“Seals are crazy about pregnant women,” the deep, solemn, man’s voice on the CD player whispers in my ear. I am nearing the end of the Ghost Centre tour in Stokkseyri, staring at a stuffed seal in a dark room. My audio guide is ominously recounting the second-to-last of 24 Icelandic folklore stories he has been taunting me with in the last hour.
In the enormous black abyss of the former fish packing plant, the disc’s orated stories, the most sinister, gruesome and bizarre of Icelandic ghost myth are brought to life with aesthetically indulgent and often seriously creepy backdrops. Which brings us back to the seal.
Reaching as far back as the sagas, the stories follow rural Icelanders and their bizarre encounters and interpretations of the supernatural. A few stories hover around dead men taking, or attempting to take, their lovers with them to the grave. One tells of a woman witnessing a crew of sailors running naked through a field, forecasting their untimely passing that fishing season.
The larger and more in-depth displays are seasoned with shorter, smaller and more whimsical anecdotes, such as a display of a two-headed sheep, a bull ghost and a newborn baby ghost, carried out without being baptised and doomed to walk again. One figure displays the look of the “traditional” Icelandic ghost, peppered with the strange trivia that the female version “will often suck a finger.”
The centre makes excellent use of both the visual and auditory factors of fright. Yet much like a real haunting, the action of the centre takes place mostly in your head.
Except, of course, when those little kids dressed as ghosts jump out from the shadows. I definitely screamed a few times.
The Ghost Centre
Hafnargata 9, 835 Stokkseyri,
Open daily from 13–18 during summer.