Thursday, 1 September 2016

Eidsfjord

This is a legend local to the Vesterålen region (see map below), collected by Olaus Nicolaissen, and published in 1879. It is remarkable in that a jotun, a god-like figure from the Norse mythology features as the agent.

Eidsfjord

Eidsfjord is the name of a fjord that, in the course of its four leagues, from the south-west towards the north-west, cuts into Langøy in Vesterålen. According to legend, it came about in this manner.

A good-natured jotun, who lived in one of the mountains on Langøy, considered that the part of the island between Sortland sound and Vestbygden in Øksnes was far too massive a mountain, ill-suited to building and dwelling. He decided therefore to remove the mountain mass, and in its stead bring forth a fjord, along the coast of which folk could build and dwell.

He began to dig up the mountain closest to where the sea comes in, on the island’s southern coast. He used a tool that resembled a monstrously huge shovel; and with this, he shovelled away substantial portions of the land mass. But when he came as far as to the where the island of Kjøldraget now is, the shaft of his shovel began to crack, and he was therefore hindered in his work; and thus these are but small fjords, where from Eidsfjord’s south-eastern and north-eastern sides, the rocky coast cuts in between the mountains, very tight and narrow. He continued his work, but the crack in the shaft grew larger and larger, and Bjørndalsfjord—Eidsfjord’s continuation west—is therefore quite narrow and shallow. Only a small piece of land remained before the fjord could join Storfjord on Langøyen’s north-western side.


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But then the shaft of his shovel broke in two; and in wrath, the jotun took the shovel blade, and hurled it up on the mountainside, where it remains, in the form of a several-hundred-foot high mountain, called Reka, where the outline resembles a rectangular spade, the shaft of which has been broken off just above the blade. He cast the shaft from him further up the fjord, where it lies even now, as a flat, elongated islet called Rekøy. The spit of land that remained where the shaft broke is a low, flat isthmus called Skjerfjordeidet.

The jotun complained bitterly of his misfortune, and said that the fjord was so narrow that not even a snow bunting could navigate it. In mockery of the jotun’s declaration, the saying is still current in certain places in Vesterålen, about something spacious and wide: “It is like the snow bunting in Eidsfjord.”

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