Urban legends

Folk Tales from Nortwest Iceland

Thjodolfur and Thuridur the Strait-filler

Thuridur the Strait-filler came from Norway according to the Icelandic Book of Settlement and settled down in Bolungarvik. Her cognomen comes from her remarkable power when she cast a spell and filled all straits with fish during a famine in Norway. This story tells about Thuridur and her brother Thjodolfur. He arrived later and asked her sister for land. She said he could have as much as he could fence in a day. He laid claim to more than he should and an argument began. Thjodolfur was annoyed and attempted to steal an ox from his sister. She cast a spell on him that he should turn into a rock where the seabirds would leave their droppings. He responded by casting a spell on her to become a rock and stand where the winds are the strongest. You can see her on top of the mountain Oshlid. The rock Thjodolfur disappeared in 1936 in calm weather and has not been seen again. The spell was probably over. Illustration:  Þuríður Sundafyllir ehf.

Thjodolfur and Thuridur the Strait-filler

The Pastors of Adalvik

Adalvik is a small bay north of Isafjardardjup. It is abandoned now but is a popular place for tourists during the summer. Many of the buildings on the old farms are still standing and have been maintained by people who lived there once or by their relatives. This is a long story about a pastor and his neighbor and both were practicing sorcery. Once when the pastor was doing some carpentry down at the beach his neighbor carved runes on a piece of wood and sent it drifting to the pastor. The runes had the effect that anyone who read them turned blind. But the pastor was a good poet and he made a verse to regain his sight. Then he scraped the runes off the wood and wrote new onces. He sent the wooden piece away saying: “Go back to your master and you shall cause his death, if he intends to use you for evil purposes again.” The farmer took the wood and was about to carve runes to kill the pastor when the knife slipped and went deep into his chest.
The Pastors of Adalvik

Sorcery in the West Fjords

The region of the West Fjords is known for sorcery and witchcraft. This story tells about one Johannes Olafsson. His power was so great that he could exorcise ghosts by just sending them greetings. A woman in Bitrufjordur was on the brink of madness because of a family ghost. She sent a man to Johannes asking for help. Johannes wrote some runes on a piece of paper and instructed the woman to fling the piece of paper at the ghost next time she saw it and say that Johannes sends his greetings. The woman did as instructed, got rid of the ghost, and gained good health. There are many folk tales about sorcery in the West Fjords. We recommend the book: A Travelers Guide to Icelandic Folk Tales by Jon R. Hjalmarsson
Sorcery in the West Fjords