Vampires Iceland

Back to Main Menu


Back to Main Menu

The Sources:

Hugo Gering (ed.) :
"Eyrbyggja Saga"
Halle, 1897

Gudbrandr Vigfusson :
"Eyrbyggja Saga"
Leipzig, 1864

William Morris and Eirikr Magnusson (transl.):
"The Story of the Ere-Dwellers (Eyrbyggja Saga)"
London, 1892

John D. Martin :
"Law and the (Un)dead - Medieval models for understanding the hauntings in Eyrbyggja Saga"
in: "Saga-Book" vol.XXIX, Viking Society for Northern Research, London, 2005

The Case:

This story I found in the Eyrbyggja Saga. Now let us see, what have we got ?

A man called Thorolf Halt-Foot (Þórólfr bægifótr) has problems with Snorri the Priest over trees being cut down in Crowness Wood. He seeks the help of his son Arnkel who refuses. Thorolf goes home in a bad temper, refuses to eat, sits in his chair all night, and is found dead in the morning. The usual rituals are performed. A hole is broken into the wall so the corpse won't have to leave through the door. The corpse is put on a sledge and a couple of oxen have a hell of a job pulling Thorolf's dead body to Thorswater-dale where it is buried.

Every night the undead Thorolf wanders about, driving the cattle crazy and pestering all who venture outside. He kills a herdsman and drives his own wife to her death. The situation gets worse and some brave men go and open up Thorolf's grave. His corpse is undecayed and he has an evil look on his face. Strong oxen pull the sledge as far as Vadils-Head where they go mad and break away. So Thorolf is buried again and that place has been known as Halt-foot's Head since then. Arnkel builds a high wall to make sure that Thorolf will not come back again.

The Date:

The Eyrbyggja Saga has come to us in manuscripts that go back to the 13th and 14th Century. So let us file it as "before 1200".

The Place:

Hvamm is said to be situated between the rivers Laxar and Forsar, overlooking the Alftafjordur. The Alftafjordur is a fjord that can be found in the North-West of Iceland. I am aware of the fact that "Hvamm" is more of a general word, rather than a specific location. So there is room for further investigation.

Possible Follow-up:

Find yourself a good version of the Eyrbyggja Saga. There are various PDF versions you can find online in a number of different languages. And my attempt at locating Hvamm was a rather miserable effort. I bet you can do better than that.

© 2014 by Rob Brautigam - NL - Last changed November 2014

 - Back to Top -