Tales tell of a country northeast of Iceland and Greenland known as the Land of Giants. Many have paid dearly for attempting to explore the land and its people, including Gorm the Old, King of Denmark, whose mission was hindered by heavy rain, raging storms and other obstacles. Later, Harald Hardrada embarked on an expedition to the land but had to deal with dangers, deceptions and darkness on the way before sailing his ship into a peculiar whirlpool, or vortex. He barely escaped and never reached the habitat of the giants. Many mocked Harald for his failure and presumed disappointment, and because of this, men from Norway and Friesland mounted another expedition to search for the Land of Giants. Their luck was not much better, as they endured countless unspeakable punishments meted out by Heaven, earth and sea. They also sailed into the giant vortex, losing all sight of the sun during the ordeal.
They finally landed on the shore of the land and were met with high mountains and awesome cliffs. There were no houses or constructs to be seen, but many caves and holes had been dug into the earth. The ground was covered with gold and silver, which the crewmen began collecting and taking to their ship. The natives saw this and descended upon them, armed with spears and bows. The crew succeeded in escaping, except for one man who was left behind by accident and promptly torn limb from limb in the most horrific manner. It is said that bright daylight is never seen in this land and that a great rumbling is constantly heard from the sky and sea.
Gísli Oddsson, Annalium in Islandia farrago, p. 12-13, written in 1637.
Our ‘Monster of the Month’ comes from the project Duldýrasafnið (“Hidden Beings Museum”) by Arngrímur Sigurðsson. He takes firsthand accounts of creature sightings, like the one above, from Icelandic historical texts, and creates a painting of each one. An Icelandic book is out now, and the English language version is also available in our web store.
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