Sunday, 6 September 2009

More about the legend of Storsjöodjuret...

In the middle of the great lake Storsjö is the island of Frösö, home to the northern-most rune stone in Sweden. The stone (see below) portrays an enormous serpent biting its tail and bound at the neck by a clasp. The length of the serpent's body is inscribed with runes telling how Jamtland became Christianized by Austmaðr son of Guðfastr. The stone commemorates the construction of a bridge connecting the island of Frösö to the mainland.

The stone has, over the years, become entwined within the legends and folklore of the region. One legend tells of Kentil Runske binding the serpent with a powerful spell in order to free the people of the region from its tyranny. The legend states that the spell was carved onto the Frösö rune stone, although no mention of the hero Kentil Runske is to be found on it. The stone does, however, clearly depict a mighty serpent bound at the neck (see below). Perhaps the binding of the serpent is a symbolic representation of the Christening of Jamtland - the binding of the old gods and their supplanting by the new God (as represented by the cross above the serpent's head).

Another legend recorded in 1685 refers to a huge serpent's head buried beneath the stone with its body stretching out across the lake to the opposite shore. The stone was said to have been torn down in desperation when the lake became exceedingly difficult to cross. This act of destruction, however, resulted in yet more problems with ferrymen reporting many strange occurrences when crossing the lake. The decision was therefore made to re-erect the stone in order to make the voyage from the mainland to Frösö safe once more.

As mentioned in the last post there have been over 200 recorded sightings of the serpent. In 1895 a group of distinguished gentlemen formed a company with the purpose of capturing the monster, even going so far as to make a huge trap in which to trap it (see above). The venture to capture the monster was unsuccessful, but its legend continues to fascinate the people of the region, drawing in tourists and monster hunters alike. In recent years several individuals have claimed to have filmed the monster, and there are even designated monster spotting sites all around the circumference of the great lake.

The monster's presence is still very much felt in the region, even if it remains as elusive as ever.

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