The long worm in Lagarfljót
Ever since the first sightings, people have disagreed on the length of the worm-monster. It has been said to span anywhere from a few metres to several kilometres. Stefán Ólafsson, pastor at Vallanes in the late 17th century, probably makes it the
longest in a short poem about the worm-monster, describing each loop above the lake’s surface as half of what was considered a day’s journey in those times, i.e. half of nearly forty kilometres.
Here is a chronicle with few of registered sightings through centuries.
In the year 1345, a strange phenomenon appeared in the lake of Lagarfljót. It looked as if big islands, or sometimes loops separated by wide waters, were rising from the deep over an area hundreds of fathoms long. Onlookers did not know what to make of this, for neither head nor tail could be seen. Since then, the worm-monster in lake Lagarfljót has made numerous appearances every century.
The worm-monster has shown only its hump above water, but according to witnesses the hump is so high that a fully equipped ship under full sail could pass under unharmed. This does not sound so far-fetched, considering that when the monster slams its hump down it causes such a boom and earthquake as to shake all the surroundings. A few farms have been destroyed and never rebuilt for fear of repeated disaster.
Description of Iceland by Bishop Oddur Einarsson
In 1639, the inhabitants of Arnheiðarstaðir saw the worm-monster. People later considered it an omen of the harsh weather and loss of sheep in the following winter.
In 1750 reliable sources described the worm-monster raising its humps repeatedly above the water below Hrafnsgerði and Arnheiðarstaðir. Other creatures were seen in the lake as far up as Víðivellir in Fljótsdalur.
Because of the recent thaw, the ice on the lake was starting to show gaps, and in one place a long rift in the ice stretched from bank to bank. At about nine in the morning I reached Geitá river and looked over the lake. About ¼ of the way over from the west bank, along the northern edge of the aforementioned rift, I saw a large, dark hump, the size of four sleds loaded with wood and lined up side by side.
Reverend Stefán Árnason, pastor at Valþjófsstaður
In the spring of 1819, a monster was seen in the lake beneath the farm Hafursá. It was greyish-coloured, with no head or limbs visible. The creature was swimming leisurely up the lake, against the current and the slow breeze, all the way to Hallormsstaður, where it disappeared.
A pair of travellers in 1861 noticed an unidentifiable beast between Hallormsstaður and Buðlungavík. Dark coloured, with a back broad as a horse’s, the monster became narrower toward its head, which was small and short although the ears were large and wide.
In the autumn of 1962 the forest warden in Hallormsstaður and two others with him watched the worm-monster swim down the lake. The sighting lasted 10 minutes, or until the creature disappeared by Þurshöfði.
In 1965, employees at the Hallormsstaður forestry station saw the worm-monster swimming up the lake. They followed it by car to the edge of the forest, but the creature disappeared by Klifá river.
In the summer of 1983, while a telephone cable was being laid between Geitagerði and Hallormsstaður, the worm-monster registered on a depth recorder. There were problems keeping the cable in one piece.
In the summer of 1987, a young painter had a close encounter with the worm-monster here in Atlavík. The creature had crawled ashore and looked tremendously long as it lay there with its body coiled countless times between the sides of the inlet.
The farmer at Ormarsstaðir saw a peculiar creature swimming down the middle of the lake in the summer of 1999. The sight was reminiscent of a man doing the breaststroke, because a head and neck rose regularly from the water. The creature was dark and became broader lower down.
One morning in February, the farmer at Hrafnkelsstaðir, Hjörtur Kjerúlf, was peacefully drinking his coffee when he noticed some kind of creature in the river beside his home. It seemed to have a head and tail and to be swimming against the current. Rushing out with a camera, Hjörtur Kjerúlf managed to film what he saw. This video gained international attention, and as a result the global media sson came visiting to learn the history of the Lagarfljót Wyrm.