A strange corpse washed ashore at Meðalland district

Iceland is a seafaring nation and through the ages many have lost their lives taking on the trecherous seas of the North Atlantic. It was not uncommon for the bodies of those drowned at sea to be washed ashore on the beaches of Meðalland on the south coast.
One story goes that a long time ago one such body washed ashore. What was different about this male corpse was its most unusual appearance. It was without clothes, covered in hair and had long claws on its fingers and toes. The locals were afraid but as was the custom the body was taken to a nearby farm and a rough coffin made.

At that time there was still a church and graveyard at Skarð in Meðalland. However that place has long since disappeared due to sand blowing over the area. At Skarð the body was taken to the cemetery for burial. Just as the ceremony was to begin and the congregation about to sing the burial hymn they were startled to discover that all the letters on the page were jumbled and now spelled out the most vile and blasphemous words. So there was no singing. When the minister attempted to say some words and bless the corpse his utterances came out as foul curses forcing him to stop. But despite all these very strange happenings the corpse was lowered into consecrated ground and as was the custom the minister sprinkled holy earth on the coffin.

Not long after the burial people became aware that the vicinity of the church was haunted. In fact it was so intense that it was impossible to be there once darkness fell. Those who were clairvoyant claimed to see the hairy creature pounding on the church roof with a plank from his coffin.

After the funeral of the hairy creature many people in the locality suddenly found themselves getting lost and disoriented. One story confirming this is about the minister who lived on the farm Hnausar in Meðalland. One winter late in the evening he was on his way home. The weather was dark and overcast. The minister was very familiar with the locality and therefore wasn´t worried even though darkness was falling. However soon he found himself totally lost out on the sands. At home people were expecting him. By late night when he still hadn´t shown up a light was placed in the window.

Next morning the minister finally arrived home exhausted and confused after his experience. He said little about what had happened. When pressed why he hadn´t made in the direction of the light which he must have seen he replied, “There were so many lights that it was impossible except for the devil himself to know which was the right one.”

Stories written by Lilja Magnúsdóttir        Translation and narration by Neil McMahon  (Photo LM)

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