Urban legends

Folk Tales from South Iceland

Bergthor the Giant at Blafell

 This is a story about the half-troll Bergthor who lived in the mountain Blafell. Blafell is the mountain facing you when you drive to Geysir and Gullfoss. Bergthor loved the sound of the church bells at Haukadalur and the babble of the brook. He made a deal with the farmer that he should be buried outside the graveyard so he could listen to the church bells and the brook forever. The small hillock outside the churchyard is known as Bergthor‘s grave. The ring from Bergthor‘s staff is on the church door.

Bergthor the Giant at Blafell

Jora of Jorukleif

There once was a girl named Jorunn who lived at the farm Sandvik close to Selfoss. This is a story about what happened after her father’s horse had been beaten in a horse fight. Jora (her nickname) became the worst of trolls and moved to a cave in the Hengill mountain south of Lake Thingvallavatn. She was a menace to travelers which she ambushed at a place called Jora´s Ridge.

Jora of Jorukleif

The Dance at Hruni

Long time ago there was a church at the farm Hruni and it stood on a hill above the farm. This is a story about a pastor who organized dances and merriment in the church on Christmas Night instead of preaching a sermon much to the dissatisfaction of his mother Una. One Christmas night the Devil had the upper hand and the church and the congregation disappeared into the bowels of the earth. The present church stands below the hill. There are traces of the old church on the hill.

The Dance at Hruni

Saemundur the Wise and the Devil

 An amusing story about Saemundur – „the Wise“ – who studied at the so called Black School where the Devil was the headmaster. The story tells us about the dealings between Saemundur and the Devil at the Black School and again in Iceland after Saemundur‘s return. The Devil turned himself into a seal and swam with Saemundur to Iceland to get his soul but Saemundur had the upper hand. Saemundur read the Psalter (the Book of Psalms) on the way and hit the seal on the head with it. The insignia for the University of Iceland features Sæmundur riding on the seal.

We recommend the book: A Travelers Guide to Icelandic Folk Tales by Jon R. Hjalmarsson

Saemundur the Wise and the Devil