, and conjured her to remain there till the room 
was opened again. With that he went to sleep, strictly 
forbidding any one to open the room until he awoke. In 
spite of this, his wife went into it for wool, and then the 
ghost slipped out. The farmer woke up a little after, and 
asked who had been in the room. His wife told the 
truth. " God help me," said he, " Hall is most likely 
dead by this time ;" and with that he took his stall-horse 
and rode down to Skaga-firth like a shot, until the horse 
foundered below him a little way short of Geldinga-holt. 
Meanwhile on that day Hall had gone to the stable, to 
comb five foals that he had, and of which he was very 
proud. As he was about to enter the door one of these 
was hurled at him with its neck broken. Hall was startled 
at this, but just at that moment the man from Vatns- 
skard arrived, and they both encountered the ghost and 
sent it back to the man who had sent it north. 

When the ghost got south again, it was so fierce that 
there was no managing it, and the man who had wakened 
it up, finally sent it north again to go wherever it liked. 
44 Skin-coat " drifted north now, and grew so feeble that 
she did no other harm than scare women and children, 
keeping out of men s way as much as possible. Finally 
she settled on a farm out on Skagi, where the good-man 
was seldom at home, and amused herself with making 
faces at the children. One time, when she sat on the 
bed, as she often did, and made grimaces at the little 
ones, there slipped in Niels the poet, who had a habit of 
coming in, wherever he thought fit, without giving notice. 

The Ghost in the King s Treasury. 355 

He immediately began to recite charms over the ghost, 
which made its way out through the wall with Niels after 
it, reciting continuously. Finally he charmed it down 
into a mire, and forbade them to cut turf there for so 
long. Niels said that he felt very much having to charm 
down " Skin -coat," for at last she had begun to weep 
loudly, and had been in white weeds (/.*., after baptism) 
before she was wakened up. So powerfully charmed was 
she, that he was sure he would have recited himself into 
Hell if he had required to recite another verse. 

The Ghost in the King s Treasury. 

THE story says that at one time some Icelandic students 
in Copenhagen had run short of money, as sometimes 
will happen, and four of them joined with two Danish 
ones in raising a ghost to get money for them. Olaf 
Stephensen, son of Magnus the privy councillor in Videy 
(Reykjavik), is said to have been " pot and pan " in the 
whole business ; the others names are not given. The 
ghost they raised had been a Dutchman when alive, and 
was not quite cold when they charmed him up out of his 
grave, so they had to feed him like any other man. 
When the ghost had got his bearings, they sent him to 
the royal treasury for money. It unfortunately happened 
that new money had just been coined, of another fashion 
than that previously in use, and this had been deposited 
in the treasury, but not as yet put into circulation. The 
ghost took a great quantity of these new coins and 
brought them to the confederates. They were rejoiced 
at this, and spent the money just as if nothing had 
happened. Suspicion, however, was awakened when the 

356 Wizards and Witches. 

new coins came so quickly into circulation, and investiga 
tions were made into how this had come about. It then 
appeared that the money had come only from Olaf and 
his fellows ; they were all brought to trial, and the whole 
affair came to light. 

A Wizard sent to Iceland. 

HARALD GORMSSON, King of Denmark, was enraged at 
the Icelanders, who had composed a satire upon him. 
He proposed to a wizard that he should go in a charmed 
shape to Iceland, and see what news he could bring him. 
The wizard went in the shape of a whale. On reaching 
the island, he held round the north side of it ; there he 
saw that all the fells and knolls were full of land-spirits, 
some big and some little. When he reached Vopna-firth 
he entered it, and tried to go up on shore ; then there 
came down out of the dale a great dragon, who was 
followed by many serpents, toads, and vipers, and these 
blew venom upon him. The wizard sheered off, and held 
further west along the shore, as far as Eya-firth. When 
he entered this, there came against him a bird, so large 
that its wings touched the fells on both sides, and with it 
was a multitude of other birds, both big and little. Off 
he went again, and held round to the west coast, where 
he entered Breida-firth. Here there came against him a 
great bull, which waded out into the sea and bellowed 
fearfully ; many land-spirits accompanied it. He set off 
again, and held south round Reykja-nes, and tried to 
land on Vikars-skeid. Then there came against him a 
hill-giant, carrying in his hand an iron-staff; his head 
was higher than the fells, and many other giants were 

The Finns and Ingimund. 357 

with him. Thence he went east along the coast, which 
he said was all sands, and rocks, and breakers, and the 
sea between the countries so great that it could not be 
crossed by ships of war. 

The Finns and Ingimund. 

INGJALD of Hefn in Halogaland, who lived in the days 
of Harald the Fair-haired, held a great feast, at which, 
according to the old custom, they performed magical 
rites to enquire into the future. There was present a 
Finnish sorceress, who was set on a high and splendid 
seat, and to her each man went in turn to question her as 
to his fate. Grim, however, the son of Ingjald, and his 
foster brother Ingimund, sat still and did not go near her, 
giving no heed to her prophecies. The witch then asked, 
" Why do these young men not enquire concerning their 
fate ? They seem to me the most notable men of all that 
are here assembled." Ingimund answered, " I care not 
so much to know my fate as to become renowned, nor do 
I think that my destiny lies under the root of your 
tongue." She answered, u Yet will I tell it you unasked. 
You will settle in a laud called Iceland, as yet largely un 
inhabited. There you will become a great man and reach 
old age, and many of your kinsmen will become famous 
in that land." Ingimund replied, " The answer to that 
is, that I have never dreamed of going to that place, and 
a bad merchant should I be, if I were to sell the wide and 
good lands of my fathers, and go to these deserts." The 
Finn answered, "It will fall out as I say ; and this is the 
token of it, that the charm which King Harald gave you 
at Hafrsfirth has disappeared out of your purse, and is 

358 Wizards and Witches. 

now landed in that holt which you shall inhabit, and on 
that charm Frey is stamped in silver. When you build 
your farm there, my tale will be found true." Ingimund 
answered, " If it were not an offence to my foster-father, 
you would get your reward from me on your head ; but 
as I am neither a violent nor a peevish man, it may just go 
past." She said there was no need to get angry over it ; 
so it would happen, whether he liked it well or ill. And 
again she said, " The destiny of Grfm and his brother 
Hr6mund lies thitherward also, and they will both be 
yeomsn good." 

Next morning Ingimund searched for his charm, and 
could not find it, and this he thought no good omen. 
Ingjald bade him be cheerful, and let not this spoil his 
enjoyment or prey upon him, for many famous men now 
thought it fitting for them to go to Iceland, and he had 
got nothing but good by inviting the Finnish woman 
there. Ingimund said he gave him no thanks for that, 
" but for all that our friendship shall never fail." Then 
Ingimund went home and stayed with his father that 
winter. In the spring Grim and Hr6mund sailed for 
Iceland, thinking it of no use to strive against fate. " I 
will not go thither," said Ingimund, " and we must part 
here." " That may be/ said Grim, " but I shall not be 
surprised if we meet in Iceland, for it will be hard to flee 
from destiny." 

That summer Ingimund s father died, and by the advice 
of King Karald he married Vigdis, daughter of Earl 
Thorir, the King celebrating the wedding with great 
magnificence. " Now I am well pleased with my lot," 
said he to the King, " and it is a great honour to me to 
have your good-will, but there sticks in my mind what 
the Finnish woman said about the change in my affairs, 

The Finns and Ingimund. 359 

for I would not have it come true that I should leave my 
ancestral lands." " I cannot take away from that though," 
said the King, " if it be done for some end, and if Frey 
pleases to make his charm land where he wishes to set 
his seat of honour." Ingimund said he was anxious to 
know whether he would find the charm or not, when he 
dug the holes for the pillars of his high seat : " it may be 
that it is not done for naught, and now I must not con 
ceal the fact that I intend to send for Finns, to show me 
the nature of the district, and the lie of the land where I 
shall settle, and I mean to send them to Iceland." The 
King said he might do so, " but I think that you will go 
there, and it is doubtful whether you will go with my 
leave, or steal away, as is now become so common." 
" That will never happen," said Ingimund, " that I shall 
go without your consent." With that they parted, and 
Ingimund went home. 

He then sent for Finns, and three of these came south. 
Ingimund said he would bargain with them, and give 
them butter and tin, if they would go his errand to Ice 
land, to search for his charm, and describe to him the lie 
of the land. They answered, "That is a dangerous mis 
sion for messengers to go on, but at your request we shall 
attempt it. Now, we must be shut up in a house by our 
selves, and let no one name us." This was done, and 
after three nights had passed, Ingimund came to them. 
They rose up, and breathed heavily, and said, " It is hard 
for the messengers, and much labour have we had, but 
we shall give you such tokens that you will know the 
land by our description if you come to it ; but it was 
difficult for us to look for the charm, and powerful are 
the witch s spells, for we have put ourselves into great 
straits. We came to land where three firths enter from 

360 Wizards and Witches. 

the north-east, and there were great lakes at the inner 
end of one of them. Then we came into a deep valley, 
in which, under a mountain, there were some holts and a 
habitable grassy slope. In one of the holts lay the charm, 
but when we tried to take it, it shot into another one, 
and leapt away from us always as we made for it, and a 
kind of veil lay always over it so that we could not take 
it, and you will have to go yourself." Ingimund said that 
he would indeed go soon ; there was no use in striving 
against it. He treated the Finns well, and they departed. 
Soon after that Ingimund sailed for Iceland with the 
King s leave, and landed in the west of the island, where 
he found Grim, with whom he passed the winter. The 
second winter he spent in Vididal on the north coast, and 
early in the spring they held eastward to Vatnsdal. As 
they neared it, Ingimund said, " Now the Finns prophecy 
will be found true, for I know the lie of the land from 
their account of it." Ingimund took all Vatnsdal above 
Helgavatn and Urdarvatn, and chose for his homestead 
a fair grassy slope. There he raised a great hall a hun 
dred feet in length, and, when digging the holes for his 
high-seat pillars, found his charm as had been foretold to 
him. Then said Ingimund, " It is a true saying that no 
man may kick against his fate, and we shall now take 
this with a good heart. This homestead shall be called 

The Finn s Travels. 

THERE was once a skipper from Vester-vig, who made a 
voyage to Norway, and was caught by the winter, so 
that he had to remain there for a time. He stayed with 

Finnish Magic. 361 

one of the inhabitants of Finn-mark, and when Christmas 
Eve came, his host asked if he would like to know what 
they had for their Christmas supper in Vester-vig. Yes, 
he would like to know that very much ; he would even 
give a pint of brandy to know it. This was agreed on, 
and the Finn drank one half of the brandy, and talked a 
little ; then he drank the other half-pint, and lay down 
on the floor. His wife took a quilt and laid it over him. 
He lay there and shook for half-an-hour, after which he 
lay still for another half-hour, and then woke up, and told 
what they had for supper ; and as a proof that he had 
been there, he produced a knife and a fork, which the 
skipper recognised as the ones that he himself used when 
at home in Vester-vig. 

Finnish Magic. 

ONE who has lost anything seeks a so-called wise man 
or wizard, who promises to strike out the thief s eye. 
This is performed in the following way. The troll-man 
cuts on a young tree a human figure, mutters some dark 
incantations for the devil s aid, and then thrusts a pointed 
instrument into the eye of the image. It was also the 
custom to shoot with arrow or bullet at some of the limbs 
of the figure, by which it was believed wounds and pains 
could be created on the corresponding limb of the living 
person thus represented. In connection with this might 
stand the famous magic art of the Finns, of producing 
the image of an absent person in a vessel of water, aiming 
a shot at it, and so wounding or killing a hated enemy at 
a distance of several hundred miles. Even against the 
cattle of others has this sorcery been practised t and 

362 Wizards and Witches. 

paralytic strokes and other sudden illnesses have from 
this received the name of " Shot," or " Troll-shot" 

A young Swede had during his travels in Finland 
betrothed himself to a beautiful Finnish girl, but on re- 
returning to his home he soon forgot his love and his 
promise to return to his bride. One day there came to 
him a Lapp wizard, and it occurred to the young man to 
ask him how things went with his betrothed in Finland. 
" That you shall see for yourself," said the Lapp, and 
after filling a bucket with water under certain incanta 
tions, he bade the young man come and look into the 
water. Then the youth, it is said, saw the well-known 
beautiful country round the hut of his betrothed. His 
heart beat high when he saw her, pale and worn out with 
weeping, come out of the door, followed by her father, 
who wore a stern look, and carried a rifle in his hand. 
The old Finn went to a bucket filled with water, looked 
in the direction from which the bridegroom was expected, 
shook his head and cocked his rifle, while the daughter 
wrung her hands. " Now, he will shoot you," said the 
Lapp, " unless you are beforehand and shoot him. Be 
quick and aim at him." The old Finn put his gun to his 
shoulder, and went up to the pail. " Shoot now," said 
the Lapp, " or you are a dead man yourself." The youth 
fired, and saw the Finn fall lifeless to the ground. His 
conscience thereafter carried him back to his devoted 
sweetheart, and he there learned that her father had died 
of a stroke on the same day that the Lapp had performed 
the magic trick described above. Many such stories are 
found even among the Swedish Finns in Warmland and 

The Stolen Money. 363 


Seeing a Thief in Water. 

THERE once lived in Esby, on the peninsula of Helge-naes, 
.a man from whom one thing or another was stolen at 
different times. On one occasion one of his wife s gowns 
.was stolen, and she gave him no rest or peace, until he 
promised to go over to Borup, where a wise man lived 
who had the art of " showing again." The man went 
jO.ver to Borup and had an interview with the wizard, who 
said to him ; " Well, if you have ever stolen anything 
yourself, you must not come to me ; otherwise you may 
come to me on Thursday, and you shall see the thief." 

The man went home, and returned on the Thursday. 
The wizard then brought forward a pail of water, which 
he told the man to look down into and he would see the 
thief. Sure enough he did see him walking off with the 
gown, and knew who it was ; but he was sadly put out to 
see himself walking along behind him, with four bushels 
of rye on his back. He let the gown go where it liked, 
and never again ventured to show his face to the wise 
man in Borup, who had punished him in this fashion, and 
shown that he himself was no better than the thief he was 
trying to catch. 

The Stolen Money. 

A CERTAIN Sigurd, shepherd at Grund in Svarfadar-dal, 
came into possession of a considerable sum of money, left 
by some one who was in his debt. He was afraid to keep 
the money anywhere but in a sheep-house, which he alone 
frequented, and there he hid it in a ram s purse. Shortly 
after he had got the money, an acquaintance of his, also 


364 Wizards and Witches. 

named Sigurd, came to him and asked for the loan of a 
dollar. Sigurd had no other money but this, so he ran to 
the sheep-house, whither his namesake quietly followed 
him and saw where he took it from. Not long after, | , 
Sigurd had a look at his purse, but now " the cat was . 
come in the bear s den," for the money was gone and ; 
nothing but filth in its place. Sigurd took the loss of the 
money greatly to heart, but had no idea as to who could 
have taken it, and least of all did he suspect his friend. 
At last he decided to go to Kliikur, and ask one Torn* 
there to help him. This Torfi, who was born about the 
middle of last century and lived down to 1840, was the 
son of a priest clever in such matters, and was himself 
famous in that line. At first Torfi was very unwilling to 
act, but asked whether he would know the thief if he saw 
him. Sigurd thought he would, and Torfi then made him 
look into a vessel of water below the table. There Sigurd 
saw a man in the act of taking his money. On his head 
was a hood with the opening turned to the back and 
holes cut for his eyes ; on his back he wore a grey sack, 
tied about his neck, and was thus so strangely got up 
that Sigurd could not recognise him. At this Torfi said 
that the thief must have suspected he would be searched 
for, and so tried to disguise himself, but he would not 
"get a hood out of that cloth" (i.e. succeed) for all that. 
Sigurd might now go home, and the money would be 
waiting him in the house, except that perhaps one dollar 
might bs missing, and even that he would get later on. 
Lastly he made Sigurd promise to give him plenty of fish 
if he got the money, and Sigurd readily promised that 
He then held homewards, and arrived there in the 
evening. Next morning he took a certain Hallgrim with 
him to the sheep-house, and on arriving there they found 

Showing One s Future Wife. 365 

the money scattered all over the floor, just as if it had 
been thrown in at the window. One dollar, however, 
was wanting. A sprinkling of snow had fallen during 
the night, and they found tracks leading to the other 
Sigurd s farm, the person having gone on his stocking- 

As for this Sigurd, the same evening that the other one 
came home he asked for his shoes about bed-time, but 
would not say where he was going. There was some 
delay in his getting the shoes, so he went out on his 
stocking-soles and restored the money, for he had no rest 
until he got rid of it ; the one dollar was wanting because 
he had spent it. He confessed this a few days later, and 
was forgiven by his namesake, while Torn" got his fish. 

Showing One s Future Wife. 

ONE time two young unmarried men from Svalbards 
Strand came to Eya-firth, and stayed with Torfi at 
Klukur, being acquaintances of his. They gave him 
some return for the night s hospitality, and old Torfi was 
quite delighted with them. When they were about to 
start in the morning, Torfi said to them, " I cannot repay 
you in any other way, my lads, than by showing you 
your future wives, if you like." This they readily 
accepted. One of them was recently engaged, a fact 
which Torfi did not know, and he thought it would be 
fun to see whether Torfi would not be wrong. Torfi took 
them with him into a dark closet, where there stood a 
vessel apparently filled with water. They were told to 
look into this, and on doing so saw the liknesses of two 
girls, and Torfi told them which of the two each of them 

366 Wizards and Witches. 

would marry. The engaged one did not recognize his 
girl at all ; indeed she was quite another person than his 
sweetheart He told Torfi this, but the latter said that 
all the same it was his destiny to marry the girl he had 
seen there, and if he liked he would show him the man 
his present sweetheart would marry, which he then did. 

The other one recognized his future wife ; they lived 
in the same district, but had not at that time thought of 
each other. All the same, it came about as Torfi had 
said, and they were married a few years later. 

As for the first one, his engagement was afterwards 
broken off. He moved further north later on, and settled 
there, and married the woman that Torfi had shown him. 

The girl who had been engaged to Torfi s guest became 
half-silly ; indeed she was of the family of Thorgeir, after 
whom " Thorgeir s Bull " was named. She asked advice 
from Torfi, as many did who were assailed by this 
monster. He gave her a leaf with runes on it, telling her 
to wear it on her breast, and never part with it, above all 
not to lose it, for it would cost him great trouble to make 
one as good again. The girl quite recovered, but one 
time when she went to church, she lost the leaf. Immedi 
ately after this her infirmity came back upon her as 
before, and Torfi was again appealed to. He was very 
reluctant to do anything, and said he could not help her 
completely, but he gave her another leaf, saying it would 
do her as long as he lived. He was by this time an old 
man, and had given up using magic ; in fact, it is said he 
had dropped it all before he died. The girl improved 
again after getting the leaf, and was married to the man 
that Torfi had foretold. After Torfi s death, however, she 
grew ill again, and was confined to her bed. She could 
never be left alone, and there had always to be a light 

The Wizard and the Crows. 367 

beside her at night, otherwise she was ready to go out of 
her wits with fear. She had no other trouble but this 
uncontrollable terror, which finally killed her about 1860. 
Everything points to the fact of Thorgeir s Bull having 
had a hand in her illness. 

The Wizard and the Crows. 

ONE summer, when the men of King Olaf Kyrri had 
been round the country gathering his revenues, he asked 
them where they had been best received. They said that 
it was in one of the King s shires. " An old farmer lives 
there," they said, " who knows many things. We asked 
him many questions, and he could answer them all ; we 
even believe that he understands the language of birds." 
" What do you say ? " said the King ; " that is great 
nonsense." Some time later, while the King was sailing 
along the coast, he asked his men, " What district is this 
on shore here ? " They answered, " We told you about 
this shire before, that it was here we were best received." 
Then the King asked, " What house is that that stands 
beside the sound ? " They answered, " That house 
belongs to the wise man that we told you of." They saw 
a horse near the house, and the King said, " Go now ; 
take that horse and kill it." " We have no wish to do 
him an injury," said they. " I will have my way," said 
the King ; " strike the head off the horse, and do not let 
its blood fall on the ground. Bring the carcase out on 
board the ship, and then go and bring the man, but tell 
him nothing of this, as you value your lives." They did 
all this, and gave the old man the King s message. 
When he came into the King s presence, the latter asked 

368 Wizards and Witches. 

him, " Who owns the land that you live on ? " " You 
own it, Sire," said he ; " and take rent for it." " Show 
us the way along the coast," said the King ; " you must 
know it well." The old man did so, and as they rowed 
along a crow came flying past the ship and croaked 
hideously. The farmer looked at it earnestly. " Do you 
think it something important ? " asked the King. " I do 
indeed," said the farmer. Then another crow flew over 
the ship and shrieked. The farmer stopped rowing, and 
held the oar loose in his hand. " You pay great heed to 
the crow, farmer," said the King, " or to what she says." 
" I begin to suspect now," said the farmer. A third crow 
came flying close to the ship, and croaked worst of all. 
Then the farmer rose up, and paid no heed to the rowing. 
11 You think it something very important now," said the 
King ; " what does she say ? " " Something that it is 
unlikely that either I or she should know," said the 
farmer. " Tell me it," said the King. The farmer said 

" Year old yells it, 
Yet is unknowing: 
Two-year tells it, 
I trow her no better ; 
But three-year threaps it 
(I think it unlikely), 
Says that my horse s 
Head is beneath me, 
And you, O ruler, 
Have reft me my own." 

" How, now, farmer ! " said the King, " will you call me a 
thief?" Then he gave him good gifts, and remitted to 
him all his taxes. 

A Poet of Might. 369 

A Poet of Might. 

ONE time Hallgrim Petursson was passing Olvis-haug in 
Hafnar-fell, when his guide suggested to him that it 
would be interesting to see Olver rise up, and asked 
Hallgrim to use his powers as a poet for this end. Hall- 
grim then made this verse : 

" Cursed Olver, crawl thou forth from out thy covert ; 
Loathsome ghost, that lives in pyne, 
Listen to these words of mine." 

The ghost then began to make his appearance, first the 
head, which they thought very grim and frowning, and 
then he rose slowly up as far as the waist. The priest s 
guide then grew frightened, and bade him for any sake 
rhyme the ghost down again. This he did in three 
verses, of which one was, 

" I rhyme thee hence in might of Him 

That hung upon the tree ; 
May all the Devil s dwellings grim 
Their doors unlock for thee ! " 

Another story about Sir Hallgrim is that he rhymed a 
fox to death. This fox destroyed many sheep in the 
district, and was so destructive that it was believed to be 
a " stefnivarg " (an animal sent by a wizard), and could 
neither be caught nor killed. One Sunday as the priest 
WAR performing divine service, anrl stood in full vestments 
before the altar, he happened to look out at the choir- 
window, and saw the fox biting at a sheep. He forgot 
for the moment where he was, and said 

" Thou that killest cottar s fee, 
Cursed be the eyes in thee ; 
Stand thou now like stump of tree, 
Stiff and dead upon the lea." 

370 Wizards and Witches. 

This finished Reynard at once, but because Hallgrfm had 
used his poetic gift for such a purpose in the midst of 
divine service, he lost it altogether, until he repented of 
his oversight, and vowed to compose something to the 
praise and glory of God if He gave him back the gift. 
Time passed until one autumn when the meat was being 
hung up in the kitchen. Hallgrfm s man had this task, 
and was standing up on one of the rafters, while the 
priest handed him up the meat from below. " Say some 
thing to me now," said Hallgrfm, " for I feel as if the 
gift were coming upon me again." " Up, up," answered 
the man, meaning that he should hand him up the beef. 
These words Hallgrfm then employed to begin the first 
verse of his Passion Psalms, which commence, 

" Up, up, my soul and all my mind." 

The Mice in Akureyar. 

THOSE who wish to injure their enemies send against 
them either the spirits called sendingar or animals known 
as stefnivargar. The word stefni-varg literally means a 
wolf (varg) that is directed (stcfna) against something, 
but in this connection is used of animals which have 
power given to them by magic, and are then sent to do 
harm. There was once a rich man in Akureyar, who was 
a thorough miser, and would never give anything to the 
poor. To punish him for this, a certain wizard sent him 
so many " mice-wolves," that they destroyed all he had, 
and he finally died in the greatest poverty. For a long 
time after this the mice remained in the island, until the 
then owner sent for another wizard. He came, and got 
a whole leg of mutton roasted ; then he sat down on the 

Foxes in Iceland. 371 

island, and began to eat this. In a moment the mice 
surrounded him in crowds to get a bit of it. The wizard 
rose again, and with the leg of mutton in his hand, went 
back to the farm, and all through it, until he had 
gathered round him every mouse on the island. Then 
he threw the mutton into a deep pit, which he had got 
dug for the purpose. The mice all sprang into the pit, 
which was then closed up at once, and the wizard strictly 
forbade any one to touch it in time corning. For a long 
time after this there were no mice in Akureyar, but many 
years later the proprietor of the islands had a foundation 
dug for some new building, and they were careless 
enough to open the pit again. In a moment the mice 
crowded out again, and have ever since been a plague to 
the islands, which otherwise are so excellent. 

Foxes in Iceland. 

ONE time an Icelander spent a winter in Finnmark, 
where an old woman took a liking to him, and wished 
him to marry her, but he refused, and went home again 
in the spring. The old woman was greatly displeased, 
and determined to avenge herself. She took two foxes, 
a male and a female, and repeated charms over them ; 
then she put them on board a ship that was bound for 
Iceland, commanding that they should there increase and 
multiply, and never be cleared out of the country. They 
should also attack the animal species that they first saw 
on land there. Now the old woman thought that they 
would first see men, and meant them to destroy these, 
but the ship they were on touched first at the east of 
Iceland, and the foxes landed on the headland now 

372 Wizards and Witches. 

known as Melrakka-nes in Alpta-firth. There they saw 
a flock of sheep, and these were the first animals that 
they met with. They have since multiplied and spread 
over all the land, and attack and kill the sheep. 


WHOEVER wishes to be able to ride air and water must 
get the bridle that is known as the " gand-ride bridle." 
This is made by taking up a newly buried corpse, and 
cutting strips of skin off the back ; these are used for the 
reins. The dead man s scalp is next flayed off, and used 
for the head-piece of the bridle. Two bones of the head 
are used for the bit, and the hip-bones for the cheeks of 
the bridle. A charm is then repeated over this, and it is 
ready for use. Nothing more is required than to put this 
bridle on a man or animal, stock or stone, and it will 
immediately rise into the air with its rider and go faster 
than lightning to wherever is wanted. It then causes a 
loud noise in the air, which some believe they have heard, 
as well as the rattling of the bridle. 

The Witch s Ride to Tromskirk. 

IN Brovst in Vendsyssel there once lived a woman, who 
was a vile witch. All the ploughmen who served with 
her became so lean that it was something terrible, al 
though they ate ever so much. One of these, who had 
come to be mere skin and bone, tried in vain to discover 
the reason for it. Finally he went to a wise woman, who 
told him that his mistress was a witch, who rode on him 
every night to Tromskirk in Norway. " There you have 





The Ride to Blaa-kulla. 373 

a salve," said she, " and if you anoint your eyes with that, 
you will waken up outside the Tromskirk in Norway, and 
find yourself in the shape of a horse ; but as soon as you 
get the bridle off, you will resume your own form again. 
When your mistress comes out, see and throw the bridle 
over her head ; then it is she who must become the horse, 
and carry you home." The ploughman did as the wise 
woman directed, and woke up outside Tromskirk in Nor 
way. He managed to get the bridle pulled off, and 
became a human being again. When the woman came 
out of the church, he clearly recognised his mistress, who 
was greatly astounded to see that her horse had become 
a man, and tried many devices to get the bridle on him 
again. The ploughman, however, got it put on herself, 
and she then became a horse. He now rode merrily on 
her through the air ; on the way he came to a smithy, 
where he halted and had his horse shod on all four feet, 
and rode on again. At last they reached home, and the 
woman went down the chimney into the kitchen. There 
he took the bridle off her, and she resumed her own 
shape ; but the horse-shoes she could not get quit of, so 
it was evident enough that she was a witch, and her hus 
band drove her away. 

The Ride to Blaa-kulla. 

THE witches blow into the key-hole of the church-door, 
in order to blow from themselves the Holy Ghost, before 
they journey to Blaa-kulla to be initiated in the service 
of the Evil One. The person who does not wish to 
assist the witches in their preparations for this journey, 
carefully hides during Easter Week the bread-spade, 

374 Wizards and Witches. 

oven-broom, rake, and all besoms, for the witches gener 
ally go off on some of these on the evening of Maundy 
Thursday, and come back next morning before sunrise. 
Those witches who have not these implements themselves, 
borrow or take them wherever they can get them. Their 
own broom-stick is not always sufficient, as some witches 
take children with them, to get them initiated in the 
black art The way lies through the witch s chimney up 
into the air, while the witch cries, " In the Evil One s 
name, up and not down, over all tree-tops, and back again 
before daylight." One time it happened that a young 
witch, who was going that way for the first time, said in 
place of these words, " Up and down till daylight," and 
so continued to fly up and down the chimney till day 

At Blaa-kulla the witches are received by the Evil 
One in the best fashion. He bears the shape of a man, 
but has a horse s foot. The witches give him an account 
of all the mischief they have done during the previous 
year, and he then teaches the older ones still worse arts, 
after which he dances with them all. The festival closes 
with a banquet, which to the witches 1 eyes seems to con 
sist of the rarest dishes. One of the witches, however, 
had once taken a little child with her, and this refused to 
eat a single bit of all that the Evil One offered, for it 
could see that the feast consisted only of snakes, worms, 
lizards, and black toads. When the banquet is ended, 
the witches ride through the air to their home, but some 
times it has happened that some person has got up so 
early as to hear the witches come flying past, making 
sticks and straws whirl up high into the air. One time a 
boy was standing beside a farmyard on the morning of 
Good Friday, when the witches came past ; he threw his 

The Ride to Blaa-kulla. 375 

clasp-knife into the whirlwind, where it struck one of the 
witches on the leg, so that she plumped down into the 
dung-heap and stuck fast there. The boy would not help 
her out of it, until she promised him one of her garters, 
which he kept as a proof that he had really seen a witch. 

On Easter Day all the witches must attend divine 
service in church, but they repeat all their prayers back 
wards. Any one can see who are witches who has in his 
pocket three" eggs, the first that have been laid by three 
young hens. With these eggs one can see the witches 
sitting with milk-pails on their heads, and a cross in their 
eyes. The milk-pail signifies the power that witches 
have over other people s cows, so that if a wicked creature 
of this kind drives a knife into her roof-tree and milks the 
shaft, she gets as much milk as she pleases from the cows 
she names, and she sometimes milks them so hard that 
pure blood comes. If the witch does not want to have 
the trouble of doing this herself, she has her milk-hares 
which suck the cows, and go home to her with the milk. 
These hares have often been seen in the cows stalls. 

It is told of one witch that she could churn whole 
pounds of butter in a pail of water. When Maundy 
Thursday approached, all her neighbours made haste to 
hide the oven-rake and other baking implements things 
that every proper housewife was much more careful about 
in former days than now. One Easter week, however, it 
so befell the witch that she had to lie in bed. Her 
husband noticed that she became the more restless the 
nearer Thursday came, and asked her the reason. At 
first she only answered that she had important business 
which had been neglected ; but when her husband 
declared himself willing to do it, whatever it might be, 
she confessed to him her fear of not being able to go with 

376 Wizards and Witches. 

hpr comrades to Blaa-kulla and hear what was talked 
about there. The husband asked whether he could not 
go in her place. She said it could be done if he would 
only in all respects follow the directions she would give 
him. He promised to do so. She then put on him her 
own shape, and gave him a long stick, with which he was 
to fence with the witches, but every t me he struck any of 
them he was to say " Sore to-day, whole to-morrow." 
Then she smeared the oven-rake with troll-salve, and 
instructed her husband that he would fly up through the 
chimney if he said, " Straight up and straight out, over 
all beech-tops." 

The husband, however, had always had a grudge 
against his wife s companions, and as he was a soldier, he 
exchanged the wooden stick for his good sword, and went 
off to Blaa-kulla. There was dancing and sporting there, 
but they were no nice sports, and when the witches began 
to fence with their sticks, the soldier struck with his 
sword, aiming always at the witches noses and ears. 
For every stroke he gave them he said, " Whole to-day, 
sore to-morrow." This made the faces of the witches 
anything but beautiful when they came home. 

Of course the soldier s wife was looked upon as a traitor 
by all her companions, and stood in danger of being 
punished by them and by their master unless she avenged 
them on her husband. She therefore, while still in bed, 
took two straws from the mattress, and made with them 
a pop-gun, loaded it with some charmed material, and 
aimed it at her husband. He dodged the shot, however, 
and it was well for him he did so, for it went right 
through the door-post 

Stealing Cream for Butter. 377 


SOME people speak of milk-hares as if these also belonged 
to the fallen angels, but this is not at all the case, for 
they are made by the witches for the occasion, whenever 
they wish to employ them. The milk-hare consists merely 
of a few wooden pegs and a stocking-leg. The witches 
pour a drop of milk, which they have taken from other 
people s cows, into a stocking-leg, and tell it to go and 
suck the cows, and then come home and cast up the milk 
into the witch s milk-dish. There still lives a peasant in 
Slatt-akra, who once shot at a milk-hare when out hunt 
ing, under the impression that it was a common puss. 
The hare fell by the side of a fence, for no troll-stuff can 
stand gunpowder, but when the man came up to lift his 
game, he only found some pegs and a stocking leg, of the 
same blue colour as those worn by the older women in 
the district, while beside this there lay a splash of milk on 
the field. He then understood at once what it was that 
he had wasted powder and shot on. 

Stealing Cream for Butter. 

THERE was once a woman in Stodov on Helge-naes who 
practised witchcraft. She had the custom, when she was 
about to make butter, of saying, " A spoonful of cream 
from every one in the county ; " and in this way she 
always got her churn quite full of cream. One day it 
happened that she had an errand to town, just when they 
were about to churn, and said to the maid, " You can 
churn while I am away, but before you begin you must 
say, * A spoonful of cream from every one in the county; 


378 Wizards and Witches. 

I shall take care then that plenty cream will come to 
you." She then went away, and the maid at once began 
to pour the cream into the churn, but when she came to 
say the words that the witch had taught her, she thought 
that a spoonful from every one was so very little, so she 
said, "a pint of cream from every one in the county." 

Now she got cream, and that in plenty. The churn 
was filled, and the cream still continued to come, till at 
last the kitchen was half-full of cream. When the woman 
returned home, the girl stood bailing the cream out at the 
kitchen-door, and the witch was very angry that the maid 
had gone beyond her orders, and asked for a pint instead 
of a spoonful, for now every one could easily see that 
cream had been stolen from them. After this the girl 
never got leave to make the butter by herself. 

The Witch s Daughter. 

A PRIEST was once out walking with his half-grown 
daughter. On the way they came past a farm, where a 
number of ploughs were at work in the fields. " Do you 
know, father, what I can do ? " said the daughter. " I can 
make all these ploughs stand still. " Let me see you 
do it then," said the priest. The girl began to repeat 
her charms, and all the ploughs stopped except one, 
which she said she had no power over, as it had rowan- 
tree in it. 

When they reached home the priest asked if she knew 
more than that. She said she could also milk their 
neighbours cows. " Let me see that too," said he. The 
daughter struck two awls into the wall, and began to milk 
at these. When she had milked for a little she said, 

The Til-beri. 379 

" Now I must milk no longer." "Yes, go on," said the 
priest. When she had milked for a little again, she said, 
" Now it is turning red." " Never mind ; go on," said 
the priest. " But it is nothing but blood now," said the 
girl. " Go on," said the priest " The cow is dead now, 
father," said she. " Then you may stop," said he. 

The priest now sent a messenger round to his neigh 
bours, and one of their best milk-cows was found dead in 
its stall. He saw then that his daughter really could 
charm, and asked who had taught her. " My mother," 
said she. The priest s wife was then burned as a witch, 
but the daughter was spared, being only a child. The 
priest gave his neighbour another cow for the one that was 
dead, and the daughter promised never again to make use 
of what she had learned from her mother. 

The Til-beri. 

To steal milk or wool from others it is only necessary to 
procure what is variously called a " til-beri " or a " snakk. 1 
This is got by a woman stealing a rib from a dead man 
in the churchyard on a Whitsunday morning. She then 
wraps it in grey sheep s wool or yarn stolen from else 
where, so that it looks like a wisp of wool, and lets it lie 
for a time between her breasts. With this she goes three 
times to the sacrament, and on each occasion drops into 
her breast the wine she takes, so that it falls on the til- 
beri. The first time she does so it lies quite still, the 
second time it begins to move, and the third time it 
becomes so full of life that it is ready to spring out of her 
bosom. The woman must take care then that it is not. 
seen ; in old days the penalty for having one was either 

380 Wizards and Witches. 

burning or drowning. When it has thus acquired strength, 
the woman draws blood on the inside of her thigh, and 
there the creature attaches itself and lives on her blood 
when it is at home. It is then used to suck other folks 
cows or ewes, returning with the milk and dropping it 
into the woman s churn. The butter made of this looks 
good enough, but breaks up into small grains or goes 
into froth, if the mark of the cross is made over it. The 
til-beri may also be used for the purpose of stealing wool. 
On one occasion all the wool of a farm was left outside 
to dry during the night ; next morning it was seen all 
gathered into a ball, which then rolled off so fast that no 
one could overtake it. 

The Tide-Mouse. 

IF a person wishes to get money that will never come to 
an end, one way is to procure a tide-mouse, which is got 
in this way. The person takes the hair of a chaste 
maiden, and out of it weaves a net with meshes small 
enough to catch a mouse. This net must be laid in a 
place where the person knows that there is treasure at 
the bottom of the sea, for the tide-mouse will only be 
found where there is silver or gold. The net need not 
lie more than one night, if the spot is rightly chosen, and 
the mouse will be found in it in the morning. The man 
then takes the mouse home with him, and puts it wher 
ever he wishes to keep it. Some say it should be kept in 
a wheat-bushel, others say in a small box ; it must have 
wheat to eat and maiden s hair to lie upon. Care must 
be taken not to let it escape, for it always wants to get 
back into the sea. Next, some money must be stolen 

The Tale-Spirit. 381 

and laid in the hair beneath the mouse, and it then draws 
money out of the sea, to the same amount every day as 
the coin that was placed under it ; but that one must 
never be taken, otherwise it will bring no more. One 
who has such a mouse must be careful to dispose of it to 
another, or put it back into the sea, before it dies, other 
wise he may suffer great harm. If the man dies, the 
mouse returns to the sea itself, and causes great storms 
on sea and land ; these are known as " mouse-storms." 

The Tale-Spirit. 

ONE who wishes to know future events need only procure 
a tale-sprite, who will tell him all he wishes to know. 
Whoever wishes to get one must go to some lonely spot, 
where he knows that no one else will come, for his life is 
at stake if he is spoken to while he is charming the spirit 
to himself. He must lie in shadow, looking towards the 
north, and having a horse s membrane over his mouth 
and nostrils, and then repeat some magic rhymes. The 
membrane is taken into the mouth of the person, and the 
spirit comes and tries to enter there, but the membrane 
stops him. The man then closes his teeth, thus catching 
the spirit inside the membrane. He then puts the whole 
thing into a box, but the spirit does not speak until the 
man has dropped holy wine on it, which he does secretly 
when partaking of the sacrament. It may also be given 
dew that falls in May-month, but this is not necessary. 
The talc-sprite tells its possessor all that he wishes to 
know, but talks most freely in sleety weather and east 
wind. If it escapes from the box, it enters the man and 
makes him mad. A certain Torn" in Eyafirth had one 

382 Wizards and Witches. 

that had come down from the Sturlunga age, passing 
from one hand to another, and was hoarse-voiced by 
reason of old age and neglect. It was kept in a red 
oaken box, which was given by Torfi to a certain Sigfus 
in Oxnadal, who shortly before his death buried it in a 
knoll " in the devil s ;iame." 

The Cross-roads. 

THE person who wished to perform this rite had to go 
out on the last night of the old year, taking with him a 
grey cat, a grey sheep-skin, a walrus hide (or an old 
bull s hide), and an axe. With all this he betook himself 
to the meeting of four roads which, in a straight line and 
without any break, led to four churches. There he lies 
down and covers himself with the hide, drawing it in 
under him on all sides, so that none of his body is out 
side of it. He must then hold the axe between his 
hands and stare at the edge of it, looking neither to right 
nor left whatever may happen, and not answering a word 
although he is spoken to. In this position he must lie 
perfectly still until day dawns next morning. When the 
man had thus disposed of himself, he began to repeat 
certain spells and incantations which could call up the 
dead. Then if he had any relatives buried at any of the 
four churches which the cross-roads led to, these came to 
him and told him all he wished to know of events past 
and to come for many generations. If he had the firm 
ness to keep looking at the edge of the axe, never turning 
his head nor saying a word, whatever took place, he not 
only remembered all that they told him, but could as 
often as he wished after that consult them with impunity 

Sitting at the Cross-roads. 383 

by " sitting out." Few, however, escaped successfully 
from the ordeal. 

Some say that Crossroads are those on hills or moors 
from which four churches can be seen. The oldest belief 
is that men should "lie out" on Christmas Eve, because 
the new year begins then ; to this day men reckon their 
age by Yule nights, and he is said to be e.g. fifteen years 
old who has lived fifteen Yule nights. When a man sits 
on the cross-roads, the elves come out of every quarter 
and crowd around him, inviting him to come with them, 
but he must not give them any answer. Then they bring 
to him all kinds of treasures, gold and silver, clothes, food, 
and drink, but he must not take any of these. The elf- 
women come in the likenesses of his mother or sister, and 
ask him to go with them, and every possible device is 
tried. When day dawns the man must stand up and say, 
" God be praised, now it is day over all the sky." Then 
all the elves disappear, leaving all their wealth behind, 
and this the man gets to himself; but if he answers them, 
or accepts their gifts, he comes under their spell and loses 
his wits for ever after. There was a man named Fusi 
who sat out on Yule night, and held out for a long time, 
until an elf-woman came with a big piece of fat, and 
offered him a bite of it. Then Fusi looked at it and said, 
in words that have since become a proverb, " Seldom 
have I refused fat : " he took a bite of it, came under the 
spell, and became witless. 

Sitting at the Cross-roads. 

IF you wish to be rich you must go on Twelfth Night 
(old style) and sit where four roads meet, one of which 

384 Wizards and Witches. 

must point to the church. You must take a grey calf 
skin and a sharp axe, and spread the skin beneath you 
on the road, so that the tail is turned to the kirk-road, 
but your face must be turned in the opposite direction. 
Then you must set yourself to sharpen the axe ; and 
whatever may be said to you, you must answer nothing 
but, "I am whetting, I am whetting." Whatever on 
goings there may be on both sides of you, you must not 
look up, but stare fixedly down at the axe, otherwise it 
will go ill with you, and the trolls will take you. When 
it draws near midnight, the trolls come swarming from all 
directions, dragging gold and costly things, which they 
pile up in great heaps round about you, and show you all 
this wealth to get you to give a single glance up ; they 
also speak to you, make faces, and cut all kinds of capers. 
If, however, they have been unable to entice you to turn 
your eyes to the gold which they laid beside you, or to 
pay heed to themselves out of fear for them, or to get 
you to answer them back, then they seize the tail of the 
calf-skin to drag it away ; then you must see and be 
lucky enough to cut off the tail with the axe behind your 
back, but in such a way that the edge of the axe is not 
injured. If you succeed in this you are a lucky man, for 
then the trolls disappear each in his own direction, and 
you get all the gold and precious things that were laid 
beside you ; but if you fail in it, the trolls get power 
over you, and you will never come back whole from this 

The Victory-Stone. 

THE victory-stone is good to have and carry about on 
one s person, for the man who has it always gains the 

The Victory-Stone. 385 

victory in battle ; wherever he goes no injury can happen 
to him either from men or trolls ; fortune always attends 
him, everything goes as he wishes, and all people are well- 
disposed towards him. No wonder, then, that men are 
eager to have such a stone, that brings so much good 
with it, but no one knows where this precious stone is to be 
found ; the raven knows it, though, and this will tell you 
how to get the raven to go for the victory-stone, and how 
to get it from him then. 

It is a common saying that the raven mates in Feb 
ruary, lays its eggs in March, and hatches in April. Now 
when the raven has laid its eggs, the man must climb up 
the cliff or ravine where the nest is, and sit there in con 
cealment, remaining perfectly still until the raven flies 
away from the nest Then he must be very quick in slip 
ping to the nest, take the eggs, boil them hard, and get 
them laid back in the nest again before the raven returns, 
so that it may have no suspicion, and he must be an 
active man who is to accomplish this/ The raven comes 
back again, and sits on the eggs ; but when it has sat 
there till well on in hatching-time, it begins to grow im 
patient seeing that there is no sign of the eggs chipping 
yet, and finally gets tired of sitting any longer. Then it 
takes the plan of going to look for the victory-stone, to 
lay it in the nest beside the eggs in order to get them 
hatched ; and the man must now be on the spot, and 
either shoot the raven and take the stone out of its beak, 
or let it lay the stone beside the eggs, and then come on 
it unawares, before those boiled eggs are fully hatched, 
for then it takes back the stone to where it got it. 

386 Wizards and Witches. 

The Life-Stone. 

A CERTAIN man had found a life-stone in an eagle s nest. 
It was so little, however, that he was afraid he might lose 
it, so he took the plan of sewing it into his right arm-pit, 
making sure that it would be quite safe there. After this 
he went through many perils and adventures, but always 
escaped unscathed. One time, however, after he was well 
on in years, he went on a long voyage, the end of which 
was that the ship was wrecked and all on board perished 
except himself. He could not drown, having the life- 
stone on him, and was tossed about in the sea for years 
on years. It was a sorry life he had, for the sea-monsters 
caused him various injuries, that would have killed most 
people. At last he drove on shore somewhere or other, 
and the first thing he asked was that they should open 
his right arm-pit and take out the stone. This was done, 
and the man at the same moment fell into dust. 

The Four-Leaved Clover. 

THE most wonderful thing my father ever saw was a man 
who travelled about and bewitched people s sight. He 
was no outlandish juggler, but a regular Swede, who lived 
in Helsingborg. He came to one village where a pump- 
barrel was lying in the street, and through this he crept 
from the one end to the other. The whole population of 
the village assembled, and stood round looking on, for 
the man crept through it several times. Just then a girl 
came along who had been out in the fields gathering 
herbs for her mother s pig, and asked why people stood 
looking at the man creeping along the outside of the 

Destroying a Witch s Spells. 387 

pump. When the stranger heard that she could see cor 
rectly, he insisted on buying the herbs which she was 
carrying in her apron, and the girl, who thought that she 
could easily pull others again, sold them to him. Scarcely 
had she received the money, than she began to lift her 
dress, and raised it higher and higher towards the knees, 
calling to the others and asking whether they did not see 
that they were standing in water. Now that she had sold 
the four-leaved clover, the man could bewitch her eyes 
as well as those of the others. Many people tell of the 
same thing happening at different spots; but I know that 
this took place in N., for my father saw it with his own 

Destroying a Witch s Spells. 

IN Passion Week the evil powers play their pranks more 
than at other times, so that people have to be on their 
guard. Witches, troll-women, and all that kind who try 
to do injury to their neighbour by wicked arts, endeavour 
during this week to borrow something or other, such as 
milk, butter, barm, brandy, etc., but to such requests 
every wise good-wife says " No." For if such things are 
lent to these people, they charm them, so that the ale 
will never brew, the cream never turn to butter ; no 
article of the same kind as one has lent out will ever 
succeed with any one. Then a wise person must be got 
to remove the charm. 

It is no more than fifty years ago that our neighbour 
had got all his house put under a charm. No calves, 
foals, lambs, or chickens were born for a whole year on 
the farm. The butter never came, although they put a 

388 Wizards and Witches. 

pinch of salt in the churn and laid some grains of salt 
under it, besides making a cross over the lid. They tried 
setting a fire-steel or a knife beside the churn-stick ; they 
even shot over it with gunpowder, but nothing helped. 
It was the same with brewing and baking, nothing 
succeeded with them. A messenger was sent for a wise 
man, who travelled about. He promised to give the 
witch her reward, but made it a condition of his assisting 
them that for three days they must not lend the least 
particle, whatever it might be. He then made them pro 
cure a black dog without a single white hair on its body. 
Thir he buried alive in the fields one morning before 
sunrise. Then he bored holes in all the thresholds, and 
laid troll-incense in them. After this he took a knife 
and cut open the swellings on the backs of the horses 
and cows. Out of these there came large maggots, and 
the wise man said that these were all the animals, big 
and small, that had been intended to be born on the farm 
during the year ; the witch had turned them all to 

Our neighbour now wanted to see the witch who had 
done all this to him ; he had his suspicions, of course, but 
wished to be quite certain in the matter. The wise man 
was not very willing to raise her shape, but the farmer 
was determined. They shut themselves up in the still, 
and strict orders were given that no one was to come in 
there. The wise man was to raise the witch out of a 
large mashing-tub which stood empty, but just as her 
forehead and eyes became visible, they thought that 
some one opened the door, and he had to stop his exor 
cism. He declared, however, that if the witch would not 
show herself, she should at least feel his power. He put 
some of the cream, barm, brandy, and other articles that 

Destroying a Witch s Spells. 389 

had been charmed, upon an iron plate and roasted them 
on the fire, and whatever the arts may have been that he 
exercised with the iron plate, it is certain that the witch 
could not sit down for fourteen days, so scalded was she. 


How the First Church in Norway was 

IN Norland they tell the following story about the first 
church that was built in Norway. St. Olaf, King of 
Norway, went about one day in deep thought, and won 
dered how he, without laying too heavy burdens upon his 
people, could erect a church, which he wished to build so 
large that its equal would be hard to find. As he went 
and thought over this, he met a man of superhuman size, 
who asked him what he was puzzling over. " Well may 
I be puzzled," said the King, "since I have made a vow 
to build a church, which for size and beauty will not have 
its equal in the world." The troll offered within a given 
time to erect such a building, if King Olaf in return, when 
the work was finished, would give him as payment " the 
sun and the moon, or St. Olaf himself." The King ac 
cepted this offer, but made the plan of the building so 
large that he thought it would be impossible for the troll 
to finish it within the appointed time. It was to be so 
large that seven priests could preach in it at once, with 
out the one hearing or being disturbed by the other. The 
pillars and ornaments, outside and inside, were to be 
made of the hardest flint-stone, and several other difficult 
conditions were imposed ; but in far shorter time than 

The Building of Lund Cathedral. 391 

was agreed on, King Olaf saw the church finished, all 
except the spire. Things being in this condition, King 
Olaf went in deep distress over hill and dale, and thought 
of the compact he had made. Then in the mountain he 
heard a child crying, and a giantess comforting it with 
the following ditty : 

" Hush, hush, my little one, 

To-morrow Wind-and-Weather, your father, will come. 
He will bring with him Sun and Moon, 
Or else St. Olaf himself. " 

The King became glad then, for trolls lose their power 
when a Christian man can name them by name. When 
he got back, he saw the troll standing on the top of the 
tower, putting on the spire. Then St. Olaf cried, " Wind- 
and-Weather, you have set the spire on crooked." Where 
upon the troll fell down with a terrible crash, and was 
shivered in pieces, which were all flint stones. Other ac 
counts say that the giant s name was " Slaet," and that 
St. Olaf cried " Slaet, set the spire straight." 

The Building of Lund Cathedral. 

THE holy St. Lawrence went about one day over hill 
and dale, and pondered how he could erect a great and 
worthy temple to the honour of the Lord. There came 
a giant out of a hill, and promised to fulfil his wish, but 
demanded as payment "Sun and moon, and both St. 
Lawrence s eyes." The time allowed him was so short, 
that it seemed impossible for him to accomplish the 
work ; but the holy man soon saw that the building was 
nearing its completion only too rapidly, and that the day 
was drawing near on which the troll would come and 

392 Churches, Treasures, Plagues. 

take his wages. Again he wandered about on hills and 
in woods in great distress, but suddenly he heard a child 
crying in the inside of a hill, and its mother singing to it 

" Still, still, little one ! 
To-morrow Finn your father will come, 
And you will play with sun and moon, 
And both St. Lawrence s eyes." 

Then St. Lawrence knew the giant s name and had 
power over him. When the trolls got to know this, they 
both went down into the vaults, and each laid hold of a 
pillar, with the intention of overthrowing the whole 
church ; but St. Lawrence, making the sign of the cross, 
cried out, " Stand here in stone till Doomsday." They 
were immediately transformed into stone, and stand there 
still, the giant embracing one pillar and the giantess the 
other, with the child on her arm. 

St. Olaf in Ringerige. 

IN old days, when King Olaf went from place to place to 
introduce the Christian faith, and to build churches in 
place of the heathen temples, he met with much opposi 
tion and many hindrances, not only from his obstinate 
heathen subjects but also from the many trolls, giants, 
and giantesses, who were then to be found in great num 
bers in the mountains. The trolls could not bear St. 
Olaf, partly because he caused them hurt by using the 
sign of the cross, and partly because he built many 
churches, the sound of whose bells disturbed their peace ; 
but although they often exerted themselves to the utmost 
they could do nothing against the holy king, who 
straightway turned them into stone. Trolls thus trans 
formed by St. Olaf may still be seen all over the country. 

St. Olaf in Ringerige. 393 

One time, when Olaf was going down by the northern 
Krogklev (the road then kept more to the north than 
now) a grim giantess suddenly sprang out of the steep 
cliff. She had a large trough on her back, and cried 

"St. Olaf, broad beard and all, 
You ride so near my cellar wall." 

But St. Olaf looked at her, and answered 

" As stock and stone shall thou remain 
Until I come this way again." 

The giantess may still be seen there turned into stone. 

When St. Olaf came to the farm of Sten, where his 
mother is said to have lived, he resolved to build a church 
there. A giantess, who at that time lived in the moun 
tain, which has since been called after her, " Gyrihaugcn " 
(the giantess s cairn), was not at all satisfied with this 
plan. Although she might have learned from the fore 
going instance that St. Olaf was not to be played with, 
she resolved to try her strength, and challenged him to a 
contest. " Before you are finished with your church," 
said she, " I shall have built a stone bridge over Stens- 
firth." Olaf accepted the challenge, and before she was 
half finished with the bridge, the glorious peal of the bells 
was heard from St. Olafs Church. In a rage the troll 
seized the stones with which she had intended to com 
plete the bridge, and hurled them from Gyrihaugen over 
the firth at the church, but as none of them struck it, she 
became so angry that she cut off one of her legs and let 
that fly at the steeple. Some say that it took the steeple 
with it, others that she aimed too high. Be that as it 
may, the leg landed in a bog behind the church, where to 
this day it causes a bad smell. The bog is still called by 
the peasants "The Giantess s Pit/ and the stones she 
threw at the church were shown recently on the neigh- 

394 Churches, Treasures, Plagues. 

bouring farm of Moe. The bridge begun by her is now 
completed, and on the farm of Sten there long stood the 
fine ruins of St. Olafs Church. In old days divine 
service was held here on St. John s Day, but about one 
hundred and fifty years ago the church was burned down 
by lightning, 

Vattn-aas Church. 

IN a narrow dale, shut in by steep mountain walls, in 
Sigdal, there stands the little old Love-Church (Love- 
kirke), where divine service is held only once a year, on 
the Sunday after St. John s Day. A crowd of people 
from the neighbouring districts assemble here on this 
occasion, and the sick make offerings in an old offertory 
plate, to regain their health. On the church door the 
devil is painted with horns and claws. The church is 
called Vattn-aas (Water-ridge), and according to tradi 
tion owes its origin to St. Olaf. As he marched through 
the land to introduce the Christian faith, he came also to 
Sigdal, and after he had succeeded in converting the in 
habitants, he went out to hunt with some of his followers. 
During the chase the king and his men lost themselves, 
so that they neither knew the way back nor forward. 
Tired and thirsty, he finally came into a narrow dale 
where he dismounted from his horse, and made the vow 
that if he found water there, he would have a church 
built on that spot. Scarcely was this said, when a foun 
tain sprang out of the hard rock. The king and his men, 
who were nearly fainting with thirst, rejoiced and drank 
to their hearts content King Olaf renewed his vow, 
and was about to turn his horse to ride away, when he 

St. Olaf in Vaaler. 395 

caught sight of a bull close at hand, He had already 
bent his bow, when lo, his eye fell on a little church of 
pure gold. After this model the king commanded that 
a church should be built on that very spot, and called 
Vattn-aas Kirk. In the mountains beside the spring 
may still be seen the footprints of King Olaf s horse. 

St. Olaf in Vaaler. 

ON his journeys about the country to introduce the 
Christian faith, St. Olaf came through Solder-dale to a 
farm which lies on the eastern bank of the Glommen, and 
which, together with the church and parish, is said to 
have got the name of Vaaler after the following fashion. 
On this farm St. Olaf held an assembly, and after some 
resistance it was decided that the God which the King 
worshipped should also be the people s, and that the reli 
gion of Odin should give way to that of Christ. It was 
also decided, on the King s proposal, that a church should 
be built here, as in other places where the new doctrine 
had been accepted ; but there arose a great dispute as to 
the place where it should be erected. Then, says the 
story, St. Olaf bent his bow, shot an arrow, and declared 
that the church should be built where it fell. The King 
was standing beside the spring which still bears his name, 
and the arrow fell in a heap of wood (vaal) lying near the 
Glommen, where a wooden church was built, and along 
with the farm and parish was called Vaaler by St. Olaf. 
This church, to which sick and dying persons used to 
offer gifts, stood until 1805, when a new church was built, 
in whose ornament chest is found a wrought iron buckle, 
which is called St. Olaf s buckle, and is said to have been 

396 Churches, Treasures, Plagues. 

deposited in the old church by the King himself. It had 
formed part of the halter by which the King s horse was 
tied up. 

The King is said to have watered the same horse in the 
spring, clear as crystal, which bears his name, and never 
dries up in summer or freezes in winter. A miraculous 
power was formerly attributed to it sick persons threw 
money into it to regain their health ; and it is believed 
that great misfortune awaits the man who dares to lay 
hands on these sacred deposits. A few years back it was 
the custom that the church-goers on all great occasions 
vied with each other in reaching the spring first, and it 
was considered something to be proud of to be the first 
to water one s horse at St. Olaf s Well. 

Varnum Church. 

A POOR herd-girl, from the farm of Maersta in Varnum, 
betook herself one morning to the woods of Vermland 
with her cattle. As the day was rainy and cold, she took 
her tinder box with her, as the herds always do, so as to 
be able to kindle a fire and warm themselves. When she 
came near Jutebcekken in the forest, a giantess happened 
to come along carrying a box, which she asked the girl 
to take charge of, while she went to invite some guests 
to her daughter s marriage, which was to be held in the 
mountain. The girl took the box and the bergwoman 
went on. By accident, the girl laid her fire-steel on the 
box, and when the bergwoman came back for it, she had 
no power to take it, for the trolls cannot bear steel. So 
the giantess hurried off, and the box became the girl s 
property. When she got home and looked to see what 

Dover Church. 397 

was in it, she found a gold crown as well as thick chains 
and rings of gold. Varnum Church was built with a 
fourth of the treasure, a fourth fell to the Crown, and the 
half became the girl s own. 

Dover Church. 

AT Dover Church there is a " corpse-lamb," which goes 
about on three legs. When the church was being built, 
it was necessary to have a living creature buried beneath 
its foundations. The people there were so poor, that they 
could not procure anything but a lamb : in other places 
they had a pig, a horse, or a cow. The old church lay in 
Illerup, but had become so ruinous that it could hang to 
gether no longer, and a new one had to be built. The 
people wished to place it in Sveistrup, which was nearer 
the centre of the parish, and contained the manse and 
school, but what they built there could never hang to 
gether, and they could get no church erected at that spot. 
They were at a loss what to do, till one day a wayfarer 
came past, while they were struggling away at the build 
ing, and said, " What is all this you are about, good 
people? I think your work looks a little shaky." "Oh," 
said they, " we want to build a church here, but we can t 
get it to stand ; it always falls down with us." " Well," 
said he, " that is not the way to do. You must take two 
oxen, which have never been in harness, yoke them to a 
pair of wheels, and let them go after sunset" They did 
so, and the oxen went so far during the night that they 
came over to where Dover Church now lies ; there was a 
large alder-marsh there at that time, in which they landed, 
and could get no further. So the church was placed in 
that spot 

398 Churches, Treasures, Plagues. 

The Bergman s Payment. 

IN Hqjslev there is a farm called Brude-dal (Bride s 
Dale). Straight west from it lies a great mound, called 
Stejls-bjaerg, in which lived a bergman. The hole he 
came out at, and the path by which he went down to a 
dam at the eastern corner of the mound for water, are 
still pointed out, but the dam is now filled up. His wife 
also was often seen fetching water ; she was a Christian 
woman from Hojslev. The church was to have been 
built a little to the north on a brae, called Stotte-bakke, 
but it was always pulled down again. An old woman 
went out to see who did this, and met the bergman, who 
told her that they could not get the church built there, it 
was too near himself, but they could build it in another 
place, if they would promise him the first and last maiden 
bride that came to Hojslev Church. They did so, and 
now the bergman built as much during the night as the 
others did during the day. When the church was finished, 
and the first bride was driving home, the bergman came 
and carried her off. He could not touch her, however, so 
long as she wore her bridal ornaments, so he asked an old 
man to take these off, but he refused. Then he went to 
a little herd boy and bribed him to do it, after which he 
disappeared with the bride. 

Karup Church Tower. 

THE tower of Karup Church was in old days so high that 
it was famous far and near. It was lowered twice, by 
eighteen ells the first time, and eleven the second time, 
but even then it was as high as most church-towers are 

The Shifting of Gudum Church. 399 

now-a-days. There was, however, a giant who determined 
to have it thrown down. He came from abroad, and was 
so big that the ship he sailed in was right down to the 
water-line. He required eighty ells of woollen cloth for 
a pair of trousers, and his wooden-shoes were made of 
large planks, fastened together by iron rivets. When he 
came to Torning and Skrae, where there are so many 
great boulders, he began to throw stones at the tower, but 
missed it every time owing to the distance. The first 
stone he threw split in his hands, and one part of it fell in 
the brook which runs by Karup Mill ; in it are still to be 
seen the marks of his five fingers, and even the lines on 
these are quite distinct, for at that time the stones were 
only growing and were somewhat soft. The other piece 
fell to the south-east of Karup Mill. When he came past 
Skrae, and there were no more stones, he did not care to 
go back to fetch some, but preferred to pull down the 
tower with his hands. In this he succeeded, and pulled 
it down to a level with the church itself in one day s time. 
Since then Karup Church has lacked a tower. 

The Shifting of Gudum Church. . 

GUDUM CHURCH near Slagelse lies very low in a meadow 
beside Gudum River, and its situation is very inconvenient 
for the congregation, being in a corner of the parish. 
Originally, it is said, it lay further up and nearer the 
town, but the Devil, for some reason or other, set to work 
to shift it. He succeeded in getting it up on his shoulders, 
but when he had gone a little way, he began to feel it 
very heavy. Fortunately, at that point he met a peasant, 
and asked him to give him a lift with it. The peasant 

400 Churches, Treasures, Plagues. 

could not make out what kind of person he had to deal 
with ; he could see that the stranger had a heavy burden 
on his back, but there was like a mist before his eyes, so 
that he could not see what it was. He lent a hand, how 
ever, and helped the little that he could, but it soon be 
came too heavy for both of them. They then came to a 
large stone, and the Devil proposed to sit down on this 
for a little to rest themselves, with the burden on their 
backs. The peasant began to have suspicions that some 
thing was wrong, so he looked under his left arm, and 
could then see that it was the Devil with the church he 
had beside him. At this he hurried off as fast as he 
could, and the load now pressed so heavily on the Devil 
that " his end sank into the stone. 7 With great difficulty 
he managed to rise and drag the church down to the river; 
here he had to let it stand, for he could not get it across 
the stream. Between the church and the village they 
used to point out a large stone with a seat in it ; it was 
here that the Devil rested himself with the church. 

Horup Church. 

WHEN they were about to build the church of Horup on 
the island of Als, they began at the bottom of the mound 
on which it now stands, but during the night the spirits 
came and destroyed all that was built during the day. 
When the workmen were about to continue their work 
next morning, they heard a voice from the mound, which 
shouted " Higher up, higher up " (Hoger up, hoger up). 
The command was obeyed, they shifted to a little farther 
up, and began a second time ; but next morning every 
thing was again destroyed, and again the voice shouted, 

The Dwarfs Stone. 401 

" Higher up, higher up." Then they began to build on 
the very top of the knoll, and from that time the voice 
was silent, and the building was no more disturbed. On 
this account, the church and the village, which was built 
there later on, were called " Hogerup," afterwards altered 
to " Horup." It lies highest of all the villages in the 
island, so that it can be seen from almost every point 

The Dwarfs Stone. 

THE church and parsonage in Seydis-firth lay in old 
times on the west (or south) side of the firth, but it is not 
known what name they bore. Close to them was a huge 
stone, in which people firmly believed that dwarfs lived, 
and on that account it was called " The Dwarfs Stone " 
(Dverga-steinn). As time went on, it was found incon 
venient to have the church and manse on that side of the 
firth, and both of them were shifted to the other side, 
where they now stand. The big stone, naturally, was 
left behind, but when the building of the church was 
nearly ended, the workmen were astounded to see a 
house come sailing across from the other side of the firth, 
and making straight for the church. This continued to 
approach until it touched the bottom, and took up its 
position on the beach. They then saw that it was the 
Dwarfs Stone which had come therewith its inhabitants. 
They could not content themselves after the church was 
shifted, and so made their way after it. For a lasting 
record of the piety of the dwarfs, the church and manse 
were called the Dwarfs Stone. 

4O2 Churches, Treasures, Plagues. 

The Church Grim. 

WHEN the first churches were built, they were generally 
consecrated with the observance of various heathen 
customs which the people would not part with. One of 
these was to sacrifice some animal to the old gods beside 
the foundation-stone or outside the churchyard wall. 
These animals were buried alive, and it was believed that 
their spirit or ghost wandered about in the churchyard in 
the ghostly hours of the night ; they were called * Kirke- 
grimer." Many places and churches have, according to 
tradition, got their names from these spectres, such as 
" Hestveda " town and church in Skaane, which is said 
formerly to have been called " Hest-hvita," because a 
white horse was " Kirkegrim " there. When such spectres 
are seen, they are warnings of important events, lucky or 

It is also related that, under the altar in the first 
Christian churches, there was buried a lamb to ensure 
the permanent existence of the church. This was called 
the " Church Lamb." When any one enters a church at 
a time when there is no service, it sometimes happens (so 
says the story) that they see a little lamb spring across 
the choir and disappear. When it appears to any one in 
the churchyard, especially to the grave-diggers, it is a 
warning that a little child is to die. 

The Church Lamb. 

UP over the eastern arch in Ryslinge Church, lies the 
church lamb. In old days the clerk s servant-girl had to 
give it a bundle of clean straw for its bed on the evening 

The Church Lamb. . 403 

before every church festival. As to the origin of the 
church lamb, there is a general belief among the people, 
that when they began to build churches in the country, 
it often happened that what was built during the day was 
torn down during the night. Then they buried a living 
lamb under the building, and after that no one could lay 
a hand upon their work. The buried lamb then became 
the " Church Lamb." 

An old woman in Ryslinge (Ann Katherine) once saw 
the church lamb in her young days. She had been sitting 
up watching a sick woman, and as she was going home, 
about twelve o clock at night, she met a solitary lamb on 
the road, but whether it had only three legs, as a church 
lamb ought to have, she could not clearly see. When she 
came home to her parents, she said that she had seen the 
" Church Lamb," and they thought it was a warning that 
the sick woman was to die. It was not so, however, for 
she recovered, but the day after a post fell and killed a 
little child on the neighbouring farm. So it was the 
" Church Lamb " she had seen after all. 

Thirty years ago, there died a man in Ryslinge Parish. 
He lived to the north of the village, beside Norremark 
Wood. Some days before he died the church lamb was 
seen going out to his farm. It was in the evening, and 
when it came to the last house, which lies close up to the 
wood, the dog there began to bark. When the farmer 
heard it, he went out to see what it was, and saw the 
church lamb, which came past the house, and held on its 
way to the farm, where the man died a few days after. 

404 Churches, Treasures, Plagues. 

The Grave-sow. 

" WHEN my parents first came to live in Skjensved, it 
happened one night when my father was from home that 
my mother heard a little pig squeak outside the window. 
We had a sow with pigs just at the time, so she got out 
of bed and ran after it, but it hastily crept out under the 
gate into the street. My mother followed it, but could 
not come up with it, till at last it crept under the church 
yard gate. At this she felt somewhat strange, and 
although she was not timid by nature, dared not enter 
the churchyard, but turned back to the house, where she 
went to the stye and counted the little pigs. Not one of 
them was missing. Next day she asked all the neigh 
bours whether they had lost a pig ; they all said " No," 
but the pig continued to make its appearance every 
night The following Sunday my father told this to the 
old dean, who was far wiser than all other folk on earth. 
* Oh/ said he, * what else is it but a child that has been 
buried in secret, and now seeks for Christian earth? If 
you want to get rid of it, you must watch for a night or 
two and see where it comes from ; dig there then, and if 
you find a child, take it and bury it in the churchyard. 
You will be free from it after that. 1 They did so, and 
found a little child under tin old apple tree. They bui ied 
it in the churchyard, and the little pig never came again." 

The Buried Bell. 

IN Kilde-bjaerg in Tommerup parish there lived berg- 
folk, who could not bear to hear the great bell ringing in 
the tower of Tommerup church. Accordingly they went 

The Bell of Kvaerndrup. 405 

up into the tower one day, and carried off the bell into 
the mound. The people of the parish would not stand 
this, however, and on getting to know that they could 
quite well dig it up again, if they could only keep silence 
during the work, they at once began to dig for it. When 
they had dug for some time, they did find the bell, and 
got it raised so far that they could fasten a rope to it, to 
which they then yoked six horses. Just then one of the 
people unfortunately said, " Now we have it!" and so the 
bell sank still deeper than before, and only by cutting 
the rope did they save the horses from going with it. 

The Bell of Kvaerndrup. 

MANY years ago the church bells in Kvaerndrup were to 
be repaired, as they were not sounding well. A certain 
Herr Essing was engaged for the purpose, and received a 
quantity of silver and brass to patch them with. This, 
however, he put into his own pocket, and mended them 
with copper and lead. When the bells came to be rung, they 
were too dull in sound, and the ringers pulled harder and 
harder at the rope, till at last the motion became so vio 
lent that one of the bells broke loose, flew out at the 
sound-holes, went right over the town, and only came to 
the ground when it reached a meadow to the west of the 
village. The strangest thing, however, was that while 
the bell was on its way above the town, it sang the fol 
lowing verse, which revealed Herr Essing s frauds : 

" Silver and brass to Essing did pass ; 
Copper and lead he used instead." 

Three or four men were now sent to search for the bell, 
and found the hole in which it was lying. They got a 

406 Churches, Treasures, Plagues. 

rope put round it, and had already pulled it up to the 
surface, when one of the men declared, with a great oath, 
that they were sure of it now. Scarcely had he said this, 
when the bell again sank into the ground, and since that 
day no one has ever heard or seen anything of it. 

The Chest of Gold. 

IN the parish of Vatns-fjord, beside Isa-fjord, there 
stands a large mound, in which a chest full of gold is 
hidden. Many attempts have been made to get hold of 
this, but have always had to be given up, on account of 
terrible sights and sounds. One time two young and 
active fellows decided to dig into the mound, and made 
their way into it until they came to the chest. It was 
so heavy that they could not lift it, although they were 
both strong men. They accordingly dug all round about 
the chest, and under it as well. It was strongly bound 
with iron, and had rings in the ends. They fastened a 
rope to one of these, and the one man went below the 
chest to lift it up, while the other pulled at the rope. 
When the chest had been raised a little, the ring broke 
away from the end, and it fell back upon the man below, 
killing him at once. The other was scared at this and 
ran away, taking the ring with him. It was a large 
copper ring, and he gave it to Vatns-fjord church, where 
it may be seen in the church-door to this day. 

Others say that several men had united to dig into the 
mound. They found the chest, iron-bound and fitted 
with rings. One of them went under the chest and lifted 
it up, while the others pulled at the rope, which was 
drawn through both rings. When the chest had all but 

The Smith in Burhoi. 407 

reached the brink of the hole, the men above were almost 
exhausted, and thought it doubtful whether they would 
get it up. One of them said, " It will come up yet, if 
God wills." The man below then shouted out : " It shall 
up, whether God wills or not." With that one of the 
rings gave way ; the chest fell on the man, killing him at 
once, and the hole in the mound filled up again. The 
others turned away in terror, and gave the ring to the 
church, nor did they try the digging again. 

Buried Treasure. 

IN the parish of Navr, beside Holstebro, lie two large 
mounds, one on each side of the village of Alstrup. The 
one to the north is called Ringshoi, and that to the south 
Moglehoi. In the latter lies a great treasure, which two 
men from Alstrup tried to dig for one night They 
worked in silence, until one ear of the copper-pot, in which 
the treasure was, was sticking up, but just then one of the 
men looked up, and to his amazement, caught sight of 
two cocks, which came along the road from Navrtorp, 
dragging a huge load of hay. All at once, one of them 
became restive, kicked out behind and splintered the 
swingletree. The man burst out laughing, and said, 
" Well, never in all my days have I seen anything so 
funny." With that the pot immediately disappeared, and 
all their subsequent digging for it was in vain. 

The Smith in Burhoi. 

IN the parish of Bur, on the lands of Ny-gaard, lie three 
large mounds, in one of which lives a bergman who is a 

408 Churches, Treasures, Plagues. 

smith, and has his workshop there. By night one can 
often see fire coming out of the top of the mound, and 
strangely enough, going in again at its side ; but it is by 
this means that he keeps his iron hot If any one wishes 
to have a piece of iron worked by him, he has only to lay 
it on the mound, along with a silver coin as payment, at 
the same time saying what he has need of. Next morn 
ing the coin is taken away, and the piece of work desired 
lies there ready and well finished. One time the peasants 
of Bur resolved to dig up his treasures, and for that pur 
pose assembled one night beside the mound, with picks 
and spades. After they had all been told that they must 
carefully avoid saying a single word, however strongly 
they were tempted to do so, they set to work ; but 
scarcely had they put their spades into the ground, before 
all sorts of terrible sights came out of the mound. How 
ever, they dug on, undisturbed, and with the greatest 
silence, until they got down to a large stone-chamber. 
There lay the treasure before them a large copper pot 
full of gold pieces ; but close beside it a big black dog 
lay sleeping. One of the men pulled off his jacket, and 
quietly laid the dog on this to carry it away, and while 
he was doing so, the others stood looking out of the 
mound. There came then, out of the mound, a large 
load of hay drawn by two cocks, which drew it three 
times round the mound ; but all of those present were 
careful not to say a word. At the third round, however, 
one of the cocks kicked out so violently that it broke the 
thick shaft of the cart ; then one of the men exclaimed, 
* That was a devilish kick for a cock," but scarcely had 
he said this, when all the men were thrown far away out 
of the mound, which immediately closed again. 

The Treasure in Eriks-volde. 409 

The Treasure in Eriks-volde. 

IN the neighbourhood of Maribo is a forest, in the corner 
of which is a spot called Eriks-volde. This is a large 
mound, surrounded by high ramparts and deep ditches, 
and here in olden time there is said to have been a castle 
in which lived King Erik, who ruled over a great part of 
. Laaland. In the heart of the mound a large treasure is 
buried. Some men from the neighbouring village of 
Erikstrup once tried to dig it up ; they had heard that if 
they could work on for six hours without interruption 
and without speaking a word, the treasure would be 
theirs. They accordingly set to work one evening in 
high hopes. When they had worked for a little, the 
mound began to shake and tremble beneath them, but 
they would not be scared by that. Then they saw a cock 
come along, dragging a large bull ; the bull struggled 
against it, but to no purpose, the cock dragged it off with 
it Still they kept silence and worked on. In a little 
while they saw four mice come past the mound, dragging 
a big load of hay ; this looked rather wonderful, but they 
did not let it disturb them. They had now got so far 
down that the edge of the copper pot in which the 
treasure lies began to appear, but just at that moment 
one of them happened to look out over the wood towards 
the village. " The village is in flames ! " he cried, and 
they all rushed off to save it, but when they got out 
through the wood there was no fire to be seen. They 
turned back to get the treasure, but it had disappeared 
for ever, and there was no trace of all their work. 


4io Churches, Treasures, Plagues. 

Treasure Guarded by a Dog. 

A MAN in Lund in Bjorns-holm parish went out one 
morning to search for his horse. As he wandered about 
looking for it, he came upon a black dog, which was 
lying above a copper pot. The man could see that there 
was money in this, so he took off his jacket and spread it 
on the ground, lifted the clog gently in his arms and laid 
it on the jacket, after which he took the money out of the 
pot and placed the dog above it as befcre. Then the dog 
said, " If you had not lifted me so gently, and laid me so 
softly, it would not have gone so well with you." There 
was so much money that he could not take it all home 
with him, so he laid it in a corner of the wood and went 
home for a sack. He hung the horse s halter in the tree 
above the spot, and went off in great delight, thinking he 
had won all Bjornsholm and more. But his joy was 
short-lived. When he returned with the sack, and looked 
for the halter, there was one hanging on every tree ! He 
went about looking under every tree, but when he had 
done so for some time, there was a noise like a rifle-shot, 
or worse ; after that he found his halter, but the money 
was gone, and he had nothing for all his trouble. If he 
had only taken as much as he could carry when he had 
the chance ! 

Gudmund and the Ghost. 

SOUTH in Njard-vik there is a mound called Hda-leyti 
(High s grave), where great treasure-lights have often 
been seen, and it was commonly said that gold was 
hidden there. It was long, however, before anyone tried 

Gudmund and the Ghost. 411 

to get it, especially as the mound and its neighbourhood 
were, and are still, believed to be haunted. 

About 1850-60 there lived near the mound a farmer, 
who was a good smith, and was often at work in his 
smithy, the doors of which looked right out on the mound. 
One time he was there working, and along with him one 
Gudmund, who was a man of sense, and so strong in body 
that he was considered to be quite equal to any two men. 
They were talking together in the best spirits, when the 
farmer happened to look at the mound and saw a blue 
flame spring up out of it all at once. He proposed to 
Gudmund that they go to the mound, and try to get at 
the money, to which Gudmund agreed. They went 
towards the flame, which sank lower as they approached 
it, and finally disappeared when they had got close to it. 
The farmer asked Gudmund whether he would rather 
deal with the ghost or dig for the treasure, but suggested 
that he should deal with the ghost, because he was the 
younger and stronger of the two. Gudmund assented to 
this, and they agreed that they should share the treasure 
equally, if they succeeded in getting it. With this the 
man began to dig in the mound, and Gudmund noticed 
nothing at first, but before long he felt himself gripped 
from behind. He turned round at once to offer resistance, 
but could not get hold of the ghost, who presented noth 
ing substantial to the touch. This went on a long time, 
and sometimes Gudmund thought he had the ghost under 
him, but he always slipped from his grasp and attacked 
him again. Meanwhile the farmer had got down to a 
large chest full of money, which he dragged off, while 
Gudmund held his own with the ghost till morning, by 
which time he was so exhausted that he had enough ado 
to get home to the farm. He slept till well on in the 

412 Churches, Treasures, Plagues. 

day, and on waking went out to the farmer, who was in 
the smithy, hard at work. Gudmund asked how much 
money there was in the chest, but the farmer said he 
would drive the iron spike through him, if he told of their 
find. Gudmund thought it is his best plan to give in to 
this, and the farmer gave him twenty dollars when they 
parted, but Gudmund told the story all the same, not 
being afraid of the farmer. Gudmund said that the ghost 
most resembled a flock of wool to the touch, and was not 
stronger than a stalwart man, nor would he have had 
any difficulty in felling him if he had not been so slippery. 

The Black Death. 

THE pestilence so well known by the name of " The 
Black Death," which, with the speed of lightning, spread 
from the highlands of Asia on the borders of China, to 
the coasts of the Polar Sea, and before whose deadly 
breath thousands on thousands perished, was brought to 
Bergen by a stranded English ship, and from there spread 
with terrible violence from dale to dale, cleared the whole 
land of people and cattle, and brought Norway to a state 
of weakness which lasted for centuries. The land is said 
to have lost two-thirds of its inhabitants. In most of the 
mountain districts there are stories of this pestilence, 
which, in some places, is called by the peasants "The 
Great Plague " (Storc-manna-doucn), in others " The 
Black Death" (Svart-douen), and "The Pest" (Pesta). 
Sometimes the pest is imagined as an old sallow woman, 
who went round the land with a rake and a besom. Where 
she used the rake, some always escaped with their lives, 
but where she swept, every mother s son died. For the 

The Black Death in Saetersdal. 413 

most part, she wore a red shirt, and folk were terrified at 
seeing her. Many a dale died out, and only after cen 
turies were the forgotten places discovered, where some 
times the old houses were found, sometimes only the 
remains of buildings and other traces of previous occupa 
tion. Such recovered dales were afterwards called 
Finddale, Fundarhuse, Findland, etc. Many of them 
were cleared again, but all over the country may still be 
found spots which bear traces of former occupation, but 
are now used only as summer pastures. 

The Black Death in Saetersdal. 

BEFORE the pest visited Norway, what is now called 
Saetcrsdal was uninhabited, and used only for summer 
pasture ; whereas that called Finddal, now used for the 
summer pasture, was then the inhabited district. Be 
sides the support given to the tradition by the name 
Saetersdal itself, there are also found in Finddal traces of 
former fields and houses, and in fact on an island in a 
mountain lake, which bears the name of Kirkholm, are 
found traces of a church and churchyard. 

The Black Death wrought fearful desolation in Finddal, 
where it only spared a single couple, Knud and Thore 
Nuten. These two continued to live in Finddal, and 
although new inhabitants afterwards came into Saetersdal 
and settled there, yet Knud and Thore could not bring 
themselves to leave their old home. 

Thus year after year passed, and the only want, says 
the story, that they felt in their loneKness, was that of not 
knowing exactly how time went. Especially when the dark 
winter came, they were vexed that they did not know when 

414 Churches, Treasures, Plagues. 

Christmas was, and so could not keep it at the same time 
as other people. Now and again a wanderer from the 
newly-inhabited Ssetersdal had brought to them the news 
of its being repeopled, and so, as it drew near to the 
shortest winter days, the old couple decided that Thore 
should go there, and find out how long it was to the great 
festival. The old woman left her husband completely 
alone, "took her foot in her hand," and set out on the 
road. But as she was going past a cliff, and rested there, 
she heard in clear tones from the mountain. 

" Dainty, dainty Thol6, 

Bake your bread for Yule, O, 
Two days and a single night, 
So long is it till Yule, O." 

The old woman hastened back in great joy to her waiting 
husband, and after this infallible information, they cele 
brated together the holy festival. No descendants of 
theirs are mentioned, but by and by the new inhabitants 
of Saetersdal took possession of Finddal as well. 

The Black Death in Denmark. 

ABOUT 1350 raged the Black Death, of which history re 
lates that it carried off four-fifths of the population in the 
Scandinavian countries, which, however, is not quite uni 
versally true. Nevertheless, even to this day may be 
heard faint echoes of the terror which that pestilence 
caused. It is said that children even avoided burying 
their parents bodies, many houses stood empty, and the 
cattle roamed wild over the fields. A little girl was on 
one occasion pursued by a bull. While she was running, 

The Black Death in Iceland. 415 

the pest took hold of her, and she fell dead, so quickly 
did it kill. The practice of saying " God help you," to 
one who sneezes, is by some referred to this time ; sneez 
ing was a sign of having caught the pest. The year 
before it, a vapour was seen to rise out of the ground, and 
spread itself over the whole country. 

In this pestilence all the people in Oster-Logum parish 
died out, with the exception of three ploughmen, who 
shut themselves up above an archway in the farm now 
owned by Nis Hansen in Havelund. They took with them 
provisions for six months, but every eighth day they went 
out and hoisted a piece of fresh beef on the end of a long 
pole. This hung for the next eight days, and was then 
taken down. For a long time the meat was always 
spoiled and black when they took it down, and this was a 
sign that the plague was still in the air. This went on 
until the meat was still fresh when they took it down, 
and they judged that there was no longer any danger. 
Then they said to each other, " Now we shall go and see 
our neighbours ; " but they went from house to house and 
found only the dead, both human beings and animals. 
In this way they went from village to village over the 
whole parish. The people lay dead on the fields beside 
their ploughs, and there was no living thing except eagles 
and beasts of prey. Houses and farms stood empty for 
twenty-five or thirty years after that time. A priest was 
brought out to the church from Aaben-raa, and offered 
up a prayer of thanksgiving for the cessation of the pestil 

4i 6 Churches, Treasures, Plagues. 

The Black Death in Iceland. 

AT the time when the Black Death began to rage, it was 
the custom of a certain farmer to hold prayers every 
morning at all seasons of the year. On one occasion 
they were busy gathering the hay together, as it looked 
like rain, when the farmer said they would go home to 
prayers. Some of the others objected to this, and said it 
would be more fitting for them to get the hay in, but the 
farmer insisted, and they all went to the house. During 
the day there came in sight two tiny tufts of cloud, which 
came nearer and increased in size till at last they 
appeared as a man and a woman riding on grey horses. 
They rode along above the farm, and the woman was 
heard to say, "Shall we visit here?" "No," said the 
man, " that was not commanded us." So the Black 
Death passed over without coming to the farm, and all 
the people there survived. 



1. With regard to consonants the following points may be 

noticed : 

d in Danish, when standing by itself at the end or in the 
middle of a word, is sounded th as in bathe. The same 
rule applies to the Icelandic names in this book, as d has 
been used for ft. After /, ;/, r^ it is not pronounced in 
Danish, but is sounded in Icelandic ( after r, d after , /.) 
Thus Danish gaard is = goar* y but Icelandic gard (gar<5) = 

f in Icelandic is always = v when not initial, and be 
comes b before n (Hrafn is pronounced H-ratfn\ 

g is always hard, as in go. 

/in all the Scandinavian tongues is the consonant^, as 
in German. Occasionally i has been printed instead of/ 

k in Swedish has a soft sound before a, e, t\y t o\ thus 
kyrka tshirka. 

th in Icelandic names stands for )>, and has the sound 
heard in English think. In Danish, etc., where it occurs 
initially, it is = /. 

2. Some of the vowel-sounds in Icelandic and Danish require 

explanation. In Icelandic : 

d has the sound of German au, English ow. Thus the 
name Hdkon is pronounced Howkon. (In Fxroese = Danish 

au is pronounced <>i\ thus Raud=-/wS, Audunf)/ 5//#. 

ei and ey are sounded as at : stein has almost the sound 
of English stay / , pronounced quickly. 

a is pronounced as eye : thus ba sounds like by in Eng 
lish. t 

y is equivalent to ;, and y to ; (the latter with the sound 
of English ee.) 

B 2 

4i 8 Notes. 

In Danish : 

aa is a broad o sound (oa\ so that raa comes near to 
English raw. The diphthong has also, been employed 
throughout to represent the Swedish circled a, which has 
the same sound. 

o as in German, but oj = English oy. 

y like German ?/, approaching to an tt-sound ; thus By 
comes near to English be. 

Final e is always pronounced in Danish and Swedish, as 
in German. 


The works from which the greater number of the stories in 
this volume have been selected are given in the following list, 
and are referred to in the notes by their abbreviated titles. The 
list will also serve to indicate the country to which each tale 
belongs. Where other works than those here named have been 
used, their titles are given in full, together with the nationality 
of the story, wherever this is not directly shown by the text. 


Flb. = Flateyjarb6k, Vol. I. Christiania, 1860. Part of the 
great MS. known as the Flatey Book, containing the longer 
recension of King Olaf Tryggvason s Saga, and numerous 
legends connected with it. 

Hkr. = Heimskringla, the short recension of the Sagas of the 
Kings of Norway, by Snorri Sturluson ; edited by Unger. 
Christiania, 1868. 

J. Am. =Jo"n Arnason s " Islenzkar ]?j65sogur og ^fintyri," 2 
vols. Leipzig, 1862-64. 

O. Dav. = Olaf Davidsson s " Islenzkar }>j6"i5s6gur ; " Reykjavik, 
1895 (a small volume). 


Fser. Anth. = Faerosk Anthologi, ved V. U. Hammershaimb. 
Copenhagen, 1891. 




Faye = Norske Folkesagn, samlede og udgivne af Andreas Faye 
(2nd Ed.) Christiania, 1844. 

Afz. = Swenska Folkets Sago-hafder, af Arv. Aug. Afzelius, I., 

II. Stockholm, 1839-40. 
Wig. = Folkdiktning, etc., samlad och upptccknad i Skaane (s. 

of Sweden) af (Fru) Eva Wigstrom. Copenhagen, 1880. 


Thiele = Danmarks Folkesagn, samlede af J. M. Thiele. Vol. 
II. Copenhagen, 1843. 

Grundt. = Gamle danske Minder i Folkemunde af Svend Grundt- 

vig. (2nd. Ed.) Copenhagen, 1861. 
Ramp = Danske Folkeminder, samlede af Jens Kamp. Odense, 

Krist. J. F. = Jyske Folkeminder, samlede af Evald Tang Kris- 

tensen. 12 Vols. 1871-95. 
Krist. D. S. = Danske Sagn, samlede af Evald Tang Kristensen. 

4 Vols. 1891-96. 


Nord. S. = Nordiske Sagn, samlede og udgivne af C. Berg og 
Edv. Gcedecken. Copenhagen, 1868. 



The narratives contained in this section are not part of the 
old Scandinavian mythology, but give the conceptions of the 
Old Gods as they were retained in the memories of the people 
after the introduction of Christianity. Most of them are ancient, 
but a few traditions have lingered on to recent times. 

9. Thorgils and Thor : Floamanna Saga, c. 20 and 21. The 
beginning of the third paragraph is condensed. More 
about Thorgils will be found on p. 276. He lived from 
937 to 1022 A.D., and the expedition to Greenland took 
place in 986. 

420 Notes. 

11. King Olaf and Thor : Odd s Saga of King Olaf Tryggva- 

son. The incident (which is not given in Hkr. but ap 
pears in a longer form in Fib. I., 397) is assigned to the 
year 998. 

12. Raud and Thor: Fib. I., 288-298. The narrative of the 

saga-writer has been greatly condensed in the translation. 
With the living image of Thor compare Earl Hdkon s 
wooden man on p. 350. 

14. Thor and Urebo Stone-field : Faye, p. 3. The story was 
taken down from a i armer living close to the spot, who 
used the old form tungum hamri (the heavy hammer) 
in telling it, " because the old people always say it so 
when they tell the tale." 

1 6. Thor s Hammer : J. Arn., I., 445. A " Thor s hammer " 

was seen by Dr. Konrad Maurer in Iceland in 1858. 
The practice, if not the name, is known elsewhere, in 
Sweden and Denmark (Afz. I., 20 ; Thiele, III., 360.) 

17. Thor s Stone-weapons: Afz., I., 10 and 12. With this fear 

of the trolls for Thor, compare the story of the Old Man 
of Hoberg (p. 124). The practice of lifting the small 
stone on top of the big one is observed at " Ossian s 
Grave," in the Sma* Glen, Perthshire. 

1 8. Odin and King Olaf: Fib. I., 375-6. Given also in Hkr., 

p. 1 80, with the name Varinn instead of Dixin. King 
Ogvald is thus referred to in Halfs Saga : " Finn the 
wealthy, of Akra-ness, lay beside Ogvalds-ness when about 
to sail to Iceland, and asked how long it was since King 
Ogvald fell. Then he heard this verse repeated in the 

" Long time backward, And sailed the sea-trouts 

When led were to battle Salt- waved pathway, 

Hundreds of Ilnekling s I of this homestead 

Heroes stalwart, Held the lordship." 

19. The Keel of the Long Serpent : Fib., I., 433-434. This 

was King Olaf s famous ship, the crew of which made so 
brave a fight in the battle of Svoldr (1000 A.D.) 

21. The Smith and Odin : Saga Hdkonar, Guthorms ok Inga, 
c. 20. Given in Vigfusson and Powell s Icelandic Reader, 
p. 216. "Nesjar, the Naze by Laurvik, at the mouth of 
the Christiania Firth: Medaldal, 120 miles away in the 

Notes. 421 

middle of Norway, W. by N. of Nesjar; Jardal, on the 
Norwegian coast above Stavanger, 70 miles \V. of Medal- 
dal." (ib.,p. 408.) 

22. Odin the Hunter: Krist. D. S., II., C. 23, 57, and 67. 
The tradition is also given by Thiele (II., 122-123), 
Grundtvig, and others. The name of the hunter assumes 
a great variety of forms, the leading types being Wojens, 
Uns, Jons, Huens (Horns). From the constant appear 
ance of the final s, it is possible that " Odin s hunter " 
was the original conception. There are slight variations 
as to the reason of his punishment, such as hunting on 
Easter Day, and the same belief exists about King 

24. Odin pursues the Elf-women : Krist., ib. 87, 85, and 90. 
This pursuit is also attributed to King Valdemar. From 
the length of her breasts, which hang down to her waist, 
or are thrown back over her shoulders, the female is 
sometimes called a slattcn-patte or " flabby-pap " (com 
pare in this respect the giantess on p. 92, and the berg- 
woman on p. 131). 

26. Odin in Sweden : Afz., I. 4. 

27. Odin s Cave and Garden: Krist. D. S., II., C. i. Similar 

tales of Odin s residence in Moen are given by Grundt 
vig and Thiele ; the latter says that the peasants leave 
the last sheaf to him. The phrase, " But Jesus though," 
is one of surprise or remonstrance : in Moen they say 
" Men jotten dog " in place of the ordinary " Men jos 

28. Frey : Fib. I., 403. The account of Frey s burial is also 

briefly given in Hkr., p. n. 

29. Gunnar and Frey : Fib. I., 337-339. It is probable that 

the story preserves some genuine features connected with 
the Old Northern temple-worship. 

32. Thorgerd Horda-briid : Fbl. I., 144 and 191. The real 
cognomen of Thorgerd is uncertain. Horda-brud might 
mean " bride of the Hdrdar " (the men of Horda-land), 
but the name is also written Horga-brud (horgr means a 
sacrificial cairn, but see note to p. 350), and Holga-brud 
(from Holgi, a mythical king). The great battle with 

422 Notes. 

the J6msvikings took place in 994 A.D. A temple of 
Thorgerd and Irpa is mentioned in Njals Saga, c. 87, 88. 
" During the night Hrapp went into the temple belong 
ing to the Earl (Hdkon) and Gudbrand. He saw Thor 
gerd sitting there, as big as a full-grown man : she had a 
large gold ring on her hand, and a fald on her head, 

35. Freyja and the Kings : Fib. L, 275-283. The second and 
third paragraphs are only an outline of the original. 
The story of the battle is briefly told in Snorra Edda 
(Skdldskapanndl) 57), where it is said that it will last till 
Doomsday. For Ironshield, the former owner of Ivar s 
sword, see page 42. 

39. Loki : Faye, p. 5. In Denmark the same story is told of 

Christ, and in Iceland of St. Olaf. 


The stories of trolls, conceived as huge and horrible ogres, 
are mainly Icelandic ; in the other Scandinavian countries, 
especially Denmark, the trolls are confounded with the berg- 
folk, and have little or nothing in common with their older 
namesakes. Thus the stories on pages 63, 65, and 70, might 
equally well have gone into the next section, but for the use of 
the name "troll." In Icelandic other words, such as flagd and 
skessa are used for the female troll, and the modern form is troll 
in place of the older troll. 


40. The Trolls in Heidar-skog : Fib. I., 257-260. The words 

of Ironshield on p. 42, " thoughts of great men lie upon 
me," refer to a belief in soul-wandering ("a person s ill- 
will or good-will being fancied as wandering abroad and! 
pursuing their object ") which is found elsewhere in the 

44. The Trolls and King Olaf : Odd s Saga of Olaf Tryggvason, 
c. 47. The same story is told in different words in Fib. 
I., 398-399, and is referred to in Hkr. The expedition 
to Halogaland was in 998 A.D. 

47. The Hag of Mjoa-firth: J. Arn., L, 152. A farmer in 
Firth, who died about 1830, declared that he remem 
bered the hag s iron shoe, which was used as a dust-bin. 

Notes. 423 

48. The Giantess s Stone : J. Am., I., 153. The word 
rendered " giantess " is skessa, a female troll. 

50. The Female Troll on Bid-fell : J. Am., I., 157. The story 

here given is preceded by ?* long account of the previous 
history of the troll. In a second version, Olaf meets the 
troll in a blinding drift, and seeing blood in her tracks, 
offers her one of his horses to ride on, if she would 
" leave it as good as she found it." This refers to the 
belief that horses are strained by being " troll-ridden." 

51. Gissur of Botnar : J. Arn., I., 161, with variant on p. 163. 

The first version ends with the story of Andra-rimur, for 
which see p. 57. 

52. Jdra in J6ru-kleyf : J. Arn., I., 182. A few topographical 

details have been omitted. The name Joru-kleyf occurs 
in Hardar Saga. According to Landndma, Oxar-d was 
so named by Ketilbjorn, one of the early settlers, because 
of an axe being lost in it. 

54. Loppa and Jon : J. Arn., I., 191. Other versions of the 
tale are given on pp. 187 ff. The one here translated 
adds that J6n s bones were dug up in the churchyard in 
the middle of the i8th century ; his thigh-bone, reached 
from the ground to the hip of the tallest man present. 

56. Trunt, trunt, and the trolls in the fells : J. Arn., I., 193. 

The word " trunt " has no more meaning in Icelandic 
than in English. 

57. Andra-rimur and Hallgrfms-rimur : J. Arn., I., 196. 

Andra-rimur are a very popular set of ballads. Hall- 
grims-rimur are the Passion Psalms of Hallgri m Peturs- 
son, which Vigfusson calls "the flower of Icelandic 
poetry, old as well as modern." See the stories of 
Hallgrim on p. 369. 

58. Hremmu-hdls : J. Arn., I., 214. The belief in trolls being 

turned to stone at daybreak is very common ; compare 
the Origin of Drdngey " on p. 61. 

59. Bergthdr in Bid-fell: J. Arn., I., 213. The derivation of 

Hftardal from the giantess Hit is imaginary, the real form 
being Hitardal. The cavity in the rock for holding the 
sour whey still exists, and is used for that purpose. 
61. The Origin of Drdngey : J. Arn., I. t 210. This rocky 
island was the last refuge of the outlawed Grettir. 

424 Notes. 

62. The Size of Trolls : J. Am., L, 217. These later exag 

gerations may be compared with the giant in the Danish 
tale on p. 399. 

63. Trolls in the Faroes : Faer. Anth., L, 356, also given in 

Danish in Nord. S., p. 55 from Antikv. Tidsskrift, 1850 
(not quite so full as in the Fairoese). A number of 
similar tales of elves are told in J. Arn., L, 118 ff; com 
pare "The Shepherd and the Sea-folk " on p. 228. 

65. The Troll and the Bear : Nord. S., 109 (from Grundtvig s 

Gamle Danske Minder). Variants are given by Faye 
(p. 30) and by Asbjornsen and Moe (p. 139), the latter 
translated in Dasent s " Popular tales from the Norse." 

66. Dyre Vaa, etc. : Faye, p. 19. With the troll s glove com 

pare the story of the giant s glove on p. 90. 

67. The Trolls in Hedal-skov : Asbjornsen, Norske Folke- 

Eventyr (Ny Samling) p. 153. The incident of the 
common eye is familiar in some fairy-tales. 

70. The Trolls and the Cross: Krist. D. S., L, 511. The 
trolls here are the Danish ones = bergfolk. The virtues 
of the rowan-tree appear in other stories (p. 378). 

72. Dofri : Fib. L, 564-6. The story is very differently told 
in Hkr. (Saga Halfdanar Svarta, c. 8), and the writers of 
Fib. have also worked that version into their tale of 

74. The Giant on Saudey : Fib. I., 524-530. The early part 
is slightly condensed, and the last paragraph only an 
abstract of the original narrative. With the witch s pro 
phecy compare the story of Ingimund on p. 357. 

77. The Giantess s Cave in Sando : Fxr. Anth., L, 332, also 

in Danish in Nord. S., p. 22. There is a similar story 
about Fjallavatn in Vaago. 

78. OH the Strong, etc. : F?er. Anth., L, 348-351. 

81. Mikines: Fser. Anth., I., 352. Castoreum was formerly 
used to protect the open boats against whales, who were 
supposed to dislike the scent of it. An old story of 
shifting islands in the way here imagined is that of 
Gefjdn, and the origin of Sjaelland in Denmark (Hkr., 
p. 6). 

Notes. 425 

83. The Giant on Hestmando : Faye, p. 10. The Horseman 

is some 1650 feet high, and the hole in Torgehatten is 
about 430 ells long, and from 90 to 220 feet high. 

84. The Raaman, etc. : Faye, p. 12, 

85. The Giant in Dunkeraberg : Faye, p. 13. The value of 

knowing a troll s name is also shown by the stories on 
PP- 390, 391- 

85. The Giant of Tmdfell : Nord. S., p. 47 (from Hammerich s 

" Skandinaviske Reiseminder "). The incident of the 
fir-cone is also given by Faye, p. 19. 

86. The Giant of Ness : Nord. S., p. 24 (from Afzelius). In 

this and the following tale the "giant seems to be more 
of a bergman, to which the incident of the cow also 
points ; compare the story of the birth on p. 98. 

87. The Giant at Lagga Kirk : Nord. S., p. 33 (from Afzelius). 

For the hatred borne by trolls towards church bells, 
compare the following tale, and p. 404. 

88. The Giant s Flitting : Nord. S., p. 43 (from Grundtvig). 

89. The Giant s Dam : Krist. J. F., III., p. 57. The berg 

man here is evidently intended for a giant. 

90. The Giantess and the Plonghers : #., p. 59. 

90. The Giant s Glove : /#., IV., p. 50. The glove worn by 

the giant was the lufvantc, which has no divisions for the 
different fingers. 

91. The Giantess and her Sons : ib. VI., p. 40. The giantess 

is called Ghvkuen (or Givkoneii), where Giw may be the 
O.N. gygr^ a giantess. In Wigstrom (p. 131) a giant s 
wife is similarly described as throwing her breasts over 
her shoulders ; compare p. 131, and the note to p. 24. 


Tales of bergfolk are perhaps the commonest type of Danish 
folk-lore, and nearly all the stories in this section belong to 
Denmark. They illustrate in themselves almost every feature 
of the life supposed to go on in the mounds, which are the 
habitations of the underground people, and require little com 
ment. As already mentioned, the names of " troll " and " berg- 

426 Notes. 

man " are synonymous in Denmark, and even " nisse " is some 
times employed with the same meaning. 

93. The Origin of Bergfolk : Krist. D. S., L, p. 3 and 4, in 
various forms. The same account is given by Thiele 
(II., 175) and Faye (p. xxvii), who also mentions the 
Swedish versions. Compare the Icelandic account of 
the origin of the elves on p. 142, with corresponding 

93. The Oldest Man, etc. ; Krist. D. S., L, 713. 

94. A Meeting with Bergfolk : #., 36. The idea that bergfolk 

cannot say " good " appears in other stories ; compare 
however p. 95. 

95. Gillikop: Thiele, II., 243 (Thorpe II., 151). 

95. Skalle : Nord. S., p. 72 (from Grundtvig). Stories of shift 
ing the stable or cow-house from above the bergfolk s 
dwelling are common enough. 

97. We others : Krist., D. S., I. 572. 

97. The Key of Dagberg Dos. : Krist., J. F., III., p. 12. 

Dagbcrg Dos or Daas is a favourite locality for bergfolk 
tales. In another version the herdboy gets a hat-buckle 
as a reward, but loses it soon after. 

98. A Birth among the Bergfolk : Krist.. D. S., L, 1113, and 

in many other versions. The toad is a common feature, 
which may be explained by a confusion of Tudse (a toad) 
and Tusse or Tus O.N. \urs, a giant. With the use of 
the salve and its subsequent effects, compare the Ice 
landic story on p. 144. 

100. Life hangs by a thread : Krist., J. F., IV., 33. In other 
versions a woman allows a toad to escape with its life, is 
taken down to attend the bergwoman, and sees the mill 
stone hanging above her while doing so. In Thiele (II., 
203 = Thorpe, II., 130) it is a serpent that hangs over 

102. The Bergman s Christian Wife: Krist., D. S., I., 1126. 
Compare the previous story on p. 99. The advices given 
to the midwife in such tales are three in all ; to partake 
of no food, to choose rubbish instead of gold, and to 
slip off the horse or waggon as soon as it stops. 

Notes. 427 

103. Working for the Bergfolk : Krist. : D. S., I., 1105. A 

similar story in Thiele (II., 204 = Thorpe, II., 130). 

104. Maid Ellen : Krist, D. S., I., 846 and 848. According 

to the version in Kamp (p. 149), the brother s name was 
Sti Pors. 

106. The Changeling and Egg-shells : Kamp, p. 19. A very 

common story. In Krist., J. F., III., 65, the changeling, 
on being found out, catches hold of its feet and rolls off 
like a wheel, up hill and down dale as far as the eye can 
follow it. 

107. The Changeling and Sausage : Krist., D. S., I., 1049. 

This also occurs in many versions ; see Keightley, I., 
199, and Thorpe, II., 174 (from Thiele, II., 227). In 
some of these the changeling cannot pronounce the word 
for sausage, pohe> and calls it oils or hols. 

108. The Troll s Wedding: Nord. S., p. 86 (from Grundtvig). 

The story appears in many forms. The woman s 
laughter is caused by a variety of accidents, but the 
knocking over of a dish is the most frequent. 

109. Sten of Fogel-Karr : Afz., II., 157, translated in Thorpe 

(II., 86). With Sten s use of the fire-steel compare the 
tale on p. 396, and that of the knife on p. 169. 

no. The Bergman s Daughter, etc.: Nord. S., p. 31, from 
Hammerich. Versions are also given by Krist. and 
others. That in Thiele (II. , 224) is not translated by 

ii2. Viting is dead: Krist., D. S., L, 313. The names vary 
considerably in different versions. Sortoje (Black-eye) 
appears as Soloj, Koloje, Akeleje, etc., and Viting as 
Vipping, Vippe, Vibbi, Pippe, etc. Quite different is 
the " Atis and Vatis " version, which also undergoes 
many transformations. 

112. Tell Finkenrcs, etc.: Krist., J. F., IV., n. Also told in 
D. S., I., 355, where Finkenncs is said to have been the 
weakest of three bergmen, and so compelled to leave the 
mound till Jafet died. In some versions he runs off 
saying, " Farewell, never want ! " 

114. Brondhoj : Thiele, II., 187, translated by Keightley (L, 
196) and Thorpe (II., 123). The cat also figures in a 
Swedish version (Wigstrom, p. 153). 

428 Notes. 

114. Skotte : Thiele, II., 205, translated by Keightley (I., 187) 
and Thorpe (II., 132). There are also versions in Krist., 

D. S, I, 22. 

116. Plough-irons made by Bergfolk : Grundt. I., 122. A 
scythe is the favourite implement to order from the 
underground smith : it must never be sharpened, or it 
becomes quite useless, and generally payment must be 
given for it. 

116. The borrowed petticoat: Thiele II., 199, translated by 

Thorpe (II., 128). The story is not a common one, 

117. The Bergfolk s ale-barrel: Krist. D. S., I., 468. Stones 

of such borrowings are frequent ; this one occurs in a 
Swedish version in Wigstrom, p. 156. 

117. Nisse in the ale-barrel: Krist. D. S., I., 508. The nisses 
in this tale are plainly meant for bergfolk. 

119. Bergfolk at the wedding feast: Krist. D. S., L, 517, with 

many variants. Compare Faye, p. 29, translated by 
Thorpe (II., 100). 

120. Stealing Music: Krist. D. S., I., 693. The story is a very 

curious one, and apparently unique. 

121. The Bergwoman s Bread: Nord. S., p. 94 (from Grund- 

tvig). Similar stories are extremely common. Some 
times the ploughman gives the bread to his horses, which 
grow strong by it. 

122 The Old Man of Hoberg : Nord. S., p. 3 (from Backstrom s 
"Folksbocker"). Similar narratives are "The Giant in 
Jons-horn" in Faye (p. 16, not given by Thorpe), and 
"The Trolls Fear for Thunder" in Thiele (II., 245= 
Keightley I., 193, and Thorpe II., 152). There is also 
a very lively version in Krist. D. S., L, 1408. 

126. Bergfolk Militia: Krist. D. S., L, 255. Some account of 

the underground defenders of Bornholm is also given by 
Thiele (II., i94,=Thorpe II., 125). 

127. The Herd-boy and the Bergman: Krist. D. S., L, 258. 

This is perhaps a version of Svend Failing with his 
twelve men s strength, for which see Thiele II., 228 
(translated by Keightley L, 203, and Thorpe II., 141), 
as well as Krist. D. S., L, 959 ff. 

Notes. 429 

128. The Bergfolk s present : Krist. D. S., I., 484. 

129. The Bergman s beetles : ib. 634. The gold is also seen in 

the form of small stones or pieces of coal. Compare the 
story of Bergtbor on p. 59. 

130. The Red Stone on Fuur: Nord. S., p. 96 (from Hammer- 

ich). The latter part is copied from the same source by 
Thiele (II., 236), and translated by Thorpe (II., 148). 
A version in Krist. D. S., (I., 651) makes the trolls really 
fire the man s house in revenge for the theft. 

131. The Silver Cup, etc.: Krist. D. S., I., 774. Versions of 

the story abound in Danish, and present numerous varia 
tions from each other. The one in Thiele (II., 232) 
is given both by Keightley (I., 180) and Thorpe (II., 144). 
The others collected by Kristensen show the following 
differences from that translated here, (i) The horseman 
loses his way, and sees Dagberg Daas blazing with light; 
the nearer he comes, the smaller the lights grow, until at 
last they only shine out through little slits. Or the man 
is sent by the owner of Stubbergaard, with instructions 
how to act. The mound is standing on four glowing 
pillars, and a wedding going on inside. (2) The horse 
man does not hear about the poison, but either suspects 
its look, or has been told of it beforehand. (3) Some 
versions omit the difficulty about the ploughed land. 
(4) So exhausted is the woman with her running, that 
she falls down dead, or bursts and gives birth to twins, 
and is found lying there on Christmas morning by the 
church-goers. The bergman then comes, lifts a large 
stone with his five fingers, and lays it abov.e her dead 

132. One-leg and the stolen Goblet: Krist. D. S., I., 803. 

Also a very common tale. The cry of "Off the smooth, 
etc," is a regular feature in all the versions, though in 
different forms. In some the pursuing bergman or berg- 
woman throws a lump of earth after the thief, which re 
mains as a mound on the field, or hurls stones, which 
are pointed out with the marks of fingers on them. In 
others the trolls shout to the horse, " Stand, gelding," 
but as the man rides a stallion, they cannot stop him. 
The cup or horn is either preserved in the district, or 
was sent to Copenhagen Museum, and many communion 

430 Notes. 

cups are said to have been got in this way. In many 
cases the cup is afterwards recovered by the bergfolk. 

133. The Bergfolk pass over Limfjord : Nord. S., p. 99. There 
are several versions in Krist. D. S., I., 84, and in 
Thiele. Thorhall the prophet saw the mounds opening 
and the creatures in them preparing to depart, shortly 
before the introduction of Christianity into Iceland (Fib. 
L, 421)- 

135. Reimer s Aerial Voyage : Nord. S., p. 57 (from Grundtvig). 
Different versions in Krist. D. S., I., Si ; also Swedish 
variants in Wigstrom (pp. 133 and 238). In some of 
the Danish ones the return service is to help the berg- 
man in a, fight with his neighbour. 

137. The Bergman in Mesing Bank : Nord. S., p. 91 (from 

Grundtvig). The bergfolk go by sea to Norway in the 
story of the " Emigration from ^ro," Thiele (II., 252 = 
Thorpe II., 156.) 

138. Dwarfs in the Faeroes : Fser Anth. L, 326 (also in Danish 

in Nord. S., p. 107). The conception of dwarfs here 
comes very close to that in the old mythology. 

139. Dwarfs in Smithdale : Faye, p. 35. 

140. The Last Dwarfs in Iceland : J. Arn. L, 469. For the 

significance of the term krapta-skdld^ see p. 369. 


Although the elves (d/far) have a place in the old mythology, 
and are often mentioned along with the gods, there are few 
references to them in the older writings. It is probable that the 
Icelandic siories in this section have best preserved the old 
conception of the elves. The name huldu-Jblk, or " hidden 
people " is regarded as a milder term than dlfar, and the elves 
are said to prefer to be called by that name. In Denmark the 
properties of the elves are largely assigned to the bergfolk ; and 
the conception of the former has been greatly influenced by the 
chance resemblance of cllffolk to ellc tree, the name of the alder, 
as may be seen from the stories on pp. 180, 181, 184. 


142. The Origin of the Elves: J. Arn. I., 5. Another story 
(ib.) tells how a man received from an elf-girl the story of 

Notes. 431 

their origin. "When the devil raised rebellion in heaven, 
he and all those who fought on his side were driven into 
outer darkness. Those who joined neither party were 
cast down to earth and doomed to live in knolls, fells, 
and stones, and they are called elves or huldu-folk." 
According to the same account the elves have no 
material body. 

142. The Elves House: Huld. I., 38 (Reykjavik, 1890). 

143. A Fairy Birth : J. Arn. I., 16. Similar stories on pp. 13 

to 23. Some of the variations are: (i) the man goes 
three times " withershins " round the stone, which then 
appears as a fine house. The same process turns it into 
a stone again ; (2) a box of ointment is given to rub the 
child s eyes with ; (3) the hulduman spits in the woman s 
eye to destroy its second sight, or wets his finger and 
draws it round it ; (4) in one version the elf-woman s 
helper is a small boy. Compare the Danish story on p. 

9 8. 

145. Baptising a Fairy-child : J. Arn. L, 54. 

146. The Changeling : ib. 41. A very similar story of a change 

ling s pranks is given by Kristensen, D. S., I., 1029. 

146. Father of Eighteen Children : ib. 42. The elf- woman s 
reproach is common in the Danish changeling-tales. 

148. Making a changeling : ib. 44. This perhaps explains why 

changelings were supposed to increase and diminish 
their size at pleasure, as in the story on p. 146. 

149. The Child and the Fairy : ib. 48. A similar story is told 

of the Icelandic poet Bjarni Thorarensen (ib. 45). In 
another instance the person enticed away bore the marks 
of the elf-woman s fingers on his cheek all his days. 

150. Carried off by the Fairies : ib. 56. The story is assigned 

to a period shortly after the introduction of Christianity. 

152. The girl and the Elf-brothers : ib. 56. 
152. Ima the Elf-girl : ib. 100. 

155. The Elfin Fisherman : ib. 6. The elves in the Faeroes 

also go out fishing ; see the story on p. 164. 

156. The Elfin Cow : ib. 37, slightly condensed. The method 

432 Notes. 

of securing the fairy cow by drawing blood occurs in 
another tale. There are also Huldu-neyt in the Faeroes, 
and Hulla-koer in Norway. 

157. The Elf- woman in Miili : ib. 36. 

158. Fairies Revenge : Huld. III. 66 (Reykjavik, 1893). 

159. The two Sisters and the Elves: J. Arn., I. 124. The 

story has something in common with the practice of 
sitting at the cross-roads : see p. 382. 

160. The Elves Removal; ib. 126. Compare the note to p. 

133 above. 

161. Huldufolk in the FnerOes : Fcer. Anth., I. 327. This view 

of the elves agrees with the Icelandic. 

162. The Dulur Fishing-bank: ib, 338. There is a Danish 

version (somewhat shorter) in Nord. S. p. 167. With 
the hulduman s advice to the fisher compare that of the 
merman on p. 222. 

164. The man from Gdsa-dal : ib. 339, also in Danish (shorter) 
in Nord. S. p. 152. 

166. The Huldres in Norway : Nord. S. 148 (from Hammerich). 

Faye s account is given by Thorpe, II., 2. 

167. The Huldre s Tail: ib. 150 and 151 (from Faye and 


1 68. The Huldre s Husband : Faye, 40 (given by Thorpe, II., 


169. The Bride s Crown, etc. : Faye, 25 (also in Thorpe, II., 10). 

170. Fairies in the house : Wig. pp. no, 154, and 155. These 

house-fairies bear some resemblance to the vattcr, but 
are seemingly not identical with them. 

171. The Wood-fairy : ib. pp. 129-131. The Swedish skogsnua 

corresponds closely to the Danish elie-kvinde, as may be 
seen by comparing the stories about the latter. 

173. The Peasant and the Wood-fairy : Djurklou, "Sagor och 

Afventyr," p. 135. Compare Chambers, "Popular 
Rhymes of Scotland," pp. 63 and 66, for similar smart 

174. The Wood-man: Wig., p. 158. This kind of being does 

not seem to be mentioned elsewere. 

Notes. 433 

175. The Danish Ellefolk : compiled from various accounts in 
Krist. D. S., II., A. 

177. The Elf-King: ib. II. A., 32-35. The short notice in 

T^iele (II., 189) is omitted by Thorpe. 

178. An Elf-child s Birth : Krist. J. F., III., 57, with a variant 

in 58. 

179. The Changeling and the Stallion : Krist. D. S., I., 1048. 

Compare, for the age of the child, the Icelandic stories 
on p. 148. The stallion is similarly employed in the 
version in Thiele, II., 276 ( = Thorpe, II., 175.) 

179. The Elf-woman at Fredskov : Nord. S., 121 (from Grund- 

181. The Elf-girl and the Ploughman : Krist., D. S., II. A., 81. 

182. Elf-charm cured by Lead: ib. 83. The process is fully 

described in Wig., p. 189. "There must be three kinds 
of lead : church-lead, cloth-lead (from cloth-stamps), and 
common lead. This is all melted together and poured 
over a pair of shears, which are opened out in the form of 
a cross, and laid over a bowl of water. During this time 
not a word must be spoken. The lead runs together in 
the water, and forms some figure or other, generally that 
of a person. In that case, the sick man has met with 
something, which was laid out on purpose to injure him 
or some one else. But whatever the lead forms, it must 
be wrapped up in linen, and laid under the sick person s 
head, so that he may sleep on it overnight." Compare 
the following case from the Frascrburgh Kirk Session 
Records (published by Rev. P. Milne, B.D.,) "Agnes 
DurTtuik Icid and meltit it, and pat on ane sieve on the 
bairnis heid, and ane coig with waiter in the sieve, and 
ane scheir abein the coig, and the leid was put in through 
the boull of the scheir amang the watter." 

184. Curing an Elf-charm : Krist. D. S., II., A. 104. 

185. The Elfin Dance: ib. 108. 

185. The Lady s Beech: ib. 128. 

1 86. Thefts by the Elves : ib. 133. With the second paragraph 

may be compared an Icelandic version in J. Arn., I., 43, 
where the elf-women are similarly hindered by the crosses 

434 Notes. 

above and below the cradle, and the presence of a two- 
year old child. 

187. The Charcoal Burner, etc.: ib. 151, with variants, which 
also occur elsewhere. In one of these the girl asks the 
man s name, and he answers " Myself," which leads to 
the same result as the "Nobody" of Ulysses. The 
questions asked by the girl and man are in some versions 
quite meaningless. 


Stories of the Nisse, a being unknown in older legend, are the 
especial property of Denmark, though also found in Norway 
and Sweden. The prevailing gloomy tone of Icelandic folk-lore 
easily accounts for the absence of this good-natured and helpful 
creature there. Even the vcettir in Icelandic writings are most 
commonly understood as evil spirits (Jitidnar or illar vatiir). 
Not a few of the stories in this section have close counterparts 
in British folk-lore. 

189. The Nisse : Nord. S., 80-85. Tne first P art is taken from 
Faye, and the second from Grundtvig. 

191. To catch a Nisse : Krist. D. S., II., B. n. and 22. 

192. The Nisses in Gedsby : Nord. S., 75 (from Grundtvig). 

Some of the incidents in this recall tales like the " Devil 
of Glenluce " or the " Drummer of Tedworth," where a 
more mysterious cause than the nisses is assigned for the 

195. Father and Son : Krist. D. S., II., B. 34. 

195. The Old Bushel : ib. 35. 

196. The Nisse s Parting Gift : ib. 228. 

198. Nisse kills a Cow: Grundt. I., 116. There are a good 
many variants in Krist. D. S., II., B. 180 ff. In some 
of these the nisse breaks into poetry after bringing home 
the cow, or cows. Thiele s version (II., 264) is given by 
Keightley (I., 224) and Thorpe (II., 158). 

198. Nisse s New Clothes: Krist. D. S., II., B. 213. 

199. The Little Harvesters : ib. 38. A similar story of trolls is 

told in Wigstrom, p. 134. 

Notes. 435 

200. Nisse s Rest : ib. 46. The tale is a very common one. 

Thiele s version (II., 266) is given by Keightley (I., 227), 
but omitted by Thorpe. 

201. Fights between Nisses : ib. So and 98. Many other ver 

sions are given in the same section. In some of these 
the victorious nisse says boastfully, " Did you see how I 
held my own ?" In others, one of the nisses comes and 
asks his master for something to fight with. 

203. Nisses fighting as wheels : Krist. J. F., III., 85. This is 

a very unusual type of nisse-legend. 

204. The Nisses Visits : Grundt. I., 136. The story shows 

some confusion between nisses and bergfolk. 

205. Nisse and the Girl: Grundt. I., 145. Thiele (II., 270) 

gives the same story of a nisse and a lad, translated by 
Keightley (I., 233) and Thorpe (II., 164). 

206. Nisse as a Calf: Krist. D. S., II., B. 170. A cow or calf 

is a favourite shape for nisse to assume. 

206. The Nisses and their Horses : communicated by E. T. 


207. The Nisse and the Ghost : Krist. J. F., III., 102. This 

combination is a very unique and interesting one. 

208. Light high, light low: Krist. D. S., II., B. 128. There 

are several variants, one of which says that the nisse 
shouted " Light low ! when he heard anyone coming, 
and " Light high !" after they had gone past. 

209. Nisse s Removal : Krist. J. F., III., 71. Thiele s version 

(IL, 263) is given by Keightley (I., 223) and Thorpe 
(II., 161). The story is the same as that told by Tenny 
son in " Walking to the Mail." 

210. The last Nisse in Samso : communicated by E. T. Kris 
tensen. The exact date of the nisse s removal is an 
amusing feature of the story. 

211. The Krist. D. S., II., B. 15. 

211. The Ship-nisses : tb. t 18. The second paragraph com 

municated by E. T. Kristensen. 

212. The Swedish Tomte : Afz., IL, 169. For the general 

description of the Tomte which precedes this extract see 

436 Notes. 

Thorpe (II., 91-93); the Swedish conception is not 
essentially different from the Danish. 

213. The Nisse and the Dean: Wig., 138 and 198. The 

story is an unusual and interesting one. 

214. Vattar: #., 108-110. In Denmark the vatter have a 
worse reputation, as they are believed to suck children s 
breasts while these are asleep. As in Sweden, they also 
appear in houses by night, each carrying a light, but the 
general conception of them approaches more closely to 
that of the bergfolk or ellefolk. The O.N. vattir are 
supernatural beings, either good or bad according to 
context. " In the French chronicle of Holger Danske, 
it says that on the night in which he was born there 
came in to him six beautiful shining maidens who are 
called vetter (Christiern Pedersen s danske Skrifter, Vol. 
V., p. 310). 

216. Marjun in Orda-vik, etc. : Faer. Anth., I., 327-330. 


The merman and mermaid, the river-horse and river-man, are 
the chief dwellers in water known to popular belief, and are 
familiar in all the Scandinavian countries, except that the river 
man (Nok or Neck) does not seem to exist in Iceland in the 
same form as elsewhere. The sjbskrimsl or sea-monster is 
rather to be compared with the sjo-dregil of the Faeroes, or the 
draug of Norway. 


220. Mermen and Mermaids : J. Am., 1., 131 and 134 
(adapted). The belief in sea-cows is also common in the 
Faeroes and in the south of Sweden, where the mermaid s 
servants are believed to steal fodder from the farms on 
shore. The sea-bull also visits cows on land, but the 
calves are born dead, and are full of water (Wig., 136). 

221. Then laughed the merman: J. Arn., I., 132. The lines 

at the end precede a second version on p. 133, and are 
perhaps part of a poem on the subject. The story of the 
merman s laugh is found as early as Hdlf s Saga, where 
he laughs at King Hjorleif for striking his dog instead of 
his wife. The same legend appears in Old Irish in the 

Notes. 437 

tale Aided/i Fergusa, where the fairy king, lubdan, takes 
the place of the merman. In the description of the fish 
ing tackle, " bitten iron and trodden " means a horse s 
bit and shoes, while " horse s tire " denotes either foam 
or sweat. Compare the Faerb ese tale on p. 163. 

223. The merman in the Faeroes: Faer. Anth., I., 335-337. 
225. The merman in Norway: Faye, 55. 

225. The fisher and the merman : Kamp., p. 20. Several 

variants are given in Krist., D. S., II., D. 4-12. 

226. The merman and the calf: Kamp., p. 19. Compare the 

story of the river-man on p. 245. 

227. The dead merman, etc. : Krist., D. S., II., D. 21. In 
some versions the merman is taken back to the sea on a 
waggon drawn by two red cows. 

227. The Sea-sprite: Foer. Anth., I., 136. Compare the 
account of the Norwegian draug on p. 328. 

228. The Shepherd and the Sea-folk: J. Am., I., 118. 

231. The Origin of the Seal : Nord. S., p. 160. The version 
in Faer. Anth., I., 345, is somewhat fuller in its details. 

233. Nykur or the Water-horse : J. Arn., I., 135. 

234. Nykur does work, etc. : ib. t 136. So the kelpie of the 

North Esk was compelled to drag stones to build the 
house of Morphie, and finally escaped by its halter being 

235. Nennir : J. Arn., I., 137. Similar stories are told of the 

kelpie in Scottish tradition. 

236. The Long Horse: Nord. S., 221 (from Grundtvig). It is 

there called the Hell-horse, evidently a mistake. There 
are many variants in Krist., D. S., II., D. 71-95. 

237. Nykur in the Fceroes : Foer. Anth., I., 334. 

238. The Nok or Neck : Faye, 48-51. 

239. The River-horse : Wigstrom, iio-m and 153. 

241. The River-man : /#., 136 and 172. There is a story of 
one who had learned music from the Nok in Nord. S., 
135, taken from Hammerich. 

438 Notes. 

242. Necken promised Redemption : Afz. II., 154, 155. The 
-tn of Neck-en is the definite article suffixed. A similar 
story is told of trolls in Wig., p. 166. 

243. The hour is come. : Faye, 51, and Krist., D. S., II., D., 

38 and 45. 

245. The river-man : Krist., J. F., IV., 72. Compare the story 

of the merman on p. 226. 

246. The Kelpie : Faye, 53. The name in the original is 

Kvczrnknurre?i. The kelpie in Scottish tradition is also 
connected with the mill, as the brownie with the barn. 

247. Sea-Serpents : Faye, 58. 

247. The Sea-serpent in Mjosen : Nord. S., 171. A slightly 
different account is given by Faye, p. 59. 


The monsters grouped together in this section really fall into 
two classes, the dragon, lindorm and viper, which have an in 
dependent existence of their own ; and the werewolf and night 
mare, which are human beings in monstrous shape. Both con 
ceptions go b%ck to the earliest period, and both are familiar 
down to the present day. 


249. Gold-Thorir and the Drakes : Gull-]?6ris Saga, c. 3, 4, and 
23, 24. The adventures of Thorir in Norway are mythi 
cal, but the latter part of the saga is mainly historical. 

254. Bjorn and the Dragon : Bjarnar Saga Hitdcelakappa, p. 

12. The date of the incident is about 1012, A.D. 

255. Dragons in Norway: Faye, 67. The conception of the 

dragon here, as in the story of Thorir, recalls the fire- 
drake of the Beowulf. 

255. Dragons in Denmark: Krist, D. S., II., C. 122, 128. This 

method of despoiling the dragon seems peculiar to Danish 

256. The Dragon Disturbed : #., 137. Compare the stories of 

treasure- digging on pp. 406-409. 

258. The Charcoal-burner, etc. : ib. 141. 

Notes. 439 

258. The Lindorm in the Churchyard : Krist., J. R, III., 124. 

The lindorm is a favourite monster in Swedish as well as 
Danish tradition, and within the past twenty or thirty 
years a considerable number of peasants gave sworn testi 
mony that they had seen one. O.N. lyng-ormr> a ser 

259. The Lindorm and the Bull : Kamp. p. 260. The tale is 

a very common one, and the bull is usually fed up on 
the same diet. 

260. The Lindorm and the Glazier: Thiele, II., 287 (not given 

by Thorpe.) Somewhat similar is the story in Krist., J. 
R, III., 122, where the lindorm lies round the church, 
and is killed by a student. 

261. The Lindorm and the Wizard : Krist, D. S., II., E. 89. 

The story appears in various forms, attached to different 
localities. In one of these the lindorm is expected, and 
three fires are made for it, in the third of which it perishes. 
In others the wise man saves himself in a boat, or on 
horseback, but sometimes the lindorm destroys him. The 
death of the man by the hidden bone recalls the story of 

263. The Lindorm in Klov-bakke : Nord. S., p. 179 (from 

Grundtvig). One may presume that the doctor knew his 

264. The King of the Vipers : Krist., D. S., II., E. 157, with a 

number of variants. The story was known in Scotland ; 
see the "Tale of Sir James Ramsay of Bamff" in Cham 
bers "Popular Rhymes," p. 77. 

265. The Basilisk : Krist., J. R, III., 114. In 115 is a similar 

story of a lindorm. The ordinary account of the basilisk 
is given in 113. 

265. The Gravso or Ghoul : Nord. S., p. 225 (from Grundtvig). 

A different kind of Grave-sow will be found on p. 404. 

266. Nidagrfsur : Rer. Anth., L, 331. Grisur is a "grice" or 

young pig ; the meaning of nida and the force of the ex 
clamation " hasin Loddasin I " are obscure. 

267. The Were-wolf : Krist, D. S., II., R, I. 17, 36 (adapted). 

The last three paragraphs from Nord. S., p. 185-188 

44 Notes. 

(originally from Grundtvig), Were-wolves occur in the 
Volsunga Saga, c. 8, but the Danish conception has much 
that is peculiar in it. 

270. The Night-mare: Hkr. Ynglinga Saga, c. 16, and Faer. 
Anth., I., 330. The passage from Hkr. is the oldest 
mention of Mara. A very similar account to the Fseroese 
is given by Faye, p. 76, where the verse employed is, 

." Muro, muro, mincle. 
Are you herein ? 
Out you must go. 
Here is knife, here is spear, 
Simon Svipu s in here." 

" Simon Svipu " is the thick growth on old birch trees, 
and is hung over horses, etc., to prevent Mara from riding 

272. A Girl as Night-mare: Krist., J. F., III., 103, with vari 

ants in D. S., II., F., 78, 79. 

273. A Night-mare caught : Nord. S., 191 (from Grundtvig). 

274. The Night-mare on horses: Krist. D. S., II,, F. 73 and 



The most impressive ghosts in this section, it will be seen, are 
those of Iceland, both ancient and modern. Icelandic literature 
is so rich in tales of this kind, that those here given must only 
be regarded as samples. Some of the finest stories from the 
Sagas, such as that of Glam in Grettis Saga, and the marvels at 
Fr6da in Eyrbyggja Saga, are omitted here, partly because of 
their length, and partly because these sagas are accessible in 
translations. The Danish tales are also a mere handful of what 
might be brought together, and those of Norway and Sweden 
are left practically untouched. 


276. Thorgils and the Ghosts: F16amanna Saga, c. 13. The 
dealings of Thorgils with the god Thor are told on p. 9. 
The name of Audunn is the same as the O. E. Eadwine, 
Edwin. The sword given by Audun to Thorgils was 
called Bladnir, and was afterwards taken back by 
him in a dream. Somewhat similar to the trouble with 

Notes. 441 

Gyda is the story of Thorstein Svarti and his wife Grim- 
hild in Fib. I., 543. 

278. Thorolf Bacgif6t : Eyrbyggja Saga, c. 33, 34, and 63. The 
story has considerable resemblance to the more famous 
one of G la in in Grettis Saga. With Arnkell s laying out 
of Thorolf compare Egil s treatment of his father Skalla- 
grim (Egil s Saga, c. 59). Thorodd was afterwards killed 
by a bull, whose mother had licked the stones on the 
beach where Thorolf was burned. 

281. The Ghost of Hrapp : Laxdcela Saga, c. 17 and 24. Olaf 
pa was the father of Kjartan, of whose gravestone the 
story on p. 289 is told. 

283. The Ghost of Klaufi : Svarfdrela Saga, c. 18, 19, 22 and 
30. Five ells are equivalent to 6 ft. 3 in., the Old 
Northern ell being one of fifteen inches. Cutting off 
the ghost s head occurs also in the story of Glam. A 
considerable part of the story is omitted after the words 
"Why should we further?" in which Klaufi helps largely 
to avenge himself, and makes a number of verses. (The 
modern pronunciation of the name is Kloivi). 

285. S<5ti s Grave-mound: Hardar Saga, c. 14 and 15. This is 
a very common type of story in the romantic sagas. 
Plundering grave-mounds was apparently a common 
practice in the Viking Age. 

289. Kjartan Olafsson s Gravestone : J. Am., I., 234. To the 

story is added an account of the stone itself. The runes 
on it are too much wasted to decide whether it is really 
the monument of Gudrun s lover. 

290. The Brothers of Reynistad : J. Arn., I., 228-230, slightly 

condensed, especially towards the beginning. 

292. Parthusa-Jon : O. Dav., 37-40. Two other versions are 
given in which J6n s fate is connected with the death of 
a girl killed by him. 

295. The Cloven-headed Ghost : #., 47-48. Another narrator 

says that the ghost was of ordinary size, except his legs, 
which were " many fathoms." 

296. One of us : #., 30-33. There is another version in J. 

Arn., I., 268, in which the man escapes the ghost s 

44 2 Notes. 

attack by placing both the money and his iron dress 
under water, so that the ghost should not feel the smell 
of earth upon them. 

299. Stefan Olafsson and the Ghost : Kvaedi eptir Stefan Olafs- 
son, pp. Ixxiii.-lxxvi. (Copenhagen, 1886.; Stefan was 
born c. 1620, and died in 1688. The man who told 
the story to the old woman could not have been shep 
herd to Sir Stefan, but may have had it from the real 

301. Jon Flak : J. Arn., I., 233. In ghost verses the last line 
is commonly repeated twice, as here. 

301. Pleasant is the Darkness: /#., 226. There is a somewhat 

similar story in Krist. J. F., III., 233. 

302. Biting off the thread: $., 226. The pieces of the needle 

are stuck into the wizard s feet to prevent his ghost 

302. The dead man s rib : $., 239. The rib was no doubt in 
tended for preparing a til-beri ; see p. 379. 

304. The Skull in Garth Churchyard : Huld., II., 77. This, 

and the following tale belong rather to dream-stories 
than to ghost lore. 

305. The Priest Ketill, etc. : J. Arn., I., 237. 

306. The Ghost s Cap : ib. t 239. 

307. The Ghost s Questions: O. Dav. 34. The "evil being" 

is presumably a ghost, but might be a troll. 

308. My Jaw-bones : J. Arn., I., 238. 

308. Mother mine in fold : /#., 225. Several other verses are 

there given as recited by the ghosts of children : one of 
them is : 

" Swift as hawk in air am I, 

And underhand as bird on shore ; 
My fatherland is Fl6kadale, 
And first I saw the light in Mor." 

309. That is mine: Kamp., p. 31. 

310. The three Countesses of Trane-kaer: #., p. 155. The 

Danish ghost-stories are largely connected with exorcism 
or nedmaning, carried out by a priest or clerk. The 
ghost "looking through " the priests is a curious detail. 

Notes. 443 

312. The Ghost at Silkeborg : Grundt., I., p. 57. The part 
about driving on " In Jesus Name " is perhaps an inter 
polation here, as it has no bearing on the story. Taking 
off the fourth wheel (generally the left-hand one behind) 
is a common incident : the substitute is regularly a 
ghost, or the Devil himself. Ghosts can also be seen by 
looking through a horse s head-stall, or between the ears 
of a dog. 

314. A Ghost let Loose: Kamp, p. 142. The ghost, when 
laid, is regularly secured by driving in a stake. When 
this rots, or is pulled up, the ghost is set free again. 

314. Exorcising the living: Kamp, p. 267. The story is com 
mon. In one version it is done intentionally to force a 
secret from a woman. She offers to disclose it when 
she has sunk to the breast, but is told that it is too late. 

316. The tired Ghost : Kamp, p. 342. The presence of a ghost 
(even that of a child) on a cart or carriage is always 
marked by its heavy weight. 

316. The long expected Meeting: Krist., J. R, III., 229. This 
curious story is certainly not a common one. 

318. The dead Mother : Wig., p. 150. In another account (p. 
102) it is explained that a woman who dies pregnant 
will give birth at the same time as though she had been 
alive. Hence all the necessaries for mother and child 
are laid in the coffin. If this is neglected, the dead 
woman appears to claim them, and mid wives are bound 
to attend them if called on. The belief also exists in 

318. The Service of the Dead : Krist., D. S., II., G., 150. 

Another version makes one of the dead folk say to the 
woman, " If you were not my sister, I would bite your 
nose off." The story is also found in Sweden (Wig., p. 

319. The Perjured Ghost : Krist., J. R, III., 205, with variants. 

The equivocal oath is known in Highland tradition. 

320. Night-ploughing : Nord. S., p. 233-6 (from Grundtvig.) 

Stones of this practice are very common, and rest on 
the old Danish system of agriculture, by which the vil 
lagers had " rig and rig about." 

444 Notes. 

322. The March-Stone : ib., 240 (from Grundtvig.) There are 
similar anecdotes in Krist. Will-o -the-wisp (Lygte- 
tnandeti) is explained to be a landmark-shifter (see 
Thorpe, II., 97, from Afz., II., 172.) 

322. The priest s double : Krist., J. F., IX., p. 315. 

323. The Keg of Money : J. Arn., I., 356. The story is also 

told in Krist., D. S., II., G., 101. 

325. Soul-wandering: Krist., D. S., II., G., 105. The "Mor 

mon priests" form one of the incongruous modern 
touches that often appear in Danish folk-lore. 

326. Fylgja: Fib., I., 253. The conception of fylgja as an 

animal shape, preceding the person it belongs to, is one 
still maintained in Iceland. In the older literature it 
also means a female guardian spirit, whose appearance 
foreboded death. 

327. The Folgie or Vardogl : Faye, 68-70. Both views of the 

Folgie here indicated agree with the Icelandic ones. 
The derivation of Vardogl is obscure. Thus bet is 
apparently connected with }wrs, a giant. 

328. The Draug: ib., 72. Draugr is the most general name for 

a ghost in Iceland. 

329. Aasgaards-reia : /#., 62-64. The common forms of the 

name seem to be Askereia and Hoskelreia, and it is 
doubtful whether the word has anything to do with 
Asgard, the home of the Gods. Vigfusson derives it 
from the Swedish aska, thunder. 

331. The Gand-reid : Njals Saga, c. 125. The "great tidings" 

were the burning of Njal and his sons by Flosi and his 
followers. Another usage of gand-reid will be found on 
P- 372. 

332. The Knark-vogn : Krist. D. S., II., C. 6 (adapted). The 

tradition seems peculiar to Denmark. 

333. The Night-raven : ib., II., C. 7 (adapted). 


Norway is described by Adam of Bremen as the favourite 
home of diviners, wizards, enchanters, and other satellites of 

Notes. 445 

anti-Christ, and his words are borne out by the special richness 
of Scandinavian folk-lore in this department. The sagas abound 
in the practices of sorcery and magic, most of which are traced 
back to Odin himself by the author of Heimskringla, and wizards 
and witches have been familiar conceptions to all the Northern 
peoples right down to the present day. As in the case of the 
ghosts, what is here presented to the reader is only offered as a 
sample of the abundant material to be found in ancient and 
modern sources. 

335. Gest and the Witches : Fib. L, 346, 358-9 (the third and 
fourth paragraphs are only an abstract). This is one of 
the many short tales (Jv//7>), connected with Olaf s 
Saga. As to the religion of Gest, it was common for 
those Norsemen who came much in contact with Chris 
tian peoples to receive the prima signatio^ or mark of 
the cross. The prlmsignd man could then hold free 
intercourse with both Christians and Heathen, and be 
lieve in anything that pleased him. See especially Egil s 
Saga, c. 50. 

337. The Witch Thorbjorg : Eiriks Saga rauda, c. 3. This is 
the fullest account of a witch, and her method of divina 
tion, preserved in the sagas. It is in Eiriks Saga that 
the Norse discovery of America is detailed. 

340. The Witch Skroppa : Hardar Saga, c. 26. The time is 

between 983 and 986. Hord s dealings with another 
witch are given in the previous chapter. 

341. The Witch Grima : Fostbrxdra Saga, pp. 95-100. The 

narrative has been considerably shortened in translating. 
Thorm6d was greatly attached to King Olaf the Saint, 
and fell with him at Stiklastad in 1030. 

344. Thordis the Spaewife : Kormaks Saga, c. 22. The hard 

ening of the body against weapons is a common feat of 
witches in the sagas. 

345. Thorleif and Earl Hakon : Fib. I., 207-213. The earlier 

part is condensed to some extent. The story is given as 
an early instance of a krapta-skdld (see p. 369), and also 
as a necessary introduction to the tale following it. 
350, Earl Hakon s Revenge: Fib. I., 213. The cognomen of 
Thorgerd is here supposed to be taken from her husband 

446 Notes. 

Horgi ; see the note to p. 32. The belief in such en 
chanted messengers, or sending*^ is very common in 
modern Icelandic folk-lore ; see the tales following this. 

351. Upwakenings or Sendings : J. Arn., I., 317-319, with some 
minor details omitted. Some thirty pages of illustrative 
legends follow on this in Arnason. 

353. Skin-coat: O. Dav. 64-66. A representative story of a 

355. The Ghost in the King s Treasury : ib. 70. The story is 

said to have been a sheer invention of one Gisli Simon- 
sen, a Reykjavik merchant, told by him to a credulous 
old man, who gave it a wide circulation. 

356. A Wizard sent to Iceland : Hkr. Saga Olafs Tryggvasonar, 

c. 30. King Harald was in Norway at this time (993). 
The animals seen by the wizard are perhaps the jylgjur 
of great men in each district, who are named by the saga- 

357. The Finns and Ingimund : Vatnsdaela Saga, c 10-15, w ^ tn 

the unessential parts condensed. The Finns call them 
selves setn-sveinar, a word of doubtful origin. A hlutr 
or charm of a similar kind (an ivory image of Thor) is 
mentioned in Hallfredar Saga. 

360. The Finn s Travels : Krist. D. S., II., G. 108. 

361. Finnish Magic: Afz. I., 20 and 48. No doubt much of 

Scandinavian witchcraft is of Finnish origin. 

363. Seeing a thief in water : Kamp, p. 121. 
363. The Stolen Money : O. Dav. 78-80. 

365. Showing one s future wife: ib. 87-89. Of "Thorgeir s 
Bull" different accounts are given in J. Arn., I, 348-352. 
It was a sending in the shape of a half-flayed bull. 

367. The Wizard and the Crows : Hkr. Saga Olafs kyrra, c. 10. 
Olaf reigned from 1069 to 1093. 

369. A poet of might : J. Arn., I., 465-466. An instance of a 
krapta-skdld. Hallgrim lived from 1614 to 1674: for 
mention of his Psalms see p. 57, and note. The Irish 
poets had similar efficacy in their verses. James Power 
(who lived in the first half of last century), by cursing 

Notes. 447 

the memory of Colonel James Roche, split the tomb 
stone above his grave in Churchtown (Gaelic Journal, 
III., 6). 

370. The mice in Akureyar : J. Am., I., 439. A similar clear 

ance of mice and rats is found in some Danish stories of 
the lindorm, and the Pied Piper of Hamelin is a well- 
known instance. 

371. Foxes in Iceland : ib. 439. 

372. Gand-reid : ib. 440. The older meaning of gand-reid is 

illustrated on p. 331. The original force si gand\s very 

372. The Witches ride to Tromskirk : Grundt., L, p. 137. 

Tromskirk is the gathering place of the Danish witches, 
as Blaakulla of the Swedish. 

373. The Ride to Blaakulla: Wig., 113-115. These meetings 

of the Swedish witches were notorious during the witch- 
persecutions in the i7th century: see " Sadducismus 
Triumphatus" and Sinclair s "Satan s Invisible World 
Discovered." Another version of the "up and down " 
story is given by Kamp. (p. 263). 

377. Milk-hares: Wig., 139. In Scottish tradition it is the 
witch herself who assumes the shape of a hare. 

377. Stealing cream for butter : Kamp., p. 114. 

378. The Witch s D.iughter: Kamp., p. 265. The same story, 

so far as stopping the ploughs is concerned, appears to 
be known in Scotland. 

379. The Til-beri : J. Arn., I., 428-432 (adapted). This, along 

with the Swedish milk-hare, was probably derived from 
Finnish magic, where a similar practice is known. 

380. The Tide-mouse : ib., 429. " Flood-mouse " might be a 

better rendering, the Icelandic being flccdar-mus. Vig- 
fusson, however, suggests that the word is simply the 
German fledcr-tnaus or bat. 

381. The Tale-spirit: #., 435. Stories of the sagnar-andi are 

not uncommon. By a "horse s membrane" is appa 
rently meant the caul of a foal, as in the Danish belief 
about the were wolf. 

448 Notes. 

382. The Cross-roads: #., 438 and 125. The practice of 

" sitting-out " is very ancient, and is frequently referred 
to in the sagas. It was originally only done by women ; 
the first mention of a man doing it belongs to the i2th 

383. Sitting at the Cross-roads : Fcer. Anth., I., 342. 

384. The Victory-stone : #., 343. The same procedure is 

recommended in Iceland to get possession of the " stone 
of darkness, which renders invisible the person who 
carries it (J. Am., I., 650). 

386. The Life-stone : Huld., I. 41 ; also told in J. Am., I. 654. 

386. The Four-leaved Clover: Wig., 165. The same proper 

ties are attributed to it in Denn.ark and Iceland. 

387. Destroying a Witch s Spells : Wig., 92-95. The employ 

ment of one sorcerer to circumvent another is naturally 
common enough. In another case (/>., p. 140) the witch 
was actually burned to death by similar means. 


The three classes of stories in this section have no necessary 
connection with each other, though the buried bell forms a 
transition from the church-legends to those of treasure-digging. 
They are probably of later growth than many in the preceding 
sections, but they are quite as widely diffused, and can hardly 
be omitted in any presentation of Northern folk-lore. 


390. How the first church, etc.: Nord. S., p. 201 (from Afze- 

jius). This form of the legend is not so common as the 
one following. Faye, however, gives a similar version 
about Trondhjem Cathedral, which is perhaps meant here. 

391. The building of Lund Cathedral : #., p. 219 (from Afze- 

lius). An Icelandic version is given in J. Arn., I., 58, 
and a large number of Danish variants in Krist., D. S., 
III., 938-975. In these the builder of the church shouts 
to the troll, " Finn, set that stone further in," or similar 

392. St. Olaf in Ringerige : #., 209 (from Faye). The story 

exists in the same form in Sweden. 

Notes. 449 

394. Vatnaas Church: $., 2i2 = Faye, in. The part about 

the bull and the gold church is not quite clear. 

395. St. Olaf in Vaaler : #., 214 = Faye, 112. Vaal denotes 

a pile of trunks, roots, and branches of trees heaped 
together for burning. 

396. Varnum Church : $., 204 (from Afzelius). 

397. Dover Church : Krist., D. S., III., 870. In other versions 

two calves are used for the same purpose. 

398. The Bergman s Payment : #., 923, 924. In some versions 

it is the devil who builds the church and carries off the 

398. Karup Church Tower : Krist., J. F., III., 78. In other 

tales the giants or hamper are credited with building 
churches, instead of destroying them. The idea of the 
stones growing at that time is very original. 

399. The Shifting of Gudum Church : Kamp., p. 266. 

400. Horup Church : Nord. S., p. 90 (from MiillenhorT, " Sagen 

aus Schleswig). The derivation of Horup is of course a 
piece of popular etymology, the name being one of the 
many that end in -rup, -drup> or -trup> the English thorpe. 

401. The Dwarfs Stone : J. Am., II., 67. The dwarfs attach 

ment to the church is a very unusual idea. 

402. The Church Grim : Nord. S., 199 (from Afzelius). The 

belief is general in Sweden and Denmark. Kristcnsen 
(D. S., II., H. 5) gives the following account. " When 
a church was being built, a very big hole was dug in the 
churchyard, and the first thing that fell into it was buried 
alive. This was generally a lamb, because it is most 
often these that run about in such places." With the 
white horse of Hestveda may be compared the Danish 
" Hell-horse," which goes on three legs, and is a death- 
warning ; this is also a church-grim (Thiele, II., 293). 

402. The Church Lamb: Nord. S., p. 206 (from Grundtvig). 
Many stories of meeting the Kirkc-lam or Lig-lam are 
given by Kristensen (D. S., II., H. 30 ff). 

404. The Grave-sow : Krist., D. S., II., H., 87, where there are 
various other anecdotes concerning it. In one of these 
D 4 

450 Notes. 

it breaks a man s legs, which connects it more closely 
with the Grav-so described on p. 265. 

404. The Buried Bell : Krist., D. S., I., 1181. 

405. The Bell of Kvocrndrup : #., III., 529. Both of these 

tales appear in various forms. The verse in this one is 
intended to reproduce the tones of the bell. 

406. The Chest of Gold : J. Am., I., 279. 

407. Buried Treasure: Kamp., p. 15. A very frequent and 

widespread story : compare the versions following. 

407. The Smith in Burhoj : Thiele, II., 181 (given by Thorpe, 
II., 119). Fur the incident of the dog, which is very 
common, see the second tale after this. 

409, The Treasure in Eriksvoldc : Kamp., p. 305. The burn 

ing village is also a common deception. 

410. Treasure guarded by a dog : Krist., D. S., I., 1261. A 

more unusual type of treasure-tale, but the dog found in 
the mound regularly uses the same words. The multi 
plication of the linker occura in a different form in a 
Highland tale. 

410. Gudmund and the Ghost : O. Dav., 60-62. The belief in 
the flame that hovers over buried treasure (mdlm-logi or 
vafr-logi) is very ancient : compare p. 249. 

412. The Black Death : Faye, p. 127-8. The pest was so called 
from the black spots which accompanied it. Its date in 
Norway is set down as 1350, but the Black Death in 
Iceland raged in 1400-1402. 

413: The Black Death in Saetersdal : /#., 137-8. The form 
Thole for Thore in the verse is expressive of endear 

414. The Black Death in Denmark: Krist., D. S., IV., 1711. 
In Danish the plague is also called Mande-gval and 

416. The Black Death in Iceland : J. Am., II., 98. The black 
death forms the great break between old and modern 
Icelandic literature and history. 



Aas-gaards-reia, 329 

Charm, Ingirnund s 357 

Andra-rimur, 57 Charmed shape 356 

Asbjorn and the giant, 75 Charms, singing of, 339 

Children, ghosts of, 308, 309 

Baptising a fairy 145 

Basilisk, the, 265 

Battle, the lasting, 37 

Beech, the Lady s, ii>6 

Bell-metal, 15 

Bells, burirvl, 404-5 

disliked, 210, 211 

Bcrgfolk, 93- 3 s 

age of, 106, 108 

as smiths, 116 

births among, <jS, iuo, luj 

borrowing, ... 108, 116, 117 

carry off mortals,... 102- 104 


invisible, 97, 119, 134, 136 

origin of, 93 

stealing, 100, 112, 118 

Bergfolk s bread, 121 

cattle, 1 10 I 

gold, 101, 103, 129, 130 

porridge, 127 

removal, 133, 137 

silver cups,. ..112, 131, 132 

weddings, 109 

Bergman and cliurch, 398 

as ?. cat 114 

Bergwoman as toad, 98 

Blaakulla. ride to,.. 373 

Black deaJh 412-416 

Broomstick, witch s, 374 

Brusi the giant 75*77 

Burning of ghosts, 277, 281, 282, 285 

Cap of darkness, 119 

Cat, a monstrous, 75-76 

Changelings, 106, 107, 146-8, 162, 179 
Charcoal-burners, 171, 187, 258 

Church ., 

Church-lamb, 402 

Church-nisse, 189, 211 

Churches, legends of, ,,,.390-401 

Clover, four-leaved, 386 

Cow worshipped, 18 

Cows, fairy, 156, 157, 162 

Creak-waggon, the 332 

Cross-roads, nisses at, 191 

sitting at, 382, 383 

Ctowrt, hjiccch of, ....,,, 367 

Dagbcrg Daas, 97, 130, 131 

94 iO2 Darkness produced, 349 

Death-warnings, 329, 402, 403 

Deceptions of sight, 340, 341 

Devil, the, 399 

Dofri the giant, 72 

Double-ganger, 322, 328 

Dragons, 249-25 8 

tails of, 256 

Draug, the, 328 

Drip from stable, 96, 137 

Dwarfs, 36, 138-141, 401 

Eirik the Red, 9 

Elf-charms, 175 

cured, 183, 184 

Elf-king, 177 

Elt-women and Odin 24 

hollow, 171, 175, 180 

Elfin birth 178 

> music, 177 

Ellefolk, Danish, 175-^7 . 

Elves, 142-161-^ 

age of, 148, 179 




Elves carry off mortals, 149, 150, 154, 
162, 175, 180 

dancing, 176, 180, 184, 185 

fishing, 155, 162, 164 

origin of, 142 

revenge of, 158 

removing, 160 

stealing, iS6 

treasures of, 160 

Exorcism, 3*0*3 5 

Eye, striking out, 16, 361 

Finn, a troll, 392 

a wizard, ... 302 

Finnish magic, 361 

wizards 357, 361 

P ishing, advice on 163, 222 

Flax-seed 194 

Floating island, , 81 

Fortune-telling, 74, 336 

Fox rhymed to death, 369 

Foxes in Iceland, 371 

Frcy, the god, 28-32 

Frcyja, the goddess, 35 

Froth, charm in 162 

Fylgja, or Folgje 326, 327 

Gaardbuk ( = Nisse), 198, 205 

Gandreid, the 331, 372 

Geese, charms with, 344 

Gest the aged, 335 

Ghosts, 276-322 

burned 277, 281, 282, 285 

children s, 308, 309 

laying 105, 310, 312 

raising, 369 

Giants and giantesses 72-92 

Giant at Karup, 399 

Giantess and King Olaf, 593 

Gloves of healing, - 350 

Goa-nisse, the, 213,215 

Gold, grinding, 77, 78 

Gold-Thorir, ; 249 

Gravso or Ghoul, 265 

Gravesow, the, 404 

Grim, the Church, 402 

Grima the witch, 341 

Guro-rysse, 329 

Hakon, Earl, 9, 32-35, 45, 75, 345, 


Ilallgrim Pctursson, 57, 369 

Harald Fairhair, 72 

Hardening for battle, 344 

Hat, the bergfolk s, 119, 134, 136 

Hiird Grimkelsson, 285 

Horse, headless, 130 

the Jong 235, 236, 240 

three-legged, 127 

Horse-fighting, 52 

Ilouse-lairics , 170 

Hrapp, ghost of, 281 

Iluldres, 166-169 

tails of, 167 

Huldu-folk, 161-166 

Human sacrifice, 33 

Hunter, the wild, 2 

Invisible, making, 343 

Ironshield, 37, 42 

Irpa 34.350 

Jomsborg, vikings of, 33 35 

Jon Flak, 301 

Kelpie, the 246 

Kjartan Olafsson 289 

Klaufi, ghost of, 283 

Knark-vogn, the 332 

Knife, ceremonies with, 271, 328 

Lamb, the Ciurch- 402 

Landmarks, shifting of, 322 

Lawrence, St., 391 

Laying ghosts, 105,310-314 

Lead, mrlted, 183 

Lending to witches, 387 

Life-stone, the, 386 

Lifting-stones, 17 

Lindorm, the, 258-263 

Loki 36,39 

Long Serpent, the, 19 

Looking through one 312 

Lund Cathedral, 391 

Mara, or Marre, 270-275 

Mermaids 220-225 

Merman s laugh, the, 221 

Mermen 220-227 

Mice, plague of, 370 

Milk stolen, 375 379 

Milk-hares, 377 




Millstone, the suspended, 101 

Mormons, 194, 326 

Mounds destroyed, 97 

opening,. ...256, 285, 406-411 

raised on pillars, 105, 108, 

115, 128, 132. 

treasure in, 406-411 

Mouse-storms 381 

Music, Ncckcn n, 242, 243 

stolen 120 

Names, power of, 85, 390-92 

Necken, 242 

Nennir, 235 

Nidagrf sur, 266 

Night-mare, 270 -75 

Nigh t-raven, 333 

Nisses 188-214 

described, 1 88-89 

fighting, 201,203 

food given to, 189, 198, 199, 

212, 214, 215. 

helping, 190 

offerings made to 189 

removing, 209, 210 

sewing, 209 

stealing, 188, 201 

Nok, the 238, 243, 244 

Norna-Gest 336 

Norns, the, 336 

Nykur, 233-7 

Oath, perjured, 319 

Odin, the god, 18-27, 35-36 

as horseman, 21, 26 

as hunter, 22 

Ogvald, King, 18 

Olaf Haraldsson (St.), 390-395 

Olaf Trjggvason, II, 13, 18, 19, 28, 

29, 37, 40, 44, 335. 
Orm and the giant, 75 

Passion-psalms, the, 57, 370 

Ploughed land 131, 133 

Ploughing, night-, 320 

Poets of might, 140, 153, 348 

Poisoned drink, 131, 132 

Raa, the, 170 

Raising a ghost 351, 355 

Raven, the, 383 


Red Stone on Fuur, 130 

Rib, human, 303, 379 

River-horse, 239-240 

River-man, 241-45 

Sacrifice, 12 

human, 33 

Salve, magic, 99 

Sand-drift 227 

Satire, power of, 348 

Sea-folk 228 

Sea-serpents, 246-7 

Sea-sprite, 227 

Seals, origin of, 231 

Second-sight, 99, 144, 264 

Sendings 292, 299, 351, 353 

Serpent, the long, 19 

Service of the dead 318 

Ship-nisses 211 

Showing in water, 361-66 

Sibyls, 74 

Skin-coat (a ghost) 353 

Skrcia (Askcreia), 330 

Skroppa the witch, 340 

Shot (a troll), 301 

Solan goose, 81 

Soul- wandering 323-326 

Spae-wives 336, 337, 344, 357 

Spells destroyed, 387 

Spirits, restless 329, 332, 333 

Stable shifted, 96, 137 

Steel, power of, 167, 169, 396 

Stefan Olafsson, 299 

Stone of victory, 384 

the Dwarfs, 401 

Stones, growing, 399 

thrown by trolls, 133 

Tale-spirit, 381 

Temple of Thorgerd, 32 

Thanking trolls or elves 136, 166 

Thief, punishing a, 16 

showing a, 363-64 

Thor, the god, 9-18 

figure of, 342 

image of, 13 

Thor s hammer, 12, 15, 16 

stone weapons, 17 

Thorbjorg the witch 337 

Thorgeir s Bull 366 

Thorgerd Hordabrud, 32, 350 




Thorgils of Floi, 9. 2 ?6 

Thorir Oddsson, 249 

Thorleif Earls-skald, 345. 35 

Thorolf Boegifot 278 

Thorstein Ox-leg 4<>44, 3 2 

Three-legged horse, 127 

Thunder, trolls, fear of, 17. 124 

Thus-bet, the, 3 2 

Tide-mouse, 3 8 

Tilberi, the, 379 

Travels of wizards 359. 3 

Treasure, buried 406-412 

dragons , 251-25$ 

light over, 249, 411 

Trolls, 40-7I 

afraid of the cross, 70 

afraid of thunder, 17, 124 

and Christ 5 

and churches, 392 

carry off men 47, 54, 5 6 

dancing 64 

killed, 41-44 

size of, 62, 67 


Trolls, turned to stone, 50, 59, 62, 

83, 84, 392-3. 
Tromskirk, ride to, 37 2 

Upwakenings, 292, 351-355 

Vcettrar, 216 

Vardogl, the 3 2 7 

Vattar, 215 

Viperc, king of the, 264 

Water, showing in, 361-66 

Water-horse 233-36, 239 

Were-wolves, 267-270 

Wheel, the fourth 3*3 

Whitsunday, trolls asleep on,.. 53 

Wind-and- Weather, 39 1 

Witch, description of a, 33 s 

punishment of a 3^8 

Witches, 335-345, 372-379 

Wizards, 35*. 356 68 

Wood-fairy, the, 171. *73 

Wood-man, the *74 

Wooden men 28, 350 


13 9836 



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