The Story of Bergþór of Bláfell – A Tale of a Troll

Of the folktales we have shown you, it is clear that you should believe what trolls and elves tell you. It is possible to outmanoeuvre them, but if you are promised wealth, you better believe it and follow their instructions.

The story of the troll Bergþór of Bláfell is no different.

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The Story of Bergþór of Bláfell – A Tale of a Troll

In heathen times a troll named Bergþór married a wife and lived in a cave called Hundahellir on Bláfell. He was well skilled in the black art but a very mild-tempered and harmless troll, except when provoked. Near the mountains stood a farm called Haukadalur, where an old man then lived.

troll sitting on a hill
Troll by Theodor Kittelsen

One day the troll came to him and said, “I wish, when I die, to be buried where I can hear the sound of bells and running water; promise, therefore, to place me in the churchyard at Haukadalur. As a sign of my death, my large staff shall stand at your cottage door. Thus, as a reward for burying me, you may take what you find in the kettle by the side of my body.”

The farmer made him the promise, and Bergþór took leave of him.

The Troll Dies

Some time afterwards, when the servants went out of the farmhouse at Haukadalur early in the morning, they found standing by the door a great wooden staff and told the farmer of it. As soon as he saw it, he recognized it as that of Bergþór. He had already made a coffin and rode in company with some of his men to Bláfell. When they entered the cave, they found Bergþór dead and placed him in the coffin, wondering among themselves to find so giant a corpse, so light as his seemed to be.

The farmer discovered a large kettle by the side of the bed and opened it. He expected it to be full of gold. But when he saw that it contained nothing but dead leaves, he fancied that the troll had played him false and became extremely angry. However, one of the men filled both his gloves with these leaves, carrying the coffin with Bergþór down to the level ground.

At the foot of the hill, they stopped to rest. The man who had taken the leaves opened his gloves and found that they were full of money.

Photo: A.Davey

The farmer was astonished and turned back with some of his servants to get the rest of it. But, search as they would, they could find no traces of either cave or kettle. In the end, they were obliged to leave the mountain disappointed, as everybody else, who did the same search, was too.

They buried the troll’s body, and the mound where they placed him is called “Bergþór’s barrow” to this day.

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