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Spooky Iceland

  • Blog
  • Louise Jones
  • 31-10-2016 14:49:43

There's a lot of folklore behind Iceland's culture and history- and not all of it sweet! For Halloween we're sharing a couple of stories about some of Iceland's unique mythology...

Elves in the Rocks

It's a common misconception that all Icelanders believe in elves- a lot of it is charming folklore and traditions which are kept alive, even if you don't really believe there are people hiding inside rocks. Some do believe though, and it's general practise that if an elf, or hidden person, is living inside a rock formation, any roads built must move around the elf rocks.

A case that proved these elves may be more powerful than suspected was when road workers in Siglufjordur covered a stone believed to hold a lady elf. After it was buried, mudslides occured along the road meaning work was disrupted, and bulldozers broke down. A reporter even sank to his middle in mud!

These elfin stones are classified as artefacts due to their connection to folklore, so the stone was restored and cleaned. Do you think it was elf mischief or a freak weather incident? Either way, we're happy the artefact was put back!

Deacon of Dark River

Here's an old Icelandic ghost story- spooky! It takes place in North Iceland, in the Horgardalur valley, and the most popular version of the tale is from the Folklore of Jon Arnason.

A deacon lived at Myrka farm (the name translates to Dark River), across the Horga river from his sweetheart Gudrun. He crossed the river in winter to discuss their plans for Christmas, where he'd pick her up and travel with her to Myrka.

Riding home and thinking of Gudrun, the deacon met an untimely fate when the bridge he was travelling broke, and he hit his head on a slab of ice in the river. Poor Gudrun didn't know her beloved had drowned, so it was no bother when he came to pick her up for Christmas a week later.

However, the deacon did not speak and his head was bound with scarves and a hat. Gudrun got a shock when his hat shifted and she saw the deacon's skull! He had come to pull her into an open grave, so they could be together, but luckily Gudrun escaped with her life. The grave filled up and the deacon disappeared. Hauntings took place for a fortnight afterwards, until a sorcerer moved a large rock on top of the deacon's grave.

You can still see the rock today- have you got chills?

Witches of the Westfjords

Bizarrely, most accused witches in Icelandic folklore were men- a very different case to witch hunts in Europe and America. Holmavik in the Westfjords is home to the Museum of Icelandic Sorcery and Witchcraft, where you can see 'necropants' made of dried skins- creepy... They were apparently used in a spell from the 17th century, to bring riches to the conjuror.

Icelandic history and culture is rich in folklores and ancient sagas- we hope you enjoyed these creepy tales that might have been told on a cold night in a mud hut!

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