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Pre-Christian Religions of the North: Sources

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A shepherd sees a mountain open up which reveals fires, the sound of feasting and dead-men welcoming Þorsteinn Þorskabítr inside. The next day, the shepherd discovers Þorsteinn has died. The account reflects the belief that the dead die into the hills.


[excerpt from] Eb ch. 11b


Það var eitt kveld um haustið að sauðamaður Þorsteins fór að fé fyrir norðan Helgafell. Hann sá að fjallið laukst upp norðan. Hann sá inn í fjallið elda stóra og heyrði þangað mikinn glaum og hornaskvöl. Og er hann hlýddi ef hann næmi nokkur orðaskil heyrði hann að þar var heilsað Þorsteini þorskabít og förunautum hans og mælt að hann skal sitja í öndvegi gegnt föður sínum.

Þenna fyrirburð sagði sauðamaður Þóru konu Þorsteins um kveldið. Hún lét sér fátt um finnast og kallar vera mega að þetta væri fyrirboðan stærri tíðinda.

Um morguninn eftir komu menn utan úr Höskuldsey og sögðu þau tíðindi að Þorsteinn þorskabítur hafði drukknað í fiskiróðri og þótti mönnum það mikill skaði.

That same autumn Thorstein went to Hoskuld Island to fetch provisions. One evening in the autumn as Thorstein's shepherd was tending sheep north of Helga Fell, he saw the whole north side of the mountain opened up, with great fires burning inside it and the noise of feasting and clamour over the ale-horns. As he strained to catch particular words, he was able to make out that Thorstein Cod-Biter and his crew were being welcomed into the mountain, and that Thorstein was being invited to sit in the place of honour opposite his father.

That evening the shepherd told Thorstein's wife Thora about this apparition. She was deeply disturbed by it and said it could be a foreboding of something very sinister. In the morning some men brought news from Hoskuld Island that Thorstein Cod-Biter had been drowned on a fishing trip. People thought it a bitter loss.

[status: in progress]



This episode occurs within the longer narrative Eyrbyggja saga.


(Contributed by Anna Millward.)


Main text: Eyrbyggja saga

Attributes: Feast Landscape Mountain Knowledge of the dead Honour Death Fire Holy mountain/hill Island Second sight Walking dead

Named things:

Text sections: Anon Eb 11bV


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