Faroese Myths and Legends

Seyðamaðurin á Sondum

/ The shepherd from Sondum(a place in Sandavágur, Faroe Islands)

The well-known shepherd from Sondum in Sandavágur owned a large area of land that he took care of himself and had a horse that was an exceptionally fast runner. One sunny morning, he went for a a ride going north to Fjallavatn(a mountain lake in Sandavágur) where two huldre women(a type of rock troll) lived on each side of the lake, one on Húsagjógv and the other on Tormansgjógv. They both had a red dress each(stakkur), a formal traditional wear in the Faroe Islands that is embellished with gold pearls called stakkur.
As the shepard rode approaching Húsagjógv, the huldre woman had just laid her dress out in the sun to dry. The shepard noticed the beautiful red dress with gold pearls shining from afar. He rode closer, took the dress and quickly turned to ride home. The huldre woman sat by the fire, and thought it was time to turn the dress to dry the other side.
When she couldn’t find it, her temper rose. She looked around and saw the shepard riding away as fast as he could. She shouted across the lake to her neighbour huldre woman on Tormansgjógv to help her catch the farmer as she was closer to him, but she answered that her legs couldn’t bear her and she didn’t have the strength. The huldre woman on Húsagjógv hurried and took big and quick steps to try and get back her red dress. As she ran and ran, the distance between them lessened. The poor horse was so tired carrying a heavy man on it’s back. As they rode past a church the shepard threw himself off the horse and just managed to get inside the church door with the red dress in his hand, but it got caught in a fence. So the huldre woman quickly managed to grabb it. They wrestled and pulled the red dress for a while. The shepard shouted that this was God’s house, and the huldre woman’s skills had no chance here. At last the red dress ripped and the sheapard had one sleeve in his hand. The red dress was so large that there was enough fabric for a chasuble for the priest of the church, and that is where the dress still is today.

The legend tells that the huldre woman bothered the sheapard so much after that he decided to move to Norway where he settled down.


Guttormur í Múla

Guttormur í Múla was a well known farmer in a small village called Múli in the Faroe Islands. He was a rather short man but strong nonetheless. It is alleged that he was a great magician, but never used his skills to harm anyone, but always to help. He was a wise and reliable man.

But Guttormur was not on good terms with the neighboring huldres, because he used to take their sheep and cows if they passed his land. One time when he had taken a cow passing, he knew the huldres would come for him. He was preapred when the night came and the huldres arrived at the house, so there was nothing they could do to get to him.

Days later when Guttormur was out and about in the nearby mountains, he took a nap.

The huldres were sure this was their chance, so they snuck upon him in his sleep to grab him and take him with them. But Guttormur wouldn’t move. They pulled and pulled but nothing worked. When they noticed his clothes were inside out they gave up. According to the legend if a garment is on the wrong way sorcery and magic won’t work, so they turned back home without their revenge.

It is an old custom to put a sock or a mitten, or some garment on with the inside out to be safe from sorcery and spells.



Marmennilin í Elduvík

/The merman in Elduvík(Village in the Faroe Islands)

Marmennil (merman) is a creature that is said to live at the bottom of the sea. He looks like a human but is smaller and has long fingers. He likes to tease fishermen by biting of the bait off their hooks and attaching the hooks to the bottom of the sea so the line will break. Arnfinn was a farmer in Elduvík. The story says that once Marmennilin wanted to tease the farmer Arnfinn, when he was out fishing. Marmennilin wanted to stick the farmer’s hook to the bottom of the sea but it went wrong. The hook got stuck in his hand, and Marmennelin was pulled up into the boat. The men on the boat made the sign of the cross and brought the beast home. After that the men would bring the beast out fishing with them, and every time they would make the sign of the cross when the beast was on board. When there were fish under the boat, Marmennilin would start laughing and playing. The men would throw their hooks out and always caught fish.

Arnfinn had Marmennilin for many years but one day when the men put the boat in the water, the breaking waves were so strong that they forgot to do the sign of the cross. As soon as the boat was out on the sea, Marmennilin escaped the boat and jumped into the sea, never to be seen again.













Book: Sagnir og ævintýr 1, Jakob Jakobsen, translated by Durita Jógvansdóttir Thomsen