JADN Repository home pageMikladalur, Kalsoy

The seal-woman of Mikladalur

Mikladalur (the big valley) is the largest village of the northern island of Kalsoy. For centuries it has been renowned for its tradition of producing high-class handicraft. Especially its blacksmiths have been admired all over the country.

All Faroese have heard of the "seal-woman" of Mikladalur. In old Faroese legend and folklore it was believed that on the "Twelfth Night" the seals came out of the sea, stripped their seal-skins and became real human beings, dancing on the shore. But before sunrise they had to take on their skins again to be able to return to the sea - their natural element.

One night, however, a farmer of Mikladalur stole the skin of a beautiful young seal-woman, and she was not able to return to her husband and children in the sea. She lived with her new husband for years and had children with him. As a kind of security he had locked her seal-skin in his big chest containing all which was dear to him so that she could not leave him - always having the key in a chain around his neck.

But one day, when out at sea, he discovered that he had forgotten his chain and his key. When he returned, his seal-woman had left his house, after having put out the fire and hidden all knives, to protect her earthly children. But the night before the traditional seal-killing, the "Seal-Woman" stood before her former husband in a dream asking him not to kill the defender of the seal-cliff, who was her seal-husband, and the small, young seals who were her children. The farmer did not take her advice and her revenge was terrible. While enjoying the feast of the hunt in the same evening, a monster entered the farmer's house, telling him that so many men should fall down from the bird cliffs that they could take hands together around the whole island of Kalsoy.

This revenge has always been taken seriously not only in Kalsoy, but in the Faroe Islands generally The descendants of the "Seal-woman" are still known in the country by certain characteristics, especially by their short fingers.

This page is from G o o g l e's cache of http://www.puffin.fo/travel/gallery/gal16.html as retrieved on 19 May 2006 23:18:43 GMT held here.