Sailing the unknown northern seas

The deepest stretch of northern sea is found there (*), with a Charybdis and Scylla and whirlpools from which there is no escape; and there are frozen headlands which 3 send headlong into the sea immense icebergs, which are increased in bulk by the water spewed on them by the flooding waves and solidified by the frost of winter. Traders making for Greenland often and unwillingly must set their course among them and so run the risk of shipwreck. There are also great whales of diverse kind there, shattering the strongest ships and swallowing down the sailors they overwhelm. One-eyed horse-whales with spreading manes are found there, most ferocious beasts ploughing the depths of the sea. The pistrix is among them and the hafstrambr, a monster of great size but without tail or head, looking like a tree-trunk as it leaps up and down and portending perils to mariners when it appears. The hafgufa and the hafrkitti occur there, the biggest of all sea-monsters, and countless more of this sort.

(*) the headland Vegistafr, marking the boundary of the Norwegian Kingdom towards the Bjarmas (Beormas). Probably today’s Cape Svyatoy Nos in modern Russia

Author unknown, Historia Norvegiae

Original language: Latin

Time of action: 13 century CE

Reliability: Common beliefs at the time with good connection to reality

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