Monsters, Mermaids and Giant Worms (KH)


Every country has its own folk tales and myths about monsters and other fantastic creatures.

One of Iceland's legendary beings surfaced just recently and was supposedly caught on camera.

The serpent-like creature is said to be Lagarfljótsormurinn, the worm of Lake Lagarfljót.

The video made headlines worldwide, even the US faux news channel Fox News picked up the story.

The video of the notorious serpent was taken by Hjörtur E. Kjerúlf, who lives nearby the lake and was just having coffee when he noticed something in the water and decided to videotape it.

Lagarfljótsormurinn is to Iceland what the Loch Ness monster is to Scotland. It is one of Iceland's best known lake monsters and was first mentioned in 1345.

Since then several sightings of the worm have been reported.

For example, in 1963 the head of the Icelandic National Forest Service, Sigurður Blöndal, saw the creature, as well as a teacher and students at Hallormsstaðir School in 1996.

katharinahauptmann02_dlAccording to the folk tale, the great serpent in Lagarfljót once grew out of a small worm.

A woman gave her daughter a golden ring and told her to put it under a lindworm to make the gold grow.

The girl did as she was told and put the piece of jewelry with the worm in the top of her linen chest for a few days, but then found that the little lindworm had grown so large, it had broken open the chest. Frightened, she threw creature and gold into the lake, where the snake-like creature continued to grow, terrorizing the countryside, spitting poison and killing people and animals.

A charming story.

It teaches us ... not to listen to our mothers?

Today, some people believe the video actually captured a mysterious serpent on tape. To my relief the majority of people though believe it was a natural, inanimate object in the water such as an ice-caked fishing net or piece of cloth caught on an underwater branch or rock that just looked like a serpent.

Anyhow, Lagarfljótsormurinn is not Iceland's only water loving beast.

The beauty of all sorts of local aquatic monsters can be admired at the Icelandic Sea Monster Museum, which is located in the village of Bíldudalur on the shores of Arnarfjörður.

By the way, this area is said to be one of the centers of monster activity in the country.

According to their website, “accounts from eye-witnesses are joined on-screen by academic theories on the nature of sea monsters, while a variety of relics and artifacts relating to this mysterious branch of zoology appear throughout the museum as tangible evidence for their existence”.

Sounds very intriguing, I must say. If I ever make it to Bíldudalur, I'll sure as hell visit the Sea Monster Museum.

Here you can read more exciting stuff about the monster serpent of Lagarfljót.

Icelandic myths also know other fantastic submarine creatures.

Sightings of several different species of sea monsters have been reported at various sites around Iceland.

Yes, you've read correctly, several different species.

There is for example the sækona (“mermaid ”), hafmaður (“merman ”), skeljaskrímsli (“shell monster”), faxaskrímsli (combed monster) and water horse (“vatnanykur”).

By the way, the Icelandic word for monster is skrímsli, which doesn't sound the least bit monstrous to me but rather cute.

Another alleged sighting of a legendary water creature happened in 1915, when a fishing boat encountered a giant creature with a massive tail on the open sea close to Fífustaðadalur valley. Fishing crew and boat made it to safety because a minke whale came to their rescue.

Another story supposedly happened near Otradalskirkja in the West fjords, when a man was riding home along the shore late at night. He accidently ran his horse over a monster lying on the beach, which attacked and injured the man severely.

I think we should just take these stories as what they are, legends and folk tales and just entertainment.

I don't believe in sea monsters. Do you?

Katharina Hauptmann - [email protected]

Views expressed here are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Iceland Review.