A marbendill lives on the ocean floor and is never seen above the surface unless caught by fishermen, as shall be recounted presently. The scabrous, cream-coloured limestone Millepora polymorpha, which is found on the ocean floor and often washes up on shore, is said to be the handiwork of a marbendill. The belief in these creatures is an old one, as evidenced by the Book of Settlements and the Saga of Half and his Heroes. Men have quite often caught a marbendill, usually by capturing it alive and hauling it onto their boat. Some of these were carrying fishhooks and a fishing net. There are also tales of them having been found dead, cast up on the shore or in the belly of a shark. When caught alive, they will try to escape back to their realm. They are taciturn and have little fondness for men.
Jón Árnason, Íslenzkar þjóðsögur og ævintýri I, p. 125-126.
Our Monster of the Month comes from the project Duldýrasafnið (“The Museum of Hidden Beings”) by Arngrimur Sigurðsson. He takes firsthand accounts of creature sightings, like the one above, from Icelandic historical texts, and creates a painting of each one. The English language book is available now in our shop.
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